OH YES, it's true that the backs of his hands are hirsute. But no - he doesn't shave them. (Source: Mandelson, The Biography by Donald Macintyre, published today by HarperCollins.)


PRINCE ANDREW keeps interesting company these days; he's just attended a dinner hosted by Ghislaine Maxwell (pictured), daughter of the disgraced Mirror pension-fund raider. Ghislaine is staying in the New York town house of the financier Jeff Epstein, who reportedly showed up for the bash in a tracksuit.


NEVER MIND peace deals or refugees - some of us are thinking about serious millennial problems. Such as: what should happen to Pamela Anderson's discarded breast implants? The woman who launched a thousand websites is entertaining offers from a US publisher and a Parisian sex museum for her superfluous silicone bumps. Is this what they mean by taking your lumps?


PRESBYTERIAN GAMBLING mania? The Inverness-based radio presenter Titch McCooey won the obligatory fiver when he persuaded Tony Blair to say "poppadoms" while interviewing our No 1 guy recently. And Alex Salmond, leader of the SNP, cheered himself up by trousering pounds 260 from his punt on Scotland's rugby team winning the final Five Nations Tournament. But Salmond's better on pitches than over fences - readers of the Glasgow-based Herald who have been following his Grand National tips were left holding slips for one horse that fell at the first, another that finished 13th and a third that had to be destroyed.


SHIP AHOY. As the aircraft-carrier USS Carl Vinson headed into the Tasmanian port of Hobart, every automatic garage door within a six-mile radius went biswas. The ship uses the same radio spectrum area for its communications that Australians allocate to low-power transmission devices. Some cars were also temporarily immobilised.


"CHEESEHEADS" IS the sobriquet applied to students at Wisconsin-Madison University. The campus has another claim to fame: it was a pioneer of the political correctness movement in the early Nineties. Readers of the runes may be fascinated to hear that the university has, at the instigation of a Korean-born student, repealed its faculty speech code. This imposed a presumption of guilt on anyone accused of talking out of turn about gender, race or sexuality. "It's time for us liberals to look at pushing our agenda in a way that doesn't involve squelching ideas we find offensive," said one (gay) free-speech supporter.


EROTIC REVIEW: the backlash starts here? In a bid to hype his new novel, Eight Minutes Idle, the young whippersnapper Matt Thorne has been slagging off Rowan Pelling's saucy journal. "It's a jolly hockeysticks magazine," Thorne said, during a break from assisting an Evening Standard reporter with the paper's arduous investigation into lap-dancing.


TWENTYSOMETHING YEARS on, those nihilistic punk people are getting all cuddly on us. At K-Bar's party for Vacant, Nils and Ray Stevenson's diary of the punk years, Gary Numan couldn't shut up about his new pet puppy. And that one-time grrrlpower icon Jordan (she managed Adam & the Ants) has swapped her whip for a cat-flap - she breeds prizewinning Burmese kittens. Also on show from the blank generation were Bananarama babe Siobhan Fahey (formerly Mrs Dave Stewart), Rich Kid Glenn Matlock and fellow ex- Pistol Paul Cook, Gaye Advert - and never mind the Buzzcocks' Pete Shelley.


ON 30 APRIL the talking stops and the engines finally start for Gumball 3000. The five-day car rally, with fuelling stops at some of France's finest restaurants, attracted more than 300 jeunesse doree to its celebratory binge at London's Bluebird club this week. Chris Eubank, who is to be one of the drivers, was there with his missus; Tara

P-T lingered only long enough to have her picture taken by The New York Times (hmmm, what could that be about?); Alexandra Aitken understudied P-T in apprentice IT-girl mode; Oswald Boateng, the cutting-edge tailor, canoodled with the seriously striking model Gunnel Ibragimova; while the millionaire restaurateur Mogens Tholstrup left early with Victoria Hervey - perhaps he spotted the restaurant critic AA Gill preceding him to the exit.

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