Village life - Kevin Maguire goes vulture-spotting in Durham

Vultures circle over Durham, Osborne hedges his bets, and that lodge in the Press Gallery

Vultures are circling over the government's Rosa Klebb, not only at Westminster but also in her Geordieland constituency. The word from Durham North-West is that the innumerate Chief Whip, Hilary Armstrong, will go walkies rather than fight the next election as a backbencher nudging pensionable age. Indeed, a canny lad names no fewer than six potential retirees in the outgoing premier's north-eastern backyard, including the Sage of Sedgefield himself. Already sizing up safe constituencies is Alan Milburn's former helper Patrick Diamond, who has turned up as a visiting fellow at Northumbria University.

George Osborne, heir to a baronetcy and a wallpaper fortune, hankers after a little earner in the City should his political career hit the wall. Reflecting on the publication last year of that picture of him aged 22 in company with a prostitute, the shadow chancellor confessed that an alternative career looked attractive. "At times like that," Mr O told a visitor, "I think how much easier it would be to run a hedge fund."

To Scotland, over the Forth Bridge, where Mr and Mrs Brown are at home fretting, after a burst pipe ruined a ceiling. Alan Greenspan was a recent guest, raising the intriguing thought of Big Gordie and the now retired Federal Reserve chief sitting down to watch a West Wing video together. Gordie is still chuckling after the head of a Luton school told him they talked of the "Brown pound" paying for extra teachers. I wonder if defence chiefs tell the Prime Minister how much they value the "Blair bombs"?

A pint of best bitter to my parliamentary mole as thanks for a grubby copy of the minutes of the 366th convocation of the Press Gallery Masonic Lodge (chapter 1928). The three pages require close analysis so I intend to report more fully shortly, though I'm happy to disclose that the reading of the Sacred Writings seems to have gone down particularly well.

Globe-trotting ousted Blair babe Jane Griffiths faces arrest on British soil after being redeclared bankrupt over a £29,000 tax bill. Ex-MP Griffiths, once a Strangers' Bar fixture, is now teaching English in Latvia, where she complains of the cold. Meanwhile her husband and former assistant, Andrew Tattersall, is touting his talents to Labour MPs, in search of a job. One would-be employer has already turned him down; the discovery that he is Mr J Griffiths didn't help, so he will know who to blame should further rejection slips arrive.

No laughs were expected at Labour's spring shindig in Blackpool. Mrs Culture, Tessa Jowell, offered 20 free passes to rally applications from women. A disloyal sister reports few takers.

Kevin Maguire is associate editor (politics) of the Daily Mirror

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