Pandora

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The Independent Culture
ALL APPEARS not to be well in the joint restaurant empire of Marco Pierre White and the Granada group, since they launched a joint venture last year. Suspicions were raised when people wishing to book for the Grill Room at the Cafe Royal found staff hesitant to take bookings, or were referred to another of White's restaurants, the Oak Room. Moreover, a rumour has been circulating that a number of Grill Room staff were dismissed earlier this week. A call to the publicity department of Forte Hotels, the relevant arm of Granada, solicited a prepared statement: "Both joint- venture parties are currently reviewing the positioning of the Grill Room and considering various opportunities for the restaurant in future." Unfortunately, Pandora's attempts to contact Marco to discuss the future of the Grill Room met with no response.

THE NEWS of Peter Mandelson's resignation was too much for the designer Nicky Haslam. Haslam has spoken to Pandora before about his liking for Mandy (see 28 August) and was understandably upset when Pandora broke the news to him. "Good God, I didn't know that. I'm stunned," spluttered Haslam. "I'm so stunned I don't really know what to say." With that, Nicky made his excuses and rang off. Perhaps Haslam could cheer Mandy up by doing a spot of interior re-designing at his Notting Hill abode?

ONE BURNING question that arises from Mandy's resignation is what will happen to his faithful servant Benjamin Wegg-Prosser. Oofy, as he is endearingly known, would surely not relish being lumbered with a low-key role, any more than his boss would. So how will the doyen of so many newspaper columnists, who have no doubt enjoyed dealing with him as much as Pandora has, survive? Oofy, Oofy, give Pandora a call; let us know you're all right.

DO YOU believe in Santa? Well, if you work for Harrods then it is important that you do. How important this is was demonstrated a few weeks ago when a photographer colleague of Pandora's called the Harrods press office to ask for some shots of their own Santa. "As long as you realise it is the real Father Christmas," the Harrods PR woman warned. Despite the photographer informing her that he no longer believed in Santa, she persisted with the fantasy act. When the photographer asked if it would be all right to snap their Santa having a cup of tea, the PR replied: "Oh no, he has a magic dust in his pockets, so he doesn't need to have a tea break." Ho, Ho, Ho.

THE IMPEACHMENT of President Clinton has proved a real boon to bars on both sides of the Atlantic. Tuffy Vetter, a bar manager of the Daily Grill in Washington, has named a new cocktail after the crisis, "Impeachmenthe" - half peach schnapps and half white creme de menthe. But Tuffy is not alone. Janet Evans, owner of Janet's Bar in South Kensington, has produced her own version, the "Impeach" - peach schnapps, orange juice and cream. "It's washed down with a Monica Lewinsky chaser," Evans told Pandora.

PANDORA HEARS that the Deputy Prime Minister, John Prescott, has recently been the victim of a misunderstanding. Dining at a restaurant outside Cardiff a few weeks ago, Prescott asked the waitress for some "asparagus tips". Unfortunately, the waitress in question was just moving away from the table when Prescott made his request, and therefore didn't quite understand what the Deputy Prime Minister was saying. When she returned to the table, she informed him: "I'm sorry, we've only got Benson & Hedges."

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