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Look back on the evidence

THE REVIVAL of John Osborne's Inadmissible Evidence - a play about a solicitor suffering a mid-life crisis - has been relatively well received by the critics, but has not been seen by the man who, some say, may well recognise some of himself in the central character.

When Osborne wrote the play in 1964, he had for several years been entrusting his legal affairs to Oscar Beuselinck, a solicitor who specialises in show business, and is father of Paul Nicholas, the stage and television actor.

Beuselinck rates the play as Osborne's finest, and has managed to keep his sense of humour over suggestions by several people that the stage solicitor, Bill Maitland, is based on himself.

You would need to see the funny side of this because Maitland is not the most sympathetic of characters. During the course of a day he behaves so badly that he loses a client, secretary, managing clerk, daughter, and is told by his mistress that she is also likely to call it a day.

'There are those who have suggested that the character bears some relationship to myself,' Beuselinck told me. 'It's true I have been divorced three times, and started off as an office boy. However, I wouldn't wish to relate to Mr Maitland. Maitland is irredeemably mediocre. However, he is similar to me in some respects, although I like to think that I have more moral fibre.'

So when did Beuselinck last see the playwright? 'We parted company five years ago, I'm not quite sure why,' he said.

Osborne's agent tells me the writer has either hung up his phone, or he cannot hear it ringing. If he reads this, perhaps he could call me to give his side of the story.

FOR THOSE television viewers who want to know how the Sun managed to persuade Rupert Murdoch to allow himself to be bound and gagged for the commercial advertising the paper's 5p cover price cut, it didn't.

The unfortunate victim was Tony Holman, vice-chairman of Arc International Advertising, News International's advertising agency.

Mind your manors

FOLLOWING my note a few months ago about New College, Oxford, selling off some of its Lord of the Manor titles, such as Lord of Scorchebddf, (pronounced Scorched Beef by non-medievalists), I gather that the sale is the subject of a dispute between the college and the Manorial Society of Great Britain, which claims to be the ultimate arbiter in such matters as these.

New College has recently written to all its old members, inviting them to buy one of 15 ancient titles it considers the college has the right to bestow. However, it has done so without the approval of Robert Smith, the chairman of the Manorial Society who has seen the college archives, and disputes its ownership of many of the titles. The society was also considered as a possible agent to sell the titles, but the college decided to sell them through the old members and through Cluttons, the chartered surveyor. 'The college appears to think that it can sell these titles without having the relevant evidence to prove it owns them,' said Smith. 'It might be enough for the person buying the title, but it won't be any good for anyone wanting to sell it on.'

The college bursar, David Palfreyman, told me he was confident the titles the college was selling were indeed owned by the college, and said one title in Essex had already been snapped up for a few thousand pounds.

PIGEONS plaguing the stalls at Smithfield meat market with their droppings are being shot. 'We tried everything,' said the man from the Corporation of London. 'However, after much consultation we were left with no alternative but to organise three 'shoots' at times when no human bodies were in danger. The firm we use is very reliable - not a single bullet wasted, I'm told.'

The desperate measure follows the failure of the corporation's last tactic: smearing hair gel over the beams on which the pigeons usually perch. 'It was supposed to stop the birds getting a grip,' said the corporation man. 'But they seemed to enjoy eating it instead.'


14 July 1820 Charles Greville writes in his journal: 'Read Les Liaisons Dangereuses. Much has been said about the dangerous tendency of certain books, and probably this would be considered as one pregnant with mischief. I consider this a mere jargon and should never apprehend the smallest danger to the most inexperienced mind from its immoral tendency. The principle upon which such books are considered pernicious is the notion that they represent vice in such glowing and attractive colours as to make us love sight of its deformity and fill our imagination with the ideas of its pleasures. No one who has any feeling or a spark of generosity or humanity in his breast can read this book without being moved with compassion for Madame de Tourvel and with horror and disgust towards Valmont and Madame de Merteuil. It raised in my mind a detestation of such cold-blooded inhuman profligacy.'