Pandora: Hirst in the soup after Severn bursts its banks

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The Independent Online

One in the arm for the rural England's veggie militia, who have long been complaining about Damien Hirst's dead menagerie in their midst. The artist yesterday fell victim to Gloucestershire's floodwaters.

A brown wave surged through Chalford Place, the historic property Hirst is renovating near the town of Stroud, after the nearby Thames and Severn canal burst its banks.

Builders working on the project downed tools and got to work building sandbag defences to try to keep the waters away from the hard work. It was to little avail, however. The AA turned up to tow away stranded vehicles.

To the irritation of animal rights protestors, Hirst has workshops and studios around Stroud where he buzz-saws his assorted livestock. He also owns Toddington Manor in the Cotswolds.

Last year they festooned a studio in Dudbridge with protest placards and petitioned the council after learning of his plan to build an abattoir rail from which to hang his carcasses.

Hirst has previously shown such critics an upraised middle digit.

But in 2004 he was visited by Trading Standards officers and had to apologise to neighbours after fly-ridden animal remains were left outside his studio over a Bank Holiday weekend.

"When I opened the lid it was revolting – it was like something out of a horror film," complained one resident. "There was a big lump of something that looked like a cow. Vile."

The philistines.

Brocket offers 'Dodgy' Dave a hand

Unlikely as it may sound, Lord Charles Brocket has come to the aid of the self-styled celebrity gangster "Dodgy" Dave Courtney.

The underworld figure has been arrested and bailed after allegedly violating his parole by handling decomissioned weapons on the set of his forthcoming nightlife-themed flick, Clubbing To Death. It is good to see the Met police getting tough on gun crime.

Brocket, who is himself no stranger to having his collar fingered by the fuzz, is to film a cameo role in the movie when shooting (?) resumes. He tells Pandora over lunch at the London Capital Club that he has offered Courtney, 48, the services of his lawyer, Steven Barker, who has in the past defended the orc-like West Ham footballer Lee Bowyer.

Coincidentally, one of Pandora's acquaintances bumped into Courtney in a pub in Kemp Town, Brighton, last week. After crushing the squeaky-voiced fellow's hand, Courtney signed an autograph and gave him an "Official Dave Courtney 2008" calendar. One for the wall!

Holden holds out

Amanda Holden has discovered that working with Simon Cowell does wonders for your pay packet. The porcelain-faced actress, who is a judge on Cowell's show Britain's Got Talent, will soon appear in the third series of the veterinary drama Wild At Heart. It will be her final outing sticking up her hand up elephants' backsides.

The reason for Holden's departure? There is her rapidly growing, two-year-old daughter Alexa to consider. And then Holden adds: "I did have lunch with the producer who is trying to make me come back. He can't afford me now I'm working for Cowell, you see. That's it. My expectations are high."

Before she gets too lofty, Holden should mind what she says. She only has to look at her ex-husband Les Dennis to see fame can be a cruel mistress.

Peter panned

If anyone sees Parliament's Tango amnesiac Peter Hain, please throw an arm around the fellow. He cuts an increasingly lonely figure around Westminster, with colleagues suddenly shy to be seen with him.

Hain opened the batting in the Commons yesterday at Welsh Questions (exciting) in his capacity as Secretary of State for Wales. Tradition normally dictates that the minister up first then sits at the left of the Prime Minister during Prime Minister's Questions straight afterwards, with Harriet Harman seated on the right.

Instead, in what can only be described as playground politics, Brown chose to have Alistair Darling by his side, while Hain was relegated near the end of the frontbench. This kept Hain away from Gordon for the telly cameras.

Called to the bra

There is a truly intriguing article about "Big Brother" CCTV government in this month's Counsel magazine for barristers, penned by the striking blonde human rights lawyer and kung fu-kicking former defender of Vinnie Jones, Miss Kirsty Brimelow.

The 37-year-old's profile grew last year after it emerged that Sir Ken Macdonald, 55, the director of public prosecutions, had been spending extra time with Brimelow, much to the disquiet of his wife.

Brimelow now writes: "There is not thought to have been one anti-terrorism stop-and-search which has led to the conviction of a terrorist offence" [sic].

Now where could she have heard that?