Barbara Bush, speaking with reporters on Air Force One somewhere over Europe, said yesterday that she was not concerned for her safety on the First Couple's upcoming trip to the Persian Gulf, where they will spend Thanksgiving with the troops. "I honestly wouldn't go on the trip if I thought it wasn't safe," Mrs. Bush said, though she did express one reservation: "We're visiting American troops and I hate to have them see me in pants." Asked if she believed the military standoff would result in a war, Mrs. Bush replied, "No. So much of the world is united against Iraq that I think he {Saddam Hussein} will see the wisdom of it," referring to a diplomatic solution.

The High Cost of Beatlemania

A 26-year-old Beatles fan from the District who got interested in the group almost a decade after it broke up paid $18,000 yesterday for what's said to be Paul McCartney's birth certificate.

"I'm just a Beatles freak and I had to have it," said Brian Taylor.

After paying Simpson's auction house in Houston a 10 percent fee and Texas's 8.25 percent sales tax, Taylor will have spent $21,285 for the document. The auction house said it had determined the document is authentic.

If the pop star wants his birth certificate back, he should bring his checkbook, Taylor said. "Sure, I'll sell it to him," he said. "I would have to talk about {the price} to Mr. McCartney himself."

Dukakis Departure

With her husband, Massachusetts Gov. Michael Dukakis, leaving office on Jan. 3, Kitty Dukakis says she's excited about a return to private life. Hers has been anything but private the past few months, as she's been on the book circuit promoting her autobiography "Now You Know," a blunt look at her life as a public figure and her battles with alcohol and drug addiction. During a talk Friday to the National Association of Social Workers in Boston, Dukakis said she was "delighted by the response my book received," adding that the most important result was the number of people who have "come up to me on the street and have written to me, thanking me for telling my story." While admitting to being thankful that her husband's term is coming to an end, she added, "Most of all, I am grateful for my sobriety."

Time Takes You There

Time magazine has used the miracle of computers to send every Jane Smith and John Doe on its subscription list a customized copy of this week's issue with the subscriber's name worked into the cover art. The cover story is on the direct mail phenomenon, and a sample copy of the Nov. 26 issue has this line on the cover: "Hey, Jane Smith. Don't miss our really interesting story on the junk mail explosion!" On newsstand editions, the line will read: "Hey, you at the newsstand! ... "

Hospital Report

Rock musician David Crosby was "doing well" yesterday in a Los Angeles hospital after a serious motorcycle accident, according to a spokesman for Cedars Sinai Medical Center. Crosby took a tumble in Encino on Saturday, skidding 40 feet and breaking his left leg, ankle and shoulder, and suffering internal injuries. The 49-year-old singer, known for his work with Crosby, Stills, Nash and Young, was not wearing a helmet at the time.

Goodbye, Gunther

After a seemingly endless series of farewell tours, Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey Circus animal trainer Gunther Gebel-Williams performed his last show yesterday in Pittsburgh. Gebel-Williams will yield the ring to his 20-year-old son, Mark, but his large cats won't come with it. He thinks it would be too risky to assume that his 20 Bengal and Siberian tigers would transfer their affections to his son, who will work primarily with elephants, zebras and camels. Gebel-Williams, 56, has performed in 11,697 shows during his 42-year circus career. Miles Davis, Author

Jazz legend Miles Davis added another feather to his cap Saturday when he was awarded an American Book Award at the Miami International Book Fair for penning "Miles: The Autobiography." The book, written in the tough street talk of the St. Louis ghetto, was written with Quincy Troupe and won in the life-story category. Another winner was Allen Ginsberg, poet laureate of the Beat generation, who received the Lifetime Achievement Award at the 11th annual presentation of the awards, sponsored by the Before Columbus Foundation.

Chuck Conconi is off.