Pandora - Arts and Entertainment - The Independent

Pandora

COULD THE new Parliamentary office block opposite Big Ben become London's largest white elephant? It will provide space for 205 MPs and their staff at a cost of pounds 1m per office. However the current shortage of space could change with the introduction of PR, making many of these expensive new facilities redundant. Ken Ritchie, the chief executive of the Electoral Reform Society, told Pandora: "There is nothing sacred about the 659 MPs we have at the moment." Indeed the Liberal Democrats have expressed a wish to see the number of MPs fall to less than 500 in time. If that occurs, Pandora wonders how the Government might fill all the extra space? A "Third Way" health and meditation spa? A warehouse for the contents of Mandy's Dome after 2001? A bottle of champagne to the reader who offers the most promising suggestion.

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THIS WEEK sees the celebration of the 100th birthday of Fairy, Britain's largest selling washing-up liquid. The Proctor & Gamble product is going to Newcastle to fete itself with a launch that includes the "Fairy hot air balloon". Pandora has it on good authority that the Fairy balloon was built by Richard Branson's Virgin Airship & Balloon Company. Can we look forward to Richard himself donning wings and a wand to fly the balloon? "We'd welcome Mr. Branson to the party," said a Fairy spokesperson. "After all, he's been very successful at publicising his own products and, as far as I know, there are no plans for a Virgin washing-up liquid." There weren't - until now, that is.

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BOYS, BOYS, please calm down and count your millions. James Cameron, the modest director of Titanic, can't stop himself from having a go at his star, Leonardo DiCaprio, in the current issue of Rolling Stone. The actor's sin was failing to turn up for the Academy Awards, thus missing the opportunity to be embarrassed to death by multi-Oscar winner Cameron, who announced to the glittering audience that he was "the king of the world". Now Cameron says, "The message I got on my machine, like the day before [was]: `It just ain't me, bro'.' Apparently getting $4m to do a juice ad that airs only in Japan is him; going to the Oscars is not."

It strikes Pandora that Cameron's own reputation would have been improved if he'd spent the Oscars evening quietly in a Tokyo juice bar, rather than making a fool of himself on the Academy stage in front of an audience of millions.

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NEWS ARRIVES of Naked, a four-part television series on "the body" that is yet another bit of priceless intellectual property from those discerning BBC programmers. According to the Beeb's advance notice, "Some of the contributors in the series are Dominic who believes he would be more successful with girls if only he were thinner; Louise, a teenager, who isn't worried about her deafness but is saving up for a nose job; and 82-year-old Jessie who has had various body parts removed but still lives life to the full." Starting in late October, Horizon it's not.

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THE MAD axeman of Greenford has been caught and residents of the Middlesex suburb are sleeping easier now. Gideon Lawrence was apprehended by police at Horsenden Hill last week, wielding a rubber axe . Police interrogation revealed, however, that Gideon was playing the part of a woodcuter on a historical tour organized by Ealing Council's countryside service. Oddly, local police allowed both the yeoman farmer with the scythe and the Roman soldier to remain at liberty.

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NAUGHTY ALEXANDER McQueen (pictured) won an International Fashion Group award during New York Fashion Week (Part I) on Thursday. According to the New York Daily News, the head designer of Givenchy charmed his hosts by kicking off his acceptance speech with the words, "I'm so [drunk] I can barely even talk." Let's hope he has recovered (or at least found a new speechwriter) by the time the October pret a porter shows open

in Paris.

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