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The Independent Culture
Sean O'Grady

Flying Squad

Can't really see the Sweeney in this. But Devon and Cornwall's plods have decided to try out this three-wheeler electric Panda car, the City- el (top speed 25 mph). This is not the first of such experiments. In the Sixties, one police force in the Midlands decided to use glass fibre Reliant Regals as pursuit vehicles. The episode resulted in the memorable coinage "plastic pigs". The question is: can you be tough on crime and tough on pollution at the same time?

Groundhog Day

Sad news from Wiarton, Ontario. Their groundhog day festival was marred by the death, at the age of 22, of their star groundhog, Wiarton Willie. He was placed in a coffin with his paws crossed, clutching a carrot, before being laid to rest.

Le Roi Soleil

In an elegant speech this week, Paddy Ashdown described the Prime Minister in the following terms: "We live in the era of the Sun King. The opinion that matters is the opinion of the Sun King." Mr Ashdown knows, perhaps, of what he speaks. Louis XIV, for c'est lui, came to represent absolute power and his long reign (1643-1715) was marked by a curbing of the powers of the traditional nobility. Louis also left France with a legacy of high taxation to pay for his excesses. And there is something baroque about

Peter Mandelson. "L'etat, c'est moi," as Tony might say.

Pretty Polly

Sexual harassment crosses the species barrier. Peter the macaw had been worried about the attentions of a female who shared his home at a pet shop. But when Prudence invaded his cage and tried to get all conjugal with him, he squawked freedom and crashed through the pet-shop window. He's not been seen since. Prudence, meanwhile, remains as lovesick as a parrot.

Image of the week

After 20 years, Playboy casino is reintroducing the bunny girl. New girls will attend Bunny School, learn the Bunny Bible, and live in accommodation called Bunny Hutches. This is Ava Fabian, who clearly has a gradualist approach to the bunny project.