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More news isn't always good news

IN KEEPING with the age-old business platitude that competition is healthy, Dominic Lawson told the Diary yesterday that 'it's a good thing if more magazines enter the market'. With Punch and the Listener no longer publishing, said the editor of the Spectator, the news that another political magazine is on the way can only be good.

Quite so. Yet Lawson isn't completely sanguine about the arrival this autumn of a UK edition of the American magazine National Review (supported by Henry Kissinger and Ronald Reagan, it will be in direct competition with the Spectator). Indeed, he is so concerned that his business manager has delivered an ultimatum to his own distributors who were anxious to do business with the National Review. As a result, Seymour International Press Distributors has agreed not to handle the American magazine.

Andrew Wigmore, co-editor and publisher of National Review, admitted he was angered by the move but now wanted to work with the Spectator, build bridges, and so on. We'll pass the message on.

WHY WAS Sir Ranulph Fiennes so vituperative about Yorkshire the other day (he described its natives as dour people prone to nursing grudges)? We offer the following explanation: before Sir Ranulph let slip these remarks in a foreign interview, Yorkshire Television's Richard Whiteley donated a T-shirt signed by Sir Ranulph to a schoolgirl in Bradford who was raising money for a school expedition to China. The auctioned shirt did not make a massive inroad into the pounds 2,000 target - the final bid was 45p, and that from one of the teachers organising the trip.

Storytime in the City

JACKIE COLLINS has her detractors, but one reader in the City of London needs no convincing of her literary abilities. A data processor working for the marketing services team at County Natwest has been riveted by Collins's work. So much so that for many months he has been arriving at work half an hour early to make photocopies of her books page by page.

Finishing his (it must be said) rather boring job copying company accounts into his computer by lunchtime, he discreetly placed the A4 extracts by his side, and while trying to look busy, fingers tapping away on the keyboard, spent the afternoon catching up on the latest instalment of The Stud, The Bitch, and so on. We would like to report that his ingenuity and early rising were rewarded, but not so. His work patterns were monitored by the company, and he is now thought to be working elsewhere within the firm.

JACKIE COLLINS is an acceptable enough name for a romantic novelist. Some other writers, however, have to make adjustments. At an awards lunch yesterday for the Romantic Novelists' Association, Lydia Smith was commended for her book The Golden Stag. She has long since changed her nom de plume - Lydia Bennett has a more Janeite ring. At the other extreme, Margaret Thornton, author of It's A Lovely Day Tomorrow, steered away from a famous name. She was Margaret Mitchell, but would you want your first book compared with Gone With The Wind?

Naughty Naomi

IF Naomi Campbell is developing a complex, we can hardly blame her. Already bruised by a German decision to cut her out of the Vauxhall 'supermodels' advertisement (her SS-style leather outfit, it was considered, would cause offence), Campbell is now persona non grata in Ireland. A poster depicting her in Falmers denim shorts and little else is to be discontinued following a complaint to the Irish advertising standards authority by an Englishwoman living in Ireland. (We feel sorry for both parties in this case, as it happens. The complainant only moved to Ireland because of her concern at lowering moral standards in Britain.) Falmers is not impressed. The replacement poster will show Campbell in a denim waistcoat and jeans.

'NAME?' demanded the receptionist as a lunch guest presented himself at the Daily Telegraph's offices at Canary Wharf. 'This is the Chancellor,' an accompanying private secretary quickly explained. 'Yes,' the receptionist insisted, as patiently as he could, 'but could I have his name?'


22 April 1942 Adolf Hitler observes in conversation at a dinner: 'It is reported that the Metropolitan Opera House in New York is to be closed; but the reasons given are certainly false. The Americans do not lack money; what they lack is the artistes required to maintain the activities of the greatest of their lyrical theatres. One requires but little knowledge to know that the most famous operas are all of either German, Italian or French origin, and that among those who perform them the Germans and the Italians are the most celebrated. Deprived of singers from these two countries, the management has preferred to close its doors rather than expose the inadequacy of Americans. Our newspapers must not miss this opportunity] Copious comment should be made on this illuminating pointer to the cultural standard of the United States.'