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
Thomas carried Lady Edith over the flames in her bedroom in Downton Abbey series five

TV
Arts and Entertainment

music
Arts and Entertainment
Ben Affleck as Nick Dunne, seated next to a picture of his missing wife Amy, played by Rosamund Pike

film
Arts and Entertainment
Rachel, Chandler and Ross try to get Ross's sofa up the stairs in the famous 'Pivot!' scene

Friends 20th anniversary
Arts and Entertainment
Lena Dunham

books
PROMOTED VIDEO
Arts and Entertainment
A bit rich: Maggie Smith in Downton Abbey

There’s revolution in the air, but one lady’s not for turning

TV
Arts and Entertainment
Chloe-Jasmine Whicello impressed the judges and the audience at Wembley Arena with a sultry performance
TVReview: Who'd have known Simon was such a Roger Rabbit fan?
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Arts and Entertainment
Nick Frost will star in the Doctor Who 2014 Christmas special

TV
Arts and Entertainment
A spell in the sun: Emma Stone and Colin Firth star in ‘Magic in the Moonlight’
filmReview: Magic In The Moonlight
Arts and Entertainment
Friends is celebrating its 20th anniversary this year
TV
Arts and Entertainment
Ben Whishaw is replacing Colin Firth as the voice of Paddington Bear

TV
Arts and Entertainment
Actor and director Zach Braff

TV
Arts and Entertainment
Maisie Williams plays 'bad ass' Arya Stark in Game of Thrones

TV
Arts and Entertainment
Liam Neeson said he wouldn't

TV
Arts and Entertainment

TV
Arts and Entertainment
Meera Syal was a member of the team that created Goodness Gracious Me

TV
Arts and Entertainment
The former Doctor Who actor is to play a vicar is search of a wife

film
Arts and Entertainment

music
Arts and Entertainment
Pointless host Alexander Armstrong will voice Danger Mouse on CBBC

TV
Arts and Entertainment
Pharrell dismissed the controversy surrounding

music
Arts and Entertainment
Jack Huston is the new Ben-Hur

film
Arts and Entertainment

TV
Arts and Entertainment
Cara Delevingne modelling

film
Arts and Entertainment
Emma Thompson and Bryn Terfel are bringing Sweeney Todd: The Demon Barber of Fleet Street to the London Coliseum

theatre
Arts and Entertainment
Sheridan Smith as Cilla Black

TV
Arts and Entertainment
Robin Thicke's video for 'Blurred Lines' has been criticised for condoning rape

Robin Thicke admits he didn't write 'Blurred Lines'

music
Arts and Entertainment
While many films were released, few managed to match the success of James Bond blockbuster 'Skyfall'

film
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.

    A roller-coaster tale from the 'voice of a generation'

    Not That Kind of Girl:

    A roller-coaster tale from 'voice of a generation' Lena Dunham
    London is not bedlam or a cradle of vice. In fact it, as much as anywhere, deserves independence

    London is not bedlam or a cradle of vice

    In fact it, as much as anywhere, deserves independence
    Vivienne Westwood 'didn’t want' relationship with Malcolm McLaren

    Vivienne Westwood 'didn’t want' relationship with McLaren

    Designer 'felt pressured' into going out with Sex Pistols manager
    Jourdan Dunn: Model mother

    Model mother

    Jordan Dunn became one of the best-paid models in the world
    Apple still coolest brand – despite U2 PR disaster

    Apple still the coolest brand

    Despite PR disaster of free U2 album
    Scottish referendum: The Yes vote was the love that dared speak its name, but it was not to be

    Despite the result, this is the end of the status quo

    Boyd Tonkin on the fall-out from the Scottish referendum
    Manolo Blahnik: The high priest of heels talks flats, Englishness, and why he loves Mary Beard

    Manolo Blahnik: Flats, Englishness, and Mary Beard

    The shoe designer who has been dubbed 'the patron saint of the stiletto'
    The Beatles biographer reveals exclusive original manuscripts of some of the best pop songs ever written

    Scrambled eggs and LSD

    Behind The Beatles' lyrics - thanks to Hunter Davis's original manuscript copies
    'Normcore' fashion: Blending in is the new standing out in latest catwalk non-trend

    'Normcore': Blending in is the new standing out

    Just when fashion was in grave danger of running out of trends, it only went and invented the non-trend. Rebecca Gonsalves investigates
    Dance’s new leading ladies fight back: How female vocalists are now writing their own hits

    New leading ladies of dance fight back

    How female vocalists are now writing their own hits
    Mystery of the Ground Zero wedding photo

    A shot in the dark

    Mystery of the wedding photo from Ground Zero
    His life, the universe and everything

    His life, the universe and everything

    New biography sheds light on comic genius of Douglas Adams
    Save us from small screen superheroes

    Save us from small screen superheroes

    Shows like Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D are little more than marketing tools
    Reach for the skies

    Reach for the skies

    From pools to football pitches, rooftop living is looking up
    These are the 12 best hotel spas in the UK

    12 best hotel spas in the UK

    Some hotels go all out on facilities; others stand out for the sheer quality of treatments