Pandora

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LAST WEEKEND saw a new flurry of stories about Richard Tomlinson, a former MI6 officer now resident in Switzerland after spending six months in prison for threatening to write about his official spying career. Yesterday Tomlinson told one of Pandora's colleagues that he has ambitious plans for the future, albeit not in a literary vein. He's planning to launch a new "business intelligence" organisation which he wants to call "SPECTRE" - in conscious homage to the fictional spy network that James Bond delighted in battling.

"I might ask David Shayler if he wants to join too," Tomlinson joked, referring to the MI5 renegade. However, in view of Tomlinson's past record for confidentiality, Pandora wonders how many corporations will be keen to entrust Tomlinson with their secret assignments.

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PETER STRINGFELLOW and a bevy of his pneumatic "angels" enlivened the launch party for Rupert Steiner's book My First Break: How Entrepreneurs Get Started on Monday. Stringfellow hosted his own reception for London's Tory Euro-candidates earlier this month at his topless nightclub. That was just the start, Stringfellow told Pandora.

"I am going to throw a big party for Jeffrey Archer when the race for London mayor gets hotter," he said. In the meantime, he confessed: "I have to be careful who I invite, because I am a Europhile. I like Ken Clarke and Michael Heseltine."

What about the Boy Wonder himself, William Hague? "He won't come down. But I'm sure if he did and spent some time with me, I could do something for his image." Anything that Stringfellow could do might be an improvement at this point.

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BACK AT the Rupert Steiner party, the author made a special effort to meet Pandora. The young Sunday Times journalist who boasts of getting his start in journalism by flogging tittletattle about his schoolmates to the tabloids went "off the record" to confess some of his early scoops. Suddenly he turned to a young lady and introduced her as, lo and behold, one of his old school friends.

"You knew I sold stories about people at school, didn't you?" Steiner said to her.

Looking aghast, she managed to reply: "No, I didn't actually. Who did you sell them about?"

Steiner became reticent and refused, despite her entreaties, to divulge names. (Incidentally, Pandora has learned that Prince William attended the same school as Steiner. Of course, it's impossible to believe that Steiner would have stooped to selling stories about the future King.)

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AFTER A Woolworth's spokesman told Pandora that the retail giant could not offer chocolate British coins because their supplier claimed sterling sweets were "forbidden by law", we spoke to the Royal Mint.

"It is illegal to sell anything that could be mistaken for a real coin," a Mint spokesperson conceded yesterday. "Use of the royal portrait would be out of order. On the other hand, I don't believe we've ever cracked down on chocolate coins in the past."

Good news! While it may be too late for this Christmas, hopefully Woolies will find a supplier willing to mint something more patriotic than chocolate deutschmarks and euros to stuff into next year's Xmas stockings.

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PANDORA HAS received an anguished fax from acclaimed songwriter/poet Fran Landesman, a loyal fan of Sir Bob Hope, whose shabby treatment in the current issue of The New Yorker we reported yesterday.

"I will never buy another copy... or see another Woody Allen flick," writes Landesman, referring to the neurotic NY comic's criticism of Sir Bob's twilight career. In a prophetic conclusion, Landesman offered some lines of her own: "The only consolation/ For enduring this sorry situation/ Is if you live long enough/ You may learn/ How the little shits like it/ When it's their turn."

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IS CHELSEA Clinton finally rebelling - in her own mute way - against her disgraced father, the famous junk food and cigar aficionado? So it would seem after her visit to one of Israel's most famous hamburger bars.

"She did not want to eat any meat. I think she is a vegetarian," said the nonplussed owner of burger joint Al-Lotus, which Chelsea visited while with her parents on this week's Middle East peace mission. Instead of a hamburger, Chelsea opted for humus, french fries and a cup of Arabic coffee. Undiplomatically, she ignored the kosher pickles.

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