Welcome to the new Independent website. We hope you enjoy it and we value your feedback. Please contact us here.


Pandora: Coulthard tires of the circuit

Alistair Darling is not the only Scotsman conforming to the daft dour stereotype by bringing gloom to our front rooms. The square-jawed racing driver David Coulthard has decided to moan about the forthcoming Formula One season, his 15th.

Speaking about the Fuji circuit in Japan, situated beneath the dormant volcano, the 36-year-old complains: "It's a shit track that must have been designed by someone high on mushrooms."

Canada's esteemed grand prix at Montreal does not escape: "They only have Portaloos in the paddock. And as anyone who has crapped in a porta-potty knows, it's a pretty uninspiring experience."

Poor dear. Wouldn't happen in Monaco.

A big day at Westminster, and guess who can't keep away...

Guess who was in the Palace of Westminster's Central Lobby yesterday afternoon? Ah, damn, the picture has given it away.

Yes, Alastair Campbell, that famous gym fiend and glutton for punishment, just can't stay out of the action. The Budget is always so exciting.

Gone are the days, though, when Campbell, having just torn strips off a junior political reporter, breezed in as part of the PM's phalanx, with blaring police outriders. Instead, the former prime minister's former spokesman now has to receive a vigorous security fondling like all the plebs. Gaargh!

He was spotted standing alone in the Central Lobby, leaning against a pillar, wearing a humiliating yellow visitor's sticker, his all-access pass presumably having gone the same way as his private phone line to Downing Street.

So what was he up to?

"Nothing," Campbell told Pandora, when tracked down last night to Richard and Judy's party at The Arts Club in Mayfair to announce the shortlists for the Galaxy British Book Awards.

Any advances on nothing, Mr C? "I wouldn't worry yourself about it. It wasn't very interesting. Now leave me alone. I'm having a conversation."

And indeed he was, talking avidly to the Horrid Henry children's author Francesca Simon.

I bumped into him soon after, by chance, at the urinals in the gents' toilets. (Don't ask.)

"Did you follow me in here?" demanded Campbell, defensively. Bullying the bullies, hooray!

Lemmy must wait for his cucumber buffet day

Lemmy can cancel that limousine to Buckingham Palace. In a wild squeal of feedback, Downing Street has pulled the plug on a bizarre petition which demanded that the mutton-chopped Motörhead rocker, né Ian Fraser Kilmister of Stoke, should hear the words "Arise, Sir Lemmy" in the Queen's next honours list. Services to sideburns, perhaps?

The entreaty to Gordon Brown reads: "Lemmy, a bastion of British [heavy] metal, thoroughly deserves to be knighted." Some 322 members of the public joined the clamour – 46,745 fewer than want Jeremy Clarkson to be prime minister and clearly not enough to secure the bauble.

No 10 has touchingly replied, taking it all most seriously: "Lemmy's achievements in music are well known and respected. It is easy to see why so many people want his record formally recognised. Your support has been carefully noted." That's a no.

Agyness's hippy retreat

Agyness Deyn has been splashed across so many newspapers of late (most enjoyable were the photos of her cavorting with a nightclub pot plant) that she risks tumbling in to that calamitous celebrity honeytrap, overexposure. Timely, then, for the 25-year-old tomboy model, to take an overseas break.

"I'd like to go to India in a couple of weeks for yoga," she tells Pandora at a cocktail party. "I want to go there, relax and get more spiritual. But, you know, I don't want to sound all hippy-dippy."

The trip will also serve Agy's culinary interests – after all, not long ago she was a Lancashire chip shop girl whose currency was saveloys. At the recent London Fashion Week, she wore an eyepatch after contracting conjunctivitis. I hope her delicate figure isn't as prone to the dreaded "Delhi Belly".

Nic on the run

If nothing else, Nicolas Sarkozy's marriage to the acrobatic Italian temptress Carla Bruni will burn off his love handles. Yet the French president's appetite for le jogging remains unsated.

Sarko is derided in France for running in public in shorts and a sweaty NYPD T-shirt. According to a report in Paris Match, the competitive Gaul has requested "jogging sessions" with Lord Coe, the London 2012 Olympics supremo, during his forthcoming state visit to Albion.

Imagine: a leader of the free world and Britain's poshest champion, pounding together through Windsor Great Park as children skip behind, the Rocky soundtrack blaring as they leap the moat, back into the castle for tea and medals. Says Coe's office: "It's not true."