Diary

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The Independent Online
EUROPE MUST CARRY ON WAITING FOR CURRIE

Edwina Currie, to whose breast a European flag is permanently fixed, has been disappointed in her bid for a new political career as a Euro-MP. She had pinned her hopes on selection as Conservative candidate for the Midlands Central seat, held by Labour's Christine Oddy with a majority of 5,000, but, despite pressure from Central Office, the constituency has settled for one Simon Mort. He is 51, an 'international management tutor' with an interest in the Middle East, and the author of several books, including How to Write a Successful Report and Professional Report Writing. Edwina must have been too interesting for Midlands Central. In her disappointment, it is said, she may now turn her back on Westminster. 'She's set on cracking Europe,' admits Alan Griffiths, chairman of the Conservatives in Derbyshire South, her constituency, but says she has given assurances to the constituency and to John Major that she will not provoke a by-election. Mrs Currie, meanwhile, is consoling herself at her French gte with her family.

NOT TOO impressed by yesterday's Daily Mail 'scoop' on the telling-off that John MacGregor, Secretary of State for Transport, had given Sir Bob Reid, the British Rail chairman, for holding up BR privatisation, our transport correspondent pestered Conservative Central Office on the details of the bollocking as reported in the Mail. Exasperated, the apparatchik finally groaned: 'We write the stuff, we don't read it.'

BILL'S OXFORD INVITE

Heart-Warming stuff, this. Bill Clinton has invited the former head porter of his Oxford college to his inauguration ceremony on the 20th of this month. Douglas Millin, now 76, shared chats with the young Bill in the porter's lodge and is said to have become firm friends with him, impressed, doubtless, at the Rhodes Scholar's novel way of dealing with cannabis smoke. Sadly, no one else from University College, past or present, has been invited to the ceremony. But this omission has not caused any ill-feeling, according to a college spokeswoman. 'The dons are not in a tizzy. No one expected to be invited and they are all delighted Douglas has been,' she said. But Mr Millin, sad to say, will not be going to Washington. He has decided to decline the invitation because of his advanced age.

IF THE folks at the Scottish travel agent A T Mays think that just because they attached a pounds 1 note to their press release we're going to mention their 'most competitive scale of discounts ever, with savings of up to pounds 165 per person', they've got another think coming.

No RELATION TO SHEP

So John Noakes got an OBE in the honours list. But not that John Noakes. The confusion has dogged Dr John Noakes, a Harrow GP (now OBE), for a long time. 'I was a gross disappointment to any family with young children,' he says, 'particularly when Blue Peter was at its peak. Children would accuse their parents of lying about who was going to give them their injections or would worry where Shep was.' In his efforts to distinguish himself from the former Blue Peter presenter, Dr Noakes keeps only cats.

A HOTELIER complains to Inside Hotels magazine about its publication of replies he gave to a questionnaire. 'Unfortunately, I have been quoted out of context in connection with the question 'Who would be your ideal partner?' ' writes Robert P Feld, managing director of Resort Hotels. 'By omitting the 'apart from your present one' this gives a wholly misleading complexion, which in my view could be highly damaging.' A contrite editor replies in the latest issue: 'Inside Hotels apologises to any readers who were incorrectly given the impression that Mr Feld might prefer Madonna to his own wife.'

PEOPLE don't really need telephones in their cars, do they? Or do they? According to the Italian press, in Bergamo this week a young accountant was horrified to see his Volvo disappear. He ran to a phone box and rang the car to plead with the thief for its return. After prolonged negotiation, they struck a deal: the accountant could have his briefcase back so long as the thief could keep the car. And the phone.

A DAY LIKE THIS

6 January 1939 Sir Harry Luke, Governor of Fiji, writes in his diary: 'An interesting man came to lunch today in the person of one Mr Gus Hennings, whose racial make-up is half-German, one quarter Fijian and one quarter Tongan. He is the son of a former German consul in Fiji by a niece of King Thakombau; he was educated in Australia and Dresden after having spent his early years at the court of old King George I of Tonga. He speaks English, German, Fijian and Tongan all as his mother-tongue; and although he now spends his time growing copra at Naitumba, a small island of which he, his family and his labourers are the only inhabitants, he is a man of wide and varied culture, plays the flute and is a regular reader of the Quarterly Review. Few people, I should imagine, have touched life at such divergent points.'

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