Pandora

RESULTS OF the National Executive Committe election have, in the past, been announced on the Monday of the Labour Party conference. Last year that meant that Tuesday's national press was dominated by the "shock" news of Peter Mandelson's failure to be elected and Ken Livingstone's success. Taking no chances of a repeat performance, New Labour's spin- doctors have just announced that the NEC results will not be made public until Wednesday. The ostensible reason for this is that it takes longer to count the results of the telephone polling introduced this year. The fact that Tony Blair's conference speech is set for Tuesday may have had a little something to do with it too. Let's keep those Wednesday headlines "on-message", right, lads?

PANDORA HAS learned that Chris Patten is almost certain to attend the reception given by Euro-friendly group Mainstream at the Tory conference in October. Mainstream is chaired by Michael Heseltine and backed by Kenneth Clarke, who have both vowed to fight William Hague hard on the single currency. If Patten, Heseltine and Clarke forge an alliance at the meeting, we could be witnessing the birth of a formidable Europhile pressure group - one that would be more than a match for the Eurosceptic "barmy army" of Theresa Gorman, Teddy Taylor and former MP Tony Marlow.

THE DASHING Anthony Fawcett, whose sponsorship activities have made him one of the key players in London's contemporary art scene, got married recently - long after his Chelsea Arts club reception was in full flow. Unfortunately, just before the original morning ceremony was due to take place, the lovely Honami Niwata, Fawcett's bride, slipped, fell and banged her head in Chelsea Registry Office. Paramedics were called and the bride was advised to rest while the guests, including rock star Stephen Stills, artist George Condo, Hamish McAlpine and photographer Henry Diltz, were sent off to begin the party. Three hours later, everyone was summoned back to watch a fully recovered bride

wed her groom. (But not before Registry Office employees had taken her off in private and assured themselves that the bump on her head had not changed her mind about the marriage.)

HIS MISSILE attacks on Afghanistan and Sudan may have come just in time to rescue Bill Clinton's poll ratings in America - and his wife Hilary's too. A survey undertaken by Newsweek (before the bombing) has found that a huge majority of Americans - 84 per cent - believe that Hilary knew about his affair with Monica Lewinsky long before she claims to have been told the "truth" on 15/16 August. Even if they believe she is a liar, the American public have been overwhelmingly sympathetic to the First Lady. After all, who wouldn't lie when put in Hilary's hideously embarrassing position?

UNFORTUNATELY, LONDON Transport has chosen to adopt a stonewall attitude to our Anti-Rucksack On The Tube campaign. "A poster asking passengers to take care with heavy luggage is due to go up in stations and on trains in December," wrote LT press officer Neil Byrne last week. "We feel that this addresses the issue you have raised and do not feel that a rucksack specific notice is required." The whole point of rucksacks is that they can easily delude their wearers into not "feeling" the "heavy luggage" strapped to their backs. Hence our campaign's insistence that "rucksack awareness" begins with those who carry them, not with their only-too-aware victims. You would think that LT could recognize, at the very least, the need to remind oblivious rucksack wearers of how potentially dangerous and discomfitting they can be in a crowd. (Incidentally, Mr. Byrne, the Campaign has never suggested that you ban rucksacks on the system.) Callously, LT's letter closes by saying that they "must regard this matter as closed". Pandora "feels" the struggle has only just begun.

British fans of soul music have been longing for decades to hear Aretha Fanklin (left), the Queen of Soul, in person. Now her agent has revealed why Aretha has never appeared on a European stage. She's terrified of flying. Pandora suggests a clever promoter stump up the money to buy her a round-trip ticket on the QEII. If Aretha sings here, we'll all be richer

as a result.

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