DIARY

Desperate in the Garden

Imagine the surprise of Graham Sheffield, artistic director of the Barbican Centre, as he went through the post with its daily round of applications from unknown small dance and music outfits wanting to try their luck on the Barbican stage when the Royal Shakespeare Company deserts it next year.

There among the wannabes is an application for a three- week stint from the Royal Opera House. According to an insider, the company is interested in booking in for just three weeks next autumn. The House is becoming increasingly frantic for new premises as the ROH in Covent Garden shuts down for renovation next year - and all its much-vaunted alternatives, such as a new theatre by Tower Bridge, have come to nothing. But to book into the Barbican for three measly weeks? It smacks of desperation.

The ROH's marketing director, Keith Cooper, well known super-sacker, would only say yesterday: "It is true that we are looking around, but we have not booked anywhere." That smacked of desperation too.

Tough. You've been chosen

In case you have not yet found a letter on your doormat from the enigmatically named Centre for Consumer Interests, I pass on the following information. "Dear Householder," the letter trills. "What do you want from YOUR post?" The letter talks sympathetically of the "steady flow of advertising mail that sometimes does not interest you", and assures you that you can be relieved of this inconvenience, "completely FREE OF CHARGE".

How wonderful, you say - just as I did. Until I noticed that in order to receive only "the advertising mail you really want", I must fill out a five-page questionnaire with 180 questions, each of which has up to 20 subdivisions. Questions about what I eat, what my dog eats, what pipe tobacco I smoke and whether I am keener on scuba diving than on bowls.

I therefore rang the Centre for Consumer Interests, and asked them by just how much they would be able to reduce my advertising mail? A brief, but only slightly embarrassed silence. "We only filter in. We don't filter out." But in that case, how do they propose to get rid of the "steady flow of advertising mail" that sometimes (sometimes?) does not interest me? "I'm afraid we can't do anything about that."

Only a cynic might suggest these "totally free" questionnaires could be a goldmine for Centre for Consumer Interests, if sold on to other companies.

Old Etonian? See if we care

Perusing the social columns of the press, as one does, I discovered that yesterday was the 44th birthday of Lord Brocket.

However, as his lordship was jailed for five years last Friday for an attempted pounds 4.5m insurance swindle, the birthday, sadly, had to be celebrated with less than customary style inside the walls of Bedford Prison.

Does being an old Etonian peer and a friend of the heir to the throne mean that you get a cake, I asked the Home Office. "Prisoners don't really celebrate birthdays," a prisons desk spokesman told me. "It's not something that we encourage."

That's a big ouch, Danny

Michael Jackson, American chanteur, is to be the star turn at the Brits, a celebration of British pop, next week. Jackson says: "I want to thank all my fans in the UK for their undying love and support. And this is the best way I can do it."

His performance, predict Sony Music and Brits chairman Paul Burger, will be "spectacular". In his last British interview, Jackson told Danny Baker that he had a recurring dream. It was that he was joined on stage by all his family for an impromptu concert.

That would indeed be spectacular if it were to occur next week, though Danny Baker, I suspect, would not be invited to witness it. His follow- up question to Jackson about the dream concert was: "Did anybody come?"

Have they got news for you

It was sobering as always to read the Guardian's media pages yesterday chastising the rest of the press for its mistakes. I decided to turn the page and read the Past Notes, a big story from times gone by. It was, intriguingly: "Funeral Of George V, February 12, 1952". The poor man must have been lying in state for 16 years.

Trial by Harold Pinter

Trials can be hellishly long these days; so what better to keep a juror going than a dose of Eagle Eye? I will immodestly assume that that is what Timothy West is reading as he immerses himself in the Independent during the first rehearsal for Twelve Angry Men, the American jury-room classic, which is being revived next month, starting at the Bristol Old Vic before coming to the West End in April. Harold Pinter, the show's director, tells me he is irritated by people already drawing parallels with either the OJ Simpson or Rosemary West trials. It is about the bigger, vital issues of civil liberties and social justice, he says. McCarthyism is more in his mind than West or Simpson. They obviously don't make court cases like they used to.

