Paddy Mayhew had an unfortunate experience a few days before the
election which must have given him a warning that his party was
heading for a wipeout. He was to have dinner with an old friend,
broadcaster Keith Kyle, in Kyle's North London home.
The Special Branch went round, checked the place out with sniffer
dogs, bug detection equipment, the lot.
But come the night when the Branch took the hapless Paddy round
for dinner they arrived at a house with a poster for Glenda
Jackson, the local Labour candidate, in the window. ``Must be the
wrong place,'' mumbled Paddy and the Branch drove him around
looking in vain for the right house. Eventually, a Branchman rang
Kyle and explained that they were lost. They told him about the
Labour poster. ``That's my house,'' Kyle explained.
It was difficult night for the well-mannered Mayhew as he ate his
dinner through gritted teeth.
Liz McPherson, the Irish News diarist whose wit always appears to
me to be as sparkling as coal dust, told us on Monday the story
of how Martin McGuinness shook hands with Ken Maginnis after the
Shinner's victory in Mid-Ulster. According to Liz, Ken ``got
chatting to a woman attending the event and became so engrossed
in conversation'' that he didn't notice our Martin approaching.
And who was the mysterious woman? None other than Liz's buddy,
Suzanne Breen of the Irish Times. Here's the exclusive
picture of the handshake.
Francis Wheen of the Guardian is wonderful at digging for
significance in political events. This week he tells us that
whereas the Tories received 31% of the vote in the British
election, a MORI poll says that 37% of people agreed that Britain
no longer needed a monarchy. ``In short,'' he tells his readers,
``there are now more republicans in this country than there are
d who will represent them? Step forward Martin and Gerry. The
British people need you.