Pandora

PANDORA'S READERS are responding in massive numbers to Tuesday's plea to help Tony Blair choose his New Year's resolution. Predictably, suggestions range from the inspirationally sober to the entertainingly absurd.

For example, Gordon Cann, a retired teacher from Bournemouth, rang to propose that the Prime Minister "resolve for one year to abolish spin doctors, three-line whips and restore the public's faith in the democratic process. In other words, take a risk." In a rhetorical vein, Mustafa Kundili, a student from Yorkshire, wants Tony to resolve "to stop using the words `new', `you know' and `like' in every statement".

Playwright Brian Behan, brother of the late Brendan and a frequent correspondent with Pandora, struck a grim note with his proposal: "Blair should hang himself, after turning himself in as a war criminal first. I would stretch his neck myself."

On a rather more whimsical note, Iris Jones-Morrison, a London marketing executive, suggests that Tony should "make a resolution to bring Roy Hattersley back into the Cabinet".

More fluff balls from the rich tapestry of Pandora's readership tomorrow.

A DEDICATED site on the Web is running nothing but anagrams of "Peter Mandelson". The most compelling, to date, reads "lean modern pest".

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CHRISTMAS INVARIABLY means the resurrection of Raymond Briggs's Snowman character in some form or other. This year, a grand production of The Snowman is being staged at the Peacock Theatre in London's West End. Briggs, however, has so far failed to attend any performances, despite a seat being reserved for him by the producers.

Yesterday he assured Pandora that he would be going in the next few weeks and dismissed any suggestion that he was bored with his Snowman creation, which is now two decades old.

"I'm quite delighted that the production is on. Obviously I wouldn't want to get involved with designing a new production, or making another film of it. You have to move on," Briggs said. He added: "The Snowman has proved itself to be something of a mini-industry. You could say it has snowballed."

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IN THE Middle Ages, there was a great demand for holy relics. Little has changed in today's age of celebrity worship. Some months ago Pandora reported on the Internet auction of John Lennon's toilet, and the growing market in celebrity porcelain.

Now it appears the relic market is, well, softening a little, with the recent announcement of the forthcoming sale - on the Web - of a pair of green silk knickers once worn by Barbra Streisand. Meanwhile, the search goes on for Brian Jones's toothbrush.

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"COMPLETE AND utter rubbish," was the reaction of the Duchess of York's press spokeswoman, Kate Waddington, when Pandora rang her yesterday to check out an outlandish piece of gossip published by a New York tabloid on Tuesday.

Its claim was that Fergie had spent $10,000 (just over pounds 6,000) on servants, champagne and food while celebrating Christmas with her sister Jane and family - then forwarded the bill to Prince Andrew and jumped on a plane to go skiing in Italy with Count Gaddo della Gheradesca.

"She had a normal Christmas lunch with her sister's family at Wood Farm. Their father joined them for the day," Waddington insisted. "There's no question of sending the bill anywhere else. She's certainly not going skiing in the Dolomites, because she's flying to New York to spend New Year with Weight Watchers."

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DON'T GET too excited when you see John Travolta's (pictured) name at the top of the billings for the new World War II epic, The Thin Red Line, directed by Terrence Malick, and based on the James Jones novel. "I'm only in it for five minutes," Travolta said recently. "If you get up for popcorn, I'm out of there."

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