Diary

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Lechery and malice: a minister's memoirs

ALAN CLARK, the outspoken former defence minister, has sold his memoirs to Weidenfeld & Nicolson for an impressive pounds 150,000. The bid succeeded after three competing publishing houses were called to present their plans for production and promotion to Clark himself. 'It was a testing viva, but it's nice to know it's not just a question of chequebook,' says a satisfied Ion Trewin, Weidenfeld's publishing director. He worked with Caroline Michel, of his parent company, Orion - who thus beat her husband, Matthew Evans of Faber, who had bid pounds 130,000. Clark, 64, is busy transcribing long-hand ledgers for a volume, named simply Diaries, to be published next summer. It will cover the period he was in government, from 1983 until 1991. He told us yesterday, 'They are not just political diaries, though politics was my principal occupation. I told Julian Critchley they are equal parts lechery, malice and self-pity, and that stands.' Clark will make no cuts - that is to be left to his editor 'and Peter Carter-Ruck'. One thing he will try to avoid: 'Signing books, like Jeffrey Archer. We're all vain, but that's naff.'

Back at the Booker, the table- tattle was all about the Cape table's early departure with their bruised contender, Ian McEwan, author of Black Dogs. They even missed the speech by Sir Michael Caine, chairman of Booker plc. And, avoiding the Groucho Club party organised by all the publishers, they had a quiet drink at the home of Cape's Tom Maschler. All this pleased the bookies, who would have lost had McEwan won. As it is they are happily paying out half the odds on the two joint winners.

SOMEONE called Madonna came in for verbal flagellation yesterday from Cliff Richard. He told the BBC's Good Morning haughtily: 'We all know about sex and how babies happen, we all know about that sort of thing.' We do, do we, Cliff?

City and the 'Sun' AN INSIGHT into the formulation of editorial policy on the Sun comes by way of Greed and Glory, a Channel 4 programme on the City to be screened this Sunday. Damien McCrystal, the Sun's first city editor, tells of the discussion in 1987 of a campaign for the sacking of Sir Nicholas Goodison, then chairman of the Stock Exchange. McCrystal explains that his City contacts were fed up with Goodison, so he went to see Kelvin MacKenzie to ask if he could ask for 'Goodison's head on a plate'. 'And Kelvin said, 'Why, what's he done?' And I thought of the complexity of explaining all these arguments to him and to my shame I decided to sum it all up by saying 'he's a c-BLEEP-t' (bleeps courtesy of C4). Kelvin looked at me and said, 'Is he? All right, f-BLEEP-king have him]' And that was that. Goodison, five years on, says he 'rather enjoyed' the campaign, and himself sported a 'Goodison Must Go' badge. A few days later he was pleased to see a Stock Exchange caretaker wearing a homemade badge that read 'Stick with Nick'.

WILLIAM Waldegrave failed to make it to Tuesday night's Oxford Union debate, leaving John Patten and Peter Lilley to a lonely defeat by 405 votes to 173, as the union declared that it had no confidence in the Government. Toby Lewis, the proposer of the motion, scored the night's first point: Mr Waldegrave couldn't be there 'because he's working on the Citizen's Charter which deals with those who arrive late and break promises'.

Battle of the bands THE RECESSION is grim business in London and Frankfurt, but are they taking it seriously enough out west? Traders on the Pacific Stock Exchange in Los Angeles have been whiling away their time by having rubber band battles. A stuffy memo says the sniping is 'getting out of hand', is dangerous, and 'detracts from the appearance of professionalism'. There's now a fine of dollars 1,000 for the first offence, dollars 2,000 for the second and dollars 5,000 for the third. My, a skirmish could easily cost a trader his Porsche]

A LABOUR press officer moans: 'The Tories have all the best phrases. Winter of Discontent] We've nothing as good as that.' A bottle of champagne and a place in the history books, then, for a succinct summation of Black Wednesday, the job losses, and all the other horrors in store this autumn.

A day like this

15 October 1896 Arnold Bennett writes in his journal: 'Does there exist a being who has read all that the person of average culture is supposed to have read, and that not to have read is a social sin? If such a being does exist, surely he is a very old man, who has read 16 hours a day, from early infancy. I cannot recall a single author of whom I have read everything - even of Jane Austen. Then there are large tracts of Shakespeare, Bacon, Spenser, nearly all Chaucer, Congreve, Dryden, Pope, Swift, Sterne, Johnson, Scott, Coleridge, Shelley, Byron, Lamb, Leigh Hunt, Wordsworth, Tennyson, Swinburne, the Brontes, George Eliot, Morris, Meredith, Hardy, Thackeray, Carlyle - in fact, every classical author and most good modern authors, which I have never even overlooked.'

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