Sir Paul's boy goes solo at last

As a budding musician, life in the shadow of one of the 20th century's greatest singer-songwriters has not always been easy for Sir Paul McCartney's reclusive son James.

Unlike his older sisters who have soared to great heights in their respective careers  -  Stella as a fashion designer and Mary as a photographer, like their late mother Linda  -  the burden of the McCartney name has often been a struggle for James, 31.

At one stage, he refused to take an allowance from his father's fortune, preferring instead to earn a living as a waiter.

Come together: Sir Paul McCartney with his children James, Mary and Stella

Come together: Sir Paul McCartney with his children James, Mary and Stella

He was also hit especially hard by the death of his mother when he was a young 21 and found Heather Mills even harder to accept than his sisters when she came into their father's life.

But now, just days after friends predicted that newly divorced American heiress Nancy Shevell will become the third Lady McCartney, I hear James is at last taking steps to get his life on track.

Like his sister Stella, he is said to get along well with Nancy. But his focus for many months has been on finding suitable musicians to back him on an album he plans to release later this year.

Interestingly, he has opted to go back to his father's roots in Liverpool to find them, I am told, and is working with former members of Merseyside band The Dead 60s. He has written around 20 songs which he wants to record.

'James is a very talented singer and an exceptional guitarist,' says one musician who has heard his work. 'He is actually as good a guitarist as his father and has written some excellent tunes with very good, strong lyrics.

'Some of it is loud, in the mould of Nirvana, and at other times he is quite mellow, rather like his dad.'

James, who first learned to play the guitar at the age of six, appeared on his father's solo albums Flaming Pie, released in 1997, and Driving Rain, in 2001.

Now Paul is planning to return the compliment by accompanying his son on his attempt to bring a new McCartney to the music world.


Katie chooses the Good Life

Katie Derham

Margo or Barbara? Katie Derham is enjoying life in rural Sussex

Growing up in leafy Stockport, ITN beauty Katie Derham has often hankered after the Good Life.

Now the dream has come true for the newsreader, who has swapped her home in London for rural Sussex. 'I'm a long way off being the next Felicity Kendal,' says Cambridge-educated Katie, 38.

'We're hardly self-sufficient, but we are planting our own vegetables and I have been known to pick the odd runner bean!'

The mother of two, who is married to John Vincent, co-founder of the Leon healthy fast-food restaurants, tells me the move was prompted by their desire for a different lifestyle for their young daughters.

'Now, I've got a pony-crazy eight-year-old who loves it here,' she says. 'I still don't have the right wellies, though. I'd done that city thing of buying those that look good rather than being waterproof.'

Katie, who was hosting the Gala Opera fundraiser for the Surgical Theatre Appeal for Robotics, adds: 'I still get my fix of the city, as I'm there four days a week for work. But every day I open the window at home and I know we've done the right thing.' Chelsy tastes life after Harry

Hours after signalling her split from Prince Harry on the social networking website Facebook, Chelsy Davy was taking her newly single status in her stride.

She hit the town with close friend and fellow Leeds University student Charlotte Cox  -  and, without a bodyguard or paparazzo in sight, she enjoyed every minute.

The pair dropped into King's Road restaurant Made In Italy, where they shared two pizzas and a bottle of rose. It was Chelsy's first night out after St James's Palace had confirmed her five-year relationship with Harry was over.

'She was wearing a short black dress and seemed to be having a good time,' a fellow diner tells me. 'She was chatting with the waiter in quite good Italian and joking with her friend.

'The girls hadn't booked and had to squeeze into a table between two groups of Sloaney guys having birthday parties.

'She was certainly getting a lot of attention as she popped in and out for cigarettes. Harry must be kicking himself.

'She was still there when we left at 11.30pm.'


They have not always seen eye to eye, but Tory leader David Cameron's relationship with his illustrious predecessor Baroness Thatcher is far more cordial these days.

I can reveal the two will have dinner next month at the Goring Hotel, a favourite of the Queen and close to Lady Thatcher's Belgravia home.

The move surprises friends of the Iron Lady. Observes one: 'David's been doing well in the polls since bringing Ken Clarke back  -  perhaps he's going to offer Maggie a job in his Shadow Cabinet, too.'


Diet worth the weight loss

Christina Estrada

Proud: Christina Estrada is supporting her husband Walid's tough diet regime

They have always cut an unlikely couple: she a long-limbed Californian model; he short and portly, with a girth to match his formidable bank balance.

But now Christina Estrada's husband, billionaire Saudi businessman Sheikh Walid Juffali, has won an unlikely battle of the bulge after embarking on the controversial strict liquid diet Lighter Life.

'I had nothing to do with it, but it was a diet a friend of his gave him and he's doing great on it,' says Christina, 40, a one-time escort of Prince Andrew and former fiancee of casino magnate Sol Kerzner.

'He started it in September. He's only permitted 500 calories a day, but he's very focused when he's determined.'

Walid, 52, who has homes in Surrey, Gstaad and Saudi Arabia, is understood to have already lost four stone.

'It's not something I would do, but it works for him and he is under a doctor's supervision,' says Christina, who married Walid in 2001 and has a five-year-old daughter with him. 'I'm proud of him.'

There is, however, a downside to the diet. Friends say he doesn't want to go out in the evenings because he doesn't have the energy.


Jeffrey Archer broke off from his writing retreat to attend the funeral of his old school friend Neil Bruce Copp.

An MCC member who was awarded the OBE for services to charity, Bruce Copp was Lord Archer's campaign manager in his ill-fated attempt to run for London Mayor and the pair had been friends since their days at Wellington School in Somerset.

Archer, who had been working on the film adaptation of his book Paths Of Glory, notes: 'I have never broken my writing routine, but this year was to prove a sad exception, when my oldest friend, Neil Bruce Copp, died of cancer at the age of 66.'

He adds: 'It is ironic that one's popularity may be judged by the attendance at one's funeral.. . over 500 mourners crammed into St Andrew's Church in Ham and even more outside.'



Underlining that the super-rich are immune from the credit crunch, Sir Richard Branson has decided not to lower the weighty price of hiring out his private 74-acre Necker Island.

The cost for taking over the Caribbean paradise for up to 28 people has risen slightly to £33,600 a night  -  a 20 per cent increase for those who pay in sterling, as the island's accommodation is priced in dollars.

For that, guests receive all their food and drink, the service of 50 staff, the use of two floodlit tennis courts and unlimited water skiing and wind surfing.