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Disharmony on the Sunset set

EVER SINCE its opening was postponed by two weeks because mobile telephones were causing the behind-the-stage machinery to move, the Andrew Lloyd Webber musical Sunset Boulevard has had its difficulties. Lloyd Webber had his head in his hands at the dress rehearsal because of the way things were going, and the reviews were not brilliant. Now the tension is getting to Patti LuPone's co-star, Kevin Anderson.

During some of his solos last month, Anderson became irritated with the orchestra's allegro playing as well as what one musician described as the orchestra's failure to appreciate 'certain idiosyncrasies of the soloist'. At one performance, Anderson was so unimpressed that he descended into the pit during the last few bars and entered into an enthusiastic 'discussion' with the conductor and musical director, David White. Eventually, I'm told, a musician intervened, pointing out the value of an expensive cello propped up nearby. 'The problem has been dealt with internally,' said Roger Clark, a member of the orchestra, and steward for the Musicians' Union. 'Both parties concerned have been interviewed by the appropriate people. It was an in- house problem and it seems to have been rectified.'

THE United Nations register of conventional arms published last month shows that countries such as Germany export, for example, submarines, armoured howitzers and guided missiles. The United Kingdom is different: the weapons we pride ourselves on exporting are 'obsolete equipment for museums'.

Overruled by Ulrika

RELAXING after the Elton John trial last Friday, the pop star's barrister, George Carman QC, enjoyed a quiet drink in Stillingfleet's - a Fleet Street drinking hole frequented by his profession. Enter the glamorous television presenter Ulrika Jonsson. With a camera crew trailing behind her, Jonsson threw the place into pandemonium as she accosted the more sprightly looking lawyers, not only interrogating them on their attitudes to sex, but turning out their pockets to discover whether they were carrying contraceptives.

'I fled immediately to the loo,' a stuffy solicitor confided to me afterwards, 'so did most people . . . Carman, on the other hand, made obvious signals that he was incredibly keen to be interviewed. Jonsson made it just as obvious that he was too old.' Or 'no granddads', as one eyewitness swore he heard her producer say.

AMONG bidders for a contract to provide an escort service for prisoners in London: Rentokil.

Club snubs

CLEARLY not envisaging the Garrick Club rebuff (and the subsequent media furore) that took place shortly after he had put down his pen, Jeremy Paxman last weekend suggested how one might cope with press attention. In a book review written for the Sunday Times, he said that anyone returning home to a 'blameless front door to discover it hidden behind a sea of reporters and cameras because our partner has been caught with a kissogram girl and half the Cabinet in a Cricklewood love-nest . . . should learn Kipling's denunciation: 'I refuse to be interviewed . . . You have no more right to stop me for this than to hold me up like a highwayman . . . it is cowardly and vile'.'

Journalists certainly can be proprietorial about their clubs. Dispatched some years ago by the Daily Mail to write about a gentleman's club that was considering admitting women members, I approached a likely looking old crust who was carrying a walking stick. 'Are you in favour of women members, sir? I am from the Daily Mail.' To which the elderly member, with a violent swing of his walking stick, replied: 'And I, sir, am from the Daily Telegraph, get out of my way.'


9 November, 1915 D H LAWRENCE writes to a friend from Oxfordshire: 'When I drive across this country, with autumn falling and rustling to pieces, I am so sad, for my country, for this great wave of civilisation, 2,000 years, which is now collapsing, that it is hard to live. So much beauty and pathos of old things passing away and no new things coming: this house (Garsington Manor) - it is England - my God, it breaks my soul - their England, these shafted windows, the elm trees, the blue distance - the past, the great past, crumbling down, breaking down not under the force of the coming bird, but under the weight of many exhausted lovely yellow leaves, that drift over the lawn, and over the pond, like the soldiers passing away, into winter and the darkness of winter - no I can't bear it. For the winter stretches ahead, where all vision is lost and all memory dries out.'