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Caymans wash whiter

John Grisham, you're a naughty boy, and you shouldn't tell such terrible untruths. That seems to be the implication of an indignant press release from the Cayman Islands Government, which has landed on my desk.

Mr Grisham became very, very rich by telling stories which involved complex money-laundering operations and the Cayman Islands (mysterious banks, beaches and blondes, plucky heroes and heroines). It is clear from reading Mr Grisham's novels that he has had to do some painstaking in-depth research, to experience the difficult life on the Cayman Islands first-hand. Readers of The Firm will recall that he wrote of the mafia gang: "They launder money like crazy ... Most of it goes to those banks in the Caymans." However, he does sugar the pill, gushing: "Sand as white as sugar. Warm, clear water. Warm, beautiful women."

Now, though, I gather that Mr Grisham has been under a complete misapprehension about the Caymans' reputation.

The press release refers to what the islands' grandees delicately describe as "controversial confidentiality laws". But George McCarthy, the Cayman financial secretary, insists that there is no basis to the rumour that something is amiss with the Caymans' moral compass. On the contrary, he hopes that a recently published report "will put a stop to the speculation in some quarters that Cayman tolerates money-laundering."

In some quarters, indeed. That Mr Grisham, he should be ashamed of himself. And if he wants to find a good place for his best-selling villains to salt away some millions of tax-free dollars for their evil ends, he'll just have to find another location.

Local hero

There was much applause for the community policeman at a public meeting at Woodseaves, Staffordshire, when the chairman of the police consultative committee asked the youngest child in the audience, Billy Stockton, if he knew the name of the local bobby. The young boy did, and the constable in question received hearty praise for having got to know the populace so well. Young Billy and his father, Community Constable Stockton, went home beaming, the applause ringing in their ears.

Christmas No 1

As reported here earlier this week, the Radio 3 Year of British Music and Culture managed to write Paul McCartney out of songwriting history. But reading through the station's report of the year, it emerges that it did also rediscover the odd forgotten composer. One who catches my eye is William Jackson of Exeter, an organist at Exeter Cathedral in the early 18th century, and his gorgeously titled choral work "Time has not thinn'd my flowing hair."

The work begins with the line "Time has not thinn'd my flowing hair, Nor bent me with his iron hand," and concludes "Please let me trifle life away, And sing of love 'ere I grow old, 'ere I grow old."

It's Eagle Eye's outside betfor the Christmas number one.

Battle talk

Christmas Card watch: The Oxford nuclear physicist John Mulvey does not believe in going for the subtle innuendo when there is a nuclear sledgehammer to hand. The Save British Science Society of which he is secretary, and which is campaigning against government cuts, prints inside the card a letter from the Duke of Wellington to the Foreign Office during the Napoleonic wars in 1812.

The connection with the Duke's lengthy description of the costs involved in the march to Portugal and elementary particle physics is remote. But the Duke concludes by asking whether he is expected "1. To train an army of uniformed British clerks in Spain for the benefit of the accountant and copy boys in London or, perchance, 2. To see to it that the forces of Napoleon are driven out of Spain."

In case the analogy is unclear, the civil servants at the Office of Science and Technology are the accountants and copy boys, and the nuclear physicists the brave, put-upon footsoldiers.

Adie's choice

Kate Adie's ankle injury sustained on the war reporting front has affected neither her broadcasting nor literary appetites. Radio 4's With Great Pleasure were about to cancel Miss Adie's choice of reading to be broadcast on Christmas Day. But she insisted on recording it from her hospital bed, where her reading matter consists of tracts on the Spanish Civil War and the Balkans with a little light relief from Colonel Gadaffi's Little Green Book.

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