Most people in the Tory party think they know all they want to about Peter Tatchell, the campaigner for Outrage, the action group for homosexuals. But he has one secret that may, I imagine, cause certain MPs to seethe with fury: Tatchell has been accepted into the Army.

Not now, of course (even though, as announced yesterday, an independent commission is looking into lifting the ban on homosexuals), but in the late Seventies. While working as an undercover journalist, he applied for, and was offered, an Officer's Commission in the Royal Artillery. As a result of his brief but impressive training stint, he was offered a place at the Royal Military College, Sandhurst. He declined, to the evident disappointment of the college's powers-that-be; they wrote him a letter expressing their "great regret" that he was not taking up his place.

"I reveal the news," Tatchell told me, "in my new book, We Don't Want to March Straight.

Talking of which, this forthcoming book (published 13 July) is raising eyebrows in the publishing world on account of the title's remarkable similarity to Ed Hall's new publication, We Can't Even March Straight (published 4 May), on the same theme. According to Hall, the publisher Cassell was originally in negotiation for his book, but did not offer him enough money, so he went to Vintage. Whereupon Cassell commissioned Tatchell to write a critique of Hall's work. Cassell, of course, denies this. And Vintage is shrugging it off; a spokeswoman said "Look at Tatchell's title; it's completely different. And ours is a serious work." All very strange.

Still on military matters, on the eve of John Major's shock announcement that he would be standing down as Tory leader, a body of British war veterans visited the Prime Minister at Downing Street to ask if they might have his backing in their pursuit of reparations from the Japanese for war crimes perpetrated in the Second World War - their court case in Tokyo begins on 27 July. In retrospect, one might have expected Major to be less than attentive. But far from it - he extended their allotted time with him from a quarter of an hour to 35 minutes. "Actually," says a proud Japanese Labour Camp Survivors Association secretary, Arthur Titherington, "he kept both the President of the Board of Trade and John Gummer waiting outside."

The burning question remains: who wrote Liz Hurley's "I am alone" speech? Her publicists, Phil Symes, swear blind that she did it herself - and I am inclined to agree. When I phoned the agency last week to inquire after her welfare, I got the impression that perhaps it was not focused wholly on poor Miss Hurley's predicament. A spokesman said: "Well, there's nobody here at the moment. We're incredibly busy. You see, Claudia Schiffer is in town."

A year ago, the America's Cup-yachtsman-turned-millionaire-entrepreneur Peter de Savary swore to me that he would never forget me since he thought, erroneously, that my name was Figgy. This, I should explain, happens also to be the name of his dog - "every morning when Figgy jumps on my bed to wake me, I shall think of you," he had promised. Imagine my dismay when I ran into de Savary again last week at a drinks party to launch his exclusive golfing country club in the Scottish highlands, and found he had completely forgotten me. Never mind. It was a pleasure, though, to meet his beautiful, unspoilt daughter, Lisa, who clearly carries something of her father's adventurous spirit in her genes. She had just returned from accompanying her boyfriend, Tim, on horseback around South America. Wasn't it a bit uncomfortable, not to say dangerous? "But of course," replied the amiable Tim. "That is why we did it."

Yet another tale of how legislation emanating from Brussels is frustrating the best of commercial intentions comes from one Mark Vallance, owner of Wild Country, Britain's leading provider of what is perhaps best described as "outside gear". This weekend's Euro-decree stated that mountaineering ropes should be left in "a controlled, humidified environment" for about 24 hours as part of a safety test and that, in order to test ice-screws (used to anchor something into ice), one should "find water of a certain purity ... take it to freezing point and then drive the ice-screw in and test the force".

"What a palaver," says Vallance, "created by men in grey suits. Frankly, you could use a steel box to test the ice-screws; and as for the rope - what, for goodness sake, is wrong with dunking it in a bucket of warm water?"

On Saturday afternoon, only hours after the erstwhile Tory chairman Lord Tebbit publicly announced his support for John Redwood, I encountered him walking his dog - a nice-looking, healthy-sized kind of collie (not one, I imagine, that jumps all over his lordhip's bed) - in London's Belgrave Square. I, along with 250 others in hats, morning dress and the full wedding regalia, was on my way to a reception in Knightsbridge. Tebbit, in a green jersey, was grinning broadly at this spectacle of wealth, materialism and elitism - until a young woman in our midst suddenly yelled out at him, "Vote for John Major!" Tebbit's mouth trembled, but the grin stayed fixed - accompanied this time by a slow, wolfish licking of the lips ...

Boob time, I'm afraid. Last week I chronicled, on the strength of onlookers' reports, how the British art dealer Anthony d'Offay had caused bad feeling at the Venice Biennale by using the British Council's phones to make his own deals. Well ... poof! My onlookers have vanished into thin air, and Mr d'Offay is feeling rather hard done by since he did not use the British Council phones once - a fact corroborated by Andrea Rose, head of the British Council. A thousand grovels to Mr d'Offay ... and a memo to those now-vanished gremlins who swore they saw him using the phone: you were half-right; he did use the phone all day - but it was a mobile and, incidentally, his own.

