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EDEN CONFIDENTIAL: Wacky Baronet and the 28-year-old Black Panther's poet daughter

Eccentric aristocrat Sir Benjamin Slade, who once placed an advertisement for a wife who could provide him with two sons, may have found the answer to his prayers.

I hear the 74-year-old baronet has fallen for a poet/composer 46 years his junior — and he’s already persuaded her to move into Maunsel House, his 2,000-acre country pile where Geoffrey Chaucer is said to have written part of The Canterbury Tales.

She is Sahara Sunday Spain, daughter of Johnny Spain, a member of the Black Panthers who was jailed for murder. ‘We’re sort of dating, that’s right,’ Sir Benjamin tells me.

Eccentric aristocrat Sir Benjamin Slade, who once placed an advertisement for a wife who could provide him with two sons, may have found the answer to his prayers

He explains that she visited at the start of the pandemic — and has been there ever since. ‘When lockdown happened, one of the people that came to stay was Miss Sahara Spain. She’s still here. She had a house in London and found it was better to be down here with me.’

It’s a far cry from where she was brought up in the urban desolation of Dogtown in Oakland, on the east shore of San Francisco Bay.

Her mother, Elisabeth Sunday, is a photographer while her father gained infamy in the Seventies as a member of the San Quentin Six, a group of prisoners who, after three fellow inmates were killed by guards, attempted a breakout. While Spain denied killing anyone in the uprising, he was found guilty on two counts of murder.

His daughter has been helping deal with the legal problems of Sir Benjamin, who was ordered to pay more than £150,000 in damages last year to two women forced out of their jobs because they were pregnant.

She is Sahara Sunday Spain, daughter of Johnny Spain, a member of the Black Panthers who was jailed for murder. ‘We’re sort of dating, that’s right,’ Sir Benjamin tells me

‘She is a paralegal in San Francisco,’ he says. ‘I have six legal cases coming up from women trying to sue me for discrimination to racism, and all of the rest of it. She’s been very helpful.’ Despite still suffering the side-effects of coronavirus he caught earlier this year, he’s determined to produce a male heir.

‘I have considerable charm, but I’m not actually in good health,’ he says. ‘I would like to start a family. My relatives don’t want to take on the house, and they’re very rich and would sell it.

‘After 40 years of working hard and buying bits of furniture and stuff like books, I ought to keep the show going.’

He’s clearly in awe of Sahara’s talents. ‘She wrote her first book aged eight,’ he says. 

‘And her first symphony at the age of 11.’

Sir Benjamin has not had the chance to meet her father. Reflecting on Spain’s radical past, he says: ‘You cannot be blamed for what your ancestors got up to — after all, most of mine ended up at the Tower of London and got their heads cut off.’

The smart set’s talking about...

Guinness heiress Daphne’s glittering new adventure

Heiress Daphne Guinness has made her mark in the fashion world with her outlandish taste in clothes; now she’s bedazzling the music business with her lack of them.

The 52-year-old Londoner has released her new disco-style single, Heaven, produced by David Bowie’s right-hand man, Tony Visconti. In the video, she wears a ‘nude illusion’ body-suit adorned with silver glitter. It was shot by Andy Warhol’s protege David LaChapelle and depicts an ageless woman in love with a younger man.

‘We wanted to make something cheerful and beautiful to provide relief and make people smile in these dark, uncertain times,’ Daphne tells me.

‘The inspiration for this look was Titania from A Midsummer Night’s Dream, an ageless elemental.’

The mother of three, who received a £30 million divorce settlement when she split from Greek shipping heir Spyros Niarchos in 1999, adds: ‘Yes, this is my own body. We all do the best with what we’ve been given.’

Why Sheffield won’t find life a drag as a dad

Wearing a silver tasselled leotard and a sailor’s cap, the 36-year-old heir of baronet Sir Robert Sheffield declares that he will put his alter ego, Trixie, to one side while he’s busy changing nappies

What a way to signal a new chapter in your life! Samantha Cameron’s half-brother Robert Sheffield has dressed up in drag for the last time before his model girlfriend, Ellen Francis Gibbons, pictured below, gives birth to their daughter she’s expecting before Christmas.

