Diary: Writing on wall for Bono

High Street Ken
Saturday 22 October 2011 23:26

Bono – singer, activist, hotelier, sometime newspaper editor and investor in "arguably the worst run institutional fund of any size in the United States" – is mired in controversies over his anti-poverty foundation, ONE, and ethical fashion house, Edun.

To cheer himself up, I'm told, he has commissioned an artwork to mark his band's recent trip to Turkey. This month U2 played their first gig in Istanbul, described by the geographically astute Irishman as "the bridge between East and West". Via his friend, art dealer Enrico Navarro, he then asked artist Andre Saraiva to create a work inspired by the occasion.

Saraiva, a Parisian club-owner and graffiti artist who goes by the name of Monsieur A, has produced a large canvas with the words "Europe Loves Asia Asia Loves Europe" spray-painted across it. With a new exhibition imminent (today's unveiling of a wireframe Range Rover design, for the launch of the new Evoque), Monsieur A told me, "I wanted something simple but effective and I think [Bono] is pleased with what I have done."

* Now that Miliband (E) has declared the New Labour era over, might we also bid farewell to one of that project's less seemly side effects? I speak of the faux football fandom of Labour's frontbenchers. It began with Tony Blair's cringeworthy game of keep-uppy with Kevin Keegan, and was still in evidence as the leadership election results came in on Saturday. Andy Burnham, Man of the People™, dubiously claimed he was "more worried about the Everton result" than about the future direction of the Labour Party. Ed "Bruiser" Balls breezily informed reporters that "the big result of the day was Manchester City beating Chelsea". Then, following Miliband (E)'s victory, exiled ex-Blairite James Purnell mischievously declared, "What a terrible result – I can't believe we lost at home to West Brom!" On Sunday, Burnham and Balls turned out for Labour FC, beating a team of hacks 5-3. Miliband (E) claims to be a fan of Leeds United, who since their mid-1990s success suffered bankruptcy and a plunge through two divisions. But his true sporting passion is baseball's Boston Red Sox, famous for their 86-year World Series losing streak.

* John Prescott, more of a boxing man, was spotted yesterday at conference, enjoying a frank exchange of views with Martin Kelsey of the Public and Commercial Services (PCS) Union. I presume the former deputy PM had steam to let off after the unions thwarted his bid to become party treasurer. "Two men and a dog voted for him," Kelsey agreed when I called. "PCS isn't affiliated to the party and we were robust in our criticism of public-sector job cuts under the last government. [Prescott] defended New Labour's record. It was heated. But there was never any danger of him taking a swing at me. I suspect he enjoys a good old-fashioned political row as much as I do. I'd rather that than everyone say, 'let's not argue'." Couldn't agree more.

* Also in arguments, Duncan Bannatyne tells me his fellow business chap James Caan hasn't spoken to him since he revealed Caan's non-dom status in a March article – despite the pair filming a series of Dragon's Den in the meantime. "I inadvertently told the world he was non-dom for tax purposes," Bannatyne explained at the British Olympic Ball. "He told us all, but I didn't know that it was a secret, so I mentioned it in my column. He went mad. He refuses to shake my hand or speak to me. The rest of the Dragons, including Theo Paphitis, who's a non-dom, agree the Government should change the law on non-doms." Of the spat, he said: "It's his problem, not mine." It may soon be; Caan is said to be consulting lawyers about his rival's continued tweeting on the matter.

* Business can be unforgiving. Is that why budding entrepreneur Sam Branson is focusing on music? The 25-year-old has taken this column's advice, changing his band's name from the inadvisable "Burke" (say it out loud) to "Delilah". "Business isn't what drives or inspires me," Branson said. "It's the creativity. Dad wouldn't have got anywhere without being so creative; it wasn't that he was good at business." Sir Richard's shareholders may beg to differ. But then, there was Virgin Cola...

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