Pandora

HAILED for his bravery last week after he rebuked the Prime Minister for encouraging "fawning and obsequious" parliamentary questions, the Labour backbencher Andrew Mackinlay can hold his head high. But Pandora has learnt that Mackinlay - whose question implied that many questions asked by Labour backbenchers were thoroughly rehearsed - did some rehearsing of his own. Before he ever rose to his feet in the House, he was coached by Dennis Skinner, who took pains to ensure that Mackinlay did not fluff the word "obsequious". Odd that, since it's the last word you would associate with the Beast of Bolsover.

IT SEEMS the latest male sexual wonder drug is already, indirectly at least, making an impact on the frontiers of British fashion. Word reaches Pandora of a must-see fashion show coming to the Cornerhouse arts centre, in Manchester, in July. Two sisters, the fashion designer Helen Storey and the biologist Dr Kate Storey, have collaborated on a collection of clothes whose theme is the first 1,000 hours of human life. Called Primitive Streak, a big highlight is the "1,000 sperm coat" which is described as "embroidered onto dissolved fabric". Pandora wonders if all the It Girls will be sporting these to ward off next autumn's chill? Of course the show is being sponsored by Pfizer, manufacturers of Viagra.

THE HIGH PRICES of football tickets and team merchandise have long been a preoccupation of MP Nigel Griffiths, the Trade & Industry Under- Secretary. Readers of his column in the now defunct Labour Party News will recall Griffith's zealous protests against clubs who exploited their loyal fans. Now that he is in a position to do something, Griffiths has ensured that the Office of Fair Trading is undertaking a review on football strip prices.

However, when Pandora rang the OFT, a spokesman said that an individual club could be forced to reduce its ticket prices only if it has a 25 per cent share of the entire UK football market. Otherwise they were "in a position to charge what they like". Even giants like Manchester United and Arsenal fall woefully short of 25 per cent of the 24,680,053 footie tickets sold in this country last year. Pandora suggests Griffiths introduce a special bill in the next parliamentary session to set price controls on all football events and gear. Surely this would make him - and New Labour - heroic in the eyes of Britain's largest interest group. And would any Opposition member have the nerve to vote against it?

WAS the Little Tramp a paedophile? Yes, without a doubt, according to his latest biographer, the Harvard professor Kenneth Lynn whose book Charlie Chaplin and His Times documents numerous instances of Chaplin's controversial, indeed scandalous, sexual behaviour. His wives included Mildred Harris, who claimed she first slept with Chaplin when she was 13 and Lillita McMurray, who met him at age 12, and whom Chaplin called "the age of innocence" until they split when she became "the bitch".

Other Chaplin conquests included a ten-year-old actress named Mabille Fournier and and an unnamed girl of eight. Professor Lynn told a New York Post reporter, "I admire Chaplin tremendously as an artist. But I would not have allowed him anywhere near my granddaughters."

HOW PLEASING to receive an invitation to this evening's London film premiere of Stiff Upper Lips, a send-up of British costume epics such as A Room With A View and A Passage To India. The invitation promises a glittering party afterwards at the Cafe des Amis which will be attended by cast and crew, including Sir Peter Ustinov, Prunella Scales and, intriguingly, the actor Brian Glover, who died on 25 July 1997.

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