Diary – June 8, 1994


THE MoD police (known, suitably, as Modplods) need look no further than a simple drainpipe to find the culprit responsible for a blockade of peace protesters who halted a missile convoy in Scotland yesterday.
Frankly, Defence officials must be kicking themselves. They had only just completed the expensive construction of a 10ft wall around Burghfield missile factory, Reading, after a Select Committee found that CND activists had about as much access to their movements as Lady Bienvenida Buck had to Sir Peter Harding’s.

Indeed, showing persistence remarkably similar to that of Lady Buck, the peace organisations, undeterred by the wall, used a periscope – made from a drainpipe – to get a good look at the factory’s loading bay last weekend. Thus they discovered this week’s convoy plans.

For those interested, similar drainpipe-periscopes are, I believe, now coming on the market. ‘It was made by a physicist and costs pounds 10,’ explains a Nukewatch spokeswoman, adding, ‘the irony is, I expect their wall cost


IT WAS a close-run thing – the choice of band at the opening of designer Caroline Charles’s new Bond Street premises on Tuesday night. The ultimate selection – an all-female sextet, The Soho

Sinfonia – certainly went down well with the men: LiveAid promoter, Harvey Goldsmith was so busy staring at them that he nearly got knocked down by a car. However, Ms Charles’s first choice, I discovered, had been her son, Alex Valentine, 24, a budding pop star. I discovered the young musician quietly sipping a gin and tonic in the corner, accompanied by partner Emma Seal. Their new band Me and Al has yet to make its debut, they told me. . .but,

unsurprisingly, they did not think Ms Charles’s opening the right occasion. ‘We thought of doing it. . .but the guests would have got upset with all the noise we were making,’ explained Emma.

WORSE has befallen Lord Bethell, the harrowed Tory MEP fighting to retain his seat in London NW, against, he claims, a mysterious conspiracy within the communications industry. Not only has he experienced sabotage, he says, from the Royal Mail – now British Telecom has joined in.

Bethell’s campaign telephone was out of order for three consecutive days last week, causing the politician to jump to all sorts of conclusions. He wrote an

anguished letter to BT chairman Iain Vallance.

‘My campaign is now seriously damaged,’ he wrote, ‘and I cannot think that this is an appropriate way for an important democratic election.’

Indeed, the incident is the latest in a strange series of calamities which has befallen the peer’s campaign. His posters have been defaced, 500 letters were sent to key voters – without stamps – and other letters have been found in dustbins. Yesterday he sounded understandably weary. ‘It is incredible bad luck,’ voiced a spokeswoman.

CLEARLY feeling no compunction to follow the maxim ‘When in Rome. . .’ is comedian Tony Slattery, who was seen in the audience at Tuesday night’s performance of The Marriage of Figaro in Holland Park. While all about him daintily sipped their champagne – imbibing is allowed there during performances – Slattery decided he’d had enough of such pretence. With precision, he bravely flaunted his drink for the evening: Mexican beer.

CONFIRMATION, for those in doubt, that motivation in the House of Lords is still guided by the most deep-rooted of traditional values: Lord Mancroft, who, at 36, is a babe by comparison to others in the Upper House, appeared in the division lobby recently to vote for the first time.

Finding the proceedings a little confusing, he asked the nearest peer to hand, the Marquess of Salisbury, an experienced septuagenarian who resides in Hatfield House, Hertfordshire, which way to go to cast his vote.

‘Well,’ replied Lord Salisbury,

‘I always look at whichever way the bishops are going.’ A pause, and a twinkle: ‘And then go the other.’

(Photographs omitted)