Diary

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The Independent Online
High tea with Madonna

The Princess of Wales has a new best friend and emotional adviser, I am reliably informed. Displacing the psychotherapist Susie Orbach as royal counsellor is none other than the rock superstar Madonna. Cynics who are republicans and listen only to classical music might call this an alliance of the self-professed queen of hearts and the self-professed queen of tarts. But the friendship may have had real implications for the British monarchy.

Madonna visited Kensington Palace while on a trip to London last November. Princess Diana had sought her out and invited her to afternoon tea, a hitherto unknown refreshment for the singer, who was intrigued by its novelty value. Apparently, the two got on like a house on fire.

Given that the Princess's Panorama interview was broadcast only eight days after Madonna's return to the States, one imagines that certain personal topics must have come up, in between microscopic nibbles of wholemeal shortbread. Perhaps Madonna gave the princess a timely rendition of her vengeful ballad "You'll see". Perhaps she asked her to make a guest appearance on her next "Blonde Ambition" tour.

If you think you know what they discussed, please let Eagle Eye know. A bottle of bubbly to the reader with the most (unperverted) imagination.

Who's he?

The new edition of Who's Who, published tomorrow, will, as always, have one glaring omission. It will lack the name of Charles Black, chairman and managing director of A&C Black plc, the distinguished publishing company that publishes and, indeed, gave birth to the venerable tome.

His credentials would seem to be impeccable for the establishment bible. He runs a major publishing firm, became a director in 1964 at the age of 26, and is the firm's biggest shareholder, with about 15 per cent of the shares. He is married to Melissa Fiona Louisa Lowson, who is the daughter of the late Sir Denys Lowson, a former Lord Mayor of London. As well as captaining the Royal St George's Golf Club in Sandwich, he is a member of a host of great and good organisations, from the MCC and Guards Club to the Old Wykehamists Society and Jesters' Club.

So, why the undue modesty in refusing to be listed in his own organ? A spokeswoman for Who's Who said: "We never have in Who's Who anyone who is an employee of the company. It is thought to be improper."

That's telling it to the chairman. And just in case it isn't telling it vigorously enough, she added: "Besides, it never really occurred to anyone that he should be included. A&C Black is too small a company."

Maestro, moi

Al Pacino is in London producing, directing and starring in a film about Richard III. The three roles should be enough to exercise even his prodigious talents. But it seems that producing, directing and acting are not enough.

Pacino booked the London Philharmonic to play the score for the film. When LPO bosses asked him which of their roster of conductors he favoured, Pacino gave them one of his brooding Godfather stares and intimated that he would be making them an offer they couldn't refuse. He wanted to conduct the orchestra himself. And did.

Ooh Angus

Have I got extravagance for you? Angus Deayton has just celebrated his 40th birthday by taking 100 friends to Paris for a party on the Eiffel Tower. As he might ask in his job as quizmaster on BBC Television's Have I Got News For You, fill in the missing words: Angus Deayton could afford to take a crowd to Paris and book a deck on the Eiffel Tower because ....

Tricky one. How's about: "because Alan Yentob, Controller of BBC1, has paid you a huge sum, rumoured to be around pounds 400,000, to present programmes exclusively for the BBC, and you needed to seek inspiration from the Paris air and legions of chums." Yes, that's pretty good.

Now spot the odd one out: a charity; a thrifty controller; Alan Yentob ....

Trucked off

Never argue with a truck driver, unless you are a truck driver. An arcane but fierce row is going on in freight circles. The Fork Truck Hire Association has announced that it is to become the Fork Truck Association. Foul, cries the Freight Transport Association. "We have been widely recognised by the acronym FTA since 1969." The FTA (old guard) adds that the action of the FTA (young turks) will "only serve to confuse companies and individuals operating in the transport industry". It concludes that it will continue to promote and refer to itself as the FTA. This one could end in T.E.A.R.S.

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