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

Flying the skull and crossbones
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The Independent Online

Choleric Pinter shock. Pause. Harold Pinter is furious after thieves broke into his study and stole a mobile phone. But the intrusion into his office, a detached building at the bottom of his garden in west London, could have been much more serious, as Pinter's computer, which contains all his current work, was there. Curiously, thieves overlooked it in favour of the phone. The close shave will be a relief to the British Library, who last year bought his archive of papers for £1.1m. According to Pinter's assistant, who had given her boss the pay-as-you-go phone only days before, the police have already apprehended the thieves. It is not the first time Pinter's home has been burgled.

Adorning David Cameron's arm, Samantha Cameron was the accidental star of the political party conference season, dazzling with a series of effortlessly stylish outfits. Now she is celebrating a small triumph of her own in her day job as the creative director of Smythson, the top Bond Street stationer. I hear she has signed up the fashion designer Giles Deacon for a range of correspondence cards. "I received a phone call from Samantha after she had seen some of my sketches in 'Vogue'," says Deacon, "I am a huge fan of Smythson notebooks and always carry one with me everywhere, so I leapt at the chance."

Jeremy Paxman has been shedding further light on his reassuring (to the rest of us) self-doubt. "I suffer from Imposter Syndrome," he tells the National Union of Journalists' newsletter. "In other words, I have always wondered why anyone took me seriously. This was especially true when I became a journalist... .So one of the first things I did when I started work was to join the NUJ. It seemed a way of proving to the world that – whatever lack of evidence to support the claim – I really was a hack.... I still can't believe I'm a proper journalist." It's almost touching.

Tony Blair liked to do business in shirtsleeves, while Gordon prefers to keep his coat on. So what of David Miliband? The newly published Hugo Young diaries records a moment over lunch at ultra-smart London restaurant Wilton's when, attempting a spot of Blair informality, Miliband goes to take off his jacket. Humiliatingly, Young records, the waiter "restrains him".

Disappointment among patrons of the mental health charity MDF, who shelled out to hear Winston Churchill's great-grandson Jonathan Sandys deliver a lecture about Churchill's "Black Dog" – the name he gave his depression. Sandys makes a living by giving talks about his famous ancestor on the lucrative lecture circuit in the US, but last week's event in Pimlico left some supporters of the charity feeling short-changed. "He just reeled out some tired old anecdotes about Churchill that we could have read in a book," says one. "He seemed too young to even have known his great-grandfather." Indeed, Winston Churchill died in 1965, five years before Sandys' parents had even married.

Rebus author Ian Rankin reveals he has been receiving fan mail from Pete Townshend. In an interview with 'Q' magazine, he says that the Who guitarist is a fan of his work, and has been in touch. "I was very moved that you used music from The Who's 'Quadrophenia' at the funeral for Rebus's brother," Townshend wrote in an email. But while Rebus is one of the finest detectives of our time, Rankin's sleuthing skills leave something to be desired. "There isn't a return address," he complains. "There's no way of getting back to him. So we have this funny communication. I keep putting him in the books in the hope that he will send me another email."

In a dismissal of modern celebrity culture, Gwyneth Paltrow says: "I come from a long-ago era when it wasn't enough simply to be drunk, to forget your knickers or to make a sextape in order to become famous." Indeed not – Paltrow comes from an era when having a Hollywood producer father and an actress mother was, shall we say, no bar to getting on in the movies.

m.bell@independent.co.uk

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