THE HOLLYWOOD star Kevin Spacey headed the "dramatic relaunch" of the Old Vic Theatre in London on Tuesday night. A host of the great and the good in the theatrical world were present, including Sir Peter Hall and Stephen Daldry, chairman of the Arts Council. But according to a friend of Pandora's, the star guests played to a sparse audience. The turnout could be explained by a clash with the first night of West Side Story at the Prince Edward Theatre, attended by the great and the good among theatre critics. Concerned that the Old Vic had missed out, Pandora rang the theatre, but was referred to the promoters of the evening, Freud Communications. A Freud spokeswoman denied dropping a clanger: "Not at all, we had a fantastic night. It was meant to be a small, intimate gathering for people who were brought together through love of the theatre. It wasn't meant to be a huge party. Everybody was absolutely thrilled." Hmm... does the lady protest to much?

MEANWHILE, AT the heaving after-show party for the first night of West Side Story, Pandora caught up with Julian Lloyd Webber (pictured). The recently separated Lloyd Webber appeared to be keeping charming female company, but was weary of the evening: "I didn't go to the show; I'm gatecrashing really. Its not my scene. I don't really go to parties. Don't you think the people here are awful? I'm only here for the beer." Pandora understands completely, but hopes that Julian will show a little more enthusiasm should he attend one of his brother's first nights.

THE SECRET of Hodder & Stoughton's success in winning the rights for two novels by Amy Jenkins, (creator of the hit BBC series This Life) is a tale in itself. The publishers decided to take literally the opening chapter of Jenkins's first novel HONEYmoon. In it, the heroine, Honeymoon, is driving around London in a stretch limousine on her hen night. As part of the negotiation process Hodder & Stoughton transported Amy Jenkins and her literary agent, Sarah Lutyens, to Hodder's Euston Road office in a white stretch limousine. On arriving at the publishers Jenkins and Lutyens were confronted by a wedding cake inscribed with the title of the book. It was obviously love at first sight.

KENNETH CLARKE'S trademark Hush Puppies must have come in handy as he hot-footed between receptions at the Conservative Party conference on Tuesday evening. Two receptions were being held in close proximity to each other at the Highcliff Hotel in Bournemouth; one was the Conservative Mainstream reception chaired by Michael Heseltine, the other featured Margaret Thatcher. Clarke turned up - mistakenly - to the latter. When Baroness Thatcher got up to speak, Clarke appeared to realise his mistake and was observed by an associate of Pandora's to make haste towards the door.

IT'S NICE to see that the Conservative Party still has fond regard for the industries it privatised while in government. Tuesday's conference magazine gave a behind-the-scenes tour of the conference centre and noted: "There's good news for the electricity producers; the presentation of the conference uses the equivalent volume of 200 houses." However, if the Tories wanted to cut their bills they could always generate their own electricity with all the conference hot air they put out themselves.

THE PERSONAL physician of India's Prime Minister, Atal Behari Vajpayee, reportedly staged a comic scene to rival the best of Peter Sellers' manic antics during a recent diplomatic visit to Mauritius. Dr Yogesh Goswamy indulged in a bit too much "duty free" before the Prime Minister's plane departed, according to the Bombay Afternoon Despatch & Courier. Unable to stand up without help from security guards, let alone take the Prime Minister's blood pressure as he usually does before take-off, Dr Goswamy lurched around the cabin, then locked himself into the VIP lavatory, was sick and went into a "drunken stupor". The door had to be broken down. Doesn't this good old-fashioned Will Self-ish public misbehaviour make a refreshing change, after months of dreary Clinton pornography?

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