Move over Jacob Rees-Mogg. Change UK candidate Rachel Johnson was out on the stump yesterday with a potent electoral weapon — her childhood Norland nanny as the pair went leafleting in Gibraltar.
‘My old nanny Mary Kidd is looking after me,’ Johnson, who is top of the new party’s list in South-West England, tells me. ‘She works here.’
During the 1997 General Election, Rees-Mogg, then 27, famously took his nanny, Veronica Crook, canvassing when he unsuccessfully contested Central Fife in Scotland. He later defended the decision on the grounds that ‘Nanny’ was ‘part of the family’.
‘My old nanny Mary Kidd is looking after me,’ Johnson, who is top of the new party’s list in South-West England, tells me. ‘She works here’
Johnson and her three siblings, including former Foreign Secretary Boris, grew up with a Norland nanny — the child carers of choice for the Royal Family — when their father Stanley was posted to Brussels in the Seventies. Mary was hired to help care for Boris, then aged ten and known as Alexander, Rachel, nine, Leo, seven, and Jo, two.
Kidd, 64, recalled of the encounter: ‘We were doing a class that covered conception and I remember Alexander asking, “Which comes first, the foetus or the embryo?” and me thinking: “Uh-oh.” ’
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Rachel later took Nanny to meet the Rock’s Chief Minister, Fabian Picardo. ‘Nanny met Picardo’s children Valentina and Oliver and immediately swung into Norland action,’ Johnson says.
So will Mary make any difference to Rachel’s electoral prospects? Johnson, 53, admits: ‘Unfortunately, Nanny Kidd cannot vote for me because she’s been out of the country for more than 15 years.’
Last weekend, former staunch Lib Dem Johnson criticised her own party. ‘Change UK is a terrible name,’ she said. ‘They want to focus-group everything and they have a leadership team of about 11 people.
‘If I were running it we would have one leader and a different name and we would have done a deal with all the other Remain parties. Then we would be able to give the Brexit Party a fight.’
Yesterday she was a bit more on-message, trilling: ‘Rock on Change UK!’
Queen pops out to the shops
Those surprised that the Queen and her family aren’t commemorating the bicentenary of Queen Victoria’s birth on Friday will be relieved to hear that Her Majesty is to honour another Victorian institution today — Sainsbury’s, on its 150th anniversary.
Still a novice when it comes to supermarket shopping, the Queen will enjoy ‘a pop-up experience’ at London’s Covent Garden, where she can see everything from a recreation of the first stores through to self-service tills.
Her great-great-granny would surely be amused. I hope she remembers her Nectar card.
Doctor Who screenwriter Neil Gaiman is wary of the BBC after the broadcaster ruined his last episode involving the Time Lord. ‘One episode was fantastic and won lots of awards,’ he says of The Doctor’s Wife. ‘I felt the other was a dog,’ he reveals of Nightmare In Silver starring Matt Smith as the Doctor.
‘Both scripts were comparable in terms of quality. The difference was one got shot as intended and the other one didn’t because by the time we got to shooting, scenes had been randomly dropped or rewritten by the art department, who felt they couldn’t deliver what had been asked in the script.’
Gaiman made sure he had control on Good Omens, the apocalyptic new drama series starring David Tennant, which he has written for the BBC and Amazon Prime.
Lady Gabriella snapper’s next job should be herding cats
It’s not easy getting nine children to pose for the camera, but royal photographer Hugo Burnand proved himself ever the expert at Lady Gabriella Windsor and Tom Kingston’s wedding when he snapped their bridesmaids and pageboys at the weekend. Yesterday the couple released this official photograph from their wedding reception in the grounds of Frogmore House, Windsor.
Pictured left to right are Isabella Windsor, Maud Windsor — daughters of Gabriella’s brother Lord Frederick and wife Sophie — Eliza Goldsmith (sitting), Princess Aurelia del Drago, Leonora Weisman, Karim Khawaja, Emily Conolly, Frederick Murray and Rafferty Murray. The girls wore cream dresses with blush underlays and sashes by Italian designer Luisa Beccaria, who made Lady Gabriella’s dress.
They also sported flower rings in their hair to echo the design of her bridal bouquet.
Yesterday the couple released this official photograph from their wedding reception in the grounds of Frogmore House, Windsor
Oscar nominee Richard E. Grant will be haunting drag bars as he researches his next big-screen role. ‘I’m playing a drag queen,’ the 62-year-old tells me. ‘It starts filming next month. I’m going to a show in Brighton this week and another one in Vauxhall another night.’ Grant, nominated as best supporting actor for his performance in Can You Ever Forgive Me?, adds: ‘I can’t go there incognito — not with a hat and glasses on.’ Surely no one would recognise him in a dress and make-up?
Chop down trees? Not in my location, barks Kirstie
It was immortalised as a heavenly part of West London where a bumbling bookseller can bump into a Hollywood star and live happily ever after in Richard Curtis’s rom-com.
But all is far from sweetness and light in Notting Hill, where Kirstie Allsopp and others are up in arms over plans by Mayor Sadiq Khan to carve a £42million, two-lane cycle highway through the area and the even leafier next-door neighbourhood of Holland Park, uprooting many much-treasured trees in the process. ‘My stepson is a cyclist, so is my brother and I have loads of cyclist friends, but I do not see the justification for the removal of the trees,’ Allsopp, pictured at this week’s Chelsea Flower Show, tells me.
‘Architecture students get taken to Notting Hill Gate to be shown how not to build — it’s a notorious wind tunnel. The fact that any trees have managed to grow there is a miracle.
‘They soften the landscape — and they’re cutting them down.’
All is far from sweetness and light in Notting Hill, where Kirstie Allsopp and others are up in arms over plans by Mayor Sadiq Khan to carve a £42million, two-lane cycle highway through the area
Her role in Summer Of Rockets, the BBC’s new Cold War drama, proved an education for Bodyguard star Keeley Hawes.
‘The season’s debutantes being presented to the Queen, and there being a huge cake brought out at Queen Charlotte’s Ball were things I had no idea about,’ she says.
‘I’m not sure how people don’t know about that enormous cake! It’s extraordinary; it took about six people to wheel it out on set.
‘It’s ridiculous and incredibly British.’
Dame Emma shows off her ninja moves
Does globe-trotting eco-evangelist Dame Emma Thompson ever stand still?
The 60-year-old flew first class to New York earlier this month, having jetted from LA to London at Easter for the Extinction Rebellion protests.
This week, she was back in London to promote her new comedy film, Late Night, dressed down in a trademark pair of trainers and what looked like a red martial arts outfit.
Last year, she raised eyebrows by donning £235 vegan Stan Smith footwear to her investiture ceremony at Buckingham Palace.
The 60-year-old flew first class to New York earlier this month, having jetted from LA to London at Easter for the Extinction Rebellion protests