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Being franc about one's expenses

WHEN the Tories debate whether to congratulate the Government on 'its leadership in foreign affairs, especially during the UK presidency of the European Community' today, they should note the example of one of their own party - Madron Seligman MEP. For the past three weeks Seligman, who represents West Sussex, has been leaving the cashier's office in the European Parliament building in Brussels with his wallet stuffed with sturdy Belgian francs, rather than the flaky pounds in which, until Black Wednesday, he collected his expenses. Seligman, who will continue doing so 'until we have a single currency', thinks he may be the only MEP to be taking such a practical stand. 'I don't want to throw my money away. I'm just doing the best I can for my family in the circumstances. I'm not ashamed.' The Eurosceptic MP Bill Cash agrees. 'I do not criticise Mr Seligman for looking after himself. It just shows how the practical realities of everyday life are very different from the theories we hear so much about.'

THERE was mild panic in Brighton yesterday morning outside the Metropole Hotel, located next to the Grand Hotel (scene of the bomb eight years ago) and the secure zone around the conference centre. A policeman was heard muttering: 'We've lost an electrician - and his name is Kelly.'

Levels of English

HERE'S an example of the Government's commitment to clear English, courtesy of Professor Ted Wragg of Exeter University. This, according to government advice to schools on the national curriculum, is how to assess achievements in English: 'For PC1 (Speaking and listening): The PC level is the TA level. For PC2 (Reading): The PC level is the NC Test level. For PC3 (Writing): First examine the constituent AT levels, based on the NC Test levels and the TA level in the case of AT4/5:- If the TA in AT4/5 (Presentation) is at level 7 and the AT3 (Writing) is at level 8, then the PC level is the AT3NC Test level . . .' and so on for another 10 lines. The section concludes: 'Divide this total by 10.'

ON the 10th day of the Cuban missile crisis, 30 years ago this month, President Kennedy noticed a particularly attractive secretary who had been temporarily drafted into the White House to cope with the extra work. Turning to his Defense Secretary, Robert McNamara, he said: 'Get her name. We may avert a nuclear war tonight.'

Wrong track

JOHN MACGREGOR, Secretary of State for Transport, intended to deliver the definitive MacGregor view on Europe this Thursday to a meeting of the Young Conservatives in Brighton. He is president of the YCs this year. Mr MacGregor was somewhat taken aback, therefore, to discover that the YCs had invited him to speak on railway transport policy. We understand he intends to begin his speech with the words 'All rails lead to the Channel tunnel' before moving hastily on to a detailed account of his perspective on Europe, Maastricht, EMU and the hard ecu, et al.

THE 90 minutes that unfolded on a windy field in Brighton yesterday morning were as extravagant and dazzling as anything devotees of the Italian Serie A con Gazza could dream of witnessing. In the annual Press Gallery vs Young Tories football match, the press triumphed with a display of steely resolve under pressure of which the Bundesbank would have been proud. It was a game of two halves, graced momentarily at the start by the Tory party chairman, Sir Norman Fowler, whose motto for conference week is: 'This is where the fightback begins.' With a four-nil defeat.

THE multitude of fund-raising events in Ireland for Somalia has ranged from a choir of thousands that raised IR pounds 100,000 ( pounds 108,000) singing Handel's Messiah in Dublin last week, to sponsored swims of the Liffey. The event that has caused unprecedented bliss among the teachers of Cork, however, is the sponsored silence. Junior secondary school pupils there have managed two hours at a stretch, while senior teenagers achieved a staggering six hours.

FURTHER to our recent stories from within Harrods about the welcome the store gives to celebrity authors, we should record that the management's own inquiries reveal staff have never been asked to pose as customers.

A Day Like This

6 October 1844 Caroline Fox records her visit to Wordsworth in the Lake District: 'He took us to his terrace, whence the view is delicious; he said 'Without those autumn tints it would be beautiful, with them it is exquisite'. We wondered whether the scenery had any effect on the minds of the poorer people. He thinks it has, though they don't learn to express it in neat phrases, but it dwells silently within them. I cannot believe but that when the poor read of these things in their Bibles, and the frequent mention of mountains in the Psalms, their minds glow at the thought of their own mountains, and they realise it all more clearly than others.'