Pandora pandora@independent.co.uk

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Richard Branson's much-publicised concern over the safety of mobile phones hasn't manifested itself in the all-singing, all-dancing launch of Virgin Mobile. Last year, after the death of his friend Michael von Clemm from a brain tumour, Branson banned staff at Virgin from using mobiles without earpieces, saying: "Mobiles used hour after hour, emitting microwaves, can't be safe." Yet all the promotional material behind Virgin mobile misses the opportunity to champion such responsible use. Of the potential dangers caused by radiation from the phones, a spokesman would merely say: "There is no conclusive evidence either way." As for leading by example, Pandora was surprised to see some of the publicity shots for the entrepreneur's new venture. Although each of Branson's phones comes with an earpiece, he is clearly shown putting one to his ear, unprotected.

RIDING THE wave of public concern over the privatised railway network is none other than the Humberside Conservative MP David Davis. Under the heading "Tory MP is critic of rail sell-off," The Hull Daily Mail reports that Davis has "accused British Rail and the former government of underselling the Railfreight distribution business in 1996". Davis is quoted as saying: "The sale of a loss-making business is always difficult, but it is likely the taxpayer could have fared better had the Department of Transport adopted a more creative approach." During the last government, it was Davis himself who reported to the Speaker the number of those voting for privatising British Rail. A pity neither he nor his enthusiastic colleagues could foresee the chaos to come.

The Earl of Bradford may have left the House of Lords, but the parliamentary privileges he once enjoyed have ensured him continued success in the outside world. An online Internet shopping venture, Buy Appointment (www.buy-appointment. co.uk) is the latest string on the Bradford bow, which includes Porters Restaurant in Covent Garden. "The Lords enabled me to get my business started," says the Earl, who defected to the UK Independence Party towards the end of his career. "They decided that as a reasonably active peer I could be loaned a lap-top - get e-mail and Internet access. I was even sent on a course." Now that his noble career is at an end the lap-top has to be returned, which poses a few problems for the Earl. "We have accrued over 5,000

e-mails," he says. "It will take two days to transfer my e-mails to another account."

UFO-WATCHERS will be relieved to hear that UFO-TREK, a worldwide, 24- hour hotline, has been launched. Current sightings recorded on the hotline, which "liaises closely with police forces and the Ministry of Defence", include silver spherical objects, white spherical objects and some rather worrying multi-coloured spherical objects spotted by an eagle-eyed pig farmer and his girlfriend over Guildford.

Someone who finds Andrew Lloyd Webber's musicals more than a little appealing is Jonny Lee Miller, the Trainspotting actor now starring in the historical play Four Nights in Knaresborough. Asked about early memories of the stage in next month's Elle, Johnny reveals: "My dad took me to see Cats. I was nine. I was sitting right close to the stage and I remember one of the cats practically sitting on me. I got really embarrassed because I was so turned on."

THE BRITISH Advertisement Clearance Centre has upset a flatulence artist by refusing to air an advert for his "15" certificate video before 10pm. Though "15" films can be shown earlier in the evening, the BACC's regulations stipulate that videos with that classification must wait until after 10pm. Paul Oldfield, "Mr Methane" to flatulence fans everywhere, is incensed by the perceived inconsistency. He should be grateful; a total ban was overturned on appeal. But for that, the world might never have had a chance to see (and hear) the film classic Mr Methane Lets Rip.

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