Diary

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TWENTY THINGS YOU DIDN'T KNOW . . .

Could you join Fleet Street's finest? Are you bright enough to work for the Sun? Find out with this general knowledge test, distributed on Monday by the fun- loving editor, Kelvin MacKenzie, to his staff.

Who is the transport secretary? What does Dick Emery's daughter do for a living? Which Page Three girl is pregnant? When is the Daily Mirror's AGM? What does Nigel Mansell's father do? What is the inflation rate? Who is Bill Clinton's running mate? Who is Lady Helen Windsor's husband-to-be? How much did the Sun raise for the blind boy Nicholas Killen?

Tough stuff. But don't worry - if you got more than three right, you did better than the average Sun journalist. This poor showing has reportedly caused Kelvin much pain - and may explain why, yesterday, the Sun appointed Ganesh Sittampalam temporary editor of the paper. He's the 13-year-old who has just gained a first-class honours degree in mathematics. You might think Ganesh a tad over-qualified, though; when not wrestling with higher algebra he enjoys Neighbours, Eldorado and reads the Beano. Yesterday Ganesh was said to be settling into the job as if to the manner born. 'He's sitting there bollocking people, threatening to sack them. He's brilliant,' said one reporter. (PS: the Independent, according to the Sun's leading article of last Saturday, is a paper 'edited by twerps with morons in mind'.)

THIS IS TOO extraordinary to let pass. At least two US soldiers die each year as a result of kicking faulty vending machines, according to a US army study. Another 25 GIs are injured after 'kicking, striking, shaking or otherwise assaulting malfunctioning vending machines which in consequence fall over'.

NOT QUITE OK YAH

Is the Sloane Ranger dead? There was one splashing around the fountain in Sloane Square yesterday, wearing green wellies and a Barbour jacket. His name was Clive Hopkins and he'd just been nominated the Harpers & Queen Sloane Ranger of the Year. A product of Wellington School and agricultural college in Cirencester, Clive spends most weekends in the country playing cricket, watching polo and shooting with his black labrador, Ellie. Sarah Randall, a friend, who nominated him for the award, tells us: 'That's the funny thing about it - it's all true.' But a close examination of the fizz Clive was quaffing showed it to be sparkling Australian white wine, and not champagne at all. Furthermore, he lives not in Kensington, but Kennington - which is not just the wrong side of the tracks, but the wrong side of the river.

WE TOLD you yesterday about the all-party parliamentary arts and heritage group's visit to Czechoslovakia last year, during which some of their number were mistaken for international art thieves. But we were wrong to tell you the trip was a 'freebie'. Patrick Cormack MP, who set up the group in 1975, asks us to point out that, as always, the group paid its own way.

ST PANCRAS' DAY?

There's not a lot in the Bible about railways, still less how to privatise them. But, mercifully for the Transport Secretary, John MacGregor, help arrived yesterday with Radio 4's Thought for the Day. As MacGregor munched through his boiled egg and soldiers, he might have heard Paul Johns, a management consultant and Methodist lay preacher, explain: 'Sometimes station announcers say not 'the next train from platform one', but 'the next service . . .' The hallmark of the community God wants us to be is mutual service. Jesus defined his own life - the model for all life - in terms of service. Whether the train leaves Paddington from platform one or gate one in future, I don't mind. What does concern me is that, in future, the train should be financed and run by people who understand and accept the commitment to serve the whole community, rich and poor.' Amen to that.

A SMALL ad in the latest edition of Boyz, the gay magazine, invites you to 'meet the man of your dreams' through an 'exclusive dating agency for discerning gentlemen' called Mori. This can't be the pollsters - trying to keep busy since we all lost faith in their magic on 10 April - surely?

A DAY LIKE THIS

15 July 1900 Raymond Asquith describes a bathing party at Mells Park: 'Haldane is an imperfect but courageous performer in the water and to see his immense but stately figure clad in a very scanty bathing dress and recklessly precipitating from dizzy altitudes into this green and flowery pond was really exquisite; the quiet slowness and dignity with which he put himself in the most ridiculous situations proved to me conclusively the real bigness of the man - to see this vast white man with the brain of Socrates and the shape of Nero executing his absurd antics from a thin plank which bent double under his weight and sporting fantastically in the water with a divinely beautiful girl no whit abashed recalled the sunniest days of the Roman decline.'

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