SO, a month into the new Europe, just how relaxed are the new relaxed internal immigration controls? Well, not very. Originally, we were all going to travel within the EC without passports. Then it was decided that we should have some sort of identity document, preferably a passport, which we could flash at the immigration officer. This gesture was quickly christened 'the Bangemann Wave', after Martin Bangemann, the EC commissioner then responsible. But the Bangemann Wave is far too lackadaisical for UK immigration, where the Clarke Proffer is still the order of the day. At Heathrow this week, the passports were being faithfully perused in the traditional way. Asked if this was entirely in the spirit of the brave new European world, the passport official said rather defensively: 'Well, how do we know it's the person the passport belongs to?' Another traveller tells us how an attempt to pass through Gatwick with his driving licence ended in a long interview with immigration. So what is the situation? 'We advise people to travel with passports,' says the Home Office, adding ominously: 'A driving licence might satisfy the immigration officer, it might not.' Still, it keeps the immigration service off the dole queue.
DID David Montgomery, the popular new chief executive at Mirror Group Newspapers, back the horse bearing his name in the 2.50 at Towcester yesterday? That's the nag yesterday's Mirror form guide dubbed 'not one to trust and looks out of his depth here'. Let's hope the chief exec trusted his staff: Montgomery finished 20 lengths behind.
Vale to Val SO, it's goodbye to Valerie Singleton, leaving Radio 4's PM programme at the end of the month after 12 years' immaculate service. (Her agent says, strangely, that 'she won't be in the least offended if asked to stand in for someone who may be taking time off from their programme . . .') Luckily, Singleton has another one she prepared earlier - a travel show for Central TV. We're really not too sure about this Chris Lowe, who's replacing her. OK, he has a track record in television news, but he never did Blue Peter.
A SURVEY in this paper last week by the telephone consultants Teleconomy suggested that phone calls to government departments were going unanswered. A concerned Stationery Office (HMSO), described as providing 'a barely acceptable service', rang Teleconomy for more information. Unfortunately, an HMSO type tells us, there was no reply.
Members only OUR request for a name for the MPs' cafeteria in their new office block at 7 Millbank inspired you to be, well, rude. 'Waffles' was the most popular suggestion, followed by 'Lobby Fodder'. Other crackers were: The Sound Bite, Babble and Speak, The Noes Bag, Knaves and Fawkes, The Gravy Train, Rhubarb Rhubarb, Happy Cheater, Digestion Time, Snack of Firm Government, Sauces Close to the Minister and The Other Plaice. Anyway, we shovelled all your suggestions on to the plate of Colin Shepherd, the MP for Hereford and the chairman of the all-important Commons Catering Committee. He was rather more polite than most of you, and said the ideas were 'tremendous fun'. But the winner he chose is 'Herbert's' - a suggestion from Carol Moore, and a reference to an action by A P Herbert, author, wit and professional litigant, against the Catering Committee in 1934 for running the Commons bars without a liquor licence. Which it still does - the King's Bench having ruled that it had no jurisdiction over the House's internal affairs. (7 Millbank is outside the Palace of Westminster, and the Catering Committee has yet to obtain a licence for the caff.) 'I'm so taken with the concept of Herbert's that I'm going to submit it to the committee,' says Shepherd. Well] A little place in history for you there, Carol.
WE TOLD you how Brent council spent Monday evening debating female circumcision. A local music teacher rings to say education cuts were discussed, too. Thus outside the chamber feminist anti-circumcisers, teachers and parents took the opportunity to combine operations, as it were, singing 'Stop the cuts]' in unison.
A DAY LIKE THIS
5 February 1954 Edith Sitwell writes to John Lehmann from Hollywood where she is working on a screenplay about Elizabeth I: 'My collaborator was determined that the atmosphere of Henry VIII's court should be a cross between that of Mon Repos in Surbiton and that of the sixth form dormitory at St Winifred's. Anne Boleyn eats chocs behind a pillar, and pinches Jane Seymour's bottom behind Cardinal Wolsey's back. She is frequently addressed by her brother as either 'Sister mine' or 'Little sister'. My collaborator's obstinacy has to be seen - or heard - to be believed. When contradicted (which is once in a blue moon since I can't get a word in edgeways) he shrieks so piercingly that, although I am on the 10th floor, he can be heard on the fourth. It is exactly like a battle picture by Gericault transformed into sound.Reuse content