Pandora: Heckler puts the boot in to ex-PM Howard

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The Independent Online

John Howard was the second-longest-serving prime minister in Australian history; he is also (probably) the only one ever to come under attack from a university student throwing Dr Martens.

Howard was invited by the Cambridge Union debating society to discuss "the role of world leaders in a new century", but had barely begun his hour-long address when he was interrupted by an audience member's Dr Marten hurtling across the chamber. "I was ashamed to be an Australian, racist," squawked the boot-thrower. "Go home!"

The former prime minister was, we are told, unperturbed by his assailant, and continued his speech as staff moved to eject the rebel, accompanied by cheers from the audience and chants of: "No – you go home!"

"The shoe-thrower was obviously a total idiot," observed an onlooker. "His throw was pathetic and easily stopped – and he even had the cheek to come back in afterwards and ask for his shoe back."

Howard took the stunt in good spirits. "It was an awful throw," he told an Australian newspaper.

"He wasn't as good as that Iraqi journalist."

Bernie's gout gives ex-wife the giggles

News of Bernie Ecclestone's battle with gout (the gnome-like Formula One boss was seen hobbling around the Abu Dhabi Grand Prix circuit in slippers thanks to the painful affliction) has failed to surprise his statuesque ex-wife Slavica. "You mean that's all he's got?" she guffawed when Pandora relayed the news at the new Red Room club in London. Whatever could she mean?

Mayday! Brian backs Jedward

An endorsement, of sorts, for John and Edward Grimes – the twins straining the nation's ears every weekend on ITV's "talent" show The X Factor. "Good luck to them," offered Brian May, the poodle-haired Queen guitarist, at the Classic Rock Awards. This week, the pair performed a particularly tuneless rendition of Queen's anthem We Will Rock You. Did May catch it? "Someone told me so I watched it on my laptop. I'm always happy if people do my songs. It wasn't the worst singing I've ever heard."

Fry joins the Scouts

Stephen Fry is to return to acting. The comic, who recently logged back on to Twitter after an acrimonious 12-hour split, will provide the voice of the Chief Scout in Scouts In Bondage at the King's Head Theatre, north London. Of course, the real Chief Scout is the rather less cerebral Bear Grylls. "He's been following the play closely," says our source.

Picture (im)perfect

Mutiny among the tweedier ranks of the Liberal Democrats. Paddy Ashdown has become the latest party leader to be honoured with a portrait at the Liberal Club. But not only he is pictured without a tie but – horror of horrors – he is holding a mobile phone in one hand. "At least he's sitting in a club chair," grumbles one member.

pandora@independent.co.uk

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