Matthew Bell: The IoS Diary (04/03/12)

Tack shop

Well, waddya know? A top barrister who once called for the QC system to be scrapped has just become a QC himself. David Wolfe, a colleague of Cherie Blair at the Matrix Chambers, has obviously thought again since signing an open letter to the Lord Chancellor in 2003, in which he and 10 others declared that "the QC system is against the public interest". This nearly persuaded the government to scrap it. Now, with echoes of John Prescott's ascension to the Lords, Wolfe is one of 88 lawyers to be awarded the prestigious title, which usually gives barristers an excuse to charge more. When the legal blogger Roll of Honour pointed out Wolfe's volte face, he responded with weasely lawyer-speak to explain that it wasn't a U-turn, and insisted he wouldn't put up his fees. Clients should ask for that in writing, and feel free to let us know if he does.

The Daily Mail gave a robust defence of its practices to the Leveson inquiry, and has promoted Mail on Sunday editor Peter Wright to oversee "ethics and standards" across the papers. Indeed, so chirpy are senior Mail executives that I understand they have given a journalist from The New Yorker unprecedented behind-the-scenes access to editorial conference, for an article she is writing. Lauren Collins, The New Yorker's London correspondent, is preparing a big number on the Mail, whose website recently overtook The New York Times as the world's most visited newspaper website. But was it wise to grant Collins such access? She has previously written less than flattering pieces on British tabloid culture, and is, I'm told, not at all guaranteed to write a complimentary piece. The nail-biting begins.

Organisers of a James Bond exhibition opening at the Barbican have launched a hunt for the powder-blue romper suit worn by Sean Connery in Goldfinger. David Mason, the creative force behind the tailoring firm Anthony Sinclair, which used to make suits for Ian Fleming in the 1960s, has put out an appeal to find the fetching towelling-material one-piece, which Connery wears in early scenes of his third 007 film. "We don't know where it's gone," he says. "A lot of the costumes used in those early films have gone missing." Though the romper suit never really took off, the model David Gandy recently endorsed Anthony Sinclair's Conduit suits, as worn by Connery, and the firm has relaunched following the tailor's death a few years ago. Are there plans to bring back the romper suit? "I don't think so," giggles a spokeswoman. Never say never again.

Claire Tomalin and Robert Douglas-Fairhurst both enjoyed glowing reviews for their biographies of Charles Dickens in his bicentenary year. But despite being a bigger name, Tomalin has lost out on the prestigious Duff Cooper Prize for biography, which was awarded to her rival. The annual gong and £5,000 cheque was presented at the French Ambassador's residence in Kensington Palace Gardens on Wednesday, where Douglas-Fairhurst made a short and dignified speech. It must have been a blow for Tomalin, who also lost out on the Costa prize.

There was some surprise when The Beach Boys' Brian Wilson performed at the Queen's Golden Jubilee celebrations in 2002, given his history of drug-related mental illness. Ten years on, he is not billed for the Diamond Jubilee, though he still gives live performances. Speaking to the diary from Los Angeles, the 69-year-old says singing live is one of his great joys, up there with walking the dogs. "I walk every morning," he says, "just me and my 14 dogs, and always with my favourite, Lulu, the poodle. We walk in complete silence." Although it was an acid trip that inspired Wilson to write one of his greatest hits, "California Girls", he regrets taking drugs, and says he won't touch them again. "I took way too many and went out of my mind. It really messed me up." And, disappointingly, he's gone off the whole surfer vibe, too. "I live in Los Angeles, eight miles from the sea, but I won't ever go to the beach. I don't enjoy it any more." Maybe it's better never to meet your heroes.

Much confusion after Sir Paul McCartney's visit to Snog Ice Cream parlour in Covent Garden yesterday. Tory MP Robert Halfon went in soon after, and Tweeted that Macca "took out cash – says to staff 'this is more than you earn a week'!" But when I call and speak to Jemima, who served Macca five chocolate Snogs, she says Halfon's story is codswallop. Who to believe?

m.bell@independent.co.uk

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