Diary

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World-weary in any language

THEY are the names that echo round the halls of motoring history. The Model T. The Cortina and the Escort. The Granada and the Sierra. Even the Scorpio and the Orion. Launched yesterday was the new Ford Mondeo - advertising slogan 'The New Ford Mondeo'. Ford 'pooled its global creative resources' for that, but doesn't it sound like a bad Harry Belafonte refrain? And what does it mean? It's not even a ski resort. Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles used to say 'Mondo', where you or I might say 'Good egg]' or 'Topping]', but they're yesterday's reptiles. The word Mondeo was chosen, of course, because it was bland, no one else had bagged it, and, according to Ford, it 'reflects the global identity of the car'. Which means that a slice of it was made in Britain, and, rather depressingly, that anywhere you go in the (nice bits) of the world you'll be able to drive a Ford Mondeo. As far as we can tell, the word doesn't actually mean anything in any language, though in Latin-based ones there's an obvious relation to words meaning world and worldly: mundo, monde, mondo, mondain, mondial, mundane. In Serbo-Croat monden means playboy or jetsetter. But the adjective mondok in Malay means short, thick or stumpy. That'll impress the Malaysian dealerships. By the way, the grumpy reactionary's way to pronounce Mondeo, if you have to, is Mun-dee-oh.

AH] Here's the Department of Transport's Good Roads Guide, an 'environmental design guide for inter-urban roads'. Pity the glossy picture on the front is of a swathe of M40 chopping the Chiltern Hills at Aston Rowant - bang in the middle of a National Nature Reserve.

What you missed FULL-page colour adverts appeared in last Sunday's newspapers to record the end of the European Arts Festival. You may not have noticed it while it was happening (you missed New Ceramics From Asturias?) but the Government did spend some pounds 6m on 400 bits of culture to jewel the crown of Britain's European presidency. Sadly, John Drummond and David Pickard, the festival organisers, resolutely refused to discuss with us their novel idea of advertising the event after the event (at a cost of perhaps pounds 10,000). Times are hard for many of Britain's more permanent arts organisations, so we turned to one of them, the Battersea Arts Centre, for a comment. Director Paul Blackman says: 'I defend the right of any festival to fail, and they have exercised this right spectacularly.'

WHAT, we wondered, inspires the team behind the Channel 4 comedy series Absolutely to produce gags like 'Englishman, three letters, begins with g, ends in it'? A fierce sense of national pride? 'Drugs,' explained team member Jack Docherty at the London launch of the new series on Tuesday. 'Drink,' adds colleague Pete Baikie. 'Umm, more drugs,' concludes Docherty.

Boat show booty THERE'S little for recession-hit yachties at this year's Boat Show at Earl's Court. The prototype Kyosho Beneteau has real wood planking, costs a mere pounds 99.99 but is sadly only 26in long. But there is the Boxboat, which turns from one into the other, avoiding mooring fees and clipping on to your roof-rack for extra storage space. Even better is a pounds 380 coracle, circular with a cow's tail attached, which could easily double as a dog basket if necessary.

THE LA Weekly tells us of an invitation to California Overeaters Anonymous's 33rd birthday party. Sounds tempting, but the press release explains: 'As the practice of anonymity is the cornerstone of our program, we regret that we cannot supply you with the names of any speakers nor identify the recipient of our annual award.'

SO who's benefiting from events in Shetland? Well, the organisers of the pounds 450-a-head conference in Lerwick on 30 March: 'Managing the marine environment: the Shetland Standard.'

A DAY LIKE THIS

7 January 1865 Edward Lear writes to Lady Duncan: 'You & Miss Duncan will be much pleased to hear what occurred just after you left yesterday. Imagine how much surprised & gratified I was by a visit from the two considerate Frogs, who brought their two eldest Tadpoles also to see me. They did not stay above 20 minutes, as they had a good way to go home, & I was vexed that there was nothing but a piece of cold lamb in the house & some Marsala, both of which they declined, saying that either Watercresses or small beetles would have been pleasant, but that they were not hungry. I did not quite know at first how to be civil to the Tadpoles, as I found that owing to their long tails they could not sit on chairs as their parents did; I therefore put them into a wash hand basin, & they seemed happy enough.'

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