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West End Extra - The XTRA DIARY
Published: 8 August 2008
Jonathan Swift
Jonathan Swift
Pamphlet collection makes a Swift sale

IT was a leather-bound collection of the radical pamphlet The Examiner that first set Michael Foot on the trail of the Irish satirist and author Jonathan Swift.
The 1754 collection was given to him by his father Isaac, with the inscription: “To my son, as a token of consolation on his defeat in the 1955 general election.”
Isaac, who was a Liberal MP, added: “I recall defeats at Totnes, Plymouth, Bodmin, St Ives, and Tavistock. On the whole, these defeats were more honourable than my five victories.”
Former Labour leader Michael, said Isaac was loath to give away his books – he owned 60,000 – but perhaps the wrench was made easier as it was one of his shrewder purchases.
“My father bought it for me from a bookseller who thought the edition was incomplete,” Michael told me at his Hampstead home.
“But he knew more about Swift than him.
“He knew that changes in the palace had forced Swift to return to Ireland at the time. So the few pages missing from the collection were not missing at all – they never existed. He got it on the cheap because he knew more about Swift than the bookseller.
“I would never have written the Pen and the Sword without that edition – it excited me to write.”
The pamphlets were sold in a deal involving more than 200 books – Michael’s entire Swift collection – to the University of Notre Dame, Indiana. The £55,000 sale was handled by Brian Lake, a family friend, who runs the booksellers Jarndyce in Museum Street, Bloomsbury.

‘Tell-tail’ early warnings

Westminster’s hygiene crusaders are at it again.
Not content with depriving Londoners of their favourite Chinese dish, Peking Duck, after a clampdown on non-EU safety compliant ovens last week, they are now training restaurant owners how to smell a rat.
And not in the metaphorical sense. You might have thought that seminar would be over before you could say “there’s a rat in me kitchen”.
If it’s got four legs and squeaks it shouldn’t be there, simple as that. But the ever-diligent council have been holding all-day workshops to help businesses sniff out the problem at an early stage. To look for the ­tell-tail signs before the exterminators are needed.
Richard Block, operations manager for food health and safety said: “We are pleased Westminster is leading the way in the battle to eradicate unwanted vermin by enhancing the knowledge and expertise of food operators and contractors. We are determined to continue the high standards we have set ourselves and this is only possible through
co-operation with businesses.”
With one rat for every person in Britain, there must be more than a few scuttling around near City Hall. At least, if they do show their whiskers, we can rest assured the council know what to do.

Growing calls for a tree tribute to Rose

A LOUD cry of assent rang out on Wednesday in Tavistock Square, Bloomsbury, when it was suggested a tree should be planted in memory of that original political thinker, writer and campaigner Rose Hacker, who died earlier this year at the age of 101.
More than 200 campaigners had gathered to remember the men, women and children who died when the US dropped atom bombs on Hiroshima and Nagasaki in 1945.
Rose was one of the few, if not the only person who had never missed the annual ceremony since it started 41 years ago.
It was in the square where, to a colleague’s astonishment, he first heard Rose make a 15-minute, unscripted speech at the age of 100 about the dangers of a nuclear weapons.
Within weeks we had persuaded her to write a column for this organ – to become the oldest columnist in the world.
A friend of Rose, Bernard Miller (left), asked the crowd: “How many of you have been to every one of these? I’ve missed two – Rose never missed any. Perhaps we should have a tree to commemorate Rose.”
His suggestion was welcomed by Islington MP Jeremy Corbyn as well as Tony Benn and Holborn MP Frank Dobson.

Celebrity chefs duel in the Garden

THE historic Covent Garden piazza will be transformed into a foodies’ paradise as the capital’s only night market returns this week.
What better way to pass an evening than by breathing in the sumptuous aroma of the world’s finest delicacies while strolling along the cobblestones bathed in dappled summer sunshine.
And fitting a square feted for its performances, theatre is never far away from the action, with the first-ever “kitchen theatre” set to grace the market.
A line-up of mystery celebrity chefs will go head-to-head in Ready Steady Cook-style duels to add some spice to proceedings. For those rotten tomatoes, there will also be a number of masterclasses to turn any Del-Boy into a Delia.
The night markets start today (Friday) and will run every Thursday and Friday of the month until 9pm.

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