Diary: Rooms at the top

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The Independent Online
Fancy a discreet little London pad? Not a bad view - well, the whole of London, actually. And a snip at pounds 40,000. The BT Telecom Tower, one of Britain's most famous landmarks, is for sale. Imagine the one-upmanship as you stroll through Regent's Park. See that little monolith there? Mine, you know. Can't invite you in, I'm afraid.

That is the one snag in the coming transaction. The new owner will not actually be allowed to set foot inside his or her new property, which will continue to be a BT communications centre. The tower will be sold on 17 April, with the buyer entitled to an interest payment of pounds 2,500 per annum until the year 2037.

According to Harman Healy Auctioneers and Valuers, the tower does not come with parking space but would make an interesting conversation piece. John Barnett, one of the auctioneers, believes that although the owner of the building will not have any rights over it, it would make a great "trophy property". "The sort of people who'll buy something like this do it just for fun. Some people buy antiques they never use or store out of sight. Others do it with property. I personally own a small island in Scotland."

Peaks and troughs of Marylebone

The Marylebone Mountaineering Club may not face much of a challenge from local peaks, but the club clearly gives its members a splendid service. Only the most pertinent speakers will do. Last year it ran a "triumphant lecture" on climbing safety, delivered by one Julie-Ann Clyma. Now, this year, members are invited to a talk on walking safety, given by ... Kevin Walker.

A novel view of women writers

What a shame. Joanna Trollope has cast aside the working title of her new novel. The book, set on a farm, had the admirable working title Udders, which had a highly marketable ring about it, if you ask me. Now the novel, to be published in May, has the less evocative title Next Of Kin.

In an interview to be published tomorrow in Good Housekeeping magazine, Trollope philosophises about the art of writing, quoting Dr Johnson's maxim that "nobody but a blockhead ever wrote except for money". Alas, some of her fellow female novelists have not grasped this basic economic fact, it seems. She confides: "I know a clutch of women writers, some of them very good, who are married to affluent men. And really, all the hand-wringing and brow-clutching that goes on before they write a word! I sometimes wish they had to do it to pay the gas bill."

Names please, Joanna. Or we will simply have to speculate about which hand-wringing rich men's wives you could possibly mean.

Politicians are getting there, but later

For much of 1994 and 1995, successive transport secretaries boasted about their plans to privatise the railways. Optimistically, they committed themselves to having over 50 per cent of the railways in private hands by 1 April 1996. Such promises nearly always come back to haunt politicians, especially if they are made for April Fool's Day. So Brian Mawhinney, John MacGregor and the current secretary, Sir George Young, will have been delighted that no one noticed that only two lines, representing 17 per cent of the railway network, were in private hands by 1 April, which means they missed the target by two-thirds.

Gin, lord of the ring

After the recent difficulties for Gordon's Gin over whether or not to supply the liquor for the launch of the Denis Thatcher biography, I have some good news for the company. The Moscow State Circus, touring the UK all this summer, has demanded that its contracts be changed from one bottle of vodka to one bottle of gin a fortnight. The performers were introduced to it by their English ringmaster, Chris Baltrop, and have, according to one member, decided that vodka is "like drinking petrol". And they used to be such a patriotic lot.

Eagle Eye

Their cup runneth over with memories

They think it's all over, but this summer sees the 30th anniversary of the 1966 World Cup, the one we won. The soccer magazine FourFourTwo has got in early on the nostalgia, asking some of the participants for their memories. The fullback George Cohen recalls his teammate Nobby Stiles (above right, with Bobby Moore centre and Alf Ramsay left) looking for a Catholic church on the morning of the match - in Golders Green. He also remembers that when the final whistle went, "I could see Nobby running towards me and he planted the biggest kiss smack on my mouth. Well, he hasn't got teeth and he's not the most attractive man in the world. It was a bit like kissing a vacuum cleaner." Worse, Nobby was all George did get to kiss. With remarkable small-mindedness, players' wives were not invited to the government reception.