Pandora

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The Independent Culture
ANOTHER EFFORT by Tony Blair to appeal direct to the people. February's edition of Saga, the magazine for older people, has a front cover dominated by a picture of the actress Lynsey De Paul. Directly underneath her ample decolletage is the slogan: "Tony Blair - My message for Saga readers." Blair's message included telling readers that: "Many of our best businesses are increasingly realising that they get rid of their experienced workers at their peril. There is no substitute for that experience and skill and there is a real danger of losing the collective memories of their companies."

Pandora called the veteran MP Tony Benn, who said: "The Prime Minister might remember Old Labour. We have been told the past is relevant, and yet anyone who goes on about it is a dinosaur."

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BE WARNED when booking private rooms at Marco Pierre White's stunning London restaurant, Mirabelle. The rooms - often used by MPs and power- brokers - are filmed by hidden cameras.

When Pandora called White's PR, Alan Crompton-Batt, he said that he had not heard about the cameras but would call to check. Since then, and despite various calls, Mr Crompton-Batt seems to have vanished. Perhaps he has been spending the past two days watching videos.

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DESPITE CRIPPLINGLY poor reviews of You'll Have Had Your Hole when it opened at the West Yorkshire Playhouse in Leeds, there was no shortage of celebrity names turning up on Wednesday night to see the Scottish writer Irvine Welsh's controversial new play in London's West End.

Following the performance there was a party at London's trendy new Balinese night-club, China White, attended by Sir Bob Geldof, Harry Enfield and Elisabeth Murdoch, among others. Pandora was invited to the after-party party at Noel Gallagher's house, Supernova Heights, where his wife, Meg Matthews (pictured), kept revellers, including the all-girl band All Saints and DJ Lisa l'Anson, busy until six in the morning.

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WHAT DO MPs do when the rigours of parliamentary procedure get too much? Write limericks. That's what three London Labour MPs were spotted doing in a recent session of the standing committee for the Greater London Authority Bill. Linda Perham (Ilford North), Eileen Gordon (Romford) and Steve Pound (Ealing North) were seen passing a paper between them on which the words "Lady from Epping", "flirt" and "skirt" were inscribed.

Stephen Pound MP explained that the limericks had a dual use: "They are a kind of meditation technique to survive the first four-and-a-half hours of the Liberal Democrats' input on the committee. They also serve as mnemonics to help us remember the clauses of the Bill."

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PROFITS ARE already being made out of the Lib Dem leadership race. Mark Oaten, Liberal Democrat MP for Winchester, has come up with a cunning wheeze to raise funds for his local party: "I've got about eight dinner engagements in the next couple of months that I'm going to auction among my parliamentary colleagues. Given that many of my colleagues are anxious to get themselves seen, I am sure that there will be no shortage of bidders."

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THOSE TAKING out a new subscription to the New Statesman will be pleased to see the special offer of 50 per cent off the magazine plus a free book: Mandy: The Unauthorised Biography of Peter Mandelson, by Paul Routledge, who has just been signed up as a columnist for the left-wing weekly. Next week look out for New Statesman's owner Geoffrey Robinson's stunning offer of a low-interest-rate mortgage.

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LOOKING FOR a "unique" home? Do you have the odd pounds 5m to spend? If so John Reid, Elton John's ex-manager, is selling his London home complete with tiger-skin carpets and an extra mews house. The property appears across two colour pages of the current issue of Country Life magazine. Late last year, the welder's son from Paisley cleared out the contents of his homes in London, New York and St Tropez in a two-day auction at Christie's, which netted him pounds 2m. Reid discovered Elton in 1970 when the latter was a pounds 10-a-week singer-songwriter. Reid went on to make pounds 30m from the partnership. Hardly what you'd call negative equity.

Pandora can be contacted by e-mail: pandora@ independent.co.uk

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