Diary

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The Independent Online
A wholly understandable fit of envy has, I hear, gripped the Archbishop of Canterbury. Fired by the success of the Pope's recent book, Crossing the Threshhold of Hope, Dr George Carey began to wonder if there might be a market among the British faithful for his own lucubrations about Church and State (Crossing the Bridge of Lambeth?) at pounds 9.99 a pop.

So he sent his minions off to HarperCollins, publishers of the Supreme Pontiff's bestseller. They discussed it, and concluded that the best course of action would be to find - as was done with the Pope's book - a responsibly spiritual-minded journalist upon whose sympathetic ears the Archbish could download a lifetime's homilies and pastoral works.

Alas - no amount of Cinderella's-slipper inquiries from newspaper to newspaper, no cash bung or veiled threat, not even the promise of eternal life has so far been enough to induce any potential Boswell to tackle the prospect of taking down Dr Carey's electrifying pensees.

The scene: a summer party in north London on Monday evening. The place: a palatial Hampstead townhouse, its illuminated garden awash with Pimms and studded with al fresco speakers bringing the strains of Sheryl Crowe's Tuesday Night Music Club to a throng of journo-politico-media stars. Norman Lamont was there, in his dipsomaniacal-ferret hairdo, and Lord Rees-Mogg and Bernard Levin. "That chap looks such a ringer for Rupert Murdoch," said a suit from the Bank of England, "I wonder how he gets through the day without being ... Hang on a minute. It is Rupert Murdoch." And it was, plus Clive James and Martin Amis and Christopher Hitchens and all manner of writerly high-rollers. Why were they there? Because Peter Stothard, editor of the Times, and his novelist wife, Sally Emerson, were celebrating a visit from Tina Brown, the New Yorker's starry editrix, one of a platoon of Manhattan media celebs in town this week: Brown's protege Dominic Dunne could be heard on Start the Week telling the world that OJ Simpson was guilty; and her opposite number on Vanity Fair, Graydon Carter, came for last night's fund-raising gala at the Serpentine Gallery, which the magazine is sponsoring (it was perhaps the only time you'd ever find the Princess of Wales and Dennis Hopper under the same roof). But Monday night was Tina's - until an Oxford contemporary showed up.

Around 8pm, I noticed the paparazzi flocking like jackdaws. Were they waiting for Norman to come out? Or for someone else to come in? A minute later, we all watched as the only person (short of John Redwood) who could upstage the gathering appeared on the patio: Tony Blair. He stopped, smiled, had a brisk discussion with his press Svengali, Alistair Campbell, who presumably advised him who was present, and disappeared into the night.

A missed opportunity, I fear. Blair and Lamont and Murdoch is a triumverate made in Heaven, a coalition government waiting to happen. The hosts must be seething with frustration that political history was not forged right there - to the chorus of Crowe's "Run Baby, Run" - in their bosky NW3 back yard.

Great excitement at Harrods yesterday, when Claudia Schiffer, the not- unattractive supermodel, arrived to sign her book, Memories. By noon there was a queue of 116 oglers. Fifty weirdos, apparently keener to get her autograph than to see her in the flesh, rang to reserve copies of the confessional tome.

They'll be disappointed. The bulk of its glossy pages, naturally, feature a random collection of photographs of Schiffer looking pretty; but the accompanying text is complete garbage. Despite the title, it is neither memoir nor autobiography, only a weirdly stilted hymn of praise to die Deutsch Bardot, her gorgeousness, her integrity, her hobbies ("her favourite authors are Balzac, John Irving and Max Frisch"), her fondness for her family and small animals, her punctuality, her lack of make-up or vices, her immaculate taste, her philosophy ("In a profession dedicated to the flesh and the physical, Claudia's upbringing has helped her to hold on to values that never age or fade: don't deceive yourself or others; respect everyone; lead a happy, contented life". How true that is. How Mr Major, say, would agree). Not a word about her romance with Prince Albert of Monaco, nor her dalliance with the blue-haired prestidigitator David Copperfield. After fighting through more thickets of verbiage ("Success has not poisoned her with conceit. She retains the discipline, intelligence and humour she showed as a child, doing her best without regard for fame or success"), you ask: who wrote this load of old blarney? The credits at the back mention an "Editor", an "Editorial director" and an "English editorial consultant", but it's much farther down, in teeny type, that you get the answer at last. "Text: Claudia Schiffer 1995.'' Narcissism is one thing; but DIY narcissism ...

Having heard the Hugh Grant rumours on Tuesday afternoon, I rushed to the newsagents' with indecent haste, to buy the Evening Standard, but it had sold out. Cursing my luck, I ran my eye along the shelf in desperation - and found the hot news of the moment splashed on the cover of Premiere, the monthly film magazine. My God, I thought, those people at Emap are on the ball. They must have rushed it through ... Then I saw my mistake. Underneath the cover line, "The indiscreet charm of HUGH GRANT", there's a two-inch gap before the second heading: "Summer movie BLOWOUT" ...

Good news for haters of acoustic guitars, people who wear bandanas, West Coast millionaires and the concept of Being Mellow. The worst casualty of the Glastonbury Festival was Evan Dando, the ridiculously handsome leader of the Lemonheads, a grunge-era band. Uninterested in emulating his former chum Kurt Cobain, Dando took to crooning and is now so mellow you could squeeze him out of a tube. A friend bumped into him (quite literally) as he was exiting from the beer tent on Saturday, having earlier abandoned his attempts to find the acoustic stage, where he was scheduled to play. So they rescheduled him to perform just before Portishead. Dando, a little tired by this time, went on and sang. After only two numbers, bottles started to fly. Mr D made the fatal error of throwing them back at the crowd (etiquette, please!) and the curtain was hastily brought down on his brief, inglorious career as a gentle troubadour.

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