Pandora

ON TUESDAY evening, the former Chancellor of the Exchequer, Norman Lamont, was at Politicos bookshop in Westminster for the paperback launch of Saturn's Children, the libertarian epic penned by the Tory MP, Alan Duncan, and the historian, Dominic Hobson. Lamont was on good form but his words had a slightly ominous ring: "It is wonderful to be present at the launch of a right-wing book, surrounded by all these pictures of Chris Patten," he began, making reference to the wide range of political memorabilia in the shop. "This book is about ideas and it is ideas that the Conservative Party needs rather than discussions on whether Stephen Dorrell's sweatshirt is suitable for a bonding weekend." The Boy Wonder won't like that.

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SEEN LUNCHING yesterday at Le Caprice were Rosa Monckton, the head of Tiffany's UK branch and wife of the Sunday Telegraph editor, Dominic Lawson, and the England rugby star, Will Carling. As Carling is currently being roasted alive by the tabloid press for being possibly Britain's biggest cad, it shows an admirable strength of character on Monckton's part to have sat down at such a high-profile table with him. Both were, of course, great friends of the Princess of Wales.

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LABOUR'S CHAMPAGNE socialists have always returned from Blackpool conferences with smirking tales about the local customs. Now ITN's Political Editor, Michael Brunson, has his own anecdote to amuse his London dinner companions. When he ordered a glass of chardonnay in a pub this week, the Blackpool barmaid hesitated, then asked: "Was that lager shandy or bitter shandy?"

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IT'S NOT just Bill who has had trouble with White House interns. George Stephanopoulos, a former adviser to Clinton, claims that he was harassed by one-time intern, Tangela Burkhart. Stephanopoulos accuses Burkhart of following him to Columbia University (where he is a visiting professor of political science) and going to the coffeeshops he frequented. According to the Associated Press, Burkhart was arrested in New York on Wednesday for violating a previous court order to stay away. It must be good coffee.

Meanwhile, prosecutor Kenneth Starr has had his report published in a children's version, according to The Washington Times. Parents can be assured that Ken Starr's Report for Kids, by the children's author and counsellor, Cynthia Leacock, skips the bits about cigars.

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BEN ELTON, David Baddiel and Caroline Aherne were amongst those present for the first night of fellow comedian Steve Coogan's show, The Man Who Thinks He's It, at the Lyceum Theatre in London. Pandora caught Elton and Baddiel swapping telephone numbers at the party held afterwards at Christopher's restaurant. Elton confessed: "I don't really know David that well." Left to muse on whether this was the start of something beautiful, Pandora almost didn't notice that a serviette had become stuck to Elton's shoe. When informed, Elton noted that it was one of the oldest slapstick jokes around: "It's a Steve Coogan gag," he said, "but I really appreciate you telling it to me."

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WITH A new Blondie tour reported to start in the UK this November, it is good to see singer Debbie Harry (pictured) is on top form. At a post- premiere party in New York for the John Waters' movie, Pecker, Harry found herself mistaken for heiress Patty Hearst, who stars in the film. Hearst's husband, Bernard Shaw, keen to leave the party, walked up behind Debbie and put his arm around her, saying: "Honey, don't you think its time for us to go home?" Shaw was mortified by his mistake, but Harry thought it was a hoot. "That's the male of the species. If you're a blonde, that's all they notice," she told everyone.

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THE SIZE 8 Club has declared war on "skinny bashing". London Fashion Week has roused the ire of this organisation for "normal and healthy slim women", headed by Helena Fishlock-Lomax. "It is absolutely certain that the rapid increase in obesity is being fed by fat models making such comments as `I eat anything and everything'," says Fishlock-Lomax. Oh dear, oh dear, are we now supposed to picket voluptuous Sophie Dahl every time she shows up at a restaurant launch party?

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