Editor-At-Large: Lancashire hotpot? For the love of Pauline, give it up man

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The Independent Online

As romantic celebrations go, it was a menu that revealed an awful lot. For John Prescott's 68th birthday dinner, his long-suffering wife Pauline cooked him a hotpot. Yes, a hotpot. Instead of braving the media, the cameras, the gawpers and the regular diners at his favourite Chinese restaurant in Hull, the Prescotts decided to batten down the hatches and celebrate behind closed doors at the family home. We owe the revelations about the homely fare on offer to John, of course. For Pauline, true to form, has said nothing. From the moment John put his foot in it by revealing that Pauline didn't want to mess up her hair at the party conference in Bournemouth several years ago, and so committed the environmental crime of taking the Jaguar 200 yards from her hotel to the delegates' hall, Pauline has wisely decided that the less she says about anything the better.

Mr Prescott is famous for his extraordinary way of mangling the English language - and I am not saying that in a mean-spirited or snobbish way for he can be pure delight. He can barrel his way out of any exchange with the terrier-like John Humphrys, for example. But when his affair with torrid Tracey was revealed in all its embarrassing detail, Mr Prescott decided to take a leaf out of Pauline's book and adopt a vow of silence. After several weeks of this, having decided that the whole of the press and most of his colleagues are out to end his career, he chose to give a typically Prezza interview to The Guardian, in which he careered from truculence to self-pity like a demented yo-yo, throwing in the abandonment of his multi-million-pound country pad for good measure, and implying that plenty of other people in politics get up to the same extra-marital tricks as he had done.

You can rest assured that Mr Prescott had a very good reason for telling the sympathetic interviewer that Pauline had decided they were eating hotpot. That casserole was loaded with political symbolism. Not for the Prescotts the fancy Italian fare of Gordon and Tony, which might feature wild mushrooms, truffles, polenta and sun-dried tomatoes. No, Prezza wanted us to know that his marriage was rock solid, as solid as a nice carbohydrate-laden Lancashire hotpot. He was sending the message out to voters - I'm ordinary, just like you. Where has this man been these past few years? Too secluded behind the walls of Dorneywood or in the back seat of a chauffeur-driven car to notice that most "ordinary" people in Britain don't eat ruddy hotpot any more.

Pauline takes a trip to her local Asda to buy the ingredients for the birthday dinner dressed to kill and is captured by a photographer wheeling her trolley in full make-up, high heels, big jewellery, massive hair, false eyelashes. I thought she was on her way to the opening of Billy Elliot in the North! Once in Asda she might have noticed that we Brits lead the world in champagne consumption and our eating habits have become highly exotic. Having been reared on hours of watching Jamie, Gordon and Nigella on the box we buy organic vegetables, mini courgettes flown halfway round the bloody world, we fill our trolleys with balsamic vinegar, red-pepper houmous, line-caught scallops and pheasant.

We are all on one diet or another - the GI diet, the food combining diet, the blood group diet. But I don't know anyone on the Hotpot diet, unless they're planning a date with a cardiac unit in the near future.

I do not imagine that Kate Moss and her new paramour comedian Russell Brand sit down to enjoy a hotpot before they get their kit off. I could never imagine Mr Doherty eating a hotpot either. "Dave" Cameron (meat-lover though he may be) most certainly isn't a hotpot hubbie - in fact no one who lives in trendy Notting Hill Gate would even bother cooking a dish which involves layers of onions, potatoes, carrots and beef. Get real! The only things that result from a diet of hotpots are large thighs, several chins and five inches around your midriff - all of which Mr Prescott already possesses in abundance. It is not a dish which is a prelude to any leg-raising or sexual frolics, and after eating it all you feel like doing is taking a nap or having a good belch. Prezza feels that he and his wife are under siege from the press, that they had to abandon their holiday in Majorca because of media harassment. Perhaps he should have thought of that before he demanded sex in the office, groped girls at work and then thought he could brazen his way out of it.

The least John Prescott could do for Pauline is give up the beer, the curries and the hotpot and go on a serious diet - it doesn't mean you're not 100 per cent man, you know. As he wings his way around the globe representing Britain, Prescott seems like the Titanic, a relic from a bygone era.

Tomatoes killed my marriage

Frank and Anita Milford have been married longer than anyone else in Britain - and I do know that the secret of their marital bliss has absolutely nothing to do with eating hotpot. Having just celebrated 78 years together, they put the longevity of their relationship down to having "a little argument" every day.

Perhaps Frank and Anita could draw up a barometer of what exactly constitutes a small disagreement - because I have absolutely no idea. None of my marriages lasted longer than the magical seven years, and in a couple of cases I could safely say that divorce was being discussed within 48 hours of the actual ceremony.

Unfortunately something like forgetting to change a toilet roll is just as monumental a crime as crashing the car. One man bit the dust because he would never eat tomatoes and it threw my cooking into chaos. Perhaps I should emulate Pauline Prescott and keep my mouth shut.

Good sport: Here's a man who suits the white lard look

Well done, David Walliams for being brave enough to try to swim the English Channel for Sport Relief. He's already managed the bit from Portsmouth to the Isle of Wight, and still managed to look very adorable even as he shivered in his trunks. Mr Walliams has enjoyed huge success with women, although the sight of his torso coated in white lard to ward off the cold during the 21-mile swimathon may deter some lovelies.

Dinner offer: Preston is polishing his pans for me

A man sidled up to me at a party for Will Self's new book the other night and told me he was Ordinary Boy Preston's brother - sadly the Gorgeous One had already left - but I was assured that Preston is a big fan of mine and would love to cook me dinner. Does it mean I have to chat to Chantelle over a hotpot? Will's book is about a taxi driver called Dave. I am in the middle of filming a television series for ITV in which I drive a London cab, competing against Carol Thatcher and Jade Goody's ex-boyfriend Jeff. Driving down a bus lane past grid-locked cars is almost as exciting as sex.