Diary

Taking the dawg's name in vain

Politics, desertion, muckraking, and now courtroom drama - it may be a dog's life, but for the late President Mitterrand's black labrador, Baltique (below), it's never dull. This morning, France's favourite pooch finds herself back in the news - at the centre of a Parisian courtroom row, billed "Baltique vs Baltique".

Having tugged at French heartstrings when she followed her master's coffin from the church to the cemetery in January, Baltique was then very publically dumped by Mitterrand's widow.

Now, the poor dog is caught in a tussle between two publishers -each of which has published a book of salacious pseudo-reminiscences about the president's private life. Both books bear a picture of the cuddly hound on the cover - and both purport to be written by "Baltique".

In a fit of pique, the first publisher to poach Baltique's pawprint then announced it was suing the second - claiming copyright on the pseudonym. The case was due in court this morning - but a frantic 11th-hour negotiated settlement looks like keeping both books out of court, and still on sale.

Really, a dog can only take so much. The very suggestion that Baltique - man's best friend, after all -would sell her master's most intimate secrets to some grubby publisher is insult enough.

But then to have the publisher claim rights to her name, when they had taken it in vain anyway! Baltique, I am told, is most distressed. I think she should sue.

You're fired. Whoops, no you're not

The new editor Will Hutton may prove to be the golden boy to save the Observer's fortunes - but he's certainly going about it a funny way. One of his very first senior appointments, the managing editor, Danny John, has already distinguished himself by sacking several staff - then having to reinstate them promptly, in a farcical case of mistaken identities.

One respected features writer was startled to be called in by Mr John this week, told that, frankly, the boss "didn't rate him", and shown the door. Drowning his shocked sorrows in the local pub, he was even more startled when a blushing representative of the Guardian's editor burst in, hauled him out and marched him back to the office.

"There's been a bit of a cock-up, old boy," blustered the red-faced editor, cracking open the mini-bar. "Bit of a misunderstanding. So sorry - you're not fired at all." Good news for the hack in question - but not, of course, much reassurance for all the other staff now panicking that the axe was meant for them.

Is nothing sacred?

Chris Patten (right) may still be at the helm, and Hong Kong may not be due to return to the Chinese until next year. But I learn, with great sadness, that the last great bastions of British colonialism have already crumbled. This week, the list of goods and services by which the colony measures its inflation rate was published. It is an enlightening litany, and reveals much about Hong Kong's growing cosmopolitan lifestyle. "We have access to so many things," enthuses a government spokesman. "We have more choices." Sadly, in this bold new consumer world, it seems no one is choosing the finest features of a great British colonial heritage. Some 42 essential items no longer feature on the list - and they include gin, shrimp paste and ox tongue.

Railtrack, we love you

Railtrack staff must be terribly forgetful. How else can one explain the terse memo to employees in East Anglia, issued in response to Wednesday's less than flattering Channel 4 Dispatches portrayal?

"It is never pleasant to be pilloried in this way," huffs the memo, "but you know that we are a professional organisation of highly trained staff competently controlling the railway. It is worth remembering that." Of course it is. Next time I am stranded for hours in a great Railtrack cock- up, that's precisely - I'm sure - what I'll remember.

Island life

As bad luck, bad taste and bad timing go, a full-page travel ad in one of the colour supplements last Sunday took some beating. Under the headline "Tasmaniacs", it read: "This treasure island has far more to offer than the notorious Tasmanian Devil. Shame really it's all most people associate with the place."

Anything they can do, we Cannes do too

Proof, if one were needed, that the British film industry is back on its feet: we have finally mastered the gluttonous art of the full-on, Hollywood-inspired beano. This morning, the flawlessly fashionable Soho House, private watering hole for London's movie movers and shakers such as Ewan McGregor and Tara Fitzgerald (above), is packing up and shipping out to Cannes. For the duration of the film festival, owners, staff and members will enjoy the full benefits of their favourite club, relocated on a chartered motor yacht. "We thought," explains the manager, Matthew Hooberman, "we really shouldn't deny our members their usual service, just because they are away in Cannes." Oh, obviously. Such selflessness!

