Diary

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MP leaves no stone unturned

The Register of Members' Interests could have contained a particularly interesting entry reading something along the lines of: "Shepherd, Richard (Aldridge-Brownhills) - occasional income from running the Rolling Stones' box office", had the Honourable Member not passed up a potentially lucrative offer in his youth.

In a fund-raising video celebrating the centenary of the London School of Economics, the college turns to its rich and famous alumni for their memories. Shepherd recalls his then fellow student Mick Jagger approaching him about a forthcoming gig. "He put a proposition to me: why don't I put up pounds 40 and take all the money at the door?" Proudly revealing how with it he was, Shepherd asked him if, in fact, he meant to say "jig", and later, seeing Jagger eating in the refectory with the rest of the Stones, advised him not to "consort with those types of persons". He goes on and explains his unfortunate career decision. "I am not a pop entertainer. I had to go for the next best thing, a backbench Conservative MP."

Jagger, who dropped out after one too many accountancy exams - well one, actually - recalls meeting the future Euro-sceptic MP in 1961. But his memory of the incident is less clear. "Richard Shepherd tells a good story," he laughs. "He claims I offered him pounds 40 of the gig money. Why would I give Richard Shepherd pounds 40? Maybe it's true."

Well, he might be available again this time next year.

Professor Eno turns the tables

Richard Shepherd can be relieved he wasn't at college with Brian Eno, musician and composer, producer of David Bowie, multi-media artist and visiting professor at the Royal College of Art. Eno's diary of his life in 1995, which is published next week, eschews diplomacy - for example, "Elton John looked very down and his claim that 'There's life in the old girl yet' made you think there wasn't much." At the launch of his diary next week in a Royal College of Art lecture theatre, Eno and his publisher, Faber and Faber, are holding a two-way press conference. "It is your chance to question Eno," said a Faber spokeswoman, "after which he and his multi- media and graphic design students will be questioning you about press conferences."

Action replay for Redwood

"Action Not Words" is the uplifting title of John Redwood's continuing manifesto, or more officially booklet of his speeches, published yesterday. The speeches, I have no doubt, are utterly original. The name of the booklet, I have to inform Mr Redwood, is not.

"Action Not Words" was the title of Edward Heath's election manifesto in 1966. Sir Edward and Mr Redwood are not natural soulmates, either politically or personally. Indeed, I recall Sir Edward being rather rude about Mr Redwood when the latter challenged John Major for the party leadership. So I can only assume that Mr Redwood's decision to use the same title is not so much a gesture of solidarity as an admission that he was not a youthful campaigner back in 1966.

Memoirs of a survivor

The same phrase, "Action Not Words", could well be a suitable title for the autobiography of Steven Norris, the transport minister, whose string of girlfriends, following his separation from his wife, featured in the press the week before John Major announced his "back to basics" initiative. "Remarkably, he remained a minister" (the phrase is his publishers' on their blurb, not mine).

His autobiography, still untitled, will be published by Hutchinson in October. The publishers say he will deal not only with his private life but discuss personalities, including John Major, Michael Heseltine and Michael Portillo, "with a frankness rare in political memoirs". Looks like October may not be the time to have an election campaign.

Strummer's lament

If violas are the joke instruments in a symphony orchestra, and drums in a rock band, it seems that banjo players have a tough time everywhere else. Roger Slater from Malvern offers: "What's the definition of an optimist? A banjo player with an answering machine."

Crossed wires and conflicting interests

"It's good to talk" as Bob Hoskins says in the BT advertisement, though it may be slightly embarrassing to talk to your agent. Mr Hoskins' agent, Liz Souissi, is always available to chat to her favourite client; but unfortunately it has to be on a Mercury line. She shares an office with the management of the London Philharmonic Orchestra, who installed Mercury because their chairman is Lord Young, chairman of the London Philharmonic Trust. He also used to be chairman of Cable & Wireless, owners of Mercury Communications. "I hope I haven't made two of my friends unhappy," Ms Souissi murmured when I asked her about her quandary. I'll call you.

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