Diary

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The Independent Online
Get this show on the road

A beaming Paul McCartney opened the Liverpool School of Performing Arts yesterday, housed at his alma mater, the Liverpool Institute. Fellow Old Libudians (as the school's old boys quaintly term themselves) were a bit thin on the ground. Former Militant activist and deputy leader of Liverpool council Derek Hatton was in fact at school with McCartney and could teach a lively course in how to excite a crowd. But, sadly, he was not invited to yesterday's opening ceremony. McCartney has put up some of the money for the fame school, where students will be instructed in performing, songwriting (by McCartney himself), design, sound technology, computing and legal affairs.

But is this what the travelling rock star really needs? According to the veteran American rocker Lou Reed, there is a much more vital area of instruction - how to make a phone call. Reed has written to the school, saying: "How do you survive on the road? How do you get through a tour? How do you make phone calls from Europe? I've had drummers make a phone call from Germany to New York, and they could have flown it twice for the same price. The thing is, these are things people could learn about

Maxwell's Mona Lisa

Kelvin MacKenzie's newsy bunny, who gives the thumbs-up on Live TV newscasts when the news is good and thumbs-down when it's bad, is breeding. In the upper echelons of business, accountants are using funny faces to portray company accounts. The rationale is that most people can read a face much quicker than a set of accounts. City University business school has used the accompanying graphic to show the gradual decline of Pentos and of Robert Maxwell's Maxwell Communication Corporation.

The faces are based on four accounting ratios: liquidity (eyebrow angle), working capital (nose length and width), financial leverage (eye size and eyebrow length) and profitability (mouth curve, length, and pupil position).

But what exactly is that on the Maxwell Communication Corp in 1990, when the company had a combination of poor ratios and good profitability. It turns out that it is a smirk, and could not in a month of Sundays be confused with a smile. Suddenly, reading a balance sheet looks a soft option.

NUT howler

A word to Tony Blair. If you are serious about introducing fast-track courses in schools, make the first one a spelling course for high-flying National Union of Teachers officials. The latest NUT press release states: "The NUT supports the principal [sic] behind the proposal from the Labour leader."

Lost without a script

Up we all stood, down we all sat, up we all stood again, at the special performance of Cats on Monday night as a disgruntled member of the audience tried in vain to find his seat. "You're in the wrong row," we all chorused helpfully. "I'm aware of that," he retorted irritably, "but the ticket number doesn't match the seat." Eventually, the poor chap was led muttering to his place, actually some distance away, by an usher. I would have asked Trevor Nunn, the director of Cats, to lend the unfortunate punter some assistance, except that he was Trevor Nunn, the director of Cats.

Sophie's safe in the Attic

Those who see Prince Edward's girlfriend, Sophie Rhys-Jones, as a squeaky- clean saviour of the monarchy will take heart at my latest news. Unlike the royal daughters-in law she eschews glitzy gymnasiums and pricey personal trainers. Where aerobics are concerned Sophie takes a commendably egalitarian approach.

She is a frequent attender at the distinctly down-to-earth Dance Attic, an establishment on the grimy end of Fulham Broadway, in west London. Membership costs a mere pounds 60 a year - compared with at least pounds 500 at the nearby Harbour Club. And Will Carling is definitely not a member.

Fellow Dance Attic exercisers are impressed. "She is always so friendly, and we think that it shows that she really is prepared to make an effort to avoid being hounded by the paparazzi," says one admirer. But she need not fear. The paparazzi never stoop to reading Eagle Eye's musings.

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