Saturday, 19 May 2012


I have been 83 for three days and everything that ever happened to me happened a long time ago. This struck me again as I mused on the bravery of tiny Alice Arnold who returned litter which a driver had thrown from his car window.

Many years ago the delightful Anne, Duchess of Westminster, warned me of the dangers of doing an Alice Arnold. She had been fishing in Sutherland and as she came off the water she noticed a car parked in a lay-by. To her disgust the occupants threw the detritus of their picnic into the grass verge.

As they drove off she retrieved it and ordered her gillie, "Follow that car", which she said was very pleasing and fulfilled a lifetime's ambition.

At length the offending car stopped. The Duchess, bearing the rubbish before her, marched up to the picnickers and pushed it through the driver's window.

"I believe this belongs to you," she said, at her most imperious.

Whereupon the driver, a Glaswegian, handed it back. "It’s OK, hen," he said, "we've finished wi' it," and drove off.

Anne, who owned Arkle, the wonder horse, was one of several widows of Ben D’or, the fabulously wealthy Duke who carried a pocketful of jewellery in case he met a woman who took his fancy.

Incensed at being stopped by a traffic policeman when being driven through Chester to catch a train, he had a station built on the outskirts of the city to ensure he would never be stopped again. Anne was one of several wives. When someone asked his mistress Coco Chanel why she didn’t marry him, she replied: ”Why should I? Everyone else does.”

At a Guildhall reception for the Davis Cup tennis team en route to Sweden he asked them if he could help in any way. He was told they had nowhere to train over there and they wondered if he knew anyone with a tennis court.

“Only the king,” he said. “Would he do?”

They said he would and His Grace offered to drop him a line.

On their return they met again at another reception.

“King any use?” he asked.

“Marvellous,” they told him. “He gave us the run of the Royal Courts and a splendid banquet. But might we ask you a question? How do you drop a line to a king?”

“Oh,” said the Duke, “nothing simpler. My chap just wrote on the envelope: “The King, Copenhagen.”

“But, Your Grace, Copenhagen is in Denmark. We were in Sweden.”

“No problem,” beamed the Duke. “All these kings know each other.”


Continuing the relentless name dropping... At his 100th birthday party I asked Lord Langford what it was like, hitting a century.

He said: “You should know. You are in the overnight declaration as nearly my oldest friend. I expect you have found out that growing old is not for cissies.”

That it ain’t. The worst thing is the way time suddenly speeds up. The Spectator becomes a daily and it’s Christmas every other week. Or as Christopher Fry memorably said: “You seem to have breakfast every half hour.”


The Government is promoting a service to teach mothers how to love their babies and establishing training courses for school children in handling bereavement grief and standing on one leg.........

What price talent? A dog gets £500,000 and a cellist gets £2,000. What? Crazy? -  Daily Mirror.
Ashleigh Butler was awarded £500,000 on Britain's Got Talent for training her dog Pudsey to do a few crowd-pleasing tricks. Meanwhile over on BBC2, 15-year-old Laura van der Heijden, a teenage cellist prodigy, was awarded £2,000 after being named the BBC's Young Musician for 2012.

 'Taid, why do you always save the hardest crossword clues