Diary: Sproat caught at silly point

Click to follow
The Independent Online
SINCE rejoining the Government last year after nine years in the political wilderness - he lost his seat in the 1983 general election - Iain Sproat, the Heritage under- secretary, has been campaigning vigorously for a 'back to basics' approach to cricket.

In a number of meetings he has insisted on arranging with Baroness Blatch, Sproat has urged the Education minister to consider making it compulsory for state schools to play the game.

Lady Blatch, however, appears to have had enough. According to one senior Tory politician, she is 'absolutely livid' with Sproat and has let it be known that she wants the meetings to end. Sproat, a headmaster's son who was in his house team at Winchester and edits the mandatory public school manual, Cricketers' Who's Who, has long been advocating more competitive games in state schools. Lady Blatch - thought to have been an enthusiastic hockey player herself - has told him repeatedly that the national curriculum makes no provision for this. While setting out guidelines for suitable amounts of physical education, it allows schools autonomy in this area.

But Sproat is not easily deterred. He has already killed off a report by Robert Atkins, a predecessor, that would have changed the way the Government administers sport. The days when he was known as 'no-throat Sproat', a reference to a somewhat taciturn nature, are long since over - as Lady Blatch has found to her cost.

TASTE, in some quarters, appears to have vanished as advertisements for the forthcoming musical version of Robert Maxwell's life litter the country. None, however, comes close to this one spotted on the outskirts of Dublin at the weekend. Above a photograph of the deceased, the script runs: 'It sinks to the very depths.'


That other master of indiscretion, Alan Clark, has some sympathy for Norman Lamont, having himself experienced the interviewing wiles of Ginny Dougary, of the Times Magazine. In his Mail on Sunday column this week, he described her as a 'modish interviewer whom I know from personal (and recent) experience has little understanding of the way in which a genial conversation can be enhanced when the interviewee takes a pleasure in irony, exaggeration or poetic licence'.

Like Lamont, Clark yesterday declined to expand, other than to say that Lamont appeared to 'have fallen into the same trap. She is very good at making you think the interview is over and you're just having a friendly chat.' It must therefore have been at this stage during the Times Magazine interview at his castle last June that Clark apparently turned to Dougary with the observation: 'I was trying to imagine what you would look like with no clothes on.'

DEREK HYATT, the painter who specialises in soulful Yorkshire landscapes, has a new exhibition called Myth And Moor, though that is not how the people at the art magazine Galleries heard it when the artist rang to place the notice. It appears in the magazine as Miss Ann Moor.


Although he usually thrives on controversy, the Labour MP Dennis Skinner may have experienced a moment's discomfort recently while walking back to the House of Commons with a Conservative counterpart, Geoffrey Dickens, following a television appearance the two had made together.

As they strode back to Westminster, they noticed a crowd assembling outside the Palace. It was, they discovered, a group of homosexuals queuing to attend a rally in favour of lowering in the age of consent. According to The House Magazine, the following exchange took place as the two men passed the protesters.

Dickens: 'I think we have a slight problem here.'

Skinner: 'What is that?'

Dickens: 'We forgot to remove our television make-up.'


1 February 1798 Dorothy Wordsworth, staying in Somerset with her brother William, writes in her journal: 'The wind blew so keen in our faces that we felt ourselves inclined to seek the covert of the wood. There we had a warm shelter, gathered a burthen of rotten boughs blown down by the wind of the preceding night. The sun shone clear, but all at once a heavy blackness hung over the sea. The trees almost roared, and the ground seemed in motion with the multitudes of dancing leaves, which made a rustling sound, distinct from that of the trees. Still the asses pastured in quietness under the hollies. The wind beat furiously against us as we returned. Full moon. She rose in uncommon majesty over the sea, slowly ascending through the clouds. Sat with the window open an hour in the moonlight.'