Wearing a silver tasselled leotard and a sailor’s cap, the 36-year-old heir of baronet Sir Robert Sheffield declares that he will put his alter ego, Trixie, to one side while he’s busy changing nappies.   

Sheffield tells me: ‘It’s more of an au revoir for Trixie while I have a baby, but she’ll back with bells on.’

The art agent took over the running of his family’s country house, Sutton Park in North Yorkshire, last year. 

His girlfriend, 28, suggests their daughter will enjoy dressing up with daddy. 

‘Is Trixie leaving?’ Ellen Francis asks. ‘Baby girl has much to learn from her.’

Samantha Cameron’s half-brother Robert Sheffield has dressed up in drag for the last time before his model girlfriend, Ellen Francis Gibbons, pictured above, gives birth to their daughter she’s expecting before Christmas

Hirst puts lover in pole position

Going out with the world’s richest artist has many benefits for Sophie Cannell, such as the chunky diamond ring she’s been showing off to friends.

But Damien Hirst’s girlfriend must make great efforts to keep him entertained.

I hear that Hirst, 55, has had a pole installed in his home, above, for former ballerina Sophie, 26, to gyrate around.

There are two armchairs for spectators to enjoy the performance.

On the wall is a huge photograph of Sophie wearing lingerie and knee-high boots.

She insists she ‘loves’ the decor. Not half as much as Hirst, I dare say.

Damien Hirst’s girlfriend must make great efforts to keep him entertained. I hear that Hirst, 55, has had a pole installed in his home, above, for former ballerina Sophie, 26, to gyrate around

Many a land-locked country-dweller would yelp with delight on hearing their neighbour was installing a swimming pool.

But not Mark and Katherine Smith, who live near David and Samantha Cameron in the Cotswolds.

Learning of plans to sink a 46ft pool in a paddock bordering their Grade II-listed property, the Smiths submitted 12 pages of objections, even citing the Human Rights Act, noting a person ‘has the right to peaceful enjoyment’ of their home. 

Dave declines to comment. Perhaps it’s time to fit a plunge-pool inside his £25,000 shepherd’s hut?

Modern (bad) manners

Clive James’s acerbic TV commentaries brought him fame, but in his final years he turned to poetry, much of it freighted with regret for the suffering his unruly private life had caused his family.

Now, almost a year after his death, his £1.68 million will underscores those sentiments. Documents from the probate office reveal he left £325,000 to both his daughters and the remainder to long-suffering wife, Prue.

Even though the will was written in 2006, two years after he began an affair with former model Leanne Edelsten, he did not leave her anything.

On learning of the relationship in 2012, Prue threw James out, but they were reconciled as his health deteriorated.

Jodie Kidd is advertising for staff at her Half Moon Inn in West Sussex with a highly unusual incentive.

The former model promises the successful candidate a ‘cuddle from Jodie at Christmas’. The pub is seeking ‘passionate people’. Not too passionate, or Jodie’s boyfriend Joseph Bates, a former Marine, will have something to say about it!

Dawn French sees the funny side of most things, but considers the contents of Cornish pasties a serious matter.

The comedienne is not amused by those who deviate from the traditional recipe. 

‘There are people who might do something like put a carrot in it,’ says French, who lives in the county. 

‘That’s not a Cornish pasty. They should just call it a pasty and say it’s exotic or experimental or something like that.’

Although still a Hollywood heart-throb with a very particular set of skills, action hero Liam Neeson declares that the time has come for him to give up performing in the boudoir.

‘I think scenes of us thrashing around a bedroom, ripping clothes off each other, we’ve seen all of that and, quite frankly, it embarrasses me, especially at my age, seeing that stuff,’ the 68-year-old Taken star insists. 

He does have love scenes with Kate Walsh in his new film, Honest Thief, but they are demure. ‘We have gentle kisses in the film, but that’s it.’ Just lots of punch-ups then...

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