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Gothic revival;Diary

WE KNOW Peter Smith of the Association of Teachers and Lecturers is a busy man these days, what with planning the annual conference, standing for re-election and timing the length of his lunches.

So the Diary is delighted to find the general secretary still manages to make time with his wife Anne for their beloved hobby - collecting furniture for dolls' houses. Peter is a miniaturist - appropriately enough for the leader of the third-largest teaching union.

We catch up with them (oh, all right, the Independent magazine does) at a dolls' fair in Croydon, handing over pound;180 for a perfect miniature replica of a Victorian kitchen range. Peter admits they're a bit bonkers.

But is pressure of work getting to him? We learn that while Anne, principal of John Ruskin College in Croydon, likes to recreate gentle domestic tableaux, Peter's tastes run to the "gothic".

"I fancy something a bit more dramatic - something like a maid weeping on the bed and the youngest son of the household slowly putting his head around the bedroom door." Steady on, old boy.

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