Diary

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Indy Lifestyle Online
The dawning of the computer era (albeit 20 years late) has not been greeted with universal cheer at Westminster. There are groans at the offices in No 1 Parliament Street - opened only in November 1991 - where electricians are busy ripping up carpets to install the first Commons computer link. Files, stationery, typewriters are being packed into boxes by grumbling research assistants, unamused at having their summer recess disturbed. 'We are right in the middle of it this minute,' said a weary soul from Robin Cook's office. 'I'm a bit pissed off.' The pounds 100,000 revamp of the building, mostly inhabited by senior Labour MPs, is the first wave of a seven-figure scheme which will eventually give all Members access to assorted information databases and electronic mail. Naturally, computer literate MPs are ecstatic, while the more mischievous are already contemplating what fun they can have with E-Mail. In Parliament Street, however, they just can't get excited. 'No one seems to have told us about this,' said one in the midst of it. 'Why don't they fix the electric plugs first?'

At last someone has decided to come to the rescue of what is arguably the Kings Road's most derelict-looking site - the Bluebird Garage. Situated opposite Paultons Square, the former garage-turned-ambulance station-turned-clothes market has attracted the attention of Sir Terence Conran, who is measuring it up for yet another restaurant. He should be wary, however, of too brilliant an exterior - Paultons residents are sensitive on such matters. I happened to be visiting one when a burger joint, complete with neon lights, opened nearby. 'We're planning a dawn raid,' he told me, 'and those lights will all come tumbling down.'

There are ashen faces, drooping eyelids and thumping headaches among certain BBC admin staff after a rather disastrous reference in the pilot programme of Good Fortune, a forthcoming BBC television game-show series hosted by David Frost.

The show aims to reunite unwitting lottery winners, will beneficiaries, etc, with money that is, to their surprise, rightfully theirs. The obvious headache for the programme's researchers - and one does not have to be a rocket scientist to work it out - is that the potential for false claimants arriving on the doorstep is huge. Clearly the programme's producers are not rocket scientists. In the pilot, a lighthearted reference was made to a will for pounds 26,000 left in 1977 to Jesus Christ 'should the second coming occur within the next 80 years'. I can hardly bear to narrate what ensued. Suffice it to say there have been so many calls and letters the team is still dealing with them. Fortunately, assistant producer Malcolm Smith, charged with the arduous task of replying, has a sense of perspective. 'One suggestion is that we line them all up in front of a jug of water and the one who turns it into wine gets the money,' he quipped.

My condolences to Roger Gale, Tory MP for Thanet North. Tragically and unexpectedly his black labrador, Baz, deservedly elected this year's Westminster Dog of the Year, has died. Baz was well known on the streets of Thanet North where he has canvassed with his master since his first election to Parliament in 1983.

Police Federation chairman Fred Broughton has been dining out, apparently, on a practical joke carried out recently at Plaistow police station. A senior officer, who happens also to be a fervent West Ham supporter, asked, as part of his retirement package, for some of the grass seed used to sow the Upton Park ground. The officers complied, but not, according to Broughton (who has the delicacy not to reveal the man's name) before secretly mixing it with carrot seed . . . apparently the mixture is now planted and growing.

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