Diary: Tell-tale bundle of the unexpected

Share
Related Topics
A BUNDLE of papers belonging to the late Roald Dahl was supposed to be auctioned in Swindon today - and extremely interesting reading it would have made, too. One signed letter beginning 'Forgive the handwriting but I preferred not to dictate this to my secretary' is followed, according to the catalogue, by 'highly unusual arrangements for diverting funds from the film The Passage through an intermediary . . . contracts, the establishment of a Lichtenstein company, letters from the Inland Revenue, etc, etc.'

Further enlightenment will not be possible for a while - because the owner has mysteriously withdrawn the bundle from the auction at the last moment and is now said to be in the United States, negotiating with the Dahl estate.

'At first he wanted to rush the sale through - then he suddenly withdrew it,' says the auctioneer, Dominic Winter. 'I don't know whether the family was aware of the existence of such documents. Certainly they are not mentioned in the new biography of Dahl by Jeremy Treglown, which only came out earlier this month. It would appear, therefore, that the documents are indeed of a scandalous nature.'

Although Dahl's screenplays were initially unsuccessful, and he had difficulty at first in finding an English publisher for his children's books, he was a rich man by the time he died in 1991 - and his books still earn pounds 2m a year.

JOHN MAJOR's classless society is developing apace, with top jobs so far being held by, inter alia, himself (son of a trapeze artist), and the Archbishop of Canterbury (son of a hospital porter). Now the new Chief of the Defence Staff, Field Marshal Sir Peter Inge, can be added to the list of VIPs who have won their spurs the hard way. Before Sandhurst, the young Inge ran errands for his father's butcher's shop in Sevenoaks, Kent.

Operatic justice? WEARINESS with corruption scandals may not be the only reason for Italy's change of government, at least as far as Romans are concerned.

The Minister of Culture, Alberto Ronchey, has outraged the city's opera fans - there are an awful lot of them - by banning their summer festival from the Caracalla baths, where it has been held for the past 56 years. The effect of musical vibrations on what is left of the 1,700-year-old leisure complex of baths, gymnasiums, saunas and libraries is the reason for the ban.

Talk of moving the festival, founded by Mussolini, to the Cinecitta Film studios - of Federico Fellini fame - has not pacified the fans from all over the world, for whom Ronchey is fast becoming a marked man. Last year he nearly caused a riot when he banned camels from Verdi's Aida for the first time in 53 years.

IF John Redwood is reshuffled this summer, Sir Wyn Roberts, his trusty deputy, will be hoping for a new boss with at least a vestige of a Welsh connection. Since the new secretary of state took office last year, the Welsh- speaking Roberts has been working overtime - signing letters to members of the public which Redwood should be putting his name to, but won't because he cannot understand them.

Bowing in ON HIS death bed in 1987, the American virtuoso violinist Jascha Heifetz entrusted his bow to his biographer, Herbert Axelrod, with strict instructions to 'give it to the right guy'. Seven years later, Axelrod has found his man: a 19-year- old named Maxim Vengerov, who is seen by many as Heifetz's natural successor.

'It's a case of passing on Arthur's Sword,' says a spokesman for Vengerov. 'Axelrod knew Vengerov was meant to have the bow when he saw his New York debut.' Vengerov himself says he won't use anything else with his 1727 Stradivarius. 'I almost felt the ghost of Heifetz when I played,' he said.

A DAY LIKE THIS

30 March 1918 Katherine Mansfield writes to John Middleton Murry from Paris: 'I suppose the blockade has started for no post has come today. It is raining fast and the bombardment is frankly intensely severe. The firing takes place every 18 minutes as far as I can make out. I won't try and tell you where the bombs fall - it is a very loud and ominous sound, this German super cannon. I am not frightened by it even though I have been extremely near the place where the explosions have taken place, but I do feel there is a pretty big risk that one may be killed. There is no warning as to where the next shell will fall - neither is it frequent enough to make one stay in the icy cellars. Also one must go about to consuls etc, etc to try and get away. If it were not for you I should not care whether I were killed or not. But as you are there I care passionately and will take all precautions.'

