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The Independent Culture
A FRIEND of Pandora's was walking through a tunnel in Bank Underground station yesterday after lunch, his Walkman earphones firmly in place. Ahead, he saw a scruffy guitar-playing busker and, farther along, the journalist Matthew Parris approaching from the opposite direction. Parris smiled at the busker's tune, paused and tossed the singer a coin.

His curiosity aroused, our friend removed his earphones to hear exactly what song had touched a chord with Parris. It was John Lennon's ballad, "Hey, You've Got to Hide your Love Away".

FEMALE STAFF at Channel 4 News were very blue yesterday. In a quiet but vivid protest, they declared it "Blue Shirt Day" for all women who wanted to tell the management that, since Jim Gray replaced Sarah Nathan as editor of the 7pm news programme hosted by Jon Snow, not enough females were being given high-ranking positions on the staff. Wearing blue shirts was chosen as the best way to protest after it was noticed that many male staffers had taken to sporting blue shirts in emulation of their boss Gray. So what was the reaction to this fashionable demonstration? "None of the chaps even noticed," one bemused Channel 4 woman whispered over the phone to Pandora yesterday. Perhaps more dramatic measures will need to be taken if this male chauvinist media bunker is going to see the light.

PANDORA WAS intrigued earlier this week by a press release headlined "New look BBC Sports Review of the Year 1998". Since the Corporation has now lost the rights to broadcast Test cricket, Premiership football, golf's Ryder Cup, Grand Prix motor-racing, England's international rugby matches and the Epsom Derby and Cheltenham NH Festival, it wouldn't be surprising if this "new look" lacked any sports at all. According to the Sports Review's producer, Paul Davies, "This year's programme will have a new feel. The aim is to make it visually more exciting, faster-moving and even more full of surprises." TV licence-owners may well throw up their hands in dismay and cry, "Please, no more surprises!"

THE POWER of American television to shape current events and mould public opinion is legendary, but on Monday night the ABC News network seemed intent on taking total control of the nation's democratic system. The results of yesterday's American elections for state governorships, House and Senate seats were transmitted in detail on the Internet - hours before the first votes had been cast anywhere in the country. For example, in the very close race for Maryland's governor, ABC News said that the Republicans had lost by 4 percentage points. After hours of transmissions like this, ABC came to its senses and apologised. "Earlier tonight, during testing of the ABCNEWS.COM site, we inadvertently posted results and erroneous predictions on the outcome of races. There was no bias intended by what we posted..." said the network. No bias, but what effect?

THE NEXT time you're in Sainsbury's and reach for one of those rich, frozen Sara Lee cheesecakes, spare a thought for Vernon Jordan. The rich and powerful Afro-American attorney and close chum of President Clinton, whose role in the Monica Lewinsky scandal is still being debated, sits on the board of the Chicago-based $20bn Sara Lee Corporation. Jordan was recently assailed at an open shareholders' meeting. "He has stained the fair damsel Sara Lee," cried one outraged man. "He should be replaced." Jordan's seat on the board was, in fact, reconfirmed. And yesterday Pandora's own special investigation uncovered a Sara Lee pineapple cheesecake. The verdict? Stain or no stain, it was delicious.

AFTER REPORTS earlier this week of a plan by Sean Connery (pictured) to build a major film studio in Scotland, in partnership with Sony, Pandora is alarmed to learn that one aspect of the deal may involve Connery agreeing to star in a preposterous "remake" of Thunderball. Sony owns the rights to Thunderball, one of the greatest James Bond flicks of all time, and, according to the New York Post, the studio is keen to have the 68-year- old Scotsman climb back into his bespoke 007 suit and trot around the set trying to defuse Spectre's two nuclear bombs. Pandora trusts that Connery will see the absurdity of this. Why replay a role that you've already made into a film classic? Would Michael Caine "remake" Alfie?