Catherine, Duchess of Cambridge
The Hurlingham Club, which boasts the Duchess of Cambridge among its members, has been the scene of a rancorous civil war ever since it unveiled plans for a massive redevelopment.
But now I can reveal the white flag has been raised and a peacebroker has emerged in the shape of its new chairman, Luke Nunneley, who is Lord Snowdon’s cousin.
He has, I can disclose, just eaten a large slice of humble pie by writing to club members to accept that ‘mistakes were made in respect of the West Wing Project’.
It chalked up a staggering £2.55 million in professional fees which, Nunneley acknowledges, the club was obliged to ‘write off’ after the proposals were greeted with volleys of derision.
His candour has earned him plaudits from the 13,000-strong membership.
‘He didn’t say it was all before his time,’ one stalwart tells me.
‘He’s effectively taking responsibility for actions undertaken prior to his term of office. I have great respect for that.’
Old Etonian Nunneley also assures members that, henceforth, any proposed developments ‘will be put to members for approval’, and vows to ensure that all projects are part of a plan that ‘thoroughly reflects member needs and wishes’.
The Hurlingham Club, which boasts the Duchess of Cambridge among its members
The conciliatory note will be appreciated. Opponents of the development, which would have seen a second swimming pool, cafe, sports bar and fitness studios inserted in the West Wing, likened it to ‘a David Lloyd club in Essex’.
More from Sebastian Shakespeare for the Daily Mail…
They turned on the club’s then chairman, Julian Holloway, whose allegedly ‘dictatorial’ manner led critics to set up a website, ‘Reform Hurlingham’, which compared him with North Korea’s Kim Jong-un.
Holloway countered by saying that almost everything written by Reform Hurlingham was fake news.
But after good-naturedly admitting that, like Kim Jon-un, he was ‘overweight and [wore] glasses’, he resigned.
His successor’s powers of persuasion are not to be underestimated.
‘I still remember a speech Luke made at Eton about Britain being the world’s nuclear dustbin,’ one of his contemporaries tells me.
Perhaps he’ll now see that Hurlingham’s recent past is similarly consigned to history.
TV presenter Gabby Logan
Is Gabby to be put out to pasture?
TV presenter Gabby Logan reveals she’s planning a side job with her husband, former Scottish rugby player Kenny Logan, as the coronavirus threatens to impact her broadcasting duties.
‘I’m thinking up business ideas in case TV never starts again,’ says Gabby (left). ‘The latest is we are going to buy a farm and do a not-for-profit business bringing kids from the city to stay.’
Kenny, with whom Gabby has two children, has experience in the field.
At 16, he left school to work on his father’s farm in Stirlingshire.
Spare a thought for those staying near commentator Jonathan Agnew during England’s Test series against the West Indies.
‘At [Southampton’s] Ageas Bowl, where hotel rooms double as broadcast facilities, it will simply be a case of walking from one’s bedroom to go to work,’ he says.
‘You make your own entertainment. In my case, this will be my ukulele, which I’ve been learning during lockdown. So I apologise to those unlucky enough to be in adjoining rooms to mine.’
Sir Michael Edwardes, who became Britain’s highest profile businessman when he took on the unions over British Leyland, left more than £1 million to his wife, Sheila.
Sir Michael, who died last year aged 88, asked for his ashes to be scattered on the Kromme River in South Africa where he grew up.
Sadie puts her feet up
Actress Sadie Frost shared a picture of herself on her 55th birthday with her legs in the air
Bottoms up! Actress Sadie Frost refused to let lockdown dampen her spirits on her 55th birthday.
The yoga fanatic, who has four children with her ex-husbands, actor Jude Law and singer Gary Kemp, shared a picture of herself on the day with her legs in the air as she lies next to her new black Labrador, Dusty.
‘I will always keep living my life to the full and will always keep kicking my legs high in the air,’ she declares.
Blackadder star Tony Robinson had a cunning plan to keep busy during the crisis: adopt a pooch.
Best known as Baldrick in the classic comedy, he says: ‘Three days before lockdown, my wife and I decided to get a rescue dog. We got a Westie [West Highland terrier] from the RSPCA. We fell in love with her and she fell in love with us straight away.’
He adds of the pet named Holly Berry: ‘She needed an awful lot of attention, but we’ve got the time.’
Statue of Cecil Rhodes at Oriel College, University of Oxford
Don takes Rhodes out of a tight spot
He numbers Natascha McElhone, star of U.S. TV series Californication, among his friends — an indication that Neil Mendoza, Provost of Oriel College, Oxford, is rather worldlier than the conventional don.
It certainly shows in his adroit handling of the fate of Oriel’s statue of Cecil Rhodes.
‘The governing body has expressed its wish to see the statue removed,’ Mendoza informs Oriel’s alumni, noting that this has ‘been welcomed by some and criticised by others’. The matter, he adds, is now in the hands of an independent commission.
Mendoza tends to find a solution — even with very little room for manoeuvre. ‘He had a girlfriend who wore the tightest possible leather trousers,’ one of his Oxford contemporaries assures me.
City ‘supermum’ Dame Helena Morrissey
Supermum Helena’s shoe tidy is quite a feat
City ‘supermum’ Dame Helena Morrissey recently refashioned herself as a style guru by blogging about her daily outfits.
But having so many shoes does not come without a challenge.
The financier and mother of nine reveals she has created an intricately organised storage unit, complete with hand-written labels, to keep on top of her footwear.
‘I’m a bit embarrassed how pleased I feel with my tidied and labelled shoe cupboard,’ Dame Helena admits.
‘I know some very elegant people — the Queen, for example — who wear the same shoes whatever they are wearing, but this range does seem to cover most eventualities, including brightening up dull outfits and toning down more garish colours.’
The financier and mother of nine reveals she has created an intricately organised storage unit for her footwear
Lockdown restrictions will be lifted next month, but Dame Joan Bakewell is taking no risks. Despite having co-hosted TV’s Portrait Artist Of The Year for the past seven years, she will skip the next one — filmed next month — to be on the safe side.
‘It’s indoors and the risk is too high for me at my age,’ the 87-year-old tells me. ‘I’ll miss doing it enormously. My colleagues have been texting me saying: ‘I’ll miss you and we’ll be sad that you’re not there.’ So that’s very sweet.’