Diary

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A chorus of disapproval

WHEN Jeremy Jackman recently resigned as chorus master of the London Philharmonic Orchestra after only two years in the job, the South Bank was rife with rumours of a personality clash with one of his senior colleagues. However, it was more complex than that, I'm told - and involved more than one clash of personality.

Certain members of the choir - an amateur body - did not like Mr Jackman and made it impossible for him to work with them, it transpires. 'There was an unhappy element in it when I arrived,' Mr Jackman told me yesterday, 'and although it consisted of a significantly small number of people, it just made life too difficult, and impossible to make the choir any better. That was why I resigned.'

It had initially been mooted among music lovers that Jackman had clashed with the LPO's young music director, Franz Welser- Most, on the issue of whether an amateur choir can synchronise with a professional orchestra. 'Not so,' Jackman assured me. 'The issue has been brought up - but not in my time - and not even necessarily in Franz's'

FOLLOWERS of fashion may have been unconvinced by a recent BBC Clothes Show programme billed as part of a Barbados special but appearing to feature countryside reminiscent of looking like Dorset. According to Stage and Television Today, bemused khaki-clad models were informed by West Indian officials that impersonating a member of the military in Barbados was a punishable offence, and the scene had to be shot near Bovington instead.

Archery lesson

THIS may surprise Central Office, but is Lord Archer after Jacques Delors' job? Before a rousing speech in Hammersmith, the man some tip for the next Conservative Party chairman was preceded to the rostrum by a picture of Delors' face flickering briefly on a screen behind him. 'I do not want to see Jacques Delors,' thundered Archer to the audience, 'I want to see a Conservative commissioner up there.' To the astonishment of all, an image of his own face remained fixed on the screen behind him. 'That will be . . .' continued Archer, with yet another tantalising pause, 'Leon Brittan.'

Sighs all round, though the relaxation did not last long. Towards the end of the evening, Hammersmith Tory leader, Toby Vintcent, invited the audience to unseal envelopes marked 'Do not open until asked to'. Enclosed were direct debit forms for party donations. 'Toby,' said Lord Archer, wryly, 'I've come across vulgarity in my time,' pause, 'but you are the champion.'

LONDONERS travelling on the District Line have become used to security alerts and signal breakdowns in recent weeks, but there is a limit to their patience. Last Friday, passengers had to wait 20 minutes for a train at Fulham Broadway - because, according to an inexplicable official explanation, a boat was passing beneath Putney Bridge.

Chitty underground

WHOEVER buys the Grade II mansion owned by the role model for the mad professor in Chitty Chitty Bang Bang - it has just come on the market - would do well to instigate a dig for the prototype of the car which, rumour has it, the professor rather eccentrically buried in the grounds. The book by Ian Fleming, and the film scripted by Roald Dahl, were inspired by Count Louis Zborowski, who lived in Highland Court (once Higham Court) in Kent at the beginning of the century.

Fleming, who lived five miles away, was inspired after a spin in Chitty 1 (the count bashed out another model), although by all accounts he was lucky to have survived his occasional visits. Zborowski used to film his guests as they sniffed his flowers in the garden - and then jumped as the count gave them a shock via a series of booby traps.

A DAY LIKE THIS

9 March 1785 Betsy Sheridan writes in her journal: 'Yesterday evening we spent at Mr Vesey's, a sort of conversatione and reading party. The company was rather numerous - Lords, Ladies, Bishops, in the literary way there was Miss Hannah More and the famous Soame Jenyns, who is without exception I think the most hideous mortal I ever beheld. My father (Thomas Sheridan, actor) read one or two things which seemed to give the highest delight to the company. My favourite Lady Dartree was there. We also had the great fortune Miss Pulteney - heiress to 30,000 a year. As I was a stranger to most of the company I had little pleasure from the party - conscious that I was the only person in the room who had not some consequence in life from fortune, rank or acknowledg'd abilities, I felt alone in the crowd and could not wholly banish the mortifying ideas this consciousness brought with it. The people were all civil and attentive to me, but I have no business among them.'

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