Pandora: No change at Garrick – even for Kate and Libby

Seventeen years after members of London's exclusive Garrick Club voted against lifting their ban on female members,
Pandora hears of another thwarted stab at reform.

We're told that cries of "no, no, no" could be heard echoing through the club's packed dining room on Monday night, when David Whitaker, the retired publisher and a member of the Garrick for more than 30 years, moved a motion proposing that their 1,300 members be asked to vote by post on the matter. Six-hundred local members have already been surveyed with 40 per cent believing that women should never be allowed to join.

Founded by the Duke of Sussex in 1831 for "the general patronage of drama", the club has stubbornly resisted any membership reforms.

Curiously, however, Whitaker is said to have tried to convince members by proposing several specific women who potentially could become candidates, including the veteran reporter Kate Adie and the Radio 4 presenter Libby Purves, though to no avail. "I predicted that Kate Adie would be a war zone," remarked Whitaker after his defeat.

The mysterious casting of Kimberly

News of the latest stunt (cry for help?) from the ITV casting department. Hercule Poirot is to have its very own celebrity cameo. You know, like Posh Spice on Ugly Betty. Only this time it's Kimberly Stewart doing the acting. Stewart is an unusual casting decision – the leggy daughter of Rod, her experience of acting is precisely nil. So whodunnit? No, really?

Campbell gets it on his chest

It's enough to make Peaches et al stop in their tracks. The once rebellious practice of tattooing has found a new poster boy – in the straight-faced form of Alastair Campbell. Blair's former spinner, now compulsive blogger, was filming a documentary on his footballing obsession, Burnley FC, when he was convinced by a local tattoo artist to get the club's crest "inked" on to his chest. How very Mötley Crüe of him. Well, sort of. In the event, we're assured, Campbell went for a temporary option.

Balls' slow start

Pandora's heart goes out to Ed Balls, up at the crack of dawn yesterday. Clearly, the early start was an anomaly for the Schools Secretary. "On the way to Cabinet," he tweeted, groggily. "9am start not v family-friendly." Hang on. 9am? Why, that's the hour that Pandora takes to her desk. Clearly Balls could never hack it in the gossip world.

Calling (almost) all MPs

We predict a busy day in Westminster next Tuesday when the Commons Office holds its surgery for members.

Up for discussion? "Advice for MPs standing down and advice on employment and financial matters." Expect to see half of the Tory backbench rocking up.

pandora@independent.co.uk

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