John Prescott and the curse he visits upon restaurants
John Prescott is welcomed at restaurants up and down the country – he has been known to chomp his way through entire menus – but his patronage would appear to come with a curse.
Both establishments hold fond memories for Prescott. He has admitted on some nights to eating his way through Mr Chu's entire menu. In 2004, he treated Zha Peixin, then the Chinese ambassador to Britain, to a slap up meal at the restaurant.
Four years later, however, its owners were fined £4,000 by magistrates after pleading guilty to 10 food hygiene offences, including poor cooling practices and cross-contamination of food.
At both establishments, it is Prescott's custom to sit at corner tables with a napkin tucked into his collar and his back to the other diners so they can't see how much he consumes.
Gordon Brown calls on Andrew Motion
Andrew Motion took a call from Gordon Brown the other day. The Prime Minister asked the former poet laureate if he could think of a piece of poetry that was apposite to his predicament.
"I gave him a line from Keats about being a battered rock we can hang on to in a stormy sea," Motion tells Vogue.
If he had called me, I would have plumped for Auden's Stop the Clocks ("Bring out the coffin, let the mourners come").