diary Eagle Eye
But York also has plenty to say about the defining features of the Nineties. Tony Blair, he tells me, is "pure Nineties man", because he has learnt from the Eighties and is prepared to say so. Then there is the way information technology has penetrated the sensibilities of the chattering classes - "18 months ago you would never have heard them talking about the Internet". And lastly, we have Sixties revivalism. "Seriously young, seriously cute girls wear short skirts and long boots. The men are beginning to wear sharp suits. It's a positive, smart, youthful look."
None of this washes with Waldemar Januszczak, who was moved to write a vitriolic piece in the Sunday Times about the series: "Peter York appears to have spent the past five years in formaldehyde.... His business was selling nothing as something.... His suits might cost him pounds 2,000, but they still cannot disguise the sad gait of a door-to-door salesman...." and on and on.
York is baffled. "What I thought was particularly unfair was that the Sunday Times did not state Januszczak's day job, given the obvious conflict of interest with the BBC."
Januszczak is commissioning arts editor at Channel 4. And, curiously, York recalls being asked in the summer to front a programme for Channel 4. "Since I was already signed up with the BBC I did not bother to reply," he says. The subject? The Eighties.
Karl Watkin, the Newcastle businessman who yesterday bought the Tyne Theatre and Opera House in his home city for an undisclosed multi-million pound sum, looks likely to persuade the D'Oyly Carte Opera Company to move to Newcastle from Birmingham. "It is our intention," says Mr Watkin, "to develop the European centre for bourgeois- populist opera in Newcastle."
What, pray, is bourgeois-populist opera? Apparently, the phrase is the invention of D'Oyly Carte's chairman, Sir Michael Bishop, who also chairs the bourgeois-populist British Midland Airways. "The phrase is a new one and not a known operatic genre," said a D'Oyly Carte spokesperson, a little uncomfortably. "I know bourgeois could be taken as an insult, but it's a way of saying we cross bridges."
The bourgeois-populist bridge-builders. WS Gilbert could, no doubt, have got a lyric out of that. I will print the offerings of Independent readers who fancy themselves the very model of a modern bourgeois-populist bridge- builder, and can supply Eagle Eye with a suitably cutting Gilbertian lyric.
The London Evening Standard's front page this week showed this picture (right) in connection with the murdered headmaster Philip Lawrence. It was headlined: "A mourner kneels in silence by the floral tributes outside the gate of St George's School." Not quite. If you look closely, you can see a notebook - a tool which identifies the "mourner" as the Mail on Sunday reporter Tanya Reed, who works two floors up from the Standard's offices.
Maureen Hicks, the rejected Conservative candidate for Stratford-upon- Avon, claims bitterly that she fell victim to a "blue-rinse mafia" of women. The blue-rinse epithet is always flung at ladies of a certain age and of a certain political disposition, but research by Eagle Eye shows that it could not be more inappropriate.
In fact, none of the women on the 23-strong selection committee has a blue rinse. But more damning than this to Ms Hick's testimony is the fact that the blue rinse is fast becoming extremely trendy. Daniel Galvin, hairdresser to the Princess of Wales, among others, tells me that he is giving that notably fashionable pop star and non-Conservative voter Cher a blue rinse. "She wanted a dark-blue rinse to get a navy-blue sheen to her dark hair," he says proudly. Whisper it not in Stratford-upon-Avon.
I am perturbed by the results of a new survey sponsored by Durex. It reveals that while 20 per cent of males believe office Christmas parties have a good chance of leading to casual sex, only 1 per cent of women share their opinion. Disturbingly, last year's figures were 13 per cent for males and 3 per cent for females.
I asked a professor of statistics for his conclusions. Combining a regression analysis of this year's figures with extrapolation of last year's, he came up with some alarming implications. If the figures are correct, he says, we are forced, within a 2 per cent margin of error, to one of the following conclusions:
1) 17 per cent of males are incapable of learning from experience;
2) 12 per cent of women suffer from chronic alcohol amnesia;
3) women outnumber men at office parties by a factor in excess of four to one;
4) homosexual males outnumber heterosexual by almost 10 to one;
5) 1 per cent of females are phenomenally promiscuous.
The party Eagle Eye wants to attend is the one patronised by all the above categories, where hordes of chronic alcoholic amnesiac women dance the night away with ever diminishing numbers of willing chaps.
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