Diary: Bad vibrations in a stately home

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The Independent Online
JUST when Kent dwellers thought they knew the worst about the Channel tunnel rail- link, Alan Wyndham Green, owner of Godinton Park, a Grade I listed Jacobean mansion, is facing the prospect of trains thundering through his garden, which is much loved by the public.

The reroute, suggested last week by Ashford borough council, has not amused the retired Green Jackets major, who prefers to be known as 'Mr'. Not only will the vibrations cause his Old Masters to tremble, but he is worried that visitors - to whom he gives tours, military cane always in hand - will stop calling.

Now he may offer the house, already a private trust, to the nation. However, with the rail-link on its doorstep, the nation may not be interested, a sad fate for a house best known for the marital exploits of its former owners, the Toke family. One particularly spirited member, Nicholas, made a name for himself in the 16th century when he died walking to London in search of his sixth wife. I'm told he was 93 years old at the time.

SINCE John Redwood's appointment to the Cabinet as Secretary of State for Wales, the hunt has been on to find anything he and the principality might have in common. Visiting a school in Dolau, near Llandrindod Wells, Mr Redwood had a conversation with Mrs Kate Jones, a Welsh teacher, to whom, wonder of wonders, he discovered he was related. She is actually his wife's cousin, but a Welsh cousin-in- law is better than nothing.


For a magazine aimed at helping writers make a living, Writers' Monthly has upset a number of contributors (as I have chronicled recently) who have either written articles for it and not been paid, or sent manuscripts for expert guidance and never seen them again. The latest victim of publisher Gayle Nathan's laissez-faire attitude to payments is Michael Legat, the author of An Author's Guide to Publishing, who sent in the bailiffs after the magazine failed to pay him the pounds 40 demanded by the small claims court.

The bailiffs (who cost him a further pounds 10) told Mr Legat that the magazine didn't have enough property to seize in lieu of cash, so last week, Mr Legat visited the office himself, without success. Above a food shop in Turnpike Lane, north London, he did find enough typewriters and computers to pay him countless times over (assuming they belonged to the magazine), but he didn't find Ms Nathan, the only person authorised to sign cheques. She was on a different number, a woman told him, and Mr Legat couldn't have it anyway. 'There must be a way of making this woman obey a court order,' he told me, exasperated. I don't know, but just to help us to envisage who we are talking about, Nathan is shown in the picture above.

A PROMOTIONAL poster circulated to 100 bookshops by the publishers Routledge bears a photograph of Joan Collins, which would delight the eternally youthful soap actress-cum-author if the picture didn't also inform the recipients that they were looking at the late Joan Crawford, of Whatever Happened to Baby Jane fame, who died in 1977.


One cast member who, surprisingly, may sleep more easily following the cancellation of the West End show Maxwell: The Musical, is Cap'n Bob's alter ego, John Stavident, who found the role of the late tycoon almost too demanding. 'I don't normally dream,' he said yesterday, looking rather weary, 'but playing Maxwell gave me nightmares every night.' Mind you, I'm surprised he is getting any sleep after his portrayal of the blackmailer Raffles in Middlemarch. The way he gulped down his supper in last week's episode was enough to give anyone nightmares.


8 February 1945 Joan Wyndham writes in her diary: 'Ugly and squalid Watnall may be, but it has one great advantage - a mixed mess] There is a big manor house for the men and huts in the surrounding ground for us Waafs. At the moment they haven't got a vacancy, so I am still stuck, with Gussy, in a temporary billet. Pandora - lucky blighter - has already gone on to the mixed mess, and she says it is fabulous] So we sit in our horrid room, eating chockies given to Gussy by the CO (her lover), and dream of this palace of delights on our horizon. Gussy has, if possible, got even sexier since I saw her in Preston. She tells me that now she can have an orgasm just by leaning over the rail of the Filter Room balcony and rubbing herself against it. To make things even better she puts lots of starch in her shirts and doesn't wear a bra. I asked if the CO was OK and she said, 'Oh he's fine, except that he will chase me around the room on all fours barking like a dog'.'