Diary

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JUST WHAT THE SPONSOR ORDERED

YESTERDAY a London lawyer launched an attempt to win legal aid to sue the Health Secretary, Virginia Bottomley, over the lack of facilities available to treat a two- year-old suffering from a fatal disease and needing a bone-marrow transplant. But Alan Meyer, legal adviser to the Westminster Hospitals Development Fund, has it all wrong: what he should be doing is seeking a sponsorship deal. And to that end he could attend a conference to be held by the Royal Society of Medicine on 27 May entitled 'Commercial Sponsorship in the Provision of Healthcare'. Doctors and managers will be told everything they need to know about how they can win sponsorship for nurses, pharmacists and all those other little add-on extras - like transplant clinics - that the NHS is short of these days. Sir George Pinker, former gynaecologist to the Queen and president of the society, will give the opening address. David Grahame-Smith, Professor of Clinical Pharmacology at Radcliffe Infirmary, Oxford will talk on ideas for sponsorship tie-ups with hospital clinical investigations. And the fee for attending the conference? For most of us, including journalists wishing to report the event, pounds 440.60. Next: your lung- cancer operation brought to you by Silk Cut.

WHO WAS THAT at a recent party held by the Guardian singing, to the tune of 'Who wants to be a millionaire?': 'Who wants to be a leader of the Labour Party? I don't]' None other than the last leader of the Labour party, Neil Kinnock MP, apparently.

DENNIS THE MENACE

Channel 4's Opinions series has been casting a gloom over our Sunday evenings with half-hour diatribes on the state of the realm by various public figures: Alan Clark, Professor Brian Cox, Linda Colley and Sir James Goldsmith have all spouted. Last Sunday's speech was a good deal more jolly - the film maker Dennis Potter seized the pulpit and launched with gusto into a swingeing attack on Britain's 'prostituted press', particularly journalists who criticised his Channel 4 series Lipstick on Your Collar. This widened into an attack on the malign influence of Rupert Murdoch and his newspapers on the health of contemporary Britain. Murdoch was 'that drivel-merchant, global huckster and so-to- speak media psychopath . . . a Hannibal the Cannibal'; Kelvin MacKenzie 'the sharp little oaf who edits the Sun'; or Garry Bushell, the Sun columnist as 'that sub-literate, homophobic, sniggering rictus of a lout'. Cruel stuff, a full text of which we were looking forward to reading in yesterday's Times, which has printed each of the Opinions so far broadcast. But no - the Times, another of Murdoch's papers, limited itself to a brief news report of the speech and none of the juicy bits. Just as unsurprising is the news that Potter will not be taking part in this week's Opinions public forum sponsored by the Times at Westminster Central Hall.

SCENE: a leaving party in the News and Current Affairs department at BBC Television Centre last week. Champagne corks are a-popping, David Dimbleby pops his head round the door, and says: 'A bit early to start celebrating, isn't it?'

PHANTOM OF THE OPERA

Anyone offered you a dodgy load of scores to Peter Grimes lately? City of London police are investigating this most peculiar theft from the Barbican Hall. Sometime last Thursday night, after the London Symphony Orchestra stopped rehearsing Britten's opera under Mstislav Rostropovich, someone entered the locked hall and removed all the parts from the players' music stands. 'It's utterly baffling - I don't think it can have been a joke, and I can't think of anyone who bears us a grudge,' says Clive Gillinson, the orchestra's managing director. The LSO was forced to go begging to the English National Opera for help.

A DAY LIKE THIS

23 March 1921 Bertolt Brecht writes in his diary, after learning that Marianne Zoff, pregnant with his child, intends marrying another man: 'This evening I was drinking with Cas and philosophising about whether one can scribble enough in four weeks to earn the kind of sum that a profiteer makes in a morning. Is a woman to be allowed to drift away because of a momentary monetary shortage which will be put right the next day, simply because she's frightened and wants to sleep in a lifeboat even though everything is perfectly all right? But of course I want Timbuctoo and a child and a house and no doors and to be alone in bed and to have a woman in bed, the apple off the tree and the timber, too, and not to wield the axe and to have the tree complete with blossom, apples and foliage, all in close-up outside my window. Plus a man to dig manure.'

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