Diary – Wednesday 20 July 1994


Quite independently of his comedian father Max, Anthony Bygraves has managed to leave a sour taste in the mouths of staff at Duxford air museum, at Bovington tank museum and others who took part in the unofficial D-Day celebrations on the south coast on 5 June.

He and his brother-in-law, Mark Fairhurst, have not paid the contributors to a ‘concert’ they organised at Bovington to celebrate the landings. Included were an air demonstration by Duxford’s Spitfires and a Messerschmitt. Total cost for Duxford alone was approximately pounds 6,000.

Staff at the Cambridgeshire air base are livid since, according to one source, the Bygraves name persuaded them of the reliability¬†of the organisers. A spokesman however, says Bygraves is doing his best to sort it out. ‘There was a shortfall due to bad PR, the Government shambles over Hyde Park, and the weather. It is drastic,’ he admits, ‘but not as bad as everyone is making out.’

And so we come, at last, to that day which for three months, we have incessantly heard about, read about – the unlucky ones have even dreamed about. Nothing, surely, has ever been plugged like it – for few authors are as au fait with the promotional trade as historian Andrew Roberts, 31, whose book Eminent Churchillians is launched tonight.

Here is just one example of Roberts’ superlative marketing tactics. At a large Scottish wedding recently, he asked the groom to mention the book in his speech. The groom duly obliged. . .the guests got the message. Roberts, however, thought he had better¬†make sure. Taking the microphone, he began his best man speech: ‘Those of you know me will know I did not set that up’. . .pause for laughter. ‘For those who didn’t get it, however, my book, Eminent Churchillians. . .etcetera, etcetera, etcetera.

Now that her husband William Waldegrave will be testing his legendary high-powered intellect on European farmers, I asked his charming wife, Caroline, if there would be any changes to the nationality of the ingredients at Prue Leith, the up-market cookery school she runs in Kensington. As yet, she told me yesterday, she hasn’t thought about it – but whatever she decides, I’m sure standards will not be lapsing. ‘Good ingredients,’ one of the teachers there once told me, ‘are one of the two most vital parts in cooking.’ And the other? I inquired. She almost spat: ‘Very sharp knives. . .’

To the Queen’s Garden party at Buckingham Palace: an occasion I would not recommend to the vertically challenged. The only thing I caught sight of all day was the odd daisy – I thought for a moment that I heard the Prince of Wales’ voice, but was assured it was the Duke of Edinburgh’s. Ah well, it was a very colourful occasion, with the Palace’s new PC¬†stance much in evidence as homosexual couples openly strolled together. If, however, I am so fortunate to be asked again, I will arm myself appropriately – and smuggle in a pair of stilts.

One distinctly unamused by all this sudden fuss about Lord Lucan is the Hon John Sinclair, son of Viscount Thurso. . .for reasons that might perhaps be apparent from the pictures below. Unfortunately for Sinclair, he runs Horsted Place, a hotel in Sussex, which happens to be close to the home of the Maxwell-Scotts, the last couple to see Lucan alive. As a result, locals get tremendously overexcited when they see him. ‘About ten years ago, it was quite funny,’ he said wearily yesterday. ‘Now I’m tired of it.’