Pandora

A NEW voice is making itself heard in Californian lecture halls where the planet's most cerebral physicists gather. The voice is a "substantial baritone, round and full; the accent borderline Scottish or Welsh, but schooled well short of a full brogue," according to one whitecoat at the Fermilab near San Francisco. The owner of this voice knows his stuff, too - he is Stephen Hawking (pictured), author of A Brief History of Time, and the Lucasian Professor of Mathematics at Cambridge University.

So it's goodbye to the clunkily synthesised Swedish-robot-with-adenoids speech familiar from TV commercials. Thanks to a more powerful new processing chip, the computer-generated voice sounds closer to Hawking's original, which went south when Amytropic Lateral Sclerosis (ALS) struck him as a 21-year-old in 1963. Hawking's greatest achievement? "Being alive today," the 57-year-old told the Fermilab crew. "I am happier now than before my condition appeared. My ALS ruled out most careers except theoretical physics."

u

GET ME rewrite. Graeme Le Saux's exciting new Evening Standard column this week had the attention of every red-blooded footie fan. We're all gagging to get his side of the gay taunt spat at Liverpool last week. So? "At this point in time," he begins magisterially, "I have absolutely nothing to say about the subject." What a fridge.

u

CHANNEL 4'S POLITICAL editor Elinor Goodman must be quite unhappy in her present job. So rhythmic is her relationship with the Department of the Environment that it has been lobbying for her to get the head honcho's job at the new Countryside Agency. But Goodman, currently separated from the Prime Minister's pet economic wonk, Derek Scott, seems to have more reach than grasp. Others within Downing Street vetoed Goodman's appointment. Don't give up the day job just yet, Elinor.

CHERIE BOOTH QC has been leading a large - and legally aided - High Court case. The defendants, mostly unemployed since October 1991, are embroiled in litigation with the defunct bank BCCI. In her opening statement, Booth felt she should explain her clients' reluctance to take part-time or temporary jobs. Booth blamed the benefits system which was, she told the court, "becoming harsher". The benefits system, she added, punishes unemployed people with a mortgage who take on anything other than permanent full-time work. Isn't this a subject she could mention over breakfast to her Number One Guy?

u

STOP HIM before he writes again Dept. In next Monday's New Yorker, American literary colossus John Updike offers an ode to genuflecting geisha Monica L. It accuses her of being "Bill's Delilah" and, flying in the face of all the evidence, ends "You're his-tor-y now, Monica/ In your little black beret." Not just yet, baby.

u

ASTOUNDING TRUE fact: You know what the most popular spirit in Scotland is? Vodka.

u

IT WAS cognac that flowed at the K-Bar's first birthday party this week. Piers Adam, owner of the glitzy six-venue chain had arranged for Moet Hennessy to cater the event with triple shots of frozen XO brandy. Revellers walked through a long laser-lit tunnel to a VIP room guarded by two six- foot-tall blonde amazons. Moet Hennessy's main board had flown in specially from France. And which A-list celebutantes met their astonished gaze? Renegade fashion muse Miss Trixie, Coronation Street micro-icon Chris Quinten and expansive Tory club owner Peter Stringfellow. That chilled cognac kicks hard, and Pandora's enquiries about the event were met with glassy smiles and gallic shrugs. Let's put it down to Global Cooling.

u

BUT THE winner of Pandora's saucer of milk this morning is the K-Bar rockchick who was slagging off the Beatles tribute band Oasis. One of the Gallagher wives, Meg Mathews, abandoned her "column" in the Sunday Times recently, so she could spend more time running her party business with her friend Fran. "They're so over," the rockchick sighed, "We call them Freg and Man now." Miaow!

Contact Pandora

by e-mail at:

pandora@ independent.co.uk

Arts and Entertainment
Just folk: The Unthanks

music
Arts and Entertainment
Eddie Redmayne with his Screen Actors Guild award for Best Actor

film
Arts and Entertainment
Rowan Atkinson is bringing out Mr Bean for Comic Relief

TV
Arts and Entertainment

Theatre

Arts and Entertainment
V&A museum in London

Art Piece taken off website amid 'severe security alert'

PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Arts and Entertainment

ebooksNow available in paperback
Arts and Entertainment

ebooks
Arts and Entertainment
Reese Witherspoon starring in 'Wild'

It's hard not to warm to Reese Witherspoon's heroismfilm
Arts and Entertainment
Word up: Robbie Coltrane as dictionary guru Doctor Johnson in the classic sitcom Blackadder the Third
books

