Pandora: Sex and the Senedd
Wednesday 23 April 2008
Flying leeks, sing-song Welsh-accented expletives and other crude national stereotypes... there is moral outrage in the Valleys. An episode of the S4C series Caerdydd (imagine a grown-up, raunchy Welsh-language Hollyoaks) was recently filmed inside the Welsh Assembly building, the Senedd, in Cardiff. It featured a young man and woman discussing Welsh foreign policy on Uganda, in a baby-changing room near the debating chamber.
Assembly officials gave the go-ahead but are now fuming, claiming that producers asked only for permission to shoot a "conversation scene" and not frenzied nooky. The Tory assembly member William Graham beats his breasts: "My mother would be outraged – and rightly so."
Chinese restaurant gives Prezza something to chew on
Pandora, like other snippy journalists, must eat humble pie over John Prescott's admission that he battled bulimia, having in recent years sarcastically referred to the former deputy prime minister as "wasting away" and being an Olympic emissary in the field of canapé eating. An easy target. Sorry, John.
It would be crass to link the following news, as some distasteful jokers have, to Prezza's binge-eat-and-vomit condition. Nevertheless, Hull City Council has released a most untimely report for the owners of JP's favoured Hull restaurant, Mr Chu's China Palace.
Prezza has long been Mr Chu's best publicist, dining there with aides and ministers right up to Tony Blair. But the council recently fined Mr Chu's £12,000 for environmental health breaches. The Hull Daily Mail has obtained the full report from an inspection in September 2007.
Hull's hygiene inspector was "very disappointed". Chopping boards were badly scratched, "posing a risk of contamination to food". Raw meat and poultry were found stored above and next to cooked rice in the fridge. Hand-washing was "inadequate".
What is more, he found "the electric fly-killer was situated directly above a work surface where open food was cooling. This poses a risk of contamination from flies being ejected into the uncovered food".
A visit in January found shortcomings addressed – albeit with raw pork stored above cooked food. The score was lifted from 20, "very poor", to 60, "acceptable". Takeaway, anyone?
By hook or by Crook, Mackenzie is a diplomat
Mackenzie Crook: comic, weird ratty-looking Gareth character from The Office, genuinely lovely bloke... Next up: UN peace envoy?
With train drivers from the Aslef union picketing the premiere of his film Three And Out – unhappy at its portrayal of track suicides – Crook displayed diplomatic credentials. Despite the organisers' efforts to protect "the talent", one union comrade slipped past the clipboard wavers and took up aposition next to Pandora in the press pen.
As Crook approached, fraternal spirit overcame the fellow. "Do you find people getting run over by trains funny, Mr Mackenzie?" he boomed.
"No," explained Crook. "Please go and see it and you'll realise we don't make fun of this issue." Diffusing done, the actor politely declined an invitation to sit next to the protester inside: "You won't be allowed."
It is difficult to pity the enchanting new Bond girl and welder's daughter Gemma Arterton, but do your best.
Arterton, 22, is sadly unable to shed light on the bizarre weekend accident which trashed 007's Aston Martin DBS – because she has not been allowed anywhere near the purring machine. A stunt man drove the car into Lake Garda while delivering it in heavy rain to the Italian set of James Bond's latest outing, Quantum of Solace. "I never got to go in it," she tells Pandora. "I was always filmed in these old bangers. It wasn't very glamorous at all."
Still, every cloud etc. Gem is rumoured, unlike the flick's other beauty, Olga Kurylenko, to get to "pull" Daniel Craig.
Gentlemen (and ladies – we can be equal opportunities skinheads) – shave your skull, crack open a can of "wife beater" and rush to the tattoo parlour. It's St George's Day! Following a question at yesterday's 11am lobby briefing, the Government decided to "reclaim" the flag of England's patron saint by asking public buildings with two flagpoles to this morning display the red cross, alongside the Union Jack, which takes precedence. No 10 will lead the way. St Andrew and St David will be similarly recognised.
* Woe unto you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! The Business Secretary, John Hutton, asks us to tip waiting staff. He prompts an irritable response from a Sky News employee. "Pity he didn't feel this way when I used to serve him and his children dinner at the Fisherman's Arms Hotel in Baycliff, Cumbria," says Kris Jepson. "He ate there several times during my stint as waiter and never tipped us."
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