React Now

Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Ashdown Group: Data Warehouse & Business Intelligence Co-ordinator

£35000 per annum: Ashdown Group: Required skills include SQL querying, SSRS, u...

Ashdown Group: C#.Net Developer - C#, ASP.Net, PHP, HTML, JavaScript, CSS

£30000 - £35000 per annum: Ashdown Group: C#.Net Developer - C#, ASP.Net, HTML...

Argyll Scott International: Senior Business Analyst- Insurance

Negotiable: Argyll Scott International: Senior Business Analyst - Insurance ...

Recruitment Genius: Property Manager

£25000 - £29000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This independent, growing Sales...

Day In a Page

Read Next
 

i Editor's Letter: The demise of a Sixties monster

Oliver Duff Oliver Duff
A CCTV camera is seen in front of a large poster opposite in central London  

Home Office is creating more powers to turn everyone into suspects – but leave us no safer

Shami Chakrabarti
Cameron, Miliband and Clegg join forces for Homeless Veterans campaign

Cameron, Miliband and Clegg join forces for Homeless Veterans campaign

It's in all our interests to look after servicemen and women who fall on hard times, say party leaders
Millionaire Sol Campbell wades into wealthy backlash against Labour's mansion tax

Sol Campbell cries foul at Labour's mansion tax

The former England defender joins Myleene Klass, Griff Rhys Jones and Melvyn Bragg in criticising proposals
Nicolas Sarkozy returns: The ex-President is preparing to fight for the leadership of France's main opposition party – but will he win big enough?

Sarkozy returns

The ex-President is preparing to fight for the leadership of France's main opposition party – but will he win big enough?
Is the criticism of Ed Miliband a coded form of anti-Semitism?

Is the criticism of Miliband anti-Semitic?

Attacks on the Labour leader have coalesced around a sense that he is different, weird, a man apart. But is the criticism more sinister?
Ouija boards are the must-have gift this Christmas, fuelled by a schlock horror film

Ouija boards are the must-have festive gift

Simon Usborne explores the appeal - and mysteries - of a century-old parlour game
There's a Good Girl exhibition: How female creatives are changing the way women are portrayed in advertising

In pictures: There's a Good Girl exhibition

The new exhibition reveals how female creatives are changing the way women are portrayed in advertising
UK firm Biscuiteers is giving cookies a makeover - from advent calendars to doll's houses

UK firm Biscuiteers is giving cookies a makeover

It worked with cupcakes, doughnuts and macarons so no wonder someone decided to revamp the humble biscuit
Can SkySaga capture the Minecraft magic?

Can SkySaga capture the Minecraft magic?

It's no surprise that the building game born in Sweden in 2009 and now played by millions, has imitators keen to construct their own mega money-spinner
The King's School is way ahead of the pack when it comes to using the latest classroom technology

Staying connected: The King's School

The school in Cambridgeshire is ahead of the pack when it comes to using the latest classroom technology. Richard Garner discovers how teachers and pupils stay connected
Christmas 2014: 23 best women's perfumes

Festively fragrant: the best women's perfumes

Give a loved one a luxe fragrance this year or treat yourself to a sensual pick-me-up
Arsenal vs Borussia Dortmund: Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain celebrates century with trademark display of speed and intuition

Arsenal vs Borussia Dortmund

The Ox celebrates century with trademark display of speed and intuition
Billy Joe Saunders vs Chris Eubank Jnr: When two worlds collide

When two worlds collide

Traveller Billy Joe Saunders did not have a pampered public-school upbringing - unlike Saturday’s opponent Chris Eubank Jnr
Homeless Veterans Christmas Appeal: Drifting and forgotten - turning lives around for ex-soldiers

Homeless Veterans Christmas Appeal: Turning lives around for ex-soldiers

Our partner charities help veterans on the brink – and get them back on their feet
Putin’s far-right ambition: Think-tank reveals how Russian President is wooing – and funding – populist parties across Europe to gain influence in the EU

Putin’s far-right ambition

Think-tank reveals how Russian President is wooing – and funding – populist parties across Europe to gain influence in the EU
Tove Jansson's Moominland: What was the inspiration for Finland's most famous family?

Escape to Moominland

What was the inspiration for Finland's most famous family?