Diary

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Stepping out of obscurity today is Viscount Bridgeman, 63, the amiable director of London's Bridgeman Art Library, Notting Hill, who this afternoon takes on the Government single-handed over its plans to allow shops to open 24 hours a day.

Bridgeman, a long-term resident of Westminster, has been lobbied by the council to table an amendment to the Deregulation Bill, which, if passed would give London councils discretion to shut shops between 9pm and 5am.

Though no stranger to politics - he is the grandson of William Clive Bridgeman, Home Secretary in Stanley Baldwin's Tory Government - Bridgeman, a Tory, has never previously opposed the Government. That he should speak out on this issue is most peculiar, since he is known to be a close friend of local MP and minister Sir John Wheeler, who tells me he is in favour of the Bill.

Nonetheless, Bridgeman is passionate in his campaign. 'Eight to 12pm is a very bad time for shoplifting,' he said forcefully yesterday, before shuddering, 'just look at the Earls Court Road.'

Hello] magazine has a rival: the latest publication to put a curse on everything it touches is the anodyne-sounding Museum Yearbook. So disastrous is the series of events that has befallen each cover model since 1989 that the editorial team is, this year, taking the ultimate preventative step of having a blank cover with a simple script.

Jokingly, the team put it down to a particular strain of Egyptian curse, from a mummy which adorned the cover in 1988. The following year, the cover portrayed a celebration of the Museum Association's centenary - subsequently the organisation almost went bankrupt.

Next it was the turn of Bodelwyddan Castle, Wales, advertised as a model example of a museum. No sooner had the proof returned from the printers than it became known that the castle was in financial difficulties.

The following year featured a volunteer at Brooklands Museum with the caption 'in some cases involvement may only be temporary - tragically, the man subsequently died.

Nothing has happened yet to last year's professional model but, I am assured, the magazine staff are holding their breath.

The All England Tennis club at Wimbledon is becoming eco-friendly. For the first time, I am informed, the 250,000 strawberry punnets discarded annually on the grass are being picked up and recycled. . .destined for a somewhat lesser role as eggboxes.

Luvvy monologues on the self-indulgent topic of 'how I rose to stardom' are not always the most gripping of conversation pieces. A striking variant of the breed, however, is the story of international tenor David Rendall, shortly to grace the role of Cavaradossi in the ENO's autumn production of Puccini's Tosca.

Nowadays, Rendall is one of the most popular faces at the Met, but only a few decades ago he was a mere clerk working on BBC Radio's Desert Island Discs, under the auspices of the programme's founder, Roy Plomley.

One fortunate day, young Rendall was sent to fetch a Verdi aria - sadly no one can now recall which - and bring it back to the studio. He returned to find the studio empty, and burst forth into song. What he did not realise was that the microphone was switched on.' You should get trained,' came from all directions when he had finished. . .since when he has never looked back.

Residents of St Andrew's parish in Watford are amused, I gather, by a new sign on the vicarage door, home of the well-loved Rev Norman Moore. It reads: 'No free newspapers, canvassers. . .or religious nutters'.

(Photographs omitted)

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