Pandora: Murray goes to the dogs (well, chihuahuas)

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The Independent Online

Few would quibble with Jenni Murray's credentials: the Woman's Hour presenter has long represented a bastion of feminism at the BBC, and has authored three books: The Woman's Hour: A History of Women Since World War II, Is It Me or Is It Hot In Here: A Modern Woman's Guide to the Menopause and That's My Boy! A Guide for Parents.

Now Murray is to add to the list: this time with a work devoted to, erm, chihuahuas.

(Some might say) the most frivolous of canine choices, the Maltese dog's cultural representation has hitherto been limited to a below-par Hollywood comedy, Beverly Hills Chihuahua, along with frequent, if fleeting, appearances stuffed inside Paris Hilton's handbag.

Murray's work will be made of rather sterner stuff: Harper Collins claims it will cover her long-standing affection for the animal, which started when she longed for a dog as a child, and extend to her diagnosis with breast cancer in late 2006, when she was given a chihuahua. She has described it as her "reason to get up in the morning".

"I'm about two thirds of the way through," Murray informs us. "It will hopefully be out in time for March."

Mrs Bercow's lament on Twitter

Her husband may have avoided watching, but Sally Bercow, fiery Labour activist wife of the Speaker, ensured she tuned into BBC4's dramatic interpretation of the expenses scandal, On Expenses. No sooner had it started than she could be found lamenting the programmes flaws on Twitter. "It's ludicrous," she complained. "Dreadful mess whichever way you look at it." Two stars, then? As for whether her husband's predecessor Michael Martin, tuned in... well, Pandora continues to await his call.

It's all going swimmingly for Foster

Still reeling from Sting's announcement in November that he had been invited to contribute to the "development of an indestructible football," Pandora feels obliged to report yet another unwarranted addition to the scientific community: Mark Foster, Olympic swimmer and professional pair of shoulders. "I am involved with a new invention with this company, I am very excited about it," he tells us. "All I can say is that it helps sportsmen and it is to do with aromatherapy." Let's guess: deodorant?

Read all about it

Vain, moi? Spending figures for government media monitoring (glorified paper cutter-outers) have been released, and there are no prizes for guessing who's come top: one Lord Mandelson. His department's bill stood at an eye-watering £116,600. Mind you, if we got the kind of headlines Mandy did, we'd want to read them too.

No peace for Darling

Should Alistair Darling head off on his next holiday with the sound of unleashed hell still ringing in his ears, he should be warned: it is unlikely to stop. Great Bernera, where the Chancellor owns a holiday home, is to get its own "singing" bell tower, 12ft high and designed by sculptor Marcus Vergette. Division Bells? (sorry)

pandora@independent.co.uk

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