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

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The Independent Online

During his time as Brussels correspondent for 'The Daily Telegraph', Boris Johnson impressed his editor by filing story after exclusive story, all apparently unnoticed by other papers. There were mutterings that these scoops were perhaps not as firmly wedded to the truth as might have been desirable. Most memorable among them was a story in 1991 following an announcement by the European Commission that it was leaving its Berlaymont headquarters because of the health and safety risks from leaking asbestos. Johnson's explosive take on this was that the much-despised building was subsequently to be blown up. Seventeen years later, although it is now free of asbestos, the EC has yet to pack the walls with dynamite.

Former colleagues of Jason Cowley, until recently editor of 'Granta', have been expressing surprise at his appointment as editor of the 'New Statesman'. While his intelligence and talent for delegating are widely admired, he is not known as being well plugged in at Westminster, unlike most of those who had been approached before him. "He's very keen on good writing and is well connected with the corporate entertainment industry, but politics isn't particularly his thing," says one who knows him well.

With a vice-like grip, Max Mosley has clung on to his chairmanship of the FIA, world motor sport's governing body, since his exercises in a London basement were exposed by a Sunday tabloid. But should he still watch his back? Suave French Prime Minister François Fillon, whose popularity is causing problems for Sarko, has expressed an interest in the job, and according to 'Le Figaro' has told a fellow cabinet minister he "caresses the dream" of taking it. Mosley always wanted a career in politics but ruled it out because of his name. Could somebody arrange for a straight job swap?

Actor Samuel West memorably played Anthony Blunt in the BBC's 'Cambridge Spies' and will next month appear as Ted Heath in a drama alleging Margaret Thatcher once tried to seduce him. West is known to research his parts meticulously, and I understand he has been putting in hours at the British Library. Thanks to the wonders of wireless technology, my mole between the stacks was intrigued to see "Sam West's iTunes playlist" flash up on her computer. It seems he has eclectic tastes, notably a more than passing enthusiasm for birdsong. Album titles on his machine include 'Birds of New York', 'Eurobirds', 'Bird Mimicry', 'Songs of Garden Birds' and 'Warbler Songs and Calls'. Was this all part of the research, or just a hobby?

It hasn't been a good week for Prince Charles, who was toppled off the prime 8.10 slot on the 'Today' programme on Thursday by Gordon Brown. Charles's plea to halt the destruction of the rainforests was deemed less important than the Prime Minister insisting he was "probably" still the right man to lead the country. But despite the Prince's good intentions, he may have unwittingly been contributing to the environmental devastation. He has had his fleet of Jaguars and Land Rovers converted to run on biofuels – but large tracts of rainforest are being cleared for the crops required to produce these. It's not easy being green.

Most of the Johnson clan, including Mayor Boris, were in attendance at sister Rachel's party on Thursday to celebrate the launch of her new bonkbuster, 'Shire Hell'. But being a Johnson has its complications even if you're not one, as it were. Marigold Johnson, a counsellor and wife of thundering 'Spectator' columnist Paul, tells me she has been tarred with the same brush, despite being no relation to Boris. "After I'd taken a six-month psychotherapy course, one of the other therapists came up to me and said: 'I've been wanting to ask you all this time – are you Boris's mother?'" Johnson-watchers will know that Marigold heads up an entirely separate Johnson dynasty. Her sons include 'Standpoint' editor Daniel and the chairman of Channel 4, Luke.

Angelina Jolie is to appear on the cover of July's 'Vanity Fair'. She will by then be heavily pregnant, as we now know, with twins. But far from being a bold and sassy statement by a 21st-century woman able to marry her celebrity status with motherhood, such behaviour is now rather tawdry, say fashionistas.

"Pregnant poses are so over," I'm told, "When Demi Moore first did it in 1991 it was brave and exciting. But now everyone from Britney Spears to Mylene Klass has done it, and it's just not cool any more."

m.bell@independent.co.uk

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