Pandora

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The Independent Culture
THE SUNDAY Times is the Sunday papers? No, The Sunday Times is last Sunday's papers. "Eye surgery lifts Salman Rushdie's brooding looks" screeched the rag's page one, above-the-fold story this week. Pandoraphiles experiencing deja vu are right on the money - you read the story here 10 days ago. It's a sign of how grim life is becoming at Wapping; no wonder the Sunday Times's editor, John Witherow has been reduced to public admissions that his rag "isn't making waves any more".

For the Wapping barn, the only way is down, as management there becomes increasingly adrift from life as the rest of us understand it. Example: The Times's editor Peter Stothard deigned to give an enterprising Cambridge undergrad, Sam Coates, a valuable tip for readers of the collegiate magazine Varsity: "Well I wouldn't bother with work experience; I'd spend the summer reading Ovid." Welcome to the 19th

century, guys.

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IT ISN'T just Auntie and Ikea who prefer clean-shaven staff: the parcel delivery outfit UPS forbids beards, too.

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TRUDIE STYLER'S husband Sting took a break from recording his new album in Florence to join a stellar on-stage cast performing the best bits of the Bard at the Globe theatre this weekend. Ethan Hawke left Uma Thurman and their baby to fly in from New York and join the iconic Vanessa Redgrave, the omnipresent Richard E Grant, the deadpan comedian Jack Dee and the lachrymose folkie James Taylor to tread the boards before a full house. But it was the Lock Stock and One Smoking Crisp Packet old boys who stole the show with their Romeo and Juliet fight scene. As Tybalt (the former Big Issue seller Jason Statham, boyfriend of the Big Breakfast babe Kelly Brock) died, he stage-whispered the word "Bastard". "He's all emotional," explained Romeo Vinnie Jones, (pictured) to the crowd. Diamond fridges!

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STYLER, A self-confessed bossy-boots and producer of the Lock, Stock film, organised the Globe gig to raise some pounds 240,000 for Shi-Wa, is London's new Tibetan Peace Garden, scheduled to be opened this summer opposite (surprise!) the Imperial War Museum by the Dalai Lama. There was only one hitch - Styler had planned overnight accommodation for her performers in the Highgate demesne she shares with Sting. But she was embarrassed by the volume of talent that appeared on the night. And with her house still occupied by Pierce Brosnan, who's renting it for the duration of the Bond shoot, Anouska Hempel had to step in to save Styler's blushes. Hempel generously put everyone up overnight at her eponymous, and very smart, Paddington hotel. Peaceful gardens are important to the Australian- born socialite; local residents objected to her attempted annexation of Craven Hill Gardens when she first opened the hotel.

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THE EU Commissioners' lemming act presents a wonderful opportunity for Euroland to eliminate the anomaly of the fat cats' duty-free allowance. The old mob enjoyed 20,000 duty-free cigarettes per year (1,000 packs of 20); the booze exemption runs to a cirrhotic 530 bottles of wine and 120 bottles of spirits annually. Perhaps following the same rules as the rest of us might clear Commissioners' heads on the duty free issue - especially the one belonging to the Danish prissypants Ritt Bjerregaard.

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THIS JUST in from Madvertising Avenue: Lowenbrau has sanctioned a pounds 1m advertising campaign that pokes fun at the Germans' national lack of humour. Its first poster says: "Was Mozart a cross-dresser? Who cares?" Not the clever boys and girls at the ad agency Edge, apparently - London resident Wolfgang Amadeus wasn't German but Austrian. Still, Lowenbrau's boss suits are sure to see the funny side. Aren't they?

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CAN THIS be true? Brad Pitt and Jennifer Aniston are rumoured to be getting married this week in London.

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SO CHERIE Blair likes the music of Sir Cliff Richard. Devil Woman? It's plausible - the Christian Socialist Movement's phone number is the positively beastly 0171-833 0666.

Contact Pandora by e-mail: pandora@ independent.co.uk

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