Pandora

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THE NEW-LOOK, touchy-feely Conservative Party is supposed to be rebranding and selecting prospective parliamentary candidates from all walks of life. But Pandora wonders if the good, blue-rinsed folk who are selecting these people are thinking differently. Recently selected candidates include Bob Dunn in Dartford (MP till '97), Matthew Carrington in Hammersmith and Fulham (ditto), Henry Bellingham in Norfolk North West (ditto), and Richard Alexander in Newark (ditto). Pandora suggests that what the Tories really need is a new (younger) membership to select new MPs.

MEANWHILE, FORMER Tory icon Margaret Thatcher has been getting out and about in the US. Maggie and hubby Denis spent last week sailing (and not flying) around Martha's Vineyard with Republican presidential hopeful Steve Forbes. A fair amount of wining and dining has gone on, too. Among those who graced the presence of Britain's politically pre-historic couple as dinner guests were Peggy Noonan, speechwriter to Ronald Reagan and George Bush, Prince Charles's foundation director Robert Higden and Anna Murdoch, who herself was in the company of her Wall Street guy, William Mann. Is this the dinner party from hell?

SPEAKING OF invitations Pandora was interested to read the thoughts of Norman Pace, one half of "comedy" duo Hale and Pace, on getting into clubs. Interviewed in a tabloid magazine, Pace explains that he is too old to go clubbing, adding: "I leave all that to my son Liam, who's 19 years old. He blags his way into places sometimes using the old `Don't you know who my dad is?' line. Good for him I say." Oh dear, Pandora feels that such wilful abuse of alleged status really should be condemned and wonders why anyone claiming to be related to either Hale or to Pace would be allowed in anywhere.

LENNY KRAVITZ, the Jimi Hendrixesque rocker, is treading introspective waters and planning a semi-autobiographical movie. Kravitz (pictured) is enjoying something of a renaissance thanks to his music being used in a car ad and in the last Austin Powers film, The Spy Who Shagged Me. The film project, explains Lenny, is "basically a story about somebody who grows up like myself, between two cultures", reflecting the fact that his mother is black and his father is white. Celebrity cameos are promised but Kravitz suggests it is he who will be the prime mover in the film's development. "I'm doing this independently, man, and then I'll figure out how I want to release it. I don't want anyone telling me how to make a movie." Incidentally, the project has been co-written, man.

MORE COMEDY announcements in the skies, continuing our theme from last week. Take this example of a witty flight attendant showing somewhat less confidence in her captain than would be expected: "We ask you to please remain seated as Captain Kangeroo bounces us to the terminal."

ANDREW ROTH, author of the legendary Parliamentary Profiles, has pledged to "sue the pants off" former MP Rupert Allason, whose latest book (under the Nigel West pseudonym) suggests he was a contact for a Soviet spy ring. It may be comforting for Roth to know that at least some of Allason's former constituents in Torbay felt such huge antipathy towards their MP that, at the last election, they doctored a large sign proclaiming his name in bold letters to be "Rupert Allas".

EDINBURGH WATCH... Latest mishap from Festival City concerns a theatre group called Athlon. The group, which specialises in classical Greek productions, had to cancel its production of Suppliants, at the Gilded Balloon II, due to illness. However Athlon are planning to bounce back with a Greek modern tragedy. The plot? What happens when everything goes wrong at a Fringe show in the space of 24 hours. How delightfully post-modern, darlings.

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

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