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Into the slough of Euro-despond

THE President of the European Commission is not a man who gives the impression of wearing the cares of office lightly. But Eurocrats who dined with Jacques Delors last week report that he has sunk into an unusually profound example of his not-

infrequent depressions: 'Laden with the sorrows of Europe.' Certainly there is much for Mr Delors to regret. Aside from the difficulties facing the Maastricht treaty, France's ruling Socialist Party, which he would like to lead one day, faces defeat in the legislative elections. President Delors regularly descends into the slough of Euro-despond, and his level of unhappiness increased through last year. He was particularly exercised by accusations levelled at him by Michael Heseltine, that he came over more French than European during negotiations with the US over farm trade. Most great politicians suffer these ups and downs - Churchill, of course, had his famous 'black dog'. But some of Mr Delors' colleagues do not believe he will recover from this one, and the old rumours about an early resignation have started to resurface. 'Maybe it's time to get some new girls into the brothel,' says our informant, who likes to be picturesque. And who might those girls be? The resolutely anglophobe Industry Commissioner, Martin Bangemann? More welcome over here, just, would be our very own Sir Leon ('I have no ambition') Brittan.

IN OUR series on obscure government ministers: Tom Sackville, under-secretary at the Department of Health. Latest humiliation? Sir John Hunt, MP, chairman of the committee considering the Medicine Information Bill, sets up Sackville for questioning yesterday, pauses, and then says: 'Sorry - I've forgotten your name . . .'

Snow job VIEWERS of BBC 2's Newsnight may have twitched an eyebrow at Tuesday night's 15- minute piece on the current state of Jordan, and its King Hussein and Queen Noor. Not that the country isn't deeply fascinating, but there were those, not least at Newsnight itself, who wondered why Peter Snow had to do the job rather in the style of Hello] magazine. You know - shots of Hussein, man of action, driving his helicopter and his plane; fighting a brave battle against cancer; his consort, lovely in soft focus, talking of how beastly the British media were during the Gulf war . . . that sort of thing. The BBC tells us that it paid for the trip - of course - and added: 'Snow has very good connections out there, which he was able to use for our benefit.' The connections date, it appears, from 1972, when Snow - then an ITN correspondent - published a biography of King Hussein. This pleased the Harrow- and Sandhurst-educated monarch no end. That's not surprising. While wondering in his conclusion at Hussein's 'unashamedly conservative' patriarchalism, Snow was clearly won over by his subject. Hussein was 'a gentle, sensitive man with a deep sincerity and personal charm that even his bitterest enemies admire'. And Peter Snow has been welcome in Amman ever since.

OUR hopes for the British Hello] magazine, OK], have been depressed somewhat by this message from its editor, Anna Wallace, to potential advertisers: 'I am confident that OK] will live up to its name.' Coming next: Not So Bad] magazine.

Praying for money

AS the chucking-the-money- lenders-out-of-the-temple episode famously demonstrated, Jesus wasn't very keen about the business world encroaching on the House of God. So what, we wonder, would He make of this initiative by Sister Maria Valentino, of the Madris Domini convent in Bergamo, Italy, to raise cash for a new roof? Her mailshot to local firms reads: 'As you are a commercial business, we are adapting ourselves to your ways. We are asking you for one million lire ( pounds 500) or whatever sum you feel you can offer. In exchange, we will offer up a specific prayer for your business during vespers on each of the 365 days of 1993.'

TO complement perfectly the BBC TV series of Peter Mayle's A Year in Provence comes a wine from Sainsbury's called, surprisingly, '1991 A Year in Provence' a Cotes de Luberon at a shocking pounds 4.85. We trust the name is the only thing the wine has in common with the series - where the grapes on the vines are made of plastic.


18 February 1838 Stendhal replies to an inquiry: 'I shall tell you frankly, monsieur, that to write a book which has the luck to find 4,000 readers, one must: 1. Study French for two years in books written before 1700. I expect only the marquis de Saint-Simon. 2. Study the truth of the ideas in Bentham or Helvetius's L'Esprit, and in a hundred and one volumes of memoirs - Gourville, Mme de Motteville, d'Aubinge etc. 3. In a novel, from the second page onwards, one must say something new, or, at least, individual, concerning the setting of the action. 4. From the sixth page onwards, or at least from the eighth, there must be adventures. Read the trial of Gilles de Laval, marechal de Rais, at the Royal Library. Invent adventures of equal energy.'