Pandora

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The Independent Culture
Cyril Smith, Britain's largest-ever parliamentarian, has started a singing career. The former Liberal MP for Rochdale has teamed up with Don Estelle, best known as Lofty in It Ain't Half Hot Mum, to record a version of the Laurel & Hardy classic The Trail of the Lonesome Pine. Following in the footsteps of Rochdale's other singing star, Gracie Fields, Cyril admits that he was "bloody amazed" to be asked by the diminutive Estelle to participate in the recording, "but it's been a bit of fun and I've enjoyed it immensely." The two men met while fundraising for the local Liberal Democrats, and Estelle has since paid tribute to Cyril's talents: "He took to the recording studio like a duck to water."

"I CAN tell from the moment I go into a school from the atmosphere and ethos whether it's going places," said Tony Blair last week when visiting La Sainte Union girls school in Highgate, one of his Government's new Beacon schools. Pandora is sure that the Prime Minister's high praise on the day of his visit had nothing to do with the fact that the pupils were chanting "Tony Blair, Tony Blair, Tony Blair" when he arrived.

Today Andrew Neil, one of Scotland's most rabid republicans, will accompany the Queen to open the grand offices of The Scotsman newspaper. As the earthly representative of the paper's owners, the Barclay brothers, the significance of Neil's centre-stage position is not lost on Scotsman staff. "It'll be St Andrew's Day," said one staffer. "Neil probably thought it was appropriate to have the opening on the day that he thinks is named after him."

MOST STAFF at The Scotsman are happy to be moving to new premises but any who are not may like to try a new Internet site called Blow Up Your Boss, at www.detonate. cjb.net. The executive toy was created by 20-year- old Kai Davenport, a computer software employee who was fed up with his tyrannical chief.

Finding himself "bounced out of the company", Kai developed the site, which creates a facial likeness of the loathed employer and allows users to blow up the target of their frustration. Gaining 400,000 hits in its first four days, the site is ready to move into its next stage: nominations for the worst boss of the century (not, amazingly, of the millennium). Runners and riders who have already been suggested are Rupert Murdoch, Richard Branson, William Hague, Ken Bates and Bob Ayling.

The rock legend Gary Moore has taken something of the mystique away from his classic track "Parisienne Walkways". The track was a highlight of Moore's gigs. But groupies were not uncritical of their guitar hero. "There were these two kids from up North who followed me round," Moore explains. "Every night when I played the long note they pulled out a stopwatch and timed it. They'd come to the stage door and go, "hey Gary, you only did one minute and 30 seconds tonight; are you gonna go for two minutes tomorrow?" Ever the crowd-pleaser, Moore accepted: "I didn't want to let them down, so I played the full two minutes."

A BROADWAY revival of the musical Hair is on the cards, according to New York magazine. The cast is likely to be made up of rock stars who have been approached by International Management Group, the show's producer. A source has suggested that both Alanis Morissette and Lenny Kravitz have shown interest in the peace-and-love project. Although an IMG producer has denied the reports, they did concur that "top acts" are being called in. No offence to Lenny and Alanis was presumably intended.

Channel 4 is due to get Trigger Happy next year. The new programme will take a Candid Camera-style swipe at celebrities and politicians. C4 is keeping mum about the show, but since it comes from the same stable as the Chris Morris vehicle, The Day Today, targets should expect to be shown no mercy.

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