THE INDIAN press is alive with the rumour that Mark Tully, the BBC's Voice of India, is to leave them. Indeed, Indian reporters recently besieged a BBC film crew covering the reopening of the Bombay Stock Exchange with questions about 'Mark Tully Sahib': 'He is leaving India? He is fighting with the BBC?' The truth of the matter is that Tully, 58, and the BBC have agreed on an early retirement deal that will see him continue as a contributor but not as Delhi correspondent. He is, it is said, tired - as much by a quarter-century of chasing stories around the subcontinent as by the frequent wrangles with his superiors in London. India will miss him. 'He's an institution here - he's like one of their many, many gods,' a colleague said yesterday. But Tully will not leave the country, which has been his home for more than half his life. He was born there in 1935, went to school in England when he was 10, and returned to India as an administrator for the BBC in 1965. The country is his home. 'Journalism has not given me a proper life,' he once said, 'but India has.' In the past he has said that, should he retire, he would like to work alongside people, doing practical things: 'Gandhi said that if you don't work with your hands, you are not a full person.' The only things he appears ever to have missed are British bacon and British beer. Friends bring both when visiting, the latter in the form of home-
REASONS for our decline, part 86. Robert Key, heritage minister, asks the Commons: 'Why is it that the rest of Europe fly their national flags and we do not? Look about. Count the empty flagpoles. Too often, even the poles are missing.'
Spot the difference
EMINENT scientific research groups seem to be behaving worse and worse these days. Huntington's disease - see the articles to the west of this column - is the latest casus belli: two organisations claim to have discovered, almost simultaneously, the gene at the root of it. The problem is that the genes are different ones, which means at least one group must be wrong. An Anglo- American research team will publish its findings in the American journal Cell on Friday, and a Canadian team will publish details of its gene in Nature on Thursday. Scientific sources close to Cell speak darkly of Nature using grubby newspaper tactics: 'They're doing a spoiler]' Maxine Clarke, a senior editor at Nature, admits: 'We may accelerate publication in a highly competitive field.' Most leading scientists in the field are backing the Cell paper, it should be said.
PHOTOGRAPHERS visiting Euro Disney to picture the delights come under the severe gaze of the Disney image police. One snapper on assignment for the Field magazine recently was collared by an executive and told: 'Mr Galvin, you are trying to make Mickey Mouse look ridiculous.'
Doing the business
COSMOPOLITAN magazine is doing its bit for women in business by offering 20 readers the chance to attend a one-week course designed by the London Business School and sponsored by the retailing group Grand Metropolitan. As Amanda Knight, the school's director of executive programmes, explains: 'Women in organisations are discriminated against - particularly when it comes to development and training.' None of this will be news to one member of the selection panel for the course - Sir Allen Sheppard, chairman and chief executive of Grand Met. Last September he was named 'Misogynist of the month' by Cosmopolitan for saying that to get on his board women 'would have to have an operation'.
THANK you, BIG] magazine, for the survey yesterday which revealed that 63 per cent of young people consider Mark Owen of Take That a suitable replacement for the Queen on stamps. A further 13 per cent favour Sonic the Hedgehog. Our vote goes to Paul Keating.
A DAY LIKE THIS
24 March 1941 Chips Channon writes in his diary: 'At the requiem in honour of Cardinal Hinsley. There must have been a 1,000 or more priests, monks, prelates and bishops, all wearing their grandest surplices and most glittering vestments. The endless ceremony began. Soon I was aware of a different smell from the incense and, looking up, I saw it was the very seductive Argentine Ambassadress, Madame Carcano, arriving and exuding through her sables an aroma of Chanel. The interminable service continued: but my bladder began to disturb me, and after an hour, began to be painful. Soon I could think of nothing else, and the scene became blurred: I wondered, would I hold out? Why must all Catholic functions be so interminable? By midday I was in pain, by one I was almost fainting. At last it was over. I held my breath, and staggered to the Army & Navy Stores where at last I found relief.'