Pandora

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The Independent Culture
THE FIREWORKS began just outside the church door, but even before then the firewater had begun to flow inside St Mary the Virgin in Primrose Hill, at Saturday evening's wedding between Brian Basham, PR titan, and Lynne Goodson. More than 200 guests, including the Northern Ireland Secretary Mo Mowlam, and the Leader of the House Margaret Beckett (pictured below), were served mulled wine immediately after the service, then handed sparklers outside the church, instead of the usual rice, to wave at the bridal couple. Finally, guests were ushered aboard two double-decker London buses for the trip across town to a dinner dance reception at No 1 Whitehall. (Mowlam, for her own protection, made the journey in a chauffeured car, but down- to-earth Beckett opted for the bus.)

Later, guests were entertained - along with thousands of other people in central London - by a lavish fireworks display over the Thames. Basham's passion for sending up rockets is almost as well known as his lateness for meetings, but on Saturday his best man took full credit for having got him to the church a full 20 minutes early. Many in the pews took an amused satisfaction in watching Brian cooling his heels for several long moments before his beautiful bride eventually arrived.

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FORGET THE civil war in the Tory Party over Europe; the same issue is now tearing apart the dynamic powerhouse that is today's Liberal Party - those pure Liberals who, led by Michael Meadowcroft, refused to join with the Social Democrats to form the Lib Dems back in 1988. At the recent Liberal Assembly in Weston-super- Mare, the MP-less party voted, 26 to 24, to campaign for Britain's departure from the European Union, on the grounds that Brussels was incapable of reform. Meadowcroft and other key Liberal leaders opposed this motion, according to a report in Liberator magazine, but in vain. Until now, the Liberals have been staunch pro-Europeans. Now there is concern about how the party's officially approved Euro-candidates will campaign on this tough, rather self-destructive platform.

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POOR KELVIN MacKenzie. Having taken the helm at Talk Radio, he must now feel as though he's forced to fight with one hand tied behind his back. A print advertisement for a programme on prostitution, run by the radio station under its previous management, featured a bare bottom embellished with a bar code. It attracted dozens of outraged complaints, and the watchdogs at the Advertising Standards Authority have now censured it. As a result, they have ordered Kelvin's Talk Radio to submit all proposed ads for vetting by the ASA over the next two years. Gotcha! - but it's hardly fair.

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PANDORA IS confused. Tom Cruise, having declared legal war on any media outlet that dares to tell lies about him, has just issued a statement through his fearsome Hollywood publicist, Pat Kingsley, that categorically denies he was ever refused membership at a Blockbuster video rental shop. How odd, since this story was widely printed in newspapers on both sides of the Atlantic last week, including quotes from both a Blockbuster spokesman, and "a friend of the star", that seemed to confirm its veracity. Now Kingsley has told the New York Daily News that Cruise, who was supposedly refused when he failed to produce two bits of ID at a shop in Bushey Heath, Hertfordshire, has never set foot inside a Blockbuster shop "not in London, or anywhere else". Last week, Blockbuster imposed on its shop employees a strict ban on directly speaking to the press. No doubt the Cruise story has been fantastic publicity for the video rental chain, but what is the truth? Pandora is launching an in-depth investigation into the Cruise-Blockbuster enigma.

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THE "VINDALOO" team of Keith Allen, Alex James and Damien Hirst, plus assorted pals, including Roland Rivron and Joe Strummer, are soon to release their festive holiday single "Naughty Christmas (Goblin in the Office)". Pandora is pleased to bring you a first sample of its unforgettable lyrics. "Excuse me/You're boozy/I'm not, I'm just a little juicy", may not be everyone's idea of an alternative to "Silent Night", but no doubt it will warm the cockles down at Hirst's Pharmacy restaurant in Notting Hill.

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