Diary

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The Independent Online
WHEN DID YOU LAST SEE YOUR DONOR?

Like many good magazines, Gay Times and Capital Gay do their bit for human relations by advertising their readers' needs in the personal columns. Take this one from the former's current issue: 'Lesbian who wants to have child seeks gay man who wants to be father.' It's to the point, but some would say a bit hit and miss - the potential sperm donor may not buy the magazine that week, or may be feeling rather more proprietorial than usual.

Cometh the moment, cometh the man. Peter Tatchell, articulator of Outrage], a gay rights pressure group, tells us his men are discussing how such introductions can be effected more formally. In the meantime, however, he is worrying about something else.

To be fair to the Government, it probably didn't have the gay lobby in mind when it introduced its Child Support Act, which comes into force today - a woman receiving state benefits will have to name the father of her children, however irregular the relationship might have been. That man could then have to stump up pounds 48 a week maintenance for a child he may never have seen.

So what about those gay ads? Tatchell claims the gay man who gives his sperm to a lesbian friend will also be liable for maintenance, while donors giving anonymously through clinics will be immune. Surely not, we asked the Child Protection Agency . . . he's just playing an April Fool, isn't he? Sadly, it's no joke (we promise: we're not writing spoof stories this year). But it hasn't deterred Tatchell from wanting to donate sperm to lesbian friends. If you're interested, please contact him direct.

TATCHELL, to our knowledge, has never trusted Tories, but are they losing faith in themselves? Launching its county council election campaign yesterday, the party revealed its campaign slogan: 'Conservative Councils Cost You Less.' What was last year's Tory message for district council voters? 'Conservative Councils Cost You Less and Serve You Better.'

WOULD YOU CREDIT IT?

Another sorry story of everyday credit-card folk: a colleague's wife receives an Access statement billing her for three purchases at D H Evans, Oxford Street, in July last year, totalling pounds 187.50. Never bought them, she says. So, last September, Access puts its sleuths to work, promising to report back in 60 days. Come December, wife threatening to cancel her card, Access writes promising action . . . and so to the denouement. In March.

'Thank you for your recent (sic) inquiry . . . I trust that you will now be able to reconcile your account, and I apologise for any inconvenience this error may have caused you.' What error? the wife asks. Access: we said you went shopping in D H Evans, but it was House of Fraser. Silly us. No, silly me, says wife, I thought they were both the same thing. Oh, says Access, we didn't know.

The facts: the wife's card was stolen in February 1992, which she immediately reported, and the three items were purchased by the thief. A glance at the forged signature would have told the story. Any more horror stories out there?

AN ASPIRING hack wrote to the National Union of Journalists the other day asking for details on a correspondence course in sub- editing, explaining that it was 'virtually impossible for me to travel'. The letterhead explains all - the student had already started learning the trade on the Broadmoor Hospital patients' newsletter.

MADE IN HEAVEN

Having sworn not to get involved in any April Foolery, we cannot resist repeating a story you may have missed in the Sun, among others, which even that paper had to qualify with the words: 'That's NOT an early April Fool's joke.' Here it is: Bill Wyman, the former Rolling Stones guitarist - the man who once lit a cigarette on stage during a concert for the British Lung Foundation - married (and is now divorced from) the youthful Mandy Smith. Now he is to become his former bride's step-grandfather. How come? Mandy's mother, Patsy Smith, 46, is to marry Bill's son, Stephen, 30. Honest.

AMONG those trooping into the Land Registry office - normally those buying or selling property - was a gentleman who parked in front of the same house every day, and was curious to know more about it. He wanted words with the owner because the house had just collapsed on to his car.

A DAY LIKE THIS

1 April 1944 Harold Macmillan writes to his wife from Naples: 'At 5pm a meeting of the Allied Advisory Council for Italy. This was a rather difficult and inconclusive meeting but I enjoyed it. It was made particularly ridiculous because we met in an enormously lofty Fascist- constructed council chamber. With its marble floor and walls and great height, and with no carpet or curtains, no one could hear a single word. And since we spoke in about four languages, it was worse than the Tower of Babel. I suppose all these international organisations have some value; they certainly give one a good laugh. Everybody is excessively courteous to everyone else, and not a single word is said that is not transparently false, since everyone is in fact carrying on his own intrigue outside the Council altogether.'

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