Pandora: A triumph of form over content?

An unexpected spat has broken out amongst the literati of Wales. Tessa Dahl, pictured, the statuesque mother of Sophie and daughter of Roald, is engaged in a harsh exchange of words with the organisers of the world's richest literary award, The Dylan Thomas Prize.

This year's round of the competition, which celebrates authors under the age of 30, was launched this week in the United States to coincide with St David's Day. Unusually, writers may receive nominations irrespective of their discipline, be that poetry, short stories, novels or scripts – a characteristic that has left Dahl sceptical of the ceremony's merit.

"Whatever your metier is, you'll think yours is the best," she observes. "A poet of course will think poetry ought to win, and a novelist will think their form is best."

It's not an assessment that has pleased the award's organisers. "Our judges seek excellence," observes Peter Stead, chairman of the Prize, in response. "It would be a poor critic indeed who stood out for their own form of writing in the face of true quality in another genre."

Ms Dahl's criticisms, of course, are something of an irony: her grandfather famously dabbled in all of the competition's categories.

Lemar and Lembit head to head

As promised, Lembit Opik, Stephen Pound and Nigel Evans took to the stage on Wednesday night alongside Opik's former squeeze, model Katie Green, for the Parliamentary Palace of Varieties – the Commons "talent" show in aid of Macmillan Cancer Support. Alas, we fear they may not have been the star attraction. For, in a nearby room, the Brit award-winning singer Lemar could be found performing before an audience including Mark Ronson and Sugababes to raise awareness of the anti-piracy Creative Coalition Campaign. Diary clash?

The kids are (still) alright

News, now, to cheer those fearing Pete Townshend's retirement from The Who – if not the deglamorising effects of age. The guitarist, who only recently revealed the threat his mounting tinnitus poses to his performing career, claims to have found a new lease of life thanks to – rock'n'roll purists look away now – a hearing aid. "I feel as though I've been reborn in some ways," he reveals on his blog, alongside dissections of his hair loss and laundry habits. "Not everything I hear is worth hearing, but at least I don't have to turn the TV down in order to tell everyone in the room that what they are watching is rubbish. On a higher note, hearing birdsong again is pretty amazing." All together now: talking 'bout my g-g-g-generation...

Archer still got the X Factor?

Who would have thought it? The Tory peer and one-time prisoner Jeffrey Archer appears to be nurturing a budding friendship with reality TV-born boy band JLS. Just a day after one of the four-piece revealed – thrillingly – to The Sun that he enjoyed nothing better than a night in the esteemed company of Kane and Abel, Archer offers to dispatch a complementary volume of the famous tome to the group – a signed copy, no less. All in the "giving" spirit of World Book Day, apparently. Warms the cockles, doesn't it?

Keep calm and carry on

What's this? A lone voice of dissent amongst the celebrity clamour to save the BBC's endangered radio station, 6 Music – from none other than Mathew Horne, star of Gavin and Stacey and, latterly, DJ. "To be quite honest I think we need to wait and find out what the deal is," an (unexpectedly) prudent Horne told us at the launch party for the Nokia X6. "Until everyone knows the facts, I don't think we can really comment. There's a lot of hysteria surrounding it and we should all just calm down and see what happens." Quite so.

pandora@independent.co.uk

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