YESTERDAY'S DEBATE on Europe at the TUC conference was definitely attended by Arthur Scargill. The firebrand leader certainly made his presence felt this time, saying, "As miners we are an internationalist bunch. We shouldn't be trading with Europe, but with Cuba." Has Arthur taken a fancy to Cuban cigars?
CZECH PRESIDENT Vaclav Havel described him as a "living legend" and one of the "co-creators of a new American self-realisation" who "affected even Czech lands with his works". Praise indeed for rocker Lou Reed. At Havel's request, Reed was booked to play a 20-minute set at the White House this week. Reed's former band, The Velvet Underground, were apparently the inspiration to a number of Czech bands of the sixties including Plastic People of the Universe, who were imprisoned for their music and later recorded in secret at Havel's house. Given the problems faced by Bill Clinton, Lou ought to consider dropping his tune "Walk on the Wild Side" from the set, or else sing it in Czech.
AT THE Pharmacy launch party for his book By Design, actor Richard E Grant (pictured) was surrounded by happy revellers, including Twiggy and Samantha Fox (who stars with Grant and footballer Alan Shearer in the forthcoming film The Match). Unlike most of the crowd on Tuesday evening, Grant does not drink or smoke, belying the image he forged for himself in Withnail and I. How then does the actor relax? "My vices are sex, shopping and scuba diving, to be done as often as possible. Sometimes at the same time." If that's the case, his current image is pretty far out too.
JAMES KIRKMAN, art dealer to Lucien Freud for 20 years, is to have an exhibition of his own paintings at the Atrium Gallery in London next month. Freud severed relations with Kirkman in 1992 after a dispute over the commission from the sale of a portrait of Lord Rothschild. Kirkman, who looked after the affairs of John Piper and Henry Moore amongst others, took up painting five years ago, when he was 58. Currently tutored by Maggi Hambling at Morley College in London, James humbly admits, "I'm not a great genius." Perhaps not, but he has had work exhibited recently at the Royal Academy. "You will have to come along and decide for yourself. If you write anything about me, I can begin my cuttings file." Are you reaching for the scissors, James?
AS OUR Anti-Rucksack on the Tube Campaign gears up for a massive autumn offensive, a rather worrying letter reaches us. "Everyone who uses public transport should support your anti-backpack campaign; you are obviously the champion of the passenger," writes a North London reader. The lady in question warns Pandora of another scourge: trolley abuse. Beware the species of shopping trolley that is "large, surrounded by a metal cage and seems to have an unusual number of corners and spikes," used as a battering ram on buses. Our reader pleads; "If I am quoted I would like to be anonymous. I use buses frequently and don't want to be set upon by angry trolleys." What a horrible fate.
What is Britain's favourite tourist city amongst readers of Conde Nast Traveller? Not what you'd expect. Number one choice is Glasgow, almost in a tie for second are Chester and Newcastle. London only just managed the top 10. Come again?