Pandora: Paxman's lesson in not-so-artful dodging

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The Independent Online

Festival crowds can be a nightmare, can't they?

Just ask Jeremy Paxman who, on Monday night, was forced to deal with an untimely interrogation from an audience member after delivering a lecture at the Edinburgh Literary Festival.

The BBC inquisitor has been offering a 45-minute talk – a snip at £9 – about the Victorians and their art, the subject of his much-hyped recent book.

After delivering the goods, however, Paxo made the schoolboy error of opening the subject to the floor, at which point he became the subject of rather more probing than he would have liked.

As it happened, of considerably more interest to those assembled was whether or not the Newsnight host would do what the Prime Minister had (at the time) so strenuously avoided, and offer an opinion on the release of the Lockerbie bomber, Abdelbaset Ali al-Megrahi.

"I have strong views on this subject, but I'm not going to tell you what they are," retorted Paxman when the matter was raised.

Alas, evasion wasn't so easy, and the questions kept coming. "Why should I answer the question?" he snapped, eventually. "I know what will happen. One of your august journalists will write this up and I will be in the poo again."

Not quite as comfy on the other side of the question-mark is it?

Brown changes his tune on reunion

Is no reunion off limits? The Stone Roses have long insisted that they were immune from the temptations of the comeback tour. Now, however, they don't sound so sure. "I'd do it for charity and give all the money to youth clubs," the band's frontman, Ian Brown, above, tells Q magazine. "The others would have to do the same." Just in case, Brown claims he is trying to find the shirt he wore in the "Fools Gold" video. "I gave it some kid in the 1990s. I just want to see it again."

Bannatyne's off-message pitch

Given the furore surrounding Duncan Bannatyne's holiday on the French Riviera (the versatile tycoon had been dishing out advice on the virtues of holidaying in the UK) his interview with FRANCE Magazine could have come at a better time. "I have a lovely five-bedroom villa that overlooks the Bay with a swimming pool at the front," he coos. "We're here almost every day that the children are off school. Our record is 45 nights. I'd make a full-time move tomorrow, but my wife isn't convinced."

Allen picks herself another battle

Not for the first time, Lily Allen finds herself engaged in a spat with the media. Last autumn the mouthy popette aimed her wrath at waspish Guardian columnist Marina Hyde, after the latter voiced her doubts over the publicity machine's description of Allen as "the Wordsworth of (her) generation." Now one of Hyde's colleagues – sports writer Will Buckley – has earned Ms Allen's wrath following a blog describing her appearance on Jonathan Agnew's cricket show as akin to watching a "middle-aged man panting on the edge of the dance floor". "He should apologise," harrumphs Allen online, whose attention was drawn to it by none other than Agnew himself. "Aggers was nothing but kind and gentlemanly to me."

Limit: 1 glass bubbly

Ping! An email arrives from the Skidelskys, inviting us to the launch of Lord Skidelsky's latest economic tome. At least... that's what we thought it was, until we opened the attachment. Instead, we've been sent an order for supplies ("champagne: 1 glass per person LIMIT."). Of course, the limit may be far lower if it's left to Pandora to provide the goods. Catering skills have never been our strong point.

pandora@independent.co.uk

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