Pump up the volume and stir up the spa
THE OBSCURE but genteel Warwickshire town of Royal Leamington Spa is seething - a popular music star has, it's said, defiled the town's greatest jewel, its regency Royal Pump Room. Last month Mick Jagger hired the room and attendant baths (once patronised by Queen Victoria) to film a video for 'Sweet Thing', his new single. With naked women covered in mud taking the waters. And scantily clad female ghosts appearing from the pump room walls, not to mention a model beckoning Mick from a bed. Well] This has gone down rather badly in the town, which is normally rather quiet (it was not always thus - in 1841 Ruskin and Cobden visited the town within a few months of each other). Rita Human, of the Leamington Society, says: 'It's a very sad state of affairs when the pump rooms are used for this kind of thing.' She confirms that she has not - as is traditional in these stories - seen the offending video: 'And I have no intention of doing so.' But is Miss Human's attitude entirely practical? Leamington's spa rooms have, in fact, been closed to the public since 1990 for want of funds, and doesn't Mick Jagger seem just the sort of elderly moneyed person that the town should be trying to attract?
RECENTLY a suspicious-looking cardboard box was found outside a Territorial Army centre in Bristol, Police magazine reports. The TA called the police, who called an Army bomb disposal unit, which blew the box up - to find it full of leaflets on how to deal with suspicious-looking packages.
WHILE Socks, the world's most powerful cat, finds a quiet corner of the White House to begin formulating policy this afternoon, the Labour Party will descend on the Dorchester Hotel to mark Bill Clinton's inauguration with a rare display of party unity. The GMB union - the boilermakers - and the novelist Ken Follett have invited all wings of the party to a celebratory English Tea - at which union leaders, assorted 'Luvvies for Labour' (including Alan Rickman, Billy Bragg and Shirley Anne Field) and the bulk of the Shadow Cabinet will feed on a selection of scones, cakes and sandwiches. But will John Prescott, Labour's transport spokesman and sworn enemy of the 'Clintomania' currently infecting his party, be there? 'He has not RSVP'd,' the organisers say primly, 'so we expect he won't be attending.'
VIEWERS in the Central television region last night saw an advertisement from the Diocese of Lichfield. Stills of an H-bomb cloud, an oiled Benetton bird, Saddam Hussein and starving children were accompanied by a voice asking 'WHY?' and then the message: 'The Church of England. This Sunday.' The Rev Robert Ellis, Lichfield spokescleric, says the Almighty could not be cited because: 'We are not allowed to make unsubstantiated claims, and as far as the Independent Television Commission is concerned, God is an unsubtantiated claim.'
WE asked you to suggest a final scene for Love Over Gold, the forthcoming novelised story of the caffeine-addicted lovers featured by Nescafe in their Gold Blend adverts. And we supposed that some of you would come up with a happy ending. But no. Not one. You'd rather see them arrested as cocaine-traffickers, commit suicide with coffee grounds, take up with lovers ranging from Andre Agassi to Gareth Hunt, divorce after becoming aware of the damage coffee, as a cash crop, does to Third World agrarian economies, discover they are brother and sister, start drinking Maxwell House . . . But our favourite ending came from Val Elsey, who has 'him dashing through the stormy City streets to reach his loved one, now in the delivery room at the hospital, where, to his great joy, she gives birth to a beautiful Nescafe Gold Blend coffee-coloured baby . . .'
OUR story about Richard III being laid up with a bad back prompts David Watson to tell us of the Swedish soprano Elisabeth Soderstrom and the telephone call she received from an opera house intendant in a panic. 'Elisabeth,' he asked, 'can you help us out tonight and do a Boheme for us - our Mimi's ill.' 'Darling,' replied Soderstrom, 'she's supposed to be]'
A DAY LIKE THIS
20 January 1753 John Wesley writes in his journal: 'I advised one who had been troubled many years with a stubborn paralytic disorder to try a new remedy. Accordingly, she was electrified and found immediate help. By the same means I have known two persons cured of an inveterate pain in the stomach; and another of a pain in his side which he had ever since he was a child. Nevertheless, who can wonder that many gentlemen of the faculty, as well as their good friends, the apothecaries, decry a medicine so shockingly cheap and easy, as much as they do quicksilver and tar-water? We know it is a thousand medicines in one: in particular, that it is the most efficacious medicine in nervous disorders of every kind that has ever been discovered.'
IN A piece last week (20 January 1993) on Mick Jagger and Leamington Spa, we attributed various comments to Rita Human of the Leamington Society. Miss Human tells us she did not make these remarks, nor, indeed, were the opinions ones that she holds. We're happy to make this clear.