Pandora

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The Independent Culture
The image of the swastika no longer haunts the German consciousness. Defusing the situation is a new book by an academic, Michael Sturmer, called The German Century. The launch of his work at the German embassy on Monday included a display of some of the photographs used in the book. The images ranged from a picture of King George V wearing the uniform of a Prussian foot-soldier to a chilling image of Himmler visiting a concentration camp. A number of photographs displayed bold images of the Nazi swastika - the first time in more than 50 years that this symbol has been seen at the embassy.

IT WILL be a leaner, meaner Peter Hitchens who vies with rivals for the Conservative candidacy for Kensington & Chelsea. The columnist's bid to take over Alan Clark's old seat has been bolstered by his adherence to a strict diet over the past year, Pandora is told. The plan-H diet involves a kipper for breakfast, a modest lunch (say, a sandwich) and a cabbage for dinner. All this good living has been rounded off with long walks between Hitchens' Oxford home and the town's station where he takes the train to London. Not only has the regime tuned the mind towards political battle, it has made Peter get the better of his brother and fellow pontificator, Christopher, in the struggle against paunch.

Readers at the British Library are feeling left out. The silence hanging over the early departure of the chief executive Brian Lang is symptomatic of the library's lack of communication, say some, while the idea that the former BBC director general John Birt may step in as caretaker boss is being greeted with trepidation.

That campaigner and self-styled defender of the British Library reader Keith Flett has told Pandora, "Working in the library the day after Lang's announcement, I could find absolutely no evidence of plans to consult readers or staff." He added, "Now that is a management regime that John Birt could feel at home with!"

LET US stay in the library, for a story about Derry Irvine. The Lord Chancellor is claimed to have been something of a book-hoarder during his time at Glasgow University. The borrowing habits of Dezza, as he was known to contemporaries, at the university library would leave the shelves bare of core academic texts. Or at least so legend goes. Disappointed students, thwarted from swotting, apparently located the missing volumes in the back of Dezza's Mini. The story goes that the students carried His Lordship's wheels to the steps of the law faculty and pinned a note on the boot with an arrow pointing inside. The note read: "The missing books are in here."

Ken Livingstone has already vanquished his London mayoral rival Glenda Jackson. According to Politicos, the booksellers, at Labour's Bournemouth conference, his biography, Turn Again Livingstone by John Carvel, has outsold Glenda Jackson: The Biography by Chris Bryant by a factor of two to one. No wonder, given Glenda's sales pitch. While signing copies of her biography the former actress was heard to proclaim: "I haven't read this book, and I'm not going to either."

HAVING BEEN one of the original interior design magazines when it debuted 10 years ago, House Beautiful launched for the second time this week. A decade ago there were only three magazines covering the new rock'n'roll that is decoration; now there are about 35. So how will the new-look National Magazine publication cope in a saturated market? "All of those other magazines jumped on our bandwagon," protested the editor, Caroline Atkins, during Tuesday's relaunch at the Royal Society of Arts. "Besides, Elle Decoration is only interesting to people who live within two square miles of west London. People in Birmingham don't want that kind of look." No indeed.

Brummie chic is a

different thing entirely.

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