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Perhaps unfairly, I have never automatically associated

barristers with eco-friendly types, but now I hear that a bloody battle is being waged within the sanctum of the Inner Temple over the impending execution of two conifers.

The trees, situated in the gardens outside No 2, Harcourt Buildings, have caused a rift between residents of the sets occupying the ground floor chambers - which include those of Roger Henderson QC - who say the trees impair their view, and tenants of the sets on the upper levels - which include those of Roger Evans MP - who say the trees enhance their view.

But the real bone of contention, according to one barrister in Evans' chambers, is that they were not consulted by the brigade downstairs before an application was made to the Corporation of London, which owns the land, to have the trees felled.

As wigged temperatures rise, the corporation's planning committee meets today to decide the matter. There is, I gather, already stiff opposition from its area advisory committee but none the less, the would-be tree-savers are worried. 'It is a question,' said one, not quite assiduous enough to reveal his name, 'of whether the bite of few or the bark of many shall prevail.'

Boys at Sedbergh School, Cumbria, are revelling in the discovery of their future headmaster's nickname. While a housemaster at Radley - where he coached the First XI with some distinction - Christopher Hirst, currently headmaster of Kelly College, Devon, earned the nickname 'Gussie' - apropos the bespectacled newt-loving teetotal Gussie Finknottle in the books by P G Wodehouse. Doubtless, the Sedburgh lot are praying that Speech Day next year will be as eventful as that of Finknottle's in Right Ho] Jeeves. So nervous was he before speaking that he drank a double gin beforehand by mistake. . .and then everything to get completely out of control. . .

Aside from Jean-Luc Dehaene, the person whose career is likely to be most affected by the appointment of Jacques Santer as European Commission President is Colette Flesch, the commission's only woman director general, who currently heads the Brussels information and culture department.

Until Santer's appointment, Ms Flesch, in her late fifties, had been considering a return to national politics - she is a former deputy prime minister of Luxemburg - and it was whispered that the commission's old regime would not have prevented her. Santer, it is felt, is far more likely to want her to stay - after all, she is one of the few residents of Brussels able to converse in his native tongue - Letzeburgesch.

I can at last appease worried patients in the Marie Celeste ward, the new cardiology unit at the recently built Chelsea and Westminster Hospital. Their ward's name bears no relation to the boat which was found abandoned off the coast of Gibraltar in 1872, its whole crew having vanished without a trace. It transpires that the hospital's Marie Celeste is the wife of Victorian benefactor James Hora, a Londoner who, having made a fortune in Australian gold, made a pounds 120,000 donation to the old hospital in 1900.

It seems the finer rudiments of Westminster's summer recess were a little lost on novice MP for Barking, Margaret Hodge, last week . She tried to table a question at 11 minutes past three on Thursday, only to be told by the clerks she was too late. The House rose at 3pm until October. She was, to use the expression of an eye-witness, 'hopping mad'.

Potential buyers of Stephen Fry's 1957 Wolseley (the car is mentioned in several of his works) can relax . . . After much angst in Ipswich garage circles, it transpired yesterday that the two parking tickets dated 1989 and 1992 found in the glove compartment have - sighs of relief - been paid.

(Photographs omitted)

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