AT MONDAY'S launch party for the new Dictionary of Liberal Biography, the historian Ben Pimlott described the Liberal Democrats as centrist "from a political point of view" but "left-wing" when it came to policy. One of his listeners was Paddy Ashdown, who co-authored the dictionary's foreword with Pimlott, but who despises the term "left" when applied to the party he leads. Paddy immediately walked out of the bash. Coincidence, of course.
AN ANONYMOUS caller from BBC Radio 4 telephoned Pandora yesterday in reference to "the world's first radio sculpture".
This sure-fire future Turner Prize winner is an "installation" taking place in Birmingham's Ikon Gallery until Friday. It consists of nothing more than a radio microphone hooked up to recording equipment. Says Ed Hall, the "producer" behind this: "It's an attempt to hear an exhibition from the art's point of view." Excellent! The final "sculpted" tape will be broadcast on 6 December on Radio 4 for 15 minutes. "Whatever your readers do," urged the shy caller, "please urge them not to complain into the mike about the dreadful gulag at Radio 4." What can he be talking about?
THERE SEEMS little doubt that Reggie Kray, who has been in prison since 1969 for the murder of Jack "The Hat" McVitie, has been rehabilitated. After an unknown man campaigning for Reggie's release tossed a brick wrapped in a death threat through the window of the Hackney Gazette's old offices, Reggie sent word to the paper through his wife. "I am very shocked by this man's behaviour - he sounds like a very disturbed man in desperate need of help." Presumably by "help" Reggie means a gentler form of "correction" than what he and brother Ronnie used to administer around Soho, but Pandora suspects the errant brick-thrower will be keeping a low profile in future.
PANDORA DOUBTS whether even Frank "think the unthinkable" Field could fathom the logic behind some of the Government's recent welfare strategy. A contorted paragraph in "A New Contract for Welfare" suggests a scheme whereby Housing Benefit recipients would be encouraged, but not forced, to move into smaller accommodation, keeping only some of the money saved from their Housing Benefit. Pandora rang the Department of Social Security to ask whether it was realistic to expect tenants to move into smaller homes, especially if they didn't get much of a financial reward. The response of the DSS spokesperson was highly reassuring: "The thinking is being thought through. We don't have the answers yet." Unthinkable indeed.
FOLLOWING NEWS reports that he hid for years at the Irish home of the U2 singer Bono, Salman Rushdie (pictured) told a journalist named Giulia Melucci in New York last Sunday: "I spent three or four days with him over the years. They exaggerated." However, he discussed his current novel- in-progress - working title: The Ground Beneath Her Feet - which is set in the rock music world. This was researched while travelling with U2 on their "Zoo TV" tour in 1993. Rushdie added that although Bono "doesn't read a lot", the rock star is highly intelligent. Rushdie is apparently a
fan of contemporary Brit-pop, although he likes Blur more than Oasis and apparently dislikes Pulp's Jarvis Cocker. Pandora can't wait to read the book. However, if Salman spent only a few days with Bono, how did he become such an expert on the singer's reading habits?