Pandora

PATRICK ROBERTSON, who was the late Sir James Goldsmith's Referendum Party aide-de-camp and a founder of the euro-sceptic Bruges Group, offered some lukewarm encouragement to William Hague's Tory Party on Tuesday evening. He told Pandora that he found it highly unlikely that the Conservatives could win the next general election, but his advice to Hague was to "chill out and wait". If the Boy Wonder heeds this, does that mean we'll have photos of him looking miserable at the Notting Hill Carnival for nine more years?

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YOU MIGHT want to be aware of the Awareness Campaign Register. Sponsored by a wide range of organisations, the ACR is an effort to keep track of the profusion of "awareness campaigns" now launched in this country. Recently, this diary covered Monday's "National Car-Free Day", just one of 56 awareness campaigns being conducted this June according to ACR. If you want to keep "Sun Awareness Week" in focus while "National Deafblind Awareness Week" looms, with Help the Aged's "Longest Day" just over the horizon, surf yourself over to ACR's Website at www.awareness.co.uk. On the other hand, considering the 375 awareness campaigns scheduled for 1998, doesn't our mental health demand at least one "Involuntary Unawareness of Anything Week"?

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FLEXING THEIR financial muscles comes perfectly naturally to the boys from Goldman Sachs, one of the sponsors of the Royal Court Theatre's "Caribbean Carnival" on Tuesday evening. After an excellent dinner, guests from the soon-to-float merchant bank took an extremely active part in the "dream auction" under the direction of Nicholas Bonham. Bidding was ferocious, and the Goldman table always set the pace. After they had managed to capture the Terry O'Neill photos of Frank Sinatra, one distinguished but rather dismayed gentleman remarked, "You

just can't bid against Goldman Sachs." Hardly news in the City.

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THE REAL life "Donnie Brasco", portrayed by Johnny Depp (pictured below) in the film, is FBI agent Joseph Pistore. He spoke at a recent conference organised by Kroll, the international corporate security outfit, to warn businessmen about a side effect of the Millennium Bug. A Mafia-backed computer company has stolen thousands of dollars from US firms by pretending to solve their "Year 2000" problems, while rewriting software to redirect payments to Mob accounts. "When I was undercover with the Cosa Nostra, I was involved in situations where we would get into a company and introduce fake payroll and vendors to divert money," said Pistore. "That was 15 years ago and the Mafia has gotten more sophisticated since." Let British businessmen be wary of so-called computer bug experts lest they turn out to be profit exterminators.

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BESTSELLING AUTHOR John le Carre has sacked both his American agent, Lynn Nesbitt, and publishers, Alfred A. Knopf, for whom his brilliant espionage novels have earned fortunes.

It would take a spy of George Smiley's cunning to learn the reason for le Carre's displeasure. When Pandora spoke to his British agent, Bruce Hunter, at the David Higham agency, all he would say was, "I've no idea what's behind it." Was the author contemplating changing his British representation or his UK publishers, Hodder & Stoughton? "Not as far as I know," Hunter said, with a laugh that came in from the cold.

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WHAT HAS happened to politics in sleepy Switzerland? Our naughtiest Westminster politicians have done nothing to compare with the scandal caused by Swiss assemblywoman Allesandra Balestra. Formerly the porn star called "Sandy", Balestra was elected to serve in the regional Swiss assembly in 1995. The fact that she has only attended two sessions of the parliament can be explained by how busy she was elsewhere. She has been convicted of dealing 360 grams of cocaine and 90 tabs of ecstacy. What the Swiss really need is a Harriet Harman, some Anne Widdecombes, or even - dare we say it - an Edwina Currie to sort things out.

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