Pandora

STEVIE WONDER (pictured) can fly - official. We know it must be true because President Clinton said it was. During a White House dinner for the Ghanaian leader, Jerry Rawlings, Clinton revealed that Rawlings, whose career was strictly Air Force, had once let Wonder pilot his personal 10-seat Fokker jet.

"There was sensitivity in his hands," Rawlings added. "People who can see could not fly as well as he did." Rawlings added that a French camera crew captured the feat on video. But Wonder asked them to can the tape because "some people might think he wasn't blind".

AN EAGLE-EYED reader noticed that during the Celtic Manor Hotel lunch this week, where Prince Charles conspicuously tucked into a slice or two of Welsh beef, HRH sported the tie of the Welsh Black Cattle Society, which sent the heir a joint of meat for his 50th birthday. This stunt has the dabs of the Palace spin doctor Mark Boland all over it; saucy courtiers say he's trying to move public perception of Charles from being a Natural Law type who chats with plants to a red-blooded carnivore flirting with lawlessness.

WHAT WAS that little clicking sound? Why, it was an account closing. It's a sound the Royal Bank of Scotland may be hearing more of in future. We can only speculate about what the normally canny Scots financiers were thinking of when they hooked up to create a direct banking operation with the American televangelist Pat Robertson - but it certainly wasn't the bank's public profile. Robertson is leader of the 700 Club, a satan-obsessed, gun-lovin', queer-hatin' Christian fundamentalist pressure group. What next? The Co-op offering discounts for customers holidaying in Burma?

LISTENERS CATCHING Radio 4's inter-uterine discussion this week between the feminist grande dame Germaine Greer and the tough bitch queen Julie Burchill surely revelled in the show's sisterly solidarity. Julie ticked off Germaine for not condemning female circumcision. (Burchill: "Without your clitoris, you're only half a woman." Greer: "A clitoris isn't half what a woman is." Burchill: "Maybe not to you.") They moved on to hirsute females, with Germaine regretting that her own god-daughter should feel embarrassed about her hairy upper lip.

"Immac," Julie counselled. "Deal with it and forget about it."

A silence fell.

"Try Arianna Huffington with a depilatory," said Germaine, cattily. "Have you seen her?"

"Covered in it," agreed Julie. "Like a little monkey..."

They sniggered. Does the famously vain former Ms Stassinopolous know her stray hairs are the subject of such levity among the higher feministas?

A DISTRESSING trend on these shores: thirtysomethings taking PlayStation to dinner parties. Apparently these socially confused individuals find the prospect of putting Crash Bandicoot through his paces more exciting than eating, chatting, flirting or any of the other stuff people do around the table. Sony will launch a palm-sized PlayStation later this year, (it's already being dubbed the 21st-century Gameboy), so addicts of Pool Shark will be able to play in their pockets while mouthing bland encomia about the hostess's culinary expertise.

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"LET ALL the racists among us move to that shabby little hole called Eltham," urges the tabloid columnist Tony Parsons. But is Eltham really the natural home of the nation's bigots? No - there are only 491 BNP voters there, 1.1 per cent of the electorate. Pandora can reveal that Britain's scummiest constituency is West Bromwich West. The National Democrats, a National Front offshoot, garnered 4,181 crosses at the 1997 election to take 11.4 per cent of the poll. The seat's incumbent is Speaker Betty Boothroyd. Others with large numbers of ignorant voters include government Chief Whip Anne Taylor (Dewsbury, 5.2 per cent BNP) and the social security minister Stephen Timms (East Ham, 3.2 per cent BNP). And Tony Banks's plea for Mohamed al-Fayed to get a passport probably won't play well with the 1,198 BNP boneheads on his West Ham turf. It reminds Pandora of the gag about the BNP member who was so stupid that the others noticed.

Contact Pandora by e-mail: pandora@ independent.co.uk

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