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The ambush of Zimbabwe's President Robert Mugabe at the weekend by the gay activist Peter Tatchell and fellow OutRage! members was achieved by invoking the magic name of Elton John. Staff at the London hotel where Mugabe was staying became suspicious of the presence of Tatchell and his friends, who were protesting about the torture of two journalists in Zimbabwe. However, their fears were temporarily allayed when Tatchell claimed that he was a journalist who had heard that Elton was staying there, and his colleagues were photographers. That was until Mugabe, who once described homosexuals as "worse than dogs and pigs", appeared, and Tatchell attempted a citizen's arrest.

COMPASSIONATE CONSERVATISM cost Peter Lilley his political life. But the former Tory deputy leader will tonight resurrect that theme in a speech to the Westminster Ethical Policy Forum. The speech should have been delivered last May but seemed to have been called off after the kerfuffle caused when he expressed similar sentiments at a dinner celebrating the 20th anniversary of Margaret Thatcher's accession to power. Now that Lilley has returned to the back benches his thoughts on the limits of the private sector promise to be just as divisive. In the speech, seen by Pandora, Lilley will tell journalists to "don your flak jackets and sharpen your pencils". Which can only mean Central Office should also take cover.

The Prince of Wales's recent snub of the Chinese President, his attack on genetically modified foods and his controversial parading of Prince William at a fox hunt have uncanny echoes of events in Michael Dobbs's political best-seller, To Play the King. In the novel the King, who bears more than a passing resemblance to our heir apparent, becomes increasingly open in his defiance of government policy, much to the chagrin of power- mad PM Francis Urquhart. A case of life imitating art? As Urquhart would remark: "You may very well think that. I couldn't possibly comment."

THIS WEEKEND Robert Maclennan MP will get the chance to combine his two great loves - music and constitutional reform. The former SDP leader has written the libretto for Friend of the People, the story of the 18th- century rabble-rouser and parliamentary reformer Thomas Muir. The show premieres on Saturday at the Theatre Royal Glasgow. It is the first time that Bob, who is Lib Dem spokesman on both the arts and constitutional reform, has written for a full-length musical; Pandora wonders what song titles he left on the cutting-room floor.

"Hey nonny nonny, proportional representation is nigh"? "I've got those elected second chamber blues"?

Not everyone is glad to see the BBC's surprisingly popular Changing Rooms team. In an episode of the interior design programme, to air in a fortnight's time, two couples loathed the makeovers the design team had created. Rumour has it that they are not speaking to each other, such was their ordeal. A spokesman dismissed the claim, but admitted that the traditional meeting between couples and designers at the end of the show had been dropped.

STICKING WITH DIY, Scotland's first-ever Ikea opens this week. The Swedish furniture chain has placed skips all round Edinburgh, so that customers can make room in their homes for newly bought Ikea goods. However, reports suggest that the skips are being used as receptacles for the promotional material the chain has delivered to every household in the city.

David Hockney, Britain's favourite LA-based artist, may have lost his perspective.

In a recent interview about the pleasures of the Grand Canyon, which he has committed to canvas, Hockney says: "You can drive to the edge and just go on driving, but I know the minute I'd go off the ridge, I would regret it."