John Walsh: How a nearly man of pop fell from grace


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PJ Proby, who has appeared in court charged with fiddling benefits, was the classic nearly man of 1960s pop. The Beatles had him on their 1964 TV special and gave him one of their unreleased songs to record; it didn't get anywhere. On his 1968 album Three Week Hero, his backing band were the New Yardbirds, shortly to become Led Zeppelin. Les Reed and Barry Mason wrote "Delilah" for another Proby album, but it was dropped and given to Tom Jones, who had a massive hit with it. Proby kept missing the big time.

His main brush with fame post-Sixties was when, in 2002, Van Morrison recorded a song called "Whatever Happened To PJ Proby?" I trust they haven't been singing it at pubs in Twyford, Worcestershire, where Proby has lived for years.

* The excitement surrounding Heston Blumenthal's new restaurant, Dinner, is getting out of hand. Early reviews were ecstatic. Normally severe food critics are waxing ecstatic about his "meat fruit" (foie gras tangerine) and "rice and flesh" (oxtail risotto). In mid-December, his special Christmas puddings were changing hands on the black market for £100. Now Dinner is up and running, the waiting list stretches from here to Easter – unless of course you're prepared to pay for a reservation. A diner who couldn't use his booking is auctioning it on eBay. Fancy dinner for four on Saturday 19 March? Place your bid in the next two days – but it'll surely be the first time you've coughed up for the privilege of just getting around a table.

* Devotees of Leonardo da Vinci always claim the model for Mona Lisa was Lisa Gheradini, a silk merchant's wife. Now Silvano Vincetti, chair of Italy's national heritage committee, has hurled the puss among the pigeons by suggesting the enigmatic smiler was modelled on a bloke – Gian Giacomo Caprotti, a strikingly effete Ganymede with liquid eyes and corkscrew curls. Caprotti was probably Leonardo's lover. He posed for the drawing Angel Incarnate and two paintings of John the Baptist.

But was he the original Moaning Lizzie? Should we compare the eyes, the mouths, the necks of La Giaconda and Signor Caprotti? Should we try to find out if there has been a conspiracy to hush it up over the centuries? Or shall we just wait for Dan Brown to write a book about it?

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