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Hezza saves his own life

There was much happiness in Michael Crick's household last week when the Newsnight journalist and author of the critically acclaimed biography of Lord Archer, Stranger than Fiction, received a letter from Michael Heseltine, agreeing to see Crick, who is embarking on a tome of our esteemed Deputy Prime Minister's life to date.

But once Crick had arrived in the Whitehall offices Hezza was straight with him. No, he would not help him because he might want to write his own memoirs at some point and, secondly, he suspected Crick might want to talk about his time in government (no, really?) and he did not want to.

However, Crick did not leave the premises an entirely deflated man. "There were two pluses," he tells me. "The first is that I met Humphrey the cat, who snored in a chair in the waiting room. The second is that I had a good look at Hezza's office, and I think we've been misinformed. From what I could see it is only the size of half a tennis court."

How to purr

Sir Cameron Mackintosh knows how to throw a party, as those who attended the record-breaking performance of Cats last night, and quaffed champagne afterwards, will know. He also knows how to choose his words and his dates.

Cats in fact overtook A Chorus Line to become the longest running musical in the West End or on Broadway last week, but Sir Cameron was not available then to celebrate. Also note the wording, "the West End or Broadway". Had it said London or New York, then 15-year-old Cats would have been shown a thing or two by 26-year-old The Fantasticks, still going strong in New York, just off Broadway. Still, what's a few yards, and 11 years, between friends? Let's party.

Is Anna a high-flyer?

It's always dangerous to give vent to your fantasies in print, as Anna Ford is fast learning. The newscaster and presenter of Radio 4's Today confessed in the Spectator that after seeing the mesmerising Cirque du Soleil at the Royal Albert Hall she wanted to run away to circus school and become a trapeze artist. Titillated, the Daily Express enterprisingly offered to fund the project.

Now I gather that the French-Canadian circus troupe itself has heard of Ms Ford's interest and is considering offering her a part in the show. The climax of the show involves a spectacular bungee ballet finale, during which beautiful ladies dive in sequence from trapezes. A circus spokesman tells me: "We have seen Anna Ford on television and made inquiries about her. We would be prepared to give her the requisite training and a spot in the finale if she is up to scratch."

They would even supply the tights. Over to you, Anna.

A Wapping great row

Rupert Murdoch celebrated the 10th birthday of the Wapping dispute by giving his employees there a T-shirt and a clock engraved with the slogan "Ten Years Of Achievement". There was less harmony over the weekend at the alternative celebrations hosted by the London branch of GMPU, the union that represents what is left of the print workers. Showing that old principles and old feuds die hard, the London branch's 800-strong party, addressed by Tony Benn, was boycotted by all of GMPU's national officers.

The national office and the London branch failed to agree on tactics 10 years ago and have been disagreeing ever since. Eagle Eye will be presenting them all with a Ten Years Of Argument T-shirt.

New job for Harriet

I overhear an ingenious suggestion being canvassed by a group of Labour MPs in the corridors at Westminster. They say that Tony Blair could have instantly solved the Harriet Harman dilemma by moving her from Health to Northern Ireland. Once ensconced at Stormont, she could continue to send one son to a Catholic grammar school and the other to a Protestant grammar school. Alternatively, she could be very progressive and send both her sons to an integrated school.

None of the aforesaid MPs is brave enough to put the suggestion to Mr Blair. Pity.

HRH Greta

I see the Oxford Union is to debate the motion: "This House Believes that Britain Needs a Personal Privacy Law."

It's surprising to see a government minister actually opposing the motion. But Steven Norris, the transport minister, famed for his bus-load of lady friends, is speaking against. The Oxford Union publicises the debate with a picture of Princess Diana and the quote "I want to be alone", attributed to Marlene Dietrich.

Garbo, boys and girls, Garbo. Take 100 lines.

Eagle Eye

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