The Third Leader: Eternal verities...

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The Independent Online

Coping with this perilously fragile existence, as we know, depends much on trust, reassurance and certain certainties, including, for example, the rising of the sun, another important statement from David Cameron, and something else about either the late Diana, Princess of Wales, or the Titanic.

Otherwise, however, we are going through a rocky patch. First, I mused over our recent report that not only might Napoleon's death mask be bogus, but that it's quite likely not even him under that big building in Paris. Now, I see, Beethoven might also have been poisoned, and by his doctor.

Of more pressing medical concern, and certainly bound to affect views, is the fifth of Which? researchers given spectacles of the wrong strength by opticians. Such things lead to acute attacks of the doubts, particularly when confronted by new scientific findings purporting to show that flies prefer fizzy water to still, and that vegetables seem to hear, or at least, react, when played Beethoven. A pity they have been so cruelly robbed of his "Tenth".

Reeling from all this, and the revelation that Lowry's painting, A Fairground, up for auction later this year, is not, as previously believed, set in Manchester, but Blackpool, you might well feel like a coffee. But beware: as we report, and as anyone who has watched Friends or Frasier will know, too much of it can do funny things.

Still, at least there's a Titanic story: the lost key to the locker containing the binoculars that might have saved the ship is also coming up for auction. On the other hand, the Great Wall of China seems to be falling down.