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Cuddling up to the Lord of Sky

CURIOUSER and curiouser. The relationship between the BBC and BSkyB appears to be growing ever more intimate. First, in May, the corporation struck a deal with BSkyB to screen highlights of Premier League football matches. Then yesterday it announced that it was talking to BSkyB about co- operating in a 24-hour satellite television news venture. This just a day after the corporation chose to promote its forthcoming new morning series Separate Lives by giving an extract of its exclusive interview with Frank Bough to its rival Sky News. A case of handing over the family silver to the opposition? Or perhaps yet another sign that the jewel of public service broadcasting may be well and truly getting into bed with the media empire of the Dark Lord, Rupert Murdoch?

STRIKE now if you want to slip a rude one into the Times's births and deaths column - the announcement department has just taken on 11 new staff. 'Harry and Dolly Rexshun' took their opportunity yesterday to announce the birth of their son 'Hugh Gee'. An embarrassed spokeswoman says: 'With all the problems of learning the new computer system it somehow slipped through.'

Messy exchanges BOBBY Fischer (I Spit on your UN sanctions against Yugoslavia) has obviously taken a leaf out of the book of a New York shopper who insulted Victoria Gotti, wife of John, who was imprisoned for life for murder and racketeering in New York earlier this year. After getting into a row with Victoria in a supermarket checkout queue, the shopper delivered that traditional shopping insult: 'I spit into your groceries.' Fuming, Mrs Gotti managed to trace her antagonist and then took a box of dog faeces round to her home and dumped it all over her. Now there's an idea for the United Nations.

A BT mailshot arrived at an address in Dereham, Norfolk, the other day emblazoned with this plug for its latest products: 'New from BT for '91'. And you wonder why it used to take so long to get through to directory inquiries.

Popping his cork

THAT the restaurateur Marco Pierre White is impolite is well documented. Quite how rude was unclear until we telephoned him yesterday to check a story that 60 bottles of champagne had been stolen in the middle of last month from his south London restaurant, Harvey's. White, the youngest chef in Britain to gain two Michelin stars, was short and to the point. 'It's none of your fucking goddam business. Are you struggling for news today?' Er, no actually, Marco. Indeed, such was his fury that even Tooting police were stunned into silence. 'I'm afraid we can't say anything. Manager's wishes.' A less discreet member of the restaurant staff, however, said that Harvey's was 'replacing the wine at the moment'. Although, he added, wistfully, 'a lot of it is irreplaceable.'

THANKS to Michael Quinnen, a former jeans designer from Wimbledon, for responding to our fashion challenge. Reading that the adman John Hegarty had been spotted at Nice airport in brand new Levi 501s, he writes: 'Current fashion indicates that 501s in new dark indigo are hot . . . if you really want to get it right, you have to obtain them with the original selvedge outside seam rather than the common overlocked (serged) finish.' There you go.

Santa for President

BRAZILIANS have turned the deadly serious business of getting rid of their President, Fernando Collor de Mello (accused by a parliamentary committee of corruption) into a street carnival. Seen on the streets of Rio during a 'Collor must go' demonstration was a stall hawking T-shirts emblazoned with the message: 'I believe in the President. And in elves, Santa Claus and virginity.'

SO Kevin Maxwell is attempting to grow a beard while staring financial ruin in the face. The Bankruptcy Association of Great Britain understands the phenomenon all too well. Beard- growing is a common ailment among potential bankrupts. 'It's such a traumatic time that I have every sympathy with people who grow beards or wear long overcoats,' Gill Hankey, its national officer, told us yesterday. 'The law is still designed to punish rather than help.'

A day like this

3 September 1800 Dorothy Wordsworth records in her journal at Grasmere: 'I went to a funeral at John Dawson's. About 10 men and 4 women. Bread cheese and ale. They talked sensibly and cheerfully about common things. The dead person 56 years of age buried by the parish. The coffin was neatly lettered and painted black. The corpse was borne down the hill and they sang until they had got past the Town-end. There were no near kindred, no children. When we got out of the house the sun was shining and the prospect looked so divinely beautiful. It seemed more sacred than I had ever seen it, and yet more allied to human life. I thought she was going to a quiet spot and could not help weeping very much.'