Pandora: George Galloway's last gasp

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The Independent Online

Hear that? It's the sound of Parliament's last cigar being stubbed out. Once a mark of Churchillian defiance, the wealthy man's gasper was long ago eschewed in favour of a Boden shirt and everyman tie as the political accessory of choice.

Only George Galloway, Respect candidate for Poplar and Limehouse, has continued to flaunt his trademark Montecristos with Castro-esque aplomb.

Alas, no longer: we are told that Gorgeous is soon to puff his last. His partner, Rima Husseini, is pregnant with the couple's second child, and Galloway has decided to give up his trademark habit. He will quit officially after the general election.

Not that it will harm his "man of the people" persona. A box of his preferred brand retails for £400 a pop, though Galloway claims to buy them in Dubai where they're cheaper. "People know that if they're going through they can pick me up a box," he explains. "I pay for them, of course." Naturally.

Not-so-smart endorsement

Celebrity associations are a risky business. Just ask Surrey County Council who, inexplicably, are seeking Ashley Cole's endorsement of their "Smart Driving" campaign. "Cashley" was recently embroiled in a court appeal over a speeding ban. He also once claimed to have almost crashed his car upon hearing that Arsenal were to offer him "just" £55,000 a week. SCC have no such budget. "We haven't heard anything back from him yet." Funny, that.

* High jinks at a hustings in Kettering. Irate at not being invited, a Bus-Pass Elvis candidate stormed the meeting, yelling questions at Tory MP Philip Hollobone. Hollobone supports a ban on the burka. "But what would Lady Gaga do?" demanded his assailant. The Lib Dem candidate, Chris Nelson, is said to have been particularly tickled.

* Last month it was revealed that London's Victoria and Albert Museum had cancelled a Rolling Stones exhibition following disagreements with the band's metal-detecting guitarist, Bill Wyman. Happily, a tuneful replacement is already in the pipeline. The Art Newspaper reports the possibility of a Madonna exhibition. Not, you understand, the Da Vinci kind.

* Loyd Grossman's domination of rock 'n' roll continues. The drawling foodie has not only found himself a pair of contact lenses, he's also secured his band a slot at Glastonbury. "We are back on the trail this summer," he writes in Condé Nast Traveller magazine. Last year Pandora spotted culture secretary Ben Bradshaw throwing shapes on the festival circuit. Will Grossman's set prompt a similar response? (Probably not, but we live in hope.)