It seems Ed "Soccer" Balls may be able to get some footballing tips before next year's Conference friendly. Despite a recent talking-to from his England superiors about his hard-drinking lifestyle, I'm told Liverpool striker Andy Carroll enjoyed a pint or two at the Labour Conference bar on Monday evening. Carroll was there with LFC and England team-mate Glen Johnson, surrounded by doting female delegates and a selection of gruff northern Labour types, one of whom assured me, "Andy did have a beer, but he was enjoying himself in a nice, civilised fashion. He was the perfect gentleman." Which is a turn up for the books. They'll make a true Red of him yet.
* Telegenic trader Alessio Rastani is the talk of Twitter following his controversial BBC News appearance. Contrary to conspiracy theory, he's no prankster; he hosts seminars for The Wealth Training Company, purveyors of get-rich-quick stock market courses. His boss Darren Winters was on a conference call, so I spoke instead to Tatjana Valujeva, Winters' partner, who seemed baffled that her colleague should be on the BBC at all. "I find it hilarious," she said. "If you walked around Canary Wharf, every second person you spoke to would be more qualified than Alessio to talk about the financial crisis." So is he a popular chap? "His stock market seminars are very popular... They'll be even more popular now!" Rastani, she explained, called in sick yesterday, so overwhelmed was he by the media attention. Luckily, he has since enlisted Max Clifford to do his PR.
* Unexpected news from the book charts, where Julian Assange's "unauthorised autobiography" is failing to perform as planned. (Which is either good or bad for Assange, depending on your point of view.) According to The Bookseller, the memoir sold 644 copies in its first three days on sale, making it the 50th bestselling hardback non-fiction book of last week, and only the 537th bestselling book overall, just behind Satisfaction, by Sharon Kendrick, "a collection of short stories featuring 'three of her sexiest, most intense Greek heroes and glamorous heroines'", published by Mills & Boon. Presumably, anybody who was interested by Assange's tale had already read the best bits, in The Independent.
* Also in books: on its 25th birthday, Bloomsbury has launched a digital global imprint, Bloomsbury Reader. Among the 500 out-of-print titles to be made available as BR ebooks are some by lesser-known family members of more illustrious authors. Dickens' great-granddaughter Monica, for instance, or Sacheverell Sitwell: travel writer and excessively named brother of Edith. The Loom of Youth (1917) is the debut novel by Evelyn Waugh's elder brother Alec, based on his boarding school days at Sherborne. It describes homosexual activity among the boys; for this, Waugh was the only Sherborne alumnus ever expelled by the old boys society. (The book was a bestseller.)
* CoolBrands® has unveiled its 2011 list of "the UK's coolest brands", which is topped annually by the same handful of familiar corporate names. "The top 20 is a reflection of our changing needs, wants and interests," said Stephen Cheliotis, chairman of the "CoolBrands Council", back in 2007. This year's winner is Aston Martin, which also came top in 2010, 2008, 2007 and 2006. Given that Aston Martin's "cool" credentials are based on the patronage of James Bond, who first drove one in 1964, it is hardly a product of the present zeitgeist. Bang & Olufsen is also perpetually included, despite being the preferred stereo provider of 1980s stockbrokers. Among other "CoolBrands" top 10 regulars are Ferrari, Harley-Davidson, Rolex and Dom Pérignon – none of which have been "cool" to under-45s since long before the list was first compiled in 2001. Indeed, a proper definition of "cool" remains elusive, and this column must conclude that the "Cool List" still makes a cool million or two for somebody somewhere, otherwise this least cool of cool-hunting endeavours would surely have been discontinued by now.
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