The splendidly restored Penguin Pool (1934), designed by the Russian emigre Berthold Lubetkin, is to my taste, though just a bit flash, perhaps - its style is the epitome of Nineties Hollywood

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The Independent Culture
Along with the American ambassador, a select group of Londoners are privileged to live within the boundaries of Regent's Park. I refer, of course to the 4,000 creatures (insects excluded) who reside en pension at London Zoo. Not only does this most exclusive of estates enjoy an enviable setting, but some of its buildings are among the most esteemed in the capital. The news that the Elephant & Rhino Pavilion and Lord Snowdon's Aviary are being recommended for listing by English Heritage - if accepted, they will join the Penguin Pool, the Giraffe House and three other listed structures - prompted me to view the menagerie with a fresh eye. If the zoo had the good sense to open a Weasel Pavilion, where would I prefer to have my des res?

Not, I think, in the Elephant House, which dates from 1965. With its austere concrete exterior and unfathomable shape, this structure bears a strong similarity to another prominent example of Sixties brutalism: the Royal National Theatre. A urinous puddle in the rhino compound completes the resemblance to the South Bank complex.

The splendidly restored Penguin Pool (1934), designed by the Russian emigre Berthold Lubetkin, is much more to my taste. Just a bit flash perhaps - its style is the epitome of Nineties Hollywood. It wouldn't be at all surprising to see a starlet or two lolling provocatively on the double helix-style ramps which curve down into the water.

The Children's Zoo, an essay in Santa Fe adobe, is also very a la mode - as is the home of the Bactrian camels, an open-plan affair rather like a Shinto temple, all wooden beams and pillars. But it must be admitted that not all the zoo's residents enjoy such stylish accommodation. Surely the apes and monkeys cannot find their surroundings (provincial bus station, circa 1972) aesthetically satisfying. The reptiles are lodged in a 1927 neoclassical hall rather like a municipal library. Come to think of it, the Nile crocodiles, chain saw mouths agape, are not dissimilar to one or two librarians I have known. The Bird House (1928) would be mundane in the extreme were it not for the luxuriant foliage of the surrounding outdoor cages, which brings a sultry hint of Tennessee Williams to this corner of NW1. I can't say I was much taken with the zoo's modern aviary (Armstrong-Jones, 1964). A mesh-covered cat's cradle between splayed metal fingers, it is as much a symbol of the Sixties as the Mini Moke or the kipper tie. Like many products of that era, it hasn't worn too well; it was closed on the day of my visit. Normally you can stroll on a gantry among the tenants (mostly seagulls, as far as I could tell) but a sign read: "Sorry, the Aviary is temporarily closed because the bridge is icy." This was peculiar, since the temperature at the time was 83F.

But nearby there was another structure where I immediately felt at home. The Giraffe House (Decimus Burton, 1837) is an elegantly restrained exercise in London stock brick. Perhaps the five-metre-high doors are a little excessive to a weasel's requirements, but at least I will appreciate it more than the gangly supermodels of the animal world who live there at present.

No wonder that the Sixties counterculture proved such a damp squib. Reading Richard Neville's mindless memoir, Hippie Hippie Shake (the title says it all), I grew increasingly hot under the collar at his solipsist babble. But it was a statement on page 115 (paperback edition) which prompted the volume on to its parabolic arc into the waste bin. This seminal figure of the alternative society describes a long-haired pilferer "crushing me with a parting quote from Peter Kropotkin, the Russian anarchist: `Shit, man... all property is theft.'" Now, the merest amoeba who survived the Sixties would know - as long as it had a smattering of political theory - that this dubious principle was enunciated by Pierre Joseph Proudhon (1809- 1865). In fact, it's the only thing he's famous for. Still, if he went round saying that sort of thing, it's hardly inappropriate that his maxim should be attributed to someone else.

We heard the last from another Sixties hero last week. Nothing became Timothy Leary's life like his leaving of it. In his final weeks, he decided against having his head preserved cryogenically after encountering the weirdo boffins who undertake such work. "I was worried I would wake up in 50 years surrounded by people with clipboards." (In this respect, he was like another American visionary, Walt Disney. Contrary to the widespread belief that Walt's remains reside in a deepfreeze, he was cremated.) Finally, Dr Leary decided to have his ashes blasted off in a rocket. Quite right too - he always did want to get high.

Chateau Cantona, soon available at a supermarket near you, promises to be a wine with a kick. Despite the link with Britain's greatest Frenchman, this "gutsy red" is produced at Lamberhurst, near Tunbridge Wells. It is a sad comment on the reluctance of the British to buy UK-produced wines - which are, in fact, rather good - that our largest vineyard feels obliged to engage in this shoddy marketing exercise. Still, it means that Eric the Red has joined that select group of celebs associated with the wine industry. Admittedly, Cantona's link is somewhat looser than that of his beefy compatriot Gerard Depardieu, who describes his occupation as "acteur-vigneron" in his passport and produces an honest vin de pays from Chateau de Tigne in the Loire valley. Nor does it quite compare with movie mogul Francis Coppola, whose Napa Valley estate is responsible for two of California's finest red wines. But I think M Cantona can quite reasonably stand alongside Sir Edward Heath as a star of the wine biz.

Yep, you read it right, I mean the Father of the House, whose genial bonhomie is such a delightful feature of the back benches. A few years ago, while touring the region around Carcassonne in south-west France, I popped into the cave co-operative in a village called Rasigueres and discovered a local red wine going by the name of Cuvee Edward Heath. Apparently the great man was associated with a local music festival. I'm pleased to say that the vintage was most potable - the only drawback being that locals found its name utterly unpronounceable.

Skimming through a compendium of rural lore called Gone to the Dogs by Robin Page, who may be familiar to you as the sagacious presenter of One Man and His Dog, I came across a chapter with the rather offensive title "Vermin Ermine", which was devoted to the topic of "miniature carnivores". Mr Page's description of weasels as "very inquisitive animals" is spot- on, but he is wildly off beam when he describes a technique to attract their attention: "An old gamekeeper's trick is to suck the bottom lip, or the back of the hand loudly - it sounds like a frightened rabbit." Well, I'd like to inform Mr Page that if he had a whole regiment of old gamekeepers sucking their bottom lips it wouldn't draw a flicker of attention from this particular weasel.

To be sure, there are a few noises which act as an irresistible lure, but they do not include impressions of a frightened rabbit. I might suggest the delicate squeak of a cork being drawn from a fine claret; or the fracturing of ice cubes when plopped into a glass of bourbon. The sexy click-clack of high heels on a marble floor induces an immediate corkscrew twist in the Weasel's neck. But the one sure-fire attraction, never known to fail, is the unmistakable crackle of a large-denomination note

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