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' 'I MISSED you so much, I've even written you a poem,' Harriet said blushing . . . Simon skimmed through it, his lips curling. 'Our love is like a rainbow arched in shuddering orgasm against the sky', he read out in a deliberately melodramatic voice. 'Orgasm in the singular? I must be slipping.' Harriet flushed and bit her lip . . .' This is from Harriet, a 1976 novel by Jilly Cooper - in this key passage the eponymous heroine, a nave undergraduate, loses the love of her deflowerer, caddish Simon Villiers, by making him ill with moussaka and gushings like the above. You may remember that last week Ms Cooper - to her husband, Leo's, dismay - told our columnist Danny Danziger about 'the great love of her life' in very similar terms: 'I was so in love I could hardly think. I wrote reams of poetry. I wrote one poem and in it I said . . .' And so on. Rainbow, orgasm, sky, just as above. And how did Cooper say her first love reacted to this effusion? 'Orgasm in the singular? I must be slipping.' He appears to have kept his lips uncurled, however. Is this art mirroring life? Or is Cooper suffering from Ronald Reagan syndrome, the sad condition that sees an artist embellish an autobiography by borrowing from his or her fictions?

SHADES of John Kennedy. Only greyer. In the course of an interview with Der Spiegel magazine to coincide with the Munich economic summit, John Major has coined the immortal phrase 'Ich bin ein Konservativer'.


So how did Eldorado, the BBC's pounds 10m soap opera set among British expatriates in Spain, go down with your average punter? Well, the teletext service Oracle questioned 7,000 and found that 10 per cent thought Monday night's opening episode 'brilliant', 9 per cent 'good' and 12 per cent 'OK'. But 69 per cent pronounced it 'rubbish' and said they 'would never watch it again'. Oh well. That's the BBC at its best - providing a no-expense-spared service to small (and in this case, quite mad) minorities.

FRIDAY is day three of the Tourism in Europe conference at Durham Castle. And at 10am, we gather, delegates will be addressed by Doctors Ognjen Bakic and Jovan Popesku, of the University of Belgrade, and asked to put their minds to

an intriguing challenge: 'Marketing Serbia as a tourist



France seems to be your best bet for a roadside barbecue at the moment. Our man in the embouteillages says there's a good one at a grid-locked roundabout on the N17 between Charles de Gaulle airport and Senlis, courtesy of a lorry packed full of groceries bound for a local supermarket. Well it would have been tragic to let the stuff go off, so the driver dropped the tailgates at meal times and invited anyone feeling a bit peckish to stop by for a bite. Until, that is, two plain clothes gendarmes carted him away for breaking into his own truck. Fortunately he tossed his keys to one of his colleagues before disappearing. Which meant that yesterday a group of stranded British truckers could still tuck into a good selection of cheeses, pates and freshish fruit, washed down with beer from a nearby bar that has been replenished by the only lorry allowed through the jams. None of that, though, excuses the infuriating back-bumper sticker that's appeared on French lorries over the last few years - Les camionneurs sont sympa (Truck drivers are nice). There's a bottle of our usual Lanson (pre-blocage, of course) champagne for anything more realistic, in Franglais, Francais or English.

AT LEAST one female is very disappointed at the outcome of the Garrick Club's vote on whether to admit women to its membership. The word among the males is that Lord Justice Butler-Sloss had already inquired of the club whether she might, perhaps, become an honorary member should the vote go the sensible way. But it's to be regretted that Lord Justice Butler-Sloss will never now be seen quaffing champagne before lunch with Kingsley Amis, in a frock of the Garrick's celebrated colours, salmon and cucumber.


8 July 1957 Groucho Marx writes to Alastair Cooke, a New York television executive: 'I was a little disappointed on receiving your rather lengthy letter, to find no mention of money. I am, of course, an artist, with my head in the clouds. And I was very happy to be invited to appear, gratis or thereabouts, on Meet The Press, The Last Word, the City Center Theatre in New York, two all-night telethons, etc. But my business manager, Mr Gummo Marx, has a passion for money that is virtually a sickness. I am constantly being embarrassed by it. Still he is my brother, and rather than upset him, I have to bow to his wishes. I hope you and your charming wife are happy and gay as the weather permits; and that this note will not end fragile friendship.'