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Gorgeous George could climb celebrity alphabet

Oliver Duff
Monday 08 January 2007 01:00 GMT

It seems that the previously indefatigable George Galloway may be tiring of his parliamentary concerns.

The MP for Bethnal Green and Bow long ago bored of appearing in the House of Commons and has, Pandora learns, privately discussed terminating his 20-year career as an MP.

He will not stand again for his current seat - which he famously won by defeating Labour's Oona King in acrimonious circumstances.

An aide insists that he has not ruled out running in the neighbouring east London constituency of Poplar, home to enemy and Blairite junior minister Jim Fitzpatrick. (Fitzpatrick called Galloway a "C-list politician with an A-list ego" for entering Big Brother's "celebrity graveyard" - a sad decline from the moment in May 1998 when, during a grudge match between Scottish and English MPs, Galloway passed to Fitzpatrick to score a rocket.)

But Galloway is said to be so pleased with the public response to his TalkSport radio rant show - he now presents eight hours a week spread across Friday, Saturday and Sunday nights - that he wants to pursue his flowering media career.

A spokesman for Galloway concedes: "George won't stand again in Bethnal Green and Bow. That's the only hard fact. Beyond that, the world is his oyster."

Says Bill Ridley, TalkSport's programme director: "We see a good future for George. He has come on in leaps and bounds as a broadcaster. People love his show. Or love to hate it. He could have a very successful media career."

On Her Majesty's civil service

Whispers of excitement among Whitehall's calculator carriers following the publication of a civil service thriller. (A new sub-genre and not, on this occasion, an oxymoron.)

John Nightingale, a financial fraud bod in the Department for Work and Pensions, has spent sandwich breaks daydreaming his debut novel, The Sky Blue Parcel.

As expected from a man married to Caroline Slocock, the head of the Equal Opportunities Commission, Nightingale ensures his female sleuth is not confined to holding the evidence bags for a testosterone-charged protagonist.

Indeed, his Jane Charles bears a canny resemblance to James Bond's latest companion, the gutsy Vesper Lynd (Eva Green), in Casino Royale) - a female Treasury official charged with keeping tabs on the investigators, who subsequently becomes embroiled in espionage and extra-curricular intimacy.

Pride before the Fall

The go-go girls in Pandora's Bangkok bureau e-mail about Britain's Ambassador to Thailand, David Fall. Readers may remember that in August he held an uproariously successful seminar, "The Influence of Monty Python on British Foreign Policy".

This picture appears to show His Excellency in pyjamas, clutching a teddy bear, in an am-dram production of The Pirates of Penzance. Fall took to the stage as "therapy" after half of his embassy was flogged to property developers and converted into a building site.

"The workers weld, dig and bulldoze till midnight. They have not adopted the tea break philosophy of the English labourer," says an old soak at the embassy pub. "The swimming pool and tennis court have been destroyed already. Everyone's taking it pretty badly."

Bile's not style

An ITN cameraman, en route to an interview with John Prescott, wanders lost along the corridors of Admiralty House. A flunky tells him: "Prezza's down there," before laughing cruelly: "But not for long."

* Reverberations echo about the headquarters of The Guardian after the newspaper's uniquely vicious obituary of the former BBC chairman, Marmaduke "Duke" Hussey.

The "sneering" article by Dan van der Vat was an "outpouring of snobbish bile"; "dishonourable", "ignorant" and "mean-spirited".

And that's the opinion of Liz Forgan, who chairs the trust that owns The Guardian. The article has curiously been purged from the newspaper's website.

Why Lembit's a real fungi

Lembit Opik's romance of Gabriela Cheeky is, in the young lady's words, "like a mushroom growing overnight and it can only get bigger". Rumours gather that the MP, famous for demanding a "cosmic condom" be fired into space to prevent asteroids hitting Earth, plans to propose.

Asked if he might confirm or deny the story, the Libido Democrat gets his secretary to call me back. "Lembit says he couldn't possibly comment, but that perhaps you should speak to Margit, his potential mother-in-law." The terrifying Mrs Irimia (aka Cheeky Mum) says she "would be happy" about such a development, because Lembit "isn't one of those youngsters falling around in clubs". Although that's not what his ex, Sian Lloyd, said.

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