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The Independent Culture
STAUNCH OLD Labour MP Dennis Skinner was irate yesterday over the delay imposed on him by zealous police guarding the Palace of Westminster during the Queen's Speech. "They were having a joke with me. They knew who I was," he confided later. Skinner was in a rush to make his ritual non-appearance at Her Majesty's State Opening. "I haven't attended a State Opening for 28 years," he says proudly. "I have sat alone in the Commons, apart from one year when Neil Kinnock joined me as a protest."

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IF YOU are travelling through London Bridge on one of London Underground's new tube trains, the recorded announcements will tell you to change at that station for the Jubilee Line. Alas, the Jubilee Line is far behind schedule and no link with London Bridge exists yet. When Pandora contacted London Transport to throw some light on this overly optimistic announcement, a weary spokesman said, "The on-board announcements were recorded anticipating that it would have been built. We asked the manufacturers to re-record the message on the new trains before they came into service. We continue to urge them to do so, but we are more concerned with getting the new rolling stock into service." Apparently the Jubilee Line is not the only LT project lagging behind schedule. To date, only 20 out of 108 new trains are in service.

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ON A letterhead from The Sunday Times comes joyous news of the publication of "My First Break: How Entrepreneurs Get Started" by Rupert Steiner, the 28-year-old wunderkind who pens a column by the same name in the ST. Mr. Steiner, according to the release, "says his `first break' into journalism was while at school when he started selling stories about his schoolmates to the tabloids". Pandora salutes this wonderfully enterprising young man! No doubt he's incredibly popular with all his colleagues at the newspaper.

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DEVOUT PRESLEY fans will surely want to join the First Presbyterian Church of Elvis the Divine, now conducting 24 hour services on the Internet (http:// chelsea.ios. com /hkarlin1/ welcome.html). Of particular interest are "the 31 Commandments of Elvis" which comprise "the 31 Holy Items from Elvis's fixed, absolute and unchangeable shopping list" that were always on hand in the King's home. These span a fascinating range of junk food and over-the-counter medicines, including wieners, cans of sauerkraut, "banana pudding (made fresh each night)", fudge cookies, El Producto cigars, chewing gum and Feenamint laxative gum. As the Church says, "By following the Elvis Prescription for Good Health, we put a twinkle

in our eye, a song on our lips and a swagger to our hips." Amen.

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HOW LONG before British newspapers, currently full of give-away prize competitions, copy this great contest from California? Free plastic surgery, "as much as they want", is being offered by a company called Club Love, famous for having peddled a naughty video of Pamela Anderson Lee. Contestants must submit a photo of themselves, the name of the celebrity they'd most like to resemble and an essay putting forth their worthiness for total makeover. Two "surgeons to the stars" are apparently standing by to produce a new Cindy Crawford or Tom Cruise. One slightly worrying note: the company has insured the doctors just in case the winners aren't happy with

the results.

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SINCE HER novel The Age of Innocence was "done" by Martin Scorsese, the late Edith Wharton has apparently become a hot property in Hollywood, especially since her books are all in the public domain. Now she's inspired a race between two Hollywood stars and two British film directors. Originally, Elisabeth Shue (pictured) was set to go into production with director John Schlesinger for a film version of Wharton's The House of Mirth based on a script by Frederic Raphael. However, Shue's pregnancy forced the project to be postponed. In the meantime, along came a British production team, backed by Channel Four, with the same idea based on director Terence Davies' adaptation of the book. Their actress for the lead role would be Gillian Anderson, the X-Files babe. However, Shue is now back from Babyland and eager to make the film for Schlesinger. So who will get to the box office first? It makes your head spin, eh, Edith.

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