The insider - Kevin Maguire proposes a return to Granita
Mexicans move into Islington, Hewitt aide flees to ITV, and concern for Charlie's boy
The changing fortunes of the Granita restaurant in Islington suggest bad omens for the supposed rapprochement between Tony Blair and Gordon Brown. When the two met there in 1994, Blair ate the rabbit and got the Labour crown, while Brown's refusal to order anything left him with 11-year-long indigestion. But the Californian-style original, with its wooden floors and stripped tables - where the noise was such that some wondered if Brown had misheard when he thought Blair offered to step down after two elections - closed some time ago. A new Granita, a traditional carpet-and-white-tablecloth Italian, has been and gone. Now, it is to be a Mexican restaurant. A good place for a stand-off at some stage in the third term?
Organised spontaneity on the Blair tour of Britain was evident at the Birmingham International Convention Centre. The PM was there in person while a giant picture of his Health Secretary, John Reid, was beamed on a video link from a nearby training school for nurses. The compere Kevin Whately, who proved in Auf Wiedersehen, Pet that he is almost as good an actor as Blair, made great play of how questioners would be picked at random. So how did Reid know, when a question was asked at the conference centre, that a nurse with him wanted to ask the same question?
Fox-hunters are the hounds who've failed to bark. Instead of the mass protests and civil disobedience that were threatened, a single egg has been hurled at John "Thumper" Prescott. The hunters' latest wheeze was to affix a yellow "To Let" sign on the Long Eaton HQ of the East Midlands regional Labour Party. But their intrepid raiding squad fled when the intruders heard laughter from inside as they crept up the path. The sign was left leaning against a wall and is awaiting collection in reception.
Redundant Rover workers are unlikely to be cheered by news of a six-figure salary for Jim "God" Godfrey, special adviser to the Trade and Industry Secretary, Patricia Hewitt. He is preparing to jump ship after the election for ITV corporate communications. As well as thinking he'll become PM, the bumptious Godfrey fancies himself as a pianist. Hotel staff at a Labour conference had to order him to desist during the early hours after the music disturbed the guest in a bedroom above: Tony Blair.
Some jobs should be rejected whatever the pay. David Hinchliffe, the outgoing Wakefield MP and former chair of the health select committee, can, as a Rugby League fan, spot a hospital pass in his sleep. So he quickly turned down an offer to chair a Yorkshire NHS trust, which
has been put in intensive care after heading for a hefty deficit. Hinch suggested that the words "likely", "not" and "bloody" be arranged into a short statement.
Arise Lord Desmond of Asian Babes? Word in moneyed Tory circles is that the pornographer proprietor sought nomination for a peerage in return for the total devotion to the Tory cause of his Express titles. He's excited at the prospect of more silk stockings, more fur and Maggie Thatcher's ankles.
An admission by Charlie Kennedy that he got up in the middle of the night to give Baby Donald a couple of bottles left a campaign crowd wondering whether they should ring social services.
Kevin Maguire is associate editor (politics) of the Daily Mirror