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Mum's the word for 'Who's Who'

FOLLOWING news that Baroness Thatcher intends to end 30 years of controversy by finally adding her mother's name to her entry in Who's Who, I can reveal that another woman cabinet minister has decided to follow suit. Virginia Bottomley reacted with surprise when I informed her she had not listed her mother, and declared: 'Peter's entry is the same. Our mothers are stars and we plan to put them in next year.'

Despite the Who's Who entry form that clearly requests 'names of parents', I glean from the present Cabinet's entries that eight ministers are similarly shy about naming their mothers (one of them, Tony Newton, Leader of the Commons, doesn't name his father either).

In order of seniority, here are the ministers and what their offices had to say about the omissions. Kenneth Clarke: 'He's got nothing to hide - he's certainly got a mother.' Michael Heseltine: 'If there is any significance whatsoever, it is that his mother is still alive and he doesn't want to give details to avoid people pestering her.' John MacGregor: 'He thought he had answered the Who's Who questions.' Malcolm Rifkind: 'It is a matter for him, really, isn't it? Who else hasn't mentioned their mother?' Tony Newton: 'Who's Who is filled in on a personal basis. It's just Mr Newton's personal choice.' William Waldegrave: 'It's an oversight. He absolutely adores his mother.' Sir Patrick Mayhew: 'We will call you back.'

IMITATING one of British Rail's more infamous excuses for late trains, London Underground has unveiled its winter timetable for the Metropolitan Line, replacing the word 'winter' (in all seriousness apparently) with the words 'leaf fall'. According to an Underground source, this 'literally builds the problem of leaf fall into our schedule'.

Preview sneaked

WITH the zeal of a Fleet Street journalist in the making, a reporter on Manchester University's student newspaper, Mancunion, has ignored an instruction by the Guardian/National Union of Students Student Media Awards organisers to keep a certain matter 'under your hat'. He rang me yesterday with news of a hiccup in the arrangements for the awards ceremony on Saturday night. The Guardian wrote to the shortlisted newspapers, inviting them to King's College London, where the winning title would be revealed. That was the plan anyway. Unfortunately, 'due to a cock-up at the Guardian's mailing house', the shortlisted newspapers were given a sneak preview, because the judgements of the panel were included in the letter. In reverse order then: fourth - Mancunion; third - Vision (York); second - Leeds Student; first - London Student.

POLITICIANS forgoing Sunday lunch to appear on BBC television's On the Record should ponder the recent medical history of Michael Heseltine. 'We all noted that his heart attack in June took place within seven days of his appearance on this programme,' says a spokesman. 'The irony that he should fall ill again (he has flu) in the week after his next appearance on the programme has not been lost on us.'

Banging Bach

A SPONTANEOUS and uninvited round of clanking and banging greeted Simon Preston's rendition of Bach's Trio Sonata No 5 in C at St John's, Smith's Square, last Wednesday. According to Time Out, the noise was not caused by concert saboteurs, but by new chairs bought with money left over from the recent installation of its pounds 800,000 'Sainsbury' organ.

The seat numbers are on smart detachable metal plates - so detachable, in fact, that even a scratch of a nose can knock one to the floor. It was the combined movements of the audience that instigated the uninvited ovation. And the more the audience swivelled round to see what was happening, the noisier it all became.


14 October 1770 The British Chronicle records in its columns: 'The following circumstance, however improbable, may be depended upon as a matter of fact. A farmer's wife, who attended to the milking of her cows, observed for two or three mornings successively that her best cow was deficient in her usual quantities of milk; this made her suspect that some of her neighbours were not over honest, and communicating her suspicions to her husband, they resolved to watch all the succeeding night, which they did. About sun-rising, they observed the cow move towards a bush at some distance in the pasture. Following her they observed a most enormous over-grown adder, or bag-worm, crawl out of the root of the bush, and winding up one of cow's hind legs, apply its mouth to one of its paps, and begin to suck, which she suffered it patiently to do, till the farmer killed it with a cudgel.'