Come again, Lord Archer

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The Independent Online
SOMETIMES you wonder. Lord Jeffrey Archer turned up for a meeting of Stonewall, the jolly sensible gay group, at the House of Commons last week. What on earth could he have been doing there? Creevey's scouts report that he spent 15 minutes talking to Stephen Twigg, asking tomfool questions like, "Is your constituency one of those we need to win?" Evidently, he did not recognise the young Fabian (no cunctator, he) who ousted Michael Portillo last May. Considering that the peer of Weston- super-Mare is very keen to exhibit his metropolitan credentials - in the extraordinary event that the voters of London might want to make him their Mayor - this smacks of political amateurism. He will always be Mare, but the chances of him being Mayor are receding faster than the Bristol Channel.

REMEMBER Glenda Jackson in A Touch of Class? You always felt that she was perfectly equal to the task of giving her married lover George Segal a right earful for his selfish macho behaviour. Well, Creevey can report that her language is as robust as ever. Travelling down from the north on the ludicrously overpriced GNER train the other day, one overheard a quangocrat describing a meeting with the Transport of Delight Minister. "She said, 'Take no notice of those bastards,'" he said in shocked tones. "Her language was absolutely ..." His voice tailed away in horror. Keep it up, Glenda, keep it up!

THE Liberal Democrats appointed yet another Chief Spin Doctor last week, one David Walter, who came from the BBC. His departure threw the Beeb into an almighty flap. Walter had just completed a film for On the Record, and his impending defection to active politics meant that he had to be hurriedly omitted from the programme. At a cost of thousands, a replacement talking head was despatched round the capitals of Europe to re-do the sections to camera. Considering that the BBC employs a small army of political advisers (including one at Millbank, across the road from Westminster) totally dedicated to keeping the panjandrums fully abreast of developments, you might have expected the Beebocrats to have got wind of this one. What do we pay these people for?

CARDINAL Wolsey, aka the Lord Chancellor, Lord Irvine, is off on his travels again. This time, a three-night jaunt to Paris, presumably to a convention of interior designers. Aha! Is Lord Wallpaper taking his wife with him? Yes. But he has seen the light - in his case from a very fine period candelabra, one supposes - and he is paying for her out of his own pocket.

How very wise. The Tories made a meal out of his last excursion - sorry, attendance at a significant international gathering of statesmen - a week- long Commonwealth conference in Trinidad and Tobago. Lord and Lady Irvine flew business-class and stayed in the Hilton, at taxpayers' expense, of course. The trip cost pounds 9,521. Lady Irvine accounted for pounds 2,350 of that. Or, just over a third of a roll of Lord Chancellor wallpaper. Maybe there should a new super-Euro, the wallpaper. Or, in Brusselspeak, the papier peint. Brings a whole new meaning to the expression "rolling in it".

PAUL QUICHE (perhaps that should read Keetch), the new Lib Dem MP for Hereford, is busily promoting home industry at the Commons. "Cider has always been a passion of mine," he rants in the first edition of House Cider, the newsletter of the Parliamentary All-Party Cider Group. Funny, he's never asked for that when Creevey buys him the occasional snifter in the Stranger's Bar, though his staff complain that he makes them drink the stuff. Enter Frazer Kemp, the ex-party apparatchik Labour MP for Houghton and Washington and an inveterate lager-shifter. "Here," says Kemp, "let's do a merger between the lager-louts and the ciderheads and form an All- Party Snakebite Group." Isn't there one already? It's called the House of Commons.

OH joy! The lavender season will soon be with us once again. It is greatly to be hoped that we will not have a repeat of last year's Blunkett gaffe. The Education Secretary was among those invited down to Prince Charles's home, Highgrove, for a summer party. Most of the guests had gone, leaving Blunkers with only Melanie Phillips, the earnest columnist, Chris Woodhead, the tedious boss of Ofsted, and Prince Barmy, in the magnificent garden. Desperate for small talk, Blunkett observed how fragrant was the scent of the lavender. An Ofsted official whispered, "It's not the lavender", but Blunkett blundered insouciantly on: "The lavender! The lavender!" "It's not the bloody lavender," hissed the aide. "It's the Prince's aftershave."