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It's a bit doom and gloom these days at Richmond Anti-Apartheid Group which held its final AGM last week. So sad are the 200 or so members that, having achieved their aims, their meetings must cease, that they are dreaming up new reasons to justify a prolonged existence. Secretary John Roper, a campaigner since 1954, is determined to start a solidarity group. 'We hope to link up with a town in South Africa,' he explained yesterday, 'and keep something going.' The group, founded by the late missionary Hannah Stanton, was one of the most fervent in Britain during the Eighties. Membership soared to 400 and speakers - of which it is proud - included movement bigwigs such as Trevor Huddleston, Donald Woods and Desmond Tutu. 'We were famous,' explains Roper proudly. Another member was more frank. 'The irony is that now we're in our prime, it's too late to get Nelson Mandela to come to speak.'

The last thing needed by the V&A, desperately scraping together funds to keep Canova's sculpture of The Three Graces in Britain, was advice from a well-meaning pensioner last week. 'If you've raised two-thirds of the money, (pounds 7.6m to be exact) she told a bemused receptionist, 'couldn't you buy two of the Graces and leave the other one for America . . . ?'

Does Jeremy Isaacs, head of the Royal Opera House, know something we don't? Despite repeated insistences from Cameron

Macintosh, producer of Miss Saigon, that there is no chance the Drury Lane show will end in the near future, Mr Isaacs last week reiterated to staff at the Royal Opera House that there is a possibility they could end up there, rather than at the Lyceum, during the Opera House's refurbishment in 1997. 'It is too soon to say,' he explained. 'We will keep all our options open, but it would seem to be between the Lyceum and the Theatre Royal.' An enigmatic pause. 'If Miss Saigon were to go elsewhere . . . '

Dinner parties chez actress

Joanna Lumley at the moment are a test of physical endurance,

apparently. I encountered Ms Lumley buying a Tibetan tiger rug (fake) in Holland Park the other evening. 'I shall roll it up under the dining room table - all my rugs are there and my guests have to stick their legs out straight when they sit down,' she explained breezily. A pause as eyebrows shot up. 'Oh,' added Ms Lumley, seeing them. 'It's not always

like that. I'm painting the floorboards white.'

A note on Alex Carlile, MP for Montgomery, who is expected to become Lib Dem health spokesman at the next party conference. It has come to my attention that some years ago he changed his name - understandably really. It used to

be Alex Falik.

It was not, I gather, without hesitation that controversial modern artists Damien Hirst (left) and Rachel Whiteread (right) were added to the 1994-95 edition of International Who's Who. Richard Fitzwilliams, the book's jovial editor, is a man of extremely con-servative sensi-bilities. 'My mother was a traditional artist and I share her taste,' he tells me. 'I hope you'll stress the personal pain it has caused me to include these artists.'

The career of Tory MP for Richmond turned party chairman, Jeremy Hanley, has, like any other, had its unorthodox moments. Fellow residents of the Ruislip Northwood area recall, with smiles, Hanley's first surgery

11 years ago. His first visitors were a transexual and a woman complaining that her neighbour ran up and down the road naked tearing up fencing. Even now, I gather, Hanley admits to friends that the proceedings left him somewhat shaken - but obviously not stirred.

(Photograph omitted)

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