Pandora: SAS showdown for portly parliamentarians
Monday 18 February 2008
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."
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."
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