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

Sizzling enough without the barbecue
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The Independent Online

Readers of The Daily Telegraph were left puzzled by Friday's leader column, which called for Alan Duncan to be swept off the Tory front bench. With so many important issues in the news – rendition, euthanasia, Afghanistan – it seems an odd call. But the newspaper and shadow Leader of the House have been at daggers drawn since the expenses story, when Dunky found himself front-page news for "flipping" his second home. Now news reaches me that Duncan recently responded in peppery manner to a constituent who sent him a Telegraph cutting, replying by suggesting he read The Times in future. I'm told his response happened to find its way to the Telegraph editorial department, which may or may not have had a bearing on Friday's peculiar leader.

Blokey bloke James May is building a house of Lego big enough for full-size people. "I've got a man working on a flushing Lego lavatory," the tousle-haired Top Gear presenter boasted yesterday as work got under way. The project is for a forthcoming TV series, James May's Toy Stories. But it seems unlikely anyone will ever make it into the house once it's built. I can reveal that structural engineers close to the project have banned anyone from entering it on health and safety grounds, as with no reinforcements it is liable to collapse. It is a serious blow, but all is not lost. Why not scale it down for hamster-sized people? He must know someone suitable.

Much excitement in Notting Hill, where Woody Allen is making a film with Anthony Hopkins and Naomi Watts. Shooting began last week outside the offices of literary agents Rogers, Coleridge & White. My mole tells me one of the crew was caught short and, after nipping in to use the loo, reported back on the magnificently English and chaotic scene within the agency. Always on the lookout for typically English locations, producers were straight round and papers were signed. We'll have to wait until 2010 to see the results.

There's no love lost between Antony Worrall Thompson and Gordon Ramsay, who memorably once called his rival a "squashed Bee Gee". But last month Ramsay made moves to hoist the white flag. Now Wozza has launched a fresh attack on the potty-mouthed pot-boiler: "I have a feeling he hasn't got any depth," he says. "I don't think he reads cookbooks like they were novels, like I tend to do. He's a one-trick pony. If it hasn't got an F in it, it doesn't feature in his show." It's not just Ramsay he's got views on: Jamie Oliver is "brilliant at re-inventing himself all the time, doing the new Messiah bit", while Heston Blumenthal is written off for his gimmickry. "Heston loves his food, don't get me wrong – but some of those egg-and-bacon ice creams, beetroot jellies where it's coloured orange... It's a gimmick... Everyone will look back in 10 years' time and be horrified – even Heston to some extent." Watch out!

She has starred in the Harry Potter films since the age of nine, her formative years spent on and off set with Daniel Radcliffe and Emma Watson. Now, with the last movie about to start filming, Bonnie Wright is dreading life after Hogwarts. The 18-year-old actress reveals she can't bear the thought of the Harry Potter films ending. "None of us had really thought about life after Harry Potter," she tells me while promoting the ethical fashion organisation Made By. "It's such a weird thought to think it will all be over in April." Bonnie plays the part of Ginny Weasley, Harry's love interest in the latest film, although there is no romance off stage. "We've all grown up together – we're like siblings."

Harry Patch was, for a week, the oldest living Briton, at the age of 111. A remarkable age, but not quite as impressive as Thomas Parr, the old man commemorated by a plaque in Westminster Abbey. Parr was born in 1483, and lived until 1635, when he was 152. He didn't marry until he was 80, and when his wife died he remarried at the age of 122. The miraculous old boy became something of a celebrity, and Charles I arranged for him to be buried in Westminster Abbey. Alas, studies suggest he was in fact less than 70 years old, and that his records might have been confused with those of his grandfather.

m.bell@independent.co.uk

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