TONY BLAIR will be delighted to hear that the Conservatives have given up. Yes indeed; partisan hostilities appear to have ceased at Conservative Central Office and, with that, the desire to persuade members of the public to join Willie Hague's blue army. Pandora made this astonishing discovery while following up a story that Tory membership had exceeded Labour's last January. But after this week's debacle over falling membership figures, she found Tories waving the white flag. Just mentioning the word "membership" prompted one spokesman to snap: "It's not a competition, you know."
The Labour MP Gareth Thomas would gladly swap the sea air of Bournemouth for the sweaty soil of Cardiff this week. "My ambition has always been to score the winning try for Wales against England at Cardiff Arms Park" [now the Millennium Stadium], admits the 32-year-old MP for Harrow West. His glorious dreams were rekindled after playing for the parliamentary rugby team last weekend. "Maybe I haven't left it too late to impress the selectors," he joked to Pandora. "The Welsh squad already includes a Gareth Thomas - surely they can find room for another one."
COMMUTERS ON Chiltern Railways will have to get up a little earlier this winter, as the rail industry continues to fight against the pitiless descent of leaves on the line. Chilterns' new timetable reads: "Our special `leaf fall' timetable will apply every day of the week rather than just Mondays to Fridays as in the past, until 11 December. During this period trains to London will leave up to three minutes earlier than normal to allow for extra braking time."
Passengers hoping for a lie-in should check the next morning's wind speed before retiring.
Copies of the restaurateur Mogens Tholstrup's new recipe book have gone like hot cakes - though some specimens weren't meant to have disappeared so quickly. Daphne's: Modern Italian Food was launched at its namesake restaurant in Chelsea on Monday night, to a throng of eager gastronauts. So eager, in fact, that foodies could be observed taking apart the carefully stacked display of the hardback recipe book. One onlooker mused: "By the end of the evening you wouldn't have known there had been a book launch; the display was stripped bare", adding, "it was quite a sight watching some women trying to squeeze the oversized book into their handbags."
SINCE THE PM is apparently number three when it comes to spiritual leadership in the UK, it is comforting to know that he in turn is well looked after. Blair's special assistant Anji Hunter is profiled in the latest Vogue, and one observer testifies to her ability to tell apart friend and foe: "She knows what drives people - whether it is their political ambition or their penis."
This year is the 20th anniversary of the Sony Walkman. People often say that the first time they used one, it was like being in a film of their own. But such notions aren't shared by the Walkman's creators. Asked about the contribution of the device to 20 years of history, Sony's boss, Howard Stringer, was blunt: "If you had a Walkman over your ears, you never had to talk to anybody."
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