Birogate: Prezza and the 20,000 pointless pens

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The Independent Online

* John Prescott is renowned more for his bargaining skills in Westminster's dimly lit back corridors than as a man fond of the written (or spoken) word.

We have clearly not given him the credit his ambitions deserve, however, because it emerges that Prezza stripped of his deputy prime ministerial responsibilities during Blair's absence, plans to indulge in some writing - rather a lot of writing, in fact.

Before his department was axed, it ordered a consignment of ballpoint pens - 20,000 in total, all bearing the mark "The Office of the Deputy Prime Minister".

The procurement of these rather swanky (and now useless) items set the taxpayer back £3,450.

When I call to break the news to the Tory MP Greg Hands, who had tabled a parliamentary question on the matter - interrupting his inter-railing holiday in Denmark to do so - he laughs for a full minute, nearly waking his baby daughter. "Prescott is the ultimate waster," he says.

"Even ordering stationery correctly is beyond the man. It sounds like he expected to be there rather longer than anyone else thought possible."

Prescott's (new, smaller) office team was unwilling to comment, politely telling me that there were "more important things going on".

But Pandora wants to know: where are all the pens now? Does Prezza have room to store them since losing his grace-and-favour home, Dorneywood?

And more importantly: can he please post me some? I'm always losing biros.

* The image of a lithe, hairy David Hasselhoff jogging along the edge of the surf in his red trunks was tarnished by the Baywatch actor's recent tired and emotional visits to Wimbledon and Heathrow (tabloids passim).

Reassuring, then, to see that The Hoff has shrugged off the paparazzi sniggers and still takes himself seriously. He tells this week's Heat that he recently visited a club night in Brixton called The Hasselhoff Scandal. "I said to my buddy, 'We'll either get our asses kicked or we'll be heroes'," he explains. "And we were heroes! People were whispering, 'The Hoff is here!' The crowd was wild."

He also confesses to googling himself to see just how famous he is. "It said: 'references to David Hasselhoff, seven million'. Everything from me being a God to being the Antichrist."

The correct number of Google hits is actually eight million, David. You're too modest!

* Whoops! Extra postmen to Kensington, please, to cope with the deluge of complaint letters already mailed to the Evening Standard.

The London newspaper, which will face competition from a Murdoch-backed freesheet, had "a bit of a shocker" yesterday. The clanger came over news of the new England captain, who it confidently claimed would be Steven Gerrard. Unfortunately, just as the West End edition hit the streets, the FA confirmed it would actually be John Terry.

"We had a very good source," said one Standard editor. "This could happen to anyone."

Owner Lord Rothermere will not be thrilled, either, with the gallery listing inviting readers to view the late Queen Mother's watercolours and drawings at "Fuckingham Palace". Heads may roll ...

* The thought of David Cameron and Tony Blair swapping summer frocks and dangly earrings - after the Prime Minister's recent declaration that " cross dressing" in politics is here to stay - remains a source of gentle amusement.

Good to see the Conservatives entering into the spirit of things with their proposed new "oak tree" logo, which already has Margaret Thatcher's attack dog Norman Tebbit foaming at the mouth.

It seems fair to point out that the new emblem bears more than a passing resemblance to the logo of the Italian Democratic Party of the Left, which grew from the old Communist Party.

"The Italian right wing doesn't have any truck with this kind of pansy stuff," says my man in Rome.

* Politicians' latest initiative to embrace the hoodie generation arrives, courtesy of the Home Affairs Select Committee, which wants teenagers to contact MPs via text message. Youngsters are invited to share their views and experiences of the criminal justice system.

"The project is a chance to let us know your views - what your experiences are, what you think is important and what the Government could do - in your own voice," says the committee chair, John Denham.

Pandora is now taking suggestions for text messages you would like delivered to MPs, and will forward the best ones to the appropriate member, disturbing their sunbathing.

To start the ball rolling: "wt R U doN bugrN rownd on holidA U ba* dz?"

pandora@independent.co.uk

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