Does Downing Street employ a celebrity selector? A consultant who sits down with Gordon Brown and his wife Sarah and advises them on picking famous people for special occasions? Such as which model or sitcom star should sit next to Emine Erdogan, wife of the Turkish prime minister, who also organises charity events to educate low-income women?
If so, I would like to be considered for the job. My qualifications? I once interviewed Angela Rippon for the celebrity magazine Hello! It was tricky getting the former newsreader away from talking about Mikhail Gorbachev, the Soviet leader, and the Iraq war but after some perseverance I think I got some genuine news lines about her thoughts on the reality television show I’m a Celebrity …Get Me out of Here!, the state of her love life, and her legs.
Anyway, the point is, I can’t be much worse than the person who designed the guest list for this week’s dinner party for the spouses of the Group of 20 world leaders (or Wags – wives and girlfriends – as they’ve been called).
Sure, there were some serious yet starry women such as Gail Rebuck, the head of publishers Random House; and some must-invitees, such as Harriet Harman, deputy leader of the Labour party, and Maggie Darling, wife of the chancellor, Alistair.
But who decided it was a good idea to invite Ruth Jones, the Welsh star of the BBC sitcom Gavin and Stacey, or the model Naomi Campbell, to the slap-up nosh-up? (I did check with Downing Street press office that it was not an April Fool’s joke.) In the unlikely event that women take control of the world and Mr Brown is designing a table plan for the political Hags (or, more correctly, Habs), would he invite the underwear model for Calvin Klein, too?
Aside from hugging Nelson Mandela, what precisely are the British model’s credentials for a place at the political table? Perhaps it was the many hours she has devoted to community service – punishments for hitting police officers at Heathrow airport and also throwing a mobile phone at her housekeeper. And while Ms Jones may be the best thing about Gavin and Stacey, it is unlikely that Thérèse Rein, the wife of Australia’s prime minister Kevin Rudd, and Chikako Aso, Japan’s first lady, have heard of the programme.
Presumably the guest-list adviser was the same person who decided last year that classical violinist Vanessa Mae, Blue Peter television presenter Konnie Huq and ITV newsreader Trevor McDonald – all wholly unknown for their sporting ability – should be torchbearers to carry the Olympic flame across London?
I can only assume that the job of choosing celebrities is not given to a person. It must be that Number 10 has a large celebrity name generator, like the big ball machine that chooses the numbers in the National Lottery. If that is the case, can I at least chuck some of the balls out?
All’s rosy for Rose
No wonder Sir Stuart Rose, chief executive of Marks and Spencer, looked pleased with himself. It wasn’t just the fact that this week’s trading update showed sales at the retailer had done better than expected – or not as badly as had been expected. It’s the fact that he smuggled in some gifts for the Obama girls. Mrs Brown gave Mrs Obama gifts for her daughters: T-shirts, jeans, mini-skirts and kids’ sunglasses from M&S.
It comes in the same week as his former nemesis, Sir Philip Green, opens the first US branch of Topshop in New York. The two retail kings may have patched things up since Sir Stuart thwarted Sir Philip’s attempt to buy M&S. Surely the M&S chief executive can’t fail to feel just a bit smug that, in the retailers’ race to dress the Obama family, he has pipped Sir Philip to the post.
Bankers in need
If there’s one crisis that has emerged from the G20 protests it is the horrifying state of bankers’ dressed-down wardrobes. A man with a Hackett rugby-lite top with sticky-up shirt collar and chinos is not concealing his identity, he is crying for help. Please, dig deep.
If you fancy a bit of nostalgic entertainment, a reminder of previous capitalist meltdowns, there is a new show in the offing: Enron, the play. Coming to the Royal Court in west London in autumn, it will follow a “group of flawed men and women in a narrative of greed and loss which reviews the tumultuous 1990s”.
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