Sweaty Tony: getting under the skin of a perspiring PM

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The Independent Online

* Mr Tony's aides used to think his drenched blue shirts went down well with the public - he "gave his all" for big speeches.

But as Labour's problems grew and the PM's authority lessened, his rising damp became a problem. The spreading dark tracts suggested anxiety or strain. No matter that the air conditioning broke at 2003's G8 summit: he seemed pressured by the Iraq war. The same on Question Time before the 2005 election.

Now the friend of a London dermatologist tells Pandora that Blair has been treated at her clinic to reduce his perspiration: "It's no big deal. He speaks for ages under bright lights."

What can such treatment entail? A leading dermatolo-gist tells me: "If you want to stop sweating all over you use Robinul tablets, which must be taken every day.

"Alternatively you could try iontophoresis, where you place your hands and feet in a powdered bath and a DC electric current is sent through the water, resetting the sweat glands.

"Or you could try Botox, injected into sweat glands rather than the muscle."

He adds: "We could have sorted Tony Blair out."

Says a second consultant: "Surgery involves cutting nerves at the base of the neck, impairing signals sent to the sweat glands."

The Downing Street press office doesn't seem zealously enthused by the prospect of asking Tony about his armpits.

A No 10 spokeswoman rings back: "Your story is complete rubbish." So the PM has never spoken to any dermatologist? "Correct."

Believe who you will.

* British singer Corinne Bailey Rae may be the darling of the middle-aged jazz crowd (a tad harsh), but she owes her latest gig to a younger fan.

Bailey Rae provides the soundtrack for the film Venus, for which Peter O'Toole is Oscar nominated. She came on board after being recommended to director Roger Michell by his teenage daughter.

"She dragged me into Woolworths last summer and forced me to buy one of Corrine's singles," Michell told me at the movie's premiere. "We played it in the car on the way to Devon and by the time we'd reached Bristol I'd decided I had to use her in the film.

"My daughter only discovered she didn't get any recognition in the film's credits yesterday and is still furious."

Nice-as-pie Bailey Rae has yet to gauge what the stars of the feature think. With the great Peter O'Toole standing yards away from her on the red carpet, she told me: "I haven't met him but I think I'll stay out of his way this evening, I'm not the sort to push forward."

* I hear that the Oscar-nominated actor Will Smith has ordered a customised "Amosu" diamond-encrusted mobile - so-called after the gem-wielding phonesmith Alexander Amosu who has similarly kitted out Jamiroquai singer Jay Kay with "bling" earwear.

Amosu buys the phone and the diamonds for £4,000, sticks them together, and sells them to his rich clients for £7,500. Smith, pictured at right with Amosu, expects his in time for Valentine's Day.

An identical phone has been made for a more intriguing client - the biotechnology entrepreneur Sir Christopher Evans, better known to the public for loaning money to the Labour Party and becoming the third man arrested in the "cash for peerages" investigation.

Phones: less controversial.

* Last Summer, Ealing MP Stephen Pound was awarded the dubious honour of being the Labour Party's official blogger.

Already, the tumbleweeds are blowing across his space on Labour's website.

Cybersquatters say Pound's blog began entertainingly - certainly more so than David Miliband's, "which is like watching paint dry online" - but it has not been updated since November.

When I inform Pound that his site has fallen into disrepair, he promises to leap into action.

"To be honest, I'd forgotten all about it," he tells me. "It was one of those passing fads which fell victim to other commitments.

"If it's still up on the site I'll post something on it tomorrow."

* Should any Pandora readers be passing the Jewish Cultural Centre in Hampstead, north London, in a fortnight, they may care to pop in for a peek at paintings by the actor Sir Antony Sher. The Shakespearean, whose autobiography was compelling for its descriptions of "cottaging" and his mid-90s cocaine use, plans a rare portraits exhibit. Most intriguing will be a triptych Sher painted after the death of his father, executed in "oils, cocaine and Dad's ashes". (Not a medium available in good local art shops.) There is also a nude study at 47 "with a purple, but modestly proportioned, member".

Sher tells the Jewish Chronicle: "I wanted art to be the thing I did for myself. It is quite something to be endlessly the subject of [theatrical] criticism. And I didn't want that for my art." No comment.

pandora@independent.co.uk

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