Pandora

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The Independent Culture
FASHIONABLY LATE? No longer - fashionably early is the new black, according to Anna Wintour. The formidably correct British-born editor of American Vogue arrived at Tommy Hilfiger's ritzy glitz opening of his eponymous store on London's New Bond Street a full 60 minutes before show time. La Wintour, wearing a furry coat, grey flares, heels and her trademark shades, was preceded by a toothpick-shaped gentleman in purple who rushed her through triple-tier security. She was followed, 10 minutes later, by a convoy of three saloons, each equipped with a burly minder sporting CIA-style earpiece communicators. Doors flew open, flashbulbs popped and the heavies took their positions. From the front seat of the convoy's Bentley emerged... a wine-cooler. Its contents must have been a very special brew to warrant such VIP treatment because other guests, who included Michael Schumacher, Spike Lee, Bob Geldof (wearing a suit), Ewan McGregor and Fatboy Slim slummed it on Laurent Perrier and foie gras.

THE AUTODIDACTIC Hilfiger, who launched his career 30 years ago with 150 bucks, 20 pairs of flared jeans and attitude, is nothing if not economically correct. Ten per cent of the take from the new store's takings this weekend are destined - says Aurelia Cecil - for War Child, the international aid agency that's building a sports refuge in Gikongoro for young victims of the Rwandan conflict. Stepping outside the shop into the tranquil, freshly manicured courtyard cunningly concealed from the street by shed- loads of drool-worthy kit, harassed shoppers may reflect how lucky they are to be able to do good by doing well. Feeling good about indulging yourself then rationalising it as helping others is a particularly American sensibility. But giving is good. Usually...

...THE MONTH before Red Nose Day sees an escalation of "charity" activity. A pool of Russian micro-celebs over-excited, perhaps, by the possibilities of cause-related marketing, have linked showbiz and politics in a ludicrous stunt.

Bandit Aid is billed as a satirical protest against recent American aid deals. Bandit Aid has cut a disc "for the suffering masses of one of the West's poorest, most crime-infested cities - Washington DC". It's entitled Do They Know It's Christmas? (Send them Crack). All monies raised will line the organisers' pockets. Don't all rush at once.

RADIO 4'S Any Questions next Friday may not quite live up to its name. The panellist Ron Davies MP presumably won't be taking any questions at all about Clapham Common.

A LOVERS' tiff has erupted on the blue benches between the almost plausible Francis Maude and the Vulcan foundling John Redwood. A Radio 2 producer, seeking balance for a Euro gabfest, called Tory Central Office to request rabid Euroranter, one of, half-baked please. She was advised Redwood was on his way, only to be told, minutes later, oh no he wasn't. Apparently Maude stamped his brogue and insisted that he's the party's public face of Tory Europhobia. Frankie and Vulcan slugging it out would make a fascinating undercard scrap.

THESE ISLANDS' most famous secret agent is licensed to kill. But not to smoke - the PC police (DKNYPD?) have finally busted James Bond. In The World is Not Enough, the 007 feature shooting at Pinewood, the character portrayed by Pierce Brosnan, a real-life smoker, has been prohibited from lighting up on screen. Bond's sports car has even been equipped with a No Smoking sign.

What next? No Martinis?

AND FINALLY, Pandora salutes Arthur Collins, who celebrates his 101st birthday this week. This exemplary Kentish man was born in Dartford, served in the Merchant Navy during the First World War and was commended for his role in extinguishing a hospital fire during the Second World War. Mr Collins, an engineer, was married for more than 60 years, and still enjoys a weekly visit to a garden centre with his son Raymond. This venerable centenarian advises his two grandchildren and five great-grandchildren: "It's no good worrying; it doesn't change anything." Mr Collins has taken this newspaper every day since its inception and is believed to be The Independent's oldest reader. Our very best wishes to him - long may he remain young at heart.

Pandora can be contacted at: pandora@ independent.co.uk

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