Minister's memoirs

Which government minister is toying with the intriguing title More Room on Top for his up-coming memoirs? It can only be Steven Norris, the transport minister, best known for his fleet of girlfriends (seven at the last count). His could be a very rare example of a kiss-and-tell memoir where it is the minister doing the telling.

Mr Norris, one of the greener (in the nicest sense) transport ministers of recent years, may be a Major supporter and has been knocking on the door of the Cabinet for some time. But the Prime Minister is unlikely to be overjoyed at the prospect of the re-telling of the sexual encounters of one of his ministers. Mr Norris, of course, is separated from his wife, one of the reasons why he has the dubious distinction of being the only minister to survive newspaper claims of "scandals" in his private life.

According to Mr Norris, he is a loyal Conservative who is publishing the book partly to put the record straight on his private life.

If Mr Major needs advice on how to respond to the Norris memoir, he can always take advice from a senior spin doctor at Conservative Central Office, Sheila Gunn, one of the many former Norris flames.

Kohls' notes

This week will be a particularly busy one for the German Chancellor, Helmut Kohl. For, in addition, to his mundane regular duties, he is to attend a book launch - his own.

It emerges that Herr Kohl and his wife, Hannelore, have been quietly penning a cookbook, Culinary Journey Through Germany, based on the multifarious Bratwurst and Schnitzel delights they have popped into their mouths since he came into office. Not all the recipes, however, will be to everybody's taste. One of the Chancellor's favourite dishes, apparently, is stuffed pig's stomach. The book should do wonders for the Eurosceptic Vegetarian Society.

New step for Disco Di

Readers' ideas of how the conversation between the Princess of Wales and Madonna would have flowed over their high tea together have been plentiful, I'm pleased to say. A number of you showed convincing evidence of wasted youth by weaving large numbers of Madonna song titles (most notably "Express Yourself") into the conversation. But the prize goes to David Lockwood from Leamington Spa who speculated that Madonna and Diana were discussing the latter's plans for a post-divorce career as a pop star - The Artiste Formerly Known As Princess.

Poet of the week

Hastings' finest poet, Fiona Pitt-Kethley, may be going to Amsterdam if her luck (and that of Hastings) is in. I hear that the well-travelled Ms P-K, who recently married chess grandmaster James Plaskett, has taken to entering competitions to aid her much-trumpeted fiscal worries. The Big Issue, the journal produced to aid the homeless, recently offered its readers the chance to win a trip to Amsterdam in return for naming their favourite Van Gogh painting. A postcard from Ms P-K duly arrived carrying her choice, "Skull with a cigarette". Let's hope she wins and starts a series: poets win prizes.


On Friday, the New Christian Herald, a weekly newspaper for evangelical Christians, is to be launched, with a print run of 45,000, twice the circulation of its rivals. Its editor is one Russ Bravo, who sounds like he comes from the Cliff Richard school of hip but wholesome evangelicism. Mr Bravo, a former journalist with the Derby Evening Telegraph, is suitably gung- ho about his paper's prospects.

"We're going where the rubber hits the road as far as faith is concerned," he proclaims. It is good to know that modern evangelicals prefer the whiff of burning rubber to that of brimstone, but the first problem of the new paper is to get its handbrake off.

It has signed a deal with the Evangelical Alliance, an organisation that claims to represent a million Christians, to be the official sponsor of its 150th anniversary celebrations for an undisclosed sum. The celebrations started at the weekend with a jubilee at Wembley Arena, a week before the launch of the New Christian Herald. The launch, apparently, was unavoidably delayed by an unforeseen development, Christmas.

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