n A MOST embarrassing misfortune has befallen the exciting new Blairite baby, Progress. This recently formed "educational trust" is the product of Peter Mandelson's dark protege, Derek Draper - a man, one might have thought, who should know a bit about slick PR. What a shame, then, to read in the House of Commons notices about another new group by the name of Progress. Let us hope the two are not confused - for the latter, I understand, is "a self-help group of former prostate cancer patients". Proof, at last, of a widely held contention. The Blair brigade, as we suspected, are indeed talking out of their less articulate orifices.
PETER Mandelson's courtship of the business world is not, alas, going smoothly. Letters were recently dispatched to "select figures in business and industry", inviting them to a special presentation of the ideas contained in his book, The Blair Revolution. Tickets are a snip, at pounds 75. One leading businessman and long-time Labour supporter in Leeds was not, I regret, impressed. "What? Seventy-five pounds to cross the Pennines to listen to him? I'd need paying to cross the road to hear him speak. Bugger off!"
n GOD, I can reveal, votes Liberal Democrat. This is the only reasonable conclusion to be reached, after an Easter Week of unseemly tussles over where the Almighty would put his cross. So to speak. For the Socialist Party of Great Britain, those great keepers of the flame based down in Clapham, last week's confession of faith from Tony Blair (pictured left) was but further evidence of new Labour's disgrace. The Socialist Party has just reaffirmed its outright ban on religious believers of any persuasion joining its ranks. Christians and other weak-minded fools are, they declare, too busy dreaming of the afterlife to devote themselves to the socialist struggle. Sorry, Mr Blair. The party's standards are rigorous in the extreme. According to the latest edition of the party's newsletter, Socialist Standard, not even Jesus himself would have been good enough to get in. This may explain why the party has a membership of only 500 people. And so I turn to the Church of England for purposeful advice on how to vote holy - and discover news that will warm Mr Ashdown's heart. Only one member of the House of Bishops is a member of any political party... and yes, he is a Liberal Democrat.
THE sorry sell-out of the Left, you might suppose, is a well-charted map. Not so. Last week I was informed of a new location, lurking behind ex-council houses and opted-out schools. Good socialists all - beware the garden. If the Stock Exchange is the Tory party at prayer, then that little patch of green out the back is undeniably new Labour at play.
This is the message of the Socialist Gardener, a fearless new publication promising "Neither William Morris nor Jonathon Porritt, but international lawn mowing". Their programme? "Garden Centres are bastions of counter- revolution, where no true socialist should ever be seen. Ponds, rockeries and bird tables are all signs of false consciousness. Down with them! Retiring to your garden because you are fed up with Blair is not acceptable." Unlike certain other elements on the "Left", the Socialist Gardener is clear on policy. "I urge all gardeners to strike a blow for socialism," instructs the first issue. "Pick a daffodil from someone else's garden, and post it to Tony Blair, c/o House of Commons, SW1, together with a note demanding that he pave over his garden in Islington at once."
And what a response! No sooner should word be out, than the following appears in the New Statesman, in the column of departing editor Steve Platt. "The bastards have nicked the window box again." So they have. "We nicked Platt's daffs and we'll do it again!" gloats Keith Flett, inveterate writer of letters to newspapers and chief Socialist Gardener. "Daffodils are a bourgeois diversion from the class struggle, and time spent on cultivating and smelling them is time that should be spent on the building of socialism."
Mr Platt does rather confirm this view. He mentions three local burglaries, two thefts, nine car break-ins, several assaults and a sex prowler in his column - yet it's the snatch of a few daffs that really gets our him going. Even as we speak, Flett's garden guerrillas are infiltrating Islington. Tony Blair, you have been warned. That darling red rose of yours may not be blooming this summer, after all.
n NEWS that pharmaceutical slimming pills (better known in nightclubs, I believe, as speed) are to be outlawed comes as an enormous relief. I am slightly confused, however, as to the reasons for the Government's decision. Apparently, I read, the tablets can precipitate a dangerous rate of weight loss, and have even been linked to a number of deaths. This has not been my experience. I have encountered the pills only once, when working in a small country pub, but the memory leaves a lasting impression. The landlord of the house was truly a colossus of a man. A quivering, ill-tempered mountain of steak and kidney pie, all awash with rich brown ale. It was a small bar, and sharing it on a busy night could be an uncomfortable, even alarming, ordeal. Never more so than on those fearful occasions when the publican would reach way past his magnificent girth for those dreaded slimming tablets. Large doses of amphetamine are not wise in a man of this size. Eighteen stone ricocheting around in a chemical frenzy is a profoundly frightening sight, and not one I wish to encounter ever again. But surely, did the tablets not at least make him lose some weight? Alas, they did not - they merely made him eat faster.
Charles Nevin returns next week
otomontage: JOE JENKINS
EMBARRASSING: Prince Charles's best-kept secret is out. He suffers from every man's worst nightmare... cellulite! And here are the pictures to prove it! They show Charles with unsightly "orange-peel" skin which his super-healthy diet and exercise regime have been unable to budge. The Prince has hidden his cellulite under trousers for the last two years, but now it's here for all the world to see - and the bad news for Charles, 47, is that he'll find it almost impossible to shift. Our experts were amazed when shown our picture of the Prince. "Even Charles has got cellulite! That will be comfort to millions of other men. It just goes to show - you can be the most wealthy, well-bred man in the world, and still get it!" said one, who runs a health club in south London. Opinion is split on the causes of Charles's tell-tale "cottage cheese" thighs. A health consultant says the picture shows "the classic symptoms of too many years spent sitting around on one's behind, waiting for an elderly relative to die", but a top beauty specialist blames the Prince's passion for prolonged spells squatting to converse with plants. According to the Independent on Sunday's relationship counsellor: "It's appalling. We are seeing the toxic build-up from years of adultery, sloth and lack of feeling. Sadly, these are common in a man of his age and standing." When the Prince saw our picture, he is reported to have burst into tears. "That's not cellulite," he sobbed. "That's saddle sores." Camilla Parker Bowles declined to comment.