| Aussie A-list: Queen Elizabeth meets Elle Macpherson. Hugh Jackman and Tom Hooper stand beside her
Queens no to India, yes to Australia
Perhaps one shouldnt compare India with Australia, but then again, perhaps one should.
The Queen felt unable to open the Commonwealth Games in Delhi last October due to the volume of engagements, coupled with other overseas commitments.
In contrast, the Queen, who opened the Commonwealth Games in Melbourne in 2006, begins a hectic 10-day tour of Australia on October 19, ending the trip by inaugurating the Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting in Perth on October 28.
The Queen is now 85, and will be accompanied by Prince Philip, who is 90.
Of course, it wasnt the Queens personal decision to give India a miss or fly 10,000 miles to Australia on what many commentators believe will be her final trip. She acts as advised by the British government — and successive British governments have acted to prevent Australia from becoming a republic of which she will no longer be queen.
She first visited Australia in 1954, a year after her coronation. Since then, she has returned to the country in 1963, 1970, 1973, 1974, 1977, 1980, 1981, 1982, 1986, 1988, 1992, 2000, 2002 and 2006.
In a country where real men like Shane Warne stereotypically treat their women as Sheilas and apparently spend the whole day drinking beer on the beach, a woman with Republican sympathies, Julia Gillard, is now Prime Minister. But she heads a shaky coalition and given that most people are not ready to sever formal links with the British Crown, there is no danger of Australia becoming a republic, now or ever. The link with London also probably enables Australians to feel they still remain a white society.
Ahead of her trip, the Queen, although suffering from a cold, went ahead last week with a planned party at Buckingham Palace for some 350 prominent Australians settled in the UK.
Guests included the likes of the leggy supermodel Elle Macpherson and X-Men actor Hugh Jackman, who was in Mumbai in March this year, attempting Bollywood moves on stage with Vidya Balan and Shah Rukh Khan.
Jackman said the Queen was loved Down Under. Even the republicans, the ones in Australia who want to see Australia move on, still have great respect and love for the Queen.
David Cameron will attend the Commonwealth conference. What is odd is that although Sonia Gandhis pick, Kamalesh Sharma, is the Commonwealth secretary general, Manmohan Singh is giving Perth a miss because of pressing engagements.
Sharma confirmed to the Indian Journalists Association in London that India will be represented by vice-president Hamid Ansari.
It is understood that Australians cannot contain their excitement at this unexpected good news.
| LOVE RIGHT: Paul McCartney and Nancy ShevellRoadside kill: Fresh meat for the tablenutty lesson: Srichand Hinduja feeding squirrels
David Cameron has announced that migrant settlers will first have to demonstrate knowledge of the English language as well as British history.
American heiress Nancy Shevell has gained residence rights by virtue of her marriage to a UK citizen, who happens to be former Beatle Sir Paul Mc-Cartney.
But in the eyes of the law, since Nancy should be treated the same as anyone else, here are a couple of questions for her:
Question 1: Do you meet someone or meet with someone?
Question 2: In the royal abdication crisis of 1936, of the Queen Mum and Wallace Simpson, who behaved like a bitch and who was the innocent party?
Nancy should remember the second is a trick question.
Mice & moles
With the cost of doing the weekly shop at supermarkets rising all the time, Jonathan McGowan, a 44-year-old bachelor from Bournemouth, Dorset, recommends an unorthodox method of acquiring fresh meat which he adopted 30 years ago.
Though a taxidermist by trade, he has never harmed a single living creature but he does collect and cook animals killed by traffic. He has even had curried owl, a dish not yet available in any of the 8,000-10,000 Indian restaurants in Britain.
McGowan says that the meat he collects is much fresher and tastier than anything sold in supermarkets. Over the years, he has eaten mice, moles, hedgehogs, squirrels, rats, foxes, badgers, hares, rabbits, deer, stoats, weasels, polecats, otters, wildcats, pheasants, finches, thrushes, ducks, geese, pigeons, owls, crows, gulls, blackbirds and cormorants.
He does not like mice and says moles are horrible and have a rancid taste but squirrels are most delicious, wild cats very nice and baby foxes always very nice and taste slightly like chicken.
For those wanting to try the owl recipe, here it is: 1) Brown the onions and celery in a frying pan for around 10 minutes on a high heat. 2) Add the owl, turning until cooked through. After about 5 minutes, turn down the heat and add the veg, sultanas, coconut, curry paste and some cumin and turmeric. Simmer for around 10 minutes. 3) Shortly before serving, mix in the cream and stir well. Serve with pilau or long grain rice.
Srichand (SP) Hinduja would not approve of Jonathan McGowans methods. For the Indian tycoon, a lifelong vegetarian, refers to all meat as dead flesh.
When in London, SP rises at dawn and after a visit to the temple, walks briskly through St Jamess Park where he feeds the birds and tosses china badam to the squirrels who have long worked out that he is a soft touch.
But SP feels he is the lucky one since he has learnt so much from nature.
As I have remarked before, SP thinks he has picked up prudent investment banking from the squirrels.
They eat one nut but bury the other, he points out. (Unlike bankers) they are not greedy.
By Sunday evening the 1,50,000 people (including, at least, 2,000 in India) eligible to vote for the new chancellor of Cambridge University will know which of the four candidates has won.
The new chancellor replaces Prince Philip who served from December 17, 1976, until June 30, 2011, and presided over honorary degree and other ceremonies as the universitys titular head.
Anyone with a Cambridge MA or doctorate can take part but votes must be cast in person in the Senate House. Naturally, gowns must be worn.
Of the four, one is a joke candidate — Abdul Arain, 46, an Asian shopkeeper originally from Kenya who wants to stop Sainsburys from opening a branch opposite his shop.
Another is an actor, Brian Blessed, 75, who has been nominated by maverick students. The third candidate is radical barrister Michael Mansfield, 70, and the fourth and most deserving candidate is Lord (David) Sainsbury, a former science minister who has been a generous benefactor to the university.
The cricket trial in Londons Southwark Crown Court is turning out to be an all-Pakistani affair — Mohammed Asif and Salman Butt, who deny wrongdoing, are Pakistani, as are their former London agent, Mazhar Majeed, and Mazher Mahmood, the reporter on the now defunct News of the World who broke the story.
But at another level, it is India, painted as the centre of all financial corruption, which is on trial. Happily, no one can accuse the Indians of being paid to throw matches on their England tour since they were able to do that quite easily without being paid.