Matthew Bell: The IoS diary

Share

Boris Johnson has been at pains to put his colourful past behind him, as Cole Moreton relates on pages 28 and 29, but I hear news of an episode in the mid-1990s when Boris was a little careless about his attributions. While preparing a newspaper column, Boris asked to see a lecture given to Gresham College, in the City of London, on the constitution, by the historian Professor Peter Hennessy.

The professor's work had been helpful to Boris in the past for at least one previous article, and so impressed was Boris with Hennessy's talk this time that he decided it should be represented in his piece. In his enthusiasm to spread Hennessy's words of wisdom, though, he omitted to offer attribution to the Professor. Hennessy will not discuss the matter and regards it as closed, but I am told he was "furious" about it at the time, and used one or two decidedly unparliamentary terms to describe the thrusting Boris. The mayoral candidate was as reticent as ever with the 'IoS' and his office did not return my calls last night.

Silvio and Tony would bear hug when they met, but will it be the same with Gordon? According to Peter Oborne, the PM is not averse to a man cuddle, as he witnessed at a recent reception at Lambeth Palace. "At a late stage of the evening, under the benign gaze of the Archbishop, Frank Field stepped forward and embraced Gordon Brown, who responded in kind. It was a moving and blessed moment between two honourable men who have been at odds for more than a decade and yet proved they could forget their differences." Pass the paisley hanky.

The author Kingsley Amis was amenable to anything as long as he managed to get a good lunch out of it. He would even entertain advertising executives at 'The Spectator', according to Rory Knight Bruce, who recalls initiating advertising lunches there in his newly published memoirs 'Red Letter Days'. 'Fat Lady' Jennifer Paterson, the cook, "loathed the lunches, which she had to cook, feeling they were beneath her. Kingsley Amis was marvellous with her, refusing to speak, and stopping in mid sentence with one of his stories, if she came into the small, cramped dining room, to produce another wobbly fish mousse starter".

William Hague's 'succès d'estime' as a biographer of Wilberforce and Pitt could now be trumped by his wife, Ffion Jenkins. She has written her first book, a look at the many women in Lloyd George's life, due out in June, which I'm told promises a lot more sex and scandal than her husband's doorstop tomes. According to the publisher, "There were many private scandals in a life devoted to public duty. Ffion Hague illuminates his complex attitude to women. Her own interest stems from the many parallels in her own life." What's that? Is there something we should be told?

Equally mystifying is Ffion's decision to adopt her husband's surname for her publishing debut. When they married in 1997, Ffion declared she would be keeping her maiden name for professional reasons.

In June Andy Coulson will have earned his first £270,000 as the Tories' communications director. Eyebrows were raised at the appointment of the former 'News of the World' editor last year, and party members have been wondering what he has done to earn his keep. Now finally it seems the investment is paying off, as insiders at Downing Street are holding Coulson responsible for having spun the image of the Prime Minister as a "ditherer".

Leaks from No 10 suggest that the Prime Minister has become "obsessed" with Coulson, who he believes has been fuelling rumours that he is depressed and on the verge of stepping down. Gordon Brown has been described as a ditherer 53 times in British newspapers in the past two months.

When the diarist Joan Wyndham died last year she was the last of a bohemian set that included Quentin Crisp, Philip Toynbee and Dylan Thomas. Now a fan of the eccentric writer has adapted Wyndham's memoirs of a life hard lived into a one-woman play. Maggie Contreras, an actress from Los Angeles, opens 'Love Lessons' at the Finborough Theatre in north London tomorrow.

"I fell in love with Joan's diaries. They are so raw – sort of elegantly crass," says Contreras. "My research is continual – I look like Joan and am currently even living in her house, which is full of sculpture and old cats. It's surreal."

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

BI Developer - Sheffield - £35,000 ~ £40,000 DOE

£35000 - £40000 per annum + competitive: Progressive Recruitment: My client is...

