Matthew Bell: The IoS diary

Share

This year's Oldie of the Year awards were again held at Simpson's-in-the-Strand, the traditional English restaurant – much to Sir Terry Wogan's discomfort. Wogan was the MC of the event and, as we heard in his speech, the menu of potted shrimps, steak and kidney pie and treacle sponge pudding had not been to his taste. He referred to the food with a low groan and asked 'Oldie' magazine editor Richard Ingrams: "Why do you do this to us every year?"

Kyle Paisley was there too and accepted a prize on behalf of his father Ian. He recalled how the formidable Ulster politician once reacted when one of his daughters joined Greenpeace and placed a rainbow sticker in the Paisley family's car window. "Take that sticker out of the car!" roared the Rev Ian. "I don't want any political activists in this family!"

Charity commissioner Dame Suzi Leather, a Labour Party member, should not count on lasting too long in her job if the Conservatives win the next general election. I hear that Dame Suzi's name sets Tory teeth on edge like a bite of banana skin. "When we were last in government, Leather was extremely troublesome to us over food safety standards," says one close to David Cameron, "and she now seems to be running the Charity Commission like an outsourcing agency of the Labour Party, particularly in its persecution of independent schools. The woman is a menace and a total nightmare."

Is Alistair Darling, the Chancellor, really as dull as his Budget performance would suggest? Those in the know say he is actually rather witty in private, while others argue there's no public evidence of this. But I'm informed that he's rather cool when it comes to music. "He likes the Killers and Coldplay," says one, "and he regularly consults his teenage children when it comes to what music to have on his iPod." So now we know.

Launceston Place, that Kensington eaterie that one reviewer said has the feel of a gentlemen's club, has managed to secure the wrath of Brian Sewell, art critic at the London 'Evening Standard'. In a strident memo, Sewell harrumphs of the restaurant: "The basic menu is now £35 for three courses, £45 for a six-course taster menu, no other choices are available. I've taken an hour and three quarters to screw two courses out of them, the portions so small they wouldn't satisfy a chihuahua." Now smoke that in your pipe.

'The Good Food Guide' recently nominated Wild Honey in Mayfair as having the best set menu. But perhaps the owners need to adopt a more welcoming policy, for just the other day, Robert Taylor, banker and chairman of the Whitechapel Gallery, turned up for lunch; while chaining his bicycle to the railings, he was whisked away by the receptionist who called him "unsightly". Taylor and his guest were so incensed that they took their custom elsewhere. But manager Will Smith emailed Taylor to say: "As you quite rightly say, many buildings on our street have bicycles chained to their fronts. This does not set a precedent though and they are at liberty to make their own decisions about how they want their front to look. We are a restaurant. The look of the building is a very important first impression and for that reason alone we do not allow bikes parked on our private property." The customer, evidently, is not always right.

I couldn't help noticing that George Galloway, Respect MP for Bethnal Green and Bow, has listed a trip he made to the Cayman Islands in mid-January in the Register of Members' Interests. He says he was a guest of the Cayman Islands Celtic Supporters' Club. Galloway is indeed a supporter of Celtic and the Cayman Supporters' Club does exist. But it strikes me as rather curious why gorgeous George would want to take a freebie for the most unlikely of reasons. After all, Celtic's a Scottish football club. Perhaps it was more the weather that lured our George to the Cayman Islands during mid-winter?

Is Microsoft running short of cash? At the launch of a publication promoting city academies, a think-tank wonk from the Policy Exchange chirped: "We would like to thank Microsoft for sponsoring this event." But one attendee said: "Thanks for nothing. There wasn't a drop of alcohol, only orange juice."

m.bell@independent.co.uk

React Now

Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Recruitment Genius: Sales Executive - OTE £45,000

£18000 - £45000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: A Sales Executive is required t...

Recruitment Genius: Test Development Engineer

£35000 - £40000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: Are you inspired to bring new a...

Recruitment Genius: Trainee Motor Engineer

£14000 - £18000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This is an exciting opportunity...

Recruitment Genius: Technical Administrator

£15000 - £18000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This company are a world leadin...

Day In a Page

Read Next
Nick Clegg (R) Liberal Democrat Leader and former leader Charles Kennedy MP, joined the general election campaign trail on April 8, 2010  

Charles Kennedy: The only mainstream political leader who spoke sense

Tim Farron
 

The strangely parallel lives of Oliver Letwin and Ed Miliband

Matthew Norman
On your feet! Spending at least two hours a day standing reduces the risk of heart attacks, cancer and diabetes, according to new research

On your feet!

Spending half the day standing 'reduces risk of heart attacks and cancer'
Liverpool close in on Milner signing

Liverpool close in on Milner signing

Reds baulk at Christian Benteke £32.5m release clause
With scores of surgeries closing, what hope is there for the David Cameron's promise of 5,000 more GPs and a 24/7 NHS?

The big NHS question

Why are there so few new GPs when so many want to study medicine?
Big knickers are back: Thongs ain't what they used to be

Thongs ain't what they used to be

Big knickers are back
Thurston Moore interview

Thurston Moore interview

On living in London, Sonic Youth and musical memoirs
In full bloom

In full bloom

Floral print womenswear
From leading man to Elephant Man, Bradley Cooper is terrific

From leading man to Elephant Man

Bradley Cooper is terrific
In this the person to restore our trust in the banks?

In this the person to restore our trust in the banks?

Dame Colette Bowe - interview
When do the creative juices dry up?

When do the creative juices dry up?

David Lodge thinks he knows
The 'Cher moment' happening across fashion just now

Fashion's Cher moment

Ageing beauty will always be more classy than all that booty
Thousands of teenage girls enduring debilitating illnesses after routine school cancer vaccination

Health fears over school cancer jab

Shock new Freedom of Information figures show how thousands of girls have suffered serious symptoms after routine HPV injection
Fifa President Sepp Blatter warns his opponents: 'I forgive everyone, but I don't forget'

'I forgive everyone, but I don't forget'

Fifa president Sepp Blatter issues defiant warning to opponents
Extreme summer temperatures will soon cause deaths of up to 1,700 more Britons a year, says government report

Weather warning

Extreme summer temperatures will soon cause deaths of up to 1,700 more Britons a year, says government report
LSD: Speaking to volunteer users of the drug as trials get underway to see if it cures depression and addiction

High hopes for LSD

Meet the volunteer users helping to see if it cures depression and addiction
German soldier who died fighting for UK in Battle of Waterloo should be removed from museum display and given dignified funeral, say historians

Saving Private Brandt

A Belgian museum's display of the skeleton of a soldier killed at Waterloo prompts calls for him to be given a dignified funeral