Matthew Bell: The IoS Diary

Even fresher than the Cabinet


She may be fifth in line to the throne, but Princess Beatrice is as thrifty as the average penniless student. The eldest daughter of Prince Andrew, who is reading history at Goldsmiths College, London, is a regular drinker at a favourite student watering-hole in New Cross, just outside the campus. When the pub landlord was raising money for a 10k marathon last month, Beatrice was among those who coughed up a couple of quid. In fact that was precisely how much she gave – signing herself "Daisy", she gave him £2 towards his run. "Bea was having a drink with some mates as she sometimes does," says one fellow drinker, "Of course she's always got her minders, but they're very good at blending in. After she signed the sponsor sheet, one of them went over to thank the landlord for treating her like any other student. He thought the minder was her history tutor."

Stephen Fry, Martin Amis and Ricky Gervais are among a host of celebrities who have rallied behind Simon Singh, the science writer being sued for libel by the British Chiropractic Association. They say Singh should be at liberty to question the merits of chiropractic without fear of legal action. But how did the statement of support come to have so disparate a list of so many top people, ranging from Richard Dawkins to Harry Hill? Someone with an impressive contacts book must be behind it. Step forward Peter Florence, the actor and founder of the Hay festival. Florence sent an email to everyone who has spoken at the festival asking them to lend their support, thoughtfully bcc-ing their email addresses to protect their identity. Quite a powerful little network.

The jostling has begun once again for the coveted Oxford Professorship of Poetry, after Ruth Padel stood down within days of her election. Stephen Moss, a Guardian hack, is tossing his beret into the ring, and a few other scribes are thought to be dusting down their portfolios. But one heavyweight who will not put himself forward, contrary to what he told an interviewer, is Clive James. Last month James said it was the only job he wanted, but now he has ruled himself out to friends. "He doesn't want to engage in this sort of schoolboy bunfighting," says one.

From playing Miss Brahms in Are You Being Served? to Pauline in EastEnders, Wendy Richard had a distinguished screen career. Now the actress, who lost a long battle with breast cancer earlier this year, is to be permanently commemorated by a blue plaque. The Heritage Foundation plans to erect the monument at her former home, a converted pub in Mayfair. The foundation's president, the former Bee Gee Robin Gibb, will be among a galaxy of showbiz stars attending the ceremony at the Shepherd Tavern, Hertford Street, next month, to be followed by a lunch in celebration of her life at the Millennium hotel.

The new poet laureate Carol Ann Duffy drew a big crowd at last weekend's Wychwood Festival in Cheltenham, sponsored by The Independent. But while she read a selection of poems, the folk band Bellowhead – who pride themselves on their uplifting cacophony of sound – struck up nearby, forcing Duffy to turn into a bellowhead herself. Not all her audience objected though: "I had wanted to see Bellowhead as well," says one, "this way I could take them both in!"

Hats off to Sol Campbell for announcing his engagement to the Barratt Homes heiress Fiona Barratt, but has the England defender let himself in for more that he expected? Residents of Barratt's home village on the North York Moors have seized the opportunity to write to Campbell, asking him to help out the ailing local football team. As he is now likely to spend more time in the picturesque valley of Farndale, bought by Fiona's grandfather, Sir Lawrie Barratt, in 1982, they figured he could lend a hand. "We couldn't offer Sol much, but perhaps Sir Lawrie might like to chip in," grumbles one local. "The pitch, which is on a tenant farmer's field, is a bit like Epsom – but I'm told they have some very good rollers these days."

React Now

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

JavaScript Developer (Angular, Web Forms, HTML5, Ext JS,CSS3)

£40000 - £45000 per annum + Benefits + Bonus: Harrington Starr: JavaScript Dev...


£50000 - £70000 per annum: Harrington Starr: Business Analyst Consultant (Fina...

SAP Data Migration Consultant

competitive: Progressive Recruitment: My client, a FTSE 100 organisation are u...

Programme Support, Coms, Bristol, £300-350p/d

£300 - £350 per day + competitive: Orgtel: My client, a leading bank, is curre...

Day In a Page

Read Next

Simon Usborne: The more you watch pro cycling, the more you understand its social complexity

Simon Usborne

i Editor's Letter: The final instalment of our WW1 series

Oliver Duff Oliver Duff
A History of the First World War in 100 Moments: Peace without magnanimity - the summit in a railway siding that ended the fighting

A History of the First World War in 100 Moments

Peace without magnanimity - the summit in a railway siding that ended the fighting
Scottish independence: How the Commonwealth Games could swing the vote

Scottish independence: How the Commonwealth Games could swing the vote

In the final part of our series, Chris Green arrives in Glasgow - a host city struggling to keep the politics out of its celebration of sport
Out in the cold: A writer spends a night on the streets and hears the stories of the homeless

A writer spends a night on the streets

Rough sleepers - the homeless, the destitute and the drunk - exist in every city. Will Nicoll meets those whose luck has run out
Striking new stations, high-speed links and (whisper it) better services - the UK's railways are entering a new golden age

UK's railways are entering a new golden age

New stations are opening across the country and our railways appear to be entering an era not seen in Britain since the early 1950s
Conchita Wurst becomes a 'bride' on the Paris catwalk - and proves there is life after Eurovision

Conchita becomes a 'bride' on Paris catwalk

Alexander Fury salutes the Eurovision Song Contest winner's latest triumph
Pétanque World Championship in Marseilles hit by

Pétanque 'world cup' hit by death threats

This year's most acrimonious sporting event took place in France, not Brazil. How did pétanque get so passionate?
Whelks are healthy, versatile and sustainable - so why did we stop eating them in the UK?

Why did we stop eating whelks?

Whelks were the Victorian equivalent of the donor kebab and our stocks are abundant. So why do we now export them all to the Far East?
10 best women's sunglasses

In the shade: 10 best women's sunglasses

From luxury bespoke eyewear to fun festival sunnies, we round up the shades to be seen in this summer
Germany vs Argentina World Cup 2014: Lionel Messi? Javier Mascherano is key for Argentina...

World Cup final: Messi? Mascherano is key for Argentina...

No 10 is always centre of attention but Barça team-mate is just as crucial to finalists’ hopes
Siobhan-Marie O’Connor: Swimmer knows she needs Glasgow joy on road to Rio

Siobhan-Marie O’Connor: Swimmer needs Glasgow joy on road to Rio

18-year-old says this month’s Commonwealth Games are a key staging post in her career before time slips away
The true Gaza back-story that the Israelis aren’t telling this week

The true Gaza back-story that the Israelis aren’t telling this week

A future Palestine state will have no borders and be an enclave within Israel, surrounded on all sides by Israeli-held territory, says Robert Fisk
A History of the First World War in 100 Moments: The German people demand an end to the fighting

A History of the First World War in 100 Moments

The German people demand an end to the fighting
New play by Oscar Wilde's grandson reveals what the Irish wit said at his trials

New play reveals what Oscar Wilde said at trials

For a century, what Wilde actually said at his trials was a mystery. But the recent discovery of shorthand notes changed that. Now his grandson Merlin Holland has turned them into a play
Can scientists save the world's sea life from

Can scientists save our sea life?

By the end of the century, the only living things left in our oceans could be plankton and jellyfish. Alex Renton meets the scientists who are trying to turn the tide
Richard III, Trafalgar Studios, review: Martin Freeman gives highly intelligent performance

Richard III review

Martin Freeman’s psychotic monarch is big on mockery but wanting in malice