Pandora

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The Independent Culture
The words of the Fayed-friendly Labour MP Steve Pound camecame back to haunt him this week. In a Commons debate on Tuesday night, Pound was invited to Epping Forest Conservatives' Christmas party by the local MP Eleanor Laing. Pound replied: "I would be reluctant to attend the soiree at Epping Forest with my wife if the previous member [Steven `ladykiller' Norris] were present." But if the Ealing North MP thought he would get away with knocking the Tories' only credible London mayor-elect, he was mistaken. The following evening, while watching his beloved Fulham thump Spurs 3-1 in the Worthington Cup, Pound spotted Norris in the crowd and panicked. "I ran off in the other direction, bottling it completely. He might have heard about what I said," quivered Pound.

IN THE same debate Pound was challenged about his ties to his West London constituency. The joker replied: "I live in my constituency; my name appears on the electoral roll there - sadly, only once, but not through lack of trying. None of my domestic pets appears on the electoral roll in my constituency - again, not through lack of trying."

Aconfectionery product has caught Pandora's eye: After Sex Mints. The post-coital titbits should be on the market next spring. The Blackpool producer, Sweetmasters, has been in existence since 1913, but has discovered that "the sillier and ruder a product is, the better it sells". Chocolate worms and spiders are already a market staple and chocolate-filled nappies should be on the market next year. After Sex Mints will be on sale from "the usual boobs and willies shops", according to a spokesman, who adds: "I don't suppose Sainsbury's will be selling them, do you?"

ON THE subject of Sainsbury's, Pandora hears that a recent emergency meeting for members of the Sainsbury family to discuss their ailing supermarket chain had to be postponed. The reason? Too many of them were attending the reopening of the Royal Opera House.

Mariah Carey's rating as one of 1999's tackiest celebrities has been justified. She took part in a three-hour autograph session at Tower Records in LA this week, but only after a huge entourage - including a dozen off- duty policeman - had given the store the all-clear. Star magazine reports that her posse "scrubbed and redecorated the ladies' room with wall panelling, a silver soap dish with fancy soaps, and a silver towel rack with plush towels." No-go areas such as the stockroom were hidden from Mariah's sight by velvet curtains. To top off the decadent scene, during the signing session Carey had her shoulders rubbed by a masseuse. Eat your heart out Liz Taylor.

LAST TIME we checked up on William Shatner, he was hanging out with lizards exchanging hard-luck stories. Now, not only has he amassed pounds 125m for advertising an Internet-based retailer, but that old Captain Kirk magic is back. The portly charmer appeared to be "snogging a pretty blonde" at a New York hotel. However, the embrace was curtailed, leaving red faces, when the couple realised other hotel guests were watching. In an enterprising move that even Dr Spock would have admired, Shatner stepped away from his companion announcing: "She's my sister."

The Labour MP Austin Mitchell is well known at Westminster as a camera freak, and has been indulging his passion by wandering around the Palace of Westminster taking pictures for his new book Parliament in Pictures. Mitchell was allowed to roam freely, on the strict condition that he didn't photograph anyone without their permission. However, the sight of his colleague, Terry Lewis, fast asleep in the tearoom was too much for the camera-wielding MP, and his snap appears in the book. Lewis wasn't best pleased when he found out, Mitchell tells Pandora: "He asked for a free copy, or he'd report me to the authorities of the House."

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