Pandora

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The Independent Culture
BY THE LOOK of its newest batch of hard-sell promotional literature, trendy Soho marketeers seem to have invaded the traditional Walton Street offices of the Oxford University Press. Today sees the publication of The New Oxford Dictionary of English, but what can Oxford's distinguished dons make of such hype? "Created over six years by 30 editors and over 60 world-wide consultants, at a cost of over pounds 3m, and weighing in at 3.05 kilos..." begins one OUP handout. Reading this, it is difficult to know whether the product is a new Hollywood blockbuster or a literary cockfight. Anything but a boring old dictionary. Granted, this is a dictionary that includes among its 2,000 new words such ripe specimens of contemporary argot as "boy toy", "trip hop" and "glory hole". Naturally, it is being simultaneously published on the Internet. Most shocking of all, the book's new guidelines on English usage declare that split infinitives are "normal and useful". What do the dons think of that?

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HOW INSPIRING to see a photograph in the Liberal Democrat News of Matthew Taylor, MP for Truro & St Austell, literally surfing his way through his constituency. Together with members of Surfers Against Sewage, Taylor had donned a wetsuit and climbed on a surfboard to inspect the evidence of pollution off the aptly named Flushing Beach.

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LOOK OUT, Soho House, here comes Home House. The club, which is to open its doors in November in the historic town house at 20 Portman Square, designed by Robert Adam and formerly the Cortauld Institute (and, for a time, the spy Anthony Blunt's home). It is looking for an initial membership of 1,000 "humorous, charming, successful" men and women. The managing director, Brian Clivaz, formerly manager of Simpsons in the Strand, told Pandora yesterday that Home House will be "a cross between the Garrick Club and the Hotel Costes in Paris". With a joining fee of pounds 1,500 and annual dues of pounds 1,500, it will probably be the most expensive club in London.

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RESIDENTS OF Belsize Park, fast becoming the Beverly Hills of north London, have become ever so relaxed about all their celebrity neighbours. The other day, two teenage school friends of Bob Hoskins's daughter were waiting for their chum on the pavement outside her house. A kindly passing neighbour mistook them for Oasis fans, stopped and said, "Sorry, girls, you've got the wrong house. He lives down there", pointing to the home of Noel Gallagher. Indeed, Noel's home is difficult to miss. It has the words "Supernova Heights" above its front door.

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YESTERDAY, PANDORA published one Arab newspaper's view of the Zippergate crisis and asked for your suggestions as to the mysterious "red line" that Clinton may have crossed, causing, in the paper's eccentric view, "the CIA to damage the picture of the President". Among the first wave of suggestions comes this from C Davis of Chelsea: "It's got to be the red line on Bill's sexual tachometer. The guy has clearly over-revved his engine." But why should the CIA care? More suggestions please.

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MEANWHILE, A Canadian pollster has been canvassing the rest of the world's reaction to Zippergate and found, according to the Washington Post, that a staggering 92 per cent of those polled know what Clinton is alleged to have done with Lewinsky. In most countries, including China, a large majority feel that even if the sexual allegations prove to be true, Clinton should not leave the White House. Only Turks, Malaysians and urban Indians believe that the President, if guilty, should quit. Pandora's conclusion? Useful information for swingers planning their next holiday.

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THE COMELY film actress Cameron Diaz, (pictured) who plays the female lead in the new Hollywood "stupid" comedy There's Something About Mary, has a "thing" about television. "I think it's the devil," she told Time magazine. "It has an actual power. There's something that lives inside, and if it's turned on, I cannot breathe, I cannot move, I cannot do anything." By her own account, it does sound as if she's been watching too much telly.

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