Pandora

NEW LABOUR, new baby? Are Robin and Gaynor Cook expecting their first child? Certainly the wife of the Foreign Secretary has been looking radiant since she returned from the Cooks' tour of the Far East with the Queen. Sources close to Robin have suggested to Pandora that there may be a happy announcement in the near future. We can only wait with bated breath to see what this will be, but the Cook household surely deserves some happy news after months of stormy headlines from Kosovo and Sierra Leone, and with Robin's former wife, Margaret, due to publish her book soon.

OBSERVERS WATCHED the MP Nicholas Soames's face cloud over in Bournemouth this week when he took out his pager and read the message: "The party moves on". Nonplussed, he took a few moments to realise that some wag had just sent him the idiotic catch-phrase emblazoned all over William Hague's Conservative Party conference. Surely if Soames were to attain the Tory leadership, not only would he return the party to its noble "One Nation" traditions, but he would immediately ban such electronic control mechanisms from our political life. Perish the pager and pass the port, Nicholas, and you will have Pandora's fervent support.

IN A previous chapter of the Tory Party's Great Euro-sceptic Civil War, John Major was reported to have said: "When I hear the name Richard Body, I can hear the flapping of white coats."

The former MP Sir Richard Body was, of course, one of the party's original anti-Europe rebels. At the time, he was said to have been rather surprised and upset by Major's remark. However, he was not as surprised as Major himself, months later, when he received a telephone call from Sir Richard thanking him for his apology. As far as Major knew, he had not apologised. This week in Bournemouth, Pandora learned that, in fact, the "apology" to Sir Richard had been made over the telephone by the comic Rory Bremner, who was practising his John Major impressions. This news may come as some surprise to Sir Richard, but hopefully it will tie up at least one loose end for Major as he labours to complete his memoirs. Incidentally, the BBC has acquired the television rights and is planning to adapt Major's book for an autumn 1999 broadcast. Any hope that Rory will play the Major role?

KYLIE MINOGUE appeared in all her insouciant glory at Madame Tussauds earlier this week for the unveiling of her new, replacement waxwork model. "Women don't need these sort of signposts," she told an acquaintance, adding somewhat enigmatically: "Some things are best left under the carpet." As for the fate of the earlier waxwork, witty Kylie suggested: "Stick a wick in it and make it the world's largest 180-hour candle." Pandora has just one question for Kylie: what is the world's smallest 180-hour candle?

THE TV culinary star Keith Floyd was in good form at the Cafe du Jardin on Wednesday evening, where he was launching a new series for Channel 5, Floyd Uncorked. Making the programme, said one Channel 5 executive, could have been considered as buying the most expensive round of drinks in television history. This was quite a contrast, proclaimed Floyd, since "I was with the BBC for 15 years and nobody once took me out for a drink".

PANDORA WAS pleased to hear that the shadow Health Secretary Ann Widdecombe received a clean bill of health in Bournemouth on Wednesday. After her passionate conference speech on Tuesday urging increased NHS co-operation with the private health care sector, it was fitting that Widdecombe should pop into the exhibition stall of the pharmaceutical company Merck, Sharp and Dohme for a free physical check-up. Her press spokesman told Pandora that his boss's fitness was due to "vigorous exercise on the conference stage and countless TV interviews".

THE ACTOR Christopher Walken (pictured) in a career that began when he was just three years old, has brilliantly portrayed a succession of ultra-weird characters in films ranging from The Deer Hunter to the forthcoming Antz. But Walken's off-the-wall qualities are clearly not restricted to celluloid, judging from a recent interview he gave to TV Guide magazine in the States. Discussing a screenplay that he's written for a biopic about the late American porn star, the hugely-endowed John "the Wad" Holmes, Walken said,

"It's a nice story. Basically it's about the curse of a great gift. It's like Mozart."

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