FLAT EARTH

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So Sarah Netanyahu is a cleanliness freak who screamed at her nannies, worked them from 5.30am till past midnight, and insisted on the clothes lines and clothes pegs being washed before the laundry was hung out to dry. Apart from the unfortunate nannies themselves, should anyone care? It is certainly embarrassing for her husband, Binyamin, who happens to be Israel's Prime Minister, but does it affect the way the country is run?

Before you say no, ask yourself this: given the influence she is known to have over Bill, did it give you pause when you learned that Hillary Clinton holds imaginary conversations with Eleanor Roosevelt?

I cannot help remembering that Nancy Reagan used to pose as the non-political helpmeet, content to arrange the flowers. Then we discovered that she was organising Ron's appointments with the help of an astrologer, and was seen prompting him out of the side of her mouth when the President was stumped by a reporter's question. Perhaps the Israeli Prime Minister's child care and laundry arrangements are not entirely immaterial.

Top-level sauce

After Paul Newman's salad dressing, here is the latest celebrity flavour on the market. Boutras Boutras Garlic is the cheeky invention of a South African farm store, which boasts on the label: "Be a secretory (sic) general and keep everyone at bay."

A friend of a colleague of Sylvana Foa, the real Boutros Boutros-Ghali's spokeswoman, noticed the concoction on holiday in the Kruger game park, and Ms Foa ordered a crateful. The bottles are being sold for $5 each, with 90 cents going into United Nations coffers - useful, with the US withholding some $1.5bn in dues.

My jar appears to have been opened by Customs to ensure that it contains nothing more noxious than garlic and vinegar, although standing within 10 feet of it should have been enough. The label carries no expiry date, unlike the UN Secretary-General, whose term ends on 31 December and whose re-election hopes appear to have been scuppered by Washington.

Pole position

If you are going to Norway for the sights this summer, take a trading standards officer along. Norwegians have known for years - but seldom mention - that the North Cape, which all the tourists visit, is not the northernmost point in Europe. A nearby point called Knivskjellodden is 1,000 yards closer to the Pole. Now Hammerfest, which boasts that it is the world's northernmost city, risks losing its visitors to a more northerly fishing village called Honningsvaag, which may take advantage of a new law allowing villages to confer city status on themselves.

And the Arctic Circle Centre, which supposedly straddles the line, and draws about 230,000 visitors a year, is actually more than half a mile south of it. Variations in the earth's rotation make the circle move about a bit. "It will come back some day," said the manager, Alf-Eirik Hansen. True: in 10,000 to 20,000 years.

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