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

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It looked set to be a case for Sherlock Holmes, but the mystery of Richard Caring's dead deer has been solved. The owner of top London restaurants The Ivy and Le Caprice tells me he has found the person who shot two prize stags and left them dying outside his Somerset retreat. "It was a local lad," he says, "but it's all over now, thank goodness." Despite offering a £15,000 reward to find the culprit, Caring tells me he has decided not to prosecute. "What's the point? He would only be fined twenty quid and let off." The killings were thought to be part of a rural backlash against rich metropolitans moving into the area, but he also tells me he has received a hundred letters of support from locals. Caring, who is worth an estimated £360m, has annoyed some with his extravagant building work at the house he bought in the grounds of Pixton Park, Auberon Waugh's ancestral home. But Caring is himself an enthusiastic countryman, spending most weekends blasting birds out of the sky.

Uh, oh – another royal gaffe. Prince Andrew, arguably the most clubbable of the Queen's children, was the guest of honour at a dinner to mark Nato's 60th birthday at St James's Palace on Monday. The banqueting hall was crammed with terribly important establishment types, including ambassadors, peers, diplomats and MPs. So imagine their surprise when, at the pinnacle of the evening, His Royal Highness stood up to make a speech, and, looking down the long list of names, turned and said: "I'm going to forget about all that and say, 'Oi, all you lot'." What was perhaps meant to be a moment of levity "went down like a lead balloon", says my man with the oyster fork. "Nobody laughed and I'm afraid he rather misjudged the mood." Could happen to any of us.

As the author of hit novels such as The World According to Garp, John Irving is famed for his vivid imagination. But even he couldn't have dreamed up what happened when he came home after undergoing a major operation. Having been treated for prostate cancer, Irving still had a catheter installed when he walked into his kitchen. "The dog took one look at the rubber hose apparatus, clearly thought it was a dog toy, and lunged," he recalls. "I thought, 'Oh God. Not even I could write this and get away with it.' I was totally paralysed. This 80lb ball of fur was charging across the kitchen." But, the tale has a happy ending: his son grabbed the dog in the nick of time. Phew!

You might have thought show-off retail tycoons Alan Sugar and Philip Green would be close friends. But Sir Philip is surprisingly dismissive of Sr'Alan – sorry, Lord Sugar – when I ask what he makes of the Government's enterprise tsar, and rules himself out as a potential successor. "I wouldn't want to do it," he sniffs, "I've got a proper job." But what of Sugar's business, is Green not an admirer of Amstrad? "It's a joke," he says dismissively. Sugar has been losing supporters rapidly after he described small businessmen as "moaners" who "lived in Disney World". There goes another one.

Gordon Brown ended the week on a high after his impressive performance on the Today programme. But one of his closest allies has revealed to me her delight at no longer having to work for him. Baroness Vadera, who unexpectedly quit the Government as an economic adviser in September, confides she is glad to be out of Number 10. Do you miss working for the Government, I asked her at the Evening Standard's party for movers and shakers. "No way!" she says, "Good luck to them." But she tells me she is still in regular contact with the PM, and there is talk she will use her new post at the G20 to secure him a job after the election.

Joanna Lumley, Michael Caine, Anne Robinson, Chris Rea, Steven Berkoff ... the roll call of stars at Michael Winner's book launch last week is too exhaustive to list. All turned up on time for his awards ceremony, in which Winner dished out gongs – each presented by a different sleb – to all his favourite restaurant owners. Only one person let the side down. John Witherow, A-list editor of The Sunday Times, was nowhere to be seen when he was meant to present an award. But he is Winner's boss. How grand!

m.bell@independent.co.uk

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