Diary: Quiet airing for the royal warrants

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AS PART of its economy drive, Buckingham Palace has broken with tradition by not publishing the list of royal warrants in the London Gazette. Last year the 800 copies of the list cost the palace pounds 5,000, the equivalent of the revenue raised by 625 people passing through its turnstiles at pounds 8 each. The cost-cutters at the palace have decided the money could be better spent. Consequently, the journal was informed three weeks before Christmas that its services would no longer be required, and the list is now only available in a ring- binding folder, albeit with a snazzy Buckingham Palace crest on the front.

It is impossible to assess the financial benefits of receiving a warrant - they can only be issued by the Queen, the Duke of Edinburgh, the Queen Mother and the Prince of Wales, and only if they have been customers for at least three years. But new recipients this year are delighted with the recognition, notably Austin Reed, the off-the-peg suit specialists favoured by Prince Charles, which had not previously received a warrant in its 92-year-history. Although the firm's shirt supplier, Stephen Brothers, has been singled out by the Royal Family in the past, this is the first time a warrant has been issued for the retail side of the business, and Austin Reed is 'highly delighted'.

Also mildly chuffed is Cartier, the French jewellers, which lost its warrant in 1989 after 34 years - the Queen had not purchased any jewellery for at least 10 years - but is now hoisting the arms once more after finding a new admirer in Prince Charles. The prince is partial to the firm's silver gift boxes (gifts for men only, the firm discreetly tells me), and personally approves some of the designs.

IF YOU have a telephone keypad at hand, Beethoven need never be far away, according to a reader's letter in Classic CD magazine. When the Fifth Symphony is transposed to D flat minor, the numbers 9-9-9-3, 6-6-6-* ring out part of the symphony. Be warned, however - you might call out the emergency services.


With Norman Lamont's fated Newbury by-election rallying cry of 'Je ne regrette rien' featuring prominently in the sayings of 1993, the man believed to have fed him the words could be excused for hoping Newbury would fall foul of the Boundary Commission and never be heard of again. But David Cameron, Lamont's erstwhile special adviser, is made of sterner stuff. Now handing out advice to Michael Howard, the Home Secretary, Mr Cameron, who has already put his name forward to join the Central Office list of candidates, is thought to be interested in returning to Newbury as the Tory candidate at the next election. If Newbury welcomes him back - he originally hails from the area - there will be a certain symmetry in the selection. Judith Chaplin, the MP whose death forced last year's by-election, had also been a Treasury adviser to John Major, and she was considered a successful MP. Mr Cameron remains friendly with Mr Lamont, however. He may well keep this under his hat until the candidate is chosen.

AMERICAN cable television watchers who flick from channel to channel - a possible 300 - have found a new sport. They call it channel surfing.


Even in its grandest days, Cambridge undergraduate life did not encompass two six-monthly dinners with a college master at Whites, the distinguished London gentleman's club. Yet this, I hear, is how Lord St John of Fawsley, Master of Emmanuel, has been entertaining (although not paying for) the 25 members of the 1992 club, an all-male society set up by a group of undergraduates who last met for a pounds 45-a-head knees-up just before Christmas, enjoying a fish course followed by duck.

The club has attracted some flak, however. Women undergraduates see it as elitist, while others describe members as 'the pink poodles'. I am told this refers to a pink-rinsed poodle which the nattily dressed former cabinet minister allegedly carried around in his undergraduate days.

ON SALE in Kirkby Moorside, North Yorkshire, ozone-friendly socks made of cotton and no CFCs with the explanation: 'helps to prevent foot odour . . . probably the major cause of the destruction of the ozone layer.'


4 January 1924 Andre Gide writes in his journal: 'I am reading for the first time in English Robert Louis Stevenson's Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde - but with an admiration, alas, that is somewhat diminished. Too ingenious, too organised; it lacks grandeur. Wonderful subject; but I wonder if it is not a mistake to have made Jekyll 'at peace' precisely after having got rid of Hyde - 'his face seemed to open and brighten' - it ought to be just the contrary. It is thanks to Hyde that Jekyll should be able to find tranquillity.' (Later) 'Finished the Stevenson. Jekyll's confession is wonderful and what I wrote earlier is absurd. If I do not tear out this page, it is for the mortification of rereading some day.'