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This will come as a shock to students of English literature, and render a thousand theses null and void; but Sylvia Plath, well-known suicidal depressive, poet and novelist, was in fact a jolly soul.

Her family have discovered among her private papers a children's story, "The It-Doesn't Matter Suit", about a young boy, Max, who becomes the proud owner of a "woolly, whiskery, brand-new, mustard yellow suit with three brass buttons shining like mirrors on the front of it, and two brass buttons at the back, and a brass button on each cuff". Rejected by all his older brothers, the suit gets snipped and stitched until it is just right for Max, and endows him with magical qualities.

The story, written in 1959, four years before Plath's death by her own hand, will now be published by Faber and Faber next year. A Faber spokeswoman said: "People will have to revise their views about Plath after this. It wasn't even known that she wrote prose for children. This is a delightful and magical book."

Dr Margarita Stocker, English don at St Hilda's College, Oxford, said: "It does seem we have accepted an exaggerated image of a wretched and oversensitive creature." What next - an undiscovered Virginia Woolf limerick?

Mohammed Al Fayed's experiment with selling his store's own brand of beer, Harrods Traditional Lager, has taken a surprising twist. Harrods's very own lager has been spied in shops that other Harrods products don't reach. Tesco supermarkets are stocking the brand - the first time that the top peoples' store has allowed its name to nestle alongside the Spam and baked beans on a lower people's store's shelves. Cynics would be wrong to think this denotes that Harrods Traditional Lager has not sold in large quantities. What it does denote, explains a Harrods spokesman, is a recognition of the new egalitarianism abroad in One Nation Knightsbridge. "Far from being exotic oil sheikhs or billionaire businessmen," he says, "most of our customers are just ordinary people like you and me, the same sort of people who shop at Tesco." I'm off to buy that Tesco hamper for Christmas.

There are seismic upheavals brewing within the smooth alabaster portals of the Royal Geographical Society's headquarters in Kensington.

The row is over Shell, from whom the RGS receives pounds 40,000 annually. Not a sum to be sniffed at - at least that is what the grands fromages at the RGS think.

However, a faction of 40 academics who used to belong to the Institute of British Geographers - a radical left-wing camp which rivalled the RGS for 62 years until the two merged, uncomfortably, last January - have written an open letter to the RGS complaining about Shell's sponsorship. They do not believe it is tenable given Shell's drilling in Nigeria, whose government recently executed campaigner Ken Saro-Wiwa.

Dr John Hemmings, the RGS's director, is unmoved. He plans to discuss the issue at the annual RGS conference in January, and not before. One complainant believes that the dispute could break the uneasy alliance between radical and conventional geographers and that the IBG could break away again after the conference. "Since many of the radical geographers never wanted the merger anyway, they will not mourn a break-up."

So confusing, these London orchestras with their ridiculously similar names. How can one be expected to distinguish between a London Philharmonic, a Royal Philharmonic and a Philharmonia? Especially when one is Lord Gowrie, the chairman of the Arts Council, which gives those orchestras millions of pounds. After a recent London Philharmonic concert, the beaming earl went up to the orchestra's top brass and confided to them: "We've had a terrible time with the Budget, but I think we're going to be able to help with the pounds 100,000 you need to sign Christoph Dohnanyi." Now it is true that Dohnanyi, maestro of the Cleveland Symphony Orchestra, has long been an object of desire for one London orchestra - but, alas, not the London Philharmonic. It is the Philharmonia's bosses who will be rubbing their hands in glee at Gowrie's generous gesture. Never mind, it's an easy mistake for a chap to make as he signs the cheque.

Christmas card watch: Eagle Eye is struck by the humour in the card chosen by Virginia Bottomley, the National Heritage Secretary. Her card features a detail from Frank Cadogan Cowper's "Our Lady of the Fruits of the Earth", and shows the Madonna with child watched by a flock of sheep. The fruits of the earth are no doubt a reference, with ironic self- deprecation, to the munificence that Mrs Bottomley notably failed to distribute last month when nearly all her portfolio suffered post-Budget cutbacks. And the sheep no doubt constitute a nod in the direction of Turner Prize winner Damien Hirst, who would have dissected and pickled them.

At Baroness Chalker's ministry, the Overseas Development Agency, they are pondering a weighty matter: whether or not to renew the grant for Dom Syem, Russia's first radio soap opera, created by the BBC and modelled on The Archers.

Dom Syem goes out every weekday for 15 minutes. But instead of rural Ambridge, the setting is a Moscow apartment block. Instead of Borsetshire's affluent farmers and struggling rustics there is Baba Polya (canny granny), Yura (the plumber), Varya (who runs her own flower business), and teenagers Kolya, Olya, and Tanya.

The programme is the brainchild of Liz Rigbey, the Archers' editor for three years until 1989, and was launched two years ago, when it received an ODA grant of pounds 500,000. The programme has been a huge success but its future is uncertain. The ODA is considering withdrawing its grant and Russian businesses are being approached for sponsorship. Perhaps the BBC could cut costs by combining the two soaps - with Jack Woolley exporting Grey Gables to the Urals and the Grundys setting up a vodka still in the barn.

Eagle Eye

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