Diary

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Dame Shirley Porter will doubtless regret that she 'borrowed' the surname of Alvin Toffler to cloak her secret council meetings in country hotels at weekends in the 1980s when she learns of the close relationship between Toffler, an American sociologist whom she admires, and Peter Bradley, deputy Labour leader of Westminster council.

Bradley was both Toffler's lodger and janitor in his London home in Culross Street, Mayfair. He was still living there, rent-free on account of Toffler's generosity, in the mid-Eighties when he was elected to the council and began stirring up trouble for Dame Shirley by insisting an auditor check the accounts.

Now Bradley, who is seeking funding for representation to fight Dame Shirley's appeal against the auditor's findings,

is likely to be one of her most formidable opponents in the forthcoming court case. I can only assume therefore that had Dame Shirley known more of Toffler's chosen companions, she would have chosen a different pseudonym for her clandestine gatherings.

LAST WEEK'S television and radio reports which stated that

the opening performance of Janacek's Jenufa at the Coliseum was greeted with mass booing on Wednesday evening, were, I can reveal, very far off the mark. There were one or two boos - carefully orchestrated from a group of ENO insiders in the upper circle.

There is a strong undercurrent of bad feeling between the cast and the production team on Jenufa - so powerful is it that the singers refused to join the others at the first night party.

Not only this, they flagrantly displayed their antipathy to the audience, by not inviting the production team on to the stage at the curtain call: an unheard of breach of first night etiquette. Ultimately, the music director, Sian Edwards, took charge and assembled the motley crew on stage. To the more perceptive members of the audience, however, the friction was shamelessly, and embarrassingly, visible.

KATHLEEN KING, chair of Newham Liberal Democrats, was distinctly unamused when asked by a former Labour mayor to switch political allegiances during the Euro-election count on Sunday night. Not only had Ms King known the local Lib-Dem candidate-turned-defector Alec Kellaway for years, I suspect she is still kicking herself for not foreseeing his actions earlier. Certainly those who know Ms King professionally are

surprised she did not detect something - since in her working hours Ms King is, I'm told, a very fine private investigator.

NEWEST addition to the ever-growing list of foodies dissatisfied with the manners of temperamental chef Marco Pierre White, is historian Andrew Roberts, 31 - still recovering from his distressing experience at White's pounds 100-a-head restaurant in the Hyde Park Hotel. Last Thursday Roberts, whose forthcoming biography, Eminent Churchillians, appears next month, accompanied his parents and siblings to dinner at 8.30pm sharp. They ordered promptly, only to endure tummy-rumbles for an hour and fifty minutes - which they timed, precisely, on their watches - before even the starters reached the table. What particularly niggles Roberts, understandably, is White's arrogant prepared defence: 'The gourmet, Brillat Savairn, is quoted on the pudding menu,'

he explains: 'To know how to eat well one must first know how to wait. . .'

I AM NOt surprised that the Tories lost Kent East to Labour in the Euro-elections; recent government policy in Folkestone, has had embarrassing national consequences. It granted permission for the town's job centre to employ someone full time to boost the export of unemployed local Britons across the channel to find work in France. However, the Government did not expect the scheme to catch on so quickly. Now a supervisor - and French teacher - are required for the 80 applicants currently on the books. Meanwhile the centre, I am told, is fervently hoping that the exodus does not get out of control.

(Photographs omitted)

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