ES News email

The founder of St John restaurants has told The Londoner that many London fine-dining establishments, including his, won’t be reopening at the weekend, and revealed that his chef Fergus Henderson was struck down by coronavirus.

Trevor Gulliver, co-founder of the high end “nose-to-tail” restaurant in Smithfield, told us: “It’s important to judge your moment well, not to rush at it.” He went on: “It’s going to be tough and get tougher right the way through to the summer of next year. I know a lot of people are thinking the same thing.”

Henderson and Gulliver were also signatories to a letter, reported on in the Standard yesterday, demanding urgent action to save London from remaining a “ghost town” for the rest of the year.

Gulliver explained of his chef: “Fergus was struck by the virus. He got it in March and it stayed with him for quite some time. He recently went to stay down at his mother’s in Wiltshire. Now he’s recovering well.”

Henderson, 56, has Parkinson’s, but has forged a career as a leading chef. Gulliver said: “The strength of an ox still resides within him. He’s another one saying thank you, NHS.” Cheers to that.

Tough crowd: Romesh Ranganathan (Photo: Scott Campbell/Getty Images) (Getty Images)

Comic Romesh Ranganathan recalls his disastrous first gig when the venue managers flicked the lights on and off to tell him he had run over time. “I started riffing about the lights failing,” but “everybody in the audience knew” what was going on. He added: “Is there anything sadder than somebody being gonged off who doesn’t realise that’s what’s happening?”

FLAKE by Matthew Dooley is the first graphic novel to win the Bollinger Everyman Wodehouse Prize for comic fiction. Judge James Naughtie tells us: “The idea that somebody working in the Commons education department is also … so hilariously funny tickled us all.” Dooley asks of his prize magnum: “How on Earth do you chill a bottle that big?”

SW1A

Influential: Carrie Symonds (Photo: Jeff J Mitchell/Getty Images) (Getty Images)

Tory MPs are increasingly concerned about animal welfare and animal health, as coronavirus and campaigners like Carrie Symonds make “the whole tapestry” linking agriculture, environmental standards and welfare clear, Simon Hoare MP tells us. “She’s an important player,” he says of Symonds, adding his colleagues from the 2019 intake want to use the “global Britain narrative” to firm up these new key values in trade deals. A turning point in attitudes.

SIR Ed Davey, Liberal Democrat leadership hopeful, muses: “He’s a fan of PR you say?” after Keir Starmer won a battle to hold an internal Labour election under a form of proportional representation. As Mean Girls didn’t quite say: Ed, stop trying to make PR happen. It’s not going to happen.

Rebel with some paws and a very grave Huw

Rebel Wilson broke her self-imposed social media ban after just one day to post photos with her friend Jon Castano at Sydney zoo. Given they met the red panda, The Londoner can’t blame her. Meanwhile at their homes Jennifer Aniston (in a face mask) and Mabel were looking equally glamorous, and BBC presenter Huw Edwards struck a faraway pose in a cemetery. A grave figure.