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
ebooks
ebooksAn introduction to the ground rules of British democracy
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
SPONSORED FEATURES
Independent Dating
and  

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

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Recruitment Genius: 1st Line IT Engineer

£18000 - £24000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This is a fantastic opportunity...

SThree: Trainee Recruitment Consultant

£18000 - £23000 per annum + Uncapped OTE: SThree: Trainee Recruitment Consulta...

SThree: Trainee Recruitment Consultant

£18000 - £23000 per annum + Uncapped OTE: SThree: Trainee Recruitment Consulta...

SThree: Trainee Recruitment Consultant

£13676.46 - £16411.61 per annum + Uncapped OTE: SThree: Trainee Recruitment Co...

Day In a Page

Isis profits from destruction of antiquities by selling relics to dealers - and then blowing up the buildings they come from to conceal the evidence of looting

How Isis profits from destruction of antiquities

Robert Fisk on the terrorist group's manipulation of the market to increase the price of artefacts
Labour leadership: Andy Burnham urges Jeremy Corbyn voters to think again in last-minute plea

'If we lose touch we’ll end up with two decades of the Tories'

In an exclusive interview, Andy Burnham urges Jeremy Corbyn voters to think again in last-minute plea
Tunisia fears its Arab Spring could be reversed as the new regime becomes as intolerant of dissent as its predecessor

The Arab Spring reversed

Tunisian protesters fear that a new law will whitewash corrupt businessmen and officials, but they are finding that the new regime is becoming as intolerant of dissent as its predecessor
King Arthur: Legendary figure was real and lived most of his life in Strathclyde, academic claims

Academic claims King Arthur was real - and reveals where he lived

Dr Andrew Breeze says the legendary figure did exist – but was a general, not a king
Who is Oliver Bonas and how has he captured middle-class hearts?

Who is Oliver Bonas?

It's the first high-street store to pay its staff the living wage, and it saw out the recession in style
Earth has 'lost more than half its trees' since humans first started cutting them down

Axe-wielding Man fells half the world’s trees – leaving us just 422 each

However, the number of trees may be eight times higher than previously thought
60 years of Scalextric: Model cars are now stuffed with as much tech as real ones

60 years of Scalextric

Model cars are now stuffed with as much tech as real ones
Theme parks continue to draw in thrill-seekers despite the risks - so why are we so addicted?

Why are we addicted to theme parks?

Now that Banksy has unveiled his own dystopian version, Christopher Beanland considers the ups and downs of our endless quest for amusement
Tourism in Iran: The country will soon be opening up again after years of isolation

Iran is opening up again to tourists

After years of isolation, Iran is reopening its embassies abroad. Soon, there'll be the chance for the adventurous to holiday there
10 best PS4 games

10 best PS4 games

Can’t wait for the new round of blockbusters due out this autumn? We played through last year’s offering
Transfer window: Ten things we learnt

Ten things we learnt from the transfer window

Record-breaking spending shows FFP restraint no longer applies
Migrant crisis: UN official Philippe Douste-Blazy reveals the harrowing sights he encountered among refugees arriving on Lampedusa

‘Can we really just turn away?’

Dead bodies, men drowning, women miscarrying – a senior UN figure on the horrors he has witnessed among migrants arriving on Lampedusa, and urges politicians not to underestimate our caring nature
Nine of Syria and Iraq's 10 world heritage sites are in danger as Isis ravages centuries of history

Nine of Syria and Iraq's 10 world heritage sites are in danger...

... and not just because of Isis vandalism
Girl on a Plane: An exclusive extract of the novelisation inspired by the 1970 Palestinian fighters hijack

Girl on a Plane

An exclusive extract of the novelisation inspired by the 1970 Palestinian fighters hijack
Why Frederick Forsyth's spying days could spell disaster for today's journalists

Why Frederick Forsyth's spying days could spell disaster for today's journalists

The author of 'The Day of the Jackal' has revealed he spied for MI6 while a foreign correspondent