Pandora

pandora@independent.co.uk
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Lord Strathclyde, Tory leader of the Lords, was said to have undergone a "Damascene conversion" after the wipe-out of hereditary peers. Though he helped secure the presence of 92 hereditaries Strathclyde argued that the Government had "missed a once-in-a-lifetime" opportunity to strengthen our Constitution". The paunchy peer even went on to say that Conservatives had "suggested practical ways in which a democratic second chamber could work". Privately, Pandora hears, Strathclyde offers little hope of outflanking the Government on Lords reform. At a smoke-filled pow-wow of Tory peers he was heard to say: "there is no support for democracy in this place." As if to concur, Lord Cranborne praised his role in salvaging what he could of the previous order. "We have been able to keep what remains of a class in being," cooed Cranborne.

YESTERDAY THE Tory front bench in the Lords was in a more defeatist mood. Attempting to take advantage of the farcical process of selection for Labour's mayoral candidate, the Tory Education and Employment spokeswoman Baroness Seccombe had put down a question "To ask Her Majesty's Government whether they have any plans to change the planned date for the election of the mayor of London". Funnily enough, the question was withdrawn after her own party's process was thrown into chaos at the weekend.

Hampstead Theatre, one of London's major venues for new writing, has won a lottery award for a much-needed new building. The theatre will no doubt hope to host more successful ventures than their recent show, Moonshine, which opened to terrible reviews. Its author, the Seventies veteran Snoo Wilson, subsequently went on the offensive, publicly denouncing the cabal of critics who had slammed his work and announcing bullishly that any audience member who wanted a refund would get it. There are no figures for the take-up of this valiant offer, but apparently on one night a mere two dozen or so people turned up - and only four returned after the interval.

SPEAKING OF bums on seats, Pandora notes a worrying trend involving the theatre and body parts. First Yukio Ninagawa's production of King Lear in which Gloucester's gouged-out eyes bounce rather belligerently about the Barbican stage. Now, in the historical drama Four Nights in Knaresborough, it's a severed ear that does the rounds of Kilburn's Tricycle theatre. Let's hope the Lorena Bobbitt story never makes it to the stage.

Poor William Shatner; he seems lost in space. Talking this week about his life, the Star Trek legend remembers a time when, penniless, he contemplated selling his beloved mountain retreat in California. "I sat there one summer's evening, half-crying because I knew I had to sell this place, and on a rock, a lizard came. The lizard stood on the rock, and as the water hit the rock, it splashed up. The lizard was grabbing globules of water. That's how it drank its water. I sat looking at it. I was alone and naked, watching a lizard drink, and I thought, 'I must not ever in my lifetime sell this place.'" That's life, Bill, but not as we know it.

THE THOUGHTS of Ron Atkinson are always worth noting, if only for a laugh. Having managed nine football clubs, Big Ron knows a thing or two about teamwork and leadership. Asked who his favourite politician was, Atkinson chuckled: "Margaret Thatcher. She was a bugger but she would have made the best football manager." And did her successor have the same nous? "Major was all right. He just had a bad team." Not to mention all those own goals.

The latest hangover cure may put some off the idea of boozing at all. Sob'R-K is a pill-size version of an emergency treatment whereby the stomach is filled with charcoal slurry and then pumped. The pills, which soak up alcohol, feature in She magazine as one of eight ways to sober up. The popularity of "hair of the dog" will surely endure.

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