The Weasel: My association with the sanitaryware had been a little less intimate than Mrs W's

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This newspaper's splendid offer of a pounds 10 meal at several of Sir Terence Conran's nosheries nearly proved more costly than I anticipated. We had just polished off a tasty, if decidedly chewy Sunday lunch of onglet (skirt steak) at the Blueprint Cafe overlooking Tower Bridge, when Mrs Weasel excitedly emerged from the ladies lavatory. "Was there one in the gents? It's exactly what we need," she trilled, before elucidating this mystifying outburst: "They've got a Philippe Starck loo." Since my association with the sanitaryware had been a little less intimate than Mrs W's, I popped back for a gander. Yep, there it was. A plain, white, urn-like bowl. Simple, but obviously Starck. It is perhaps appropriate that the enfant terrible of design should have turned his hand to lavvy bowls, French Phil is renowned for his obsession with, er, organic forms. Not to put too fine a point on it, one of his best-known buildings, the Asahi Beer Hall in Tokyo, has gained the sobriquet of "the golden turd" because of the curiously shaped, gleaming extrusion which decorates its roof.

In a bulky volume celebrating his creations, Starck (Taschen, pounds 24.99), the designer pontificates: "The urgent thing today is not to create a car or chair which is more beautiful than another; what is urgent is for us all to fight with every means at our disposal against the fact that something is becoming extinct: love."

Oddly enough, he doesn't mention another rare commodity which is obviously close to his heart: money. When we finally flushed out a supplier, it turned out that a Starck lavvy would set us back pounds 1,016 (plus VAT). After gently dissuading my partner from this plutocrat's pissoir, I offered to buy her an example of Starck's most famous object, his lemon squeezer shaped like a Dan Dare rocket, though this, too, was no snip at pounds 44. Fortunately, she turned it down on the grounds of impracticality. I'm keeping quiet about my discovery that le maitre demonstrates how the object should be used on page 273 of his book. He wears it on his head.

Always keen to keep Weasel readers up to snuff about transatlantic shenanigans, I took out a subscription to the New Yorker early last December. Not bad for pounds 60, I thought, considering that the news-stand price of this weekly is pounds 2.85. However, there turned out to be a slight drawback. Despite my eagerness to plug into the Big Apple, I received precisely nothing for two months. Eventually, my first plastic-wrapped issue slid through the letterbox on 12 February. It was dated 12 January. Hot stuff, eh? It turns out that the New Yorker operates a two-tier subscription service. Celebs, nobs and opinion-formers have their copies air-freighted across the pond. Lesser mortals, who apparently have no need of such promptitude, are condemned to the vagaries of surface mail.

Judging by the erratic deliveries, the mode of transport is an itinerant tramp steamer, where, possibly, the magazine acts as ballast. This could be the reason why, on 26 February, I received the edition dated 5 January. Reading it proved to be a disorienting experience, particularly the erudite "Comment" column by Brendan Gill, whose obituary I read a few weeks ago.

With the benefit of hindsight, it seems unlikely that the film critic Daphne Merkin would have chosen to say that the movie Wag the Dog, about "a Presidential incumbent who's been caught in a sex scandal", is a "very savvy comedy" which "doesn't ask us to believe a minute of it".

If the New Yorker keeps up this rate of delivery, it will be a week or two before the name Monica Lewinsky bobs up in its pages. I hope the news won't come as too much of a shock to me.

At first glance, you wouldn't take Martin Drury, director-general of the National Trust, as a popster. An august-looking cove, he doesn't do much in the way of finger-snapping, and I'm willing to bet that he only rarely dances the twist, frug or mashed potato. In fact, the charming Mr Drury and the zany world of rockaboogie would seem to be in mutually exclusive universes. But appearances deceive, for at a National Trust press conference held the other day amid the restored splendour of Spencer House in St James's, Mr Drury revealed an unexpected appreciation of the Fab Four. Announcing the opening next June of a new National Trust property in Liverpool, he noted that it marked "a peculiarly British contribution to Western artistic phenomena". Well, that's telling 'em, Daddy-o. The terraced house at 20 Forthlin Road is, of course, the former home of Sir Paul McCartney.

The National Trust anticipates such a high level of demand to see Macca's old pad that tickets must be pre-booked - and no wonder, with such treats as the autographed score of "Love Me Do" on show. Mr Drury - or Marty as I suppose we'll have to call him now - revealed that Paul tried out several titles for this song, which was the first single by The Beatles. It is hard to imagine what they are, since the phrase "love me do" is repeated no fewer than 13 times in the course of the brief ditty.

Having revealed himself as the numero uno moptop maniac, I don't suppose the director-general needs me to point out that this is not the first link between The Beatles and the National Trust. But for anyone who doesn't know, the organisation also crops up in John Lennon's waxing "Happiness is a Warm Gun". A surreal couplet describes a man "Lying with his eyes while his hands are busy working overtime/A soap impression of his wife which he ate and donated to the National Trust." I wonder when they will put that on show?

You can tell by their parabolas who are the experts. They are able to expel a narrow jet of liquid which always lands smack-dab on target in the waste bin. Mine emerged in inaccurate dribs and splats, sometimes accumulating in a dew-drop on my chin. More often than not, I committed the solecism of actually drinking the wine. Despite my high expectations, the annual tasting of the Bulgarian Wine Guild held in the chandelier halls of the Bulgarian Embassy turned out to be no unfettered bacchanalia. ("The Hungarians last week were much more fun," muttered one

of the cognoscenti.) The wine buffs in attendance maintained a near monastic silence as they slurped and spat their way through the 200 wines on offer.

By the time I reached the light buffet promised for lunch, it consisted of nothing more than a handful of minuscule stuffed vine leaves and a great basin of butter beans. Not a sparkling gastronomic marriage. Still, some good came out of my visit. Though my own palate was ruinously debilitated after the first half-dozen glasses, by quizzing the experts, I came up with a couple of recommendations for Weasel readers: Assenovgrad Mavrud 1993 ("very undervalued at pounds 3.99") and Menada Stara Zagora AOC Oriachovitza 1992 ("always a good standby"). I think you'll find they slip off the tongue fairly easily.

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