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Poetic licence puts judge in a pickle

UNRECONSTRUCTED? He's practically from the Maastrichtian period. Writing in next month's issue of Elle, James Pickles, the retired circuit judge, offers a steamy account of how he lost his virginity at Oxford University on V E Day in 1945. The 67-year-old, who once jailed an assault victim for refusing to give evidence against her boyfriend, recounts his brief encounter with Pamela, probably an undergraduate at Lady Margaret Hall. She 'had ample luscious lips, wide eyes and big tits', he says. 'I didn't even know at which end to start undressing her.' Sadly, 'the fumbling and groping were over before they began, almost'. The self-admitted 'sucker for big tits' says: 'Women rightly spend a fortune packaging those passion-arousing appendages, pushing them up lasciviously and cleaving them. Most arousing of all, some go bra-less if the tits will stand it, and stand up and out; rising and rippling as they run, they look like two randy ferrets in a sack wildly trying to mate.' Phew. Yesterday a slightly chastened Pickles told us that his account should not be taken literally. He wrote the piece for pounds 800 when he was writing his first, as yet unpublished, novel, provisionally entitled Circuit of Sex, a 'humorous and romantic' work consisting mostly of judge-barristerial extra-robing-room relations. The article was not 'an affidavit', Pickles says. He had been 'poetical, not economical, with the truth'. He had lost his virginity to a fellow undergraduate but his partner might not have been from Lady Margaret Hall; she could have been from Somerville, St Hugh's or St Anne's. 'It is a very long time ago, nearly 50 years. I was a young man then and I am an old man now.'

THE UK wing of the Democratic Party is rallying to Bill Clinton's standard with a series of fund-raising dinners featuring celebrity guest speakers. First up last night was Bob Worcester, head of the cloudy ball-gazing pollsters Mori, while future speakers include the electorally challenged Sir David Steel and Michael Foot. A glittering array, sure, but about as helpful to Clinton's cause as, well, a lead in the opinion polls?

Norman's a natural

AS Norman Lamont scrapes around for ideas on how to revive the sagging economy, perhaps he should cast his mind back to the run-up to the general election. While waiting in BBC Television Centre to be interviewed, he idled away the moments listening to a Natural Law Party spokeman spell out the yogic hoppers' tax proposals in a party political broadcast. At the end of the broadcast a BBC assistant came over and said: 'I expect you think that's all stuff and nonsense, Minister.' 'Well, actually,' Lamont replied, 'I think I'm rather persuaded.' So there you go , then - eliminate VAT, reduce direct taxation to 20 per cent and start levitating.

AS IF Antonia de Sancha's sympathy was not bad enough, David Mellor now has to contend with the condolences of Les Chudzicki, the freelance photographer who sold the story of the unlucky liaison to the People. Interviewed in his local newspaper, the Uxbridge Gazette, yesterday, he says he feels 'really sorry for Mellor that he got pushed out because he was a very good minister - he was very helpful to the arts'. This from the man who sold the story for around pounds 40,000 and then charged newspapers pounds 10,000 to see the 'love nest'.

Snapping snappers

REVOLUTION was in the air at the Milan fashion show yesterday. Fifty of the world's leading photographers staged a walkout from the Prada catwalk, refusing to photograph an event that cost the Milanese luxury goods house a cool pounds 100,000. After years of being taken for granted by the fashion houses, their patience snapped when they were refused permission to bring their camera bags into the show and then told to wait outside until all the store buyers were seated. 'We've had enough,' snapped Chris Moore, godfather of the catwalk photographers, 'of being herded like sheep.' Which left Prada with just one in-house snapper and two Japanese film crews.

SEVEN identical press releases, all in separate envelopes but sent to the same addressee, have just arrived at this newspaper; it's the kind of crass wastage of trees, fuel and money that happens from time to time. The press release alerts us to a forthcoming and fat report on how well the sender is keeping its green promises. And who might that sender be? The Department of the Environment.


8 October 1913 W N F Barbellion records in his journal: 'Heard a knock at the door last night, and thinking it was R-, I unbolted it and let in a tramp who asked God to bless me and crown all my sorrow with joy. An amiable fellow to be sure - so I gave him some coppers and he repeated with wonderful fervour, 'God bless you sir.' 'I wish he would,' I answered, 'I have a horrible cold.' 'Ah, I know, I gets it myself and the hinfluenza - have you had that, sir?' In ten minutes I should have told him all my personal history. But he was thirsting for a drink and went off quickly and left me with my heart unburthened. London is a lonely place.'