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London Tonight Tonight

Good afternoon.
Max, our genius entertainment editor, was the first to swoop when I announced I had just purchased a large box of chocolates to lift collective spirits, post the Bank Holiday break. What he and the rest of the collective didn't grasp was that it was my version of the X-Factor auditions. How bold they were, which hand they used, what language they spoke in and which sweetie they took. Hannah, who is Welsh, came over nearly last, very quietly and said, in good English, "Can I have a sweetie?" Why did she choose a Malteser, I wondered? "Because they are light," she responded with a winning smile. This is a confectionery-lifter of Eistedfodd standards. I can see her winning over Ant, Dec, Simon, the girl who used to be in that game-park drama and old motormouth, himself, Southend Piers. Her future, if not her waist-line, is secure.
Max, meanwhile, who was first, was so becuse he has secured us a glimpse at the real X-Factor auditions down O2 way. The New Boss (as in a Hampshire village, you have to have been round for ages before you cease being the "new" anything) wasn't sure if there were many "weirdos" and he thought there may even have been some men and women of genuine merit. Lucy, for whom I am saving a Malteser, will return with her material and if anyone can get "weirdos" AND men and women of real merit, it is her - for she is a woman of endless merit and talent and not a molecule of "weirdness" about her.
The Oz, who was on the phone, has finally struck - she is going through them all but has settled on ..... a Malteser! These woman. I am now on my nineth mini-Mars Bar.
I do not know if chocolate offers any protection against swine 'flu. It seems to me that a national campaign that involves TV ads and a letter through the post to everyone is a good start... if you have shares in ITV or hope to give the Post Office a boost on the way to partial privatisation. I also find a drug called TAMIFLU difficult to take too seriously. It should be called something serious like Relenza which is another anti-flu drug but sounds like it means it. Wasn't "Tami" a character "in love" played by Debbie Reynolds? We continue to fret about swine flu, quite rightly, as it might get very serious but with 27 cases in a population of a little over 50,000,000,000 I think we remain on the side of the hopeful, for now.
Harris, nevertheless, is on the case and has found three schools and three nurseries that either have cases or are guarding against them. There are official expressions of concern about the reactions but, among parents and pupils, some relief.... apart from those who have had to have their public examinations rejigged. If you've peaked, you're going to be down; if you'd quite forgotten about GCSE French oral, you live to fight another day.
The Oz is now on sweetie two - a Galaxy the size of a postage stamp. That's her calorie limit for at least an hour. Unlike the child Liz chanced upon who is only 16 months old but needs 3000 calories a day to maintain her body weight. She only weighs 17 lbs. The Oz says she is "ickle" which is either a misspelling of one of the results of winter precipitation or an Australian expression of affection toward the small among us.
Andy Townsend is not small - he is a giant among those who both know and care about football - the Oz is like that too whereas I am weak on both fronts. Thank God for the Oz and Andy who will share with you, and me, the second leg prospects of the great Gunners against the fearsome Reds in tonight's continental clash for European honours.
The total value of the 22 players on the pitch tonight is probably not far short of half a billion pounds. A little more than half of that is what was spent making London's railway stations safe and accessible for the disabled and three out of four still aren't. Nick has the sad statistical indictment and has been talking to some for whom it really is a matter of life and death.
There is even more including weather, whether you want it or not, and papers which will not be used to cover up any cracks in the above. You thoughts on swine flu will also be most welcome unless they are contagious.
See you at 6 by which time the sweeties will have all gone and I may find standing up a challenge. The Oz is licking her fingers. Did she sneak a third when I wasn't looking? I muse, I merely muse.
At six, then.
Alastair and Alex.