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ENRICHED by his city earnings, the former Chancellor Norman Lamont is, I gather, thinking of selling his Notting Hill home. The four-bedroomed Georgian house close to the Tube station attracted infamy two years ago when the Lamonts inadvertently let the basement to a sex therapist, Sara Dale, and then paid for the subsequent legal costs with government money.

According to neighbours, the house which the Lamonts let out while living at 11 Downing Street is in need of redecoration. This comes as a surprise - the Lamonts are fond of hosting social events, while Rosemary Lamont is a former contributor to House & Garden magazine and was recently asked to supervise the redecoration of Number 11.

Now her husband, who earns approximately pounds 50,000 from all his non-executive city directorships, on top of his Rothschild's salary, is said to be casting around Westminster for a new seat in the countryside, since his present constituency of Kingston upon Thames is under threat of abolition.

Whether it is this uncertainty that has inspired plans to sell, he is reluctant to say; yesterday he would not even confirm that he has consulted an estate agent. 'I have not put the house on the market,' he insists. Only time will reveal all.

THE only national newspaper not to record the late change of programme for last night's Big Story on Carlton Television - the new programme, 'Snapping the Ratbags', showed the reaction of Mirror editors David Banks (favourable) and Colin Myler (not so favourable) to intrusions on their privacy by camera teams outside their homes - was, you've guessed it, the Daily Mirror. Mirror readers must therefore have been disappointed to miss the scheduled programme, entitled 'problems of seriously mentally disturbed people living in the community'.

Out of tune

THE ROW over the Arts Council's demolition plans for two of London's four orchestras rumbles on, although Lord Palumbo and his cohorts are increasingly reluctant to share their thoughts with the outside world. The BBC2 programme The Late Show thought it had cracked the Westminster edifice behind which Palumbo sits sipping the occasional glass of sherry. The Late Show was told by the Arts Council that Bryan Magee, the philosopher and chairman of the council's music panel, would be the man to take part in a televised debate on the issue. Researchers began work on the programme, then rang Magee to discuss the details. No deal. The Late Show is now desperate to fill the hole. Meanwhile, Magee is unrepentant: 'Readers of newspapers have been given a mistaken view of what we intend to do, and the programme would only further muddy the situation.'

A HAPPY footnote to that shipwreck on Monday when 60 people had to be airlifted to safety after the Latvian fish factory ship Lunhods hit the rocks. The ship's cat was rescued yesterday after it was spotted clinging to the rigging, a la Jim Hawkins, in a bedraggled state.

'We don't know it's name, but we think it should be called Lucky,' says the harbour master's office.

God needs help NEVER underestimate the wit of gardeners. According to a letter in this week's Country Life, a gentleman once stopped to converse with a gardener at work in the grounds of St Paul's Cathedral in London. A passing member of the clergy who overheard the conversation couldn't resist putting in his pennyworth. 'It's wonderful what God can do in a garden with a gardener's help,' he observed. Quick as a flash the young gardener responded: 'Yes, but he makes a hell of a mess of it if he's left to himself.'


12 November 1903 Arnold Bennett in Paris writes: 'Bostock's Great Animal Arena at the Hippodrome. First night. Vast crowds. The whole performance consisted of wild-animal tricks. The principal dompteur had some exciting moments in the vast cage with lionesses, a tiger, several bears, a hyena, a leopard, two superb dogs, and other animals. When a crisis arrived the Frenchmen around me were as impressed as children. Some of the crises were apparently somewhat dangerous. During a long bout of opposing wills between the trainer and the tiger, the tiger chewed up a good part of a wooden seat and splintered the gate over which he was meant to jump. At the beginning the crowd was captious and fractious, but the applause was now tremendous. The performance was really rather out of the way, and I appreciated more than I have done before the charm of danger in a show, real danger.'