Comment: Pandora

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The Independent Culture
ALL SERIOUSNESS aside... apologies are powerful. They resolve conflicts without violence: contrite makes right. And contrition is very much in vogue. Today Pandora dons her microskirt of sackcloth and her bodyrub of ashes to shamelessly explore the glory of the grovel.

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APOLOGIES 'R' US. And we make no apology for that. Civilised discourse today means constantly having to say you're sorry. Once nation spoke unto nation. Now nation apologies unto nation. Nation to nation, race to race, religion to religion, banker to depositor, person to person ... in your face. Anytime, anywhere, anyplace. Apologies are the Martini moments of our days - the essential lubricant that oils the wheels of discourse and moves society forward.

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THE RITUAL of apology is a drama that's shot through with suspense. Will one be offered? And if so - will it be accepted? Who in this drama merits forgiveness? Who deserves it? The ritual of apology is so complex that it can overshadow the original incident that triggers the need for that incendiary mixture of anger, conflict, sincerity, remorse and grace in the first place.

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TOP TEN apologists of the 90s, (as per Civilization magazine): 1) Bill Clinton, (pictured), who apologised to the Africans for slavery, support for African dictators and US non-intervention in Rwanda. He then apologised to the whole population for his tryst with Monica Lewinisky - and telling porkies about it. 2) The Vatican, which apologised to the Jews for not providing succour 1933-45. 3)Jacques Chirac, the French President, who apologised to Alfred Dreyfus's and Emile Zola's descendants for the 1898 "judicial error" that jailed Dreyfus. 4) Tony Blair, who apologised to the people of Northern Ireland for the massacre of 14 civilians by the British Army in 1972. 5) Australia, which apologised to its Aborigines with a National Sorry Day. 6) Khieu Samphan, the Khmer Rouge leader who apologised to Cambodians for the deaths of more than a million people, and suggested we should all "let bygones be bygones." 7) Mike Tyson, who said sorry to the world, his family, the Nevada State Athletic Commission and Evander Holyfield, for biting Holyfield's ear. 8) Japan, which apologised to China and Korea for Second World War atrocities. 9) 20th Century Fox, which said sorry to the family of the Titanic's first officer, for portraying him in its eponymous film as a coward. 10) An unidentified Virginian male who apologised for the traffic jam he caused while threatening to commit suicide by jumping off a motorway bridge.

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PANDORA WOULD now like to apologise to Civilization magazine for lifting so much of its material. Sorry.

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APOLOGIES OF the week. The first is the sales clerk who accidentally substituted a pair of PJs saying "Not tonight" when George Lucas had ordered a pair saying "I love boys" for his 11-year-old daughter. The other is the New York security guard who refused Rupert Murdoch admission to the New York Post building. "Do you have ID?" he barked at the media mogul. "I have six floors," Murdoch shot back. The guard refused Murdoch admission until a bike messenger said: "Dude, that's Rupert Murdoch..."

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CELEBRITY SPELLCHECK: Rupert Murdoch's first name is tagged by Pandora's spellcheck with this replacement: Repent.

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PANDORA ALSO apologises to her former best friend for the recent incident involving three pieces of 18th century ceramics, a stepladder and the marble fireplace. When Erich Segal, the author, was asked what he meant by his famous phrase "Love means not ever having to say you're sorry," he replied: "Don't ask me, I'm only the author."

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ON 23 MARCH Pandora wrote about a heated discussion between Victor Lewis- Smith and Matt Fraser that had taken place in reception at Channel 4. Pandora accepts that there was no scuffle between them, and that Victor Lewis-Smith did not scream for security guards before legging it. Apologies for saying otherwise.

Contact Pandora by e-mail: pandora @independent. co.uk

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