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

Ashdown Group: Senior Marketing Executive- City of London, Old Street

£40000 - £43000 per annum + benefits: Ashdown Group: Senior Marketing Executiv...

Ashdown Group: Marketing Manager

£40000 - £43000 per annum + benefits: Ashdown Group: An international organisa...

Ashdown Group: Internal Recruiter -Rugby, Warwickshire

£25000 - £30000 per annum: Ashdown Group: Internal Recruiter -Rugby, Warwicksh...

Ashdown Group: Marketing Manager/Marketing Controller (Financial Services)

£70000 - £75000 per annum + benefits: Ashdown Group: Marketing Manager/Marketi...

Day In a Page

Read Next
The traditional Boxing Day hunt in Lacock  

For foxes' sake: Don't let the bloody tradition of the Boxing Day hunt return

Mimi Bekhechi
 

Letter from the Deputy Editor: i’s Review of the Year

Andrew Webster
A Christmas without hope: Fears grow in Gaza that the conflict with Israel will soon reignite

Christmas without hope

Gaza fears grow that conflict with Israel will soon reignite
After 150 years, you can finally visit the grisliest museum in the country

The 'Black Museum'

After 150 years, you can finally visit Britain's grisliest museum
No ho-ho-hos with Nick Frost's badass Santa

No ho-ho-hos with Nick Frost's badass Santa

Doctor Who Christmas Special TV review
Chilly Christmas: Swimmers take festive dip for charity

Chilly Christmas

Swimmers dive into freezing British waters for charity
Veterans' hostel 'overwhelmed by kindness' for festive dinner

Homeless Veterans appeal

In 2010, Sgt Gary Jamieson stepped on an IED in Afghanistan and lost his legs and an arm. He reveals what, and who, helped him to make a remarkable recovery
Isis in Iraq: Yazidi girls killing themselves to escape rape and imprisonment by militants

'Jilan killed herself in the bathroom. She cut her wrists and hanged herself'

Yazidi girls killing themselves to escape rape and imprisonment
Ed Balls interview: 'If I think about the deficit when I'm playing the piano, it all goes wrong'

Ed Balls interview

'If I think about the deficit when I'm playing the piano, it all goes wrong'
He's behind you, dude!

US stars in UK panto

From David Hasselhoff to Jerry Hall
Grace Dent's Christmas Quiz: What are you – a festive curmudgeon or top of the tree?

Grace Dent's Christmas Quiz

What are you – a festive curmudgeon or top of the tree?
Nasa planning to build cloud cities in airships above Venus

Nasa planning to build cloud cities in airships above Venus

Planet’s surface is inhospitable to humans but 30 miles above it is almost perfect
Surrounded by high-rise flats is a little house filled with Lebanon’s history - clocks, rifles, frogmen’s uniforms and colonial helmets

Clocks, rifles, swords, frogmen’s uniforms

Surrounded by high-rise flats is a little house filled with Lebanon’s history
Return to Gaza: Four months on, the wounds left by Israel's bombardment have not yet healed

Four months after the bombardment, Gaza’s wounds are yet to heal

Kim Sengupta is reunited with a man whose plight mirrors the suffering of the Palestinian people
Gastric surgery: Is it really the answer to the UK's obesity epidemic?

Is gastric surgery really the answer to the UK's obesity epidemic?

Critics argue that it’s crazy to operate on healthy people just to stop them eating
Homeless Veterans appeal: Christmas charity auction Part 2 - now LIVE

Homeless Veterans appeal: Christmas charity auction

Bid on original art, or trips of a lifetime to Africa or the 'Corrie' set, and help Homeless Veterans
Pantomime rings the changes to welcome autistic theatre-goers

Autism-friendly theatre

Pantomime leads the pack in quest to welcome all