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Mum's the word about that Rolls

ROBERT Keith Rous, a naturalised Australian and the 6th Earl of Stradbroke, is to celebrate the imminent birth of his 15th child by spending up to pounds 100,000 on a convertible Rolls-Royce or Bentley as a surprise gift for his second wife, Countess Rosie, 38. The Earl, who likes to be known as Keith and lists his recreation as 'making babies' in Who's Who, has advertised nationally for the car, which he intends to spray green and gold, Australia's sporting colours. Countess Rosie helped to bring up the Earl's first seven children and has gone on to mother a 'second litter' of seven more, aged between two and 14. The earl, who shares his time between two sheep farms in Australia and his Suffolk estate, says: 'My wife is very special to me. She looks after me and she's entitled to be driven home in a Roller. She's a cross-breed, half-Hungarian, half-English and a good breeder. I always promised her a Roller when she had child number 15.' Names for the latest child have yet to be chosen. The earl leaves that to his wife. 'I have the sperming rights,' he says, 'and she has the naming rights.'

A NEW restaurant opened on Friday next door to the Business Design Centre in Islington, London. Its name? The Recession Cafe. Paul Crozier, the manager, explains: 'We hope to be around for some time.'

Noodles are a hit

FORTY THREE Chinese State Circus performers appearing at the Edinburgh Festival have spurned the local cooking - both indigenous and Chinese restaurant cuisine - in favour of Pot Noodles. 'It's partly because they don't like Westernised cooking, partly because the food here is Cantonese, while the company members are all from Chang-Chung province,' says Neville Wilson, the company manager. Having been introduced to the delights of Pot Noodles, the performers have now insisted on adding a clause to their contract requiring a regular supply: and Mr Wilson has laid in a stock of 14,000 to see the Circus through its 3 1/2 -month tour. The Chinese like all the Noodle flavours, as can be seen from the pile stacked in their Big Top on the Meadows - and they even make use of the little plastic sauce packets you find on top.

WITH yesterday's announcement of plans to celebrate Radio 1's 25th birthday at the end of the month, the station is clearly getting on a bit. So, it seems, are many of its disc jockeys. The oldest, at 65, is Alan Freeman; and John Peel, 53, is the only one of the current 23 DJs to survive from the beginning. Tommy Vance is 52, while whispering Bob Harris is a sprightly 44. Jakki Brambles, 24, is one of the few to approach the average age of Radio 1's audience - 25.

Gift for critics

A SHOW called Taboo is making a strong bid to be the weirdest of this Edinburgh Festival: it takes place in the living room of a suburban Edinburgh house whose address is a secret; you cannot watch it until you've drunk at least two bottles of strong beer (supplied free); and there is no admission charge. At yesterday's press show critics were given pounds 10 each, and made to sign a form promising not to give the money to charity. 'Most shows on the Fringe charge the audience pounds 10 and give the critics a free ticket,' says Dexter Augustus, producer and star of Taboo, 'Here the audience get in free, so we give the critics pounds 10 each. That's sensible isn't it?'

THE Assembly Rooms Club Bar is where hacks and performers rub shoulders, and sometimes other bits, during the festival's darker hours. On Sunday night the terrifying American comic Thea Vidale (imagine Tina Turner crossed with a truck) was squeezing laboriously through the crowd when she spotted, some feet below her, the Daily Mail critic Jack Tinker. 'Oh my Gaaad]' she gasped, 'It's him, him, I LOVE him] Every time I see him I just want to f*%@ him]' To which Tinker, cool as anything, replied: 'But my dear, I'd disappear]'


18 August 1905 Paul Leautaud in Paris writes in his journal: 'A few days ago Gourmont asked me if I'd like to do a Stendhal anthology. I said yes. He asked my views on the subject, and I said one must above all give the true Stendhal, the man who loved himself, studied and analysed himself unceasingly. The egotist, in short. Gourmont cordially agreed with me. This evening we went and sat by the Luxembourg. We talked at length of the frenzied production of writers today who trump up subjects and build stories, more or less cleverly, but without personality or any real interest. He asked how one would distinguish Stendhal from them. Without any hesitation I answered that Stendhal's novels served to exploit the circumstances of his life, the characters he had observed, the intrigues he had discovered, as well as his own adventures and feelings; in a word they were a means of re-creating and reliving his life. And that was why he wrote so much - to talk ceaselessly of himself in one form or another.'