Pandora: Cover star Campbell calls in the favours

By Alice-Azania Jarvis
Thursday 19 March 2009 01:00

Alastair Campbell appears as guest editor of the New Statesman today – and quite the leather-bound address book of names he has commissioned, too.

The spin maestro's former boss Tony Blair has been roped in to write a piece about God (a subject that he famously didn't "do" under Campbell's watch). Meanwhile Campbell's other half, Fiona Millar, shares a byline with Melissa Benn, and Paul Dacre, editor of the Daily Mail, contributes a surprising piece about his "inordinate gratitude" to the NHS.

Of course, relations with Dacre haven't always been so rosy; Campbell has previously described him as "one of the most poisonous men in public life".

Naturally, the guest editor is also the cover star (accompanied by someone or other who goes by the name of Sir Alex Ferguson) – though I am assured that this decision, at least, wasn't Alastair's own.

"That was definitely someone here," comments one Staggers staffer. "Actually he surprised us all by coming in every day all day this week and taking it very seriously: chivvying, editing, bantering with the staff. As you can imagine he could have just written a few token emails but he did it properly."

Saint Lucia is so Amycable

Just a few weeks after returning to England's smoggy shores, it seems that Amy Winehouse is planning a second voyage to the Caribbean.

The toothpick-thin soul singer has been announced as the headline act at this year's Saint Lucia Jazz Festival.

"It's a thank-you for all the kind hospitality she has received on the island," explains a spokesperson. "She's expected to appear on the final weekend with KC and the Sunshine Band."

Let's hope her impending trial – she is facing a charge of assualt – doesn't cause any scheduling problems.

Prescott makes an unlikely cameo

There was a surprise guest at yesterday's Phones 4u "Girls Only Day" – in the unlikely form of John Prescott.

Apparently, the well-upholstered former deputy PM – who didn't quite fit the demographic of those who had come for "a tailor-made experience, specifically for women who find mobile phone shopping intimidating" – was almost as bemused by his attendance as the other guests.

Still, I'm told Prezza was all charm, obligingly posing for photographers and even – briefly – manning the Soho store's DJ decks. Though there's no word, as yet, on whether he took advantage of the "free hair, make-up and manicures" on offer.

Carine won't be taking Manhattan

Carine Roitfeld, the formidable editor of French Vogue, has ruffled a few custom-made feathers by ruling herself out of the running as a successor to her American counterpart, Anna Wintour.

Asked about the possibility during a live interview with the American news channel CNN, Roitfeld claimed she would prefer to stay in Paris. "It would be too political at American Vogue for me," she insisted.

"And I'm not sure I talk enough good English to work there.

"It's a bit like for an actor. Do you want to go to Hollywood or do you want to stay here in Paris and do the cinema I like to do? I think I prefer to stay here."

No doubt her announcement will come as some relief to Wintour, who has been dogged by rumours of retirement for the past six months.

Roitfeld, generally seen as a younger, edgier alternative, was the pundits' favourite to take her place.

Henman's bidding war

Tim "not-so tiger" Henman appears to have found new pulling power since his retirement two years ago.

In May he will participate in a one-off match at Wimbledon to break in the new Centre Court roof ahead of this summer's tournament.

Priced at a modest £35, all 15,000 tickets sold out in five minutes.

Now, however, those very same tickets are commanding up to £500 per pair on eBay. Who knew he had such a devoted fanbase?

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