Pandora

PANDORA'S PERKY Little Book of Doom today falls open at the Royal Opera House. The organisation is spending pounds 218m on its new Covent Garden premises. Progressively, the building features a remarkable anti-elitist urban innovation - no parking spaces. Not even for the disabled. A disabled reader who contacted the ROH to ask where he could leave his car was told "when the building was originally constructed there was no need to park cars used by disabled people". Perhaps he's expected to hitch a ride with a friendly diplomat: they can still park anywhere.

KIM BASINGER (pictured) has been on location in Kenya for her starring role in the film of Kuki Gallman's I Dream of Africa. During the shoot, the director Hugh Hudson was proudly boasting that his movie will be Basinger's "first no make-up role". According to one crew member, it took five hours every day in make-up to achieve this effect.

WINDSOR FAMILY retainers estimated in 1983 that they spent about pounds 72,258 on the upkeep of horses and carriages, but only pounds 52,903 on car maintenance. 1999: Buck House says it can't tell us how much it spends on either. You call that accountability?

GET ME Rewrite Dept. The new owners of the erstwhile royal yacht Britannia have moored the boat off the Scottish coast and produced a glossy brochure to advertise its availability to honeymooners as "A Romantic Retreat". The pictures on the facing page show four happy honeymoon couples on whom Britannia has woven its magic spell: the Prince and Princess of Wales, the Duke and Duchess of York, Princess Anne with Captain Mark Phillips and Princess Margaret with Antony Armstrong-Jones... all divorced.

A NATO press officer in Brussels had some information for a national newspaper editor. He requested a telephone number and an e-mail address, both of which were read back to him. But his communication arrived as a fax on the telephone message line. Not quite the reassurance we need about Nato's ability to target.

THE AMERICANS had planned a big bash in Washington next weekend to celebrate Nato's 50th birthday. Representatives from 40 nations were due to show - oops - better make that 39, looks as if the Russians aren't coming. Something else that won't be making an appearance is that special celebratory Nato stamp the US Mail had planned to release to coincide with the birthday party. It depicts a dove and an olive branch.

AND YOU thought stamp collectors were dull? On a mission to find legal alternatives to illicit chemical refreshment, it seems that trainee philatelists on these shores have taken to licking massive amounts of glue from the back of stamps to enhance their enjoyment of their hobby. This raises a number of sticky questions, like: Is there such a thing as a recreational stamp licker? What happens when status-conscious youths start buying more expensive stamps? Conspiracy theorists believe it's all a Royal Mail ploy to combat the switch to e-mail.

OH, AND there's a new sobriquet for The Sunday Times's Rich List - a supplement in no way undermined by its lack of scrutiny of the Murdoch family's pounds 3.5bn assets. City babes are calling it The Golddiggers' Handbook.

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

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