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A woman's touch about the House

BARONESS Thatcher once said: 'I have always thought of myself as a politician who happens to be a woman.' Ann Clwyd, Labour's overseas development spokeswoman, has something on the stocks she believes could be more helpful to women in Parliament. 'I want it to be a bit different from the books published previously,' she tells us. 'Various academics have written about it, but I want to try to bring the whole experience of being a woman MP at Westminster to life.' She is only at the 'rough chapter outline' stage - the format will be both historical and campaigning. 'Women have been making slow progress: if we go on at this pace, we will be waiting for another two centuries,' says Clwyd, who was the first woman to get a safe industrial Labour seat. But 'even that took time' - she first sought selection for Cynon Valley 10 years prior to securing it finally in 1984. Barbara Castle, she says, 'should be looked on as an inspiration, as someone who battled her way through'. On Lady Thatcher, of whom Castle wrote in 1975 'she is so clearly the best man among them', Clwyd remarks: 'Particularly in defeat, she was quite magnificent. But by her lack of sensitivity to women's needs, her complete lack of understanding and experience of ordinary women's problems . . . she was a great disappointment.'

JOHN PATTEN, Secretary of State for Education, writes a letter of welcome to all new school governors, in which he reminds them of their responsibility to ensure 'a high standard of education for all the pupils'. Signed: 'Yours sincerly, John Patten.'

Home truth

NORMAN SCHWARZKOPF was in an ebullient mood at Tuesday evening's Imperial War Museum launch for his autobiography, It Doesn't Take a Hero. Lord Bramall, formerly Chief of the Defence Staff, delivered a welcoming address in which Schwarzkopf was compared to Wellington, Patton, Montgomery and Eisenhower. Schwarzkopf felt moved to reply as someone else once had to a similarly flattering introduction: 'My father would have been sceptical but my mother

LINDI ST CLAIR has sent an angry letter to Buchler Phillips, the receivers of the Notting Hill car dealers Armitage Walker. She says that after she brought her pink Range Rover in for repair, a number of items essential to her profession seem to have disappeared. These include 100 hard-core sex magazines, 10 pairs of police handcuffs, 10 pairs of leg irons, 1,000 condoms, a leather strait-jacket and a body bag. Lee Manning of Buchler Phillips says the receivers are diligently searching for the items among the company's stock.

Cut and thrust HAVE they no shame] A press release arrives plugging the release of a 'director's cut' of the yuppie horror movie Fatal Attraction, in which, you'll remember, Michael Douglas got into deep trouble as a result of an extra-marital affair. So how do they sell it? With a page of lurid press cuttings about Michael Douglas's real-life affair with his wife's best friend. Incidentally, Adrian Lyne's new edition of his film features an ending originally vetoed by the studio bosses (turn off here if you're going to buy the video). Remember how the murderous mistress, Glenn Close, ends up trying to stab Douglas to death in a wet bathroom, but Douglas's wife saves the day and the family? The original, now restored, ending was more equivocal: Douglas ends up wrestling with Close and subdues her. Later, she kills herself. Douglas is arrested on suspicion of killing her.

OH JOY, oh excitement, there's 'Tender is the North, the largest festival of Scandinavian culture ever held in Great Britain' to look forward to at the Barbican Centre in London next month. Two thousand people in 250 events] Grieg, Elisabeth Soderstrom, and, um, the Icelandic rock band Mezzoforte. And what is the jewel in the Barbican's crown - the Royal Shakespeare Company - putting into the jamboree? Um, Hamlet, with Kenneth Branagh, opening five days after the festival ends. It is set in

Denmark.

A DAY LIKE THIS

22 October 1978 Roy Jenkins was in Rome for the coronation of Pope John Paul II: 'Dressed in the extraordinary costume of white tie, evening tailcoat, black waistcoat, decorations, I set off for St Peter's just after 9 o'clock. The Mass (in the open air) began at 10 o'clock and went on until 1.15 in steadily improving weather, so that the umbrella I had cautiously taken manifestly became unnecessary by about 11 o'clock. Most of the first hour was taken up by the homage of all the cardinals, and I wished I had a key to them. Emilio Colombo (next to me) wasn't bad and pointed out about 14, but even his knowledge seemed far from perfect. The Duke of Norfolk, in the next row, offered pungent comments about one or two of them.'

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