Pandora: Gordon Brown gets the Ann Summers treatment

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The Independent Online

In what must be one of the most amusing stunts ever to have crossed Pandora's desk, Jacqueline Gold – the beguiling chief executive of the lingerie retailer Ann Summers – has purchased the Google- sponsored link for the term "Gordon Brown".

For those without square eyes, that means – try not to snigger too much – that every time one types the words "Gordon Brown" into the Google internet search bar, one would be met with a strategically worded plug for Ann Summers.

"We thought we would be there to offer a more pleasurable alternative," explained Gold of the move. "We have a range of products that mean you will never, ever have to worry about deflation."

Naturally, Pandora felt that such ingenuity warranted a call to the No 10 press office. Did they know that every time one searched for Gordon Brown, one ended up with underwear? Apparently, they didn't.

Curiously, the message vanished shortly afterwards, to be replaced by a decidedly less amusing note from the Conservative Party. Nothing to do with that call to the press office, of course.

Short short-circuits her Hamas link

At last! The inability of MPs to master the digital world appears, for once, to have done them a favour. The scene-stealing former cabinet minister, Clare Short, promised trouble earlier in the week when she organised a webcam question-and-answer session between representatives of the House of Commons and a senior Hamas leader, Hhaled Eshel, a resident of Syria.

Naturally, the news dismayed both the British and Israeli governments, both of which claim they "do not believe" in talking to the Palestinian group. However Pandora hears, the event, which was scheduled for Wednesday evening, had to be terminated prematurely after an unexplained technical glitch disrupted the internet connection between London and Hamas. Typical, eh?

Paltrow's progress

If reports are to be believed, Hollywood's leading proponent of quackish advice, Gwyneth Paltrow, has a new cause. Last seen discussing cancerous shampoo, she has turned her attention to Mario Batali, offering the chef a free pass to trainer Tracey Anderson's gym. "Mario is the only fat friend she has," quoth one US rag. "She wants him to change."

Reid rottweiler is tipped for return

How delightful, in the wake of the Damian McBride fiasco, to see Downing Street making such a thorough effort to abandon the spin machines of old. Gordon Brown's journalistic confidante, Kevin McGuire, suggests in The New Statesman that the ever-charming Steve Bates is one candidate in the race to fill McBride's shoes, and that he is currently "knocking on the door of No 10". That would be the same Steve Bates who, as John Reid's personal attack dog, was accused of "smear campaigns" against, variously, John Prescott, Liam Byrne and the NatWest Three. All change, then!

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