Pandora: David Miliband drags his heels

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The Independent Online

If FCO mandarins have found their workplace a little crowded over the past few days, here's one reason why: they appear to have been serving under two foreign secretaries. Sort of.

While William Hague immediately took his new title to heart, jumping aboard the first plane to Hillary Clinton's office, David Miliband appeared reluctant to give his up. So much so that he postponed his appointment with the Queen to officially "take leave upon relinquishing office". According to yesterday's Court Circular, Mr Miliband's cabinet colleagues paid a collective visit to Her Majesty on Monday. David, though, was busy campaigning for his appointment as Labour leader in South Shields. Instead, he will make a solo visit to Buckingham Palace today. "It was just something that the Foreign Office organised," explains a spokesman (just a touch defensively) of the move. "It was between the Foreign Office and the palace." Parting is such sweet sorrow!

For sale: a smacker from Salman

Who could resist a kiss from Salman Rushdie? On second thoughts: don't answer that. Of course, such luxuries don't come cheap; indeed they were the subject of a charity auction in New York, where Rushdie had originally intended to flog an original work but was cajoled into something more by the night's organisers. It's not, we should add, known whether anyone made any bids. Tactful silence?

* "I've bought myself a dehydrating machine," announces Jo Wood, perplexingly. Distant cousin of that essential household contraption, the dehumidifier? Er, no. "I don't really understand how," she muses, "but it sucks out all the bits of food that are bad for you, toxins and things that it doesn't need, and then it leaves only the good." Ah.

* In the new government of fairness, no one should be seen to be being... unfair. Suitable, then, that the new children's minister, Tim Loughton, resign his post at a schools' CCTV company. Mr Loughton had never been paid for his role at the company, insisted a DfE spokesman, so we needn't be worried about any undue influence. Except, what's this listed in the register of member's interests? £25,001-£30,000 for his "remunerated directorship". Huh.

A hair raising prospect?

Despicable, isn't it? The lack of diversity in the Labour leadership race. Still, at least someone thinks they have a solution: "A leadership contest consisting of two middle aged white men in suits to counter a Government led by two middle aged white men in suits would be the longest shave in history," rages the ever-ridiculous Beard Liberation Front. They lend their support, instead, to Frank Dobson and Jeremy Corbyn. Perfect!

pandora@independent.co.uk

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