Pandora

NICK RAYNSFORD, Minister for London and Construction, has brought new meaning to the phrase "ministerial meeting". On Tuesday Ann Winterton, Conservative MP for Congleton, asked when Raynsford had last met construction industry representatives to discuss housing developments. After the usual ministerial blurb about how regular the contact is between the department and the industry, Mrs Winterton pressed the minister for the exact occasion of his last meeting. "The last occasion was yesterday evening," answered Raynsford firmly, before launching into an attack on the last government's housing record. And what was the occasion of this top-level ministerial meeting? A reception for the London Young Labour Councillors Network, sponsored by the Housebuilders Federation.

GOVERNMENT MINISTERS will be pleased that the opportunities to attend meetings, or rather receptions, are plentiful. The Greater London Labour Party (GLLP) will be holding a business dinner next month which MPs are implored to attend. The Labour members will receive complimentary tickets to the event and will surely be enticed by the GLLP's announcement that: "We are about to negotiate a `night off' for London MPs with the London whips." The Chief Secretary to the Treasury, Stephen Byers, will be the guest speaker. At least there will be no need for MPs to ask Byers when he last met representatives of small business or training and enterprise councils, since they will be present at this Labour Party event.

THE ENTRE PRENEUR Richard Branson was a victim of an inventive youth armed with cherry pie in New York on Monday. Branson was at a Virgin Megastore signing copies of his autobiography when the youth emerged from the crowd and hurled the pastry in the Virgin boss's face. "We hugged, and I sent him on his way" Branson told the New York Post. Since his autobiography is called Losing My Virginity, Richard had to admit that cherry pie was an appropriate weapon.

TONY BLAIR was wowing MPs with a display of wit at yesterday's Labour Parliamentary Party meeting and, as is so often the case, Peter Mandelson was at the centre of the joke. At the meeting Mandy was praised by the Glasgow Maryhill MP, Maria Fyfe, for his strong sentiments over the arrest of General Pinochet. Blair apologised for Mandy's absence, quipping that he was "at a Socialist Workers Party meeting". There is many a true word spoken in jest. Pandora hears that the Campaign Group, the last bastion of hard-core leftism in the Labour Party, may be about to invite Mandelson to address one of its meetings. Peter Mandelson in the company of Tony Benn, Dennis Skinner, Jeremy Corbyn and Ken Livingstone? Now that really is a laughing matter.

THE ART-ROCK hero Patti Smith has been playing down her cult status. Salon magazine asked Smith this week if she woke up in the morning conscious of her icon status. "When I wake up in the morning, I wake up because one of my kids knocks on the door. And it's time to make the cereal because they're going to school. So I stumble down the stairs to make the cereal and make sure that the clothes I put in the dryer the night before are out for them to wear. And then I take my daughter to school. I don't think there's any part of my consciousness that considers that I have any kind of historic place on earth except in their life," says Patti. Perhaps even wild horses couldn't drag her away from this domestic bliss.

ATTENTION ALL beer promoters: Paul Newman (pictured) will advertise your product. "I'd do any commercial for a good-tasting beer" said Newman, at a charity event for the National Actors Theatre in the Big Apple this week. At one point in the evening Newman, already the star of his own salad-dressing production, was asked to pose for

a picture standing at the bar. He obliged, but was careful first to conceal with a napkin the label of the beer he was drinking. Perhaps next

time, if

the price is right, the napkin will come off.

Arts and Entertainment
Word master: Self holds up a copy of his novel ‘Umbrella’
books
Arts and Entertainment
Hare’s a riddle: Kit Williams with the treasure linked to Masquerade
books
Arts and Entertainment
The man with the golden run: Daniel Craig as James Bond in 'Skyfall'

TV
Arts and Entertainment
'Waving Seal' by Luke Wilkinson was Highly Commended in the Portraits category

photography
Arts and Entertainment
The eyes have it: Kate Bush
music
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Arts and Entertainment
Art
Arts and Entertainment
Diana Beard, nicknamed by the press as 'Dirty Diana'

Bake Off
Arts and Entertainment
The X Factor 2014 judges: Simon Cowell, Cheryl Cole, Mel B and Louis Walsh

TV
Arts and Entertainment
Gregg Wallace was caught by a camera van driving 32mph over the speed limit

TV
Arts and Entertainment
books
Arts and Entertainment
The Doctor and the Dalek meet
tvReview: Doctor Who Into the Dalek more than compensated for last week's nonsensical offering
Arts and Entertainment
Star turns: Montacute House
tv
Arts and Entertainment
Iain reacts to his GBBO disaster

