FIRE FIRST, ask questions later? A heated Westminster select committee grilling on the state of the nation's fire services was interrupted this week by... a fire alarm.
WHODATHUNKIT? A Californian vintner now holds wine-tasting classes for dogs.
BILLY CONNOLLY and Pamela Stephenson once spent August in Scotland, as one does, with a crew that included Twiggy, Gus McDonald, Geoffrey Robinson - and a group of gullible Californians. These luckless visitors from La La Land were persuaded that they should play the ancient Scottish game of strip croquet. "If you hit the ball in the wrong direction, you had to remove an item of clothing. An eventuality," Robertson says, "that we had prepared for but the Americans had not. They ran naked from the lawn pursued by midges." In a country where stags are stalked, men wear skirts and the natives relax by throwing logs around, who can blame them?
BUTT-KISSING NAFS at Belmarsh Prison's "Education Department" have been reversed by their superiors over their misguided attempts to make Jonathan Aitken a prison librarian "redband" at his new domicile. So Aitken, now enjoying HM hospitality at Standford Hill Open Prison in Kent, will be manufacturing electrical switches, learning carpentry or weaving textiles rather than dusting down Shakespeare. Alternatively, perhaps this Oscar Wilde manque could utilise his "sword of truth" to cultivate the garden of his new nick?
DIME-STORE psychologists suggest that nude modelling can raise self- esteem and give the model more confidence in his or her body image. Uh- huh. So what happens when a marginal case applies to an art college and is rejected?
WILLIAM LONG, the prankster who offered to sponsor Nato weapons during the Kosovo conflict, also suckered both American Express and Visa into supplying real gold and platinum cards for himself under the bogus title of "Lord William Long of Epping". Reality: Mr Long lives in a council house in Loughton, Essex with "the PDSA rounding up the wolves at the door". Did someone say "the new Rocky Ryan"?
PARTY ANIMALS should check August's Tatler, which names Britain's Most Wanted (250 party guests). An amusing sidebar aimed, presumably, at socialites and flacks is called "You Want, You Get". You want Robbie Williams? You get Gary Barlow. Similarly: you want Mick Flick but get Mick Hucknall; invite Marco Pierre White yet settle for Michael White; pray for Naomi Campbell and steel yourself for Valerie Campbell...
MICHELLE COLLINS, the thesp (pictured), is another who believes that Mummy is a happening social accessory. Collins, sporting this season's must-have prop - a cowboy hat - bought her mum (bra-less, no less) along to Teatro's Chicks for Charity bash this week. The event was more bonding than bitching, raising north of pounds 3,500 for miscellaneous good causes. Shortly before the cojone-d were firmly shown the door and Lenny Beige entertained 70 dames who dine, one male reptile muttered: "I feel like a four-year-old at Christmas; the trouble is I can't unwrap any of the presents..."
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