Pandora

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THE NATION has been holding its breath waiting for a real glimpse of the new face of William Hague's Conservative Party. Yesterday it came into much better focus, embodied in the attractive features of Hague's new Deputy Press Secretary. Her name is Priti Patel, she is 26, and has been a member of the Tory press office since 1997. Very Priti indeed, William.

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IT WOULD make a great American "road" movie, the kind where two freewheelin' buddies take off on a wild adventure across the States. On Wednesday we reported that Lady Thatcher and her great chum Nancy Reagan were kicking up their heels on Martha's Vineyard. Now word reaches us via the New York Post that Margaret and Nancy will be leaving the trendy New England island this weekend and heading on down to the Hamptons. Say, this could be even bigger than Thelma and Louise.

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THE RELATIONSHIP between magazines and their advertisers is often a delicate one, in which the word "environment" is frequently used, but with a meaning that would bewilder most Greenpeace activists. So it is that today's issue of The Spectator includes an environmentally-concerned letter from the financier and restaurateur Rupert Hambro. "I was somewhat surprised that you should have chosen the headline `Macdonald's Takeaway'," Hambro writes, "for the page on which Wilton's advertisement appeared." Hambro, of course, is chairman of the famous St James claret-and-oyster cafe non-Old Etonians know as Wilton's.

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SINCE LEAVING his job as head of Random House, Harry Evans, 70, the former editor of The Sunday Times, has been dogged by unkind American press comment about his true role in his new job as vice-chairman and editorial director of the New York Daily News. Now he has given a definitive statement about his new role to American fashion mag W, particularly regarding his relationship with editor-in-chief Debby Krenek. "Debby and I are developing the paper together," Evans said. "But she's in the trenches, and I'm like the guy in the field tent, taking a glass of whisky and saying, `Why don't you put the artillery on the other hill?'" Bully for you, Harry.

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JACK STRAW'S Home Office committee on the problem of paedophiles in the community is, according to a report in this newspaper yesterday, considering the establishment of a national centre to house child abusers after they are released from prison. This seems to be an unbelievably brainless strategy, in view of the recent outrage from communities across England who refused to accept just one convicted paedophile, Robert Oliver. Where on earth, let alone in Great Britain, does Straw expect to find a community willing to play host to a whole crowd of predatory sex offenders? New Labour, New Devil's Island?

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ART LOVERS must be quivering with anticipation as the September opening of Gavin Turk's latest show at the South London Gallery approaches. Billed as "the artist at the centre of the Young British Art phenomenon", Turk's final show at the Royal College of Art was simply a blue plaque on the wall stating "Gavin Turk worked here". Now his career has "developed" to the point where one of his new works is a "chewing gum wall relief". Doesn't that sound gob-smackingly brilliant! Pandora can see why his gallery feels justified in claiming that Turk's art "blows apart traditions of visual culture, cannibalising art history and excavating the role of the artist at the end of the 20th century." But is that "excavating" as in digging a grave? Or as in digging deep into your bank account to buy a wall covered with gum?

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ACCORDING TO one of Pandora's music industry sources, Sir Elton John has agreed to sing "Stand By Your Man" on a forthcoming CD tribute to the much-lamented C&W singer Tammy Wynette. Recent reports by American gossip writers about Sir Elton standing next to his partner David Furnish (pictured with John) in a wedding ceremony proved to be false, although Furnish said fans were sending the couple wedding presents. One man Sir Elton certainly will not be standing by in the conceivable future: John Reid, the manager he sacked earlier this year.

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