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Poor girl - if only one had warned her

AS THE Duchess of York contemplates a future free of the worries and privileges her royal relationship bestows, the Princess of Wales's 'step-grandmother', Dame Barbara Cartland, offers, through us, some words of consolation. 'How would you expect a girl from a rather middle-class family to do all the things Buckingham Palace expects of her without any instructions? It's very difficult for a person who is from an ordinary background. Princess Diana had her father to answer her questions and I learnt everything about how to behave from Lord Mountbatten. If Sarah had had somebody like that, half these things she's done wrong wouldn't have happened. I mean, did anyone from the Palace bother to tell her that if you are a Royal, you get a proper bathing costume? I know everyone in the south of France goes round practically naked, but did anyone tell her she shouldn't? I suspect not. I wouldn't think of giving that sort of advice. It ought to come from the Palace itself.' Regardless of her relationship with John Bryan, the Duchess would struggle to get top billing in a Barbara Cartland novel. All Cartland's novels are historical romances. 'It is very difficult,' she says, 'to find a virgin today.'

'WOODY ALLEN bares his soul', trumpets the contents column of next month's Elle magazine. Immediately below is the promise of an article about 'Daughters and their mothers - intimate revelations'.

Do as we say . . .

'TIME to break into the holidays', is the headline above a leading article in yesterday's Guardian. As the economic crisis grows and there is talk of British intervention in Bosnia and Iraq, parliamentarians, the writer says, should set aside a day or two of their holidays to consider the issues. Oh yes. And what about that regular Press Complaints Commission meeting tomorrow, which will almost certainly discuss those other two momentous national issues, the Dianagate tapes and those photographs of the Duchess of York and John Bryan cavorting in the South of France? Will Peter Preston, the Guardian's editor, who last month became a member of the commission, be there? No, a spokesmole says, he's on holiday until 7 September and has no plans to interrupt his break.

ONE production you really shouldn't miss on the Edinburgh Fringe this week is the Martin Sherman play Bent, performed by Double Edge Drama, also known as Eton College. So no surprises there, then.

Foot and mouth

SUCKING the toes of Royals and government ministers is not an entirely risk-free pastime. Katrina Hughes, a Reading chiropodist, warns that foot fetishists risk picking up fungal diseases. 'If you want to go around sucking people's feet,' she says, 'there are things you have to be careful about. There are infections you can pick up which include the fungal infection tinia, otherwise known as athlete's foot. This is very easily spread and it would be horrible to get in your mouth because it could blister and would hurt quite a lot.' There is also the possibility, she adds, of contracting warts or verrucas, 'although you would have to be sucking on someone's foot for a very long time for that to happen.' Phew. Well, that's alright then.

MUCH excitement in Northumbria yesterday when Northumbrian Water opened what it described as England's most scenic loo. The pounds 250,000 lavatories have been built on the banks of Kielder Water, Europe's largest man-made reservoir. The view from the washbasins, the company's recreation manager, Chris Spray (we kid you not), enthuses, is 'spectacular'.

In the red

THE weekly newspaper of the New Communist Party of Great Britain, the New Worker (catchphrase: 'workers of all countries unite'), chides its readers this week for falling short of its survival fund-raising target of pounds 2,500 for July by about pounds 1,000. But it still finds space to thank those who did manage to contribute, especially 'the jar of small change in the office (which) produced pounds 3.40'. So much for the revolution.


25 August 1903 Paul Leautaud writes in his journal: 'Departure of Blanche. What's the good of having been together for five and a half years? Evening rambles and oppressive Sundays, that horrible life (with whole periods of fatigue, lack of interest in everything, and doubt) will begin all over again. What, in the last resort, am I really attached to, and what or who is attached to me? The answer would perhaps be nothing and nobody. The thing is to try to live. I'm already 31. Forty-one will soon be upon me, then 51, and after that perhaps 61. It will be just the same for her, and these two beings who have lived so close together will grow old separately. Just now she wept as she said goodbye. Poor thing, she's as sensitive as I am, and as secretly tender.'