Pandora

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The Independent Culture
IT'S WORSE, far worse, than we ever imagined. Not content with bashing their way through London's crowded public spaces, hordes of rucksack louts have now descended on a tranquil village in Scotland's western isles. According to a news story in yesterday's Sunday Telegraph, the tiny fishing port of Kyleakin (pop. 350) on Skye "is reeling under the impact of up to 1,000 raucous backpackers who are turning the place into a cosmopolitan party".

The Anti-Rucksacks On The Tube Campaign was launched with the specific goal of protecting Londoners from discourteous travellers. However, it now seems the Campaign has merely scratched the surface of the frightening Rucksack Culture. According to one woman resident of Kyleakin, the "disgusting" backpackers "go around here making all this noise and they don't care about people who have got to get up for their work". Poor little Kyleakin; it now bears the stigma of being known as the "Torremolinos of the Highlands". When will the Government take this social pestilence as seriously as it takes, say, football hooliganism? At the very least, this should merit yet another Taskforce.

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ONE OF the stars of asteroid-flick Armageddon, Ben Affleck, is about to have his debut as a film director. His first directorial effort is engagingly entitled I Killed My Lesbian Wife, Hung Her On A Meat Hook, And Now I Have A Three-Picture Deal At Disney. The short film will be shown to executives at Sony later this week, according to Daily Variety. The last time Pandora glimpsed Affleck, he was romantically entwined with lovely Gwyneth Paltrow in the VIP room at the K Bar on Wardour Street. One wonders if Ms Paltrow, the very picture of innocence, is aware of her boyfriend's new film? More to the point, how does her agent feel about the possible impact of its title on Gwyneth's Disney prospects?

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PANDORA HAS been contacted by an Islington resident struck by a bout of "yellow line fever". The lady in question was stung by a zealous traffic warden who gave her car a parking ticket while she went to lock her garage door. Pandora called Islington Council whose PR department offered this handy solution: "To collate all the information required, it generally takes three minutes from when the attendant arrives at the vehicle to printing out the ticket. This should provide ample time to secure a garage and return to the vehicle at the roadside". On your mark, get set, go.

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WHILE SHOOTING The Avengers, actress Uma Thurman had to watch a naked Ralph Fiennes in the steam room of a London gentleman's club. "I was terrified to open my mouth and sound like an idiot," she tells America's TV Guide. However, she "reassured Mr Fiennes that I was near-sighted and couldn't see any details". As that doesn't sound like the adventurous Emma Peal character first created by Diana Rigg, it hardly bodes well for the soon- to-be released film.

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DAVID DAVIS, Conservative Chairman of the Public Accounts Committee, is not taking it easy for his holiday this year. While other politicians opt for more relaxing holidays, Davis is about to embark on a 300-mile walk. "When Parliament is sitting, you do very little in the way of exercise and, no matter whether you are in the chamber or not, you are always surrounded by people," Davis said. The walk will take Davis through the Yorkshire town of Richmond, in William Hague's constituency. Would he pop in to see his leader? "I doubt it. I won't be walking that slowly; I'll be doing 20 miles a day." But perhaps Mr Hague could join Davis for part of the walk? It would be an ideal opportunity to wear his baseball cap.

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OUTSPOKEN PLAYWRIGHT Steven Berkoff (pictured) has written to correct the drama critic of the Jewish Daily Chronicle. A review of Berkoff's play, Shakespeare's Villains, insinuated that the author's antipathy towards some of his critics was "ungrateful" in view of all the awards he'd received over the years. "But the truth is that, in my 30 years of work," Berkoff writes, "I have received just one award - the Evening Standard Comedy of the Year Award." Lest we think the author of the play Kvetch is indulging in a little kvetching himself, Berkoff continues, "I have no grievance about this, I'm not a great lover of awards."

How very fortunate.

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