DIARY

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One would think that with all the constant replaying of the 14- year-old archive footage of the Wales's wedding in recent weeks, the BBC might have glanced twice at the household cavalryman interviewed on that glorious morning. He turns out to be Captain James Hewitt, he who brought such comfort in later years to the Princess - before proving to be a total cad.

In the morning before the Royals go into the church Selina Scott interviews the dashing soldier, resplendent in his glittering breastplate and military gear. For a few seconds there is a voice-over with him talking about the duties of the Household Cavalry on the great day - although, sadly, the incisive Ms Scott did not ask for his predictions on the prospects of the not-so-happy couple, nor his assessment of the bride's attractions.

It seems that ignorance of this clip has cost the BBC financially. When I rang to check it, the librarian was astonished. "But he can't be on it, because once his name cropped up and we needed footage, we couldn't find any. We've had to shoot some more."

I hope Major Hewitt is properly grateful to Eagle Eye. No doubt he would prefer to see stills of himself in uniform to the current ones being peddled in the tabloids of him pushing a trolley full of cheap cider.

Tony Blair may or may not be perturbed; but he will not be receiving the united support of the quintessential Champagne socialists, the playwright Harold Pinter and his wife, the writer Lady Antonia Fraser.

The couple famously started a group of like-minded socialist thinkers to support Neil Kinnock seven years ago. But over lunch yesterday they seemed divided as to Blair's merits. "I am a Blairite," said Lady Antonia. "I'm not such a Blairite as Antonia is," retorted Pinter. "In fact, I'm hardly a Blairite at all."

Lady Antonia added: "I now have considerable unease about show-business personalities speaking up for political parties. I would personally like to meet the unemployed voting person who has never voted Labour but when he saw Madonna voting Labour, he decided to." Her husband was astounded - and not just because Madonna is American. "Show business?" he queried, aghast. "Surely we are the arts."

Civil servants at the Government's Benefits Agency have received a heartfelt and highly confidential written plea from their chief executive, Peter Mathison. "Like all large organisations, there may be occasions where staff feel they have genuine concerns over practices, procedures and situations they view as inefficient, unfair or improper. This does not, however, justify the subsequent disruption and effect on the morale of colleagues that taking any such concern to the media entails ... This letter is to remind staff of their responsibilities as civil servants and of the proper channels through which any grievance should be aired."

In other words, don't leak however unhappy you may be. I regret that unhappiness at the Benefits Agency appears to be so rife that this "don't leak" letter has been speedily leaked.

The launch of the International Interfaith Centre at the Athenaeum club was a sombre occasion, as befits an enterprise led by figures so eminent as the Prince of Wales, the Bishop of Oxford, and the Dalai Lama. But when Bishop Charles Henderson, chairman of the Roman Catholic Committee for Other Faiths, got up to speak, to everybody's surprise he told the following joke:

"There are three men in a hospital and the doctor asks each of them what they think is the best invention of the 20th century. The first replies: 'Heart transplants because otherwise it would have been curtains for me'. The second replies: 'Kidney transplants because otherwise it would have been curtains for me.' And the third replies: 'Venetian blinds because otherwise it would have been curtains for all of us.' "

In secular circles this is a reasonable joke. In spiritual circles it is hysterical. The audience was rolling in the aisles. "I wanted to get it in before Rabbi Hugo Gryn did," the bishop explained yesterday. "I had to take my chance because I was speaking before him. Normally, he gets a story in before me."

Unfortunately, the bishop then rather spoilt it by trying a little too hard to explain the joke. "It is meant to show how things can be misunderstood and misinterpreted," he said.

Jane Austen may have few equals when it comes to social observation, irony and romance, but she was hopeless on foot massaging. You can search through the entire oeuvre.

I gather Emma Thompson has rectified this omission.

In her film adaptation of Sense And Sensibility, which opens next February, Miss Thompson as Elinor Dashwood and Kate Winslet as her sister Marianne lie in bed together playing footsie - presumably the sort of thing that passed for entertainment in the days before television - until Marianne complains that Elinor's feet are too cold. None of this in the book, of course.

Perhaps Miss Thompson has been following the bizarre correspondence in the London Review of Books about whether Austen herself shared a bed with her sister Cassandra. Or perhaps Emma felt that the novelist needed a bit of spicing up. As Ms Thompson noted in her diary about the making of the film: "Kissing Hugh (Grant) was very lovely. Glad I invented it. Can't rely on Austen for a snog, that's for sure."

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