Pandora

SECURITY AT the Winter Gardens in Blackpool for this year's Labour conference will surely become legendary in years to come. Yesterday afternoon the journalist Greg Pallas, who broke the Cronygate story in The Observer a few months back, was stunned to be refused entry to the conference hall by none other than Adrian McMenamin, the Party's chief press officer. The reason? "Pallas was allocated a pass, but it was withdrawn because of serious allegations involving his behaviour," McMenamin told Pandora. Could he be more specific? "Allegations of harassment of a delegate." He implied that Pallas was found somewhere he shouldn't have been. Pandora is eager to hear Pallas's view of the reasons for his banishment.

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SHORTLY BEFORE the above dramatic episode took place at the gates to New Labour nirvana, a charming grey-haired lady delegate had her knitting taken away by guards. It seems that her needles were longer than 3in, thus considered "offensive weapons". Looking understandably baffled, she was slightly reassured to hear that her jumper-in-progress would be returned at the end of the day.

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IN BLACKPOOL, a small band of heroic individuals, keen to assert their idealism in the face of the Party's state-of-the-art control methods, even includes a few Cabinet ministers. One of them is Clare Short, who has made no secret of her lack of enthusiasm for wearing the blue Somerfield- sponsored lanyard around her neck; she has been sporting her own conference security badge on a chain. What does the supermarket group Somerfield, who paid pounds 20,000 for their sponsorship privileges, think of this? "I haven't heard that this is the case. I'm going to go ask the Labour Press Office if this is true," Jill Rawlins, head of Somerfield's public relations, told Pandora in a rush. Elsewhere on the conference's Lanyard Battlefield, there is a red ribbon which has been produced by two British trade unions. It reads "GMB & KFAT Support UK Clothes, Textile and Footwear Workers" and is being worn by a number of delegates who, presumably, feel more strongly about saving British jobs than about Somerfield's "retail issues" and, of course, party sponsorship funds.

AS HURRICANE Georges approached New Orleans on Sunday, the mayor ordered a 6pm curfew, but a few intrepid bars in the French Quarter refused to close. In one of them, Daiquiri's Delite Shop, a New York lawyer named Jill Zibkov insisted on celebrating her 30th birthday by drinking Martians - daiquiris served in 2ft-tall green alien-shaped glasses. She told The Washington Post that she had previously been having trouble pronouncing "Georges" but no longer. "You have to have a couple of these Martians to say it properly." Pandora suspects that she'll remember her hangover long after the hurricane has been forgotten.

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WHAT DO his fellow Rhodes scholars think of Bill Clinton's disastrous misbehaviour? At least one of them, the singer-actor-songwriter Kris Kristofferson, has gone on the record with a characteristically memorable view. "It's OK to step on your dick, Mr President," Kristofferson told Entertainment Weekly. "Just don't stand on it." Sadly, the Democratic party will have to run on it in November.

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BOB LAXTON, Labour MP for Derby North, may not get invited back to the Trades Union Conference next year. At a trophy presentation evening for Derby University Rugby Club recently, Laxton was asked whether he had attended the TUC Conference. "No, it's one of the most boring events I can imagine," the MP replied. When he spoke to Pandora in Blackpool yesterday, Laxton ventured that "the social scene at Labour conferences is much more entertaining. But I can imagine that there may be people who find Labour conferences boring, too."

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AUCTIONS OF celebrity clothes and other belongings have definitely hit a new low. A lavatory seat from one of the singer Courtney Love's former hotel rooms is now being auctioned on the Internet (www.ebay.com). The minimum bid required is $150. Apparently the former grunge queen rejected the seat as "uncomfortable" and it was cherished by one of the staff at the New Mexico hotel in Santa Fe after being replaced by a cosier throne. Connoisseurs will presumably be pleased to hear that the object comes with a "certificate of authenticity".

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