Pandora

AUSTRALIAN REPUBLICANS are so confident of winning the upcoming referendum and installing a president by 2001 that they've reserved part of Sydney Harbour for a big binge on 31 December, 2000. They're calling it Last Night of the Poms.

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WHODATHUNKIT? According to a new survey by an American cleaning products manufacturer, Brits have "the smelliest homes in Europe".

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TORY BOY William Hague is scheduled to visit the luckless Lubyanka to brief staff at Express Newspapers next month. Normally he'd travel mob- handed with his perky new spin doctor, Amanda Platell. If she shows up, it could be another sticky encounter for Little Willy: Platell will be facing Rosie Boycott - the woman who fired her as editor of the Sunday Express less than three months ago.

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CALL THE Daily Mail and get them to send a reporter to the Decima Gallery in London's Borough, pronto - there's enough material there to fill the paper for a week. The gallery's new show, running until 18 April, is called Was Jesus a Homosexual? (Readers of a sensitive or overtly religious disposition are advised to move on to the next item now.)

Gilbert and George have installed part of a 100-year-old fountain they purchased recently, which featured the inscription "Jesus said if any man thirst let him come to me and let him drink". This now reads "Jesus said let him come". Another exhibitor, Piers Wardle, has made a crucifix with wooden balls attached by a "string that can be played with" and called it The Miracle of Holy Balls. Charles Sayer's canvas of a naked woman, legs apart, is displayed alongside eight framed biblical texts and entitled Anti-Christ I awake thee. The piece de resistance is Andrew Putland's untitled triptych depicting a black Jesus and black disciples engaged in fellatio with Christ. The show is tactfully set to open on 2 April - Good Friday.

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THIS ISN'T funny. You're not to laugh. But the mad mullahs of Tehran have just banned a fortnightly magazine, called Ardineh, for running a story "Is Joy Lost in Our City? Is Laughing a Sin?" Well apparently, yes.

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GOLD RECORDS? Platinum albums? They're history. The new criterion for rock success is the diamond disc. Artists have to shift 10 million copies of a single album to qualify; Neil Diamond doesn't, Pink Floyd do. One person unlikely to be losing sleep over this is the Sixties popster Jess Conrad, who uniquely managed three tracks on Kenny Everett's all-time camp classic World Worst Record Show album. Conrad is "emotionally distraught" that his truly hideous single, "My Pullover", hasn't been included in this Saturday's Channel 4 Top Ten: Really Annoying Records. "There has obviously been a serious error in the research," the Buckinghamshire-based Conrad fumes.

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THE NON-SMOKER Clint Eastwood (pictured) had to learn to chain-smoke non-filtered Camels to play a reporter in his new film True Crime. But his co-star Dennis Leary, who built his reputation on his own well-documented nicotine habit, was forced to abjure the weed while portraying Clint's non-smoking boss. Whatever happened to typecasting?

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MICHAEL ASHCROFT, the Conservatives' millionaire lender of last resort, is sending increasingly desperate begging letters to MPs. The latest concerns the 1000 club, a questionable organisation where suits pay pounds 1,000 a year for the privilege of meeting such influential international figures as the Vulcan-foundling John Redwood and his dynamic doppelganger, Francis Maude. Ashcroft asked MPs to suggest at least one 1000 club candidate from their constituencies. Response was skeletal, so Ashcroft has named and shamed those who haven't come through with contacts: from a possible pool of 165 respondents, only 23 Tory MPs delivered the goods. Embarrassingly, the 142 defaulters include two senior Tories who are celebrated for their impecuniosity and lack of heavy money connections: the oil trader Alan Duncan and Asda's head honcho Archie Norman.

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

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