Diary: An ache for the new Eton head

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The Independent Online
A DAUNTING task awaits John Lewis, the New Zealander who has been appointed to the headship of Eton from September. Quite apart from the academic challenges ahead, he must live up to the expectations of a tenacious band of Second World War veterans, who, as I have previously reported, are locked in a fierce dispute with the college authorities.

The wrangle is over the erection of a memorial statue of an Old Etonian airman in the school grounds, and the veterans are confident that Lewis, when he arrives, will provide a solution.

'After Gallipoli, no one understands the cost of war better than the Kiwis, and Mr Lewis's father was even awarded the MC,' explains the veterans' leader, Sam Scott. 'Colonials are a sensitive, old-fashioned breed - I have every hope he will back us.'

My last update revealed that the veterans, having been denied permission by the school to put the proposed statue (to be sculpted by Faith Winter of 'Bomber' Harris fame) on Eton's playing fields, had gained permission from Windsor District Council to use land in Eton parish, close to the former school chapel.

This plan was stalled by the Eton parish ex-servicemen's club, which felt that it was inappropriate for the town's fallen forces to be represented by a single Old Etonian airman.

Now, a new site has presented itself - and the veterans have again applied for planning permission. The problem this time is that the ownership of the site is unclear: it may well belong to a charitable trust but some say it belongs to the school . . . over to you, John.

THE BERMUDA CLIMATE, it seems, is not conducive to maintaining the mechanics of the Daimler belonging to the Governor, Lord Waddington. Despite being restricted to the islands' 20mph speed limit, it has been breaking down more often than is appropriate for a car of such status.

Fortunately, the islanders are intent on preserving the engine's dignity; a photographer who snapped the incapacitated vehicle recently was tracked to his home and forced to hand over the film.

'It is an offence to photograph the official vehicle in such an unfortunate position,' he was told, a line that the Governor, understandably, will not corroborate.


Jane Chaplin, youngest daughter of the comedian Charlie, is at the centre of a dispute threatening to destroy the father-son relationship of the internationally renowned film producers Alexander and Ilya Salkind, responsible for the box-office hit Superman.

It seems that Miss Chaplin, 36, who has been Salkind Jnr's partner for nine years, lent Salkind Snr dollars 6.75m (around pounds 4.5m) for the duo's last production: Christopher Columbus: The Discovery. Sadly, the film was a disaster, making a loss of more than dollars 40m - and Miss Chaplin and Salkind Jnr are now leading others in a lawsuit against Salkind pere for breach of contract, fraud and racketeering.

Unsurprisingly, Salkind Snr is not taking kindly to the action: 'This is very upsetting,' he is reported as saying 'and it all has to do with that woman.'

EARLIER this week I announced the introduction of Gozzer the mega-maggot (the creature, incidentally, has already been asked to make two television appearances); now it is the turn of another: the Dorian Gray worm.

Scientists have discovered genetic mutations in a tiny, slimy animal that double its lifespan: it lives to the worm equivalent of 200 human years.

The research was published yesterday in Nature, which, last 1 April, ran a joke item on 'Dorian Gray mice', which lived without ageing through a trick of genetic engineering. Next time they will know better.


THE Royal Borough of Kensington & Chelsea is advertising for a cemeteries manager. The post, in the Leisure Services Division, requires someone with 'the ability to work with people at all levels'.


3 December 1971 Cecil King writes in his diary: 'Lunch yesterday for Brian Walden. He is a very bright little man, though his health looks to me to be shaky. He thinks this Government is doomed by the unemployment figures - in an election today Labour would win with a majority of 100 or more. We talked about Ireland. He says Reggie Maudling is useless - or worse - as Minister for Northern Ireland. He has the sharpest brain in his party and thinks this excuses him from work. He is bone idle and has lost the respect of most of his former followers. Walden wants most to see the troops withdrawn as soon as possible from Ulster. He has been there recently and says they are (rather naturally) bitterly anti-Irish. At the moment Ted Heath is reiterating his determination to find a military solution, in spite of all the evidence from the past that a military solution is not to be had.'