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WITH THE sudden departure of Peter Mandelson, his chief strategist in the Cabinet, Tony Blair must regard the next 12 months with some trepidation. What should he choose as his New Year's resolution? While he sits on the beach in the Seychelles, still reeling from all the New Labour "outings" and financial disclosures of the past few months, the hot tropical sun beating down on his milky brow, how can Tony possibly make this important decision alone? Fortunately, Pandora is willing to come to the Prime Minister's assistance. Readers are invited to send, fax or telephone this diary their suggestions for Tony's New Year's resolution by noon on Thursday. Pandora will then forward them all to Downing Street in time to be communicated to the Prime Minister before midnight, Seychelles time. And for the originator of the resolution that Pandora thinks most befitting: a bottle of delicious Orkney Islands malt whisky.

JANET STREET PORTER and Ann Widdecombe MP comprise the main "attractions" of a very sobering evening entitled "Alcohol and School: Why every child should get it" to be held in April at the ICA. The discussion is one of a series of events organised by the Portman Group. It will no doubt be an enlightening occasion as Janet is no stranger to the dangers of alcohol: she had a glass of champagne thrown at her earlier this year at the Groucho. Tory Ann Widdecombe is no stranger to the "wet and dry" dialogue either. And don't be surprised by the invitation's promise of "drinks and canapes". After all, the Portman Group is sponsored by the drinks industry.

THE EBULLIENT society hostess, Carla Powell, was quick off the mark to support her friend Peter Mandelson, describing him as a veritable puritan, the Stakhanovite equal to Magie Thatcher, boss to her husband Sir Charles Powell, in The Sunday Telegraph.

That was not quite her view of New Labour when she offered the New Statesman an article only two weeks ago. Then she railed against the "increasing ease with which those of mediocre talents rise to the top by virtue of their flexible principles and capacity for self-promotion."

And what happened to those most prescient of observations? She called up, according to the New Statesman, to say that her husband (whose brother, Jonathan, is Tony Blair's chief of staff) thought it impolitic.

AFICIONADOS OF West Indian cricket have long regretted the departure from the team of evocatively named Floyd Reifer. However, they are now delighted by the appearance of a new name on the team sheet: Darren Ganga. He batted in 94 runs against South Africa on Boxing Day. Truly smokin'!

ACTRESS MEG Ryan seems to be having a bit of difficulty combining her "girl next door" image with her Hollywood megastar status. Not content with a series of cloyingly cute romantic comedy roles, she is very keen to portray the suicidal poetess Sylvia Plath on screen (as reported by Pandora on 14 May). Most recently, Meg gave an interview in which she was asked if it was difficult to maintain an ordinary lifestyle when, in fact, you were a major celebrity. "Honestly? No," Meg gushed, then recounted her most recent family holiday - at a resort in Java. "It was unbelievable. There was a waterfall that took forever to get to and wild pigs running around." Ryan earned $10.5m for her last film appearance and lives on a ranch in Montana with its own go-kart track.

PETER O'TOOLE (pictured) was represented in all the Sunday newspapers' "quotes of the year" features this weekend "The only exercise I take is walking behind the coffins of friends who took exercise," said O'Toole. There's no doubt this is a witty remark. After all, it was amusing more than 100 years ago when first uttered by Mark Twain.