Pandora: Brown asks aide to help with tricky job of pen-pushing

With Gordon Brown having endured a rotten week even by his standards, it seems steps are being hastily put in place to ensure his letter-writing exploits are kept in check over the coming months.

Just days after the Prime Minister was accused of making "insulting" mistakes in a handwritten letter of condolence to the mother of Jamie Janes, a young British soldier killed in Afghanistan, insiders tell me that Brown's trusted aide Kirsty McNeill is to unofficially "vet" his future scribblings before the envelopes are sealed.

"It's a very sensitive issue but there is no question of the current system remaining in place," I'm assured. "He trusts Kirsty and she is best-placed to cast a discreet eye over important handwritten correspondence when required." Originally employed by Brown as a speechwriter, Ms McNeill, 29, was promoted to the role of "adviser in charge of external affairs" in September. Colleagues have long hailed her backroom ability to understand "Gordon-speak".

Interestingly, LordMandelson has reportedly raised concerns about her level of influence and questioned her political experience.

Mozza's heading back to Merseyside

After flouncing off stage when his well-preserved quiff was scandalously struck by a plastic bottle, Morrissey could be bracing himself for a brave return to the scene of the crime. The singer was performing only his second number when the incident occurred in Liverpool on Saturday night, prompting the incensed Mancunian warbler to quit the show. The promoter of the ill-fated gig now states: "Event organisers are working with the artiste's representatives to explore all ways of re-staging the abandoned concert."

Let's hope the Scousers treat the sensitive old flower more gently next time.

I'll keep my mouth shut, says Ken

Things have come a long way since Ken Livingstone was making his name as a prominent tormentor of the Labour Party.

Livingstone, who memorably left Tony Blair eating humble pie when he was elected as London's mayor on an independent ticket back in 2000, before rejoining the Labour ranks, insists he has the welfare of his political colleagues at heart when it comes to releasing his forthcoming memoirs.

"Much to the relief of the Labour Party, I will not be publishing my autobiography until after the General Election," he assured Pandora at the London Evening Standard Top 1,000 Bash. "Many of my best friends will be fighting to keep their seats, and I will not have anything from my book used against the party."

Lording it about

It is my regrettable duty to reveal that Doctor Who is succumbing to alarmingly diva-ish tendencies. David Tennant, whose triumphant stint as the Time Lord is drawing to a close, has co-hosted Christian O'Connell's show on Absolute Radio this week. I'm informed that Tennant not only refused to drink the instant coffee intitally offered, but that a hapless lackey subsequently had to make "five cups" of the real stuff before their guest was satisfied.

Street of shame

Without wishing to cross swords with the all-powerful internet resource that is Google, I doubt I'm the only one to raise a quizzical eyebrow when using the search engine of late. While Google's front page normally prides itself on highlighting significant historical moments on the calendar, this week's British version curiously chose to mark the 40th birthday of Sesame Street rather than the fall of the Berlin Wall.

pandora@independent.co.uk

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