Pandora: Hoon shoots well wide for top football job

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Having recently fronted what has to be regarded as one of the most hapless political coup attempts in modern memory, it would be fair to venture that Geoff Hoon's stock hasn't exactly rocketed in subsequent weeks.

The former Defence Secretary, who is also due to stand down as MP for Ashfield, was left red-faced back in January when his joint letter with Patricia Hewitt calling for a secret ballot on Gordon Brown's leadership was swiftly rejected by parliamentary colleagues.

Uncharitably referred to as "Buffhoon" in certain quarters of the party, the politician and lifelong Derby County fan went on to be repeatedly tipped as a would-be successor to the departing Football League Chairman, Lord Mawhinney. The plum post, however, has since gone to businessman Greg Clarke.

Westminster insiders now mischievously inform me that Hoon didn't even make the final shortlist. "There was a lot of talk about him being among the frontrunners, but in the end it seems he was nowhere near," I'm told. "It's hardly good for his ego to have been out of the running so quickly."

While Hoon declined to comment yesterday, he's proved less than fortunate on the career front of late. Not long ago the MP was also touted as favourite to be the next European Commisioner, only to subsequently lose out when Brown would not back him.

Floyd's family count his pennies

It may be six months since Keith Floyd headed off to that great wine bar in the sky, but the late chef continues to cause headaches for those he left behind. Insiders tell me that Floyd's fourth and final wife Tess, who divorced him at the end of 2008 and who is reportedly still owed thousands of pounds from the settlement, has been busy trying to unravel the maverick presenter's complicated pecuniary affairs with his children, Patrick and Poppy. "Luckily, Tess and Poppy were pretty close already," I'm assured.

Oscar winner Bullock's a no-show

Just a few days after Sandra Bullock triumphed at the Oscars for her role in The Blind Side, publicists have confirmed that next week's UK premiere of the American football tale has been scrapped. The actress has pulled out owing to "unforeseen circumstances". The cancellation coincides with unconfirmed reports in the US about the state of Bullock's marriage to the enviably named Jesse James, who makes custom motorbikes.

Pandora hopes such idle tittle-tattle proves unfounded. After Kate Winslet split from Sam Mendes, commentators quickly highlighted statistics showing the alarming ratio of celebrity divorces that follow Academy Awards success.

Vaizey still billed as Cameron's man

Having been obliged to make an embarrassing U-turn after unhelpfully suggesting that Samantha Cameron was a closet Labour voter, it seems Ed Vaizey remains keen to promote his apparent closeness to the Tory leader. The shadow Culture minister is currently on the books of leading after-dinner speaking agency JLA, where he is still proudly billed as a "Cameron insider" no less. Following recent unfortunate events, a diplomatic change of tack could be in the offing.

Peter's friends say vote Tucker

His fearsome alter-ego Malcolm Tucker would be mortified to become the object of such sympathy, but the lack of acting gongs on Peter Capaldi's mantelpiece is a cause for growing concern among colleagues. So much so, The Thick Of It creator Armando Iannucci even felt obliged to launch a public appeal on his star's behalf after the actor left the Royal Television Society programme awards empty-handed this week. "Can someone please give that man an award!" he pleaded. "Everyone assumes he's won loads."

pandora@independent.co.uk

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