Diary

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Not only Oldie but very latey

AN unfortunate clash of managerial styles was tempestuously in evidence at the West End offices of the Oldie magazine on Monday, when the former Observer editor Donald Trelford took up his temporary post as editor in the absence of Richard Ingrams, who is writing a biography of Malcolm Muggeridge.

Trelford, 56, turned up punctually at 9.30am, as is his habit, only to find that he was unable to gain access to the premises because they were locked. 'Never mind,' (or words to that effect) he thought, and prepared to wait patiently for his staff to let him in.

Sadly, he had seriously underestimated the laxity of the Oldie's editorial team. It was a long wait - two hours, to be precise - before the first signs of human life came anywhere near the entrance. Trelford's patience had long since evaporated and, by all accounts, he could scarcely manage a civil greeting.

With Herculean effort, he contrived, however, to contain himself. Rushing into his new office, he studiously ignored everyone, including his secretary, preferring to pen his own missives in a furious silence. 'I fear we're all going to have to pull our socks up,' said one chastened employee.

LEAVES, the wrong type of snow, and now this BR announcement at Sevenoaks in Kent: 'This service has been cancelled because we have lost the train.'

Counting the cost

WESTMINSTER Council is experiencing problems merely trying to meet in the wake of the district auditor's report into gerrymandering at the council. The chief executive, Merv Montacute, has sent all the councillors a letter cancelling the Policy and Resources Committee meeting, scheduled for tomorrow and intended 'to receive the auditor's provisional findings and views'.

'We have been told that, under the circumstances, it would be a criminal offence to hold a closed meeting,' says a spokesman. 'Therefore we hope to have an open meeting next week instead.'

Labour has now asked Montacute to draw up a list of all those Conservative members who ought to be debarred from the debate because of conflict of interest. 'The irony is that there are 45 Tories on the council and only 15 Labour,' quipped one councillor. 'By the time all the Tories who have a conflict of interest have been debarred, we could be left with a Labour majority.'

ONE of the central characters in Edwina Currie's political thriller, A Parliamentary Affair, is Elaine Stalker, a new Tory MP criticised by some colleagues for her flair for self-publicity. Sounds familiar. If Mrs Currie is writing thinly veiled autobiography, there is another clue - she and her heroine share the same birthday. There is only one other ex- MP born on the same day: Baroness Thatcher.

File under dump

FEW Reuters journalists took much notice of the increasingly strident requests from the management to clear their desks before the company's move to their new offices last weekend. A pity. As the deadline approached for the move from Fleet Street to the ITN building at Gray's Inn Road, a senior journalist decided to teach the hacks a lesson.

Waiting until the newsroom was empty, he swept files, notebooks and other essentials from the desks (even emptying the in-trays) and deposited them all in plastic bags. Leaving the bags in a back office, he disappeared into the night, intending to reassure his colleagues about their possessions the following day.

Too late. The next morning, the hacks arrived at their desks at 7am. The dustmen had called at 6am, assumed the bags were rubbish, and duly carted them away. 'By the time we arrived,' said one of the victims, 'the files were in the back of the lorry, and the lorry was on its way. There was a certain amount of bad comment flying about that day.'

A DAY LIKE THIS

19 January 1924 Dora Carrington writes to Frances Marshall from Granada, in Spain, where she is staying with Gerald Brenan: 'So many letters seem to have been written to you that I can't think of anything to tell you. I do wish you were a little rasher. Why didn't you abandon all and follow us? The sun alone would have been worth it, and who would live on coffee in Gerrard Street when he or she could eat persimmons, grapes, oranges and coffee stuffed with chestnuts? And why do people eat breakfast in the cold shades of Brunswick Square when they might bask in the sun, munch toast and cherry jam on a roof gazing on the sea and the green mountains of Africa? And who would go to parties in the Fulham Road when he or she could sit over a log fire and watch the dancers of the Alpujarras and hear exquisite shepherds sing ravishing coplas? I have seldom been so happy continuously day after day.'

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