People: Old times recalled on a visit from Bill the lodger

Friday 14 January 1994 00:02 GMT

A NIGHT of fun - and a surprise arranged by Vaclav Havel - were on tap for Bill Clinton when he visited the Golden Tiger, a Prague pub. The Czech President had arranged a reunion between the US President and the parents of a now-deceased Oxford classmate. The frail, white-haired woman across the table from Mr Clinton at the pub on Tuesday night was Jirina Kopold, who met her son Jan's American friend when he visited Prague after a visit to the Soviet Union in 1970.

For a week in January 1970, the bearded Arkansan, unable to find a cheap hotel, stayed in Jirina and Bedrich Kopold's flat. Jirina's mother, Marie Svernoa, a founder of the Communist Party in Czechoslovakia, gave young Bill a tour of the city. 'Twenty-four years ago today - you can't beat it]' a beaming Mr Clinton said in the pub, where he ate schnitzel and sipped beer with the Kopolds, Mr Havel and Madeleine Albright, the Czech-born UN ambassador. 'I've had two pilsners tonight, and that's my limit,' he said.

After dinner, the group went round the corner to the Reduta, one of Prague's oldest jazz clubs, where Mr Clinton played the saxophone.

SINCE his return to France six months ago, General Philippe Morillon, the former UN commander in Bosnia, has been a member of the personal staff of Francois Leotard, the Defence Minister. General Morillion hit the headlines last spring when he defied Serbian gunners to attack Srebrenica while he stayed in the town to protect the locals. At the Defence Ministry, he studies command structures for international peace-keeping and humanitarian operations run by the military. It was a job he could logically have held at the UN in New York. But when France proposed him for the task, 'the suggestion was refused - and somewhat brutally', one source said. At what level had General Morillon been vetoed? 'We believe it was (Boutros) Boutros-Ghali himself', the Secretary-General.

By his high-profile stand in Srebrenica and frequent television sound-bites, the general alienated many who felt he was acting too independently. He also defied the bureaucratic inertia that characterised UN operations in Bosnia.

AMERICAN judges, including Supreme Court justices, do not wear wigs. Or do they? Antonin Scalia and Ruth Bader Ginsburg put on white powdered wigs for an appearance with the Washington Opera. The justices, both opera- lovers, were extras on Saturday in the opening performance of Ariadne auf Naxos, by Richard Strauss. They were on stage for 90 minutes.

''They looked something like George Washington and an elegant Viennese lady of the 17th century,' an opera spokeswoman said.

Justice Scalia was fitted with the costume Placido Domingo wore during the world premiere of the opera Goya in 1986, while Justice Ginsburg appeared with a feather in her wig and without her trademark glasses.

The Richard Strauss work pokes fun at the conventions of opera in the 1600s.

(Photograph omitted)

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