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Behold the power of advertising: a true story to make educationists everywhere shudder under their mortarboards. During a lesson at a nursery school in East London this week, a class of children was learning about animals. The teacher gave each child the name of an animal and asked them to make the appropriate noise. To one child the teacher said "Cow". "Moo," came the reply. To another she said "sheep". "Baa," was the response. To the next child she said "Frog". The answer, given in an imperfect croak?


PANDORA HEARS that the entrepreneurial political editor of the Financial Times, Robert Peston, (son of Lord Peston), is on the move within the paper. He was recently the subject of heavily denied reports that he was going to set up a rival Internet finance news service. He apparently survived the upset after swearing undying loyalty to the newspaper. The word now is that Peston will do some financial, City-type job on the FT. But will his new job be appropriate to his undoubted stature?

Faced with disbelieving journalists who insisted that the Government's own report had proved the existence of a North-South divide, harassed officials claimed there were "pockets of prosperity" in the North. Asked to identify one of these areas, Downing Street named Jesmond, a part of Newcastle dubbed the "Islington of the North", much loved by journalists and middle-class professionals. "It's the sort of place that knows the difference between guacamole and mushy peas," said a former resident, referring to an oft-reported incident in Peter Mandelson's past when the minister allegedly failed to do just that.

TINA BROWN, British editor of the US magazine Talk, and former Conde Nast bigwig, has placed her bets for the US presidential elections. Talking to the Italian newspaper Corriere della Sera, Brown says that the "top of the class" and "very cultivated" Al Gore will defeat George W Bush because Americans will shun Bush Jr's "total lack of political culture". As for the much-hyped race between Hillary Clinton and Rudy Giuliani for New York Senator, Brown believes Rudy will win. Women, says Tina, will be turned off Hillary; she comes over as "a hyper-careerist perfectionist who always makes them feel inadequate and ill at ease."

Simon Rinkoff, a film company runner, couldn't believe his luck when he was asked to direct the video for the Children's Promise charity version of the Rolling Stones' single "It's Only Rock and Roll". Not only was it a speedy rise to fame, but the 23-year old got to meet the likes of Mick Jagger, James Brown, BB King and Iggy Pop. Iggy, godfather of punk, was a particular delight for Rinkoff to work with. "He inadvertently gave us a second, post-watershed version of the video," he explains. Iggy had made it clear that he was pushed for time, and had to cut loose early. "His line from the song is `suicide right on stage' - and when we filmed it for the final time he made this cutting motion across his neck," recalled the budding film-maker. "Of course, it meant that he had to go, - but he had also given the line a real edge."

"WHAT, ARE you nuts? I'm not standing next to her! She's a supermodel."

The actress Sandra Bullock displayed surprising false modesty when a pack of snappers at a fashion award ceremony this week asked to photograph her alongside Cindy Crawford.

Pandora readers already bored with the London mayoral race have taken to creating anagrams for the names of the personalities involved. "Ken Livingstone" can be rather unflatteringly rearranged to spell "Sniveling token".

But for any Dobsonites who may be salivating at the mischief-making potential of such a coincidence, it should also be noted that the name of Frank Dobson is, apparently, an anagram of "D-rank son of B". Whatever that may mean...