Diary – June 6, 1994


Poor old Dr Alan Sked] Just when the lecturer with the lively hairdo who leads the anti-European UK Independence party thought his campaign was going well – several hundred people, including two Tory peers have joined up in the last few weeks – he has received worried phone calls from would-be supporters concerned that his party has links with the National Front.

The source of confusion is an anti-immigration leaflet put out by an extreme-right wing Euro-candidate, Oliver Tillett, under the banner: ‘Third Way (UK Independence) Party’. The party – an offshoot of the National Front – urges Londoners to ‘Vote for a Euro-Sceptic, Vote for Independence. . .Vote against further immigration’ with warnings about border controls and floods of immigrants from other European countries.

Since the leaflet appears in east London, the constituency in which the UK Independence candidate, Gerard Batten, is standing, Sked is understandably livid.

‘They’ve never included UK Independence in their name, it’s a deliberate ploy,’ he seethes, adding: ‘Every kind of political low-life jumps on when there’s a bandwagon rolling.’

To the Argyll restaurant in Chelsea for a pre-launch party of studio openings, hosted by the Chelsea Artists group – amusingly divided, I could not help noticing, into areas of social, as well as geographic connotation: SW3 and SW10. There, I encountered one Sandra Lawrence, whose magnum opus – a tapestry of Operation Overlord – 272ft long and weighing 34lb – hangs in the D-Day museum at Portsmouth.

Miss Lawrence was commissioned to design the work in 1962 when she was a mere 23, by the late Lord Dulverton, who had taken part in the invasion. It was not all plain sailing for the youthful artist, however. After three months’ work on 40ft of painting, Lord Dulverton told her politely he did not like her work.

Miss Lawrence begged his private secretary to intervene for her and give her one more chance. He did, but at that stage, Miss Lawrence had no idea of what was about to hit her. The tapestry took five years to complete.

Much excitement in the home of former Foreign Office minister Tristan Garel-Jones MP, who, at 53, has become a grandfather for the first time. Ana, the Spanish-born wife of his eldest son, Julian, 27, gave birth to twin boys – at 7lb apiece – on 1 June. As yet the pair have no names, but, unsurprisingly, punters are already predicting careers in the city or politics. . .

Alan Clark, it appears, has even gone so far as to penetrate the thespian world. Actor Robert Stephens gave a wonderful performance in the title role of last Thursday night’s King Lear at the Barbican – only to be upstaged by Owen Teale, who was playing Edmund. It was not Teale’s fault, but the audience collapsed in giggles at what should have been the height of the tragedy, when Edmund is trying to solve his Regan/Goneril problem:

‘To both these sisters have

I sworn my love;

Each jealous of the other, as the stung

Are of the adder. Which of them shall I take?

Both? One? Or neither?. . . .’

At last Bryan Gould is to write his memoirs, which, he says, will contain revelations about the Labour leadership contest between himself and John Smith in 1992. On the surface it appeared a relatively simple contest: Smith won; Gould lost and, disillusioned, he retired from politics to return to New Zealand.

Not so simple, claims Gould now: ‘It will be more than political memoirs. It will be a political odyssey. I will give the inside story with quite interesting revelations,’ he told me yesterday, before rushing off to scribble another chapter.

Despite the whole-hearted commemoration, the real wartime spirit of D-Day is, of course, gone. No one demonstrated this better than reporter Kate Adie at the opening of the D-Day exhibition at the Imperial War museum, when she was asked to be photographed alongside John Snagge, the 90-year-old wheelchair-bound veteran radio announcer. She refused, saying that an appointment would have to be made with her agent. . .


On Tuesday I reported that Kate Adie had referred to her agent a request to be photographed with the veteran reporter John Snagge.

Ms Adie has pointedout that not only does she not have an agent, she did not refuse the request and was photographed with Mr Snagge at the Imperial War Museum in February – I apologise for the error.

(Photographs omitted)