Pandora: Crossed wires? I don't think so, says Dominic

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The Independent Online

When the shadow Home Secretary Chris Grayling compared the UK to the mean streets of Baltimore, as depicted in HBO's hit drama The Wire, he provoked a torrent of ridicule.

A (hoax) statement from the Mayor of Baltimore followed condemning Grayling's words and he was forced to admit he had watched only "most of the first" of the programme's five series, eventually apologising to the (real) Mayor and her home city.

So it may prove consoling to learn that at least somebody agrees with Grayling, namely Old Etonian Dominic West, who plays the tough-guy detective Jimmy McNulty in the series. "I think there are similarities, yeah," West, pictured, told Pandora at Sunday's premiere of the new Charles Darwin biopic, Creation. "I think there are fewer guns but, other than that, there is a lot of similar stuff.

"I saw a little film about a North Acton estate the other day and I thought that could have been the high-rises in Baltimore.

"And there is local politics. Ken Livingstone always watches The Wire, so I think he must see a similarity, too."

Over to you, Ken.

Jenson flies straight into the club

*Ah, the perks of sporting success. Jenson Button and his leggy girlfriend were spotted climbing into a humble pair of economy seats on their British Airways flight home from his latest F1 race in Monza. The glossy couple were overheard explaining that the Brawn team were trying to save money on European flights – although, no sooner had the words come out of his mouth than the flight attendant whispered in his ear and ushered the couple to the club seats. Complimentary, of course.

The politics of writing a novel

Goodness. Pandora hopes that Sebastian Faulks isn't feeling too sensitive after we suggested that the politician in his new work could be based on George Osborne.

Addressing students at University College London recently, the novelist complained that he "couldn't understand" such speculation.

When he opened the floor to questions, however, one plucky soul asked whether that meant it was true. Faulks's reply? A touchy "I don't know why I bother".

Clegg's apprentice

*Commuters at Newcastle station were greeted with the unlikely sight of Nick Clegg in conversation with Philip Taylor, best remembered as the loudmouthed Apprentice contestant behind "Pants Man". Taylor was congratulating the Lib Dem leader on his support for apprenticeships. Perhaps not quite the endorsement needed to win an election.

The cost of 'Courage'

*More bad news for Gordon Brown. The online price of his last book, Wartime Courage: Stories Of Extraordinary Courage By Ordinary People in World War Two, has been slashed. Originally available on for a tidy £16.99, hardback copies are now going for as little as £1.83. Blame deflation...