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Amazing: 'Joseph' show must pay up

WITH the announcement that Eurovision, the most recent musical to be produced by Andrew Lloyd Webber, is due to close on Saturday with the reported loss of pounds 275,000 after one of the shortest runs in memory, I'm told we shouldn't be too worried about the composer's finances.

Superstar Ventures, the company responsible for negotiation of school productions of Joseph and the Amazing Technicolour Dreamcoat, has banned one such production from advertising outside the schools, and is insisting on 15 per cent of the proceeds. The one-off production of Joseph is being staged in Maidstone, Kent, by a non-profit making community theatre project, Jupiter Workshop, which has asked six local schools and 250 children to take part. Now the glitter has been tarnished by the Lloyd Webber treatment. One teacher tells me: 'It does seem a bit much. It's not a commercial venture, and the audience will be made up of people connected to the schools and the community. We're not much competition really.' But David Land, director of Superstar Ventures, said he did not regard the show as a school production because it will not take place in a school or church hall, and will be charging for admission (the schools say this is just to cover the cost).

Land is within his legal rights; whether the budding musical stars in Kent - who think nothing of paying large sums of money to watch Lloyd Webber's West End shows - believe Land is within his moral rights is another matter.

WITH true British grit and humour, the clergy at St Botolph without Bishopsgate, one of the churches damaged by the IRA bomb in the City in April, are continuing to hold Holy Communion services on Wednesdays during repairs. 'Hard hats will be provided,' is their message to the celebrants.

University challenged

WHEN Sir David Plastow is inaugurated tomorrow as chancellor of Britain's newest university, the University of Luton, there will be moist eyes among many present because it has taken a long time for Luton to achieve this status. The institution has, according to the press release giving details of the inauguration, been subjected to the most rigorous scrutiny before becoming a university.

But the rigour does not extend to the university's press office. According to the two-page press release, members of the press will have a chance to view the event from a (sic) advantageous position; and the press are told the university's power to award its own degrees where (sic) extended in June this year to cover research degrees. These are two out of 11 mistakes. I just hope Sir David, an industrialist, isn't also a man of letters.

DEEP in a scrum of journalists at the height of the Italian elections, Alessandra Mussolini aborted an interview with the Channel Four News presenter Jon Snow (who had been quizzing her about racism and anti- Semitism) with the words: 'You just don't understand our policies. Bye Bye. Have a nice day.' Turning to her father, the dictator's son, she then let flow a torrent of abuse in Italian which, Snow tells me, can be translated precisely: 'That asshole still thinks we're Fascists.'

Carpet bagger

THE Liberal Democrat jumble sale in Paignton, Devon, was selling the usual stuff, with local worthies buying items they didn't desperately need, to bolster the cause. One item was desirable, however - a hessian-backed carpet rolled up on the top of a cupboard in the hall. 'How much is the carpet?' a middle-aged lady enquired. Minutes later, the new owner, having paid pounds 5, had disappeared with her prize. The event's treasurer was pleased with the sale - until the local childrens' group rang to find out where their carpet had disappeared to. Informed that the carpet was worth more than the entire sale receipts put together, the Lib Dems placed an ad in a local newspaper to find the new owner, but to no avail. A happy note to end on, however. 'A newer, bigger carpet has been donated from a constituent who read about our plight and leapt into action,' explains the constituency secretary, Alison Sanders. 'Now the children are happy again.'


25 November 1977 Philip Toynbee records a short holiday: 'Just back from our first caravan trip camping in the Shropshire hills above Church Stretton. Over the Long Mynd in a blizzard; home- brewed beer in Bishop's Castle (a little magic town); Worcester Cathedral on the way home (looking; really looking now; a keen 'ecclesiologist'; even prayers in the noisy nave). And what good companions we are on journeys. How charming those two evenings in the caravan; Beethoven on the cassette player; scrambled eggs and a bottle of wine; love, with great love, on a narrow bunk and the wild, snowy wind thudding and squealing against the windows. My best and boldest adventure for years.'