Diary

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The Independent Online
Mad bishops: are they safe?

Is Dr George Carey, the Archbishop of Canterbury, suffering from HIV (Hopeless Intellectual Vagueness)? What parts of a bishop is it safe to eat? The answer to these and many other questions are to be found on a computer bulletin board run by the Rev Francis Gardom, a 62-year-old curate in south London, as part of the traditionalists' campaign against women priests.

The campaign has decided to include jokes in its armoury, though a spokeswoman for Dr Carey at Lambeth Palace yesterday declared herself unamused. The latest bulletin contains a warning from the RevDavid Dale of All Saints' Ryde, Isle of Wight, against Bishop's Spongiform Encephalopathy, or Mad Bishop disease, which is marked, he says, by an unusual ECG (Episcopal Cringeing Grin). The symptoms are everywhere, Rev Dale reports.

Dr Carey, regularly seen wearing an Aids awareness ribbon, is diagnosed as suffering from Hopeless Intellectual Vagueness. "Luckily for them, the sufferers do not die, but their effect upon the rest of the church is deadly," says the message.

However, all is not lost. It is safe, the bulletin board explains, to eat bishop, providing you steer clear of the brain and backbone - "if you can find either".

Maggie's day

Today is Margaret Thatcher Day. True, it is only thus in the Falkland Islands, but there's nothing to stop anyone over here who feels so inclined having a party, I suppose. I asked the Falkland Islands Government Office what celebrations will be taking place on the Falklands, as the islanders commemorate their favourite ex-prime minister. "Well, nothing actually happens," replied a government office spokeswoman. "We just hope people will put it in their diaries." To add insult to injury, it's not even a public holiday.

Hair-raising

Before last night's television programme Return to The Dying Rooms, the Daily Mail devoted a page to an interview with Kate Blewett, who risked her life to expose systematic killing within the Chinese state orphanage system. The picture caption read: "Heartbreak: Kate Blewett - with her newly cropped hair - cannot forget the horrors she saw in China's orphanages."

Blonde, blue-eyed (thanks again, the Mail) Kate is somewhat at a loss as to the newspaper's emphasis on her tonsorial arrangements. "My hair was cut nine months ago. And frankly, in the light of the film, it's not exactly relevant."

Brunette, brown-eyed John Pilger never encounters these problems.

Lib Demzzz

Harrods sales shoppers are not the only ones, it seems, who are forced to camp out all night to obtain their objectives these days. MPs wanting to speak on 10-minute rule bills have discovered they have to "sleep over" in the House of Commons in order to beat the wily Liberal Democrats.

Last month Paddy Tipping, the Labour backbencher who represents Sherwood, slipped up when he nonchalantly assumed that his whips would find him a slot to speak on behalf of the Ramblers' Association Bill for free access to the countryside. He had not allowed for five Liberal Democrats "sleeping over" in a committee room opposite the public bill office to ensure they were head of the queue for the first batch of five 10-minute slots to be allocated in the new Parliament.

Yesterday, the day of the next round of allocations, Tipping was determined that history would not repeat itself. "I rose before the lark at 6.30am," he tells me "and waited in the Commons until the office opened at 9am."

Would he recommend that future applicants emulate the Lib Dems? "The room in which they slept is about 15ft by 10ft," he tells me. "It is packed with old House of Commons volumes and records ... it's enough to put anyone to sleep."

Em's changes

Between vampish poses in her new Vanity Fair interview, Emma Thompson dabbles in marital psychology. Asked about the failure of her marriage to Ken Branagh, she retorts: "Marriages stop. Marriages change. People are always saying a marriage failed. It's such a negative way of putting it. I've discussed the value of failure in creative work. Failure is terribly important."

A close friend of her estranged husband tells me he agrees with this analysis, and will henceforth regard his film of Mary Shelley's Frankenstein as having stopped, if not changed.

Eagle Eye

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