Pandora: Madonna calls time on pub tale

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Madonna's apparent reinvention as a pub landlady is being carefully monitored by the crisp white-shirted crowd in London's adland. The American singer, nowadays a committed Anglophile thanks to her marriage to the British film director Guy Ritchie, is reported to have forked out £2.5m for The Punchbowl, a watering hole in Mayfair, although her publicist has laughed off the suggestion. As it stands, the pub is mainly overrun by advertising types, since it is the favoured boozer of employees at neighbouring WPP, the agency owned by the advertising magnate Sir Martin Sorrell.

"No, I don't go in there but many of our people do," Sir Martin tells me, adding jokingly: "Perhaps we should inquire about an equity interest."

How long will Wills have a welcome in the hillsides?

There were few more proud sights over the weekend than the Princess Royal handing the Calcutta Cup to Scotland's victorious rugby side. I trust, then, that the Welsh team will receive similar support from their vice-royal patron, Prince William, right, when they line up against France next Saturday.

After their 16-12 win over Ireland in Dublin, the Welsh are on course for a historic Grand Slam if they beat the French in Cardiff. William, however, has yet to attend a Six Nations match this season. It has also been reported that he is planning a getaway shortly with his girlfriend, Kate Middleton, to the Swiss ski resort of Klosters.

"Kate is due to fly out there later this week and his Pa gets there the weekend after," I am told. "I suppose he could have time to go on Saturday and go out afterwards, but he is also meant to be doing RAF training at the moment."No word from Clarence House yesterday as to whether Wills would attend the match in Cardiff – but the issue of his vice-patronage of the Welsh Rugby Union has become a moot point in the Valleys since he took up the post in 2006, not just because he so openly supports the English side.

Last year, he upset Welsh fans by failing to attend for their home match against England. He claimed he needed to "recharge his batteries" after a gruelling period of Army training at Sandhurst, despite being snapped earlier that week with chums attending the Cheltenham racing festival.

Holly frocks leave fans of ice show spinning

Whichever celebrity triumphs in ITV's current series of Dancing On Ice, the most likely to walk away as the show's biggest winner is its perky presenter Holly Willoughby.

Bubbly Willougby was a hitherto little-known children's television presenter until she began to appear in increasingly revealing outfits while hosting the Sunday-night programme. This, of course, resulted in her delightful frame being pasted all over Monday's newspapers. A canny publicity exercise, you might think, though Willoughby denies this is the case.

"No, I chose all the dresses way before the series started, so there is nothing intentional about it, honestly," she told me over the weekend. "It's just been one of those things someone has picked up on and it's gone from there."

"I don't mind at all," she added breezily. "I have always been very confident about the way I look."

Chelsea rich-listers part with their wealth

Foreign footballers usually eschew the more reckless habits of our less cultured home-grown stars, but the Chelsea forward Claudio Pizarro appears to have acquired their expensive appetite for buying racehorses.

The Peruvian star was last week seen attending the Goffs' Breeze-Up Sale at Kempton Park. Pizarro was carefully eyeing up several two year-old thoroughbreds.

"He didn't buy anything this time but he is a mad-keen punter," says my man in the flat cap. "He has already got a three year-old filly in training in Newmarket with Marco Botti called Raymi Coya.

"It looks like he is on to winner with that one – she was first past the post twice last year and currently holds an entry in this year's 1,000 Guineas."

* Talking of Chelsea FC, the club's billionaire owner Roman Abramovich has sent a polite email to journalists following recent stories about wealthy "non-doms" taking advantage of Britain's tax laws. The tycoon's staff point out that, despite owning the Stamford Bridge side, he is based in Russia for tax purposes and is therefore not a non-dom.

For a few years, Abramovich has appeared among the Mittals and Rausings in the Sunday Times Rich List. Presumably, if based in Russia, his bristly mug will not now feature in the list out next month. "I'll have to look in to it," says its editor Philip Beresford. "I haven't got as high up as him yet. I start from the bottom, you see, and make my way up."

pandora@independent.co.uk

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