Diary

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The Independent Online
It was only two weeks ago that Premier Radio, the new Christian radio station backed by the likes of Cliff Richard and Jill Dando, banned advertising by Morris Cerullo, the American evangelist who believes that God can save two souls in exchange for a pounds 10 donation to his cause. Premier said in defence of its decision that it didn't think Cerullo's methods were "entirely ethical". It joins the Baptist Times and the Church of England Newspaper, both of which in 1993 refused advertising from Cerullo.

It is with some surprise therefore that I note that this week's edition of the normally highbrow and deadly serious magazine the Tablet, which terms itself "the International Catholic weekly", carries a full-colour ad on the back for Cerullo's forthcoming "summer course" for lost souls at Earls Court (registration pounds 25).

"We've had a few calls about it, but basically we're not worried," says a spokesman for the Tablet, nonchalantly. "We didn't have to think long and hard about running it. Just because we advertise it, it does not mean we endorse it."

Hmm. My spies tell me otherwise. They say the decision to run it came from board level, the eventual justification being some waffle about not infringing the right to free speech. I suspect not all Tablet readers will see it that way, especially since the magazine has a healthy circulation of 18,000 copies per week, and cannot be that desperate for the pounds 926 which Cerullo paid for the space.

There were sighs of amazement and relief all round as yesterday's annual Time Out Eating and Drinking Awards went without a hitch. Because the London listings magazine gets all its readers to nominate their favourite restaurants, each year the judging panellists inevitably find themselves visiting some pretty unsavoury haunts.

"Our readers sometimes mistake convenience for quality," sighs Time Out's food critic Caroline Stacey. "Last year one judge even lost her mackintosh while visiting one restaurant. She went to collect it at the end of dinner and discovered that it wasn't there. She found it eventually in a pile of dirty laundry in the restaurant's kitchen. For some reason it had footprints all over it."

This year's winner of the best new restaurant award is the ever-so-expensive The Fulham Road (pounds 40-pounds 50 a head), so not surprisingly there was no repeat of such mucky behaviour. But then, one simply wouldn't dream of turning up at the Fulham Road in anything so cheap and nasty as a raincoat.

It seems that ITV has seriously over-estimated the stamina of today's youth. Last week I received a telephone call from my sister's flatmate, so het up about something that he felt impelled to "speak to a journalist".

The reason for his anger was the time at which the Rugby World Cup highlights are being shown on television: 11.40pm - indecently late for him. He had tried to complain, he said, but been unable to do so directly to the requisite office at ITV, because he called after 7pm and the office was closed. He ended up speaking to a night security guard who said he had been inundated all week with similar complaints. "The only person round here who manages to stay up for the highlights is me," he had joked.

And there was a postscript to my sister's flatmate's complaint: he had discovered that the Corney & Barrow wine bar beneath Lloyd's in the City was charging pounds 5 a seat the other afternoon to watch the breathtakingly exciting Australia/South Africa game. "And that," spat my telephone acquaintance, "was the final straw."

As it happens, I don't have much sympathy with this rugby fan suffering from an overdeveloped sense of responsibility. For a start, he's not exactly in the middle of A-level revision, being 25 and an insurance broker at Lloyd's. And I can't help thinking that by his age he should be familiar with the concept of the time-shift. Memo to my sister: buy a video recorder before Wimbledon.

The taxi-driver clearly doesn't often get requests at 7.30pm to take people to the Saab showroom in central London's Piccadilly. "You off to buy a car then?" he asked, almost reasonably. No, I was off to a launch party, for Out on a Limb, the autobiography of Heather Mills. Ms Mills is a model whose life and career were tragically altered two years ago when a police motorcyclist went into her as she crossed the road, forcing her to have one leg amputated below the knee. Ms Mills is a lady of remarkable resilience. She has already started to model again, but has also been busy driving prosthetic limbs out to the wounded in Croatia.

At her book launch she planted two red lipsticky kisses underneath her signature on every book she signed - a move which caused certain males to hover round the book-signing area all evening. "Only Heather is persuasive enough to get a venue as unusual as this," one sighed. Personally, I wouldn't want it for my parties, for fear of wrecking the gleaming new cars, but I doubt that booking it was quite the arduous feat Ms Mills's fan club think. On my way out I met the manager. His first words were: "Would you like to book the room?" and then, "You can have it virtually any evening you want."

The national rumpus over the recent sale of the Churchill papers, which left Winston Churchill MP pounds 12m better off and caused outrage on Fleet Street, appears to have bypassed one pillar of the Establishment: namely Cambridge University, beneficiary of the archive. The university's June newsletter devotes three measly paragraphs to the Churchill issue in the "news-in-brief" section on page three. Appropriately, the newsletter's lead item deals with the need for a new university centre for Brain Repair.

Colleagues in the office have clearly been eavesdropping on my phone conversations. Last week they put not one but two copies of a new book entitled How To Get Married Without Divorcing Your Family on my desk. It is a work of jokey but unhelpful fiction by TV presenters Caron Keating and Gloria Hunniford. And ultimately it is doomed to failure as a work of advice. In nine cases out of ten, it is just not possible to get married without divorcing your family, or at least splitting from them temporarily. The quarrels stem from confusion over a basic premise: namely, whose wedding it is. The parents of the happy couple think it is theirs, because they are paying, and the couple think it is theirs, because they are getting married. The only way to avoid colossal rows is to settle the issue at a very early stage - a fact my mother was wise enough to realise. "Vicky," she stated during an early dispute over numbers on the guest list: "This is our wedding, not yours." Peace has reigned ever since.

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