ALAN MCGEE, the man who brought us Oasis, is facing a backlash from the music business. The Creation Records man has been putting backs up recently by pronouncing that the music industry is dead. While insiders recognise the cyclical nature of the industry, no one is thanking him for making dubious statements about issues such as distribution of music via the Internet. McGee was a key figure at last year's In The City music festival, the only convention covering the entire UK music industry. At this year's festival in Manchester, however, things will be a little different. The festival by-line is alleged to be "Alan McGee is full of s**t". T-shirts bearing a similar message are also said to be available in true festival style.


AFTER DES O' Connor's unchallenging interview with Tony Blair, it seems that the crooner of yesteryear has found a home in Labour Party popular culture. Basildon MP Angela Smith has agreed to listen to Des' dulcet tones for a whole 24 hours next week to raise money for a local hospice. "I didn't want to do anything that would make me look stupid, like running a marathon," the MP said. But surely this was a formidable test of mental endurance, equal to running over 26 miles? "A sponsored silence would be far more difficult," confessed the MP. Ah, but then people would pay good money for a politician's silence.


"A CITIZENS' Tax Contract could make politician's promises more explicit and their delivery subject to closer scrutiny. Why not send the Tax Contract to every household in the land? ... An opportunity for every taxpayer to number, say, five simple priorities about how they would like their money to be spent." So said Paddy Ashdown, Leader of the Liberal Democrats, at a lecture in January of this year. If the Fabian Society's commission to "consider the aims and principles of a taxation system appropriate to the UK as it enters the 21st century" arrives at similar conclusions, as seems likely, will there be a place for Paddy in their bibliography?

MEANWHILE, PADDY has strenuously denied that his Action Man status is under threat. Before the parliamentary recess the Lib Dem leader was reportedly making much of the fact that he was the only party leader with a full head of hair. However, at a press conference yesterday to show off the Lib Dem's policy review he had to rebut accusations that his hair was beginning to grey. "I have no grey hair and never have had," he retorted. Steady on Paddy, all that stress will make your hair fall out.


CLAUS VON Bulow, Lord Jeffrey Archer of Weston-super-Mare and Martyn Lewis are apparently united in their love of Shakespeare, according to a press release from the Globe Theatre promoting their efforts to fundraise for the International Shakespeare Globe Centre. Pandora wondered if Shakespeare had mayoral hopeful Archer in mind when he wrote in Antony & Cleopatra: "Give me my robe, put on my crown; I have immortal longings in me." While the great bard pre-dated "feelgood" news merchant Martyn Lewis when, in the same play he wrote "The nature of bad news infects the teller." As for von Bulow, there was a time when people thought he had taken some inspiration from the final scenes of Hamlet. Obviously this wasn't the case.


SUPERMODEL CINDY Crawford appears to have taken a cunning and wicked revenge on the paparazzi. Crawford is said to have been unhappy about some recent unauthorised photos taken of her bathing in France. She exacted her "revenge" at a golf tournament in Switzerland this week. "I broke a paparazzo's hand with my tee-off," she explained. She denied any deliberate malice but it may be wise for her shout "Fore" next time.


CHER (PICTURED) never wanted to be a role model it seems. Chastity Bono, Cher's daughter, explains in her forthcoming book Family Outing: "My mother remembers clearly the first time she thought I was gay. `You were about 11, and we were in Paris. We all decided to play dress up and take silly pictures. You dressed up in my black leather jacket and slicked your hair back, '50s-style. I thought, Oh my God. It was the last choice of how I wanted you to be.' "

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