Pandora: Mistaken identity

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John Prescott's memoirs, Pulling No Punches, written by Hunter Davies, will be published 29 May, two days before his 70th birthday. Best of British to comrades giving the bumps.

Crime-writing doyenne Lynda La Plante, interviewed about her media tastes, is reported to have said: "I'm reading a book by Geoffrey Robinson, The Unconventional Minister; he's the husband of my very good friend [the brash Aussie author] Kathy Lette."

Argh! The brakes! It is conceivable that La Plante, 62 on Saturday, has discovered a fertile passage hitherto unsighted in the arid memoirs of Robinson, the Labour MP who owns the New Statesman and held pizza parties for Gordon Brown in his Park Lane penthouse. But it's the wrong Geoffrey.

Kathy Lette, 49, is married to Geoffrey Robertson, the human rights lawyer and writer of Oz trial fame. They wed in 1990. "Lynda knows exactly who Kathy's husband is," says a spokeswoman. "The paper got it completely wrong."

Lette recalls one family holiday: "Geoffrey said, 'Let's go to Disneyland'. I thought 'that's odd'. Then we got to Orlando and there was a Death Row prison next door. He was off saving everyone from electrocution."

A pressing question: why did Ming stand up Petsy?

As the political career of Menzies Campbell enters its tea time years, the former Lib Dem leader will not relinquish an old grudge.

Sir Ming is, for the moment, courting the foam-mouthed goons of Her Majesty's Press Corps while he carries out promotional duties for his recently released autobiography.

Last week, the Daily Mail planned a big interview plugging the book, only to have it cancelled at the last moment when Ming discovered his inquisitor was to be the paper's ambrosial scribe, Petronella Wyatt, who notably became entangled in extended editorial congress with Boris Johnson. "I set up the interview with Ming and his wife [Elspeth] because she is very straight talking and I thought she might say more than is in this boring book of his," Petsy explains.

"I was to go to Scotland and had the tickets booked when he said he didn't want to see me. Apparently, he didn't realise I was doing the interview and didn't like the last interview I did with him.

"All I did [then] was mention he had a Corby trouser press, and ask him to show me his sock suspenders."

Sir Ming seems to have blown away Petsy on that occasion, two years ago: the former Olympian was "a Thirties dandy" with "fine, if rather hairless calves", she said, joking about his "dropped balls" and telling him: "I imagine sleeping with you would be a bit like sleeping with the Pope."

Worse, Petsy described Lady Campbell as "so eager for her husband's success that she is known as Lady Macbeth". What's their problem?

And the award for chippy actor goes to...

Pleasing to see Sir Ian McKellen getting into the spirit of the awards season. At Sunday night's Oliviers, the veteran boardstepper, up for Best Actor for his King Lear, was beaten by rival Shakespearean Chiwetel Ejiofor and his splendid Othello.

"Well," McKellen, 68, told Pandora, "I won the Theatregoers' Choice award and that's the best one because it's actually voted on by those who attend the theatre." Draw, you whoreson cullionly barbermonger! (Shakespearean insult.)

Elsewhere in the hotel, Ewan McGregor, James McAvoy and Matt Damon trod red carpet at the Empire film awards. Lock, Stock director Matthew Vaughn, who has shot a promo film with David Cameron for the Tories, called the party leader "a consummate pro," adding: "He's a politician, he's got enough acting to do without my help." With supporters like that...

Tilda on the Fettes fetish

Like plenty of flame-haired compatriots, Tilda Swinton is proud of her archaic Scottish lineage. All the same, the Oscar-winning actress is no mindless nationalist, and has aimed abrupt jabs at two Edinburgh fixtures.

Interviewed by Out magazine in the US, Swinton, 47, berates JK Rowling's Harry Potter and boarding schools – a reference, presumably, to her time at the fee-paying Fettes College, which counts Tony Blair among its alumni.

"I'm loath to say anything good about going to boarding school, which is one of the reasons why I'm not a believer in Harry Potter," she says. "It fetishises boarding school for children." Swinton went to Fettes after attending West Heath Girls' School with Princess Diana. Perhaps she disliked the all-girl dorms?

Maternity care

London mayor Ken Livingstone, ducking dog muck for employing so many spin doctors, has launched a sticker campaign urging commuters to give up seats to pregnant women. "I hope this creates a culture of awareness," says Ken's blooming photo case study Emma Lynch, seven months expectant. Where did he find such a spontaneous champion? Could this be the Emma Lynch once in Ken's employ at the London Development Agency press office, so busy recently with the "General" Lee Jasper saga? Yes, yes.

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