TV
Arts and Entertainment
Outlaw Pete is based on an eight-minute ballad from Springsteen’s 2009 Working on a Dream album

books
Arts and Entertainment
Cara Delevingne made her acting debut in Anna Karenina in 2012

film
Arts and Entertainment
Simon Cowell is less than impressed with the Strictly/X Factor scheduling clash

TV
Arts and Entertainment
Gothic revival: artist Dave McKean’s poster for Terror and Wonder: The Gothic Imagination
Exhibition
Arts and Entertainment
Diana Beard has left the Great British Bake Off 2014

TV
Arts and Entertainment
Lisa Kudrow, Courtney Cox and Jennifer Anniston reunite for a mini Friends sketch on Jimmy Kimmel Live

TV
Arts and Entertainment
TVDessert week was full of the usual dramas as 'bingate' ensued
Arts and Entertainment
Clara and the twelfth Doctor embark on their first adventure together
TVThe regulator received six complaints on Saturday night
Arts and Entertainment
Vinyl demand: a factory making the old-style discs
musicManufacturers are struggling to keep up with the resurgence in vinyl
Arts and Entertainment
David Baddiel concedes his show takes its inspiration from the hit US series 'Modern Family'
comedyNew comedy festival out to show that there’s more to Jewish humour than rabbi jokes
Arts and Entertainment
Puff Daddy: One Direction may actually be able to use the outrage to boost their credibility

music
Arts and Entertainment
Suha Arraf’s film ‘Villa Touma’ (left) is set in Ramallah and all the actresses are Palestinian

film
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?

ES Rentals

    Independent Dating
    and  

    By clicking 'Search' you
    are agreeing to our
    Terms of Use.

    'I’ll tell you what I would not serve - lamb and potatoes': US ambassador hits out at stodgy British food served at diplomatic dinners

    'I’ll tell you what I would not serve - lamb and potatoes'

    US ambassador hits out at stodgy British food
    Radio Times female powerlist: A 'revolution' in TV gender roles

    A 'revolution' in TV gender roles

    Inside the Radio Times female powerlist
    Endgame: James Frey's literary treasure hunt

    James Frey's literary treasure hunt

    Riddling trilogy could net you $3m
    Fitbit: Because the tingle feels so good

    Fitbit: Because the tingle feels so good

    What David Sedaris learnt about the world from his fitness tracker
    Saudis risk new Muslim division with proposal to move Mohamed’s tomb

    Saudis risk new Muslim division with proposal to move Mohamed’s tomb

    Second-holiest site in Islam attracts millions of pilgrims each year
    Alexander Fury: The designer names to look for at fashion week this season

    The big names to look for this fashion week

    This week, designers begin to show their spring 2015 collections in New York
    Will Self: 'I like Orwell's writing as much as the next talented mediocrity'

    'I like Orwell's writing as much as the next talented mediocrity'

    Will Self takes aim at Orwell's rules for writing plain English
    Meet Afghanistan's middle-class paint-ballers

    Meet Afghanistan's middle-class paint-ballers

    Toy guns proving a popular diversion in a country flooded with the real thing
    Al Pacino wows Venice

    Al Pacino wows Venice

    Ham among the brilliance as actor premieres two films at festival
    Neil Lawson Baker interview: ‘I’ve gained so much from art. It’s only right to give something back’.

    Neil Lawson Baker interview

    ‘I’ve gained so much from art. It’s only right to give something back’.
    The other Mugabe who is lining up for the Zimbabwean presidency

    The other Mugabe who is lining up for the Zimbabwean presidency

    Wife of President Robert Mugabe appears to have her sights set on succeeding her husband
    The model of a gadget launch: Cultivate an atmosphere of mystery and excitement to sell stuff people didn't realise they needed

    The model for a gadget launch

    Cultivate an atmosphere of mystery and excitement to sell stuff people didn't realise they needed
    Alice Roberts: She's done pretty well, for a boffin without a beard

    She's done pretty well, for a boffin without a beard

    Alice Roberts talks about her new book on evolution - and why her early TV work drew flak from (mostly male) colleagues
    Get well soon, Joan Rivers - an inspiration, whether she likes it or not

    Get well soon, Joan Rivers

    She is awful. But she's also wonderful, not in spite of but because of the fact she's forever saying appalling things, argues Ellen E Jones
    Doctor Who Into the Dalek review: A classic sci-fi adventure with all the spectacle of a blockbuster

    A fresh take on an old foe

    Doctor Who Into the Dalek more than compensated for last week's nonsensical offering