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The Independent Culture
ONE AREA in which the Government has not scored high marks is freedom of information, so it's likely that the former MI5 agent David Shayler will have a hard time finding a publisher for his first novel. The Organisation is, he says, "a genuine work of fiction. It's a spy thriller based loosely on my time at MI5, although nothing is directly lifted from real life." Of course not. He goes on to say that he does "poke fun at MI5, but there is nothing in the book which wouldn't stand up in court". The Home Secretary has taken the precaution of warning publishers of the consequences of dealing with French-domiciled Shayler.

JOHN MAJOR'S memoirs remain firmly under lock and key. Advance material claims the book (due in mid-October from HarperCollins) is "frank about what he won and lost", and that he "writes openly" about Tory wars. Presumably, the former PM hopes to have the last word on Black Monday, for his Chancellor in 1992, Norman Lamont, is publishing a week earlier - a late addition by Little, Brown, which promises "a no-holds-barred account". The Chancellor's Story's cover shows a somewhat dishevelled Lamont, puffy-eyed and grinning to camera.

GOOD NEWS for fans of Rosamunde Pilcher, septuagenarian author of The Shellseekers et al. She is, after all, to publish another novel, for which Hodder have just paid a very substantial sum. The Winter Solstice will appear next autumn and Pilcher's editor Sue Fletcher reports that it is something of a break with tradition - a modern novel, though no less affecting. It had been thought that Coming Home, which has now sold a million copies, would be Pilcher's last.

A LITTLE over a month has passed since Christina Foyle's death and already changes are underway at her shop. Computerised stock control has been introduced, and new floor layouts. There's even to be a larger permanent staff! The will is still some time off; so we may yet learn that the blessed Christina decreed that everything be sold and the proceeds donated to animal welfare. And speculation is growing that the famous Charing Cross Road site will, sooner or later, become the flagship store for US giant Barnes & Noble.