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A sight too sore for the minister's eyes

NURSING staff at a home for the severely mentally disabled in Peterborough had been looking forward to a visit from the junior Health minister Brian Mawhinney, but no longer. When he arrives at the Gloucester Centre tomorrow to launch the North West Anglia Healthcare Trust, the place will be different. Staff have been ordered to keep awkward, noisy and incontinent residents away from the minister's gaze, and they are unhappy about the pounds 400 spent on prettifying the home for the day. But there is one bright spot. A celebration lunch will be laid on, with Cold Healthcare Platter, Anglian Raspberry and Kiwi Surprise and Trust Fudge Cake. Everyone will be welcome, with perhaps one exception. To the staff's relief, Dr Mawhinney will not be attending.

BP is rather sensitive about explosions on its sites, so staff at its chemicals plant at Hull were relieved to read on their noticeboard the other day about the following incident. There had indeed been an explosion, the notice said, but there was no need to worry. It happened in the kitchen, where a custard pie had over-expanded.

Doctors' orders?

GUY'S Hospital is in the business of saving peoples' lives, isn't it? That's all right then. Just as long as it's not expected to get down to the nitty- gritty of financial administration.

Despite an income of pounds 180m last year, the hospital has been making a series of redundancies in an attempt to save pounds 750,000. That seems par for the course in hospitals these days. But how can the following be explained? HMSO, which supplies Guy's with important government publications, including the Patient's Charter documents, has withdrawn credit from the hospital because of non-payment of its bills.

However, all is well again. Tomorrow, the hospital joins forces with St Thomas. And, to avoid embarrassment, Guy's, which no doubt feels that its new partner would resent having to pay cash for its publications, has agreed to foot the bill.

IT PAYS to be a female model in television ads these days - the five super-glams in the new Vauxhall Corsa ad are each receiving a reported pounds 500,000 - but not so the men. Tim Berrington, the actor in the Jaguar ad, may look like a rich man as he drives his Jag through the Italian countryside but, off- screen, his cars have been less than the up-to-date model, and less, well, reliable. His Ford Cortina broke down in central London the other day, and had to be towed away. In despair, he bought a blue Beetle, which proceeded to break down the following day, and hasn't started since.


AT LEAST two publications out this week carry interviews with people whose sayings do not carry quite the same weight that they might have done when first expressed.

In Hello] magazine, Debbie Moore gives an interesting insight into her Pineapple business. Talking about the day the Dance Centre in Covent Garden closed down, she says it was 'a disaster for the dance world. So I decided to open one myself, and it became my vocation in life'.

Oh dear. As the magazine rather uncharacteristically points out, the Pineapple empire 'came up against a few financial problems last week', an unforeseen circumstance when the magazine interviewed Moore earlier this year (she has been told by the receivers to stop trading).

Hello] also carries an interview with the Duchess of York, which we won't go into, other than to point out that it has pictures of her sitting model-ishly in her new home, Romenda Lodge, where 'the only indication of her recent problems is the addition of a paper shredder'.

Then there is the Journalist's Handbook, which carries an interview with the Daily Mirror editor, David Banks. Speaking before the resignation/dismissal of the political editor Alastair Campbell, and yesterday's exit of Paul Foot, he describes the Mirror as 'a caring and compassionate newspaper'. Richard Stott, Anne Robinson et al may well disagree.

RICHARD DUNWOODY, a National Hunt jockey, was back in the saddle yesterday after being arrested when he didn't take kindly to a London hotel closing its bar. He won the race, so the drinks are on him. His horse in the 3.55 at Sandown: Must Have A Swig.


31 March 1930 Andre Gide, aged 60, writes in his journal: 'I read a great deal of English with extraordinary pleasure, and more and more easily. I do not think that my faculties are diminishing, but a secret, morose resignation makes me apply them with less hope and ardour. I aspire less to vanquish what strikes me as less impregnable or less indispensable to my happiness. The satisfaction it would give me seems to me more empty, and the time too short that is left to me to enjoy it. It is not without self-directed irony that I am still striving to learn. Everything I learn today could have been of some advantage to me 20 years earlier. Looking back over my life, what saddens me is the thought of the little I have done, the thought of all I might have done and should have done. All the books I should have written, so many countries I might have known, so much happiness I might have caused.'