Londoner's Diary: Where will Jeremy Corbyn grow his marrows now?

As if Jeremy Corbyn didn’t have enough to worry about, what with accusations of espionage, combatting the Conservatives and the small matter of Brexit, now his vegetables are at risk: the East Finchley Allotments which houses his plot has gone up in flames.  

It’s supposed to be the space where the Labour leader can relax, reflect, and pursue some of life’s slower pleasures away from the hurly-burly of daily politics. Last year he was growing potatoes and leeks, as well as a colourful bed of irises. But a blaze started at 4.30am yesterday, and took three hours to extinguish. The woes for the allotment on Creighton Avenue didn’t end with the quelling of the flames. A fire engine sent to help got stuck on the narrow road into the allotments as it tried to leave, and spent much of Thursday there. Given Corbyn has made political weather lately from emergency services failings, ranging from the NHS to the police, the difficulties encountered by this valiant fire engine will be extra close to his heart. 

We called Corbyn’s office this morning to check on the state of his marrows,  but they didn’t seem too worried, and Jezza’s personal plot is thought to be undamaged. The green-fingered Labour leader may have to do some community service though, helping his fellow plot-holders rebuild sheds that were destroyed in the fire. 

Will the fire affect his zen ahead of his mooted step change on Brexit, due to come in a speech on Monday? With his jam-making capabilities hopefully preserved, and his greens undamaged, he won’t lose the plot.

Hot pursuit: Sarah Vine (Photo by Jack Taylor/Getty Images)

Sarah Vine has the need for speed. The journalist and wife of Michael Gove has reviewed a Rolls Royce Phantom for Spectator Life magazine, and reveals that she enjoyed a wayward drag race with a red Toyota Mark II.  “I couldn’t resist”, Vine writes. “I didn’t quite catch the driver as he roared past in the fast lane and cut in front, but he was asking for it.”

Corera’s book is poo-pooed by family

Pigeon poo expert: Gordon Corera (Photo by Roberto Ricciuti/Getty Images)

BBC Security correspondent Gordon Corera launched his new book, Secret Pigeon Service, at Daunt Books Marylebone last night. It relays how the birds were used by British spooks in the Second World War to bring back messages from Resistance fighters in occupied Europe. 

“While writing I told my wife and kids how the colour of pigeon poo revealed when the birds were fit to fly,” Corera told guests including Jonathan Evans, the former head of MI5. “But my wife Jane was horrified by the story told over the dinner table, and I was banned from discussing the book again.”

Quote of the day

‘As with soft-boiled eggs, the division between hard and soft can be over-stated’

Michael Gove compares exiting the EU to boiled eggs

Eco designs from the Commonwealth

Fashionably green: Livia Firth, Yasmin Mills and Mothusi Lesolle (Photo by David M. Benett/Dave Benett/Getty Images for Eco-Age)

Roll out the green carpet… Last night a well-dressed crowd joined Livia Firth to celebrate the launch of the Commonwealth Fashion Exchange. The exhibition, at Australia House until March, features designs from leading names in the Commonwealth, including campaigner Stella McCartney for the UK and Karen Walker for New Zealand. Livia, who is married to actor Colin Firth, campaigns against “fast fashion” and founded Eco Age Ltd, and used the event to promote ethically-sourced clothing. Model Lily Cole, singer Nicola Roberts and cook Jasmine Hemsley sipped cocktails as they admired designs.

BUSY times for the girls at Tart London. Last week we heard that Jemima Jones and Lucy Carr-Ellison, the pair behind ES Magazine’s recipes, have signed on the dotted line for their own Belgravia restaurant, opening this summer. Now even more news: the duo is bringing out its first cookbook, A Love of Eating, in April. It promises an eclectic selection of recipes, ranging from “week night one-pot wonders to splendid brunches”.Foodies, get ready.

BBC: you are here (maybe)

Parody man: Hugh Bonneville (Photo by Mike Marsland/Mike Marsland/WireImage)

WHEN does a parody like W1A stop being good clean fun? When it causes real life havoc, of course. Workers at the BBC’s London home, New Broadcasting House, are being fooled by a giant map of the building that is, unfortunately, completely false. 

The blame for this cartographical trickery lies with TV satire W1A, the programme made by the BBC, about the BBC, which mocks the BBC (do keep up), and stars Hugh Bonneville, pictured. 

In error, staff on the programme left an erroneous map by the second-floor lifts depicting an imagined, non-existent layer of the building. BBC employees have now resorted to Blu Tacked signs to aid the confused, according to Popbitch.

Given the show needles the nervous bureaucracy of the Beeb, it’s fitting that it should have accidentally spawned more directives, initiatives and hurried lamination. 

There seems a more obvious solution than correcting one confusing sign by putting up another ten, but for the BBC that might be uncharted territory.

Tweet of the day

BBC Political Editor Laura Kuenssberg felt unwelcome as she attempted to cover yesterday’s Chequers away day

Farewell of the day: Today’s obituary to the Guardian’s former political editor Ian Aitken recalls that, when rebels arrived to take Havana, he was “in the hotel swimming pool”. Everybody needs some me-time.

All roads lead to Milan for Vogue

Happy belated birthday to Vogue editor Edward Enninful, who celebrated his 46th in Italy last night with models Amber Valleta, Bella Hadid, Stella Maxwell, Joan Smalls, Maria Borges and Gigi Hadid. Enninful is there for Milan Fashion Week and put the shows ahead of his bash. We wouldn’t expect anything less.

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