Diary: On the QT ...

The 1956 Suez Crisis clearly remains something of a fixation at The Observer. Veteran hacks still talk about the leader written by the paper's then editor, David Astor, which castigated the Government for its bullying and provoked thousands of protests from readers.

Last Sunday, the paper devoted a page to criticisms of the Government for failing to mark the 50th anniversary of Suez. And just to make sure the message got home it repeated the entire story eight pages later. Oops ...

It seems that in the race for dominance in the London free-sheet market Associated Newspapers is attempting to steal some ground over its rival News International by being more aggressive in the hand out. In general, workers for thelondonpaper are relaxed and polite as they hand out their free copies, some of which are sometimes just left on the floor for people to pick up at will, whereas their London Lite opponents really chase down their prey and make sure their copies are thrust into as many hands as possible ...

Competition for guests to adland Christmas parties has already kicked off, despite the fact that the festive season is still months away. The first invitation came personally from somebody very senior at Publicis, announcing its soiree, which will include a set by Groove Armada, to take place on 14 December. One day later, this was followed by an invite to Clemmow Hornby Inge's annual bash - which will take place on the same day. This, in turn, was followed almost instantly by a second Publicis invitation, this time through its PR company just re-reminding people of the date of its do ...

The legendary actor John Hurt had a narrow escape on a shoot for an Amnesty International ad when the Dodge van the crew were filming burst into flames. Luckily, the veteran thespian wasn't in the vehicle at the time - his place had been taken by a Mother creative who was standing in as a body double.

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