Michael Portillo

Diary: Ministry for silly honours

After being reminded that John Cleese can understandably take exception to ill-founded fears his funny bone may have been surgically removed in recent years, I would like to place on record the confident belief his best work could still be ahead of him. (Just pretend it's some other bloke in those rubbish AA adverts). Now the old boy proudly informs us that he wouldn't still be plain old Mr Cleese to you and I, if he had seen fit to accept a peerage from Paddy Ashdown back in 1999.

Party Of The Week: A night of pop art for Rankin and friends

The singer Joss Stone, Duran Duran's Nick Rhodes, magazine editor Jefferson Hack and My Summer of Love actress Natalie Press were out in force on Monday night for the private view of Rankin's exhibition Destroy at London's Phillips de Pury Gallery.

Lost dogs and enchantresses make for a strong Booker list, but where

Let's get the annual squall of outrage over first. Kieron Smith, Boy by James Kelman deserved at least a shortlist place in this year's Man Booker contest. Indeed, the beautifully observed, deeply affecting first-person portrait of a Glasgow childhood outshines Roddy Doyle's Dublin equivalent, Paddy Clarke Ha Ha Ha – which won the prize in 1993.

Pandora: Servants of the people

While others around you lose their heads, what's the answer to 12 across? That was the question bugging fun-loving environment minister Phil Woolas, when a Pandora mole walked in to his office last week.

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