Diary

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The Independent Online
"This bewitching multimedia experience," is how Virgin Records describes the new CD-rom version of the Rolling Stones' Voodoo Lounge album, available soon. And it's true, up to a point. This clever device lets you imagine you're in the computerised corridors of a Louisiana mansion, wandering through a dozen marmoreal rooms whose wall-paintings burst into life at the click of a mouse, wandering past a couple of dozen tableaux vivants of grooving "scenesters" and young women in ill-fitting frocks, while tracks from the million-selling album play to suitably recherche bits of video.

You can choose which room to visit, from a special chart like a Cluedo board. And when you've finished weighing up the merits of "Billiard Room" and "Dining Room", your eye eventually falls on "Ladies' Room". Surely, you think to yourself, they can't be so gross as to ... ? But you click on it anyway, and discover that you are indeed in a pristine, World of Interiors women's lavabo, where Mick Jagger can be found by the sink instructing a freezing beauty about the importance of wearing warm clothing. Beyond him there are three cubicles with their doors shut. Surely they can't be made to spring open, to disclose Jerry Hall sitting ... You try it, anyway. Two of the doors, when clicked on, emit shrieks of female laughter. The third simply unfurls a loo-roll on which are written the lyrics of Keith Richards's song, "The Worst". Taste, it seems, is not quite dead, even among elderly rockers.

Fashion accessory of the week was the rakishly dented homburg worn by the novelist Walter Mosley at the party thrown for him (and his new book of criminal lowlife, RJ's Dream) at Vogue House in London on Monday night. Co-hosted by GQ magazine, it was the week's hot ticket. Nick Cave, the cadaverous British singer to be found romancing Kylie Minogue on the upper slopes of the nation's pop charts, was given a brisk lesson in crime literature by m'colleague Vicky Ward. (Typically, she recommended Wilkie Collins's The Moonstone, 1868.) A brace of heavyweight Yanks' agents, Ed Victor and Abner Stein, prowled about like off-duty assassins. A charabanc-tour of lovelies from the Smithy's glamour agency flicked their hair and prevailed upon the sleepy-eyed but gamely seductive Mr Mosley to sign their copies of his book. GQ's popular editor-elect, Angus McKinnon, reminisced about his ebullient and shockingly maligned predecessor, Michael VerMeulen, while a gatecrashing suit from the rival Esquire complained loudly about the iniquity of McKinnon's appointment, failing to mention that he had himself applied for the job.

The evening's most remarkable sight was that of Mr Mosley's companion, a New York performance poet called Stormy Webber (possibly not her real name), a vision in combat boots, nose-ring and half-shaved, half-dreadlocked barnet. Some way into the party, she subsided to the floor with crashed- out, Baudelairean elegance and deflected all attempts to raise her by the words, "It's OK - I am highly elastic". The only sight to mar the proceedings was that of a chap from the buying department of Pipeline, the book-distribution company, who wandered in wearing an anorak. It was, need I say, the only anorak to have passed through the portals of Vogue House in many a long year. Fashion writers fainted. Style advisers turned pale. But all attempts to divest him of this unspeakable garment were thwarted. "My T-shirt," he explained to Conde Nast's fragrant (and aghast) promotions diva, "is covered in rude words."

Far be it from me to speak ill of the dead, but the obituaries of Lord Home of the Hirsel seem to have left out a detail or two. "If he had any enemies, or even a detractor, they would be extremely hard to find," wrote Lord Whitelaw in these pages. Not all that far, it seems. Readers of Anthony Sampson's Anatomy of Britain Now may recall what a rough ride Sir Alec (as he then was) was given by parliamentarians and ex-FO colleagues invited to contribute to the book, published in 1965, a year after Home had lost the general election to Harold Wilson. Sampson recalls the shock to cabinet colleagues when Sir Alec became PM and quotes one minister as saying: "It will put the Tory party back by 20 years. His views on Africa are semi-Portuguese." Sampson himself recalls the great man's "embarrassing cliches about Africans never having discovered the wheel". But of course political memories can be very selective. Tuesday's Daily Mirror, for instance, spoke in hushed tones about "the last of the great Tory gentlemen" and praised his "quiet dignity". This wouldn't be the same Mirror, would it, which greeted his rise to Foreign Secretary, in 1960, as "the most reckless political appointment since the Emperor Caligula made his horse a consul" ...?

An early contender for the title of Most Emetic Invention of the Autumn is the "Singing Santa", which will shortly be appearing in a department store near you. This rebarbative device is powered by a voice-and-music silicon chip which is activated by anyone walking past it. According to Neil Sutton, a columnist on the excellent Electrical Review, who has clapped eyes on the prototype, the Singing Santa resembles "a twinkle-eyed, simpering, elderly pederast" and bursts into a few cheerful bars of "We Wish You a Merry Christmas" when anyone goes by. I foresee an unprecedented number of courts delivering verdicts of justifiable homicide ("The cause of death, m'lud, was a blow from a piece of flying plaster") come January.

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