Diary

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The Independent Online
It's an honour in itself, no really

FOR THE first time in 37 years, perhaps as a result of John Major's egalitarianisation of the honours system, the incoming Lord Mayor of London, Paul Newall, has failed to receive a knighthood.

Traditionally, the Lord Mayor is notified about the honour after receiving the sovereign's approval, but when Mr Newall was approved last week, the wires between Mansion House, Downing Street and Buckingham Palace remained ominously quiet. 'It would have happened by now, and hasn't,' a spokesman for the London Corporation said.

Newall is taking it well, however. 'Our duty is to the people and we accept the government they choose,' the spokesman said. 'The new system is certainly not seen as a personal snub to Mr Newall.' The new mayor, a director at the American investment bank Shearson Lehman, still has time on his side. Public duties following his inauguration on 12 November include two months representing city businesses abroad and many other constituency activities. But a word of warning: London's most famous mayor, Dick Whittington, died a commoner - and that was after he had paid pounds 467 to secure Henry V's capture of the French port Harfleur.

IF LORD Justice Woolf thinks some drugs should be legalised, so, I imagine, did one of his Victorian predecessors, Mr Justice James Fitzjames Stephen, whose History of the Criminal Law of England is still cited today. 'I do still now and then smoke an opium pipe,' he wrote to Lord Lytton in 1889 'as my nose requires one occasionally and is comforted by it.'

Spare those trees

ON THE verge of allowing his greenery to be subsumed by material gain, Jonathon Porritt (former director of Friends of the Earth) has succeeded in dissuading his brother and sister from selling 65 acres of woodland owned by the family in New Zealand. The several thousand native hardwoods were given to them by their father, Lord Porritt, who bought the saplings when he was Governor-General of New Zealand in the late Sixties and early Seventies (he was also a bronze medallist in the 1924 'Chariots of Fire' Olympics).

Three weeks ago, Porritt said his brother and sister wanted to sell, but yesterday he announced there had been a change of mind, a welcome piece of news for the campaigner's followers.

Not that everyone is aware of Porritt's greenery. Introduced to a stranger at a party the other day, the stranger asked: 'Are you looking forward to the shooting season, Mr Porritt?' An unfortunate altercation was only avoided after Porritt's wife stepped in with the diplomatic: 'I don't think you know who my husband is.'

WAITERS at Quaglino's, Sir Terence Conran's upmarket new restaurant, are required to be unusually well-versed in the arts. A colleague lunching in the private dining-room yesterday was minding her own business, leaning against a wall. Approached by a young member of staff, she was told: 'Please don't do that - it's a very expensive painting.' To which my colleague replied: 'Apologies - I thought it was a noticeboard.'

More genders, please IN HIS - or her (read on) - busy life, the awarding of credits at the end of the film is one of the trickier tasks of the BBC TV producer. While the BBC demands the minimum number of credits to allow more time to promote upcoming programmes, the third wardrobe assistant wants his (or her) name to be prominently displayed. Now the producer faces an additional headache. In the latest politically correct BBC guideline, producers 'are reminded that credits, such as 'cameraman', which imply that certain jobs are the preserve of one gender only, must not be used'. However, some traditions die hard. The following names given to electricians on the credits will stay: 'gaffer' (chief electrician); 'spark' (junior electrician); and, somewhat surprisingly, 'Best Boy' (one step above junior).

A DAY LIKE THIS

15 October 1975 Francois Mitterrand writes in his diary: 'It is not the accuracy of its pictures that I hold against pornography; it is the falsity of its myths. The fable that happiness can come from well-studied postures or picturesque situations distresses me. If physical love brought happiness, we would not have had to wait for Emmanuelle to discover it. This polished, oiled, deodorised sexual machinery which porno films put together in ingenious combinations can produce only so many, or so few, permutations. Unlike computers, these films do not integrate all the data fed into them by the questioner. An answer is always lacking. To think 'the amorous octopus made up of arms and legs' which Cocteau celebrates will have revealed its secrets because its various possible combinations have merely been inventoried is a vulgar error.'

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