Diary – May 9, 1994


ONCE AGAIN there is quarrelling up at that bastion of Sylvan nudity – Highgate Men’s pond – where the Corporation of London are building a dividing wall to construct two distinctly separate areas – nude and non-nude – or ‘sun-bathing and changing’ as the Corporation gently phrases it. For several years there has been dissent between the homosexual and heterosexual users of the antique bathing area, culminating in the arrest of a young man sporting a t-shirt of a nude male in 1991.
Now the Corporation, the custodians of the area, have taken matters into their own hands, following a complaint and have decided to erect a wall – but only – it assures me after careful consultation with the locals and users. ‘Hardly anyone thought that nude bathing should be banned,’ said a spokeswoman, ‘so the separate areas give people an option.’

Not everyone is pleased however: ‘I will be unable to exchange greeting with my pals who stand in their favourite spot at the far end of the enclosure because a compromise wall divides, us,’ explained one dissenter.

CONTRARY to a report yesterday that the co-author of Prince Charles’s Return to Basics speech was his deputy private secretary, Stephen Lamport, there is another, rather stronger, whisper doing the rounds at Westminster that the original scribe of the whole piece was none other than the Prince’s official biographer, the broadcaster Jonathan Dimbleby. According to insiders Dimbleby, 50, ‘has been boasting about it publicly’.

Interestingly, his agent would only say yesterday, that, were, I to track him down, ‘Mr Dimbleby would not wish to comment on the matter.’

BAD NEWS for all those West Ham fans who have friends living close to Upton Park Football Ground, and, in the past, enjoyed many a game from a free vantage point.

Officious sorts on Newham Council have decided to bar admission to the council blocks to everyone who does not live there. You cannot even do a swap for a day, I’m told, since, so thorough is the new regime, it has issued residents with identity cards.

A MOMENT of mild embarrassment for the Tory party Chairman, Sir Norman Fowler, reaches my ears from Birmingham, where the Midland Independent Newspaper group (of which he is chairman) celebrated their recent flotation with a dinner. ‘Oh my God – you’ve all got those dreadful ties on,’ Sir Norman reportedly whispered to chief executive Christopher Oakley, pointing at the guest’s neckpieces, each displaying a hand-painted ‘fat lady’, crafted specifically for the occasion. Oakley must have smiled, since, moments later, before everyone, he duly presented Sir Norman with one such tie. To his credit, the recipient did not hesitate. To thunderous applause he put it on immediately.

WRY SMILES at the recent Annual General Meeting of Conde Nast, the publishing house which produces useful reference manuals such as World of Interiors, Vogue and Brides. Managing Director Nicholas Coleridge briefed each publication in turn in the Vogue House boardroom and listened to the staff’s ensuing queries. The Vogue lot were worried about sub-editors’ pay; the GQ team were concerned about the NUJ; Then it was the turn of Tatler – the society magazine which, last month, generously proffered free fashion advice to the Princess of Wales. ‘In the new canteen,’ a voice piped up, ‘will hot food be available?’. . .for a moment the corners of Mr Coleridge’s mouth trembled.

MORE trouble (if it were needed) at Westminster Council: It is likely to be sued by its former security company, Care Contract Services, which it fired after the building’s fire alarm went off twice in a row. Officially Westminster sources will only comment that they ‘were unhappy with evacuation procedures followed’ by Care Contract, whose job it was to shepherd everyone on to the street. Insiders whisper that the real problem was the cost incurred by the staff’s long wait outside – according to a source, pounds 20,000.

(Photograph omitted)