Pandora

MANCHESTER UNITED fans who are uneasy about what the future holds for their club under its new ownership will be interested to learn how Mark Booth, chief executive of BSkyB, is refurbishing his new home. After intensive negotiations with all the relevant authorities, Booth and his Californian wife are completely transforming their listed late 19th century home on Collingham Gardens off Earls Court. Previously used as a rooming house, plans for the opulent Booth residence include a gym, family room, viewing theatre and a meditation room. Pandora wonders if there are any plans to introduce such enlightened New Age facilities at Old Trafford? At the very least, it suggests that Booth, when he attends home matches, will feel at home among the chanting fans.

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THE PROSPECT of a lengthy speech by Robert Maclennan, outgoing president of the Liberal Democrats, has made many people's blood run cold in the past. Once, Labour MP Tony Banks even told the Commons that any "old fartbags" who talked too long should be forced to learn the complete works of Mr Maclennan. A real stickler when it comes to his texts, Tuesday saw Maclennan's final presidential speech. At one point on the page were printed the instructions "meaningful pause", followed by the puzzling exclamation, "Mm!". Pandora is pleased to report that Maclennan delivered his "Mm!" with such gusto that some in the audience actually woke up.

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WHAT'S IT like to be Leonardo DiCaprio? American socialite author George Plimpton found out recently when he spent a night at Hollywood's Chateau Marmont in the same suite where Leonardo usually stays. He was awakened in the middle of the night by eight "enchanting nymphets" who brushed past him and into the bedroom. "They were looking in the closets. One of the girls put her head on my pillow, because that's where Leonardo had rested his head." Plimpton told the NY Daily News: "I would have said it was a nightmare - except they were so terribly attractive." Once certain that Leonardo wasn't coming, all the nymphets departed. As Plimpton now knows, celebrity is hell.

FOR MIRANDA Green, Paddy Ashdown's delightful right-hand woman, this year's Brighton Conference has been a bit of a rags-to-riches story. Two years ago, during the Lib Dem's last Brighton visit, she told Pandora: "I was a humble researcher. I stayed in an exceedingly cheap bed and breakfast run by a Mr and Mrs Doss. They did a fab breakfast, but the contrast couldn't be more obvious."

This year, Miranda has her own suite at the Metropole Hotel, but laments that her media-spinning responsibilities haven't allowed her to enjoy it much. Her title is now "Head of press and communications - Leader's Office", but she says, "You can only use it if you also say how ridiculous it is." Pandora must caution Miranda that politics and modesty make strange bedfellows. Who ever heard Peter Mandelson say that his title was silly?

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AT TUESDAY'S launch of The London Fashion Book, author Andrew Tucker was talking about the flap in the international fashion world caused by some New York designers, including Calvin Klein and Donna Karan, who held their shows in advance of London Fashion Week. "They are messing people about," Tucker insisted, displaying his loyalty to the London scene. How this will affect his next project - The New York Fashion Book - remains to be seen.

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DID YOU know that Bart Simpson is a Scientologist? Or, at least, Nancy Cartwright, the actress who is the voice of Bart, is a member. Along with a number of other Hollywood figures, including actress Juliette Lewis of Natural Born Killers fame, she has signed a letter that has been sent to 300,000 people along with a booklet entitled Harming Artists: Psychiatry Marginalising Creativity. This attacks accepted psychiatric practice, and blames it for the deaths of entertainment stars like Judy Garland, Vivien Leigh, Janis Joplin, Marilyn Monroe, Kurt Cobain, Don Simpson and Michael Hutchence. In response to these revelations, Pandora can only echo Bart's immortal words: "Eat my shorts!"

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