Arts and Entertainment
The Oscar nominations are due to be announced today

Oscars 2015
Arts and Entertainment
Hacked off: Maisie Williams in ‘Cyberbully’

Maisie Williams single-handedly rises to the challenge

TV
Arts and Entertainment
Eddie Redmayne in The Theory of Everything and Benedict Cumberbatch in The Imitation Game are both nominated at the Bafta Film Awards
Arts and Entertainment

Academy criticised after no non-white actors nominated

Arts and Entertainment
Damian Lewis shooting a scene as Henry VIII in Wolf Hall
TV

Arts and Entertainment
A history of violence: ‘Angry, White and Proud’ looked at the rise of far-right groups

tv

An expose of hooliganism masquerading as an ideological battle

Arts and Entertainment

art

Lee Hadwin can't draw when he's awake, but by night he's an artist

Arts and Entertainment

TV

Arts and Entertainment
Michael Keaton in the 1998 Beetlejuice original

film

Arts and Entertainment

TV

Arts and Entertainment
Olivia Colman and David Tennant star in 'Broadchurch'

TV

Arts and Entertainment
Michael Kitchen plays Christopher Foyle in ITV's 'Foyle's War'

TV
Arts and Entertainment

TV
Arts and Entertainment
Downton Abbey star Joanne Froggatt will be starring in Dominic Savage's new BBC drama The Secrets

Arts and Entertainment
Vividly drawn: Timothy Spall in Mike Leigh’s ‘Mr Turner’
film
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?

ES Rentals

    Independent Dating
    and  

    By clicking 'Search' you
    are agreeing to our
    Terms of Use.

    Syria crisis: Celebrities call on David Cameron to take more refugees as one young mother tells of torture by Assad regime

    Celebrities call on David Cameron to take more Syrian refugees

    One young mother tells of torture by Assad regime
    The enemy within: People who hear voices in their heads are being encouraged to talk back – with promising results

    The enemy within

    People who hear voices in their heads are being encouraged to talk back
    'In Auschwitz you got used to anything'

    'In Auschwitz you got used to anything'

    Survivors of the Nazi concentration camp remember its horror, 70 years on
    Autumn/winter menswear 2015: The uniforms that make up modern life come to the fore

    Autumn/winter menswear 2015

    The uniforms that make up modern life come to the fore
    'I'm gay, and plan to fight military homophobia'

    'I'm gay, and plan to fight military homophobia'

    Army general planning to come out
    Iraq invasion 2003: The bloody warnings six wise men gave to Tony Blair as he prepared to launch poorly planned campaign

    What the six wise men told Tony Blair

    Months before the invasion of Iraq in 2003, experts sought to warn the PM about his plans. Here, four of them recall that day
    25 years of The Independent on Sunday: The stories, the writers and the changes over the last quarter of a century

    25 years of The Independent on Sunday

    The stories, the writers and the changes over the last quarter of a century
    Homeless Veterans appeal: 'Really caring is a dangerous emotion in this kind of work'

    Homeless Veterans appeal

    As head of The Soldiers' Charity, Martin Rutledge has to temper compassion with realism. He tells Chris Green how his Army career prepared him
    Wu-Tang Clan and The Sexual Objects offer fans a chance to own the only copies of their latest albums

    Smash hit go under the hammer

    It's nice to pick up a new record once in a while, but the purchasers of two latest releases can go a step further - by buying the only copy
    Geeks who rocked the world: Documentary looks back at origins of the computer-games industry

    The geeks who rocked the world

    A new documentary looks back at origins of the computer-games industry
    Belle & Sebastian interview: Stuart Murdoch reveals how the band is taking a new direction

    Belle & Sebastian is taking a new direction

    Twenty years ago, Belle & Sebastian was a fey indie band from Glasgow. It still is – except today, as prime mover Stuart Murdoch admits, it has a global cult following, from Hollywood to South Korea
    America: Land of the free, home of the political dynasty

    America: Land of the free, home of the political dynasty

    These days in the US things are pretty much stuck where they are, both in politics and society at large, says Rupert Cornwell
    A graphic history of US civil rights – in comic book form

    A graphic history of US civil rights – in comic book form

    A veteran of the Fifties campaigns is inspiring a new generation of activists
    Winston Churchill: the enigma of a British hero

    Winston Churchill: the enigma of a British hero

    A C Benson called him 'a horrid little fellow', George Orwell would have shot him, but what a giant he seems now, says DJ Taylor
    Growing mussels: Precious freshwater shellfish are thriving in a unique green project

    Growing mussels

    Precious freshwater shellfish are thriving in a unique green project