Wednesday 20 March 1996
The Campaign for Freedom of Information awards will be presented by Tony Blair next Monday at a ceremony in, er, well, actually that's a bit of a secret. Yesterday Tom Arms, the editor of the Future Events News Service, which supplies news organisations with details of forthcoming events, rang the campaign to find out where the event was being held. The press release had neglected to give the location of the venue.
"I'm afraid I can't tell you that information," an official at the campaign told Mr Arms. "But you're the Campaign for Freedom of Information," Mr Arms spluttered. "Yes, but we only want invited guests coming, not just anyone," replied the official.
So, there it is. No information will be forthcoming about the Campaign for Freedom of Information's awards venue. However, in the spirit of open government, I can exclusively reveal that Mr Blair will be presenting the awards at the City Conference Centre, 76 Mark Lane, London EC3. And I trust that next year a Campaign for Freedom of Information award will come the way of Eagle Eye for remedying the abuse of freedom of information by the Campaign for Freedom of Information.
Bedroom style in the new South Africa?
I hope the editor of the Oxford Dictionary of Quotations is following the Nelson and Winnie Mandela divorce case. Mr Mandela is one of the most renowned orators of the post-war years. But can he ever have come up with so poignant and memorable a phrase as that describing his marriage over the last few years: "Ever since I came back from prison, not once has the defendant ever entered our bedroom while I was awake."
I suspect that it will take its place in future volumes alongside Princess Diana's Panorama quote, "There were three people in that marriage, and that's a bit crowded" - two comments on matrimony, either of which could easily form the first sentence of a novel.
I caught a beguiling entry in the minutes of a meeting of the Shadow Cabinet: "The Shadow Agriculture Secretary spoke and was subjected to interrogation and comment," the minute says. Subjected to interrogation? Whatever happened to "was asked some questions". It's a man's life in Tony Blair's team. He has ways of making you talk.
Fear not Fab Four, you still have a fan
Harry Greenway, the Conservative MP, is raising in the Commons the reluctance of Radio 1 to play the Beatles' new single "Real Love" from the second Anthology album.
Detractors of Mr Greenway are apt to accuse him with gross unfairness of jumping on publicity bandwagons. But I was happy to believe that the House of Commons contains at least one unreconstructed Beatlemaniac.
So I asked Mr Greenway about his passion for the Fab Four. He reflected, then replied: "I do like 'She Loves You'. It's got an excellent beat, and it's a very good tune." Not exactly an acute or an effusive analysis 33 years after the song was released. But these MPs are cautious chaps.
It's good to be literal
BT seems to have suffered an early setback in its attempt to clean up its telephone kiosks. A notice in one of the old-fashioned red phone boxes in the Aldwych in London reads: "It is forbidden to advertise inside this telephone kiosk without the permission of BT."
Overnight, the outside of the box was covered with call girl calling cards stuck on with Blu-tack.
There is no limit to human ingenuity.
It's a cell-out: Woody, Gaby and the Snowman
Nicholas Snowman, the director of the South Bank Centre in London, has been busy shedding his image as defender of minority tastes such as Stockhausen, and is revelling in his new nickname of "Snowman the Showman", the man who stages the most popular of popular entertainers.
So I was not surprised to see him celebrating his birthday on Monday in the Royal Box at the Royal Festival Hall watching his latest booking, Woody Allen (above) and his jazz band. What, though, was Mr Snowman whispering to his guest, the TV presenter Gaby Roslin? It turns out it was neither sweet nothings nor a critique of New Orleans jazz.
Instead, he was giving her a handy hint, presumably gathered from years of trying to read programmes by torchlight in the dark at concerts. If the light begins to flicker, he advised, take the batteries out and put them under your armpit for two minutes. The warmth will give them new life, and light will be miraculously restored. Well, what else is there for an arts administrator to do to pass the time on the cold, winter evenings? Sadly, the inside of the Royal Box was not completely visible for the rest of us to see Ms Roslin putting the theory to the test.
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