EDEN CONFIDENTIAL: Did a cheat really ‘load the dice’ at White’s?
As the gentlemen’s clubs of London go, they don’t get any grander — or more self-reverential — than White’s, founded in 1693 and lying just a couple of hundred yards from St James’s Palace.
But I can reveal that neither reputation nor history has insulated it from a swirl of incendiary claims following a high-stakes game of backgammon played there recently.
There was, I’m told, initially no indication of anything untoward as the game got under way, pitching a member of the club — scene of the King’s stag-night before his marriage to Lady Diana Spencer — against a guest who, I’m assured by one White’s man, is ‘a fine player’.
There was, I’m told, initially no indication of anything untoward as the game got under way, pitching a member of the club — scene of the King’s stag-night (pictured) before his marriage to Lady Diana Spencer — against a guest who, I’m assured by one White’s man, is ‘a fine player’
As the gentlemen’s clubs of London go, they don’t get any grander — or more self-reverential — than White’s (pictured), founded in 1693 and lying just a couple of hundred yards from St James’s Palace
Interest in the game was keen, not least because of what was riding on it. ‘There was a very significant bet on the outcome — £30,000,’ I’m told.
As the game progressed, interest intensified. So did suspicion. Watching the roll of the dice intently, one bystander became convinced that something underhand was going on.
Eventually, after the guest had won, he voiced his concerns. ‘He was convinced that the guest had loaded dice,’ I’m told.
The allegation of outright cheating couldn’t have been more stark. Anyone ‘loading’ the dice’ — tampering with them so they land with a specific number facing upwards more often than not — has a massive advantage in backgammon, a game in which the roll of the dice is paramount.
I’m told that ‘a hell of a drama’ unfolded. White’s is protective — both of its guests and of its members, who include the Duke of Marlborough, ebullient hedge fund manager Crispin Odey and former government minister Sir Nicholas Soames. ‘We don’t talk to the Press at all, I’m afraid,’ a member of staff tells me.
An habitue of a neighbouring St James’s club feels less inhibited. ‘They’ve kept it very quiet because of horror at any scandal,’ he tells me. ‘White’s,’ he alleges, ‘has got a bad enough reputation for s***s anyway.’
Ivy Getty in a spot of bother
The old showbiz adage about never working with children or animals was ignored by heiress Ivy Getty — to her cost.
The model, 27, found herself at the whim of unruly Dalmatians during a shoot for photographer Daniel Sachon at the Chateau Marmont hotel in Hollywood. ‘The Dalmatians have wild personalities and they all love the water, so shooting next to a swimming pool was especially difficult,’ she tells me at a preview of Sachon’s exhibition, Bitches, at 59 Greek Street, Mayfair.
‘I was in heels, trying not to be dragged and torn by them and ending up in the pool myself.’
Model Ivy Getty found herself at the whim of unruly Dalmatians during a shoot for photographer Daniel Sachon at the Chateau Marmont hotel in Hollywood
‘I was in heels, trying not to be dragged and torn by them and ending up in the pool myself,’ the model tells me at a preview of Sachon’s exhibition, Bitches, at 59 Greek Street, Mayfair
It’s scarcely in keeping with the spirit of our meritocratic times, but Julian Fellowes wants more inherited privilege.
‘The sad thing for me is they don’t create hereditary peers any more apart from the couple Mrs Thatcher did,’ the creator of Downton Abbey says at the London Grill Club in Covent Garden.
‘They haven’t for 50 or 60 years, apart from royal dukes, so, presumably in 100 years, we will have 50 royal dukes and practically nothing else.’
Oscar-winner Lord Fellowes of West Stafford was made a life peer in 2011.
Jane Asher’s brother is recovering from emergency brain surgery.
‘I wasn’t feeling 100 per cent, so I went to get an MRI [scan] after my wife and daughter insisted I check things out,’ reveals Peter Asher, 78, half of 1960s pop duo Peter and Gordon.
Jane Asher’s brother, Peter Asher (pictured), is recovering from emergency brain surgery
‘Good thing I did, because I had to be rushed into surgery from there. Two small holes in my head, but I am on the mend and should be out of here by next week.’
Sir Paul McCartney wrote Peter and Gordon Waller’s big hit A World Without Love for them, while going out with Jane.
Liam desperate to act his age
Most actors would be flattered to be cast as someone decades their junior, but Liam Neeson has had enough.
Most actors would be flattered to be cast as someone decades their junior, but Liam Neeson (pictured) has had enough
‘I’m still offered parts where it will say: ‘Here’s the character, Joe Blow, he’s 50 years of age’,’ the Northern Irish star says.
‘No, he’s not. If you want me, he’s got to be 70, or in his late 60s. You can’t cheat audiences. They just know.’ Neeson turned 70 in June, ‘though I prefer to say soixante-dix,’ he jokes.
The art of raising cash
Bibulous Pogues star Shane MacGowan put out a clarion call for his fans to ‘bring lots of money’ to the private viewing of an exhibition of his art.
And his supermodel friend Kate Moss, 48, was on hand to help entice punters to purchase some of the works featured in the show, called The Eternal Buzz And The Crock Of Gold, at Andipa art gallery in Chelsea.
The works by MacGowan, 64 — who has used a wheelchair since fracturing his pelvis in 2015 — are expected to sell for between £5,000 and £32,000. Pictured: MacGowan at a private viewing with Kate Moss at Andipa Gallery on October 11
The works by MacGowan, 64 — who has used a wheelchair since fracturing his pelvis in 2015 — are expected to sell for between £5,000 and £32,000.
The Fairytale Of New York singer tells me: ‘I don’t have a favourite piece as they’re all special in their own way.’
Disgraced BBC interviewer Martin Bashir has seen assets in his media company slump by 60 per cent after a damning investigation into his Princess Diana interview.
Funds at Panoramic Productions Ltd slipped from £112,700 to £46,200 and he paid zero corporation tax in the 12 months to January, indicating the business made no profit.
After costs were taken into account the business was left with just £25,800, a far cry from three years ago when the company took £200,000 in earnings on top of his £100,000 BBC salary.
Disgraced BBC interviewer Martin Bashir has seen assets in his media company slump by 60 per cent after a damning investigation into his Princess Diana interview (pictured)
Call The Midwife creator Heidi Thomas claims writing the hit BBC drama is more gruelling than having a baby.
‘Giving birth is so much easier than writing 103 episodes of a TV series,’ says the acclaimed scriptwriter, 60, who has a 22-year-old son with her husband, Stephen McGann, aka Dr Patrick Turner in the show.
‘I’ve given birth, and it only took a day. I’d always rather have my son than my success. But it can be very tough and I’d be fibbing if I said it wasn’t a slog.’
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