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

Click to follow
The Independent Online

Forget Paxman's Pooterish gusset anxieties – real celebs don't wear pants at all. At least they don't at the Beckhams'. News reaches me of a dinner party at David and Victoria's Los Angeles mansion where guests included Desperate Housewife Eva Longoria Parker and top fashion designer Tom Ford, pictured below. In the course of the evening, it became apparent that Eva was not wearing any knickers. Ford, who always claims to go commando himself, took the opportunity to give his manhood an airing. Although David Beckham is said to slip on Victoria's knickers occasionally, he was somewhat embarrassed. "It was all taken in good humour," my source tells me. "They were having fun. It was that sort of evening – it was laughed at. David was cool with it. He's not averse to getting his packet out himself."

Cheering news for anyone worried about the ethics of MPs employing family members. Peter Hain – remember him? – has had his 80-year-old mother, Adelaine, on his payroll since he was elected in 1991. But I'm happy to report she provides excellent value for money. "I'm a general dogsbody," she reassures me from her south London home. "I work from home on both Peter's House of Commons work and his constituency correspondence. I certainly put in the hours, and I'm paid a pittance." But will she survive the imminent backlash? "Of course." Here's hoping.

Multimillionaire Tory donor Christopher Moran is fast losing his friends in Chelsea, after painstakingly rebuilding Crosby Hall, his Tudor palace on the Thames. Moran is refusing to take down the temporary hoardings surrounding the palace despite external building work having finished a year ago. Locals have repeatedly complained to the council, which has written to Moran on three occasions, but to no avail. The fencing and fine-netting combo obscure the view of the mansion, a jewel of Tudor architecture. Moran, who enjoys his privacy, is thought to have left them up to keep prying eyes away. "The council is currently waiting for the owner to provide evidence that building work is still being carried out at the site," says a spokesman.

Remember Derry Irvine and the Puginesque wallpaper? In a symbolic severance with the Blair years, the House of Lords authorities have announced that the Lord Chancellor's apartment is to be reallocated and converted for use by mere mortals. Lord Brabazon, chairman of the Lords' committees, has decreed that the huge Writing Room in the mansion will be turned into an open-plan office for various clerks and orderlies, and the gracious dining room and sitting room will be turned into egalitarian "meeting rooms". The old south front bedroom, with views of the Thames, will become "an office with desks for use by Members". And the wallpaper? As yet no news. We'll keep you posted.

As Mohamed al-Fayed's counsel in the Diana inquest, Michael Mansfield QC is on a tidy little earner. But has he squared it with his conscience? An ardent animal-lover and vegan, Mansfield is a patron of the Vegetarians International Voice for Animals (Viva!), which campaigns against fishing, and whose Christmas dinners he addresses. But his paymaster, Fayed, owns one of Scotland's premier sporting estates, Balnagown, which is available for hire and offers a smorgasbord of country pursuits, including fishing, shooting and stalking. A week's salmon-fishing at Castle Harrods will set you back £4,000, although the coming season is fully booked. That should help pay Mansfield's hefty bills.

Proof – if any were needed – that Marlborough is the new Dalston. Sienna Miller and Rhys Ifans have been spotted in the Wiltshire town while staying with Pete Doherty in his rented house in the nearby Savernake Forest. Doherty has taken to country life as if to the manner born, and is now planning to open an animal sanctuary in the area. The only thing missing in Pete's life is, I'm told, a piano teacher. A local at the Sun Inn, which Doherty frequents and where he plays the odd gig, says the Babyshambler approached Miss Toomer, the highly regarded piano mistress at Marlborough College, in the hope she might give him lessons. But it seems she had to turn him down, as her schedule is already full with other budding young pianists.

Tough times call for drastic measures, even for Rupert Murdoch. The dip in the housing market has forced him to drop the price of his seaside home in the Hamptons by $2m to a trifling $12.8m. Although it will be a sizeable loss, News Corp employees need not have a whip-round yet – Ru and Wendi are still set to make a decent profit, as they bought the house in 2003 for $7.8m.

m.bell@independent.co.uk

Comments