20 APRIL 1991, Page 26

Ala, alas

Sir: Having been a close friend of Claudie and Perry Worsthorne for over 40 years I was amazed to read in illiterate Alastair Forbes's Diary (30 March) that he visited Claudie in the Lister, where she was for such a short time before her death.

The story rings so untrue and is so typical of the writer's vulgarity, that I am reminded of my first meeting with him, when I was staying with Randolph Chur- chill at Plympton near Devonport, where Randolph was Conservative candidate in the October 1951 election.

Winston Churchill was due to address a huge open-air meeting a few days before the election, and in those better-bred days, Clement Attlee supplied him with a special train to bring him from London Ala (as he was then known) Forbes, a travelling hack, turned up a day earlier, and on Winston's arrival took every opportunity to admire the presence, but behind the great man's back, gave vent to series of snide jokes about him.

The result was that, on Randolph's orders, instead of being invited to the Gala luncheon on the morrow, Forbes was placed with the lesser fry downstairs and then ignominiously told to return to Lon- don.

Claudie was in fact a great admirer of Perry's articles, taking interest in them to the very end. I remember how difficult it was to transmit them to London when they stayed in the Canaries with us last year, and how worried she would get lest they arrived too late.

Borys Villers

51 Western Road, Oxford