23 SEPTEMBER 1955, Page 9

ANOTHER FAVOURITE CITY of mine came briefly into the news

over the weekend. On Saturday evening in Palermo five hundred policemen had to be called in to keep order during the, selection of the Italian entry for the title 'Miss World.' However unlikely it may seem, I once myself had some experi- ence of a beauty competition in Palermo. Arriving there one evening I found myself, by a strange chain• of circumstances, obliged to sit that night on a jury to select a number of girls for 'scholarships' to the film studios of Rome. I thought that all one had to do was to vote for the prettiest girl, so I voted for a girl from Taormina, who looked as if she had stepped, gently surprised but self-possessed, from a picture by Raphael; but I hadn't reckoned on local patriotism and my action brought me into disfavour. A day or two later I went to a reception in Palermo given in connection with this 'starlet' business and in a handsome room ate ice-creams and chatted with civic dignitaries. It was all very agreeable, but when we tried to leave we found the square jammed with enthusiastic young men who seemed to be hoping for more than a glimpse of the young women. As I left the square I could see about seven of them being hauled by the police off a carrozza in which sat, beside her mama, the young girl of Taormina. PHAROS