people

SAME OLD PONG

Things have really been getting up the nose of Rolling Stone turned country squire Bill Wyman this summer. He claims his trips to his pounds 1m Suffolk mansion, Gedding Hall, have been ruined because of the smell of the pig manure on the local field and his solicitors have fired off an official letter of complaint to that effect. Poor Bill! I suppose he's never heard of the word "fertiliser"; he probably thought life in the countryside would be a simple case of the Basil Fotherington Thomas syndrome: "Hullo clouds, hullo sky etc ..." His neighbours, who claim he is hardly ever resident there, are not disposed to be charitable towards him. "If he wants to live in the country he should put with smells like this," says Brian Edrich, the parish council chairman, adding, doubtless for Wyman's educational benefit: "There is no such thing as non-smelly muck."

HEADS YOU LOSE

Lurid tales were emanating from two top public schools - first Dulwich College, pounds 6,135 a year and alma mater of PG Wodehouse, Raymond Chandler, Bob Monkhouse and Peter Lilley, and then Charterhouse, a pounds 12,000-a-year boarding school in Surrey, alma mater of David and Jonathan Dimbleby. The Dulwich headmaster Anthony Verity (above), 56, was the first to go when he was suspended pending "investigation of certain matters". Needless to say, parents of the 1,383 pupils do not find this particularly satisfactory. They want all the details of what is rumoured to be a sexual harrassment allegation made by the head's secretary. The school governors have issued a statement saying "the only comfort that parents can take is that the police are not involved and it is unlikely to be that sort of thing." Yeah. Real comfort. Mr Verity was swiftly followed by Peter Hobson, 50, the Charterhouse head, who resigned suddenly for "health and personal reasons". The tabloids soon linked his name to that of Sally Henderson, a 19-year-old who left public school to join Sophisticats, an escort agency.

A REAL LIFE

For all us media types this was a truly shocking week. Michael Vermeulen, the louder-than-life Chicagoan who edited GQ magazine, was found dead. He, perhaps more than anyone else on Fleet Street, embodied the myth that journalists, alone in professional society, still believe - that it is possible to be talented and productive and yet simultaneously frequent the bars and restaurants of Soho into the small hours every night. Michael paid the price that many hacks fear but never dare talk about. His death at 38 brought with it a ghastly sense of reality, of the end of an era in an ivory tower. At lunch in Canary Wharf on Tuesday at least two tables of middle-aged male journalists changed their orders from croque monsieur with fries to chicken salad. After they re-ordered, they clinked their glasses (of water) and chorused loudly: "To Michael."

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