Lord Wyatt, who has been chairman of the Totalisator since God was a lad, made his final speech at the Tote's annual lunch last Wednesday, in which he protested that his post had been advertised and he, Wyatt, given no direct role in the selection procedure.

That is exactly how it should be: the chief interest of an incumbent is not to be out-performed by a successor. The Nolan rules governing appointments in the public sector were helpful but did not go far enough: they should have banned succession by the outgoing man's choice.

Woodrow announced that he favoured Lieutenant General Sir William Rous - which has probably put paid to the military man's hopes of this well- paid job. Unlike Sir William's brother Keith, 6th Earl of Stradbroke who lists "making babies" as his recreation and commutes between Oz and East Suffolk, the general has two sons and if Debrett's is to be believed, lives in Wellington Barracks, London SW1.

My fishmonger sends periodic newsletters, the current one in praise of Smelts about which I now know more than I wanted to. Osmerus eperlanus is an in-shore migratory fish which occurs on the east coast from the Tay to the Thames, on the west from the Clyde to the Conwy, and in south- west Ireland.

The shorter Oxford English dictionary (shorter is just shy of 2,500 pages long) states: "A small fish allied to the salmon and emitting a peculiar odour."

Could that be the source of its English name?

Mr Blagden, the author of the bulletin, will not thank me for giving my own recipe of a no-fuss fish cake of good quality:

A 10oz tin of red salmon - drained

1 large egg and 1 yolk

1 teaspoon of Dijon mustard

1 level teaspoon dillweed

Blend together in processor, shape into three-quarter-inch thick cakes, dredge in salted peppered oatmeal and fry in hot olive oil, one and a half minutes per side when the oatmeal will be golden brown and the fish hot. Drain cakes on kitchen paper and serve with a lemon wedge, sauce tartar on high days and holidays.

`Puritanism is the haunting fear that someone, somewhere may be enjoying themselves," wrote HL Mencken. The Erotic Print Society (how did I get on their mailing list?) have sent me their latest review.

Following the continuing success of the Illustrated Book of Bottoms comes China Hamilton's A View From Behind, is the good news from the editor. The review has a diary, a column on poker, which gives rules of a game "more exciting than strip poker because there's a greater sense of anticipation", an article on voyeurism by the winner of the Kensington and Chelsea Arts Council prize for poetry and a cookery page.

I quote the final sentence of one recipe: "Note: The tart is sufficient for six people so, unless you are planning an orgy, there should be plenty left for a vigorous replay."

If you want to race over and collect say, La Comparaison, a single saucy 18th-century print by Jean Frederic Schall, pounds 16.50, make your way to PO Box 10645, London SW10.

`Go and see Waste at the Old Vic. The play was written by Granville Barker at the turn of the century, was due to be performed at the Court Theatre in Sloane Square (the "Royal" prefix along with the playing of the national anthem was jettisoned as a protest against censorship) and was banned by the Lord Chamberlain just before the first night.

Barker kept updating the play and the 1926 version - director Peter Hall considers it the very best rewrite - includes the Labour Party, the agony of Ireland and sleaze, though, "he asked me to tell you he was sure he could keep the worst out of the papers" shows that we have progressed. The fact that a play called Shopping and Fucking was on in the West End might cause some to believe that we have overdone freedom of expression; they would be those unaware of the reference to female pudendum - Oh quelle cue tu as - that ran throughout the 1960s under the title of Oh Calcutta. Perhaps Mark Ravenhill's epic might be renamed Chopin and Foo Kong.

`The meaninglessness is terrific," is what Billy Bunter's Indian friend would have said of No Smoking Day (see left). Twenty-four hours without nicotine improves your health hardly at all, hurts tobacco companies only minimally. In the best of all worlds the day would be geared to a good cause: Red Nose Day which starts 24 hours after NS Day ends, is such a one. Take the money that you would have given a tobacconist to the nearest bank or building society, round it up to an even sum, add a nought for generosity and watch the Comic Relief programme on Friday night, luxuriating in your role of supporter of a charity that does and continues to do brilliant work.

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