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TWITCHERS BEWARE: it's time to tag your feathered friend with a microchip, according to the new issue of Pet Product Marketing. It reports that a gang of villains has been hitting pet shops in Cambridgeshire, Bedfordshire, Hertfordshire and Norfolk - the crew specialises in stealing exotic birds. During the past year, it has blagged a haul of 70, valued at around pounds 100,000. A pounds 700 African Grey (pictured) is the latest to be forcibly migrated. According to ornithological security expert John Hayward, the bird-bandits swoop on top-priced specimens, leaving lesser breeds in their cages. It sounds like an inside job by some fly guys.

OH NO, say it ain't so: Monica Lewinsky is now threatening to move to London because here she "gets respect and privacy". What have we done to deserve this?

FLESH-EATING viruses, explosions, lesbian tongue hockey, roofie rape, incest, smack murders, bodies under patios ... Brookside supremo Phil Redmond and his writers have vivid imaginations. But when it comes to troubled teen-soap Hollyoaks (a bit of a problem child for Redmond's Mersey Television since its heavily hyped launch four years ago), there only seems one plot- twist: road-kill. There have been three disastrous vehicle accidents in as many years; in Brookside characters are always crashing in the same bar - in Hollyoaks they're always just crashing. Redmond is supposedly keen to ease his foot off the gas at Brookie and get in the driving seat at Hollyoaks. C4 suits are banking on the attitudinal scouser not falling asleep at the wheel.

PANDORA'S Life of Don Johnson. The former Mr Melanie Griffiths recently invited a West Coast showbiz reporter into his lovely psyche. In the LA Times, Paul Brownfield describes their time together as "mostly a misguided tour of machismo and implied debauchery". He picks up a blonde at a bar; he peels off two $100 bills for a homeless man..." Although Johnson's battle with the bottle is well documented, Brownfield says "in the past three hours he's gone through several bottles of wine, but not much in the way of solid food". Pausing only to urinate into San Francisco Bay, the volatile star of Nash Bridges and Miami Vice describes how he bedded Nash Bridges' female guest stars in his "bus-like trailer" on the set - crew members called it "riding the bus". It's been 10 years since Johnson gave an interview; enquiring minds wonder why.

OH, AND did you notice the less than felicitous juxtaposition of the initials of Victoria (Adams) and David (Beckham) on the bogus crest heading up the couple's wedding invitation?

ONE MONTH to go until the Scottish and Welsh elections, and the pressure is starting to tell. The Scottish Conservative Party sent out a special pack to schools, in which it tries to reconcile its previous opposition to devolution with its current campaign for electoral success in the assembly. "To the uninformed observer, these standpoints may seem incompatible," says Scottish Tory leader David McLetchie. "That's an entirely understandable reaction." In the spirit of listening to the electorate's kitchen table (or whatever this week's daft initiative is supposed to be), will the Tories be similarly sympathetic when no one votes for them?


BT HAS signed up Stephen Spielberg's ET to persuade us to "stay in touch" by phone. The ugly alien will be coming to a commercial break near you in a series of teasers from 11 April, culminating in a "movie-style" 60-second commercial next month. Perhaps BT should stay in closer touch with AT&T, its putative bedmate in the lucrative US market - the telecom giant hasn't been paying its phone bills. Apparently, AT&T and former BT partner MCI both owe the Cuban national phone company a substantial sum, so substantial that the Cubans are threatening to cut all American phone lines to the Island.

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