Londoner's Diary: Jeremy Corbyn has a new view of border controls

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The boy is back in town, and who doesn’t relish a nice, lengthy wait at passport control? Jeremy Corbyn has been making the most of the parliamentary recess, and Theresa May’s trip to Switzerland, by taking a holiday of his own. But his return to the UK took a little longer than expected. Luckily, there’s nothing more English than a queue. 

Corbyn flew into Gatwick with his wife Laura Alvarez over the weekend. The pair had been in Croatia — Jezza had time for selfies with fans in Dubrovnik airport — but they had quite the queue to be let back in to the UK. A friend of The Londoner, also coming home from a trip, was stuck in the line behind him for a long wait through passport control. 

“Corbyn got held up by an immigration guy for a while,” they tell us. “The rest of us got through much quicker when it was our turn.” 

Perhaps the experience could put some fire in his belly for the next PMQs: May has been pressured with tackling the giant queues at airports that have grown since Brexit looms. And last week David Lammy and Clive Lewis called for Corbyn himself to “respond with clarity, humanity and solidarity” on the issue of immigration.”

So what was the hold-up? “Big chat about freedom of movement?” his fellow traveller suggests. “Or did he just look much smarter than in his passport photo.” Another possibility is that the airport official was just starstruck. 

The Londoner imagines that it had something more to do with his distinctly unglamorous luggage: a grey plastic bag. 

Is dressing down for the theatre getting worse? A correspondent to The Times called Roger Taylor — no idea if he is that one — writes of his neighbour at Donmar Warehouse show Committee taking off her shoes and socks to enjoy the performance. “I hope this isn’t a trend.”

Gay Men’s Chorus sings a happier tune

Fascinating new book A Secret History tells the story of how the London Gay Men’s Chorus moved from a basement in Caledonian Road to performing at Downing Street. It is told by founder member, artist Robert Offord, and is available from Writersworld publishing site. 

He recalls their first performance at Angel Tube station at a time when Section 28 and the Aids panic saw homosexuals marginalised. “Nine brave gay men stood in a cluster by the ticket machine,” Offord writes. “Dennis, who was visually impaired and often carried a white stick, stood in the front and held our poster. Somebody else was in leathers; I was doing the ‘country squire’ look in a Barbour jacket. We must have looked a bit like a dysfunctional Village People.” 

Now the Gay Men’s Chorus has 200 members and 600 on the waiting list. It’s fun to be at the LGMC.

Quote of the Day

‘The one where they make cake? I don’t watch a lot of television’

Sandi Toksvig, new co-host of Great British Bake Off, admits that she’s not an avid viewer

Red letter day in the Oxfordshire Wilderness

Who’s Who?: Russell Brand and Ian McShane (Image: Danny North)

Down in the greenery of Oxfordshire this weekend, we found the Wilderness Festival in full swing in Cornbury Park, with accidental star guest David Cameron. But The Londoner’s highlight was Letters Live, which saw big names read from famous epistles.

Benedict Cumberbatch read from a letter written by Queen drummer Roger Taylor to Rolling Stone complaining about a negative review of the band, actor Tom Holland offered a pornographic note from Country Gardens composer Percy Grainger, and Russell Brand and Ian McShane were an unkempt duo backstage. Spot the difference.

Model Jodie Kidd was in Chelsea on Friday for the Longines Global Champions Tour show jumping series. A horse lover herself, she explained that being a clothes horse was always just a means to an equestrian end. “My dad was a show jumper and I wanted to follow in his footsteps,” she said. “I started modelling to pay for a bigger horse box — the rest is history, but I could have been here!” Good to know she can just book in a few photoshoots if some horses need reshodding.

Blushes are an added Bonas

Mum’s not the word: Cressida Bonas (AFP/Getty Images)

The Londoner had a night at the Old Red Lion Theatre in Islington on Friday, to see new play Mrs Orwell. Starring Cressida Bonas as Sonia Brownell, who married the Nineteen Eighty-Four author George, it requires the young actress to perform the first sex scenes of her career. 

The Londoner was left blushing in the stalls of the pub theatre, where we had  a close-up view of Cressie’s spreadeagled legs. In such an intimate gathering we felt a bit like voyeurs. We wanted to know if Cressie was in any way bashful about the thought of her parents coming along to the show. 

“They have been in,” she told us afterwards. “I wasn’t embarrassed. I think they got into the story, I hope! I hadn’t said anything [about the sex]. I’m not worried about what they’ll say but I haven’t asked them what they thought.”

Tweet of the Day

“Went to Wilderness at the weekend to speak in defence of capitalism. Presence of a Veuve Cliquot tent convinced me it’s in rude health.” 

CapX editor Robert Colvile doesn’t think the barbarians are at the gate just yet.

Discovery of the day: the Institute of Economic Affairs finds that “Britain’s public finances would be £22.8 billion worse off if there were no drinking, smoking or obesity.” What about vaping?

Speccy Jon gives Daenerys a shock

Making a spectacle of himself: Kit Harington and Emilia Clarke (@emilia_clarke)

Actor Kit Harington might want to look in the mirror before filming his next scene on Game of Thrones: his spectacles aren’t exactly in keeping with the fantasy series aesthetic. His co-star, Emilia Clarke, posted this snap on Instagram yesterday. One would think the actress who plays the Mother of Dragons wouldn’t need a parka.

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