Londoner's Diary: Santa and Simon Sebag Montefiore's media mogul rat

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Was it something we said? As the news spread of a new baby for the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge yesterday, the perfect bedtime story for the bundle of joy landed on our desk. Royal Rabbits of London: Escape from the Tower is the latest instalment in the charming children’s series from writing couple Santa and Simon Sebag Montefiore, pictured. But journalists don’t come off well. 

The rabbits in question, called hopsters, have to deal with Papa Ratzi, a media mogul who holds court over an army of rats. “High up in the very tallest point of London’s famous skyscraper named The Shard, the Ratzis gathered,” it reads. “You may think the top of The Shard is a very grand place for rats to have their offices and you’d be right: it’s too special for ordinary rats. Instead of rooting through garbage and sewers, they root through the internet to weave webs of lies and hate — you could say they are digital rodents… it was the Ratzis’ job to record images and facts to feed the internet’s endless hunger for the hearts and souls of people.”

Incidentally, The Shard’s neighbour is The News Building, formerly known as The Baby Shard and home to Rupert Murdoch’s News UK. Papa Ratzi is described as rarely seen by staff but responsible for much of the company’s villainy. “On behalf of Simon and Santa Montefiore, I can confirm that the characters within the Royal Rabbits of London series are fictional,” a spokesperson said yesterday, “and not based on any specific organisation.”

To the Groucho last night, for a  chat between savant Peter York and GQ editor Dylan Jones, about Jones’s book David Bowie: A Life. The book is drawn from interviews with more than 180 people who knew Bowie but York didn’t seem so keen. “I was a fan of Bryan Ferry,” he admitted. “But he was only possible because of Bowie,” Dylan protested. Let’s stick together, boys. 

The meltdown begins at Bell Pottinger

A new dawn for Bell Pottinger, excluded from the PR industry’s trade association last night after the South Africa racism row. Chief executive James Henderson has stepped down and other exits have also been made. On Friday The Londoner received a farewell from David Wynne-Morgan, a strategist who has worked with Bell Pottinger for years, saying he has cut ties with the company: his advice that the whole board should stand down went unheeded.

Henderson’s departure, he says, is “nowhere near enough to  motivate staff and restore the confidence of clients and the marketplace. I therefore resigned and have severed all connection with the company.” Wynne-Morgan will announce his next move in October. We’ll keep our eye on Henderson too.

Quote of the Day

Jeremy Corbyn is not vegan… yet (Ken Jack/Corbis via Getty Images)

“I’m going through the process” – Jeremy Corbyn outlines his progress in converting to veganism.

A hasty social media cleanse for London artist Hetty Douglas, whose striking paintings have exhibited in some of the city’s coolest galleries. But yesterday she showed an ugly side, taking to Instagram to mock a queue of men at McDonald’s. “These guys look like they got one GCSE,” she wrote. A follower tweeted the post, leading to an enormous social-media backlash and accusations of snobbery and entitlement. Douglas has now deleted her entire Instagram account.

Sylvie’s off to charm Russia

Sylvie’s off to Moscow (JUSTIN TALLIS/AFP/Getty Images) (AFP/Getty Images)

Au revoir, Sylvie Bermann! The glamorous French ambassador to the UK is being handed her woolly hat and dispatched to Moscow. Last night she hosted a bash for the media in her embassy’s ballroom. Guests included Légion d’Honneur recipient Lionel Barber and The Economist’s Zanny Milton-Beddoes, who fended off guests asking where their invitations to the paper’s summer party were. She had the perfect excuse: it didn’t happen. 

Bermann told the audience that during her posting she has seen “two prime ministers, two elections and one  Brexit — and everyone  here would feel one Brexit was enough”. Although clearly one portmanteau word isn’t: she described two of her biggest challenges. “Sturgeongate”, when a leaked civil service memo outed Bermann as the source of rumours that Nicola Sturgeon was in favour of a Cameron election victory, and “Biscuitgate”, when Hilary Benn dared to serve tea and biscuits at an official meeting. Bermann assured her audience she has now learned never to say no to a biscuit. Bonne chance, Sylvie. In Russia, they say it with vodka.

All rosy in the duchess’s back garden

As the Duchess of Cambridge rested at home in Kensington Palace, a party was in full swing in her back yard as House of Fraser celebrated its relaunch of Issa London at The Orangery last night.  The choice of location made sense: the Duchess wore a blue Issa dress at the announcement of her engagement to the Duke of Cambridge, designed by founder Daniella Helayel. She since left the brand but now runs Dhela, a new label that is already making an impression in the fashion industry. Perhaps she could send Kate some maternity wear.

Tweet of the Day

“Of course, with the Government’s new two-child limit, I presume William and Kate’s third child will receive no state support.” David Schneider offers a cheeky observation about the royal baby.

Hats off to the Huntington-Whiteleys


Congratulations are in order for model and personal trainer Toby Huntington-Whiteley: we hear he is engaged to nutritional therapist Cicely Brown. It’ll be a busy season for his family: his sister, fellow model Rosie Huntington-Whiteley, is engaged to actor Jason Statham. Will Toby race down the aisle before her?

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