Bit of a stink at Macy's as Larry and Liz go it alone

Elizabeth Taylor's eighth marriage may be on the rocks. The actress told the New York Post that she and Larry Fortensky (pictured with her, right) have agreed to a trial separation. "Larry and I both need our own space now ... We both hope this is only temporary," she said.

Taylor and the construction worker met in 1988 at the Betty Ford drug- and alcohol-abuse clinic in California. They married in 1991.

Trouble with Larry isn't Taylor's only problem at the moment. The Elizabeth Arden cosmetics company has just cancelled this month's launch of ''Black Pearls'', a new Taylor perfume, because leading department stores are boycotting it. The stores, which include New York's famous Bloomingdale's and Macy's, say Arden is cutting the amount it contributes to the salaries of salespeople who push its products.

Supplies of the fragrance can be found in some of the less elegant stores, like those where Larry shopped before he met Liz.

Have an appetite for Russian secrets? Be ready, then, for a new book by Markus Wolf, the former master of the East German espionage network. Among the subjects the former spymaster will lift the lid on are triple ucha, herring under the fur and pelmeni.

Intrigued? Mr Wolf, the gastronome once known in the West as ''the man with no face'', will explain all in Secrets of Russian Cuisine, to be published in Germany on 13 September.

Triple ucha, for those with weak stomachs, is not a KGB torture or a ploy worse than a double-cross. Mr Wolf says it is a fish soup "superior to bouillabaisse". Pelmeni is a sort of ravioli. As for herring under the fur - how much do you like herring?

It won't be the Orient Express, but the two richest men in the world are planning to take a train ride together through China. No, Bill Gates of Microsoft isn't off to sell his Windows 95 software to all 1.2 billion Chinese - yet. He and his wife, Melinda, and Warren Buffett, the Nebraska-based investor, plan to rent carriages on a Chinese train, invite some friends along, and enjoy a holiday in the world's largest potential market. While travelling through the country, Mr Gates will have much to marvel at: the rice paddies, the mountains, the mighty rivers - and the many pirated copies of Windows 95 that are flooding China.

When Hong Kong's last British financial secretary takes his leave of the colony next week, the traditional popping of Champagne corks on a luxury liner will be missing. Sir Hamish Macleod is flying out rather than taking the sea option chosen by most departing senior colonial servants. At 55, Sir Hamish is taking early retirement to make way for a Hong Kong Chinese successor, Donald Tsang. His colleagues will miss him. As one put it, he is "well-liked and respected by his staff - even if he is better at tennis than karaoke".

MARYANN BIRD

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