Diary

Internal wrangles over the organisation of this year's Proms are acquiring epic proportions. Last week, I told how the BBC1 controller, Alan Yentob, went into paroxysms over the insertion of Sir Harrison Birtwistle's modern composition Panic into his populist programme for the last night. Now, I discover, it is not the last night that has caused the most arguments, but the penultimate night - Friday 15 September. This time the dispute is between the retiring Proms director, Sir John Drummond, and Italy's premier composer, Luciano Berio.

Sir John had commissioned Berio to write a new piece, Shofar, for the 15th, which was to be followed by Mahler's Symphony No 2 - Resurrection. Berio was delighted - until he received an invitation from Sir John, inviting him to a farewell drinks party "following Mahler's Resurrection". Berio scanned the invitation. No mention of Shofar. The artistic ego was inflamed.

Berio withdrew his piece from the concert. Deadlock. Then Berio's PR had an idea. Berio should ring Sir John and say that he was dedicating Shofar to Sir John - not at the Proms, but some time, some place. The newly knighted Sir John was most flattered. The invitations have been reprinted, and Shofar will be played at the Prom. Who, I wonder, will toast whom first on the night?

Talking of fiascos at the Proms... Before the first disastrous power cut at last Tuesday's prom at the Royal Albert Hall (incidentally, I'm told all those wanting refunds should write to Maurice Scott), I spied a BBC cameraman filming the concert. I was stationed a few metres behind him but, even at that distance, something on his monitor did not look quite right. I leant forward to see better... No, it couldn't be... surely I must be mistaken. Alas, no. My neighbour tapped me on the shoulder. "That cameraman is watching the athletics," he hissed.

Michael Joseph's forthcoming publication of Favourite Family Poetry, compiled by an eclectic list of so-called celebrities (they range from Martin Amis to Denis Healey to the disc jockey Mike Read) contains some amusing reading. Not so much within the verse, you understand, but the index of who chose what.

Newly very-wealthy novelist Martin Amis has chosen Ezra Pound's "Exile's Letter" - dreaming perhaps of a future abroad for tax reasons? The former Tory Cabinet minister John Biffen shows signs of nostalgia for greater days with his selection of Browning's 'The Lost Leader". And could the former Labour politician Bryan Gould be commenting on the current premiership with his choice of "The Donkey"?

Touchingly, the late Sir Michael Hordern began his list with "Our Revels now are ended". But the most self-indulgent (and predictable) by far is Lord Archer's choice: Rupert Brooke's "The Old Vicarage, Grantchester" - Lord Archer's home address.

Ambridge fans, hold on to your armchairs. The rumour - and it is one of those dangerous rumours that the Archers actors have all heard - is that the wedding between Caroline Bone and Guy Pemberton, scheduled for 11 September, may be off.

To recap for those who have not been religiously tuned in, Ms Bone is a well-to-do 40-year-old who has come close to the altar several times but can never bring herself to tie the knot. (Her last conquest, the vicar, was ditched just over a year ago - and with a wobbly-voiced final sermon made his exit from the parish on Sunday.) This time, however, great things were expected. Mr Pemberton, wealthy, energetic and possessed of a nice voice, seemed perfect for her. But my mole says the script for early September contains a blazing row between the couple.

Could it really not take place? "I simply can't comment," says the producer, Vanessa Whitburn, adding enigmatically: "Remember - he isn't quite perfect. He is considerably (25 years) older than her."

I am glad to see that Hugh Grant is abiding by his own advice to audiences to watch his recent film The Englishman Who Went Up a Hill But Came Down a Mountain "not once but twice" (never mind that he himself failed to make the British premiere for fear of incurring bad publicity).

Last Wednesday, he was spotted escorting his parents (James and Fynvola - Fin to her friends) to the 7.15 performance at the Odeon in London's Kensington High Street. Stony-faced and garbed in the apparel of a former double agent - baseball cap pulled firmly over his face, glasses shielding his eyes - he looked grim and furtive. Even the usherettes did not recognise him. At the end of the film, he waited in a corner until the place had emptied before making his exit to a white car parked nearby. Poor Hugh! He should realise that not everyone despises him. "If only I'd known," sighed the female cinema manager when I told her. "I'd have loved to have welcomed him."

It appears that dating agencies are getting more picky about the calibre of their clientele. A male friend was sent a pamphlet from "The Executive Club at St James's" assuring him that only "suitable" people were admitted beneath its august portals. "The Executive Club restricts membership to professionals, whereas Partner (their sister club) caters for nice people from all walks of life," runs the blurb. "Our screening process is thorough and we do indeed turn away people we would not be proud for you to meet." All those wondering whether they are a "Partner" or an "Executive" are saved the embarrassment of asking. Partner, says the blurb on the back of the pamphlet, "is up to the status of schoolteacher".

Those who are socially unacceptable, however, must find out the hard way. My friend rang up and under false pretences inquired if he could be admitted. "Clapham Junction trainspotters who still live with their parents?" echoed the woman. "Absolutely not."

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