Comment: Pandora

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The Independent Culture
The Conservative Party recently changed the company that provided security guards at their Smith Square headquarters, but the new regime has not been without its problems. During a recent London mayoral meeting, an over-enthusiastic security man took matters into his own hands after he overheard someone saying that Margaret Thatcher was due to arrive outside the Central Office premises. Placing himself in front of the exit, he prevented staff from leaving. The shock news of the Iron Lady's imminent appearance spread rapidly through the building, and Tories ran to windows to catch a glimpse of their heroine. Sadly for them, rather than Lady Thatcher, they were greeted by the less imposing sight of the unsuccessful mayoral candidate Mark Kotecha.

BEFORE THE holiday season began, the former competition and consumer affairs minister Nigel Griffiths was encouraging other Labour MPs to set up their own annual Christmas card competitions. The golden rule, according to his literature on running this wheeze, is to start early. However, Nigel had a distinct advantage in the contest because his cards and the enclosed instructions were received by fellow parliamentarians (some of whom received three identical cards) after the middle of December - in other words far too late to start any fair competition.

Mohamed al Fayed and Frank Dobson will sit around the same dinner table on New Year's Eve. Well, almost. Both men have chosen the 18th-century political thinker Tom Paine as a guest at their imaginary Millennium celebrations. Their choices of guests, along with the selection of many other celebrities, are due to be revealed in the second edition of Fantasy Feast 2000, a book currently raising money for Save the Children. Apart from Paine, Mr Fayed's other guests would include: "My wife and all my children, my dear friends Princess Diana and Michael Jackson, President and Madame Chirac and George Orwell." Surely there's room for Neil and Christine Hamilton.

THE BOND actress Denise Richards wants to put her wild past behind her - her Wild Things past, to be precise. The threesome scene in said film with Matt Dillon and Neve Campbell has made life a little difficult for the 27-year-old star. "I'm sure people have perceptions of me because of my movies. They think I'm a certain way. But I'm not." Richards desperately wants her public to know that she has high standards. "This might sound old-fashioned, but I want to be married before I live with someone," she says. "My dad always said, `Why buy the cow when you can milk it for free?' "

Twelve years after the last Crocodile Dundee film, a third is in the offing. Paul Hogan will again team up with his wife Linda Kozlowski to reprise the lead roles in the movie, which starts filming early next year. The film's working title is a triumphant Crocodile Dundee Returns. However, Straight to Video probably hits the right note.

EACH DAY this week Pandora will pay homage to the words and wisdom of our Philosopher of the Millennium, Eric Cantona. Today's offering: "We are not on Earth to be imposed upon, or to accept things that bug us and make us unhappy. I, for one, don't have the strength to say yes all the time."