Diary (CORRECTED)

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CORRECTION APPENDED TO THIS ARTICLE

Oxford's answer to that Major rumour

STUDENTS. Revolting, aren't they? Here's Oxford Student, the official magazine of the university's students' union, with a piece claiming 'John Major had an affair with Clare Latimer', and a series of unedifying observations on the business of the Prime Minister, the Cook, the Magazines and their Lawyers. The anonymous author opines: 'It doesn't matter who Major has been sleeping with, he ain't gonna be around much longer . . . there's no jury in the land that will reach a unanimous decision in the premier's favour.' And the writer goes on: 'I could now be issued with a bloody big Downing Street writ . . . See you in court, John.' Which, sadly, is unlikely. Oxford was in a tizzy yesterday: the university's proctors began an investigation, Conservative students were ringing Central Office and apologies poured from the students' union - which apologised and briskly dissociated itself from its own publication. One of Oxford Student's editors, Ronit Ghose, a history undergraduate at Merton College, said yesterday: 'I would be very surprised if John Major has time to bother with a student magazine.' Wrong, with any luck - after all, Oxford Student is distributed free among Oxford's 14,500 undergraduates, just young things now, but potentially a much more influential readership than the New Statesman and Society's 22,000. Major's lawyers, Biddle & Co, are studying the article.

SPECULATION over the future of the Chancellor and any likely repercussions for the pound has spread to a sign next to a begging bowl outside Camden Tube station. Instead of the customary 'hungry, homeless, please give generously', it read: 'Last chance to dump sterling before Lamont is sacked.'

Art of the deal

THERE may be a solution to the problem of what government offices and embassies will hang upon their walls should the Treasury proceed with its idea of selling off the Government's art collection. Peter Brooke, the Secretary of State for National Heritage, is, we discover, overloaded with paintings of his own. He inherited an enormous collection, including eight Turners, from his great-grandfather, an Irish clergyman. And in 1960 Brooke started purchasing himself, at the rate of about one painting a fortnight. Now, he tells Art Review magazine, they hang four or five deep on the walls of his two homes. Although Brooke made pounds 135,000 from selling a Turner watercolour of Venice at Christie's in 1982, he has always limited himself to pounds 50 a piece. Perhaps as a result, the collection is now some 650 paintings strong.

NOTHING like taking a good chunk out of the hand that feeds. Here's the whole of the speech given by Richard Stark, of the up-and-coming fashion designers Chrome Heart, at the gala of the Council of Fashion Designers in Washington: 'Thanks to all the classic sleazy bitches that wear our shit.'

Vanishing vehicle

ANN CLWYD is not having much luck with her car. Having been dressed down by Betty Boothroyd for persistently parking her Granada in Speaker's Court, an area reserved for the Rovers and Jaguars of selected ministers, it now appears that this is not the first time Labour's national heritage spokeswoman has misplaced her vehicle. According to a report in the House Magazine, the Parliamentary weekly, some time ago she reported that her car had been stolen from the Palace of Westminster's underground car park - an unprecedented outrage which the police duly investigated. A week passed and then, out of the blue, an attendant from a car park near Paddington Station rang up to say: 'There's a lady, an MP, who leaves her jam-jar here from time to time, and it's been here some time now. I am just checking to make sure that the lady is alive and well.' Case solved. Yesterday Clwyd told us she had no comment to make.

HERE it comes again - the time of grief, horror, embarrassment and disappointment they call Valentine's day. To alleviate it, simply send us an exchange of Valentine's messages between the famous or notorious, to arrive by Thursday, and we'll reward the best with Lanson champagne. Serious smut will be read, but not printed.

Fluorescent flocks

NOW that fears of Chernobyl fall-out are fading, the Welsh are considering new ways to make their sheep glow in the dark. That's to stop cars hitting them at night on moorland roads. On Dartmoor sheep are having yellow reflective bands fitted to their legs. The news that this may be tried in the principality will be welcomed by the Brecon and Radnor MP, Jonathan Evans, who was taken to hospital in December after an incident with a sheep on the A470.

A DAY LIKE THIS

9 February 1919 DH Lawrence writes from Derbyshire: 'It is marvellous weather - brilliant sunshine on the snow, clear as summer, slightly golden sun, distance lit up. But it is immensely cold - everything frozen solid - milk, mustard, everything. Yesterday I went out for a real walk - I've had a cold and been in bed. I climbed with my niece to the bare top of the hills. Wonderful it is to see the footmarks on the snow - beautiful ropes of rabbit prints, trailing away over the brows; heavy hare marks; a fox so sharp and dainty, going over the wall; very splendid straight advance of a pheasant; little leaping marks of weasels coming along like a necklace; chains of berries; odd little filagree of the field- mice; the trail of a mole - it is astonishing what a world of wild creatures one feels about one, on the hills in snow.'

CORRECTION

On 9 February the diary published a piece about Peter Brooke ('Art of the Deal'). Peter Brooke's office pointed out that Mr Brooke does not have 650 paintings but 650 works of art in differing media. Also, the 8 Turners were left to Mr Brooke's family, not him personally.

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