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Would suggestive Ms Lawson be licking her lips at the thought of a mollusc on her margarita?

NOW that she's gone into the child-production business my daughter doesn't get out so much.

But one evening recently she did, joining a gaggle of female friends at an Italiano ristorante in Edinburgh which must remain nameless for reasons soon to be revealed.

My daughter ordered pizza, which - as they say down Napoli way - is one way to make a lot of dough. It duly arrived and she tucked in like a judge in the Great British Bake Off.

It was a busy, noisy place, and rather dark. Peering through the gloom, however, my daughter was struck by something on her plate which, on closer inspection, appeared to be moving. She was dumbstruck, which I think even she would admit was a rare occurrence. She suspended eating and watched as what appeared to be a snail circuited her pizza.

Most folk, one suspects, would at this point have let out at least a squeaky scream. Not my daughter. At first, she said, she thought that the snail may have been put on her plate by an innovative chef. And, given what the likes of Heston B often dish up, who can blame her?

But this snail was a rogue one, a fact confirmed when a manager rushed to my daughter's side like a paramedic to a pile-up.

I'm pleased to report that she is recovering well from the trauma. I fear, though, for the fate of the snail, and also the ristorante that served it as an unwelcome extra.

POSH Dave has been given pelters for declaring, while the court battle involving Paella Lawson and Charlie Scraatchi continues, that he is a fully paid-up member of Team Profiterole.

Reading the court reports of the case, in which two Italian lackeys are accused of fraudulently spending Mr Scraatchi's dosh (they will later, of course, be cleared of the charges), I'm finding sympathy for any of the principals hard to muster.

I have never seen the point of Mr Scraatchi, who would like us to believe that he is a latter-day Medici using his bounty to encourage artists.

As my old chum Brian Sewell once said, he buys art like Imelda Marcos used to buy shoes.

Then there's Ms Paella.

On the one occasion I watched her cook tripe she waxed lasciviously like a tart in a saloon as she drizzled oil on to a piece of toast. I could do that!, I yelled. Grown men, though, such as Posh Dave, fell for her spiel, more one suspects because of her embonpoint than her ability to transform eggs into an omelette.

Oh for the days of Keith Floyd and Fanny Craddock!

OPPOSITE our chateau, two crows are perched on railings at the entrance to the park, like black, besuited bouncers about to vet visitors to a bordello.

I look constantly at them and they sometimes look at me, in a slightly superior manner. Sometimes the crows go for a stroll, perhaps to give their wings a breather. From the back one looks awfully like Giles the cartoonist's grandma. No other birds dare invade the crows' bailiwick; even the fattest seagulls give them a wide berth.

Now and then I dip into Esther Woolfson's weird and rather wonderful book Corvus, in which she relates how she lived with a number of birds in her house in Aberdeen. One was a crow. Crows, says Ms Esther, can recognise one another, as they apparently can human beings. I dare say that's the case.

But when I step out of the house and ask them: "How's it gaun?", there is not the faintest flicker of response.

I've been watching a docu-drama about Lord Lucan. Was there ever a more odious cove? Indeed there was.

There was his mate John Aspinall, the right-wing fruitcake who ran the gaming club where his friend "Lucky" lost all his dosh. The drama identified Mr Aspinall as accomplice, which is not new.

With his help Mr Lucky was spirited out of the country, never to return. Yet to this day there are those who believe he did not mistakenly kill his children's nanny or attempt to murder his wife whom he wanted to put in a straitjacket and have banged up in a psychiatric unit.

Which is where, needless to say, he should have been all along.

SO faretheeweel Ronnie Biggs, a tube. Mr Biggs, as his obituarists have been at pains to point out, was no criminal mastermind. Nor was he a loveable rogue.

Rather, he was a somewhat thick lowlife with the morals of a polecat and all the conscience of a cougar.

A dear old former colleague, Andy Malone, had the wit many moons ago to gatecrash one of Mr Biggs's birthday parties in Buenos Aires, for which when he was rumbled he promised to pay a few quid in recompense.

When he disclosed in the rag that we were both then employed by that he had reneged on his pledge, readers wrote in droves to complain of his lack of integrity.

Nor did it make any difference when it was pointed out to them that Mr Biggs was one of the Great Train Robbers, a convicted felon and fugitive. What a fickle lot the Great British Public are!

MICHTY moi! The House of Fraser could be about to be bought by the French company which owns Paris's Galeries Lafayette.

Why this apocalyptic news was not blazoned across front pages is beyond my ken. The repercussions do not bear thinking about. For instance, it is possible that Jenners, which is to Morningside dames d'un certain age what the Alamo was to Texans, could be given the mother of all makeovers, rendering it unrecognisable to those of us who see it as a bastion of stability and stuffiness in a remorselessly changing and ineffably silly world.

In Jenners, you can still have tea and scones at three and, while looking out across Princes Street Gardens to the Old Town, fool yourself that modern life in all its tawdriness has passed Auld Reekie by. The trick is to keep your eyes on the horizon.

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