Pandora

A RECENT profile of the Cabinet enforcer Jack Cunningham appearing in a parliamentary journal is significant for the things it leaves out. In a two-page article Cunningham tantalises the reader with such revelations as: "I left Jarrow after a very stimulating, thought-provoking few years. It was a very radical environment. The excellent head of the mathematics department was a lifelong communist. After studies I played lots of football and tennis." However, despite such exhilarating stuff, Cunningham omits to mention his father's imprisonment for his involvement in the Poulson graft scandal that rocked local government in the Seventies, far more intriguing than any tennis match. Daisy Sampson, political correspondent of The House Magazine, explained to Pandora that: "It is a live face-to- face interview. I can't say what was discussed but if people don't want to talk about something then there is nothing you can do." Luckily for Jack the interview pre-dated the recent stories about his "champagne" lifestyle abroad, thus avoiding more tricky questions.

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WAS PADDY Ashdown's resignation written in the stars? The retiring Lib Dem leader was pictured signing a "living will" on the front cover of this month's VES News, the campaign journal for the Voluntary Euthanasia Society. A "living will" enables the bearer to decline life-sustaining treatment which would prolong his or her existence unnecessarily. Did Paddy have his own political career in mind when he signed up?

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IF CELEBRATIONS for the millennium turn nasty will there be sufficient presence from the security forces to avert chaos? In the US steps have already been taken to tackle this problem, with Washington state announcing that 2,000 armed National Guardsmen and women will be on duty on and after 31 December 1999.

Meanwhile, in the UK the Association of Chief Police Officers' Millennium Co-ordinating Committee told Pandora: "If the military are to assist it would most likely be in their role of offering aid to the civil community following an event or accident of an exceptional nature."

The response from the Ministry of Defence was rather blunter: "If support is required we have the capability to assist."

POLITICIANS ASPIRING to be mayor of London may want to take note of the Spanish factor. A real vote-winning idea of buying the electorate birthday presents has been hit upon by Julio Fernandez, mayor of a small town near Madrid. Gifts including slippers and bicycle pumps are being doled out at the rate of a dozen a day to the town's 5,000 inhabitants. A barber who received the slippers complained: "It seems he has started his election campaign early. If he paid for the gifts himself it would be all right, but to do it with public money is immoral." Would such treats for the electorate be considered by mayoral hopefuls such as Ken Livingstone and Jeffrey Archer? If the worst came to the worst for Archer he could always give away free copies of his books. Then again, the idea is to win votes not lose them.

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MICHAEL CAINE has been dissecting his acting style. The British screen actor, who is mooted as an Oscar nominee for his role in Little Voice, recently told the US columnist Liz Smith that: "I am an unsubtle let-it- all-hang-out performer. I call it parachute acting. I jump, I scream and hope the damn chute opens." Surely, Caine needs a stunt double?

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MANY CELEBRITY endorse-ments have been bestowed on President Clinton but few can have been as welcome as that from Gail Zappa, widow of rock's legendary wild man, Frank Zappa (pictured). When Zappa died in 1993 both Clinton and Vice-President Gore sent Gail their condolences. Now one of the Democrats' top donors, Mrs Zappa recently told the Washington Times that the President's misdemeanours don't bother her and that Clinton "reminded me of Frank, in that he was really smart and perceptive and inclusive". Obviously it was just the moustache that told them apart.

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