Pandora

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The Independent Culture
WHILE COMMUTERS gamely struggle through the consequences of the Underground strikes, Pandora would like to remind them how lucky they are. It could be Washington DC's Metro. Former Metro employees have been voicing their concern that more train operators are falling asleep than official figures suggest: "There's someone dozing out there every day," claimed one ex-driver in the Washington Post last week. As a result of the alleged snoozing epidemic the Metro Board are looking into whether Washington's train operators are working too many hours. Pandora called London Transport to see how the Capital's drivers were faring in the shut- eye stakes. The author of the Official Underground Handbook was able to garble by fax that he "only knew of one case within the past fifty or more years." Indeed. It's nice to know that London's tube drivers are made of sterner stuff ... at least when they're not on strike.

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GODZILLA STARS Matthew Broderick and Jean Reno joined director Roland Emmerich and producer Dean Devlin in London today to promote the "dino- epic" before it opens next month. The film stomps into in Britain under a cloud of disapproval from US critics. Dean Devlin, who produced and co-wrote the movie has been vociferous in defending it. Devlin offered critics two ways to jump; either "If you don't like [the movie] to hell with you" or the more forgiving "If you don't like the film, that is your prerogative. Go with God". Confusion reigns. Sadly, Devlin was unable to advise Pandora as to which option dissatisfied Brits should take.

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EVEN BEFORE Frank Sinatra (right) died the US Mint had been authorised by President Clinton to produce a gold medal honouring the blue-eyed boy. However, legal wrangling among the Sinatra family has put the brake on even this "numismatic souvenir". Although Mint officials have been ready to go for some time, copyright permission to use the famous image of Sinatra wearing a pork-pie hat and shoulder-slung jacket has not been forthcoming. According to Coin World, a weekly collectors newspaper in America, it is not clear who owns the copyright or when this will be cleared up. The Mint declines to comment, but when the crooner's currency eventually lands it should do so like pennies from his blue heaven.

MADONNA HAS been mooted by her fellow Miami residents as a prospective candidate for Mayor. Political turmoil in the US city is running at a high and residents have turned to the Evita star for guidance. One Miami Mayor was thrown out of office after a court ruled that his campaign team had used the names of dead voters, whilst his replacement has come up against the city authorities for trying to sack the city manager. Although Madonna has not yet responded to enquiries about her political aspirations, the New York Post reports, her supporters have already penned a campaign theme to the tune of "Like A Virgin", with one verse going: "I'll be good/ I'll stay dressed/ I'll get Miami out of this mess." However, the good citizens of Miami might consider the sentiment expressed in their heroine's hit record "Holiday" to be slightly, er, off message. At one point it daringly states "just one day out of line/ it would be so fine".

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HOW EXCITING to bump into Tony James, the punkish star of rock group Sigue Sigue Sputnik, at the K Bar last week. As his group prepares to relaunch later this month, Pandora was surprised to see James nattily attired in a dark suit and tie with a surprisingly normal haircut, The once pink-haired, Lycra-clad dandy was asked how long he expected the group to prosper. "Long enough for the school fees to be paid," was the sharp rejoinder. Could James's apparent support for independent public schools redefine what's known as "indie" rock?

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TOP HATS are out in the Commons. Though a recent debate on the modernisation of the House of Commons proved hardly revolutionary, the quaint custom of donning a top hat to make a point of order to the Speaker in the House of Commons has gone for ever.

However, concern was raised over the destiny of the traditional toppers, which were pensioned off towards the end of last month. Enquiries to the office of Ann Taylor, Leader of the House revealed that no decision had yet been taken. However, possibilities include auctioning one of the hats for charity, and Pandora would like to suggest that any money raised from selling off the honourable headgear could go towards establishing a rest home for retired MPs - but then we already have the House of Lords.

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