Diary – June 7, 1994


JUST WHEN the Euro-elections were looking irrevocably dull, new twists in the Lib-Dem campaign are causing considerable excitement. Lindi St Clair, aka Miss Whiplash, has announced she is sending 450 discreetly dressed ‘girls to polling stations across the country to give ‘Tickets to Ride’ to clients who vote Lib Dem.
Quite how these women propose to inveigle their way into the polling booths to oversee the voting does not, unsurprisingly, appear to have been worked out. Nor are the Lib-Dems particularly amused by Miss St Clair’s voluntary contribution: ‘It sounds illegal,’ said a senior party official who asked not to be named. ‘I think we’d prefer to know nothing about it. ‘

Meanwhile the Marquess of Bath, the colourful pony-tailed Liberal peer, who prefers to walk barefoot, has, I hear, been canvassing with the local candidate, Jeanie Matthew. If that were not enough, he has decorated Longleat, his 9,500-acre Wiltshire estate, with party posters: ‘ Well – I told them I was at their disposal,’ he shrugged.

CREATING room – for colossal amounts of controversy among literary folk – are the authorities at Westminster Abbey who, yesterday, unveiled a commemorative window in Poets’ Corner. It has space for 20 memorial plaques – as a consolation prize for those who don’t quite make it into the Corner itself.

First to have their names carved onto the stained glass were Alexander Pope, 18th century dwarf and master of wit (who was excluded on account of his Roman Catholicism), and the 17th century poet, Robert Herrick (arguably a top-of-the-second-eleven man).

Inevitably the innovation has galvanised literary fan clubs into action. Notable omissions in the Corner include Virginia Woolf and John Betjeman. Not that their supporters will necessarily get the response they want. A spokesman sniffed: ‘It’s more for poets of the future rather than declaring open season on poets of the past.’

UNUSUAL times at Brent council: it has appointed two deputy mayors. Official reasoning for this is that the new mayor, David Games, is Jewish and – according to a spokeswoman – out of action on Fridays and Saturdays. Labour councillors disagree, however, claiming one of the two deputies was given the post to make sure he voted Tory. Since the council

is composed of 33 Tories, 28 Labour, 5 Lib Dems giving the Tory mayor the casting vote, you can see why they are sensitive. . .

A WORRYING moment for actress-cum-cake maker, Jane Asher when her sugar ‘arrangement depicting fine bone china crockery collapsed whilst on view at Garrard’s exhibition of English tea last week. ‘Ideally, there should be a rope around these kind of cakes saying ‘do not touch’, she explained yesterday, ‘but for some reason people can’t resist testing them with their fingers.’

A TALE which may curtail the popular image of Norma Major as a shy retiring country wife comes from sculptress Shenda Amery, whom I encountered at an artist’s party in Chelsea. Ms Amery, you may recall, completed a splendid bronze bust of John Major last year, which will stand, eventually, outside his home in Huntingdon.

So eager was Norma, however, to stamp her own mark on the bust – symbolising, arguably, the kind of strong wifely grip that emanates from her American counterpart, Hillary Clinton – that, at Ms Amery’s suggestion, she stuck her thumb onto the right shoulder, before it was cast. Now the marks are still there – tiny, but clearly visible.

A FOOTNOTE from Tristan Garel-Jones MP, back from South America to see his newly christened grandchildren, Samuel Tristan Mariano and Louis John Manuel.

Joking that their names ‘are like waiters’, he evoked memories of a past era: ‘We are a grandfather,’ he said fondly.

(Photographs omitted)