Employment Solicitor

Highly Competitive Salary: Austen Lloyd: MANCHESTER - Senior Employment Solici...

Senior Risk Manager - Banking - London - £650

£600 - £650 per day: Orgtel: Conduct Risk Liaison Manager - Banking - London -...

Commercial Litigation Associate

Highly Attractive Package: Austen Lloyd: CITY - COMMERCIAL LITIGATION - GLOBAL...

Day In a Page

 

Opponents of Israel's military operation in Gaza are the real enemies of Middle Eastern peace

Gabriel Sassoon
Best comedians: How the professionals go about their funny business, from Sarah Millican to Marcus Brigstocke

Best comedians: How the professionals go about their funny business

For all those wanting to know how stand-ups keep standing, here are some of the best moments
Jokes on Hollywood: 'With comedy film audiences shrinking, it’s time to move on'

Jokes on Hollywood

With comedy film audiences shrinking, it’s time to move on
Edinburgh Fringe 2014: The comedy highlights, from Bridget Christie to Jack Dee

Edinburgh Fringe 2014

The comedy highlights, from Bridget Christie to Jack Dee
Evan Davis: The BBC’s wolf in sheep’s clothing to take over at Newsnight

The BBC’s wolf in sheep’s clothing

What will Evan Davis be like on Newsnight?
Finding the names for America’s shame: What happens to the immigrants crossing the US-Mexico border without documents who never make it past the Arizona desert?

Finding the names for America’s shame

The immigrants crossing the US-Mexico border without documents who never make it past the Arizona desert
Inside a church for Born Again Christians: Speaking to God in a Manchester multiplex

Inside a church for Born Again Christians

As Britain's Anglican church struggles to establish its modern identity, one branch of Christianity is booming
Rihanna, Kim Kardashian and me: How Olivier Rousteing is revitalising the house of Balmain

Olivier Rousteing is revitalising the house of Balmain

Parisian couturier Pierre Balmain made his name dressing the mid-century jet set. Today, Olivier Rousteing – heir to the house Pierre built – is celebrating their 21st-century equivalents. The result? Nothing short of Balmania
Cancer, cardiac arrest, HIV and homelessness - and he's only 39

Incredible survival story of David Tovey

Tovey went from cooking for the Queen to rifling through bins for his supper. His is a startling story of endurance against the odds – and of a social safety net failing at every turn
Backhanders, bribery and abuses of power have soared in China as economy surges

Bribery and abuses of power soar in China

The bribery is fuelled by the surge in China's economy but the rules of corruption are subtle and unspoken, finds Evan Osnos, as he learns the dark arts from a master
Commonwealth Games 2014: Highland terriers stole the show at the opening ceremony

Highland terriers steal the show at opening ceremony

Gillian Orr explores why a dog loved by film stars and presidents is finally having its day
German art world rocked as artists use renowned fat sculpture to distil schnapps

Brewing the fat from artwork angers widow of sculptor

Part of Joseph Beuys' 1982 sculpture 'Fettecke' used to distil schnapps
BBC's The Secret History of Our Streets reveals a fascinating window into Britain's past

BBC takes viewers back down memory lane

The Secret History of Our Streets, which returns with three films looking at Scottish streets, is the inverse of Benefits Street - delivering warmth instead of cynicism
Joe, film review: Nicolas Cage delivers an astonishing performance in low budget drama

Nicolas Cage shines in low-budget drama Joe

Cage plays an ex-con in David Gordon Green's independent drama, which has been adapted from a novel by Larry Brown
How to make your own gourmet ice lollies, granitas, slushy cocktails and frozen yoghurt

Make your own ice lollies and frozen yoghurt

Think outside the cool box for this summer's tempting frozen treats
Ford Fiesta is UK's most popular car of all-time, with sales topping 4.1 million since 1976

Fiesta is UK's most popular car of all-time

Sales have topped 4.1 million since 1976. To celebrate this milestone, four Independent writers recall their Fiestas with pride