A dog of a case for Her Majesty

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Indy Lifestyle Online
IT IS HARD to tell which breach of copyright case offers more potential entertainment the Queen's against the Sun or Paul Anka's against the Dulux dog. Obviously the dog will make a more attractive showing in the witness box than Kelvin MacKenzie, but it might not necessarily have the better case. It has been guilty of miming a parody of 'My Way' ('And now, the end is here; He's finished off the final ceiling') in a paint advertisement, and Paul Anka, who owns the English copyright, is spitting bricks. He rang the Daily Mail at 4.30am from America to wail: 'They have no right to take that lyric and do that with it. It is special. I have turned down close to dollars 1m from others who wanted to use the lyric. We do that so that people don't associate it with something like a singing dog. It is very demeaning.' Personally, if I'd written any lyric as banal as 'My Way' I'd keep quiet about it, but then I wouldn't be too eager to claim authorship of the Christmas speech either. We journalists have higher standards than mere Queens and crooners.

The Queen's suit against the Sun is another example of how badly she is advised. She has hitherto refrained from suing newspapers on the grounds that as Supreme Head or Fount of Justice or whatever, she could not bring a case in her own courts. This was quite convenient all round the Queen could always maintain that any story about her was a lie, without the tiresome necessity of proving it in court.

I always hoped that one day an editor would sue her for libel, for saying that he printed untruths (Andrew Neil looked a good candidate when the Palace denied the Sunday Times story about the Queen's disagreement with Margaret Thatcher over the Commonwealth) but it never happened. Anyway, now that the Queen does sue, she will have to sue over everything for libel as much as for breach of copyright so now the end is near and so we face the final curtain.

THE Mail on Wednesday had a depressing picture of Bob Dylan arriving at Heathrow. It wasn't just that he looked old, and pouchy round the cheeks, or that he was wearing silly cowboy boots and a silly zippered sweatshirt. What was really dispiriting was that when asked if this was going to be his last British tour, he replied reasonably, 'Who knows? You can never really tell about these things.' Which is the sort of boring, sensible answer that 'legendary' rock stars are simply not supposed to make.

I've had doubts about Bob Dylan for a few years since friends reported seeing him dining at our local vegetarian Indian restaurant in Crouch End. How can one believe in a legend who eats at your takeaway? What made it worse was that the restaurant manager, when asked to confirm his visit, said, 'Oh yes. All sorts of famous people eat here Bill Maynard the comedian, even the Mayor of Haringey.'

However, my thoughts on rock stars are all in turmoil at present because just recently this is almost too shameful to confess I have found myself liking Rod Stewart. Oh stop] What I mean is that I have found myself liking his voice. It has acquired a sort of compulsive grandeur, so that I have occasionally paused outside Our Price thinking I might nip in and buy Waltzing Matilda or Ruby Tuesday. I fear this marks the beginning of my mid-life crisis.

THE 'Value of a Wife' report compiled by the Legal & General assurance company was so barmy it must have been written by a man, and an exceptionally silly one at that. What mother of young children is ever a nanny for 17.9 hours a week? If she has a pre-school child, then she's a nanny for at least 100 hours a week and any cooking, cleaning, laundering, shopping, dishwashing and gardening (ha]) is performed simultaneously, if at all. How does anyone manage to spend 5.7 hours a week washing dishes, or 9.3 hours doing the laundry? Are we talking mangles here? Why not include blacking t' grate and shovelling t' coal from t' bath?

I know no couples today in which the woman does all the cooking and shopping and cleaning: on the other hand, I know plenty where she does all the banking, book-keeping, bill-paying, servicing the car and conducting warfare with the gas company none of which is allowed for in the Legal & General's quaint little Janet and John picture of domestic life.

WENT TO an excellent party hosted by Vanity Fair at the Groucho for the premiere of Damage. The paparazzi all got wildly excited by the arrival of a rather ordinary-looking 40-ish woman who turned out to be Lynn Wyatt, mother of the famous Steve, but I was more excited at seeing Mrs Conrad Black, aka Barbara Amiel of the Sunday Times, in trousers. What was she thinking of? She and her husband have been mounting a media campaign for weeks to keep short skirts in fashion, so much so that he actually complained to his own fashion editor in the Telegraph, while Ms Amiel shared her thoughts on hemlines over a whole page of the Sunday Times. I forget the details, but the gist was that a good wife must bare her knees for the sake of her husband's sexual status. I was eager for elucidation, but Ms Amiel only fixed me with an unfriendly eye and changed the subject. As for the film, it was hard to concentrate because I was so busy peeping round at Princess Margaret and Dame Iris Murdoch to see if they would snigger at the tiring sex scenes. Alas, they remained grave throughout unlike the rest of us.

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