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
Voices
Homeless Veterans charity auction: Cook with Angela Hartnett and Neil Borthwick at Merchants Tavern
charity appealTime is running out to secure your favourite lot as our auction closes at 2pm tomorrow
Arts and Entertainment
J Jefferson Farjeon at home in 1953
booksBooksellers say readers are turning away from modern thrillers and back to golden age of crime writing
Sport
Amir Khan is engaged in a broader battle than attempting to win a fight with Floyd Mayweather
boxing Exclusive: Amir Khan reveals plans to travel to Pakistan
News
Stacey Dooley was the only woman to be nominated in last month’s Grierson awards
mediaClare Balding and Davina McCall among those overlooked for Grierson awards
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
ebooks
ebooksA year of political gossip, levity and intrigue from the sharpest pen in Westminster
Voices
Joseph Kynaston Reeves arguing with Russell Brand outside the RBS’s London offices on Friday
voicesDJ Taylor: The great tradition of St Paul and Zola reached its nadir with a worker's rant to Russell Brand
News
Twitchers see things differently, depending on their gender
scienceNew study shows that birdwatching men have a lot in common with their feathered friends...
News
i100
Arts and Entertainment
Caroline Flack became the tenth winner of Strictly Come Dancing
tvReview: 'Absolutely phenomenal' Xtra Factor presenter wins Strictly Come Dancing final
Life and Style
A still from the 1939 film version of Margaret Mitchell's 'Gone with the Wind'
life
News
Xander van der Burgt, at the Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew
scienceA Kew Gardens botanist has found 25 new large tree species - and he's sure there are more out there
Arts and Entertainment
British actor Idris Elba is also a DJ and rapper who played Ibiza last summer
film
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Recruitment Genius: Finance Director

£65000 - £80000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: Finance Director required to jo...

Recruitment Genius: Medico-Legal Assistant

£15000 - £25000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This is a unique opportunity fo...

Ashdown Group: (PHP / Python) - Global Media firm

£50000 per annum + 26 days holiday,pension: Ashdown Group: A highly successful...

The Jenrick Group: Quality Inspector

£27000 per annum + pension + holidays: The Jenrick Group: A Quality Technician...

Day In a Page

The week Hollywood got scared and had to grow up a bit

The week Hollywood got scared and had to grow up a bit

Sony suffered a chorus of disapproval after it withdrew 'The Interview', but it's not too late for it to take a stand, says Joan Smith
From Widow Twankey to Mother Goose, how do the men who play panto dames get themselves ready for the performance of a lifetime?

Panto dames: before and after

From Widow Twankey to Mother Goose, how do the men who play panto dames get themselves ready for the performance of a lifetime?
Thirties murder mystery novel is surprise runaway Christmas hit

Thirties murder mystery novel is surprise runaway Christmas hit

Booksellers say readers are turning away from dark modern thrillers and back to the golden age of crime writing
Anne-Marie Huby: 'Charities deserve the best,' says founder of JustGiving

Anne-Marie Huby: 'Charities deserve the best'

Ten million of us have used the JustGiving website to donate to good causes. Its co-founder says that being dynamic is as important as being kind
The botanist who hunts for giant trees at Kew Gardens

The man who hunts giants

A Kew Gardens botanist has found 25 new large tree species - and he's sure there are more out there
The 12 ways of Christmas: Spare a thought for those who will be working to keep others safe during the festive season

The 12 ways of Christmas

We speak to a dozen people who will be working to keep others safe, happy and healthy over the holidays
Birdwatching men have a lot in common with their feathered friends, new study shows

The male exhibits strange behaviour

A new study shows that birdwatching men have a lot in common with their feathered friends...
Diaries of Evelyn Waugh, Virginia Woolf and Noël Coward reveal how they coped with the December blues

Famous diaries: Christmas week in history

Noël Coward parties into the night, Alan Clark bemoans the cost of servants, Evelyn Waugh ponders his drinking…
From noble to narky, the fall of the open letter

From noble to narky, the fall of the open letter

The great tradition of St Paul and Zola reached its nadir with a hungry worker's rant to Russell Brand, says DJ Taylor
A Christmas ghost story by Alison Moore: A prodigal daughter has a breakthrough

A Christmas ghost story by Alison Moore

The story was published earlier this month in 'Poor Souls' Light: Seven Curious Tales'
Marian Keyes: The author on her pre-approved Christmas, true love's parking implications and living in the moment

Marian Keyes

The author on her pre-approved Christmas, true love's parking implications and living in the moment
Bill Granger recipes: Our chef creates an Italian-inspired fish feast for Christmas Eve

Bill Granger's Christmas Eve fish feast

Bill's Italian friends introduced him to the Roman Catholic custom of a lavish fish supper on Christmas Eve. Here, he gives the tradition his own spin…
Liverpool vs Arsenal: Brendan Rodgers is fighting for his reputation

Rodgers fights for his reputation

Liverpool manager tries to stay on his feet despite waves of criticism
Amir Khan: 'The Taliban can threaten me but I must speak out... innocent kids, killed over nothing. It’s sick in the mind'

Amir Khan attacks the Taliban

'They can threaten me but I must speak out... innocent kids, killed over nothing. It’s sick in the mind'
Michael Calvin: Sepp Blatter is my man of the year in sport. Bring on 2015, quick

Michael Calvin's Last Word

Sepp Blatter is my man of the year in sport. Bring on 2015, quick