Pandora

Click to follow
The Independent Culture
AFTER CHRIS Patten's book about Hong Kong was dropped by Rupert Murdoch's HarperCollins earlier this year, a number of the company's authors announced their own sympathetic departures. Meanwhile, the literary world has been waiting to see what the reaction would be from Jung Chang, whose autobiography, Wild Swans, has earned HarperCollins a small fortune. Now Pandora has learned that Jung Chang is defecting to Random House, whose new German owners must be gleeful over the prospect of publishing Jung Chang's next book - a definitive biography of Chairman Mao. However, this loss might not really bother Chairman Murdoch, as his friends in Peking are known to be cool to the idea of resurrecting Mao's legend at this time.

u

AS THE eyes of the world focus on President Clinton's Zippergate crisis, it is highly educational to learn how different cultures interpret his problems with the former White House intern Monica Lewinsky. Take, for example, the view from the Gulf, as expressed in a recent issue of Bahrain's distinguished newspaper Akhbar Al-Khlij. "Is she a prostitute looking for a market after she failed to find it at the White House? Is she a bait dropped by the CIA to damage the picture of the President because he crossed the red line? Is she an element of a foreign intelligence party, perhaps Israel, recruited to shake the White House because its occupant said no to something it asked for?" Pandora has carefully considered all three of these highly plausible explanations but, with reluctance, cannot believe them. Still, what is this "red line" that Clinton has allegedly crossed? Your suggestions on a postcard please.

u

AS THE fires blaze across heat-stricken Cyprus, incinerating part of the British military base at Episkopi, at least two of Westminster's most important personages are taking a highly personal interest. The Speaker of the House Betty Boothroyd and Deputy Prime Minister John Prescott are planning to holiday on the island later this month. And, as if Boothroyd's nerves weren't frayed enough, Monday brought tragic news of the death of a British mother during a para-sailing accident in the Greek islands. As Pandora's readers will know, para-sailing is one of the Speaker's favourite holiday pastimes. Please, Betty, give the island - and the chute - a miss this year.

u

LATE MONDAY afternoon a faxed notice arrived on Pandora's desk hyping a fabulous party to be held that evening in celebration of the new Warner Brothers film, The Avengers. Telephone numbers were given and Pandora (always the party animal) was on the phone in a flash, only to be told the party was going to be so glittering and so crowded that no more press invitations were available. Poor Pandora.

However, The Avengers - strongly rumoured to be a cinematic disappointment - produced a party that disappointed anyone who believed the hype. Neither the film's cast nor most of the promised celebrities showed. David Bowie, for example, wasn't there but, unsurprisingly, the C-list celeb Derek Draper was. A follow-up call to Aurelia Public Relations yesterday found its spokeswoman saying, "You should know that we were representing the venue where it was held, not Warner Brothers." It seems Pandora's readers didn't miss much, so the club will go nameless here.

u

SPEAKING OF names, has the BBC made a mistake in continuing to call this season's travel series Holiday Heaven? It claims to take celebrities and "let them loose in their favourite holiday resort", but the press release sent out yesterday paints a different picture. Not only is David Mellor going to be traipsing around Ravello, and David Gower forced to drink a bottle of port made from grapes he stamped on nine years ago on his last visit to Oporto, but poor EastEnders star Michelle Collins (left) is being taken back to Romania. On her last visit, she had her camera confiscated by the police; this year her passport was stolen, and she is the victim of an extortionist's phone calls. Sounds more like Holiday Hell.

Comments