Pandora

NOT SINCE Leonard Bernstein shook hands with one of the Black Panthers back in the late Sixties has there been such a comic moment of radical chicness as the recent meeting between the regal Hillary Clinton and the American feminist and playwright Eve Ensler. At a special performance for Hillary Clinton of Ensler's latest play Necessary Targets, at the John F Kennedy Center in Washington, the two ladies met in a line-up for a group photograph. As the cameraman took aim and everyone went silent, Eve Ensler was heard to cry out, right in front of the First Lady: "Say vagina!"

It is not known whether Ms Clinton was amused or appalled by Eve's daring joke, but she shouldn't have been surprised. That's just the sort of thing Pandora would expect from the author of an Obie Award-winning off-Broadway hit play called The Vagina Monologues.

LORD THURSO, the chief executive of the health spa Champneys, has installed a relaxation room at his London club in Piccadilly. One of the most dominant features of the room is a wonderful aquarium.

Oddly enough, several of the fish have gone missing. A spokesman told Pandora: "We have heard of people stealing towels and ashtrays but nicking oriental fish is too much. We plan to substitute some of the fish with piranhas, and will be on the look-out for a very relaxed guest with no fingers."

ANNEKA RICE (pictured) was supposed to appear on Breakfast with Frost last weekend with William Hague and Margaret Cook. She had to pull out at the last moment because of another, more important arrangement - a local panto in the Cotswolds.

During her performance there was a power failure. In the high-budget world of TV, Anneka would merely have had to make a quick phone call to have generators and lighting rigs coming out of her ears, but this wasn't Challenge Anneka, so the ever-resourceful celebrity performed the rest of her scenes by torchlight.

MEL SMITH has bought a pounds 1.49m house in St John's Wood complete with a swimming-pool. The funny-guy-turned-movie-director asked Aston Chase, London's elite estate agents, to find him a house similar to the one he has in Los Angeles. His previous London home had five floors and he was sick of schlepping up and down - and it's not as though he could do with the exercise.

THE LUNATICS are taking over the Assembly. Alan Hope, party chairman of the Monster Raving Loony Party, is recruiting Loonies to contest seats in the new Welsh Assembly. Among his party's ideas are the requirements that a medieval banquet precede all Assembly sessions and that disputes are settled by jousting. On the endless race to become Labour's prospective Assembly leader, Hope told Pandora that he favoured Rhodri Morgan over Alun Michael but, nonetheless, a Loony would have to stand against Morgan in Cardiff West. "Whoever stands will have to change their name to Jonah, because Jonah lived in Wales [sic]," said the Loony.

JACK STRAW'S speech at the Family Policy Studies Centre on Monday didn't just make waves with adoption workers and social workers. One female mobile phone owner discovered that it is not always good to talk. During the Home Secretary's speech, her mobile started to ring. Further humiliation followed as Straw asked the mobile phone offender to raise her hand and identify herself. Straw jokingly rebuked her with remarks about noise pollution and then resumed his speech.

But surely Mr Straw carries a mobile phone himself? "We will not discuss that on security grounds," a terse official from Straw's private office told Pandora.

PADDY ASHDOWN may be about to go, but he won't be forgotten in the highest political circles. The former prime minister John Major, not usually know for his warmth towards the Liberal Dempcrat leader, has accepted a Royal Marine figurine from members of the business forum the D Group - and has promptly named it "Paddy". The burning question is: where is Major going to put his Paddy?

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