Diary - Life and Style - The Independent

Diary

The royal lookalikes who are losing face

THE Royal Family's troubles may be a good earner for the tabloids, but they are proving less profitable for the rent-a-Royal agencies; such as Susan Scott Lookalikes, the country's biggest lookalike company, with a whole family of reasonably priced royalty up its sleeve. Last month a Tokyo restaurant cancelled a two-week booking for Peter Hugo and Christina Hance, who impersonate Prince Charles and the Princess of Wales. They were to have 'mingled' with the guests, says owner Susan Scott, but when Andrew Morton's book on Diana was published, the booking was cancelled. 'The Japanese,' Scott says, 'admire the Royal Family, and were shocked when the revelations were published. This was quite painful - they would have paid about pounds 5,000 for each. They were going to book the Queen (Jeannette Charles) but she was cancelled, too.' Scott hopes, however, that as the Windsors shed their mystery, there will be more business from the Germans: 'The Royals are a complete joke over there.' But there is no hope for Cathy Burden, a freelance journalist who once earned pounds 350 a day impersonating the Duchess of York. Not one booking has come in since the publication of the photographs of the Duchess on holiday with John Bryan. 'I wouldn't be surprised if she was never booked again in this country,' says Burden.

EVER since the dons of Oxford University snubbed Margaret Thatcher by refusing to award her an honorary degree, the ex- Leaderene has had little love for academia. Curious, then, that the Iron Baroness will later this month be installed as chancellor of the University of Buckingham. But, luckily enough, it is a privately run university.

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THE independent production company which subtitled the comments of Bernadette McAliskey (nee Devlin) on a BBC TV discussion programme last week - despite the fact that she is not a member of any banned Irish group, and does not support the use of violence - was Juniper Productions and the producer David Cox. Could that be the same Juniper Productions and David Cox which, two-and-a-half years ago, broadcast a long interview with Gerry Adams of Sinn Fein, and cheekily circumvented the broadcasting ban by using an actor to mimic his voice? The very same, but that programme was shown on Channel 4.

WHAT, do you imagine, a 'key compromise' is? The Home Office says it is even now investigating allegations of one at Belmarsh prison. Is it a crucial accord with the Prison Officers' Association? No. A key compromise is what you get after a prisoner slips a hand into a dozing warder's pocket and lifts the keys for every door in the place.

All PC at the TUC

'TRADE union members and their wives will not tolerate any reductions in manning levels, manpower or man-hours. Firms contemplating any such measures will be black-listed. Industry is crippled and we must act. Is this Government deaf to our arguments and blind to reason?' Tough talk, but not the sort you'll hear at this week's TUC bash in Blackpool. The phrases above are all banned by the congress's official guide as either sexist, racist or potentially upsetting to the disabled. Got that, brothers - sorry, siblings?

WE TOLD you the other day of The Sieve of Time, the forthcoming autobiography by Leni Riefenstahl, and asked for other cringe-making titles for a book of memoirs. A colleague remembers spotting, in Hay-on-Wye, The Moss I Gathered by someone called Stone; Peter Whitaker remembers the 1930 publication, Her Privates We by 'Private 19022'. Quite. Best of all was Michael Birt (no relation), who wrote to boast of his uncorrected proof copy of the jockey Jack Leach's Sods I Have Cut on the Turf, published by Victor Gollancz in 1961. More please.

THERE are those who say the Church of England has lost the ability to put the boot in. But in the finals of the Christians in Football National Tournament 10 days ago, Christians FC (East Midlands) managed to beat the Cardiff Covenanters, two goals to nil, despite the fact that the Christians' striker John Halber went off six minutes from time, after 'a rough tackle'. His leg was broken in two places.

A DAY LIKE THIS

8 September 1846 Queen Victoria records in her journal her first impressions of Balmoral: 'We arrived at a quarter to three. It is a pretty little castle in the old Scottish style. There is a picturesque tower and garden in front, with a high wooded hill; at the back there is wood down to the Dee; and the hills rise all around. We lunched almost immediately, and at half past four we walked out, and went up to the top of the wooded hill opposite our windows. The view from here is charming. To the left you look towards the beautiful hills surrounding Lochnagar, and to the right, towards Ballater, to the glen along which the Dee winds, with beautiful wooded hills. It was so calm, and so solitary; and the pure mountain air was most refreshing. All seemed to breathe freedom and peace, and to make one forget the world and its sad turmoils.'

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