Pandora: Poster wars arrive in Norwich North

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The Independent Online

The Norwich North by-election gets stranger by the second. Labour's campaign has already been marred by a rogue case of swine flu (patient: candidate Chris Ostrowski). Now the Lib Dem hopeful, April Pond, has been hit with a mysterious string of poster thefts.

Indeed, we're told the row has become so heated that police have been called in to get to the bottom of it. "We decided to give them a ring this morning," explains a spokesman. "There has been all sorts of talk about what has happened, but we don't know yet who the culprit is."

Some within the party ranks, however, have been pointing the finger at Craig Murray, the renegade former British ambassador to Uzbekistan, who is standing as an independent candidate in the race. For his part, Murray insists he has had no hand in the matter. Indeed, he claims to have been informed by the local fire service of a Labour Party vehicle seen cruising the area, removing all Opposition posters.

"You really think anyone who's going to go taking posters down would do it in a Labour car?" snaps a Labour representative at the suggestion. "That would just be stupid wouldn't it? It's complete nonsense."

Fatherhood de-feathering Clarke's nest

Crunch time over at Maison Clarke (that's as in Nicky, not Charles), where the flaxen-haired celebrity snipper is feeling the sharp end of young people's unemployment. "My son has just graduated from university," he complains. "He wants to go into finance but all they're offering is unpaid work. So I'm having to pay him an allowance. His friends get so much I can't keep up!"

End of the empire for Johnson

Who would have thought it? The fall of the Ottoman empire, all down to Boris Johnson's (great) granddad. Well, sort of. The esteemed historian Andrew Mango is soon to publish his latest tome, in which he will argue that the death of the liberal journalist Ali Kemal (Bozza Snr to you and I) prompted similar-minded Turks to seek refuge. "It stoked the panic that caused Vehadettin, the last Ottoman sultan, to flee – smuggled out in an ambulance to a waiting British warship," explains Mango.

Shayler isn't always Dolores

Ping! An email arrives from David Shayler. Are we under surveillance? The former spook seeks to elaborate on Pandora's recent revelations that he was squatting at a National Trust property in Surrey. "Obviously I'm not living full-time as Dolores," (his transvestite alter ego) he writes. "I probably dress once or twice a week at the moment. I'm not gay. It's as if I fancy women so much that I want to be one, but only on a temporary basis. Any spiritual teacher will tell you that the ultimate goal of the journey is to combine and balance the masculine and feminine." Which, naturally, explains everything.

Draper dodges the cyber-police

However humiliated Derek Draper may be feeling, perhaps he can count himself lucky not to be in Pakistan. So tired is President Asif Ali Zardari of the constant circulation by text and email of jokes at his expense that he has made it punishable by up to 14 years in prison. Fourteen years? That's a bit much isn't it, Pandora enquires of Draper, a honed practitioner of the email joke. "I'm not interested," snaps the smear maestro. "I don't have any thoughts." Mr Zardari's not the only one without a sense of humour, then.