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"IT'S BAD enough having women round the house," Alan Clark (pictured) told an audience on Tuesday at the French Institute during his Fantasy Art Collection lecture for the National Art Collections Fund. "I certainly don't want men as well." This sally was part of his explanation about why there were no pictures of men included in the Kensington & Chelsea MP's "fantasy". "I don't want old men with wrinkly faces and I don't want bumptious young men in very tight leather trousers and great hats. What I really like is the wild, and nature and the creation," Clark continued. Indeed, what was surprising was Clark's confession that "I don't like humans much, which is not a very effective recipe for elective politics!"

LIFE HAS been a nightmare for Charles Steiner ever since Rupert Murdoch bought the penthouse flat above Steiner's apartment at 701 Pennsylvannia Avenue in Washington DC. Extensive renovations undertaken by a contractor hired by Murdoch have produced several floods, then a 20-foot crack in Steiner's living room ceiling and a 12-foot crack in his bedroom. "When they were tearing up the floor upstairs, I went up to have a look," Steiner told Pandora yesterday. "I have never met the man, but I believe we look somewhat similar. At first the workers thought I was Murdoch, but then they chased me out and told me never to come back again." He is demanding more than just the replastering job offered to him by the contractors, and is considering his next move. "They had to tear up the floor because there was fungus in it due to the first flood," he said, sadly, in a gentlemanly Virginia drawl. Pandora hopes he likes the smell of Chinese cooking.

WHEN ANOTHER columnist reported yesterday that Baroness Jay of Paddington had been reduced to tears by the verbal ferocity of the venerable Lord Shore, a former Labour Cabinet Minister under Jim Callaghan (Jay's father), Pandora rang the noble lady's office to commiserate. However, rather than take advantage of the proffered shoulder to weep on, Jo Gibbons, Jay's special advisor, turned combative. "The idea that Baroness Jay would cry over such a matter is preposterous. If it was a case of putting money on a contest between Baroness Jay and Peter Shore, my money wouldn't be on Peter Shore." Come to think of it, Pandora would rather bet on a horse than either peer.

IS BILL CASH'S deeply conservative European Foundation about to move to the United States? Pandora has been told that the Eurosceptics' favourite organisation is about to open a headquarters in New York's former Fashion Cafe. When Pandora spoke to Cash, he was less than sceptical. "We have friends all over the world. If someone in the United States has it in mind to provide some facilities, then we would welcome that." But is the Fashion Cafe really an option? "We always try to be fashionable," Cash insisted.

GEOFF ANDREW, film editor of London's Time Out magazine, has been hired by the British Film Institute to head up programming at the National Film Theatre. A fierce critic of the BFI in the past, Andrew has become far more supportive since Alan Parker became chairman and John Woodward arrived as the director.

They have been effective at "clearing up the mess left by Wilf Stevenson," Andrew alleged to Pandora. However, Andrew is also keeping his job at Time Out and admitted that there could be a possible conflict of interest. His solution? "I will probably not be writing my column as often as I have done in the past," he says, and adds that he will no longer review NFT seasons. "I hope my colleagues appreciate what I do." No doubt the NFT will, although Time Out readers may have some initial doubts.

MICHAEL CAINE has been sounding off about American politics again. While hyping his latest film, Little Voice, he told a journalist that Zippergate special prosecutor Ken Starr was "the scariest person I've seen since the end of the Nazi party. The last time I saw a prosecutor like that was in the newsreels in 1938 in Germany." Although Pandora is not unsympathetic to this viewpoint, there does seem something curious about the way Clinton's tatty scandal inspires Hollywood celebrities such as Streisand and Caine to think that we all want to hear their profundities on the subject.