Welcome to the new Independent website. We hope you enjoy it and we value your feedback. Please contact us here.


New Labour's foot soldiers will be trying to stay on message this week at the party's annual conference in Bournemouth, but Pandora has heard of at least one stalwart whose sentiments have gone walkies.

Devon councillor Brian Evans recently had the pleasure of a visit from Deputy Prime Minister John Prescott. As the only Labour member of Dartington council (in an area where the party has still made little impression), Evans is a rare breed. This fact may help explain why Mr Evans had difficulty in finding a red rosette to wear for his special guest - at the request of party organisers.

A desperate search for a substitute took place at the Evans household. The family came up with a number of trinkets lying about that included, as luck would have it, a large red rosette. So the councillor was able to meet Prescott with the required uniform: it was only a shame that the substitute rosette bore the legend "Best in Crufts, Best in Breed".

IT'S PSEUDS corner for Mick Hucknall. The Simply Red singer gives this fascinating insight into the reason for the title of the band's new album, Love and the Russian Winter: "The love element is self-explanatory. It's what drives us and inspires us through our lifetimes.

"The Russian winter element comes from my thinking of how something very harsh has actually been a saviour to us more than once over the course of 2,000 years. Ironically, it's what protected the world from Alexander the Great, from Napoleon and from Hitler."

Caffeine junkies might like to hear about some of the new advertising slogans designed to lure them into coffee houses. Among a batch of schmaltzy sayings yet to be used by the Starbucks chain are "Brew Unto Others" and "Purveyors of Coffee, Tea and Sanity".

Meanwhile, one delicious fact that you won't find in any coffee outlet is to be found in the latest issue of Prospect magazine: "There are more than 1,000 chemicals in tea and coffee. Of the 27 chemicals actually tested on rodents, 19 were carcinogenic." So how about an alternative slogan for the popular refreshments? "Dying of thirst", perhaps?

THE SECRETS of the Press are revealed next month by Penguin books. The new anthology is useful to readers and scribblers alike in unmasking the Fourth Estate. As is often the case, the most scintillating contribution comes from our old friend Anonymous, who, in this tome, relates some of the more outlandish ways in which Fleet Street's finest ran up their expenses.

Anon gives a public airing to a journo's tale of The Express accounts department: it once queried a correspondent's huge bill for "local transport" during a Middle East jaunt. The hack explained that he had hired a racing camel but sadly the beast had suddenly expired. The bill included the cost of the burial.

Like that of the chapter's author, the identity of the hack is a mystery. However, some insiders believe that a purveyor of high-society chit-chat in Knightsbridge could throw some light on this dromedary tale.

Fatherhood hasn't put a stop to Liam Gallagher's spontaneous urges. Last week a friend of Pandora's had the dubious honour of chatting to the Oasis star in an Irish bar.

In mid-conversation Gallagher suddenly leapt on to a nearby table and, to the accompaniment of air guitar, launched into an impromptu rendition of the band's newest work. The price of little Lennon's nappy bills must be crippling if dad has taken to busking.

PANDORA'S FAVOURITE football commentator, Brian Moore, notched up 30 years' service as ITV's voice of football, but he didn't kick-off his career too well. In The Final Score, his new autobiography, Moore explains that his first match commentary - actually for radio - displeased one listener so much that he sent Moore a postcard reading: "Why don't you keep your bloody mouth shut?!"