Pandora: Harman's history gets a last-minute rewrite

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The Independent Online

Whoops! Embarrassment over at the Equalities Office, following Harriet Harman's booklet celebrating "women in power".

The Minister for Women and Equalities has been forced to arrange a hasty rewrite of the document after critics pointed to the omission of Margaret Thatcher from its pages.

The paper, Women In Power: Milestones, purported to chronicle the 28 most significant political events of the past century involving women. Although it included several lesser-known figures in the list, such as the UK's first Asian female MEP, Neena Gill, and the first black woman mayor, Lydia Simmons, the country's first female (and the 20th century's longest-serving) prime minister was given only a passing, anonymous mention.

It was initially thought the move was a deliberate bit of partisan "air-brushing", though a spokesman for the Equalities Office insists otherwise, claiming that Harman's omission was simply an "oversight".

Either way, the report, which was available online, has been pulled in order to add a new chapter on Thatcher. "We are not sure when it will be available. As soon as the change is made," explained a spokesman.

From Cat to 'Cats': Islam hits the stage

First Queen, then Abba and now... Cat Stevens. The 1970s folk-rocker (known nowadays as Yusuf Islam) has penned a musical, Moonshadow, telling the story of his childhood. Having recently conducted auditions, the show is soon to debut in the West End, though not before Yusuf has the chance to showcase some of the choruses on his first tour for over 30 years, which begins in November. "He has always wanted to stage a musical," explains our source. "It was his ambition long before he became a pop star."

Mrs Merton's romantic interlude

Never let it be said that Paul Merton lacks romance. Pandora hears that the smooth-moving comedian, who recently married Suki Webster at a secret ceremony in London, chose the glamorous environs of Bognor Regis for their honeymoon. Whether it was the giant Butlins nearby, or the Little Chef en route that appealed to him remains a mystery, though we're assured that the couple did, at least, head to sunnier climes shortly afterwards. What a charmer!

A diet? Surely not...

What a surprise to see pictures of the new, slimline Ricky Gervais wandering around the Toronto Film Festival. Of course, any weight loss must be down his busy schedule, rather than the latest Hollywood diet. When Pandora suggested last year that the comedian had been watching his waistline, he turned the air quite blue with indignation.

No more talk for Esler

Another one bites the dust. Gavin Esler recently began touting his services at the upmarket speakers agency JLA. The offer caught our eye, since his colleague Andrew Marr recently withdrew his membership after a BBC "kerfuffle", over "high-profile" employees' commercial activities. Now Esler's name has disappeared. It's an epidemic!