Diary – June 15, 1994


A BUST of former Prime Minister Sir Anthony Eden has suddenly appeared in the members’ lobby in the Commons, reviving speculation as to whose statue will occupy the tantalisingly large plinth in the same area.
The lobby currently contains three statues: one of Lloyd George, one of Atlee and one – the most famous of all – of Churchill, whose toe has been worn away over the years by MPs who touch it for luck as they go into the chamber.

Other prime ministers such as Asquith and Ramsay MacDonald are commemorated by busts in between the full-size replicas – but the space for a fourth has never been filled. The real bone of contention is whether or not Lady Thatcher will get it – now that Eden’s bust has arrived, the matter is once again a talking point.

The decision will be taken long after the model-to-be has deceased. A special all-party works of art committee exists to advise on commissions. . .

although aspirants should perhaps remember that, according to a Commons spokeswoman, ‘they spend as much time deciding who should come out, as go in.’

FURTHER to my note earlier this week about the extraordinary 1 hour 50 minute wait experienced by historian Andrew Roberts before his starter arrived in Marco Pierre White’s The Restaurant, a colleague rang to tell me of a similar experience in White’s Wandsworth domain, Harvey’s. A table of four were struck by the length of time it took for their pudding course to materialise, so summoned the matre d’. He went off to the kitchen to deal with the matter, only to reappear empty-handed. ‘You must realise,’ he told the group haughtily, ‘all our puddings are freshly made. Nothing, but nothing, is prepared in advance.’ A pause. The matre d’ smiled. . .until, that is, a voice piped up: ‘But we ordered cheese.’

WHAT a to-do at Brent Council where leader Bob Blackman is taking legal advice over Channel 4’s current drama series, Little Napoleons. Blackman, it seems, fears the programme implicitly draws parallels between himself and the show’s Tory leader – who, according to most viewers, is a particularly nasty piece of work.

Since part of the action was filmed in Brent’s town hall council chamber, with the explicit agreement that no connections were to be made, Blackman is incensed there should be even the odd verbal reference. However, scriptwriter Michael Abbensetts seems to feel no such impediments. ‘This drama is about local goverment in general but in some instances, about Brent in particular,’ he says easily.

TO THE 10th anniversary of trendy publishers Fourth Estate, who celebrated the event in the architectural prizewinning

environs of the Imagination Gallery in Store Street. To enter the festivities was like running an obstacle race – the grand finale of which was a dauntingly high steel bridge just below the roof. For some, it was just too much. I encountered one woman, looking distinctly green about the gills and running for the exit. Turning, she whispered unhappily: ‘I’m afraid of heights.’

IF ANYONE knows the secret menu the three tenors – Jose Carreras, Placido Domingo and Luciano Pavarotti – are likely to serve us on the eve of the World Cup at the Dodger Stadium on 17 July, it is Gillian Widdicombe, wife of Jeremy Isaacs, general director of the Royal Opera. Indeed, Ms Widdicome, it emerges from this month’s BBC music magazine,

appears to know the singers worryingly intimately. Not only does she hint that their repertoire will be based on ‘an American theme, including Bernstein – perhaps from Candide’ – but she goes on to give the following personal description of Carreras: ‘Jose is one of those rare players who may be nearing his sell-by date, but deserves a place in the squad because he’s good in and around the dressing-room.’

(Photographs omitted)