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Booking now, ladies of the night

Businessmen checking into Manchester's Victoria and Albert hotel next month may, I suspect, be rather reluctant to tell their wives too much about the room they book into. The V&A is certainly one of the city's most exclusive hotels - but as of 5 June, it will have a new room dedicated entirely to prostitutes.

All the rooms in the hotel, owned by Granada TV, are designed around the station's programmes. Guests can stay in the Jewel in the Crown suite, the University Challenge room, Brideshead Revisited and the like - even the inauspiciously titled A Family at War suite. All very tasteful, you understand. But it was a very brave designer who came up with the idea to base one of the new rooms, part of a large extension, on Band of Gold, the gritty series about hookers with hearts, featuring Cathy Tyson (above).

"The thought of some of the rooms having an added meaning did cross our minds," admits the manager, Jim Diamond. "But in the case of Band of Gold," he adds hastily, "the room is not fully themed."

Sorry, gentlemen, but no ladies of the night harnessed to the wardrobe, then. (Just for the record, the new Cracker theme will not be fitted out with an extra-wide, Robbie Coltrane-size bed. "All our rooms," sniffs Mr Diamond, "contain king-size beds.")

Force of numbers

A quick puzzle for the typists among you. See if you can work this out.

A series of advertisements have been appearing in the Scottish press, timed to coincide with a Tory conference north of the border, boasting that the Government has recruited an extra 19,000 police officers since 1979.

Really? Nineteen thousand? Not according to the Scottish Police Federation, it hasn't - their statistics record an increase of precisely 1,265.

Oh yes, blushed Tory officials to whom this was pointed out. You're absolutely right. You see, they explained, "It was a typographical error."

Hmm. Try it at home on your keyboard: 19,000, 1,265. Easy mistake to make, isn't it?

Rigatoni for socialists

That's it. It's official. Socialism is dead, long live new Labour, and all power to the sun-dried tomato. This is the only conclusion to be drawn from the latest missive from Keith Flett, inveterate writer of letters to newspapers, and self-proclaimed last bastion of old Labour. His latest proposal, pursued with his usual revolutionary zeal, is The Proletarian Cook, a recipe book that pledges to rail against microwave ovens, "so- called Blairite cuisine", and "the tendency towards bourgeoisification in radical and socialist eating". Sample recipes include, quite properly, tripe and onions, fish in batter, eel, liquor and mash. Good stuff.

But what else should we find lurking on Flett's so-called left-wing list of recommended eats? "Fresh pasta".

Fresh pasta? The staple of every new Labour Islington fridge worth its salt? Mr Flett, you should be ashamed of yourself.

Better than the Bard?

You just can't beat a luvvie for a bit of good old green-eyed jealousy, can you?

Emma Thompson's Oscar for her screenplay of Sense and Sensibility really must have stung poor estranged Kenneth Branagh. What else could explain his venture into the publishing world? He is, I learn, not only publishing a book about the making of his film version of Hamlet - a perfect parallel to Emma's account of making S&S - but also rather proudly publishing his script. What dialogue worthy of publication he can add to Shakespeare's finest play, I really can't imagine.

Full flush in Bath

Fierce comparisons between Bath and Wigan there have been aplenty, following the northern town's recent rout over the spa at rugby. Northern grit and southern refinement have been fighting tooth and nail.

Now, I am delighted to bring you the definitive verdict on this tussle of two cities. It reaches me via All Mod Cons, that organisation dedicated to, well, public conveniences.

Bath, I must report, is commended for recently producing The Bath Loo Guide - a "very useful little document" listing all the city's toilets. Wigan, on the other hand, comes bottom of the national convenience league table. It has precisely one public loo.

I think that rather settles the matter.

Eagle Eye

Forget it, Action Man, Sindy's made the team

And who said football was just for the lads? With the European championships just about to kick off, women's soaring interest in the game now has its own mascot - the lovely, all new, oh-so-striking Footballing Sindy.

Not that Sindy is just interested in her natty footballing outfit. Oh no. In fact, I'm told Sindy has been extremely busy these past few months, picking her own first team for Euro96. Models Jamie Redknapp, Ian Walker, Steve McManaman and Stan Collymore all make her first XI - though looks, she giggles, have nothing to do with her selection. Of course.

Sadly, Sindy's long-term boyfriend, Paul, the lesser known counterpart to Barbie's Ken, does not, she whispers coyly, even make the subs' bench. And as for those rumours about Hoddle wanting her for his number two - Sindy would like it on record right now that theirs is strictly a professional partnership.

More a case of get your kit on for the lads, then, Sind!