Pandora

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The Independent Culture
HAS CAMILLA Parker Bowles come under the official protection of the Palace? That was definitely the impression given to photographers at the Tuesday night family party given for her younger brother, Mark Shand, at the Thomas Goode shop in Mayfair. Although the party was organised by Prince Edward's good friend, public relations consultant Sophie Rees- Jones, it was Mark Boland, the Prince of Wales's private secretary, who stepped in and commanded photographers to stop taking pictures. They had been organising a portrait of the entire Shand-Kydd clan, and were not pleased when Boland ordered them to halt. Yesterday a Palace spokesperson denied that Boland was there in any official capacity. Futhermore, said the Royal spokesperson, Boland "wasn't there because she [Camilla Parker Bowles] was there", and that his title "carries no authority". That's not how it seemed to the miffed press photographers, who note that the Prince of Wales was not a guest. Of course, the Prince originally recruited Boland to the Palace from the Press Complaints Commission - a background that undoubtedly carries its own sway.

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THE ATRIUM restaurant in Westminster was packed with Conservative heroes, past and present, on Wednesday evening for the launch of Ted Heath's memoirs, The Course of My Life. Former Prime Minister John Major, Sir Anthony Meyer, Kenneth Clarke, Michael Heseltine, John Gummer and Edwina Currie were joined by the Archbishop of Canterbury, Tim Rice and ex-Liberal leader Jeremy Thorpe. Unsurprisingly, William "Boy Wonder" Hague was not present. Pandora asked Heath if the current Tory leader had been invited. "You'll have to ask the publisher," Heath said with a twinkle in his eye. Publishers Hodder & Stoughton later confirmed that no, he wasn't invited.

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GIVEN ALL the controversy about a "Stop Archer" campaign within the Conservative Party, Lord Archer's absence from the Heath celebration was not all that surprising. In conversation with Pandora, Tory brainbox, Danny Finkelstein, Director of the party's Research Department, and co- founder of the influential Social Market Foundation, said: "I don't talk to anyone about Jeffrey anymore, except my wife." Why is this? "If anyone else says anything about him, he's on the phone to me asking what it was all about." Where Jeffrey's concerned, it's not always good to talk.

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NOVELIST DAME Iris Murdoch, and her husband John Bayley, were two of the earliest arrivals at Wednesday night's Dorchester bash for the 100th anniversary of publishers Duckworth. Murdoch, of course, is the subject of Iris - A Memoir, the new book by her husband about coping with his wife's Alzheimer's Disease. Despite her handicap, Murdoch looked radiant and sipped from a flute of champagne as she chatted with fellow novelist Beryl Bainbridge.

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SIR DAVID English, the late editor-in-chief of Associated Newspapers, would have had a wry smile if he could see the headlines he continues to make even in death. Five members of Peter Tatchell's gay activist group, Outrage, protested at English's memorial service, held at St Martins-in- the Field in London, yesterday afternoon. Placards proclaiming English as a "queer basher" and "homo hater" were held up during the service. No doubt Sir David would have loved the chance to make some suggestions about the equally blunt Outrage press release that arrived on Pandora's desk after the protest. Then again, even English would have found it difficult to sub that prose up to standard.

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HOLLYWOOD'S FAVOURITE "girl next door" female star Sandra Bullock (pictured) is retiring from acting for a year, so she told American reporters this week. She says she wants to devote herself to her film production company, Fortis Films, which is headed by her father. "I've got nothing else to give: I'm done, I'm finished, I'm dry," she's quoted as saying in TV Guide. This obviously has nothing to do with the failure of Speed 2: Cruise Control in which she starred, and the fair success of Hope Floats, a film she produced that has yet to debut in the UK. In fact, she said she was taking a year off five months ago, but has been promoting her film Practical Magic, in which she co-stars with Nicole Kidman. Obviously, the line "works" for her.

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