Matthew Bell: The IoS diary

Share

Their snouts may appear firmly bedded in the trough, but when it comes to fine dining MPs will tell you there is nowhere worthy of their expense accounts near the Palace of Westminster. So news that a top-flight restaurant may be about to open on Parliament Square will doubtless be welcome all round. I gather the Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyors, whose headquarters occupy a grand building on the west side of the square, are in talks with Michelin-starred chefs about the possibility of opening a posh nosherie on the first floor. The RICS currently has dining facilities for members, but tough times have forced it to look into ways of maximising its assets and I'm told they are hoping to attract a big-name chef. A name for the restaurant has yet to be decided, but RICS' Café has a certain ring to it, doesn't it?

It was the week for parties, but none could trump Nelson Mandela's 90th birthday bash on Wednesday for its bounty of A-listers. Bill Clinton and Gordon Brown showed up, but there was no sign of David Cameron. Had he not been invited? "I don't know if he was, actually," says a spokesman for Cameron when I call, "but in any case he couldn't go because he was in Paris at a conference. It was a long-standing engagement." Those who know Dave say he would have adored Wednesday's celeb-fest, where stars rarely seen in London, such as Oprah Winfrey and Will Smith, whooped the night away with Elton, Naomi and Uma.

Betty Boothroyd's previously reported incarnation as one of the dancing Tiller Girls came in useful at a party given by Richard Heller on Friday night. The former speaker of the House of Commons took to the floor to sing and trip to "My Old Man Said Follow the Van" as guests gathered round the piano at the National Liberal Club to mark Heller's 60th birthday. Heller had plenty to celebrate, having won 73 votes in the Henley by-election the previous day, standing as a candidate for the Fur Play Party dressed as a bear. Heller's attempt to become a "Membear of Parliament" was far from hopeless: Labour's candidate won fewer than a thousand votes more.

Those who enjoyed Tory MP Alan Duncan's robust exchange with John Humphrys on the 'Today' programme yesterday – when he announced he would be suing the 'Daily Mail' for allegations in a Peter Oborne article about his involvement with an oil company – may want to block off Wednesday evening in their diaries. Duncan is due to speak at an Editorial Intelligence debate on business ethics, with... Peter Oborne. "I'm looking forward to asking Alan Duncan further questions about political and business integrity," Oborne tells me. Duncan, meanwhile, sees no problem in having an oil company directorship at the same time as being the shadow minister responsible for business. Evidently, he has been telling friends, there would be a problem only if he was on the board of a British company.

London Mayor Boris Johnson has already sacked one adviser over an ill-judged remark; might he now reconsider the appointment of another? His choice of NuLab darling Richard Rogers as his architectural tsar raised some eyebrows given that Rogers will be 75 in July and Johnson has said he wants to champion "up-and-coming architects". Now a row is brewing over the future of the Robin Hood Gardens estate in east London, revered by Rogers – and other people who don't live there – as an icon of 1960s New Brutalism, but whose residents have voted overwhelmingly for its demolition. Lord Rogers, whose own home is a £4m townhouse in Chelsea, has hailed the estate as a "beautiful" work of art, worthy of comparison with Bath's Royal Crescent, and is calling for it to be listed. But the tenants find it a grim, concrete monstrosity blighted by urine-soaked stairwells. They want to see it replaced with decent housing.

David Davis is not the only one making professional sacrifices in the name of civil liberties. Author Nikita Lalwani, who won the inaugural Desmond Elliott Prize for a first novel on Thursday, has given away the £10,000 prize money to charity. No sooner had she been named the winner, then she donated the whole lot to Liberty, the civil rights group run by Shami Chakrabarti. One of the judges, Cristina Odone, expressed her admiration. "It's an amazingly selfless thing for anyone to do," she said, "not least a hard-up writer starting out." The prize was founded to commemorate Desmond Elliott – a dandyish literary agent credited with discovering Jilly Cooper among others and who stood just 5ft tall.

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

IT Portfolio Analyst - Prince2

£45000 - £50000 Per Annum: Clearwater People Solutions Ltd: Our client, a glob...

Project Co-ordinator - Birmingham - Permanant

£20000 - £25000 Per Annum Plus excellent benefits: Clearwater People Solutions...

Head of Maths

Negotiable: Randstad Education Group: Head of Maths position at a prestigious ...

Trainee Recruitment Consultant - Birmingham - Huxley Associates

£18000 - £23000 per annum + Commission: SThree: Huxley Associates are currentl...

Day In a Page

Read Next
The view from Arthur's Seat, Edinburgh  

Scottish independence: Why I can't wait to leave London and live in a free, independent Scotland

Yannis Baboulias
 

Scottish independence: Learn from Quebec's mistakes and beware last-minute promises. Vote Yes.

Sol Zanetti
Mystery of the Ground Zero wedding photo

A shot in the dark

Mystery of the wedding photo from Ground Zero
His life, the universe and everything

His life, the universe and everything

New biography sheds light on comic genius of Douglas Adams
Save us from small screen superheroes

Save us from small screen superheroes

Shows like Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D are little more than marketing tools
Reach for the skies

Reach for the skies

From pools to football pitches, rooftop living is looking up
These are the 12 best hotel spas in the UK

12 best hotel spas in the UK

Some hotels go all out on facilities; others stand out for the sheer quality of treatments
These Iranian-controlled Shia militias used to specialise in killing American soldiers. Now they are fighting Isis, backed up by US airstrikes

Widespread fear of Isis is producing strange bedfellows

Iranian-controlled Shia militias that used to kill American soldiers are now fighting Isis, helped by US airstrikes
Topshop goes part Athena poster, part last spring Prada

Topshop goes part Athena poster, part last spring Prada

Shoppers don't come to Topshop for the unique
How to make a Lego masterpiece

How to make a Lego masterpiece

Toy breaks out of the nursery and heads for the gallery
Meet the ‘Endies’ – city dwellers who are too poor to have fun

Meet the ‘Endies’ – city dwellers who are too poor to have fun

Urbanites are cursed with an acronym pointing to Employed but No Disposable Income or Savings
Paisley’s decision to make peace with IRA enemies might remind the Arabs of Sadat

Ian Paisley’s decision to make peace with his IRA enemies

His Save Ulster from Sodomy campaign would surely have been supported by many a Sunni imam
'She was a singer, a superstar, an addict, but to me, her mother, she is simply Amy'

'She was a singer, a superstar, an addict, but to me, her mother, she is simply Amy'

Exclusive extract from Janis Winehouse's poignant new memoir
Is this the role to win Cumberbatch an Oscar?

Is this the role to win Cumberbatch an Oscar?

The Imitation Game, film review
England and Roy Hodgson take a joint step towards redemption in Basel

England and Hodgson take a joint step towards redemption

Welbeck double puts England on the road to Euro 2016
Relatives fight over Vivian Maier’s rare photos

Relatives fight over Vivian Maier’s rare photos

Pictures removed from public view as courts decide ownership
‘Fashion has to be fun. It’s a big business, not a cure for cancer’

‘Fashion has to be fun. It’s a big business, not a cure for cancer’

Donatella Versace at New York Fashion Week