alternately for Thomas's favoured genres - short stories and poetry - since his plaque was installed in Westminster Abbey in 1982. The prize, won by writers such as Rose Tremain, Caroline Duffy and James Lasdun, was set up when the committee organising the instalment of Thomas's plaque realised it had money left over. Inevitably, funds ran dry later - but were topped up by the likes of Welsh television company HTV - and, perhaps more surprisingly, former US president Jimmy Carter, who sent a huge cheque saying he was a great fan of Thomas's. Now, however, the future looks bleak again - there is just pounds 50 left in the kitty. According to committee member Clifford Simmons, this time people will be more reluctant to give, since there are too many other national poetry prizes for larger sums of money.
'We have decided to make the competition more specialist - one for the spoken word,' he explains. 'After all, Dylan's broadcasts were wonderful. We are talking to The Poetry Society about this - but I am still not sure how we can raise the money.' Over to you, Jimmy . . .
Pity the nation's building
fraternity, currently subject to a recruitment row between UCATT, the construction workers' union, and the Amalgamated Engineering and Electrical Union. Who should come in as honest broker to sort it all out? None other than that proven expert in solving industrial disputes. . .this year's TUC president, RMT rail union general secretary, Jimmy Knapp.
Proof that Canary Wharf, commonly referred to as 'that tower block in Essex' is - when The Independent finally moves there - to become the British centre for all that is cultural, influential and meaningful: the London Press Club is thinking of opening a branch there. An august institution founded 112 years ago, whose main value is that it serves lunch from 12am until 6pm, the club is currently losing custom in The Wig & Pen, a Strand haunt. This month's newlsetter reads: 'Slow summer trade has caused the Wig & Pen to withdraw the barmen from the club room.' No wonder they hope to open a Docklands branch.
Nota Bene Sir George Young: If you want to get rid of the 200 bats currently infesting your Ealing home without incurring 200 times the pounds 5,000 fine for bashing one over the head - follow the example of an early music group recently performing at Brinkburn Priory, Northumberland. The Handel and Purcell repertoire of the Gabrieli Consort, in league with the Northern Sinfonia, has so startled the resident water bats nesting there that English Nature has stepped in to protect the creatures. After closely examining their droppings for evidence of stress, it has advised that the bats are 'traumatised' by the music and that in future the festival should be staged at a less sensitive time. 'Both Purcell and Handel have affected the bats giving birth,' explains Nicholas Morrison, manager of the Gabrieli Consort. 'Purcell's ode, Hail, Bright Cecilia is quite loud but Handel's Dixit
Dominus which has trumpet, drums, recorder and vocals must have given them miscarriages. . .'
Guests at the pounds 145-a-night Westbury Hotel, Mayfair, were unamused by loud thumping noises late on Wednesday night. Inquiries to reception received the following response: 'It's the South African cricket team. . .for some reason they think they can behave like celebrities.'