Pandora

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The Independent Culture
SO KEEN were they to make the Clintons' visit a success that the Chinese not only swallowed Bill's criticism about "human rights" in their country, they actually paid Hillary the highest compliment a foreign dignitary in China can receive. They built a custom $23,000 loo for her.

The only other American to have his own "regal restroom" with a Western- style toilet and air-conditioning was Richard Nixon, who opened up American- Chinese relations back in the Seventies.

However, according to a reporter from the Chicago Tribune, the President "won't be getting his own toilet". No report to date on whether Hillary allowed him to share her facility.

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THE SUCCESS of David Trimble's Ulster Unionist Party in Thursday's elections may be good news for the province's future, but the results make the future influence of the Conservative Party in Northern Ireland look rather doubtful. In the past, the umbilical link between the Tories and the Unionists seemed almost unbreakable. Now Trimble and his loyal supporters are furious at the Tories for buttressing UUP dissidents on questions such as the release of prisoners and the decommissioning of weapons.

With a fighting-fit William Hague expected back on active duty today, his first task ought to be to pour some calming oil on these troubled waters. Perhaps he could even massage a bit into Lord Cranborne, the Tories' most zealous Unionist, whom Mo Mowlam fears is keen to create post-election havoc in the Lords.

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THE QUEEN is hosting a garden party for National Health Service workers later this week at Buckingham Palace.

The guests were chosen after a nationwide lottery among NHS staff who wished to attend. Minister Frank Dobson and his "on-message" lieutenants breathed a deep sigh of relief when the final list of guests turned out to include 200 nurses, roughly 400 doctors and less than five NHS bureaucrats. Pandora has learned that a special "informal" dress code will be in effect.

But won't Prince Philip, always a stickler for tradition, wish the nurses to emulate Her Majesty's armed forces at these events and arrive in full uniform?

THE SPEAKER of the House of Commons, Betty Boothroyd, was bemoaning the undignified current state of lobby journalism to one of Pandora's colleagues recently.

Now Pandora has a story about the Speaker which, hopefully, she won't mind appearing in print. Apparently one of her favourite holiday sports is paragliding behind a speedboat. No hints about where she likes to indulge in this adventurous pastime. It's not a picture of our dear Speaker that Pandora would wish to appear on the front of any undignified newspaper.

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MOHAMMED SARWAR, embattled Labour MP for Govan, signed a letter to The Guardian last week that called for a referendum in Kosovo to halt the "ethnic cleansing" he decries there but he has still not commented on another case of alleged "ethnic cleansing" much closer to home.

During the election campaign, his close political ally, Hanif Rajah, was accused of telling Peter Paton, the Independent Labour candidate in Govan, that he must leave an election meeting held at the city's central mosque.

"You're not a Pakistani, get out of this hall," Rajah was reported to have said. According to another observer, Mohammed Jamil: "The attitude of Mr Rajah was absolutely unacceptable."

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FOLLOWING THEIR treatment of Kate Moss during this year's Cannes Film Festival, the Hotel du Cap received Pandora's vote of no confidence.

Now a reader has just returned from the Cote d'Azur with good news about another rival Cannes establishment, the Carlton Intercontinental.

"I took your advice and avoided the Cap, which is now sickeningly trendy with the Hollywood set. I'm pleased to say the Carlton was glorious, providing every conceivable luxury.

"Not only did the concierge desk find me a wonderful Italian bistro but they arranged for me to have a swim after lunch at the usually snooty Colombe d'Or in St Paul de Vence.

"All this and I won pounds 400 playing roulette in the hotel's top floor casino."

So that's it then: doff the Cap and join Kate and Pandora in the Carlton next year.

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