Diary

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The Independent Online
Rumours are flying that Paul Drury, director of English Heritage's London Region, has been sacked. Sources say that fiery words were exchanged at a meeting on Wednesday between chairman Jocelyn Stevens, Drury and architect Richard Rogers, over the proposed pounds 150 million redevelopment of the land beside the SmithKline building on the Great West Road. It is unclear as to why Stevens, famous for once throwing a typewriter out of a window, should quarrel with Drury over this. However, some speculate that it could be to do with the Thirties Beecham Tower, close to the land, which is a listed building and could hinder planning permission. When I rang Drury's office yesterday, both he and Stevens were unavailable and Rogers, most conveniently, had gone abroad. English Heritage's press office admit that there was an 'unpleasant meeting' but say that, as yet, Paul Drury, has 'not officially resigned, nor has he, officially, been sacked'.

The rumpus comes only two years after Drury was appointed - with, some say, indecent haste - after the controversial sacking of Sophie Andreae, who had the support of the London boroughs. Whether or not Stevens will be allowed to continue with such a free rein comes into question after yesterday's appointment of Stephen Dorrell as Heritage Secretary. It is whispered that Dorrell will not have much time for such theatricals.

A few cross faces on the newsdesk of the Daily Express yesterday morning after what can only be described as a farce the night before. Bob Crowe, who represents London's Tube workers on the rail union executive, was en route on Wednesday afternoon for King's Cross to attend a signal workers' meeting in Nottingham, the desk discovered. A scoop, they thought: on the day of a rail strike, a union executive takes the train. A reporter was hastily despatched on to the evening train. Excitement levels rose, until a call came in from elsewhere - Crowe had taken the coach. Meanwhile, the reporter on board the train was having a tough time of it. 'No sign of Crowe,' he called in, 'and no bloody bar either.'

Imagine the heartache experienced by a nonagenarian, whose name I have been asked to omit, who spent 35 minutes climbing the stairs to the Royal Opera House's ampitheatre, from where he hoped to witness a performance of Aida earlier this week, only to realise that his ticket was for a different date. Fortunately, he encountered a sympathetic usherette who found him a seat at the back of a box, despite the house being full that night. 'When we've had our new development there will be lifts to whisk you straight up to the ampitheatre,' she told him reassuringly. 'Alas,' said the man sadly, 'I don't think I shall be here to be whisked.'

Boris Yeltsin's current state of health - he has a cold, apparently - is not likely to be improved by news of the impending return to St Petersburg of Prince Michel Romanoff, 70, a descendant of the Tsar. According to Romanoff, whom I encountered at the launch of William Clarke's book The Lost Fortune of the Tsars, the St Petersburg authorities are searching for a house for him in return for his help in promoting Russian culture. Not that house-hunting is proving easy. The prince says he will not tolerate anything on a road with a street car; nor is this his only problem. 'First the house,' he explained, 'then I'll ask for a passport.'

John Patten's sacking as Education Secretary was not the only trial he has had to endure this month. He was given a public welcome recently by one Edward Evans, 18, head boy of Wycliffe College, Gloucestershire, which had invited Patten to its speech day. Remembering, presumably, the episode last month whereby Patten was forced to pay pounds 50,000 defamation damages to Professor Tim Brighouse, Evans began: 'You are known for calling a spade a spade and a nutter a nutter . . . '

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