People: Everyone's writing to Dear Bill

HIS job rating may be nothing to shout about, but in one statistical category Bill Clinton is breaking every record. Never has a First Family received so many letters. Every day, some 22,000 pour into the White House, or 3.5 million in the first five months of his term - more than the Bushes received in 1991 or 1992. The White House has taken on 200 extra volunteers to deal with them.

Bill gets the lion's share. But Hillary has 50 letter-openers, while mail also floods in for Chelsea and Socks - these latter answered with a postcard bearing the First Cat's pawprint. Most encouraging, the bulk of Mr Clinton's mail is sympathetic, headed not 'Dear Mr President' but plain old 'Dear Bill'. The message for nervous staff is clear: forget the polls - someone out there still loves the boss.

MALAWI'S next president could be Chakufwa Chihana, the chairman of Aford, the Alliance for Democracy, who was jailed last year for promoting multi-party democracy. Mr Chihana has a long history of opposition to President Hastings Kamuzu Banda, but he also has an intriguing personal link to the old man.

When Dr Banda returned from Britain in 1958 he set up a medical practice with two nurses, Catherine Msisi and Cecilia Kadzamira. Ms Msisi married Mr Chihana but dumped him when he was imprisoned in 1971, and married a minister - a decision she may live to regret. Ms Kadzamira went on to become the 'Official Hostess', Dr Banda's consort and minder. She does not like it to be known that once she was engaged to Augustine Ntambala, Mr Chihana's deputy in Aford.

SIX months after James Stolpa trudged 50 miles through a blizzard to find help for his wife and infant son, stranded in a remote Nevada cave, the Stolpas are facing a financial windfall. Since their dramatic rescue, James and Jennifer Stolpa have landed what is rumoured to be a record-breaking deal for the film rights to their story. But they also lost all their toes to frostbite. Only Clayton, now 10 months old, appears to have suffered no long-term effects.

The Stolpas like to dream about who will play them in the film. He would choose somebody strong like Jean-Claude Van Damme; she would pick Demi Moore, 'because she's so cute and tiny and she really cries pretty'. But they like a bit of laughter through the tears; their favourite joke is: What has six legs and 10 toes? The Stolpa family.

Designer hats worn by Betty Maxwell (Robert's widow) when meeting the Queen or attending Royal Ascot are going under the hammer. The sale of 45 hats at Christie's is expected to raise about pounds 1,350 for Mrs Maxwell.

(Photograph omitted)

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