Diary

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The Independent Online
CIRCUMCISION ON A COUNCIL TABLE

THE only things in the west London council of Brent that are better than the flowery turbans and long matching robes worn by councillors Poline Nyaga and Nkechi Amalu-Johnson at full council meetings are the motions they table. Such as the one by Nyaga for debate by the council next week, which calls for female circumcision to be legalised 'as a right specifically for African families'. Nyaga last excited interest when she was expelled from the ruling Conservative group last year after tabling a motion which demanded that Asian council workers be replaced by Africans - for which she currently faces proceedings by the Commission for Racial Equality. 'Circumcision is not about mutilation or beautification,' Councillor Nyaga tells us. 'It's a process for marking the stage between childhood and adulthood, a coming of age, if you like. If it's not circumcision, then something else must be found . . . so that people can learn to take reponsibility and contribute to society.' Amalu-

Johnson, meanwhile, has plunged in the popularity stakes after mentioning that she respected General Idi Amin as 'a remarkable patriot' and 'an African nationalist leader who wanted to raise the consciousness and pride of African people, though misguided in the way he treated non-African people'.

SCENES FROM a Chancellor's life. Downing Street, Friday, early evening. Norman ('I've seen the shoots. And they are green]') Lamont emerges from No 10, all bustle for photographers waiting for Lord Owen. He strides to the door of No 11 and rattles it. He can't get in. He peers through the windows. No sign of life. Eventually he walks back into No 10, to a cameraman's shout: 'Changed the locks while you were out?'

BURCHILL'S BRIO

It was with some excitement that we opened the Mail on Sunday last weekend, having thrilled to all the other papers' profiles of the MoS's star columnist, Julie Burchill. These were not unconnected with the publication of her second novel, but still fascinating. You learnt that she earns ' pounds 120,000 a year for two hours' work a week' (that's the column), she scored an advance of pounds 100,000 for the new book, No Exit, and recently had the editor of the Sunday Telegraph begging her to work for him. Why? 'You cannot help but admire Burchill's stylistic brio, the Dexedrine energy of her prose, the in- your-face wit . . .' explained the Observer, and printed these lines from the novel: 'Maria was naked and not quite dead, unconscious but breathing - too - deeply, spreadeagled on a small bed. Her wrists and ankles were tied down and large whip welts made brief bikinis of grotesque modesty across her breasts and groin.' Such brio] And what of the column? On Sunday she told us - 1: Only England produces women with real power (and Hillary Clinton is married to a 'stumblebum, spud-faced Little League Lothario'; 2: Lloyd Webber doesn't write musicals like they used to; 3: 'It's no good Labour getting rid of the cloth- cap image . . . if all it can replace said caps with are forelocks for the tugging of'; and, 4, the Queen's recent 'chronic vomiting' problem must have been caused by reading transcripts of the Camillagate tapes. And that's it - all spreadeagled on one small page.

SMIRNOFF, the British vodka, is at last making a real effort to sell the stuff to the Russians. Its new Moscow advertising campaign, says the press release, 'includes an eye-catching visual of the bottle interacting in a humorous and sophisticated way with the Statue of Liberty'. Liberty, investigation reveals, is flashing her knickers.

TELLING LOSSES

IT'S not a great time to work in banking. Branches are closing, and 1,000 jobs have just gone at the T S B. Will NatWest be next with a staff down-sizing? The January issue of Bankground, the bank's staff magazine, gaily promises 'a bumper section of On the Move, Retirements and Deaths' next month.

A DAY LIKE THIS

26 January 1990 Derek Jarman writes in his journal: 'At three this afternoon the nuclear power station exploded in a roar of steam, which drifted over the Ness - a death rattle like a hundred jet planes taking off. Within seconds the enormous building vanished from view; sparks flashed like dark clouds. 'My God it's blown; what shall we take?' said David. My suitcase packed in a second. Another great spark crackled between the towers. I dialled 999, the operator was infuriatingly calm. 'Where do you say the accident has occurred?' 'Dungeness. The nuclear power station has exploded]' 'Can I have the address?' 'Dungeness]' 'Can't you be more exact?' In a fury I slam the phone down. HB rings, he has phoned the station. 'They have had a controlled emergency shutdown, the power lines were hit by lightning.' The panic subsides slowly.'

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