Pandora: Howard and Field find common ground

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The Independent Online

Following in the footsteps of Tony Blair, two rather different House of Commons veterans are, we hear, to enter into the interfaith arena.

The former Conservative leader, Michael Howard, and Labour backbencher Frank Field, both as renowned for their strident political views as for their religious sentiments, have recently been awarded a pair of much-coveted spots on the Council of Christians and Jews.

The appointments represent a considerable achievement for both, since the CCJ is renowned for its stringent selection techniques and criteria. Any would-be trustees have to be recommended to the council by current board members, and then interviewed, before being considered over a several-month assessment period.

"We were already familiar with them to an extent as public figures" explains the council's chief executive David Gifford. "Michael had done some work at the grass roots and Frank has always had high moral values and is a member of the Church of England."

In joining, Howard and Field are following in the footsteps of the late Commons Speaker Lord Weatherill, who was awarded the Inter-Faith Medal for his service to the Council.

Monty's weather report dries up

Whoops. Listeners to the Today programme would have done well to disregard Sarah Montague's weather report yesterday. It later turned out to be fiction. The enterprising presenter was forced to improvise her report after losing her notes. She promised a "mixed picture across the country," before her co-host James Naughtie interjected to introduce the next section of the programme. Never mind, Sarah. Odds are it was more accurate than the Meteorological Office's promise of a barbecue summer.

Smith gets some parental advice

Quick! Someone buy Zadie Smith a parenting book.

Pandora spotted the heavily pregnant author grilling fellow party guests for advice ahead of the birth of her first child.

Father-of-three Harry Enfield was only too happy to oblige: "Go out in the evening. Don't lose your social life because then you'll become a bore," he offered, mischievously. "And when they wake up in the middle of the night, turn to your partner and say, 'Darling it is your turn.' If you can bamboozle them the way I did then you are sorted." No doubt her husband Nick Laird is much obliged.

Lembit shoots some stars

Another bit of useful campaigning from the Lib Dem ladies' man, Lembit Opik. He has begun the parliamentary term by tabling an Early Day Motion in the Commons warning that the Earth is likely to be hit by an asteroid.

Such oddities are standard practice from the MP for Montgomeryshire. Previous EDMs have included one to legalise the Segway (a pogo-like two-wheeled electric contraption) for road use and lamenting his delayed train. Thus far, his latest effort has attracted – ahem – zero supporting signatures.