Diary

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The Independent Online
FROM HOLLYWOOD TO OBSCURITY

Now disbanded, their money spent and at least one of them thought to be living in a squat, the world of the hugely successful rock group of the Eighties Frankie Goes to Hollywood (number one hits: 'Relax', 'Two Tribes', and 'The Power of Love') is in sad disarray.

Following yesterday's revelations that its lead singer, Holly Johnson, has contracted the Aids virus - the most high profile pop casualty of Aids since Freddie Mercury - we learn that Johnson's four former colleagues are being taken to court by the band's former manager Tony Pope.

Pope, who is claiming large sums in unpaid management commissions, tells us that there was no love lost between himself and the band - and, surprisingly, a lot of animosity between Johnson and the others. When the band went on tour, he says, Johnson would arrive in separate transport at the last moment, do the show and depart without exchanging a word.

As consolation, at least Johnson still has his art collection - he has a large collection of Duncan Guest paintings, some of them worth up to pounds 32,000.

SO THE man who invented Scrabble couldn't spell. Yesterday's obituaries suggest Alfred Butts never got the recognition (or the money) he deserved, unlike our own Brian Highley, who single-handedly devises the questions and answers for Trivial Pursuit.

Wearied by the adulation, he doesn't advertise the fact, fobbing off drinks party interrogators by telling them he works in the toy industry. Which is how one fellow passenger introduced himself on an aeroplane the other day. 'Oh really,' said Highley, mildly interested, 'what part of the industry?' Pausing for effect, the man proudly replied: 'I make up the questions and answers for Trivial Pursuit.'

FACE IN THE 'MIRROR'

With the brooding presence of Paul Foot now removed from its corridors, another conspiracy theorist with a permanent grudge against the Establishment is being lined up to take his place at the Mirror.

Although several other investigative types have been interviewed, Peter Hounam, ex-Evening Standard and Sunday Times, is a strong tip for the job when Foot's replacement is named next week.

If he gets the job, Hounam will have to banish the murderous thoughts he has harboured against the Mirror Group since the infamous Mordechai Vanunu affair. Two weeks before the Sunday Times Insight team published its expose of the Israeli nuclear weapon programme based on Vanunu's evidence - Hounam had travelled the world to stand up the story - a journalist from the Sunday Mirror got wind of it but condemned the story as a hoax after running it past a contact of Captain Bob's.

The rest is rather inglorious history. An Insight reporter allowed Vanunu to escape from the paper's 'safe' hotel, and the unfortunate Vanunu is now behind bars in an Israeli jail. It's just as well Maxwell won't be around to greet the large and mighty Hounam if he gets the job - some say it was Maxwell who compounded the Sunday Times's embarrassment and anger by tipping off Mossad agents, who captured Vanunu as he fled from the hotel.

HAVING completed a six-day, 323-mile charity walk that left him footsore, Peter Dunk, 61, called in for treatment at the Conquest hospital in Hastings but was turned away. Go and see your GP, he was told. Who had he raised the money for? The Conquest hospital.

POWDERING PATTEN

In the end John Patten escaped from the teachers in Cardiff unscathed - thanks, we can reveal, to some excellent forward planning by the Department for Education, and one moment of prescience by Patten's chief information man, Martin Patterson. Twenty-four hours before the Education Secretary arrived in Cardiff to face his critics on the national curriculum, Patterson was despatched to Wales to prepare the way - the minister's suit shouldn't clash with the backdrop on the platform, get the cameras on his good side and so on. But with only minutes to go before Patten was due on the platform, Patterson remembered a vital detail: rushing from the minister's room, he asked officials breathlessly for the nearest Boots. A bit of shopping for the Secretary of State, you understand. Anything in particular? A powder puff.

A DAY LIKE THIS

9 April 1905 Marcel Proust writes to a convalescent friend: 'You can imagine what a joy it is for me to receive a few lines from you, I seem to feel the impact of your recovered strength, a sort of delicious freshness and hope. Only I don't want even the tiniest quantity of this precious strength to be wasted on me. The thought that afterwards you might put down your pen with weariness, and especially that beforehand you must take it up with an effort of will, and even before that the decision to write to me puts a little black spot on your horizon, an horizon that must remain pure, almost colourless, monotonous and gentle - all that distresses and torments me. So don't write to me again; from time to time I shall seem to catch an affectionate and reposeful silence

wafted to me from Switzerland, and that will make me happier than anything.'

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