Diary

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THE GOOD THAT GREAT COMMITTEE MEN DO

Sir David Calcutt QC was rather subdued yesterday: unwilling to give interviews or indeed make any comment on his much-hyped new publication, Review of Press Self-Regulation (87pp pounds 11.40, HMSO). His modesty is not so surprising, given the sort of reviews the work has received, and the treacherous lack of support given it by representatives of his publishers - Her Majesty's Government. But cagey though Sir David is, we are able to bring you something of his feelings on his art. On the title page of his first in this genre, Report of the Committee on Privacy and Related Matters (HMSO 1990), are these lines from Browning's Paracelsus, (dealing with the conflict between love and knowledge, based on the life of Theophrastus Bombast von Hohenheim, a 16th-century German alchemist):

I give the fight up; let there be

an end,

A privacy, an obscure nook

for me

I want to be forgotten even

by God

Forgotten by God Sir David may have been, but the Home Office wouldn't let him rest. And thus yesterday's further report they commissioned from him has on its title page this from Brooks Atkinson, 'an American essayist': 'The evil that men do lives on the front pages of greedy newspapers, but the good is oft interred apathetically inside.' So that's more good news on the front, Fleet Street, but if you put it inside, do so with some enthusiasm] By the way, the last verifiable fee paid to a QC for this sort of work was the pounds 80,000 Louis Blom-Cooper got for the Jasmine Beckford inquiry in 1985.

LORD KING, chairman of British Airways, has a planning application lodged with Melton Mowbray District Council with a view to re-roofing his home, Tower Cottage in Wartnaby. In tasteful grey slate, doubtless. But no] In blue and red pantiles: the colours of the world's ex- favourite airline. The word is that if BA planes flying over Wartnaby waggle their wings, you shouldn't worry. They're only saluting the boss.

THE CARLO CONTRACT

The further afield you go, the more fun it is to be a Royalogist. Prince Charles's biographer, Anthony Holden, is particularly frisky in this week's issue of the (fairly serious) Italian weekly magazine Panorama. Under the headline 'Diana for president', the magazine reports 'Lady D is preparing a new offensive against Carlo and preparing a new republic'. Now that she has 'total control' of the media, she's plotting either for her son to become King instead of Carlo, or she may be working to bring down the monarchy itself. 'If she succeeds, she could become the first President of the Popular Republic of Great Britain,' Holden ('with sarcasm and rage') tells Panorama.

THOSE watching for some indication of when the US would launch its strike against Iraq should have clocked the White House pizza count. Normally the local pizzeria, Domino's, sends round an average of 10 a day. On Tuesday, however, it supplied 212 to the busy offices, and by only 5pm on Wednesday 203 had been delivered.

TUNE IN TO GOD

The new Radio Wye - scheduled to start broadcasting sometime before the end of this year - lacks both money and a transmitting site. The station intends to thump the bible for Christians across south Bucks, but is still pounds 56,000 short of the pounds 230,000 it needs. Happily, a release arrives announcing that help is at hand. 'Trust in God to provide this shortfall,' it says, adding, 'please ask people to pray that we are granted planning permission by Wycombe District Council for the transmitter site on High Wycombe Sewage Treatment Works.'

A SIGN 5ft or so off the ground on one of the exhibition hall doors at Cruft's Dog Show runs 'No exit to dogs' - far too high for even a Great Dane to read.

THE VERY right-on travel agent Progressive Tours continues to offer 'study tours' for socialists to Cuba and Vietnam. Its ad in Tribune invites you to visit Russia, Ukraine and the CIS, where, it concedes, 'political life has turned inside out'. But it still can't get the hang of all the new names: 'We offer tours right away from the kitchen sink in Moscow and St Leningrad . . .'

A DAY LIKE THIS

15 January 1918 Katherine Mansfield writes to a friend from Provence: 'Take the word of a well-wisher and never attempt this journey during the War. Just one or two details. The train was not heated. There was no restaurant car. The windows of the corridor were broken and the floor was like a creek with melted snow. There were no pillows for hire. We were hours late. The French do not suffer as we do on these occasions. For one thing I think they obtain considerable relief by the continual expression of their feelings, by moaning, lashing themselves into their rugs, quietening their stomachs with various fluids out of bottles, and charming the long hours away with recitations of various internal diseases from which they and their friends have suffered.'

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