There's nothing better, Pandora finds, than a bit of Kazakh sun at this time of year. Jonathan Aitken clearly agrees: he appears to be holidaying there as we speak. Indeed, we hear the one-time jailbird has been touring the country's penal institutions at the invitation of none other than the Kazakh leader, Nursultan Nazarbayev.
Apparently, Kazakhstan's authorities are to follow in the footsteps of Iain Duncan Smith and ask the former MP to review their prisons. Explains Aitken: "Rather surprisingly Mr Nazarbayev and his staff took the trouble to read my report for the Centre for Social Justice and invited me to tour prisons in Kazakhstan. I'm going to write a paper on possible improvements and reforms. The Kazakhs have the same problem as the Americans and the British in that far too many reoffend and get stuck in the carousel of crime."
Curiously, Aitken recently completed an unauthorised biography of Nazarbayev, well known for his dictatorial ways and feeble response to corruption. Clearly, such character traits haven't warranted so unflattering a depiction as to cause a rift between the two.
"He's an interesting character," muses Aitken. "It's certainly been a fascinating experience – I think he's the only politician I can think of whose career stretches from JFK to Obama or Khrushchev to Medvedev."
Ben brings S&M to the catwalks
Time to start ironing those chaps: Ben Westwood is to go into fashion. Dame Vivienne's son has thus far satisfied his creative instinct as an erotic photographer but now, he tells us, he is to branch out. "What else is there to do?" he asks. "I know how clothing is made." Happily, Ben's stepfather, Andreas Kronthaler, who heads up Dame Vivienne's MAN label, doesn't see his stepson's move as a threat just yet. "Andreas is cool about it," says Ben. "He has been very helpful. They've provided a staff member to work closely with me."
Hazel gives up on the Twittersphere
Whatever has happened to Hazel Blears' Twitter account? The penitent former Cabinet minister finally signed up to the social networking site last month, the day before she faced a motion of no confidence in her Salford constituency. Still, she didn't exactly hit the ground running, attracting only 123 "followers" in her first day and posting only one "tweet". Since then, she has survived the motion with her safe seat intact and all has gone remarkably quiet on the Twitter front. Surely it was more than just a cynical vote-winner, Hazel?
Jay fights for the Cosmic Girls of Iran
Time now, for our weekly(ish) foray into the minds of some of the world's leading celebrity pundits. This week: Jamiroquai's Jay Kay, more widely known as The Prat In The Hat. Pandora ran into the 1990s Top of The Pops regular at a recent party, where he kindly enlightened us as to his views on the Iranian conflict.
"It's terrible what's going on," mused the singer. "I've got lots of Iranian friends and they're all amazing dancers, and the friendliest lot.
"Everytime I go to one of my mates' houses his mum always says: 'Jason, Jason, you need to eat more, you're looking so skinny, have some rice'." Moving, no?
Brown watches his words over Murray
Ah, the perils of power. Yesterday, the Prime Minister's spokesman was asked whether the Browns would be watching Andy Murray play at Wimbledon over the weekend. Naturally, a question of such national importance warranted a highly nuanced response. The spokesman duly obliged, warning that it was "very premature to start answering questions like that..." Still, at least the Prime Minister came out in support, issuing a statement wishing the Scots sensation all the best in the semi-finals.Reuse content