Jonathan Jenkins gets his just deserts

Plus: The Gresley Society ducks the challenge and ditches the bird, Bubbles says 'I'm no Mugabe' and Bird makes his debut in the Lords

So what next when you’ve done ten marathons in London and two in New York? You do the Marathon des Sables, of course, just like Jonathan Jenkins, chief executive of the Social Investment Business. It’s a six day, 156-mile route on the dunes and gravel on the edge of the Sahara: you carry all your own kit and bivouac at night. Easy, really. Jenkins, raising money for the London Air Ambulance, will be one of 400 Brits taking part. A Moroccan usually wins, but it’ll make a change for him from all that number crunching in a stuffy office.

There’s no suggestion that Jenkins’ escape to the desert is timed to coincide with the arrival in April of the uber-perky former Labour MP Hazel Blears as his chair in place of Sir Stephen Bubb. At the handover event in the Commons, Bubbles, who has chaired the SIB for 10 years, remarked self-deprecatingly that "the Mugabe route" was not an option for him. No sign, though, of him operating the same principle in relation to his day job running the chief executives body Acevo, which he has commanded for 16 years and counting.

At Large has to report the sad news that the duck lobby has lost and the statue of the legendary train designer Sir Nigel Gresley will take its place at King’s Cross station without a mallard at his feet. At first the Gresley Society planned to include it in reference to his most famous creation, which still holds the world speed record for a steam engine, but his grandsons objected and the trustees, er, deducted it – but not before three of them resigned in protest. A petition of 2,500 signatures also failed to change minds But all may not be lost: the Charity Commission has contacted the trustees about alleged irregularities in replacing the trustees.

It was a bit risky elevating the The Big Issue founder John Bird to the House of Lords, as confirmed in his recent maiden speech when he thanked his probation officer, said he had got into the House by "lying, cheating and stealing", and used the word "bugger" without being reprimanded for unparliamentary language. It turns out that Baron Bird of Notting Hill had an encounter with the late Baroness Wooton when she was a magistrate and a certain young "troubled London slum boy" appeared in front of her. "I’d like to think if she was alive today she’d rush over and give me the biggest hug," said Bird. Lord Patel said the speech would be remembered as "astounding and eccentric".

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