Pandora

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The Independent Culture
SOME NEW Labour guests may have been slightly uneasy about the name of the venue, but they were putting up a brave front at Monday's One World Action charity evening at The Red Fort. A lavish spicy buffet was laid on by Amin Ali's trendy Indian restaurant, and duly attracted a huge queue of hungry politicians. The irony of this feast being served on behalf of a charity that aims to eliminate world poverty and hunger was not lost on one Labour politician. He quipped, "Ah well, another charity evening designed to make white people feel guilty."

THE JOKES continued after the last plate was scraped clean at The Red Fort. The newsreader Jon Snow hosted an entertainment that included the comedian John Hegley, plus some inept stage assistance from the former Labour Party leader Neil Kinnock, who recited limericks. Later, speaking of Snow, Glenys Kinnock brought down the house with his line: "When we look at you on Channel 4 News, we always know you're impartial and we love you for it." What a whopper.

HOWARD DONALD, former member of the defunct rock group Take That, is launching his new band at the In The City indie rock music convention in Manchester on 14 September. As Pandora's younger readers will recall, the break-up of the boy band was acrimonious. A press release from In The City seems to hint at this: "It is not known whether Robbie and Gary will turn up to support their old mate. If they do, security will be on hand to keep them apart."

THE WRITER Martin Jacques hosted a Marxism Today conference in Haslemere, Surrey, last weekend, attended by eminent intellectuals of the left. A high point came when dynamic, thrusting Geoff Mulgan, the young Downing Street policy adviser, formerly of the think-tank Demos, modestly corrected the eminent historian Eric Hobsbawm on a point of - yes - history. Seminar followed seminar from Friday evening through to Sunday afternoon. By Saturday evening, some of the group were growing increasingly restive. During the post-dinner session, featuring Will Hutton and Anatole Kaletsky, a man named Richard Wilkinson, professor of social epidemiology at Sussex University, moved to an open rear window and nonchalantly leapt out, landing in some bushes. When Pandora contacted him yesterday, Wilkinson explained: "I did not want to disturb people at the front. It was pretty late, and I was tired." In his shoes, no doubt Pandora would have done exactly the same.

HIS FANS at Associated Newspapers are saying that the Evening Standard editor Max Hasting's luck has improved. Though he was off on holiday for such momentous unforeseen events as the deaths of Diana, Princess of Wales, his editor-in chief David English and the owner Lord Rothermere, he was definitely in the office on Monday afternoon in time to deliver the coup de grace to Adam Edwards, whom he sacked as editor of the paper's popular ES magazine. The reason for Edwards's abrupt departure seems to be Hasting's desire for a "new direction", although what that means remains unclear. A new editor is not expected to be appointed for at least a month. In the meantime, the mood around the ES offices is said to be "bemused".

THE LEGENDARY Irish writer and drinker Brendan Behan, who died in Dublin in 1964, may soon have his rambunctious life celebrated in a Hollywood biopic directed by Sean Penn (pictured) and starring - wait for it - Leonardo DiCaprio. Penn, who has had a bit of rowdy fun in his time, including a stint as Madonna's husband, has apparently been keen to enshrine Behan on film for some time, and wanted to play the leading role himself. However, according to the New York Post, Penn and DiCaprio have been going out on the town together a lot in recent weeks. Obviously impressed by DiCaprio's post-midnight stamina, Penn now sees Leonardo as a natural for the Behan role. Box-office considerations have nothing to do with it, of course.

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