Matthew Bell: The <i>IoS</i> Diary

Poised for that invitation to the White House
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Is Victoria Hislop starting to regret her success as a writer? The wife of Private Eye editor Ian won much esteem with her debut novel The Island, which benefited from what publishers call the Richard and Judy effect. But now, I can reveal, the book is being made into a film, which is causing her no end of headaches. I gather the film-makers are intent on putting a sex scene only 35 minutes in, to which Hislop is vehemently opposed. The book was inspired by a visit to the leper colony on the island of Spinalonga during a family holiday to Crete. Although it does have a love element. it is far from the bonkbuster the film-makers apparently think it is. Let's hope she can win the first of, no doubt, many battles.

In the same week that Gordon Brown announced plans to crack down on offshore tax havens, the former home secretary, John Reid, was laying out his solution to the banking crisis, writing in The Times that the problem is a lack of trust and the need for greater transparency in all banking activity. Quite right, but how keen is his wife on all this openness? Carine Adler caused Reid some embarrassment when she was found to be in the habit of buying expensive London properties in cash via an offshore trust registered in the Cayman Islands, that secretive tax haven. Although not illegal, Reid benefited from living in a £1.2m Westminster townhouse registered to his wife's Sterlinvestments Ltd. Isn't life grand?

Can you get away with more if you have a stack of bouffant blond hair? We know it works for Boris, and now the poor man's version, Michael Fabricant MP, is apparently being let off the hook. The Tory MP for Lichfield was Twittering during a meeting of the 1922 Committee last week, telling the world what Liam Fox had just said, despite a strict rule of confidentiality imposed upon all meetings of the committee. Fabricant has so far escaped rebuke from the chairman, Sir Michael Spicer, who declines to comment when I call.

Kenneth Clarke is as famous for wearing suede shoes as for his pro-European views. Now his political counterpart, Peter Mandelson, appears to be following his lead, albeit in a more urban and contemporary way. While Clarke's look is a double-breasted grey suit paired with brown suede brogues, the Diary recently spotted Mandy wearing what my style adviser tells me looked suspiciously like a pair of black suede sneakers by the top shoemaker Emma Hope. Hope is famously discreet about her clients, who include Frank Lampard, Uma Thurman, Kevin Spacey and Susan Sarandon, and is coy when I call. Wearing Emma Hope shoes should go some way to restoring Mandy's fashion credentials after pictures published last week showed him scooping dog turds in a pair of slouchy grey tracksuit bottoms.

Noble Lembit Opik, who does not at all enjoy the oxygen of publicity, launched an attack on the tabloid press at a debate at the Cambridge Union on Thursday. He was proposing the motion that such papers are harmful, and that those who produce them place a higher value on profit than truth. He, of anyone, should know, since he is paid a four-figure sum to write a weekly column for, um, that defender of high moral values, the Daily Sport.

The novelist Louis De Bernières hit upon a winning formula with Captain Corelli's Mandolin, transporting sun-starved British readers to a romance set in 1940s Cephalonia. Most of his other books have likewise been set abroad, in hot climes ranging from Colombia to Turkey and Australia. But speaking at the Dubai Literary Festival, De Bernières revealed he is now excited by his homeland, and is setting his next novel in Britain. It's not the first time, as his last book, A Partisan's Daughter, charted a frustrated love affair set in a shabby flat in Archway, in north London. But while Cephalonia now has a booming tourist industry, Archway, as far as we know, remains undiscovered. Can he please go back to writing about sunny Greek islands?

m.bell@independent.co.uk

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