Pandora

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The Independent Culture
The City of London's Millennium Dinner tomorrow could claim to be one of the biggest VIP events the capital has ever seen. Doing lunch with the Queen and Lord Mayor Peter Levene will be celebs from the world of politics, sport, show business, science, business, media and so on. Those attending, according to a guest list seen by Pandora, include Baroness Thatcher, John Major, Lord Callaghan, Sir Edward Heath, the two Davids (Lords Owen and Steel), General Sir Peter de la Billiere, the Rt Hon Eddie George, Lord (Richard) Attenborough, Sir Peter Hall, Trevor Nunn CBE, Sir Nigel Hawthorne, Emma Thompson, Sir Bobby Charlton, Sir Geoff Hurst and Lestor Piggott, all dining at her majesty's pleasure. The list goes on and on.

But there are omissions in the list of people who "have contributed to the economic and cultural success of Britain". Not one candidate for the post of elected London Mayor will be attending.

IT MAY come as a shock to Jeffrey Archer to be excluded from at least one metropolitan society event - but he can still live the high life in his own penthouse. It was there that Lord Archer met recently with his adviser on Jewish matters, Rabbi Pini Dunner. The Jewish Chronicle reports that during the conversion Archer offered a cigar to Pini with the following health warning: "You can't smoke it in here, you'll ruin the Monet."

Milton Shulman is about to publish his scrapbook. After many years of collecting the witticisms of the Fourth Estate, the Canadian writer's book of quotations - Voltaire, Goldberg and Others - brings together the best of a profession which, Shulman argues, "sometimes seems to hide its light under a bushel".

However, not all writing in Fleet Street is held up as an example of excellence. Shulman gives the example of a file found in The Daily Express's photographic library. The cover of the file read: "Shakespeare, William; playwright, dead."

CONTROVERSIAL film-maker, the late Derek Jarman, is the subject of a new biography, out this month. Creator of the homoerotic classic Sebastiane, Jarman was predictably at odds with ultra-conservative critic Mary Whitehouse.

The biography, written by Tony Peake, explains that Jarman found a novel way to get back at Whitehouse during the filming of Sebastiane. In one scene Jarman stages a mock battle between beetles that live on poisonous plants; one of the beetles was lovingly known as Mary Whitehouse.

The town of Burkittsville, Maryland (population: 214) is split over its new-found fame as the setting for blockbuster The Blair Witch Project.

After initially being taken by surprise by the attention of film freaks, the town has started to cash in. As well as the usual T-shirt paraphernalia, one elderly resident has found a ready market on the Internet for stones from her back yard and for soil from the local cemetery. Naturally not all of the townsfolk are happy.

Following (unconnected) acts of vandalism at an abandoned church on the edge of Burkittsville, a lady called Lillie Morris has organised a prayer service. Lillie wants to "try to take back what Satan is trying to destroy".

IF KEVIN Keegan fails to get England through the European Championship qualifier against Scotland next week, Graham Taylor will be waiting in the wings. The former national coach, and now boss of Watford, was famously dubbed a turnip after his own failure to get England into the 1994 World Cup.

However, according to an interview in The Yellow Experience, a Watford fanzine, Taylor would love the chance to put things right. "It would be too hard for my ego to resist," he says.

Given Watford's current form, the odds on Taylor being offered the England job are probably lower than those for his present club's survival in the Premiership.

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