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Cities have their female sides, too

AT LAST, travel for women. The feminist publishing house Virago Press is to launch city guide books aimed at the female visitor, featuring not just safe taxi companies, hotels and so on but also potted histories concentrating on the female side - 'emperors' wives as well as emperors'. Guides to Paris, Rome and New York will emerge next March. Their editor, Ruth Petrie, stresses men will not be completely ignored. 'The female side to these cities is relatively unknown. Did you know, for example, that women gladiators were a force to be reckoned with in Rome? Or that no women were invited to the unveiling of the Statue of Liberty at the end of the last century?' (There was, apparently, a men-only guest list for the bash. A dinghy of suffragettes rowed out to protest but their shouts were drowned by a 21-gun salute.) Petrie says the guides will steer a fine line - 'We are not going to say 'pooh' to the Louvre because it does not have enough women in it. There are, after all, some things you can't talk about without mentioning men - you can't say that Marie Antoinette got into deep water without mentioning her husband, can you? We are not going to try to rewrite history.'

AT a Foyles lunch in honour of Brian Johnston yesterday, the chairman of the BBC governors, Marmaduke Hussey, paid a warm tribute to the voice of Test cricket. Johnners replied in kind: 'Dukesey's a man of rare gifts - I should know, he's never given me one. I called his office the other afternoon. His secretary said he wasn't about. 'Oh, doesn't he work in the afternoons?' I asked. 'No. It's the mornings he doesn't work,' she replied. 'In the afternoons, he doesn't come in.' '

Lengthy but pointed THE return of the former East German president Erich Honecker from Moscow to face 49 charges of manslaughter was reported in an oddly familiar style by the Berlin daily Tageszeitung yesterday. Under a picture of a smiling Honecker on the front page, it wrote: 'The General Secretary of the Central Committee of the Socialist Unity Party of Germany and Chairman of the GDR (German Democratic Republic) Council of State, Comrade Erich Honecker, was warmly welcomed last night by security forces and numerous representatives of the international press at Tegel Airport in West Berlin. Prior to this, the son of the working class, Communist and statesman said farewell to his Chilean comrades in Moscow with a clenched-fist salute. The first stop on his official programme was a visit to Berlin's traditional working-class area of Moabit. Honecker inspected the prison there.'

THERE are some useful travel tips in the booklet produced by the Foreign Office for British civil servants attending last month's environmental summit in Rio de Janeiro. For safety, it says, it's best to dress like the natives. 'Normal socks and shoes worn by men with shorts are an easily recognisable 'foreign trade mark.' '

Hubcaps and hyenas THE Home Office has just spent pounds 5.5m on a car crime prevention campaign, including a television ad featuring a pack of hyenas sniffing round a car. Cars, it says, should be parked in a safe place, locked and preferably fitted with an alarm. And the hyenas? A Home Office spokesperson explains: 'The hyena was chosen to represent the criminal laughing at the motorist. It's an ugly scavenger that fills people with revulsion.' Clever, but misguided, according to our wildlife expert: hyenas love rubber and plastic (tyres and bumpers), and have been known to munch metal (hubcaps). In parts of Africa, they plague safaris by running off with frying pans, and tearing Land-Rover tyres to shreds in the night. So if there are hyenas in the neighbourhood, locking your car up and parking it in a brightly lit space appears to be a waste of time. But perhaps that's taking it all a bit too literally.

POOR Princess Margaret. Last month she was to be Tatler's cover girl, but was edged out by Jason Donovan. And yesterday, while the Princess of Wales was at a film premiere in the West End and Prince Edward was at the theatre in Newbury, Margaret was opening Anglian Water's refurbished sewage works at Whitlingham in Norfolk.


31 July 1856 The Goncourt Brothers describe a low-class Parisian brothel: 'Just past the Ecole Militaire, a shop-front with white curtains. A large room lighted from above by the wan daylight. Some tables and a bar lined with bottles of liquor. There are Zouaves, soldiers and workmen in smocks and grey hats sitting at tables with tarts perched on their knees. The girls wear white or coloured blouses and dark skirts. They are young and pretty, with pink fingernails and their hair carefully dressed with little ornaments in it. Smoking cigarettes, they walk up and down in pairs between the tables, playfully jostling each other, or else they sit playing draughts. Singers turn up now and then to sing some filthy ditty in a bass voice. The waiters have big black moustaches. The girls call the pimp who runs the establishment 'the old marquis'.'