Pandora: SAS showdown for portly parliamentarians

Ping! An arresting invitation lands in the email inboxes of our elected representatives. MPs are encouraged to undergo an SAS training course for a television series that involves "politicians competing against each other in an environment that will develop mental and physical strength".

Unlike the most-lunched parliamentarians, there is not, yet, much flesh to go on the bones. The production company, Sweet Pictures, remains mute on how much mud-diving and living on worms in the desert will be required. It will, however, favour applications from upholstered, wheezier politicians. The "perfect" contenders include that bewhiskered foe of Gordon Brown, Charles "Two Pizzas" Clarke – so called for his acclaimed feat with the quattro stagione in Pizza Express – and Nicholas "Fatty" Soames, whose celebrated love-making technique is, in the words of a former beneficiary, akin to "having a fully loaded wardrobe fall on you with the key still in".

Fifty press-ups! NOW! You snivelling little...

Good vibrations: Summers makes her way to the Palace

News, truly, to bring a rosy glow to one's cheeks on a nippy February morning. Jacqueline Gold, the chief executive of Ann Summers and Britain's purveyor-in-chief of assorted connubial apparatus, will tonight meet Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II. She will be presented to Liz at a swish St James's Palace function marking the 175th anniversary of the Retail Trust charity.

The encounter is sure to be brief and loaded: it was only on Valentine's Day one year ago that the two women locked eyes for the first time. Their aides had fought a grisly public brawl during the Queen's Golden Jubilee, which Gold, above, commemorated by using HM's image to promote a Wild Guide To Sex. (Liz's head carried a thought bubble, "Phwoar, one must get one.")

Gold was blackballed from Buckingham Palace's Women of Excellence lunch. She denounced the Queen as "short sighted".

But the Palace relented and 12 months ago gave the entrepreneur her overdue moment at the cucumber sandwich buffet, at a luncheon for women in business.

The Queen looked at Gold's lapel badge and said: "Oh, Ann Summers!" Gold recalled: "The twinkle in her eye meant it was obvious she knew who I was."

A one-on-one audience with the Queen over high tea can only, perhaps, be procured by the launch of a whirring Union-Jack-covered prothalamic gizmo.

Name change in vain for plain old 'Ben'

When Ben Kingsley insisted on being addressed as "Sir Ben" – his knighthood in 2001 was, he claimed, "an invitation by the realm and the Prime Minister to say, 'He now plays for England, so perhaps you should listen to him a little more diligently' – colleagues snorted. "Pretentious bollocks," hooted Sir Roger Moore. "Insanity," declared Sir Anthony Hopkins. "Barmy," said Lord Puttnam.

The derision has found its mark. "Call me anything!" Kingsley insisted, when Pandora met him at a Grand Classics film night knees-up. "Honestly, that is all out the window. Call me anything you like. Really."

Kingsley, 64, dedicated his own Grand Classics evening (Wings Of Desire by Wim Wenders ) to his Brazilian fourth wife, Daniela Barbosa de Carneiro, 34, left.

Ben urged the public to stop binning (hazardous) old cellulose nitrate film. "People go into their attics and find old reels and throw them away," he said. "They forget that amazing British film talent is to be found in the legions of silent films we have. It's awful to think people just erase them."

A fitting Senderoff

A weekend thumping by Man Utd overshadowed the 23rd birthday of Arsenal's bruising Swiss defender, Philippe Senderos.

I hope festivities did not play a role in the capitulation. On Friday, a surprise party was thrown for the redoubtable Senderos, right, in the Willow Room at Gordon Ramsay's Boxwood Café. Arsenal's midfield motor, Cesc Fabregas, is said to have attended.

"It was very well behaved," says a source. "Not like Man U's dodgy Christmas party."

Blond moment

Oh, Boris. Pandora's fax machine spits out Johnson's first blunder in the bout to be London mayor. Bozza has written to all London MPs courteously informing them that he will soon park his tanks on their lawns – not a metaphor in some precincts of the capital – and visit their constituents ahead of the 1 May ballot. He directs queries to his campaign office; phone number 020 7202 ----.

Callers are greeted with the recorded message: "Welcome to the Metropolitan Police voicemail system. To log in to your own mailbox, press #1..."



