Prescott's Blackpool pleasure!

Last updated at 10:35 26 May 2006

John Prescott's testosterone-charged reputation continues to soar. After saucy revelations of bacon sandwich-fuelled dalliances with his accommodating diary secretary — followed by further claims of skirt-chasing from other women — the Deputy Prime Minister's Casanova-like activities have stirred memories in Blackpool.

Hotelier Bill Scott, currently scribbling his memoirs, recalls an action-packed visit by Mr Prescott to River House, the tiny, exclusive hotel and restaurant which he and his wife, Linda, ran for more than 30 years just outside the Lancashire seaside resort.

Bill, 61, who recently sold the picturesque hotel to move abroad, played host to every leading politician, from Sir Edward Heath and Baroness Thatcher to Tony Blair, during annual Party conferences.

He particularly remembers the occasion when Prescott arrived with a mystery blonde. A bedroom had been booked through an intermediary so that Prescott could "watch a speech from the conference on television".

Mr Scott tells me: "He went with this blonde lady to one of my four bedrooms. They stayed for a couple of hours, and afterwards, when they came downstairs, I noticed the blonde woman had re-done her make-up.

"We later found that the bed upstairs was rumpled, and that the bath towels were wet and had obviously been used. Television? Pull the other one.

"I have absolutely no idea who the blonde was; I wish I had kept a diary because then I could pin it down exactly. I have never spoken about it before and, as far as I am aware, the only people who know about it are Prescott and his ladyfriend; my wife, who bumped into them on the stairs; and the man who telephoned me to fix it up.

"Frankly, now that it is all out in the open about Prescott and women, I see no reason to stay schtum any more."

However, Prescott — through his spokesman — insists: "It never happened. There is no truth in this whatsoever. This man is a fantasist who just wants to publicise his book."

In the time-honoured words of Mandy Rice-Davies, Bill retorts: "Well he would say that, wouldn't he?"

Branded a 'spendthrift termagant' by her fund manager ex-husband — but richer by £5 million thanks to the Law Lords' ruling on divorce — Melissa Miller is no typical rich divorcee. For I hear she works as a designer for style guru Nicky Haslam at his Chelsea studio.

While stunning socialite Hannah Sandling spent yesterday at a fashion party, her thoughts were only for her mountaineer sister Katrina, currently on Mount Everest.

"She reached the summit at 6am on Wednesday morning," a delighted Hannah tells me at a catwalk show for High Street label Morgan. "I am so proud of her."

When they reached the peak, Katrina, 32, and her husband, Canadian-born multimillionaire entrepreneur Rob Follows, 44, celebrated by cracking open an £800 bottle of 1980 Château Latour. I am told the rest of the crate is waiting for them when they get back to Base Camp.

"They flew the wine out from Rob's cellar in Toronto to Kathmandu, and then sent it up to the mountain by helicopter," explains Hannah, 29.

"Katrina planted a flag at the summit for the Shire Horse Society, for which she has raised £1.5 million in sponsorship.

"My father Robert also collected his MBE from Buckingham Palace on the same morning, so it was a double celebration."

Hmm, Hugh's that girl...

He may have bedded more than 1,000 girls, but Hugh Hefner has not forgotten the British beauty who caught his eye almost half a century ago.

Former Bond girl Caron Gardner, now a 65-year-old grandmother, first met the Playboy impresario in 1961, posing for his Playboy magazine and going for a bikini-clad dip in his mansion's swimming pool.

But despite the numerous summers that have come and gone since then, Hefner, 80, still knew exactly who she was when she spotted him at a book signing at Harvey Nichols in Knightsbridge this week.

So what did Caron, whose modelling career is still going strong, make of her old pal all these years later?

The Goldfinger actress, who lives near Richmond Park, South West London, tells me: "He's going a bit deaf, but I thought he looked good. He's still very bright and lean."


THE EVENT: 100th anniversary of The Ritz Hotel.

THE VENUE: Where else but The Ritz?

THE FARE: Champagne cocktails, sushi, samosas and king prawns.

THE GUESTS: Actor Anthony Andrews, broadcasters Alan Whicker and Gloria Hunniford, Sir William and Lady McAlpine, Michael Winner and Prince Charles's party planner Michael Fawcett.

THE NOTABLE ABSENTEES: The hotel's owners, the Barclay brothers.

Carry on Cleo: Theatre producer Cleo Rocos was unwittingly served dessert by Tara Palmer-Tomkinson, who accidentally managed to flick a blob of chocolate ice cream in the air, landing on Brazilian-born Cleo's impressive bosom "like a cannonball".

Amazingly, Cleo failed to notice as the ping-pong ball-sized orb slid slowly into the cleavage of her Karen Millen silk red dress, leaving a cocoa-coloured trail before ominously disappearing waist-wards.

Anxious to prevent the ice cream becoming a knickerbocker glory, Goring Hotel boss David Morgan-Hewitt, who was presumably keeping an eagle eye on proceedings, alerted Cleo to her plight.

Says the former comedy actress: "When I looked down and saw the chocolate trail, I was able to use my CSI: Miami skills and deduce what happened."

Carry on Elizabeth: Fellow guest Lady Elizabeth Anson stuck to the lemon juice as she celebrated her full recovery from life-saving brain surgery to remove an aneurysm.

The 64-year-old society events organiser, a cousin of the Queen, was operated on at Oxford's John Radcliffe Hospital.

She told me: "I knew there was something wrong with me after I gave up smoking. I wasn't well. In the middle of it, my beloved brother Patrick (Lord Lichfield) died of a brain haemorrhage. I am fine now and I haven't gone back to smoking."

Baronet's daughter Melanie Cable-Alexander, the Earl of Snowdon's former amour — and mother of his eight-year-old son Jasper — is apprehensive about leaving London for a new life in the country.

Writing in Country Life, the 42-year-old single mother says: "The thought of moving has made me feel like a rabbit caught in headlights. For although I have always wanted to live in the countryside, I never imagined I would be doing so with my son as my other half (I raise him on my own)."

In fact, I learn that Lord Snowdon approves of Melanie's decision to settle in Castle Cary, Somerset, with Jasper, for whom he helps provide financially, because of her wish to escape 'the pressure pit that is the London education system'. Interestingly, she will be near Snowdon's former prep school, £16,350-a-year Sandroyd School in Wiltshire.

PS Tip to the Lord Mayor of London, David Brewer, who will be hosting (another) birthday tribute to the Queen at the Guildhall next month: Don't have a chorus of Happy Birthday.

I hear that on the last formal gathering to mark HM's 80th, Prince Philip groaned at a Commonwealth lunch in Marlborough House when the 53 high commissioners gave an impromptu burst of the birthday song.

"She'll walk out if that starts," complained Philip. But his warning that "she doesn't want any more Happy Birthdays" was promptly drowned out.

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