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THE actress Antonia de Sancha, David Mellor's former close friend, has been described by an American critic as looking like 'the lost member of the Addams family'. But British reviewers have been much kinder. In the Financial Times, reviewing a production of Vanbrugh's The Provok'd Wife at Cheltenham two years ago, B A Young described Ms de Sancha as 'delectable' as the innocent Bellinda in this story of a boorish, adulterous knight. (The latter's opening line, incidentally, is 'What cloying meat is love, when matrimony's the sauce to it.') More recently our own Owen Slot watched Ms de Sancha perform in a translation of Agamemnon by Aeschylus at a London fringe theatre - Ms de Sancha, wrote Slot, was a tremendous vamp as the husband-killer Clytemnestra. 'Thin, dressed in black, pale and red-lipped,' it was with a demonic cackle that she delivered the line: 'I must prepare the best welcome a man can have.' And if any more proof of her attractions were needed, we understand that her part in the forthcoming Aliens 3 - a film about unutterably horrible space monsters - was cut because she was 'too beautiful'.

MEANWHILE, in Paris, officials continue to fornicate without let or hindrance from the press. When the former prime minister and possible presidential contender Michel Rocard recently offered Le Monde an interview last year to explain the circumstances of his divorce (his second) and new amour, the paper turned him down. Sorry, it said, but it didn't think the matter was very interesting.


Deputy leadership contests are not cheap. Bryan Gould spent about pounds 9,500 in his unsuccessful bid to attain the seat of Roy Hattersley, a sum scraped together from sympathetic donors. Margaret Beckett's campaign had similar problems. In fact, it was so strapped for cash that when the MP Nick Brown, one of Ms Beckett's campaign co-ordinators, sent a batch of begging letters to potential supporters in the PLP, constituency associations and unions, he used House of Commons pre-paid envelopes. First class, no less. Donors could reply by stuffing their cheques (made payable to 'The Margaret Beckett Campaign') into, you've guessed it, House of Commons pre-paid, first-class envelopes, addressed to Mr Brown. We mention this only because should the authorities find out about this breach of parliamentary rules, Mr Brown will have to reimburse the House of Commons in full. And then, presumably, start another fund-raising campaign.

SO WHAT did Terry Waite read while being held hostage in Beirut? Why, Mills and Boon novels, of course, provided by one of his Hizbollah guards. 'Other publishers,' a Mills and Boon spokesperson, tells the Bookseller crisply, 'should try harder.'


The Church of England is not all waffle and weakness. There are still some parishes that appreciate the value of a cold shower; not least Holy Trinity, Brompton, one of the largest happy-clappy (and one of the poshest) churches in London. The vicar, Sandy Millar, writes in the latest parish magazine that many married couples have got into difficulties with 'demonic oppression' through the practice of oral sex.

A NEW service is available in the central Russian city of Kazan. For three roubles a local firm is offering a printed card that reads: 'I am drunk today. If I fail to find my way home, please take me to the following address . . .'

YESTERDAY John Smith finally moved his gear into the Leader of the Opposition's offices. Here's a memento of the events that made him the man he is today. The Economist prudently produced two covers for its 11 April 1992 edition - you know which one it used

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21 July 1944 Marie Vassiltchikov, who worked for Adam von Trott at the German Foreign Ministry, writes in her diary in the aftermath of the July Plot's failure to kill Hitler: 'It will be difficult, but from now on one must pretend to know nothing and talk about it all, even to friends, with complete incredulity. After only a short time at the office, I went to Maria Gersdorff. She was in despair. Count Stauffenberg, she told me, was shot yesterday evening at Army Command HQ in the Bendlerstrasse, together with his ADC, young Werner von Haeften. General Beck, whom they planned to make Chief of State, had committed suicide. Marie had known Stauffenberg slightly, as some of his cousins are her closest friends. She is terrified for them.'


ON 21 July we stated that Nick Brown MP had used House of Commons pre-paid envelopes to circulate trade unions, constituency Labour parties and MPs to solicit funds on behalf of Margaret Beckett's campaign for the Labour deputy leadership. In fact only a limited group of Labour MPs, no unions or parties, were approached by Mr Brown in this way: we apologise for this mistake. Furthermore, while the Serjeant-at-Arms's guidelines for MPs state that such envelopes should not be used for fund raising for a political party, or for supporting the return of a person to public office, we do accept that it is common practice for MPs to use the envelopes in communication with each other and that if Mr Brown contravened the rules, he was acting innocently and in good faith.