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SEBASTIAN SHAKESPEARE: Captain Corelli's Mandonlin author gets sacked as patron of banjo society! 

He captivated readers around the world with Captain Corelli's Mandolin, his tale of a doomed love affair set in wartime Greece.

But it seems that best-selling author Louis de Bernieres no longer melts hearts north of the England-Scotland border.

For I can disclose that he has just been unceremoniously sacked as Patron of the British Banjo Mandolin and Guitar Federation because of, he believes, his views about how to resolve the question of Scottish independence.

Best-selling author Louis de Bernieres has just been unceremoniously sacked as Patron of the British Banjo Mandolin and Guitar Federation

'Some Scottish snowflakes protested to the BMG [the Federation] and I was fired.'

The Federation, whose aim is 'to promote the performance and education of banjo, mandolin and guitar', did not respond to requests for comment.

De Bernieres expounded on his ideas on independence in an article in the Daily Mail last week, in which he noted that 'nobody with any sense wants to stay with somebody who doesn't love them'.

De Bernieres plays both the mandolin and the guitar — as well as the flute, saxophone and clarinet.

'I decided recently that should I get an invitation from a university to go and speak to them, I will enquire as to whether they practise cancel culture, and if they do, I won't go,' says de Bernieres. 

His reverence for those who oppose totalitarianism is evident in Captain Corelli's Mandolin

The author believes he has been sacked because of his views about how to resolve the question of Scottish independence

'I think that ever since Germaine Greer got cancelled, it has to be an honour, and I feel proud to be at her side, albeit in a very tiny and entertaining and insignificant way.'

The Federation seems reluctant to let de Bernieres go entirely: a photograph of him continues to adorn its website.

Nevertheless, it is clearly too late to win him back. His reverence for those who oppose totalitarianism is evident in Captain Corelli's Mandolin.

Its dedication reads: 'To my mother and father, who . . . fought against the Fascists and the Nazis . . . and were never thanked.'

Actress Alison Steadman has turned to birdsong to help her through lockdown.

'The beauty of birds and birdsong always puts a smile on my face,' the Gavin & Stacey star says.

'The dawn chorus is glorious. If you can just stop and listen to a bird sing for ten minutes, it lifts your spirits.

'Very often, if I'm on a walk and hear a blackbird or a robin, I get my phone out and record it.

Then when I come home, I can play it a few times and it's just lovely. These things remind you that, yes, you're important, but all creatures on this planet are.'

And that's not all. 'I love looking for funghi. If I see funghi, I don't recognise, I take a photograph and check it out.'

Makes a change from making banana bread at least.

Art duo Gilbert & George's latest muse? Dishy Rishi 

Avant-garde artists Gilbert & George, whose exhibition, New Normal Pictures, opened this week in Mayfair

It brings a whole new meaning to the phrase Dishy Rishi.

The Chancellor has become the latest pin-up of avant-garde artists Gilbert & George, whose exhibition, New Normal Pictures, opened this week at White Cube in Mason's Yard, Mayfair.

No fewer than four images of Rishi Sunak appear behind the besuited duo in this newly released picture from their studio in East London. 

'We love Rishi. He is a great Conservative Chancellor,' they told a friend.

Sunak, who announced that £700 million would be made available for the arts, culture and sport in the Budget, is a collector of contemporary British artist Harland Miller, so perhaps it's about time he added G&G to his walls.

Gilbert & George are both Brexit supporters and admirers of Margaret Thatcher.

High praise for broadcaster Angela Rippon from comedian and former Great British Bake Off host Mel Giedroyc. 

'I once saw Angela Rippon in the nude,' she confesses. 

'We were members of the same gym. I saw Rippon in the buff, in the Ladies. She looked sen-ruddy-sational. She looked amazing.'

Basic Instinct's Sharon Stone bares her soul

Sharon Stone, 62, has now unveiled her first watercolour painting on Instagram, which she has called 'Mother Earth'

Basic Instinct star Sharon Stone has revealed a hidden talent. 

After getting in touch with her creative side during lockdown in California, the 62-year-old has now unveiled her first watercolour painting on Instagram, which she has called 'Mother Earth'. 

Sharon, a mother of three, started painting after friends sent her art supplies for her birthday. 

'You can do something you didn't know you could do while you're at home, not knowing what to do,' she muses. 

Hollywood star Drew Barrymore told her: 'This is stunning and so are you.' 

David to wed his Cadbury sweetheart

Jemima Cadbury and Old Etonian David Tollemache (pictured together) are now making their union official

Dubbed the 'hottest social set couple' by Tatler magazine, chocolate dynasty scion Jemima Cadbury and Old Etonian David Tollemache are now making their union official.

For I can disclose that Jemima, 28, has got engaged to the amiable nephew of brewing heir Lord Tollemache.

'Over the moon to be engaged to the love of my life,' says property analyst David, 32. As the great-great-great-granddaughter of confectioner John Cadbury, Jemima should have no problem picking the perfect cake.

Worth £50 million, former England captain Sol Campbell is the last person you'd expect to see serving takeaway drinks in a cafe. 

So patrons of The Pie Man in Chelsea were shocked yesterday to find the 46-year-old doing just that, apron and all. 

'He comes in all the time, he's one of our most loyal customers, and he wanted to have some fun,' manager Paul Headford tells me. 'He was very good at making the coffee — and drinking it, of course.

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