The long and the short of it: a snippet of gossip hot from Wimbledon. Andre Agassi cuts his own hair. Or at least he is putting out the word to that effect. "Agassi, who does your hair?" a voice in the crowd yelled at him last Thursday. He shrugged: "It's just a pair of scissors ..."

people'It can last and it's terrifying'
Radamel Falcao
footballManchester United agree loan deal for Monaco striker Falcao
Louis van Gaal, Radamel Falcao, Arturo Vidal, Mats Hummels and Javier Hernandez
footballFalcao, Hernandez, Welbeck and every deal live as it happens
footballFeaturing Bart Simpson
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
ebooksAn unforgettable anthology of contemporary reportage
Kelly Brook
peopleA spokesperson said the support group was 'extremely disappointed'
Life and Style
techIf those brochure kitchens look a little too perfect to be true, well, that’s probably because they are
Arts and Entertainment
Alex Kapranos of Franz Ferdinand performs live
music Pro-independence show to take place four days before vote
news Video - hailed as 'most original' since Benedict Cumberbatch's
Arts and Entertainment
booksNovelist takes aim at Orwell's rules for writing plain English
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Head of IT (Windows, Server, VMware, SAN, Fidessa, Equities)

£85000 per annum: Harrington Starr: Head of IT (Windows, Server, VMware, SAN, ...

Lead C# Developer (.Net, nHibernate, MVC, SQL) Surrey

£55000 - £60000 per annum + Benefits + Bonus: Harrington Starr: Lead C# Develo...

Technical Software Consultant (Excel, VBA, SQL, JAVA, Oracle)

£40000 - £50000 per annum: Harrington Starr: You will not be expected to hav...

Technical Sales Manager

£45000 - £53000 Per Annum plus bonus plus package: The Green Recruitment Compa...

Day In a Page

Alexander Fury: The designer names to look for at fashion week this season

The big names to look for this fashion week

This week, designers begin to show their spring 2015 collections in New York
Will Self: 'I like Orwell's writing as much as the next talented mediocrity'

'I like Orwell's writing as much as the next talented mediocrity'

Will Self takes aim at Orwell's rules for writing plain English
Meet Afghanistan's middle-class paint-ballers

Meet Afghanistan's middle-class paint-ballers

Toy guns proving a popular diversion in a country flooded with the real thing
Al Pacino wows Venice

Al Pacino wows Venice

Ham among the brilliance as actor premieres two films at festival
Neil Lawson Baker interview: ‘I’ve gained so much from art. It’s only right to give something back’.

Neil Lawson Baker interview

‘I’ve gained so much from art. It’s only right to give something back’.
The other Mugabe who is lining up for the Zimbabwean presidency

The other Mugabe who is lining up for the Zimbabwean presidency

Wife of President Robert Mugabe appears to have her sights set on succeeding her husband
The model of a gadget launch: Cultivate an atmosphere of mystery and excitement to sell stuff people didn't realise they needed

The model for a gadget launch

Cultivate an atmosphere of mystery and excitement to sell stuff people didn't realise they needed
Alice Roberts: She's done pretty well, for a boffin without a beard

She's done pretty well, for a boffin without a beard

Alice Roberts talks about her new book on evolution - and why her early TV work drew flak from (mostly male) colleagues
Get well soon, Joan Rivers - an inspiration, whether she likes it or not

Get well soon, Joan Rivers

She is awful. But she's also wonderful, not in spite of but because of the fact she's forever saying appalling things, argues Ellen E Jones
Doctor Who Into the Dalek review: A classic sci-fi adventure with all the spectacle of a blockbuster

A fresh take on an old foe

Doctor Who Into the Dalek more than compensated for last week's nonsensical offering
Fashion walks away from the celebrity runway show

Fashion walks away from the celebrity runway show

As the collections start, fashion editor Alexander Fury finds video and the internet are proving more attractive
Meet the stars of TV's Wolf Hall... and it's not the cast of the Tudor trilogy

Meet the stars of TV's Wolf Hall...

... and it's not the cast of the Tudor trilogy
Weekend at the Asylum: Europe's biggest steampunk convention heads to Lincoln

Europe's biggest steampunk convention

Jake Wallis Simons discovers how Victorian ray guns and the martial art of biscuit dunking are precisely what the 21st century needs
Don't swallow the tripe – a user's guide to weasel words

Don't swallow the tripe – a user's guide to weasel words

Lying is dangerous and unnecessary. A new book explains the strategies needed to avoid it. John Rentoul on the art of 'uncommunication'
Daddy, who was Richard Attenborough? Was the beloved thespian the last of the cross-generation stars?

Daddy, who was Richard Attenborough?

The atomisation of culture means that few of those we regard as stars are universally loved any more, says DJ Taylor