Pandora

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PANDORA IS happy to share with readers this first look at the new symbol for the Northern Ireland Assembly (pictured). It is a flax (linen) plant with six flowers, coloured a diplomatic shade of blue copied from the linen wall panels in the Assembly and Senate chambers. The six flowers represent the six counties of Northern Ireland. No matter how much nationalists and unionists may differ on governing their country, they can both agree that there are six counties. And long may they all live in peace.

FERGIE'S GLITTERING appearance on Tuesday evening in $3m of borrowed jewellery, at a New York cancer charity ball, was almost spoilt by a tussle between her security guards and President Clinton's Secret Service agents. According to the NY Daily News, one agent told one of Fergie's bodyguards: "You've overstepped your bounds. If you persist, you will be escorted out of the building." Meanwhile, Fergie was unfazed by the chaotic security in the Sheraton. She told a reporter from Variety that her ambition is to be a chat show host in Los Angeles. When the hack asked whether it wasn't too soon after her mother's death to be partying, Fergie assured him: "My mother would have wanted me to be here. Her husband died of cancer."

THE LORD Bell exposed himself to the rituals of the House of Lords yesterday, accompanied by his two supporters, Baroness Thatcher and Lord Weinstock. Dressed in the traditional red robes with white ermine trim, the former Sir Tim Bell walked in a procession to present his credentials to the Reading Clerk, take the Oath of Allegiance and shake hands with the Lord Chancellor. After this ceremony, Lord Bell left the Chamber, shed his ceremonial robe and returned to take his seat on the Conservative benches for the first time. It was awesome.

HOW DID Bass Brewers feel about the placement accorded their alco-pop product Hooch, 20 bottles of which featured on The Sun's front page on Tuesday illustrating Gazza's latest binge? "We didn't know it was going to happen and we got a shock when we saw it that morning," explained Bass's public relations manager, Stuart Cain, to Pandora yesterday. He emphasised :"It's not a Hooch story; it is a Paul Gascoigne story. Whether this has helped or hindered us is not an issue. Anyone who has a drink problem deserves help and support." Clearly, anyone who downs 20 bottles of Hooch in one sitting deserves all they help they can get.

THE SWEDISH pop group The Cardigans are supposedly upset by the fact that their video for the hit song "My Favourite Game" has just been rejected by MTV UK on the grounds that it might encourage young people to drive recklessly. It was directed by Jonas Akerlund, who won an MTV award for his controversial video for "Smack My Bitch Up" by The Prodigy, which was banned by all five main UK channels. The Cardigans' four-minute film shows the lead singer, Nina Persson, running other cars off the road, driving without hands on the wheel or feet on the pedals, and throwing a stuffed animal out of the car - which is then flattened by another auto. In fact, having a rock video banned is a sure way to garner extra publicity for a song. Hence this "shocking" news reached Pandora via a press release from the band's record company, Polydor, and is written in a tone of barely contained excitement.

HAVING PORTRAYED a knickerless lady author to great effect in Basic Instinct, Sharon Stone has now decided to try literature in real life. A US magazine called Black Book is about to publish Sharon's story, "Cat Food", after agreeing to print it exactly as submitted. However, the manuscript was full of literals and a senior editor corrected them, but when he faxed the corrected manuscript back, there was nothing but stony silence. In the end, the editor had to replace all the errors. More important is that the editor, Anuj Desai, says it's far from clear what the story is about: "Essentially, someone walks into a place and someone walks out." The old in-and-out school of fiction?

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