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Cold comfort from the home front

THE Yugoslavian embassy in London has some funny ideas about how to cheer up victims of the Serbian 'ethnic cleansing' campaign. A staff nurse at the Queen Elizabeth II Hospital in Welwyn Garden City, Hertfordshire, recently contacted the embassy requesting reading material for those of the 68 Bosnian war casualties brought to Britain for treatment two weeks ago in their care. The embassy was kind enough to send a parcel of magazines, including Intervju (Interview), which features the head of the Yugoslav military air force under the banner headline 'We shall defend our doorstep'. Heartening news for the patients, many of whom have first-hand experience of Serbian detention camps. A second magazine called Narodna Armija (People's Army) carries an article in praise of ground-to-air missiles, a picture profile of the Yugoslav navy, and a plug for a book on the Serbian-dominated army, which it describes as 'the sole defender against crimes perpetrated by Croatian aggression'. The nurse decided not to pass on the magazines because he considered the material unsuitable. An embassy official yesterday said that the magazines had been provided with the best of intentions. But she added, 'They were the only copies we could find.'

IN THE latest episode of the BBC1 police drama series Between the Lines a man is caught having sex with a prostitute he has picked up outside King's Cross station. Having been moved on by the police, he is seen driving away in a car with a numberplate beginning DPP. A BBC spokesman said yesterday that he could not imagine that the choice of these letters was anything but accidental.

Tomato beef

A NEW Euro crisis looming over the embattled Government could make the sterling debacle look like a storm in a salad bowl. It transpires that the House of Commons restaurant has been serving MPs with non-British food, a potentially more serious blow to sovereignty than the hard Ecu. At the top of the list of culprit imports are such titbits as winter tomatoes reared in Dutch greenhouses, mangoes and avocados. 'That's a disgrace,' says Frances Smith, who specialises in growing unusual salad produce in Ashford, Kent. She wrote to the caterers pointing out that there is no need to look outside the UK for food, adding that 'out-of-season luxuries are inappropriate for a government handling a recession'. But the caterers, who fall within the quaintly named Refreshments Department of the Palace of Westminster, are as resolutely pro-European as the beleaguered resident of Number Ten. 'The menu items required by many MPs are not always generically British,' replied the director of catering, Sue Harrison. 'The tastes of the British public have changed and reflect a more European feel. This necessitates purchasing of more 'exotic'


IRONY in bucketfuls. Relate's 1993 Family of the Year Awards will go to families that show 'love, loyalty, support and the ability to care for one another over a sustained period' and 'strength in the face of adversity - supporting each other through the bad times'. They will be presented by the Princess of Wales, the charity's patron.

Rat rehearsal

AN EAR-PIERCING scream echoed around the London Coliseum opera house on Monday during a television interview with the soprano Lesley Garrett. The reporter doing a piece on the English National Opera's forthcoming production of Mozart's Don Giovanni let it pass, assuming that the anguished cry was a scripted part of the full dress rehearsal taking place at the time. It emerged later, however, that the shriek had in fact come from one of the other female cast members who, after fleeing the unwelcome attentions of the rodent-like character Don Giovanni on stage, escaped to the ladies' lavatory only to be confronted with the real thing.

WILL For Women, Britain's first erotic magazine for women, be successful in finding a new features editor? The job specification is exacting. A press advert yesterday said that applicants must be 'fully conversant with Quark X-Press 3' and 'have a greater than average interest in sex'.

THE in tipple at trendy student parties? A can of Tennent's Super followed by a chaser - a tot of that heady flu remedy Night Nurse.


30 September 1675 Henry Teonge, chaplain on a man-of-war, writes in his diary: 'A brave gale all night. More mirth at dinner than ever since we came on board. The wind blew very hard, and we had to dinner a rump of Zante beef. We all sat close round the beef, some securing themselves by setting their feet against the table. Our liquor was white rubola, admirably good. We also had a couple of fat pullets; and whilst we were eating of them, a sea came, and forced into the cabin through the chinks of a porthole. I soon got up, and no whit wet; but all the rest were well washed, and got up as fast as they could, and laughed one at the other.'