Pandora pandora@independent.co.uk

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Rhodri Morgan and Alun Michael were once to the Welsh Labour Party what Ken Livingstone and Frank Dobson are now to London party members: the popular choice against Blair's man. The battle between Michael and Morgan to become First Minister of Wales still reverberates around the Valleys, but their relationship took a dramatic turn for the better last week. At a charity auction attended by Welsh Assembly members and staffers Alun set jaws-a-dropping by bidding for the privilege of taking tea with Rhodri at the Commons. It astonished those there. "When Alun put the bid up to pounds 35 everybody was so gobsmacked they didn't dare bid against him," confided one flabbergasted staffer.

CONSERVATIVES OF the Cities of London & Westminster constituency are in for an expensive night next week. Members of one ward are being invited to another of Norman Lamont's book signings. The former Chancellor has been doing little else since October when the plodding tome first hit the shelves - with limited success. The privilege of admission to Badger's knees-up will cost the Tory faithful pounds 15, not to mention pounds 18.99 more for the book itself. Maybe Norman did know how to balance the books after all.

Detractors of the hugely prejudiced Jeremy Clarkson will have a chance to experience a little schadenfreude next week. In a special edition of BBC2's Top Gear the car-crazed egotist slams his fingers under a sports car's bonnet.

THE BEASTIE BOYS have come up with a novel solution to which tracks to include on their new compilation album: they are letting fans select tracks over the Internet to create their own personal album. The venture is unique for such a well-known band, but fans will be disappointed by one serious omission. The Beastie's most successful album, Licence to Ill, is not among the back catalogue from which fans can pick. So the "fight for the right to party" has been lost.

Party on if you are in Oz. Sydney offers the best deal for planning a millennium celebration abroad, reports a new survey. Using prices for first class accommodation, a classy dinner for two and those little extras like champers, cigars and asprin, ORC, a human resources firm has put the Australian city as the least expensive party capital at $543. London is the second most expensive city at $994, with Tokyo beating all-comers at $1,057. Of course getting squashed in Trafalgar Square is always an option if funds are low.

NAKED CHEF Jamie Oliver is normally a guarded soul, but lays bare his feelings on celeb chefdom in his latest interview. "It's easy to make a pretentious load of crap," says Jamie, talking about the making of his own TV show, "but I absolutely didn't want to do a load of old cheese. The most important thing was cooking wholesome tasty food. I really respect what Gordon Ramsay does. I think he's a fantastic chef, but that whole thing about having seven chefs around one plate putting different ingredients on and then licking a blue cloth and going round the side of the plate - go away mate: I'm not paying pounds 30 for a plate with your saliva on it!"

Pandora brings Jeffery Archer good tidings. Even if everyone else is turning against him the poor peer will always find solace at the Maison Bertaux Theatre Club in Soho. The theatre, above a patisserie in Greek Street, has bravely decided not to dump Jeff as its sole patron. "He was the only one who gave us any money when we set up," explained the proprietress, Michele Wade, to the West End Extra newspaper. "I feel awfully sorry for him."

IF YOU like Delia Smith, you'll love UK Style. As the terrestrial channels battle for Christmas ratings, Pandora salutes the cable channel for its imaginative Christmas Day schedule. There's a Delia Smith Christmas special from 8-11.30am (for late lunch makers); a second helping 2.30- 6.00pm and a third at 8.30? Anybody full yet?

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