Pandora

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The Independent Culture
LAST WEEK Cardinal Thomas Winning, the head of Scotland's 750,000- member Roman Catholic church, told a conference of European bishops in Brussels that he personally was in favour of Scottish nationalism, as "mature, respectful of democracy and international in outlook". Clearly this statement was not welcomed by Tony Blair's government, although it was hailed as "visionary" by Alex Salmond, leader of the Scottish Nationalists. Odd, then, that Pandora should receive a telephone call yesterday from a friend of New Labour which painted a picture of Cardinal Winning, who was raised in the working-class estate of Craigneuk, near Glasgow, as the laughing-stock of the Vatican, and a Scot who fancied himself as the next Pope! Obviously there's not a grain of truth in this bit of spin, but it says a lot about some people's nervous reaction to a recent poll showing that 58 per cent of Scottish Catholics want national independence.

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SPEAKING OF spin, the Civil Service's finest practitioners, officially known as Government Information & Communications Services, are holding a special away-day at the end of this month. The venue? The Magic Circle, the Euston headquarters for some 1,400 leading magicians world-wide. According to one member of GICS, who insisted on remaining anonymous: "The Government is obviously going into a new kind of news management in a big way." Of course, we've frequently seen Whitehall "press spokesmen" attempt to pull rabbits out of hats. Can we now look forward to seeing them sawing their critics in half?

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THE TRANQUIL and august Garrick Club was the somewhat unlikely setting for the launch party of the journalist Brian MacArthur's Penguin Book of Twentieth Century Protest on Monday evening. Far from shouting angry slogans or staging sit-ins, the assembled crowd, mostly hacks, sipped wine and were profusely thanked by the author, one of Fleet Street's most popular denizens, for attending his party. His publisher, Tony Lacey, confided that MacArthur had given him an unusual present for his 50th birthday - a statue of the footballer Ian Wright, purchased from the Arsenal shop, but repainted in West Ham colours. Lacey, an avid West Ham fan, said, "It's in my garden now and, although my wife's not very happy about that, it's going to stay there until Wright scores 15 goals for West Ham. Or we sell 10,000 copies of this book."

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JAGGED FILMS, the film production and development branch of the corporate empire that is Mick Jagger, is ever so busy these days. Not only is Jagged producing a film based on Robert Harris's best-selling novel Enigma, but it has two projects in the works that aim to exploit Jumpin' Jack Flash's unique rock'n'roll experience. First, there's Swap. "It's an original idea Mick had about life on the road for a star, as opposed to life for a roadie," a Jagged executive, Victoria Pearman, said in yesterday's Variety. "The star thinks he has all kinds of pressures and that the roadies have a great life. It becomes a role-reversal comedy." Jagger would apparently like to star in this preposterous farce. The second project is based on Jagger's more than three decades as a legendary rock star, financed by Disney, with Martin Scorsese to direct. Pandora looks forward to a film that brings The Lion King's studio together with the creator of Raging Bull in a story as compulsively munchable as a Mars bar.

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WONDERFUL NEWS for fans of Bob Marley (pictured). Apparently 23 new recorded songs by the reggae star, who died in 1981, have just been unearthed. They were performed at the peak of Marley's career, between 1967 and 1972, and the quality of both music and recordings is said to be high. Look for a release early next year.

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CONTRARY TO some predictions, the Tories' "bonding session" in Eastbourne did feature another late-night sing-along session on Monday. With the party chairman Michael Ancram on his guitar, just as last year, and the MP Michael Mates on piano, they warbled such rousing tunes as "On the Streets of London" and Bob Dylan's "Blowing in the Wind" until almost 3am. Pandora imagines that the Boy Wonder must have had tears in his eyes as he sang those famous lines of youthful protest: "How many roads must a man walk down before you can call him a man?"

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