Pandora

THE EPIC battle between Rhodri Morgan and Secretary of State for Wales Alun Michael, to be Labour's candidate to lead the Welsh Assembly has taken another dramatic twist. A telephone poll conducted by the Western Mail and its sister paper Wales on Sunday gave backbench rebel Morgan 5,518 votes against Michael's total of 599. Welsh minister and Alun Michael ally Peter Hain claims that Conservatives and Nationalists helped turn the poll against Michael. However Morgan has consistently enjoyed the support of the vast majority of constituency executives in Wales. Alun Michael has been drafting in senior ministers to bolster his campaign. It would come as no surprise to Pandora if the Welsh see a lot more of Tony Blair before the results are finally declared on February 20.

A TOWN called Tesco? Well why not, if one Tesco executive is to be believed. Marketing Director Tim Mason recently told a private meeting: "We are the community." Pandora called Tesco to find out what was behind Mason's global vision. "That's the reality, we want our stores to be number one... we're following trends rather than leaving them." said a Tesco spokesman. Mason is no stronger to controversy. In 1995 "Trousers" Tim left his wife and four children for Tesco executive Fiona Archer, daughter of Sir Ian Maclaurin, the then Tesco Chairman. So some irony, then, when defending Tesco as the new society the spokesman told Pandora: "Some of our customers have met their future wife in the store."

CRUSADING LIB Dem MP Norman Baker has once again given the Government a run for their money. Stormin' Norman, as he is known in political circles, recently shunned the car in favour of letting the train take the strain. Before returning from an environmental audit fact-finding trip to Germany and Denmark, Baker obtained permission to use public transport to return to Westminster, not wishing to use one of the taxis laid on at Heathrow. On the return journey Baker arrived at the House of Commons before any of the other MPs. Since the trip Baker, in answer to yet another PQ holding the Government to account, received the following invaluable advice from Transport Minister Glenda Jackson: "Heathrow and Gatwick both already have excellent public transport connections to Westminster." Doesn't he just know it.

PANDORA HAS been enjoying a spot of skiing and hobnobbing at the World Economic Forum in Davos. This year's list of participants includes, as always, a short biography and a small photograph. Naturally enough, Al Gore was featured, with his correct title, Vice President of the United States, and with the right photograph. But, strangely enough, his biog. was confused with none other than Dan "potatoe" Quayle.

ROBIN COOK (below) admits to being embarrassed by the Foreign Office's post World War One mural which depicts Britannia triumphant whilst France and America look on admiringly. The reason, in his own words, is that "the three children clinging for protection at her feet are supposed to Croatia, Montenegro and Serbia". But it is the the Foreign Secretary's shaky grasp of 20th century history that is truly embarrassing. He's right about Serbia and Montenegro, but for Croatia, read Belgium. Croatia was in fact part of the Austro-Hungarian empire and hence at war with Britain. You can bet that Cook's German counterpart would not have made that mistake.

THE LONG running quiz show Family Fortunes is one of Pandora's favourites. The families are unlike any you might have met and the answers are simply bizarre. Sample Question: name a famous Arthur? Answer: Shakespeare. Host Les Dennis, who followed Max Bygraves and Bob Monkhouse into the coveted slot admits that: "A lot of answers are priceless. I think my favourite was when I asked a girl from Liverpool to name something you opened other than a door. She said: "Your bowels, Les". Then I asked her sister and she said: "Your legs." But what really puzzles Pandora is the hundred people who have apparently been surveyed. Who? Where? When? Pandora knows no-one who has ever been surveyed but would be delighted to hear from you if you have.

You can contact Pandora by e-mail: pandora@ independent.co.uk

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