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The Independent Culture
BETTER SAFE than strafed. Nottingham Police this week conducted the controlled explosion of a suspicious vehicle outside a pub. Subsequent forensic analysis revealed they'd blown up an old pram full of dirty nappies.

AWARD WINNING writer Deborah Ross, whose eclat regularly graces these pages, is once again quickening the nation's pulse. Last week Ross interviewed the art critic Brian Sewell, taping their three-hour conversation and taking notes, as one does. Or does not - if one is Brian Sewell. The dotty old stick must have been having a bad-cravat day when he read Deborah's lambent and affectionate profile: he bullied the London local paper editor Max Hastings into giving him an entire page to ventilate his peculiar misconceptions about our Deborah, ending in a graceless, three-letter epithet that reveals more about him than her. Sewell, who has built his career on trashing young artists' reputations, still doesn't seem to grasp that in a media age, attention is privilege. Someone at Associated should buy the old dear a bus pass and suggest he lightens up.

THE RICH are different from the rest of us. They buy pounds 12,000 pet-carriers. They're constructed from alligator skin, lined in suede and each comes complete with a cashmere rug and solid silver bowl. Vendors Asprey Garrard describe the carrier as being suitable for smaller dogs, puppies and cats. Did someone say pampered?

STAR WARS gag: Luke Skywalker and Obi Wan Kenobi are eating together in a Chinese restaurant. Within 30 minutes Obi Wan has finished, and places his chopsticks neatly on the table. But Luke's no good with chopsticks; his shirt's splattered with rice, he's got noodles in his hair, and his lips drip with a mutant mix of congealed bean curds and corrosive MSG. Obi eyeballs Luke and booms: "Use the forks, Luke, use the forks."

FIRST FALLER in the new Brits-take-Broadway invasion is Pam Gems. Her "play-with-music", Marlene, starring Sian Phillips (pictured) as the eponymous Teutonic diva, closed this week after a run of less than a month. Green- room gossip puts the damage to Gems's US producers somewhere north of $1m. Coincidentally, the Tony nominations were also unveiled this week. And nominated as Best Actress in a Musical? Sian Phillips. In a cruel twist, that game dame Judi Dench (Phillips's recent co-star in A Little Night Music) has also nabbed a nod in a rival category: for Best Actress in a Play. Phillips surely faces a shifty night on 6 June, when the coveted golden orbs are handed out. Ask any thesp: it's nice to be nominated, but it's more important to work - like Nicole Kidman. She keeps busy but, despite displaying her awesome talent in The Blue Room, the Tony mob has turned her down like a bedspread.

SEVEN OUT OF 10 women wear the wrong sized bra, according to the new Good Housekeeping. Why? They don't try before they buy.

PARTY PATROL has picked up Steve Norris's and Ken Livingstone's positions on 24-hour London. Pandoraphiles will remember that Trevor Phillips and Jeffrey Archer, the other current pacemakers in the London Mayoral race, both support the idea of liberalising licensing laws and enacting congruent legislation to make London (in Phillips's words) "Fun City". Livingstone is more circumspect: "You couldn't have a 24-hour pub on the corner of a very residential district." But he's open, he says, to "key central areas" going 24-7-365. Livingstone admits that whatever happens, he no longer has the stamina to stay up all night. Which brings us to that master of the mattress, Steve Norris. Astoundingly, the former Tory transport minister sees Old Labour intransigence as the biggest drag on 24-hour mobility - specifically, the attitude of the Tube workers' RMT union. "But 24-hour London is not an option," Norris says "It's an inevitable necessity." Fun City, let's go.

Contact Pandora by e-mail: pandora@ independent.