Welsh singer brought tear to Gordon Brown's eye

Insert the words "Duffy" and "Gordon Brown" into one of those new-fangled internet search engines and the chances are you'll end up on a page like this one.

But another Duffy - the Welsh singer/songwriter - also has an impact on the former prime minister, according to his former spin doctor Damian McBride's memoirs.

The book may be subtitled "A Decade of Policy, Plots and Spin" but it also features rather more humdrum anecdotes, such as this one.

"Only a few weeks before I was sacked," writes McBride, "I was in his [Brown's] office and he said excitedly: 'Have you seen this letter I've had from Duffy?' The Welsh singer had recently won Best Pop Vocal Album at the 2009 Grammys, been nominated for two others and had received a very personal letter of congratulations from Gordon, as had all the other British Grammy winners.

"He read her hand-written response out to me, saying: 'I was completely blown away when your letter arrived and it gave me a lot of strength and encouragement'."

The prime minister's letter had apparently made Duffy feel that her sacrifices and struggles had been worth worthwhile.

McBride added: "He read out the last section with a faltering voice: 'As for the difficult times we face at present as a country, my grandmother used to say that 'Rough Seas Make Good Sailors', so as we pull together and raise our masts, the storm will pass.'

"He looked up at me with a tear in his eye, and said: 'Isn't that amazing? Isn't that lovely?'"

There was a postscript to the letter. "Pushing my luck," wrote Duffy, "but since you are the prime minister, Ranelagh Gardens in Fulham could really do with some recycling bins."

Given Gordon Brown's micro-managing approach to his job, it wouldn't be a surprise to learn that the residents of Ranelagh Gardens got their recycling bins. It would be less of a surprise had she been offered the chance - given to TV presenters Fiona Phillips and Lorraine Kelly - to join Mr Brown's "government of all the talents".