The Box

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Riding the merry-go-round

THE "new" Max Hastings, the Evening Standard's crusading editor who warned Londoners off Jeffrey Archer two weeks ago, is about to give further proof of his reformist zeal. He is poised to give Steven Glover his old media column back; Glover is also giving up his political column at the Telegraph to write on politics for the Daily Mail. Media observers will recall that Glover viciously attacked Hastings when he was editor of the Daily Telegraph. When Sir David English lured Hastings away to edit London's only afternoon daily, it was a foregone conclusion that Glover, a founder of The Independent, would be one of the first victims on Hastings' fortnight of the long knives. So it was, but now Hastings is forgiving Glover and welcoming him back into the fold. In the meantime, Glover, exchanging Conrad Black's silver for Lord Rothermere's gold, will be missed. "He's one of my closest friends, but I can't really stand in his way," says Frank Johnson, editor of the Spectator. "One always wants their friends to get rich."

Plight of the seatless

"SEATLESS" is the political equivalent of homeless - and sometimes it can be just as distressing to view. Such was the case last Tuesday at about 11.20am when Pandora wandered through the entrance hall of Conservative Central Office at Smith Square. Stretched out fast asleep on the sofa was former sports minister Ian Sproat, who lost his seat at the last election. Won't somebody help this seatless man get back in power? No? That's fine then.

Naked double standards

CASTING directors book your flights now! An Italian village in the region of Caserta contains 1,000 residents who are distant relatives of Leonardo Di Caprio, according to the Italian magazine Oggi. Apparently Leonardo's great- grandfather, Giuseppe, left the village of Trentola Ducenta in 1891 and sailed off to America. One of his local cousins has written an open letter to Hollywood's hottest star with an invitation he can hardly refuse: "We'll have you to dinner and introduce you to a beautiful girl from your family's hometown." A visit could divert Leonardo from his legal battle with American magazine Playgirl. He objects to the magazine's plan to run naked, previously published photographs of himself. He had no objection to talking Kate Winslet into posing nude for him on their first date on the Titanic. Isn't what's good for the goose...?

World Cup-free zone

PANDORA salutes the French region of Alsace, home of France's fattest sausages, for making the most of what it doesn't have. The Alsatian tourist board has launched a campaign promoting the fact that there will be no World Cup matches in the region this summer. According to tourism director Olivier de Richiufftz, "You can be a football supporter and watch the games on television in very comfortable conditions ... after a lovely outing in Alsace." And a very filling lunch.

Those who can't, teach

A READER has sent Pandora a possible explanation behind last week's story about the faulty English used on some GCSE English exam papers. Course literature from the Open University's post-graduate teacher-training course refers to "teaching competences" as in "The Open University ... describes the teaching process in terms of five areas of teaching competences."

Lethal tiny tots

THE headlines about the children's massacre in Jonesboro have disappeared. Meanwhile, it's business as usual for the American gun lobby. "The future of the shooting sports and our Second Amendment will rest on the shoulders of our grandchildren - and theirs," said the head of the National Rifle Association recently in an advertisement. "That's why, as NRA president, my major priorities are to reach out to America's youth." Presumably even the NRA would caution their gun-toting kids not to accept bullets from strangers.

Hard to swallow

THE President of the United States is scheduled to come to Birmingham in mid-May for the G8 World Summit meeting. Although he has not yet confirmed the booking, Clinton is expected to stay at the city's Swallow Hotel. Why are you laughing?