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THE SCENE: a pub, somewhere in London. Present is Pete Townshend, surrounded by a coterie of barflies and liggers. Why? Townshend is filming a promo for VH1, the cable channel for pop kids of a, ahem, certain age. The director, Jon Kane, wants a "loose conversational feel" for the spot; the drink flows freely and the cameras roll. Townshend begins reminiscing about seeing the Rolling Stones in the early Sixties. The guitarist recalls his gut reaction to watching Mick Jagger dance backstage: "It was the first time I realised that I wanted to sleep with a man." Excuse me, Mr Townshend? Kane reports: "When he said it, there was this sort of uncomfortable silence and then everyone started laughing." So, has the geriatric rock icon been smashing his guitar at both ends of the stage?

THE BBC missed a rather good story for its recent profile of Ian St John, the soccer legend who began his professional playing career at Motherwell, before going on to glory at Liverpool. As a nipper, the Saint was taken to his first football match by his doting dad at the Motherwell ground. "It was a freezing cold Saturday afternoon, and the rain was pouring down. My father contracted pleurisy the same night, it turned to pneumonia - and then a few days later, he died." Tragic.

POINT YOUR mouse at the Hungarian government's website and you'll be soothed by the Muzak-esque sounds of Dire Straits' "Sultans of Swing". Take a tour of Downing Street's virtual venue, though, and all you'll hear are the sounds of silence. Well, obviously British pop talent is pretty thin on the ground, but c'mon guys, why not an Ugly Rumours demo tape? Or, how about Dvorak's New World?

LAST WEEKEND saw the Hollywood premiere of the star Britflick, Lock Stock And Two Smoking Barrels, where five minutes after the projector rolled, two figures were spied getting up and bailing out. The duo? Lock Stock's director, Guy Richie, and his new squeeze, Madonna. Pandora followed them to a nearby pool hall, where Richie knocked a few balls around. What the hell, Richie's seen the flick a couple of thousand times. Only, Madonna didn't want to play pool, so Richie suggested she fast-forward to the studio's lavish post-premiere party at SmashBox Studios. But so absorbed was Richie in his pool game that he'd overestimated his own film's running- time. Result: Madonna arrived at the party to find no one there. Did she stamp her Manolo Blahnik'd heel? No. She sat placidly with her distinctly edgy bodyguards for 20 minutes or so, while waiting for her man. Is this a tamer, meek'n'mild-style Madonna for the new millennium? Our Mr Richie must be quite a guy.

THE NAME Ivana Trump (pictured) has long been synonymous with literary excellence. So who better to pen a fragrant introduction to a delicate new book called Italian Men: Love & Sex? Italian stallions from Armani to Zeffirelli answer such pressing questions as: "Your sexual endowment - large, humungous or molto grosso?" The woman who put the "up" in "prenuptial" is probably better known to Pandora's readers for peddling KFC Zinger Tower Burgers. La Trump is clearly someone determined to take a bigger bite of publishing's meaty sandwich.

TWO FAMILY traditions found themselves head to head over lunch last Friday in the Lords. Tucking in his linen napkin is little Lord Archer, a fellow who's experienced a Damascene conversion to the Blairite way of modern meritocracy - since he was made a life peer, he hates hereditaries. Archer sits down at a table filled with... seven hereditaries who probe him as to his antecedents. "You're that fellah that wants to be Mayor of London, aren'tcha?" one asks. "The one who'd chuck us all out." Archer assents: "I'd lock every duke in the Tower of London." "Jeffrey," replied the Duke of Norfolk, "virtually all my ancestors have been locked in the Tower." Archer smiled, pondering, perhaps, a family tradition of his own - the reversal threatening his son, James, of the so-called Flaming Ferraris team of financiers, three of whom are under investigation for alleged irregularities.

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