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Mamet stages a fashion coup

David Mamet, the enigmatic and reclusive Pulitzer prize-winning American playwright, is entering the fashion business. This is rather akin to Harold Pinter setting up a stall at Harvey Nicks. Indeed, it is even more bizarre. Mamet (below) is a man of few words, most of them only to be found in the more progressive dictionaries. "You don't like the frock, lady? Then f--- you!"

The playwright has hinted at his romance with fashion before. In a recent edition of Esquire magazine he wrote of his "heavy hunting coat, labyrinthine with pockets original", a garment of "high-ticket yet utilitarian perfection".

Those who fear a sell-out to materialism here need not worry too much. Mamet will not be challenging Versace on the catwalks just yet. His collection will be of manly outdoor wear, sold via advertisements in subscription- only publications for weapons enthusiasts. (Mamet has his own collection of hunting knives.) And he will be marketing the clothes under the name of Joseph Morse. This is all reassuringly Mametesque. It makes no sense at all. Pressed by the the New Yorker magazine for a comment on his new venture, Mamet replied: "I guess one could say that over the years I seem to have extended the area of my interest far beyond the realm of the rational." As fine a summation of the fashion industry as I have heard.

A lesson for the Royal Mail

It's better by post? Not if you use pre-paid envelopes provided by the Royal Mail, as Malcolm Hudson, headteacher of St Paul's Church of England Primary School in north London, has discovered recently to his cost. Letters about a forthcoming school journey were sent out to parents in official white and blue first-class Royal Mail envelopes given to the school by the Royal Mail itself "as a goodwill gesture" when a group of children visited the local sorting office. A separate sorting office has since impounded the envelopes and is conducting an investigation as to how the school came by them.

In his new letter to parents, the head adds: "Should the Royal Mail subsequently try to deliver to you a white envelope with 'Royal Mail, first class' on the front and St Paul's name and address on the back, particularly if they try to surcharge you for it, you might wish politely to refuse it."

Reigate may offer Clark a comeback

The constituents of Reigate could find themselves with an even more controversial MP at the next election. With Sir George Gardiner facing the threat of deselection by his local Conservative Association for his role as a Euro- rebel and his criticism of John Major, the association is, I gather, eyeing another prominent former Thatcherite.

Alan Clark, man of letters and man about town (below), maintains that giving up his Plymouth constituency in 1992 was a colossal error of judgement and he has since been looking for a way back into Parliament. He failed to be nominated to fight the Newbury by-election and was knocked out in the final stages for the new seat of Kensington.

With a majority of more than 17,000, Reigate is a seat worth hovering over, but if this comes to nothing he can take heart from the fact that it was 10th time lucky for Norman Lamont in Harrogate.

Small wonder

Reading the recent story about Siamese twins born in the US, I noted that the spokeswoman at the Salt Lake City Primary Children's Medical Centre was one Bonnie Midget. All children's hospitals should have such aptly named officials.

It's all a question of scale

Ah, the perils of a diarist's life. Last week I noted how there was a resurgence of viola jokes in classical music circles: eg, Why did the viola player marry the accordionist? Answer: upward mobility. So who do I get a letter from? Yep, a viola player who married an accordionist. Embarrassment or what? The upwardly mobile Phil Tomkins of Cardiff tells me he sat in the viola section of Welsh National Opera for 10 years pondering why viola players were the butt of the jokes, and decided that the cellists were the worst offenders "because, I suppose, they were the most envious, and they had every reason to be. After all, it's not the size of your instrument, it's what you do with it."

Eagle Eye

Cranberries not on the menu

The Brit awards may throw up their moments of controversy, such as Mr Jarvis Cocker tweaking a nose at Mr Michael Jackson. But for real rock memories the television cameras should have gone to the IRMA awards, the Irish equivalent, held in Dublin. According to a report in the June issue of Q Magazine, the leading Irish rock artists U2, Enya, and The Cranberries (pictured here but not there) failed to show; the script on the video screens was indecipherable; the live bands and award-winners alternated so quickly that it was difficult to know who was getting what; the bands were never ready; and the compere was inaudible. It should have been televised. Who wouldn't have stayed up to see a show like that?