23 DECEMBER 1972, Page 7

Corridors . .

PUZZLE'S FAVOURITE CHRISTMAS story is the one about the choir of the Department of Health and Social Security, which sang Christmas carols not for but to the Secretary of State, Sir Keith Joseph. And he a Jew. . . .

GRIMMER BY FAR is the story of the DHSS bomb scare. A suspicious looking parcel arrived at Elephant and Castle. The bomb disposal boyos were called in. It was found to contain two Nescafe jars, each largely full of cold tea. The attached note was from a hospital patient. It informed the department that jar " A " contained "our morning tea" and jar " B " "our afternoon tea." "How," the note spitefully added, "would you like to drink it?"

IT IS A HAPPY SEASON, and so Puzzle sends his greetings to Mr Peter Emery, the Conservative member for Honiton whose views exclude him from office, and who married, quietly, the other day the charming Miss Elizabeth Monnington. Many felicitations to them both.

IT IS AN UNHAPPY SEASON for that unhappy man, Mr John Davies. Not only did his wife flee to Canada to be at the side of their child about to have a baby, and so prevent Mr Davies — " I could not organise it all myself" — from moving into their new flat, but the former Secretary of State for Trade and Industry has also begun to grasp the implications of his new job as Minister for Europe.

He sits in the Cabinet office.

He is excluded from the confidences of the new and powerful team at the Foreign Office. And his staff at the CO, though beefed up by a new arrival at fairly senior level, is simply unable to make head or tail of his new job. There are, however, offers from the City.

PUZZLE IS PUZZLED by at least two of the Prime Minister's nominations for the Strasbourg Parliament. They are Lords Reay and O'Hagan. Reay is a strange young man, former Liberal and once commentator on the House of Lords for this distinguished journal. Apart from a Dutch title and estates in the Low Countries he has no known qualifications for representing us in Strasbourg.

O'Hagan does slightly better: he played hard to get with the Tories for a long time, regularly ringing up Conservative Central Office before important votes in the Upper House and unravelling his agonised conscience to sympathetic ears. Both appointments show that something or other pays.

Tom Puzzle