The lady who wrote the book on Jack

JACK McConnell may have just celebrated his third anniversary as First Minister but next year a new biography will lift the lid on the leader penned by a writer with no less a colourful past than her subject.

Due out in summer 2005, the book is currently being researched by Daily Mirror journalist Lorraine Davidson who should know more than most the inner workings of the Scottish Labour hierarchy.

Not only has Davidson previously dated Tom McCabe, the then Labour chief whip in the Scottish Executive, but is now coming to the end of maternity leave after the birth of a son with Labour MEP David Martin. But Jack can rest assured that the book is not being written on the back of some killer fact that might bring down the curtain on his First Ministership.

"Lorraine just feels that Jack has been in the job long enough and the time is right for someone to write a new biography of him now," says a bookworm.

"It’s not going to one riddled with scandal, but she feels that generally people know very little about their leader’s life. As well as documenting his upbringing in Arran and his adoption of two children, it will also concentrate on his fascinating political story. It is easy to forget quite how many times Jack has stared political death in the face, like winning by two votes in Motherwell and Wishaw, only to bounce back."

Davidson adds: "I’ve found out a few things about him that I didn’t know, and any suggestions for a title are welcome."

Jack the Lad perhaps?

Martial art of taking on Tony

TORY hopeful Danny Kruger, formerly of Eton and Edinburgh University, knows he has his work cut out taking on Tony Blair in Sedgefield at the next general election - the PM currently enjoys a 17,713 majority. But he is determined to give it his best shot.

Recalls one former school chum: "Danny did his thesis on Edmund Burke and has written speeches for both Labour and the Tories, so hopefully he’ll benefit from the phrase ‘know thine enemy’.

"One good omen is that his headmaster at Eton was Eric Anderson, who taught Tony Blair at Fettes, so at least it’s a level playing field from that point of view. He did say recently he found Michael Howard as intimidating as Anderson, so he may have to be a little less honest in future."

Apparently Mr Kruger was also quite into his martial arts at school. He’s going to need to be combative.

Celeb's alibis are fireproof

MINDS and jokes at the Prestonfield House event were firmly focused on the dinner a week before for politicians, which culminated in a mysterious alleged fire-raising incident involving curtains in one of the rooms, although everyone seemed to have their alibis well in order.

Prestonfield House owner James Thomson said: "I left well before then and at the time all seemed very civilised, and I hope tonight will be incident free."

STV presenter Stephen Jardine added: "I had been drinking with Ian Rankin but had left by the time it happened. It was very lucky that it wasn’t more serious, as newscaster Shereen Nanjiani was in the room above."

Novelist Iain Banks admitted that after his book Raw Spirit - documenting his search for the perfect dram of malt - his touring days were probably over: "I’d love to do another whisky book but I suspect I have run out of distilleries to visit by now," he said. "Maybe I could do a world tour."

Sarah Heaney was among the guests who also included Jack McConnell, who added with a smile: "If there are any jokes about fires and curtains, they won’t be mine."

St Andrews starts the season in style with uni fashion show

THE West Port bar in St Andrews gave host to the annual charity uni fashion show launch, to kick start a range of events in the social calendar. The event was to raise money for local charities, with the aim to beat last year’s record.

The now notorious fashion show attracted students from far and wide, and from other universities including Durham and Edinburgh, to check out their competition.

A Mot & Chandon reception opened the event, which was attended by the former Miss Scotland contender Emma Waterman, but sadly not Prince William.

Kirsty not so hot at the name game

CHANNEL 5’s Kirsty Young may be one of the smoothest in the business but the Stirling-born news anchor proved that even the best can make mistakes at the recent Spirit of Scotland Awards dinner at Prestonfield House. Young should have been guaranteed gaffe-free given the benefit of an autocue to help her present the awards for the televised event, but not so.

Recounts a guest: "The first award of the night was to be presented by Susan Rice, chief executive of Lloyds TSB. But the autocue just said, ‘to present the award it’s Soosan ...’ so there was a minor panic because Kirsty had no idea of the surname. But they later re-recorded it."

Afterwards Young joked: "I thought maybe it’s like Madonna, in that she is so well known she only has one name."

To add insult to injury, barely five minutes before the slip-up Richard Thomson, Professor of Fine Art at Edinburgh University, had just leaned across to fellow guest and Scotsman scribe Will Lyons to describe broadcasting as "cretinously simple", after noticing the autocue at last year’s event.

Hopefully it will be plainer sailing for Young when she returns to the day job, as she will soon be rehearsing for a new format of the Channel 5 news programme.