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Maggie, Maggie, Maggie, out out out

Has anyone seen a bust of Margaret Thatcher? The mysterious case of the missing Maggie was revealed at a recent memorial gathering. There, in mourning, were devoted followers of Alice in Wonderland and Trotsky rubbing shoulders with believers in the Flat Earth and fairies. They had all come to pay tribute to the late Ellis Hillman, founder president of the Lewis Carroll Society, chairman of the Fairy Society, authority on the sewers of London, president of the Flat Earth Society and the first Labour mayor of Barnet.

Its thanks to Mr Hillman that the Iron Lady was on everyone's lips. For Councillor Hillman's first act on being enshrined as mayor was to stretch his arms wide in his robes of office, jangle his chain, add the words "and I'm a socialist" to his formal acceptance of the honour, and order a minion to "get that bloody woman out of here".

The bust of Mrs Thatcher was then removed - some say the mayor personally dropped it over the balcony - and replaced by one of Lenin. Whether Mrs Thatcher is truly bust may be a secret Elise Hillman took with him to the grave. She may simply be glowering deep in the vaults of Barnet town hall. Perhaps the current mayor should look into the matter and, if possible, dig her out, if only to treat her in a manner that would induce a posthumous chuckle in his illustrious predecessor.

Help at hand for confused of Tokyo

The Official Journal of the European Communities (ominously known as OJ) has tied itself up in a linguistic knot. The problem is the European Commission's official translation into Japanese of the simple words European Union. Glyn Ford, Labour MEP for Greater Manchester, is most unhappy with "Oushu Rengou", which, he says, means "European Association". Indeed, Mr Ford has tabled a question to the Commission which itself requires an office of translation. I quote: "The term 'Rengou' causes conceptual confusion in the Japanese media, when reporting, for instance, on the association agreements signed by the EU with central and eastern European countries, it being difficult to explain how an 'association' has association agreements with associates who are not members of the association."

The 12 paragraphs of finer detail on the difficulties facing the Japanese translator of Eurospeak are, regrettably, too complicated to paraphrase. But you will be pleased to hear that the office in question, "undertakes all necessary efforts to clarify such potential misunderstandings".

So that's all right then.

A case of Mickey Mouse politics?

Pity Eileen Wise, new press officer for the Conservative and Unionist party of Ulster. As if Northern Irish politics were not tricky enough in themselves, the poor woman is already attracting personal criticism - for having worked for Walt Disney Productions.

"The latest Disney hit, Pocahontas, has been noted for its unflattering portrayal of the brave Britishers who colonised America," smirks Sinn Fein's Republican News. "If I were a Tory I would be very suspicious of this woman."

They're not finished with her yet, either. "And then there's that name - Eileen," the paper muses, "which sounds distinctly fenian." Whoever said Northern Irish politics could be petty?

Well, there's no harm in asking. Is there?

Ken Follett. There's a man you can always rely on. Millionaire novelist, Islington idol, husband to the delightful grooming guru and Labour candidate Barbara, all round golden boy ... our Ken seems incapable of putting a foot wrong.

Ahem. Not exactly. Follett's fund-raising efforts for the Labour Party are nothing if not enthusiastic - but his recent volley of begging letters to businessmen was perhaps a little too enthusiastic. One carpet tycoon was certainly startled to receive a personal copy of Follett's latest missive, which begins: "I wonder if you would be interested in helping the Labour Party?"

I rather doubt he would. The tycoon in question is one Sir Philip Harris, knighted by this government, described this week by a senior Conservative as a "financial genius" - and, oh yes, a treasurer of the Tory party

Nights with a teddy boy

A recruitment ad in this week's UK Press Gazette for a sub editor at the Highland News Group in Inverness attempts to sound enticing by boasting: "Our chief sub is a 6ft 6in biker who plays in a rock group and makes teddy bears in his spare time." Just the kind of chap with whom to spend those long dark evenings, writing headlines.

Eagle Eye

Lawyer in a tutu strikes a pose

Recognise the jolly cake-juggler? One would certainly hope so - the late great Lord Goodman, left-of-centre luminary, leading lawyer, Labour peer and one-time Chair of the Arts Council, among other things, undoubtedly left a weighty mark on 20th century life. And next month, just over a year after his death, his private art collection goes on sale at Bonhams in London. The sale will feature more than 60 works of art, which he began collecting while still an undergraduate, and added to throughout his life. It includes a Bridget Riley screen print, a sketch by Picasso valued at pounds 30,000-pounds 40,000, plus satirical illustrations of the legal system. Goodman himself was occasionally the subject of political satire, and the sale features a small collection of cartoons - such as the one above by Glen Williams. But just what does the cartoon signify? Bonhams, it transpires somewhat bizarrely, hasn't got a clue. Eagle Eye will hazard a guess at the 21st anniversary of the Arts Council, back in 1966 - but can anyone shed any light on the mystery? Suggestions, please, to Eagle Eye, Canary Wharf.

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