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The Independent Culture
MICKEY MOUSE is on the end of a massive snub from the Scots. Here's the scoop: Michael Eisner, Disney's top banana, has invited Donald Dewar to visit Florida's Disneyworld for the Mouse's corporate millennial celebrations. But despite high-pressure lobbying, Scotland's First Minister repeatedly gives Eisner's ambassadors the flick-off. But why? Let Pandora explain. Looming large in Dewar's mind lurks the ghostly spectre of Peter Mandelson, whose career took a nose-dive after he avoided a photo-op with the Mouse at Disneyworld last year. And let's get real: Florida in December is no joke for anyone, especially a 62-year-old premier aspiring to gravitas - everything there is so Eighties. The average age, the temperatures, the IQs...

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IT'S RICHARD Branson's world. We just live in it. Some 20 years ago, the bearded buccaneer opened a rocking club in Victoria called the Venue. It had its moment and folded. Now Branson is to revive the shuttered nighterie - in the West End. The buzz is that Branson will relaunch the Venue in Sherwood Street in November. That'll give the Hammersmith Palais (reopening tonight with a big bash) a few sleepless nights.

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HIGH NOTE? Earlier this month another diary erroneously reported that Luciano Pavarotti would "take the title role" in Carmen. Hey, don't we all just love a fat guy in drag?

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HABLAMOS SPANGLISH? Bad news for the presidential bid of George W Bush Jr, the Texas governor known as "Shrub" to his compadres. First it was those darn tootin' cocaine allegations; then it was Pat Buchanan, the God-botherer and gun nut, splitting the Republican vote as he ponders defection to Ross Perot's Reform Party. New hassle comes in the shape of El Cenzio, a ramshackle little border shanty town of 8,700 souls. Very few of whom, being Mexican immigrants, speak English. So City councillors have decided that the city is to conduct its business in Spanish. This is a first, and for the US federal government, a rather irritating one. El Cenzio, whose mayor admits he illegally jumped the hot corridor on the Rio Grande to live in the US, has now forbidden the town's employees to grass up other illegal immigrants to border police. Bush is governor of Texas. Republicans expect the self-styled "compassionate conservative" to sort the mess out.

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SANDRA BULLOCK (pictured) has roped herself a new stud, Guy Forsythe, a blues guitarist she met at the Saxon Inn, near her lakeside home in Austin, Texas. Forsythe has a 10th-century Japanese haiku on his home answering-machine.

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WINONA RYDER bought some personal experience to her new role as a mental patient in Girl, Interrupted. Nine years ago, she checked herself into a psychiatric ward, she tells next month's Premiere. "I really thought I was losing my mind," she says, "I'm not ashamed of it. We all go through these times in their lives - I think you're very weird if you don't." Rider was dating Johnny Depp at the time - make of that what you will.

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OH, AND Pandoraphiles will recall that this week, after a pigeon landed on an oil rig with five grams of cannabis taped to its leg, we jokingly provided some perky pointers to help bird owners discover if their pets were flying too high because of illicit narcotics trafficking. One was that pigeons would make transcontinental detours during races. Sure enough, a player has dropped in a stranger-than-fiction report of a second pigeon flying, earlier this month, from Britain to France... that's just turned up in China. Perhaps this is case of the pigeon's wing fluttering in Beijing causing a hurricane in Miami, but 58 employees of American Airlines and a Lufthansa subsidiary were recently arrested there for using flights to move drugs. So how do you know if you're an unwitting accomplice to international drug smugglers? Watch out for: stewardesses who offer to swap a packet of peanuts for your razor blade; cabin crew who helpfully remind you, "smoking tobacco is strictly forbidden..." or the pilot who explains delays before take off by announcing "We're just taking on some extra cargo ha ha ha."

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

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