As a young man, House of Commons Speaker John Bercow’s 5ft 4in height prevented him from pursuing his passion for tennis.
But in recent years his political stature has helped make him a Wimbledon regular, where he is often to be seen quaffing Pimm’s in the Royal Box.
Indeed so keen is Bercow to join the tennis elite, I can reveal he even made a bid to become a member of the All England Croquet And Lawn Tennis club.
But now I understand that Bercow’s, application has been quietly withdrawn after a hostile volley from some of the membership committee.
‘Some members are so angry about his perceived anti-Brexit shenanigans it was made clear his application would not be looked on favourably,’ I’m told.
I can reveal John Bercow (pictured) made a bid to become a member of the All England Croquet And Lawn Tennis club, writes SEBASTIAN SHAKESPEARE
Last month, Bercow made a dramatic intervention in Parliament where he threatened to rip up the rulebook in a bid to prevent any illegal attempt by Prime Minister Boris Johnson to take the UK out of the EU without a deal on the October 31.
Despite his plans to stand down at the end of October, some lofty members of the All England club did not take kindly to his conduct.
The All England Club, known for its grass courts and strict all-white dress code, boasts one of the most exclusive memberships in the world, with just 400 members and a waiting list of up to 1,000.
All wannabes must be proposed and seconded and approved by four existing members. Its membership is divided into five categories: full, life, honorary, temporary and junior temporary.
But now I understand that Bercow’s, application to the All England Club in Wimbledon (pictured) has been quietly withdrawn after a hostile volley from some of the membership committee, WRITES SEBASTIAN SHAKESPEARE
Among the 70 honorary members include the Duchess of Cambridge, who took over from the Queen as club patron in 2016, and two-time Wimbledon winner Andy Murray.
Bercow was a competitive tennis player and a qualified tennis coach. A fan of Roger Federer, he has written a book on 20 great male tennis players called Tennis Maestros. But it seems this has not been enough to make him a love match with the club.
A spokeswoman for the club tells me; ‘We don’t comment on membership or applications.’ Bercow’s office declined to comment.
Why splash out on models, says Helena
Supermodel Helena Christensen is a resourceful businesswoman.
Having started her own clothing line, she has shrewdly decided to cut the costs of hiring a fellow mannequin and chosen to model the outfits herself.
The 50-year-old Dane posted a snap of herself wearing a £200 swimsuit made by her label.
‘Dress up for sell out,’ she captioned the image.
She recently revealed she works hard to stay in shape. ‘I just do everything: boxing, tennis, swimming, ballet, sprinting.
‘The latest thing has been pole-dancing — it’s so hard,’ she said.
Supermodel Helena Christensen is a resourceful businesswoman, writes SEBASTIAN SHAKESPEARE
I won’t be mum’s apprentice, says Lady Brady’s daughter
Baroness Brady set tongues wagging when she resigned from Sir Philip Green’s retail empire in February, just weeks after vowing to stay in her post.
Now, I can reveal the Apprentice star’s 23-year-old daughter Sophia has also left the company, where she worked as a social media assistant.
‘I’m taking a break. I’m not doing anything at the moment,’ she tells me at the Mikimoto jewellery store party in Mayfair, adding that although she’s not sure what she’ll do next, ‘I don’t want to go into business like my mum.’
Pictured: Baroness Karen Brady and her daughter Sophia Peschisolido
Dazzling Demelza and a Bond ambition
Poldark star Eleanor Tomlinson turned heads when she stepped out in a white satin top with sheer panel.
The 27-year-old, who played Demelza alongside Aidan Turner in the BBC series, recently admitted she fears being typecast.
And I can disclose she has her sights set on the plum role of a Bond girl. ‘I think that opportunity would be wonderful,’ she tells me, adding that Lea Seydoux, star of Spectre and the forthcoming No Time To Die, ‘is an amazing actress’.
Eleanor’s on-screen romance could then continue if Turner, a rumoured contender to be the next James Bond, succeeds Daniel Craig.
Poldark star Eleanor Tomlinson turned heads when she stepped out in a white satin top with sheer panel
Meryl Streep’s biopic of Margaret Thatcher was derided at the time as ghoulish and bad taste.
The third volume of Charles Moore’s official biography of Lady Thatcher reveals that the Iron Lady had similar misgivings.
‘I can’t think of anything worse,’ was her response to the project.
However there was one aspect of the film she was not displeased with, according to Moore.
Her aide Mark Worthington showed her a photograph of Meryl Streep in the part. ‘Hmm,’ she noted with some satisfaction. ‘She’s attractive, isn’t she?’
Celebrity chef rift simmers on
There are grudges — and then there are celebrity grudges. Chef Marcus Wareing reveals he’s only spoken once to his former boss and best man Gordon Ramsay since an acrimonious bust-up in 2008.
‘You’ll never guess where,’ says Wareing. ’10 Downing Street. It was during the London Olympics, and some key people from the food industry were there to meet David Cameron.
‘At the end of the day, Gordon tries to leave first. Then I go. And as they’re holding the front door, we end up meeting in the long corridor downstairs. Just us two, face-to-face — very weird.
‘We pass one another, shake hands, say ‘Hello’ — and that’s it. No smiles. Surreal, actually.’
Chef Marcus Wareing (pictured) reveals he’s only spoken once to his former boss and best man Gordon Ramsay since an acrimonious bust-up in 2008
Line Of Duty star’s phoney romance…
Who says romance is dead? Line Of Duty star actress Vicky McClure says she became smitten with her actor fiance Jonny Owen over the telephone.
‘We spoke on the phone about the characters we were playing in a film called Svengali, who were in love,’ she told me at a new exhibition of Rankin photos at the Marriott group’s St Pancras Renaissance Hotel on Wednesday.
‘In the same breath we talked about how we felt about love ourselves and, I thought, this is the perfect guy.’
While their wedding plans have been put on ice until next year, she says the pair are indulging themselves at hotels.
‘I’m a cleaning fanatic so the brilliant thing about being in a hotel is that there isn’t the option to wash a pot,’ says McClure.
Who says romance is dead? Line Of Duty star actress Vicky McClure says she became smitten with her actor fiance Jonny Owen (pictured with her) over the telephone
She may be a Dame, but Helen Mirren says she’s a High Street girl at heart.
‘I get to wear beautiful designer clothes to red carpet events which is an incredible privilege. But in my day-to-day life I wear Zara and Marks & Spencer.
‘But I also love vintage, I grew up going to jumble sales in churches and I used to find some great catches when I was a student.
‘Even now I love second-hand clothes, I can often be seen in a second-hand clothes shop or a charity shop because you can find some beautifully made, really interesting pieces.’
Sir Rocco Forte, whose three children, Lydia, Irene and Charles, all work for his Rocco Forte Hotels group, is relieved his progeny all joined the family business.
‘I didn’t force the children to join,’ he says. ‘Though I wouldn’t have supported them if they’d wanted to do something like be comedians — not very remunerative.’
That presumably would have been no laughing matter.