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DIARY - TOULMIN SMITH

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The local government elections were close to fever pitch in the last days of campaigning. ...
The local government elections were close to fever pitch in the last days of campaigning.

Excitedly, I telephoned each mayoral candidate in hotly disputed Watford BC, but it seemed I was either too early or too late to catch them at full throttle.

Anthony Tristam Cooke, from the Fat Cat party, sounded as though he was asleep when I called, as did the Green party candidate Stephen Rackett. This was one better than Conservative candidate Gary Ling who was unavailable, possibly because he was asleep.

Liberal Democrat candidate Dorothy Thornhill was positively upbeat, but admitted she was 'very tired'.

If this sort of enthusiasm is anything to go by, it seems the government has failed in its bid to breathe new life into local government.

'Liverpool is truly a fun city,' according to a recent statement from Liverpool City Council, which is why staff came up with a hilarious menu for a special promotional lunch aimed at winning the city Capital of Culture status for 2008.

The amusing menu included 'Chuckle muscles in wine saucie' for starter; 'Pulled leg of lamb' for a main course and a funny 'Cheesy grin and biscuits' for dessert.

Lord mayor Gerry Scott said 'Liverpool is famous for its Scouse sense of humour' - as opposed to its Geordie or Cockney sense of humour presumably.

The list of luminaries invited included not only Ken Dodd, but giants of comedy such as Teddy Prescott, Bobby Kaye and Tony Marsh.

Mr Scott quipped: 'There's just one little problem with the lunch. I'll be laughing so much my soup will go cold.'

Liverpool has a long history of hilarity from Arthur Askey through to Les Dennis. In a time of flux, its reassuring that some things never change.

The unlikely subject of a Japanese TV documentary is a Barnet LBC recycling centre.

The Summers Lane facility in North Finchley will appear in the documentary looking at how cities cope with household waste. TV ASAHI film crews visited the site last week and declared it a 'very good system'.

'There are no sites like this in Japan,' programme co-ordinator Yoko Oshima said. Given some London councils recycle 1% of waste, against a target of 25% by 2005, perhaps the film should be screened closer to home.

The UK Noise Association has identified the country's loudest roads, and London's north circular tops the list for its 'torrent of noise'.

Other roads identified were the A4 in west London and the A102 northern approach to the Blackwall Tunnel in east London.

A resident who lives near the A102 said plaintively to the researchers: 'We are not rich in this part of the world. No one listens to us and even if they did, they wouldn't hear us.'

Teacher Tom Feehan turns up for work every day despite having no lessons scheduled on the timetable. The teacher 'who is being paid not to teach' according to the Times Education Supplement, has been taken off the roster at his school in the Republic of Ireland after an alleged series of rowdy classroom incidents. Apparently, he reads newspapers and magazines until the bell rings and has the backing of the Teachers' Union of Ireland while he continues to draw a salary equivalent to£24,400.

If you wish to disseminate any gossip, please e-mail me on

joshua.toulminsmith@lgc.emap.com

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