* A Lib-Dem frontbencher last week witnessed a Japanese tourist approach a policeman outside the St Stephen's entrance to the Palace of Westminster. "What is this place?" asked the Nikon-waving excursionist. Replied the hard-boiled constable, without hesitation: "London Zoo, mate."

Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs People

HR Analyst - Banking - Bristol - £350-£400

£350 - £400 per day: Orgtel: HR Analyst - Banking - Bristol - £350 - £400 per ...

HR Manager - HR Generalist / Sole in HR

£30000 - £35000 per annum + benefits: Ashdown Group: HR Manager - HR Generalis...

Business Analyst - Banking - London - £350-£400

£350 - £400 per day: Orgtel: Business Analyst - Banking - People Change - Lond...

HR Manager - Milton Keynes - £50,000 + package

£48000 - £50000 per annum + car allowance + benefits: Ashdown Group: HR Shared...

Day In a Page

Ferguson: In the heartlands of America, a descent into madness

A descent into madness in America's heartlands

David Usborne arrived in Ferguson, Missouri to be greeted by a scene more redolent of Gaza and Afghanistan
BBC’s filming of raid at Sir Cliff’s home ‘may be result of corruption’

BBC faces corruption allegation over its Sir Cliff police raid coverage

Reporter’s relationship with police under scrutiny as DG is summoned by MPs to explain extensive live broadcast of swoop on singer’s home
Lauded therapist Harley Mille still in limbo as battle to stay in Britain drags on

Lauded therapist still in limbo as battle to stay in Britain drags on

Australian Harley Miller is as frustrated by court delays as she is with the idiosyncrasies of immigration law
Lewis Fry Richardson's weather forecasts changed the world. But could his predictions of war do the same?

Lewis Fry Richardson's weather forecasts changed the world...

But could his predictions of war do the same?
Kate Bush asks fans not to take photos at her London gigs: 'I want to have contact with the audience, not iPhones'

'I want to have contact with the audience, not iPhones'

Kate Bush asks fans not to take photos at her London gigs
Under-35s have rated gardening in their top five favourite leisure activities, but why?

Young at hort

Under-35s have rated gardening in their top five favourite leisure activities. But why are so many people are swapping sweaty clubs for leafy shrubs?
Tim Vine, winner of the Funniest Joke of the Fringe award: 'making a quip as funny as possible is an art'

Beyond a joke

Tim Vine, winner of the Funniest Joke of the Fringe award, has nigh-on 200 in his act. So how are they conceived?
The late Peter O'Toole shines in 'Katherine of Alexandria' despite illness

The late Peter O'Toole shines in 'Katherine of Alexandria' despite illness

Sadly though, the Lawrence of Arabia star is not around to lend his own critique
Wicken Fen in Cambridgeshire: The joy of camping in a wetland nature reserve and sleeping under the stars

A wild night out

Wicken Fen in Cambridgeshire offers a rare chance to camp in a wetland nature reserve
Comic Sans for Cancer exhibition: It’s the font that’s openly ridiculed for its jaunty style, but figures of fun have their fans

Comic Sans for Cancer exhibition

It’s the font that’s openly ridiculed for its jaunty style, but figures of fun have their fans
Besiktas vs Arsenal: Five things we learnt from the Champions League first-leg tie

Besiktas vs Arsenal

Five things we learnt from the Champions League first-leg tie
Rory McIlroy a smash hit on the US talk show circuit

Rory McIlroy a smash hit on the US talk show circuit

As the Northern Irishman prepares for the Barclays, he finds time to appear on TV in the States, where he’s now such a global superstar that he needs no introduction
Boy racer Max Verstappen stays relaxed over step up to Formula One

Boy racer Max Verstappen stays relaxed over step up to F1

The 16-year-old will become the sport’s youngest-ever driver when he makes his debut for Toro Rosso next season
Fear brings the enemies of Isis together at last

Fear brings the enemies of Isis together at last

But belated attempts to unite will be to no avail if the Sunni caliphate remains strong in Syria, says Patrick Cockburn
Charlie Gilmour: 'I wondered if I would end up killing myself in jail'

Charlie Gilmour: 'I wondered if I'd end up killing myself in jail'

Following last week's report on prison suicides, the former inmate asks how much progress we have made in the 50 years since the abolition of capital punishment