Matthew Bell: The <i>IoS</i> Diary (07/11/10)

No cheese, but the toast of the nation

Sunday 07 November 2010 01:00
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The Met's attempt to help David Cameron's chief spinner, Andy Coulson, in his brave battle to overcome amnesia (mercifully limited to the phone hacking that went on when he was editor of the News of the World) has not impressed Tom Watson. The stalwart Brownite MP smells a rat. "People will think it curious that the story [of his interview by the police at his solicitor's office] was put out by Downing Street late on a Friday night when the BBC was on strike," he observes. "Besides, why was he not interviewed under caution, as other interviewees have been? Given that the Met are under parliamentary scrutiny for their handling of the previous inquiry, I think it's time they handed over to another police authority." So who is paying Coulson's legal costs? Downing Street says not them (or so they believe), which means either Coulson will pay his own bills or Wapping will pick up the tab, as it did for Clive Goodman and Glenn Mulcaire, the two men who did time for phone hacking.

Married or not, Kate Moss hasn't lost any of her allure. Her latest conquest is the social dynamo and arbiter of all things common, Nicky Haslam, whose face she was spotted chewing off at the launch of Bryan Ferry's new album at the Dean Street townhouse. Now Haslam, in his new blog (nh-design.co.uk), has posted pictures of the clinch for all to see. "I can't remember exactly what she said but it was just completely brilliant and I just went for it," he says, by way of explanation. Snog and blog – must be the new kiss and tell. But isn't that rather common?

The gay valet subplot in Downton Abbey generated much debate about attitudes to homosexuality in Edwardian England. Now news reaches me of some excitement at Debrett's, chronicle of the aristocracy: the next edition will record the first civil partnership between two toffs. The splendidly named Colquitto McDonnell, son of the honourable Hector McDonnell and nephew of Lord Antrim, has tied the knot with another titled fellow who appears elsewhere in its pages. Genealogists call this cross-referencing, and it has caused a stir. "We have already recorded several civil partnerships," says a spokesman, "but this is the first instance of somebody being double-printed. It's much rarer since social mobility kicked in."

Watch out, Andrew Roberts – there's a new super name-dropper in town. Philippa Walker, wife of BBC creative supremo Alan Yentob, has managed to name-check more than 30 swanky friends in a diary for The Lady. These include Lucian Freud, who we learn nodded at her at the Wolseley, Hanif Kureishi, whom she witnessed receiving the PEN Pinter prize from Lady Antonia, "in honour of much-missed Harold", and Rachel Johnson, her editor, whose book "wasn't selling many copies" at a Notting Hill soirée. She also mentions Dr Mark Cecil, "who lives in Money World". As against the Yentobs, who struggle by with a £5.5m property portfolio and his £183,000 salary from the BBC.

Claire Perry, the new MP for Devizes, has come under attack for being annoying and patronising. Her maiden speech was about rural poverty, while her Salisbury home is on the market for £3m. Now John Glen, the new Tory MP for Salisbury, has written a touching account of his own rise to prominence in House magazine, the Westminster rag. Ideally, it should be read with a solo violin accompaniment: "It had been a long journey... going through all those disappointments has been helpful to me in terms of my character.... What is important is that you don't lose your soul along the way." All very revealing. But he is less forthcoming when he gets in a dig at a colleague: "I've noticed some colleagues out to make a name for themselves, but I play a long game. There's no point racing around and annoying everyone." Now, who could he possibly mean?

Tube drivers, the BBC, firefighters – now strikes have caused disruption in Shropshire. Workers at the Aga factory in Telford had been looking forward to a visit from Gérard Depardieu, the jowly-jawed actor. He had arranged a tour of the oven-maker's premises after falling in love with his own gas-guzzling range which, I'm told, has become the height of fashion in Paris. Alas, he had to cancel at short notice after transport strikes meant he risked missing getting back in time for filming. But aren't French actors on strike too?

m.bell@independent.co.uk

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