The Box: RAC to Rose's rescue

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The Independent Online
JEFFREY Rose, the former chairman of the Royal Automobile Club who was forced out of his job after he wrote to members urging them to make a cash killing by floating off the RAC rescue service, kept his rather grand Bentley as part of his leaving package. Unfortunately, last week it broke down three times. Ironically, it was those helpful men in an RAC van who came to his rescue each time. Now why did Jeffrey ever think he could make do without them?

Trouble with truffles

NEW Yorkers who are fed up with Clinton's Zippergate saga have a new oral scandal to occupy their frenetic minds: "Trufflegate". Apparently most of the city's top restaurants - Le Cirque 2000, Restaurant Daniel, Bouley and Jean-Georges - buy their truffles from an Italian company called Urbani Tartufi. Now Urbani has been caught with 100,000lb of illegal Chinese black truffles in one of its Italian warehouses. What's the difference? The Chinese variety sells for $10 a pound while the Italian ones go for more than $300. All the chefs, according to the New York Post, are adamant that they could not have been fooled into serving the inferior Chinese kind to their glittering customers. However, in Pandora's opinion the American public will swallow just about anything.

Nissan's hero Cedric

TONY Blair's admiration for the absurd neo-gothic Walter Scott potboiler Ivanhoe is apparently shared by much of the Japanese nation. The book is such a favourite that Nissan has named its top-of-the-line car after one of its characters: Cedric. Unfortunately, the vehicle is only sold in Japan. However, Pandora is happy to provide readers with a few ridiculous lines from the book, to wit: "He had thin silver bracelets upon his arms, and on his neck a collar of the same metal bearing the inscription, `Wamba, the son of Witless, is the thrall of Cedric of Rotherwood.'"

The Prescott wake-up call

MARGARET and Leo Beckett occupy an impressive government flat in Whitehall that comes with its own snooze alarm. Every morning they are roused from sleep by the sound of their upstairs neighbour trudging heavy-footed across the floor from his bed to the lavatory, pausing for a few moments, then trudging back. Their neighbour is, of course, Deputy Prime Minister John Prescott.

Busy Mr Mellor

DAVID Mellor, former MP and "minister for fun", was invited recently to be the guest speaker at an Inn on the Park banquet held by Movers & Shakers, a group of British property industry leaders. The fee for his appearance was agreed at pounds 3,500. Invitations specified "7:30 pm for 8" and Mr Mellor duly turned up on time. The only problem was that he had arranged a private meeting to take place in the hotel's bar. When eight- thirty had come and gone, a representative of Movers & Shakers approached Mr Mellor and asked if he would like to come join the group? No, he was too busy. Finally, at 8:55pm, the great man finished his private business and deigned to join the group who were paying him handsomely. Humble pie was obviously not on the menu.

Spotting George Michael

HOW eerie that George Michael was arrested for lewd conduct in a Beverly Hills toilet located in Will Rogers Memorial Park. It was Will Rogers, the American cracker-barrel philosopher, who became famous for saying, "I never met a man I didn't like."

Mexican knicker protest

MEANWHILE, a group of Mexicans have come up with a unique form of protest. Bank debtors who suffered during the 1994 crash of the peso are up in arms about legislation being considered in the Mexican congress. They are hanging clothes lines festooned with underwear - including red lace knickers and white boxer shorts - across the doors of the country's finance ministry. As a smoker and drinker outraged by the last budget, Pandora is considering hanging a few suspender belts and Y-fronts across Gordon Brown's front door in Downing Street.