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

Unrivalled for its backhanders
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The Independent Online

It could be grounds for divorce. Anthony Seldon has reneged on a promise to his wife never to write another book about a prime minister. The headmaster of Wellington made the pledge on the final page of Blair Unbound, his 2007 biography of Tony Blair, apologising for the 18-hour days he worked, but I can reveal he is embarking on a book about Gordon Brown, called Brown at Ten, to be published in October 2010. Seldon says his book is not a biography but will be about the 10 turning points in Brown's premiership: "Oh my goodness, I thought I said I wouldn't write a biography," he splutters when I call, "I have some work to do with Joanna. Although she seemed all right about the book when I mentioned it. There will be a lot of flowers coming her way."

The BBC has got it in for Craig Murray – so says the former ambassador to Uzbekistan, who is standing as an independent candidate for Norwich North. He claims he was deliberately left out of a report on Newsnight last week, in which political editor Michael Crick profiled the main candidates in the by-election. The package ended with a list of the candidates on screen, from which Murray was again excluded. "I am truly shocked," he says, "Michael Crick certainly knows I am standing." Linened flâneur Martin Bell is outraged too: "It is very wrong that Craig Murray was not featured on Newsnight. He is a serious candidate, and serious independents must be given fair coverage by the media alongside the major political parties." But Michael Crick laughs it off when I call: "Oh yes, that's right, it's all a big conspiracy, ordered by the BBC governors. Of course it's not. It was an accident. We're not obliged to report all the candidates. He'll have to join the queue behind the BNP and Ukip candidates to be interviewed. It's much ado about nothing." Whom to believe?

Veteran travel writer Colin Thubron caused a stir at architect Charles Jencks' 70th birthday party last week by fainting, waking up at the feet of The Spectator's literary editor, Mark Amory. "I'm fine now," he tells me, "I had just come back from Tibet the day before where I caught a stomach bug. It was much worse for my poor girlfriend, who must have thought I'd had a stroke." Having written books on Siberia and the Great Wall, Thubron now hopes to write up his trip to Tibet, where he circumnavigated the Buddhist holy mountain of Kailash and celebrated his own 70th birthday. "I spent it with a couple of Sherpas, who made me an endearingly disgusting cake."

George Osborne may regret "flipping" his designated second home from his London house to his Cheshire farmhouse, following news he is to be investigated for sleaze. But neighbours in Notting Hill are delighted that he now calls W11 home. "It's wonderful," says writer Duncan Fallowell, "I've been asking the council to plant more trees here for 20 years, and they have done nothing. Other frustrated residents have complained about the muggings and junkies, and the tarts decorating Westbourne Park Road – although personally I don't mind them, I find them picturesque. But now, mysteriously, the council has swung into action. It's like the influence of a ghost nobody has yet seen."

To the Café Anglais, Rowley Leigh's cruise ship-inspired restaurant in Bayswater, for the inaugural Scrabble Club. Organised by columnist Liza Campbell, Thursday's event was sold out despite taking place on the busiest night in London, clashing with David Frost's summer party, Lord Weidenfeld's 90th, Faber's annual do and The Spectator summer party, to name a few. Four Weddings writer Richard Curtis was among those battling for the Alfred Butts Cup, named after Scrabble's inventor, which was won by Sue Swift. Sculptor Aly van den Berg won the Rotorua Plate, named after the New Zealand town where the only known Scrabble-related murder took place.

Jools Holland, Richard Adams and Candida Lycett Green were among those who gave thanks for the life of the "radical traditionalist" John Michell at his memorial service last week. Beat poet Michael Horowitz gave a rendition of William Blake's poem "Ah! Sun-Flower". Michell, who died of lung cancer in May, was an authority on crop circles and ley lines. He married and divorced a female druid shortly before his death.

m.bell@independent.co.uk

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