Pandora: Dragon ready to launch 'Big Issue' for Pakistan

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The Independent Online

After six months of negotiations, it seems that James Caan's plans for a Pakistani edition of The Big Issue are finally coming to fruition.

The smooth-talking entrepreneur – undoubtedly one of the more good-natured judges on the BBC Dragons' Den panel – was first linked to the project back in June, when John Bird, who founded the original London edition, claimed that Caan "had expressed an interest in helping" the street newspaper, sold by homeless people, to expand into Asia.

Now we are told that he has returned from a fact-finding trip to Pakistan – the country of his birth – and has decided to press ahead with the admirable project.

"It doesn't matter what language you speak or what culture you're from, the desire to earn a legitimate living and integrate back into mainstream society is universally felt," explains Caan, who has already worked at length in Pakistan's venture capital markets with his private equity firm Hamilton Bradshaw.

Based in Lahore, the publication will help the homeless in much the same way as it does in the UK – by offering them a product to sell to support themselves.

Bird, for his part, could not be more thrilled at the prospect. "James is one of the leading lights of UK business, so I have no doubt he'll be a fantastic addition," he enthuses.

Bum rap for Westwood's Christmas

Fragile soul, that 'ickle Tim Westwood. "Just been told there was a 1Xtra Christmas lunch and I wasn't invited," BBC Radio's legendary hip hop presenter complained yesterday. "Devastated. Don't know if I'm going to turn up to work today." Over at the Beeb, though, they remain mystified by Westwood's claim. "But there wasn't a lunch!" says a spokesman. "And if there was we wouldn't forget to invite him. We had a party the other day but he came along to that. He must be confused. He's very sensitive, you know." Naturally.

Economic tips, Chancellor? Just ask Caine

A bit of pre-Budget report analysis now, straight from the mouth of Sir Michael Caine, Pandora's go-to guy when we need economic counselling.

"I do worry about the tax increases," the Harry Brown star tells us. "It doesn't make sense. You say that it's only fair that people get an equal share of the cake, with which I agree 100 per cent, but then surely you do not go and destroy the people who are making the cake. Otherwise, you haven't got a cake to distribute."

Pandora, of course, would never dare disagree with Sir Michael's fiscal outlook – though less charitable souls than ourselves might suggest that one could always move to the US to have one's cake and eat it.

Watchmaker targets the Tiger economy

Not every brand endorsed by Tiger Woods is quietly burying its campaigns. Ads starring the golfer mysteriously disappeared from primetime US television when news of his serial infidelity emerged. But yesterday, the Swiss watchmaker TAG-Heuer bravely broke cover with a major British newspaper campaign featuring Woods. All well and good, though they might be better off rethinking their tagline. "What are you made of?" asks a pouting Woods. We're sure his wife could think of a few suitable responses.

Honour Slade for services to glam

Rivalling Pandora's ongoing campaign to secure a record deal for Kate Silverton, another festive cause is tugging our heartstrings – namely, to get Slade some titles. Only Noddy Holder from the glam rock group – always favourites come December – has a royal honour, and only an MBE at that. "It's nice to have Sir this and Sir that," muses the guitarist Dave Hill, currently collaborating on a Christmas single with charity rockers The Shooting Stars. "I'm big on the Queen. Look at her early pictures. She was beautiful." The charmer.

pandora@independent.co.uk

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