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ECLIPSED BY THE ADVANCE PUBLICITY

There are loads of ways to plug your show at the Edinburgh Festival fringe; this one wasn't even intentional, but it is the best so far this year. Eclipsed, from the Punchbag theatre company of Galway, is an indictment of the treatment of unmarried mothers in Ireland. It is set in the early Sixties in a penitential home where the women wash laundry all day long to atone for their sins. And who, do you imagine, has been a patron of Punchbag since it began its work four years ago? None other than that expert in unmarried parenthood, the recently resigned Bishop of Galway, Dr Eamonn Casey. The play's director, David Quinn, says Casey has always been a very keen supporter of the company's work, but when Eclipsed opened in Galway in February, Casey, no doubt uncomfortable with the subject, 'politely refused to attend'. It is probably just as well that Casey never saw the play. At one point two women discuss a pair of illegitimate twins and speculate that a bishop was the father. In another scene, one of the women is seen washing a bishop's maroon soutane (cassock). The garment belongs to Casey, says Quinn. 'He lent it to us before the affair was discovered. When he resigned, we offered it back to him. He said we could keep it, that he wouldn't need it any more.'

A BRITISH Rail engine driver explains a breakdown to passengers: 'The bad news is that both engines have failed. The good news is - this train's not a Boeing 737.'

INTREPID TOURS INC

Is this next year's most street-credible, medium-haul holiday destination? According to the booking form, you may shop in the souk for 'unusual handicrafts and antiques'; take part in 'historical talks and walks' in ancient cities; visit the newly elected parliament; indulge in an 'energetic evening' of local music and dancing, and for the truly intrepid, go for 'breathtaking drives through wild mountain scenery'. So where are we going? Iraqi Kurdistan. For pounds 700 to pounds 800 you can buy a place on a package holiday being offered by Cardri, the London-based Committee against Repression and for Democratic Rights in Iraq. Never mind that Madame Mitterrand was nearly blown up on a recent visit to the region or that Saddam Hussein may decide to invade it any day now. But do heed Cardri's ominous footnote: 'Flush toilets are a rarity in Iraqi Kurdistan. If you cannot cope with rudimentary plumbing this trip is not for you.'

THE REPORT of the inquiry into Ashworth Special Hospital will at last be published this morning, though its horrific findings have been pretty widely bandied about. Whatever it recommends for the hospital prisons - Ashworth, Broadmoor and Rampton - it certainly won't deny the need for an 'information and public relations manager' for the Special Hospitals Service Authority. The job has been advertised in various worthy journals this week. A special communicator is needed, to 'promote a more positive public image of the quality of services provided'. We'll say.

UNHOLY DISORDER

It was a quiet Tuesday at the Apostolic Nunciature, or Vatican embassy, in Wimbledon - until 12 members of the gay rights group Outrage arrived, posing as journalists keen to discuss theological issues and the papal nuncio's work in Britain. Their purpose? A display of 'objective disorder' - that's the term the Vatican used to describe homosexuality last week. In the nuncio's office, according to Peter Tatchell of Outrage, they found Archbishop Luigi Barbarito a picture of 'perfect composure', sitting at his desk in crimson and black episcopalian regalia. But then he erupted, yelling 'Sister, sister' as he ran to his kitchen for aid, snatching at the demonstrators' placards (example: 'Stop the Papal Bull'). 'This,' cried the nuncio, calling for the police, 'is an outrage]' At least, says Tatchell, he got the name right.

A POSTER on display in central London advertises Air France by showing a Magrittean bowler- hatted businessman with a fried egg on his face. The original copy line ('I didn't know Air France had more flights to Paris than any other airline') has,

admirably, been overlaid with the legend 'Ceci n'est pas un

recession'.

A DAY LIKE THIS

5 August 1844 Thomas Carlyle describes Tennyson: 'Alfred is the son of a Lincolnshire Gentleman Farmer, I think; indeed you see in the verses that he is native of 'moated granges', and green, fat pastures, not of mountains and their torrents and storms. He had his breeding at Cambridge, as if for the Law or the Church; being master of a small annuity, he preferred clubbing with his mother and some sisters, to live unpromoted and write poems. In this way he lives still, now here, now there. I think he must be under 40, not much under it. One of the finest looking men in the world. A great shock of rough dusty-dark hair; bright-laughing hazel eyes; massive aquiline face, most massive, yet most delicate; of sallow- brown complexion, almost Indian-looking; clothes cynically loose, free-and-easy; smokes infinite tobacco.'

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