John Walsh: btw

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The Independent Online

The visit of the French President and his délicieuse wife has been a five-day orgy of mutual adulation. M. Sarkozy said: "British grandeur often inspired the dreams of my youth" and, "I love the English. I always thought that Europe needed the UK." There was, however, one small glitch amid all the diplomatic love-bombing, when it was revealed the President had demanded to see the wine list before the Windsor Castle banquet. A Buck House spokesman confirmed the dinner wines were chosen "in consultation with the Elysée Palace". Of all the bloody cheek. Is the castle's 17th- century wine cellar not good enough for him? This is how wars break out. And the little so-and-so is teetotal.

* The thousands of fuming and frustrated passengers milling about Heathrow's disastrous new Terminal 5 were greeted with the spectacle of two very different group activities on Thursday. One was a group of 350 protesters against airport expansion, who stripped down to their T-shirts in a synchronous "flash-mobbing". The other was the Jurassic Park Polo Club, en route to a training session in South Africa. Told they would have to leave their luggage behind, seven of them dressed up in full polo kit to wear on the plane. They cut a dash walking through the terminal in riding boots, knee guards, protective helmets, polo mallets, sunglasses and several layers of shirts and underwear. That's the spirit.

* Even a passionate newt-fancier like Ken Livingstone might go off the species after hearing the story of John and Margaret Histed from Dauntsey, Wiltshire. Their 18th-century home was ruined by last summer's floods and they had to live in a caravan while the house was drained and repaired. Just before they moved back in, the house flooded again, because of a blocked drainage ditch. When they tried to get the drain unblocked, they were told it wasn't possible. Why? Because the Environment Agency suspected that great crested newts –a protected species – might be living there. The agency has ordered a three-month survey of the drain's inhabitants. John and Margie have gone back to their mobile home – and the house renovations have stalled, in case there are more floods. Result: Newts 1, Humans 0.

* Most infectious noise of the week was without doubt the sound of Charlotte Green collapsing in giggles yesterday, towards the end of her 8am news bulletin on Radio 4. Her little fit was prompted by an item about the discovery of the earliest-ever recording of a human voice from 1860. Unfortunately, the voice – allegedly singing "Au Clair de la Lune" – sounded like somebody mumbling underwater. Ms Green, well known as a chronic gigglepuss, moved to the next item, about the death of an eminent screenwriter, but all details about the deceased were lost: her voice wobbled and sniggered and rose to peaks of hysteria as every word she spoke seemed more ridiculous than the last. "Excuse me, I'm sorry," she gasped, struggling to finish the bulletin, as the audience of millions howled along with her.

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