Pandora: Cage plugs in to life in Bath

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The Independent Online

Now that Nicolas Cage has become a member of Britain's landed gentry, he seems to be determined to keep his privacy intact.

Last summer, the Hollywood star reportedly forked out £5m for the keys to Midford Castle, a gothic West Country hideaway near Bath that was built in 1775.

Since then, little has been seen of Cage, although one local shopkeeper claims to have spotted him recently in Bath city centre disguised as an elderly man.

"It was definitely him," I'm told. "I didn't recognise him at first, but if you've seen his films, you'll know he has a very distinctive receding hairline."

Burton rudely awoken from his sleepy hollow

Since taking up residence in north London with Helena Bonham Carter, film director Tim Burton has become one of our most successful cultural imports. But a former flame of the visionary auteur has returned and is threatening to upset the apple cart.

Burton is heading for a potentially messy court battle with his ex-girlfriend, Lisa Marie, a former model who appeared in several of his films, including Ed Wood and Sleepy Hollow.

The long-running spat revolves around assets Marie claims Burton promised her soon after the pair moved in together in 1992. Although she was reportedly paid $2.7m (£1.4m) when she and Burton broke up, Marie claims the director had agreed to look after her financially for the rest of her life. Not only is the legal showdown bad timing for Burton – he's currently enjoying huge success with his latest film, Sweeney Todd – but it looks set to shine a light on some particularly personal details of his private life. Marie claims that Burton dumped her for Bonham Carter when the British actress appeared in his 2001 film Planet of the Apes. Burton and Marie recently held mediation talks which he had hoped would result in a speedy settlement of the row, but the matter will now be dealt with in a Los Angeles court in August.

Burton and Bonham Carter set up home together in Camden back in 2003. At last month's London premiere of Sweeney Todd, he informed Pandora he had no intention of ever moving back to the States.

Nicolas and me? I don't think so

Before Nicolas Sarkozy hit the jackpot by landing sultry model Carla Bruni, the diminutive French leader tried to "pull" former Bond girl Eva Green, or so the French papers were saying recently anyway.

Sarkozy reportedly begged Green, 27, to join him on an official trip to America last November, but she had been too busy with a new movie. This is all news to the actress, left, whom I bumped into yesterday at a function to announce that she is to be the new international ambassador for Montblanc. "No it never happened at all," she laughed. "I read that story and I thought it was terribly funny because I have never even met the guy before in my life." Like many of her compatriots, Green is viewing Sarko's new union with a heavy dollop of cynicism.

"I like Carla as a singer," she said, "but she is clearly the sort of girl who goes out and gets what she wants."

No more chukkas for Mike

Britain's polo fields will be without one of the sport's numerous celebrity players this summer.

Former Genesis guitarist Mike Rutherford, a fixture on the flashy polo circuit for the past few years, tells me that, at the ripe age of 57, he's decided to call time on his playing career.

"I'm giving it up. It's really a young man's game," he says.

"I've had too many broken bones, a new set of false teeth and just too many injuries to keep going. There will be a younger man of about 30 or 40 to take my place. I won't be missed," he said.

Rutherford, who was speaking at the launch of One Alfred Place, a new business club, once took to the field with Prince Charles, but has confessed "he's a bit better than me."

Sloping off

After years of squeezing his head between the sizeable buttocks of England's back row, Lawrence Dallaglio has found another sport to while away the hours during the current international fixtures.

The former England captain, who recently hung up his England shirt for good, was spotted last week taking to the slopes in the posh Swiss ski resort of Verbier.

"He was out on one of the baby slopes with an instructor so I think he must have been a beginner," I'm told.

"Presumably the England management would never allow him to risk his limbs in the past.

He took a couple of heavy tumbles, though I don't doubt he's had a lot worse while playing rugby."

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