Diary

Opera headhunters zoom in on the zoo

My man in the crush bar at Covent Garden tells me that the Royal Opera House is having a Gotterdammerung of a time finding a new general director to succeed Jeremy Isaacs next year.

It appears that front-runners such as Brian McMaster (Edinburgh Festival and ex-Welsh National Opera), Anthony Whitworth-Jones (Glyndebourne) and even the ROH's own opera director, Nick Payne, have turned the job down. Others, like one very eminent international opera director, have been told with touching diplomacy that they are not being offered the job, but to stand by in case someone better doesn't turn up.

In desperation, the interviewing panel (the current chairman, Sir Angus Stirling; his successor, Peter Gummer; and the board members Baroness Blackstone and Sir James Spooner - not a professional opera/ballet figure among them) have turned to a firm of headhunters. Their recommendation? Dr Jonathan Gipps, the 48-year-old director of London Zoo.

Dr Gipps is not instantly recognisable as diva-friendly, but perhaps his book The Ecology Of Woodland Rodents may well have allusions to the backstage conditions at Covent Garden.

A good line in beef, but where's the joke?

How not to handle the beef crisis. A series of brief, easy-to-follow lessons by Lord Lucas, the Government's spokesman in the House of Lords, drawing on his personal experience at a Back British Beef luncheon in Ashford, Kent, hosted by the National Farmers' Union and attended by representatives from every sector of the beef industry.

1. Tell the assembled slaughterers, farmers, renderers and auctioneers - all completely mystified as to how the destruction of cattle over 30 months old is going to work, two days into the scheme - that you know they are confused, but it's ''hard cheese, the most important thing is that the scheme is up and running'', even if only on paper.

2. Point out that Ashford has had three cases of Creutzfeldt-Jakob disease, the human equivalent of BSE. And how terrible it is, just as the 270 guests are tucking into their pounds 16-a-head rib of beef.

3. When joking that they have been expecting Lord Lucan, by misreading the "n" at the end of his name for an "s", remark: ''There's someone who knew a thing or two about culling cows.''

4. Expect to get a laugh. (It is possible you might be disappointed on 3.)

Mad cows and English theatre

Mad cow disease does have one virtue. It can be used as the scapegoat for anything. Rupert Rhymes, chief executive of the Society of London Theatres, moans in the Stage newspaper under the front-page headline 'BSE blamed for West End slump': "We and other organisations are readjusting our projections for the number of tourists coming in this year. Terrorism is a factor in the short-term and so are health scares, which are affecting people from mainland Europe. With BSE, they are wondering whether it is safe to eat British food." And there was I, unschooled in the complexities of the tourist and meat trades, thinking there just weren't many good shows on at the moment.

Drummer gags. You can't beat 'em

The viola players may be the joke section of the symphony orchestra, as I observed yesterday. But I see the world of rock music has its own target, the drummers. The June edition of Q Magazine supplies the top 10 drummer jokes. Example: What's the last thing a drummer says in a band? "Hey guys, why don't we try one of my songs?"

In the main, though, it seems to be poor old Ginger Baker (above), once of the supergroup Cream, who has become the fall guy: What is the difference between a chiropodist and Ginger Baker? A chiropodist bucks up your feet. Ginger Baker fans should write to Q Magazine direct.

Secret desires of Labour women

There are some odd secret fantasies to be found in today's issue of She magazine, where celebrities say which film roles they hanker after. Anthea Turner says: "I would love to have starred in When Harry Met Sally because I, too, like making a scene in restaurants." This would be impossible, of course, as that was the scene of the fake orgasm, and there is nothing fake about Miss Turner. More believable are the secret desires of two Labour women. Clare Short chooses Jo, the heroine of Little Women - there were no men in the house to shut her up when she spoke out of turn. And Glenys Kinnock MEP (above right) chooses Thelma (Geena Davis, above left) from the film Thelma and Louise, because "she proved how much inner strength women who are 'written off' can find". The result, I recall, was a brief life of crime followed by suicide. Most encouraging.

News
people
News
people And here is why...
News
peopleStella McCartney apologises over controversial Instagram picture
Arts and Entertainment
Hayley Williams performs with Paramore in New York
musicParamore singer says 'Steal Your Girl' is itself stolen from a New Found Glory hit
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
News
ebooksAn unforgettable anthology of contemporary reportage
News
William Hague
people... when he called Hague the county's greatest
Extras
indybestKeep extra warm this year with our 10 best bedspreads
Life and Style
health
News
i100
News
people
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

Associate Recrutiment Consultant

£18000 - £23000 per annum + Uncapped OTE: SThree: SThree Group have been well ...

Trainee Recruitment Consultant

£18000 - £23000 per annum + OTE: SThree: Real Staffing Group is seeking Traine...

Year 6 Teacher (interventions)

£120 - £140 per day: Randstad Education Leeds: We have an exciting opportunity...

PMLD Teacher

Competitive: Randstad Education Manchester: SEN Teacher urgently required for ...

Day In a Page

Ebola outbreak: The children orphaned by the virus – then rejected by surviving relatives over fear of infection

The children orphaned by Ebola...

... then rejected by surviving relatives over fear of infection
Pride: Are censors pandering to homophobia?

Are censors pandering to homophobia?

US film censors have ruled 'Pride' unfit for under-16s, though it contains no sex or violence
The magic of roundabouts

Lords of the rings

Just who are the Roundabout Appreciation Society?
Why do we like making lists?

Notes to self: Why do we like making lists?

Well it was good enough for Ancient Egyptians and Picasso...
Hong Kong protests: A good time to open a new restaurant?

A good time to open a new restaurant in Hong Kong?

As pro-democracy demonstrators hold firm, chef Rowley Leigh, who's in the city to open a new restaurant, says you couldn't hope to meet a nicer bunch
Paris Fashion Week: Karl Lagerfeld leads a feminist riot on 'Boulevard Chanel'

Paris Fashion Week

Lagerfeld leads a feminist riot on 'Boulevard Chanel'
Bruce Chatwin's Wales: One of the finest one-day walks in Britain

Simon Calder discovers Bruce Chatwin's Wales

One of the finest one-day walks you could hope for - in Britain
10 best children's nightwear

10 best children's nightwear

Make sure the kids stay cosy on cooler autumn nights in this selection of pjs, onesies and nighties
Manchester City vs Roma: Five things we learnt from City’s draw at the Etihad

Manchester City vs Roma

Five things we learnt from City’s Champions League draw at the Etihad
Martin Hardy: Mike Ashley must act now and end the Alan Pardew reign

Trouble on the Tyne

Ashley must act now and end Pardew's reign at Newcastle, says Martin Hardy
Isis is an hour from Baghdad, the Iraq army has little chance against it, and air strikes won't help

Isis an hour away from Baghdad -

and with no sign of Iraq army being able to make a successful counter-attack
Turner Prize 2014 is frustratingly timid

Turner Prize 2014 is frustratingly timid

The exhibition nods to rich and potentially brilliant ideas, but steps back
Last chance to see: Half the world’s animals have disappeared over the last 40 years

Last chance to see...

The Earth’s animal wildlife population has halved in 40 years
So here's why teenagers are always grumpy - and it's not what you think

Truth behind teens' grumpiness

Early school hours mess with their biological clocks
Why can no one stop hackers putting celebrities' private photos online?

Hacked photos: the third wave

Why can no one stop hackers putting celebrities' private photos online?