Pandora

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The Independent Culture
PANDORA CAN exclusively reveal that William Hague has been rebranded - this time as an Italian carabiniere. The picture from this month's History Today featured below proves that it is not just Tony Blair who is an Italophile. Perhaps this shocking revelation about the Tory leader may help to silence his critics that he can't be taken seriously and is not made of the stuff of leaders. Though the Boy Wonder's cronies maintain that "he has not undergone an `image makeover' of any kind since becoming leader of the Conservative Party", Pandora thinks that the funny hat is a dead giveaway.

ANNA FRIEL has prevented Madonna returning to Broadway. Madonna was rumoured only to want to join the cast of Patrick Marber's Closer if British actress Anna Friel stayed on. Unfortunately, Friel's film projects will prevent her from doing this, but at least she left in style. After one of her most recent performances, the petite and deeply wonderful star threw a G-string and a garter belt to the audience. Classy stuff. Madonna would have been proud.

THEY MAY be setting up laughter clubs in Germany but there are no smiles in the camp of their national football team. After being trounced by Croatia in the last World Cup, Germany has suffered a heavy defeat by Brazil and an apocalyptic loss to the US, not to mention going down 1-0 to Scotland. The former Bayern Munich coach, Udo Lattek, told footie journo Keir Radnedge: "The deeper causes lie in our German mentality. We Germans are far too serious, we forget about having fun when we play." But with the European Championship qualifications now under way, mirth is the last thing on the mind of the current national coach Erich Ribbeck. Erich admits: "If we don't achieve that, then they are going to chop my head off."

LAD MAGS - can't live with them, can't live without them. So fair play to Later for its survey on Margaret Thatcher. The magazine's "scruples survey" asked 100 men how much they would need to be paid to escort Baroness T on "a romantic evening of dancing with the paparazzi in attendance". Perhaps to the credit of the Iron Lady's enduring wiles, 10 per cent said they would do it for nothing and a further 6 per cent only needed the added bonus of a crate of beer. Now, anyone for Denis?

WHILE THE issue of decriminalising marijuana continues to surface in the UK thanks to the divine intervention of the clergy and Saint Charles Kennedy, an ad campaign is under way in San Francisco to get lethargic tokers involved in the campaign for legalisation. The National Organisation for the Reform of Marijuana Laws (NORML), which has initiated the campaign, believes that the majority of the 18 to 20 million dope smokers across the US are suited and booted types, not (as a spokesman remarked to the San Jose Mercury News), a bunch of shaggy Grateful Dead followers wearing tie-dyed T-shirts and quoting Cheech and Chong. The adverts urge dopey drivers to "Honk if you inhale" while another bemoans: "A pot smoker is busted every 45 seconds - and you wonder why we're paranoid." Perhaps the UK version would say "God says toke and be forgiven"?

STAYING ON the pot: it reportedly took over a hundred joints for Jack Nicholson, Peter Fonda and Dennis Hopper to set the right mood for the campfire scene in Easy Rider.

DERRY IRVINE is one of us after all. Despite his refined taste in wallpaper, the Lord Chancellor appears to have some very down-to-earth habits, namely reading on the toilet. Pandora learns, from flicking through The Lawyer, that Derry likes to relax and, er, unwind with a copy of Why Cats Paint, a book about feline behaviour. The book apparently takes pride of place in Derry's private bathroom, next to all those DIY catalogues presumably.

MAUREEN LIPMAN, the Muswell Hill queen mama, quoted on her discerning taste in reading material: "Reading Hello or OK! is as addictive as watching TV soaps or eating stacking crisps. It requires no imagination or effort."

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

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