THERE was no mistaking the identity of former Russian double-agent Oleg Gordievsky, as he openly marched around north London yesterday without his customary false beard and toupee. Gordievsky, 56, who defected from the Soviet Union in 1985, was one of six Russian dissidents accompanying Tory MEP Lord Bethell on his campaign to retain his London North West seat in next month's Euro-elections.

The pair's relationship has not always been so congenial. They first met in the ballroom of Brighton's Grand Hotel during the 1982 Tory Party Conference. Bethell, mistaking Gordievksy for a Soviet spy, took an instant dislike to him. 'I remember how shocked I was at the thought of the party's hard-earned funds being spent on free drink and sausage rolls for the KGB,' he wrote afterwards; Gordievsky's failure to procure a Russian visa for Bethell was an added bone of contention.

After Gordievsky's defection, however, they became friends. Bethell was instrumental in securing the release of Gordievsky's wife, Leyla, and two daughters, from Moscow in 1991.

'I have remained on good terms with them all,' Bethell told me last week while preparing his campaign. Whether the clever marketing ploy results in Lord Bethell retaining his seat, however, remains a matter for the voters.

PATRICK DEUCHAR, chief executive of the Royal Albert Hall is clearly not a soap opera man. The other day he informed my esteemed colleague, David Lister, that he had long been pondering a name for the proposed piazza linking the Albert Hall and Hyde Park's Albert Memorial over a lowered Kensington Gore. Finally he confided, he came up with an idea with which he was rather pleased: Albert Square.

THERE MAY be a new cause, I fear, for the ugly battle between former chairman of the Arts Council, Lord Palumbo, and his son, James, to continue indecorously in the public domain.

Palumbo Jnr, who is suing his father over allegedly mishandling a family trust fund, has been seen looking around the premises of London's new Capital Club, due to open in September. Should he attempt to join the establishment - life membership is pounds 3,500 - there could be trouble. Sitting firmly on the board of advisers, is his father.

CLEARLY, last Thursday's appointment of the Norwegian diplomat, Terge Larsen, to Under-Secretary General of the United Nations, should have been better advertised in London. That night saw Larsen - the main facilitator behind the scenes of last year's PLO-Israeli peace deal - detained on arrival at the Dorchester Hotel as the guest of honour at the annual fundraising dinner of WIZO, the Women's International Zionist Organisation. 'Where are your invitations? You can't enter the VIP suite without invitations,' barked a security guard, keeping Larsen and his wife, Mona Juul, standing in the corridor.

'Embarrassing,' muttered a WIZO official, burying her head in the nearest curtain before rushing to the rescue.

IN CONTRAST to my note last week about author Steve Jones' practical plans to use his Science Book Prize winnings to study a slug's sex life, I feel I should relay the romanticism of John Campbell, whose biography of Sir Edward Heath won the NCR's non-fiction award of pounds 25,000. He insisted - to much applause at the prizegiving - that he is giving all his winnings to his wife Alison.

' I could not have written it without her,' etc. etc, spieled forth from his lips, naturally evoking tears from the female contingent of the audience.

Call me a cynic, but I was amazed by such a gesture. I can only suppose that, if Mrs Campbell's manners are as impeccable as her husband's, she will insist he keep at least half of it. . .

(Photographs omitted)