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As secretly as it can, debate is raging once again through that bastion of closed lips and flying doves - The Magic Circle. This time, the bone of contention is whether or not to lower the age of admittance from 18 to 16. (Given that the society only admitted women three years ago, one imagines that the reformers, led by veteran magician Ali Bongo, will have a tough fight on their hands.)

To be fair one can sympathise with those against the motion. They are worried that the admittance of teenagers may cause the licence to be removed from their current headquarters, the Victory and Services Club, at Marble Arch - a fear that any club member worth their subscription is surely right to consider. Mr Bongo, however, is adamant that the society is losing a lot of talent by keeping the age limit at 18: 'People mature younger these days,' he says. 'We are missing out on too many good performers.' The debate looks set to rage until a vote at the society's AGM in September 1995 when the society may have moved into new headquarters in Stephenson Street, Euston. Despite the fact that a 75 per cent majority is required to pass any reforms, Mr Bongo seems extremely optimistic: 'We are democratic enough to make sure things progress,' he says blithely.

Politics aside, it seems the main difference between Heritage Minister, Stephen Dorrell, and his predecessor, Peter Brooke, is one of direct communication with the denizens of the Heritage press office. So unused is the press office to actually speaking to the minister in person, telephone conversations go, apparently, something like this:

SD: 'Hello, it's Stephen Dorrell here.'

PO: 'Who?'

SD: 'The Secretary of State actually.'

PO: 'Oh . . . it's you . . . '

Causing mayhem amongst Covent Garden florists are Royal Ballet principals Stephen Wicks and Mark Welford. They have disgarded their tights in favour of setting up their own flower shop - and their inside knowledge of ballet dancers' favourite bunches is causing much consternation amongst rival stalls. A paltry concern you might think - but the flower business is not to be underestimated in that part of the world; a ballet performance, unlike opera or straight drama, always concludes with much grandiloquent flower-giving.

Fortunately for their rivals, Wicks and Welford are a generous pair. They have given me some tips, which for the sake of egalitarianism, I pass on here: 'Red and white bouquets are not appreciated' (reminiscent of hospitals and blood apparently); 'perfumed lilies - particularly the pink stargazer - is on the other hand to be advised'. (Only, I might add, if you have particularly deep pockets).

There ought to be some blushing faces on Newham council, which has refused to give a grant to a budding actor Jason Traynor to fund a place he has won at a drama college on the grounds that he has not yet lived in the borough for three years. Yet on my desk I have a copy of Newham News, the council's own newspaper, dated June this year, and which literally sings the praises of young Mr Traynor. He is described as a shining example who has been 'helped' by the council's arts education centre. The profile also mentions that Mr Traynor was educated in Newham until leaving school . . . so much for the idea that he is not a well-established resident of the area . . .

Commenting that comedian Alexei Sayle's next role in the forthcoming Channel 4 sitcom, Paris, is remarkably autobiographical - he plays a struggling Parisian artist - evoked the following response from the Channel 4 press office. 'Quite. Each week it focuses on how desperate he is to get a commission.'

Latest bad joke from Andrew Lloyd Webber's Really Useful Company: 'Who's done away with you then?' (Clue: say it aloud)

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