Matthew Bell: The <i>IoS</i> Diary (30/05/10)

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The Independent Online

Princes William and Harry were kept from prying eyes during their time at Eton thanks to an agreement with the press, but their place in the school's history is now to be commemorated with an official portrait. I'm told the college has asked fashionable portrait painter Nicky Phillips to paint a copy of the picture she did for the National Portrait Gallery, which was unveiled with much fanfare earlier this year. Phillips politely refuses to discuss her work when I call but my fag in the Fives Court says the double portrait will join the school's hall of fame. Perhaps the Prime Minister will be next?

One of the weirder extravagances of recent political history comes to an end as Tim Hames is leaving his £100,000 post as Speaker Bercow's spokesman. A former Times hack, Hames was known to some wags as "Hurler" after an incident in the gutters of Washington DC. His appointment last November was thought to be the first time a House of Commons Speaker has had a special advisor; part of his job was to handle the media, and he was awarded Grade 1 status, entitling him to a salary of between £87,000 and £107,000. Writing in The Times, Hames memorably claimed that it was absurd to think Obama would become President, and promised to eat a load of Tabasco sauce if he was wrong. He leaves to join the British Venture Capital Association in July.

Intriguing peerages must include Madonna's ex-mother-in-law Shireen Ritchie, John Gummer – whose brother is Lord Chadlington of Dean, David Cameron's country neighbour – and senior Telegraph executive Guy Black, (the paper was responsible for dripping the expenses stories). Perhaps most surprising is Matthew Taylor, the former Lib Dem MP for Truro – could it be the same man who stood down at the general election saying, "I have never loved parliament... I don't like this institution. I think it's a 19th-century institution that struggles to be effective in any way in the 21st century.... I won't miss it at all"?

How should the UK resolve its debt crisis? By taking a leaf out of Sarah Ferguson's book, of course. Respected LSE director Howard Davies, speaking at Hay yesterday, said that what Britain needs is good foreign investment. "The Duchess of York was clearly doing her bit to get Prince Andrew to meet overseas investors. We should applaud her for that."

There's even some good news for Fergie: her friend Lisa Marie Presley is said to be moving to Britain. The two became pals last summer in London and Elvis's daughter now plans to leave Los Angeles and buy a home here. She has reportedly looked at houses in Hampstead, and claims to be a fan of the British climate. "I feel any place that is perpetually sunny is suspect and wrong," she has said of Hollywood, adding, "I can honestly say that I am the only person who came to England for the weather. I love the cold and the rain." If Fergie now moves out of Andrew's Windsor home, perhaps they could move in together and found a new Graceland?

Brat pack novelist Bret Easton Ellis says he will never write another novel again. The author of American Psycho has decided TV and film work is now more his thing, and he is thrilled at a commission to make a high school movie. "I think TV is the future of the novel," he tells the new issue of GQ, "I don't know how patient I am with the novel. Maybe everything that I wanted to do with the novel I've kind of done. I don't know where else to take it or what else to do with it. I'm at a point in my life where that form of expressing myself is no longer that interesting, whereas a high-school curse movie is right up my alley."

Man-about-town Ben Elliott is marking 10 years of success running his concierge service Quintessentially with an awards ceremony, (do we really need another?), but he has more daunting matters on the horizon. The Duchess of Cornwall's nephew tells me he plans to cycle to Land's End next month for charity, having failed a similar jaunt last year. A cycle from London to Paris ended near Dieppe when a collision left him with a dislocated shoulder.