THE SAVAGE attack on 10 Downing Street by political editor Kevin Maguire in yesterday's Mirror was aimed squarely at "Teflon" Tony Blair and his gruff press chief Alastair Campbell. Will Maguire's charge that Blair is "badly out of touch with his People" and has "mishandled" Emperor Akihito's visit stick to the Prime Minister? (Pandora was pleased to see Maguire reminding his readers of how rudely Campbell had once dismissed an Independent journalist's cautionary words concerning a visit by the Japanese royal.) Relations between the Government and the Mirror took a nose dive following the widely-reported fiasco of "Clinton's letter to the people of Northern Ireland", which Maguire initiated and wrote only to see it passed by Downing Street and published in the Sun! After Maguire's hate "letter" to Blair yesterday, there seems little hope of New Labour and the Mirror returning to their former lovey-dovey relationship anytime soon.
CHARMING Fiona Macleod from St Leonards School, St Andrews, rang Pandora yesterday to express thanks for some words of praise contained in Tuesday's column. Readers will recall that four female student journalists from the school published a devastating profile of Peter Mandelson in Monday's Telegraph. Ms Macleod, who is business development director at the school, said that, contrary to how it might have appeared, the Minister without Portfolio did not take the young journalists for granted. "In fact, he seemed really uncomfortable," she told Pandora. "And the girls did not enjoy it at all." When you add this to the unpleasant reception he received from the students at his old Oxford college recently one thing seems clear: Mandelson should not be heading to Education in the next re-shuffle.
IS IT A SPOOF, a statement about art or a work of art? Is there any longer a distinction between the three? If you were crossing London Bridge this morning between 7:45am and 9:15am you may have been asked to wear a paper headband and to sign a form acknowledging that you were being nominated for the Turner Prize. The "artistic happening" was the incredible brainchild of Anthony Samuelson who promises that, should it subsequently win the Turner Prize, all participants will receive a share of the pounds 20,000 award. Pandora has another happening suggestion. Why doesn't the Turner Prize declare itself a work of contemporary art. Then it can give itself the prize and disappear up its own backside forever.
Is the pendulum swinging back in the direction of the Civil Service when it comes to Whitehall press offices? So it seems. After the recent appointment of journalists Sheree Dodd to Northern Ireland and John Williams, to the Foreign Office, Pandora has learned that veteran civil servant Philip Aylett has been named to the press office at the Department of Health. Hacks will remember Aylett fondly from his days working for Bernard Ingham in Thatcher's Downing Street bunker.
VIAGRA, the latest miracle drug for impotent men, has predictably spawned a whole litter of bad jokes in America. These include new spurious "related" drugs, including Liagra. "This drug causes men to be less than truthful when being asked about their sexual activities. Will be available in Regular and Presidential Strength versions."