QPR call in classical composer to help improve their game

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* First Tony Blair banged on about how much he likes football - and now another nail is to be knocked firmly into the coffin of the sport's laddish image.

The West London soccer club Queens Park Rangers is attempting to revolutionise the game by ditching the usual pop soundtrack that accompanies its players on to the pitch in favour of a specially commissioned classical score.

The Championship club - which has always enjoyed a somewhat cosy, middle- class image - has asked the film music composer Michael Nyman, who is a lifelong fan, to compose a piece of music to inspire the Loftus Road faithful before kick-off.

Nyman, above, best known for composing the soundtrack to the 1993 Oscar-winning film The Piano, tells me that he is more than willing to take up the task.

"It's my dream come true," he says. "I'd like to have it done for this season: QPR are mid-table at the moment, so maybe a bit of music with an energy thrust will motivate us to the play-offs, at least.

"I think this is the first time a classical composer has written something for this purpose - and a classical composer who is a fan, at that.

"I've got a lot of musician friends who are Chelsea fans, like Damon Albarn, and I don't think he's been asked to do a rousing Chelsea piece, so I think I may be blazing a trail."

Whether he manages to motivate the players or not remains to be seen.

* Bad news for the actor John Malkovich. Five years ago, the bearded Dangerous Liaisons star achieved the impressive feat of coaxing 300 Welsh women into bed in a bid to publicise a Cardiff hotel.

Now Malkovich plans to do the same thing in Cheltenham, where his hotelier friend Cosmo Fry is opening a new venture, but it is proving a little more difficult.

"We thought we'd invite girls from Cheltenham Ladies' College," says Fry. "John's definitely coming - he's up for it."

Despite priding itself on inculcating its pupils with "a sense of service and the value of community life", the college is blunt in reply.

"They've not asked us, and this is not something we would involve ourselves in," says a spokesman.

All is not lost, however. There are plenty of less cosseted young women in the town, which is widely believed to be the birthplace of the slang term "chav" - standing, it is thought, for Cheltenham Average.

* A blow for The Guardian, which almost persuaded the pop group Sugababes to become its opera reviewers.

The starlets were expected to attend the first night of Glyndebourne's next production, Tangier Tattoo, this Saturday and to write it up for the paper. Sadly, according to organisers, they've just pulled out.

"They're not doing it any more," I am told. "They couldn't make it."

While I'm sorry I'll miss out on their insights into the show, Pandora wonders if the paper's recent review of the group's latest album has soured relations between them. It describes the band as "manufactured pop" and writes off much of the album as "tedium".

* Fans of Oona King - the loyal New Labour MP who lost her Bethnal Green and Bow seat to George Galloway at the last election - can allow themselves a tentative smile.

For despite announcing quietly that she's changed her mind about the war in Iraq and now thinks it was rather a bad thing, she's preparing for a return to Parliament.

"Oona's had a meeting with Gordon Brown this week," says a friend. "He wants her to get involved in the Government's 'youth action' projects.

"He also wants her back in the Commons as soon as possible and basically told her to name her seat."

Pandora understands Ms King, also a close friend of the Foreign Secretary Jack Straw, is keen to reclaim her old constituency. "She's sure Galloway will shoot himself in the foot before long," adds my source.

* There's been a 25 per cent increase in the sales of the enticingly named Stinking Bishop cheese since it appeared in the new Wallace and Gromit film, The Curse of the Were-Rabbit. But the cheese's manufacturer considers himself above some avenues of commercial exploitation.

"I had Asda on the phone the other day," says Charles Martell. "They were asking to sell my cheese but I said 'no way'! We wouldn't be able to produce enough, for one thing, but having it in somewhere like Asda is not really the sort of thing I'd want to do, anyway."

These lofty words prompt a swift reply from the supermarket. "It's Edam shame he doesn't want to be part of our award-winning sourcing programme," says a spokesman. "Unfortunately, it's hard cheese for our customers." Geddit?

pandora@independent.co.uk

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