Pandora's column

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The Independent Online
Sir Elton John has a clear picture of his own style. Flashy, over the top, flamboyant: call it what you will, Sir Elton always projects a glamour all his own. You may not wish to emulate it, but you had better respect it. Photographer David LaChapelle found this out in Los Angeles recently. On a photo shoot for Citibank, the sponsors of his latest world tour, Sir Elton was asked by the snapper to push a shopping trolley containing nothing but a huge Citibank credit card. "I'll look like a big fat homeless person pushing that thing!" protested the perfectly proportioned, amazingly svelte, multi-home-owner. He immediately walked off the set and retired to his stretch limousine. When the producer tried to coax him back through a cracked window, according to the New York Post, Sir Elton told him, "You can take your $5m and stick it up your c**t!" Oh dearie.

Isn't this taking Minimalism a bit too far? The Met Bar, London's most fashionable drinking den until the Pharmacy opened last month, has removed all the loo seats in the Gents. When I asked the staff for a line of explanation, all I received was a knowing smirk. Can any readers help enlighten Pandora?

In late November, The Spectator published an article about Harry Evans, the former head of Random House in New York City and Tina Brown's husband. The article by Toby Young raised the question of Evans' sudden departure from the Newhouse empire to become editorial director of the NY Daily News. Was he pushed or did he jump? Young believed the former. Almost two months later, Evans sent The Spectator a letter - longer than Toby Young's original article - in which he demanded a "correction" and a printed apology. Frank Johnson, The Spectator's editor, told Pandora, "I think we are playing a collateral part in Evans's total campaign against Toby Young." Apparently Evans has reacted badly to a New York newspaper's report that Young is hard at work on a play about the media scene in the Big Apple, particularly the feud between the New Yorker's Tina Brown and Vanity Fair's Graydon Carter. "And he sent another legal letter to Young," Johnson reports, "which warned that he must not ridicule him `in any jurisdiction' ". Presumably that includes Off-Broadway theatres as well. Toby Young is outraged by this infringement of his First Amendment rights. Pandora's worry is that fighting for his civil liberties may prevent Toby from finishing his marvellous play.

Anxiety about Iraqi terrorism on these shores is affecting politicians as far away as Cardiff. The bomb squad was recently called out by a local councillor when he received a suspicious package in the mail. Just before they were about to conduct a controlled explosion, one of the squad detected a peculiar sloshing noise. In fact the package was a heaping load of fresh cockles, sent by a South Wales firm, Leslie Parsons Cockles, who are lobbying against change in legislation protecting their local shellfish industry.

Remember Primary Colors, the scathing political satire about the first Clinton campaign? Now it has been turned into a heartwarming comedy in which John Travolta plays a cuddly Clinton-like President. How did fictional acid rain turn into tepid drizzle? Clinton met with Travolta before shooting commenced and asked the star about his well-known Scientologist convictions. "Sounds great," Clinton said and volunteered to take up the Scientologists' defence in their current epic legal battle with the German government. I suppose we're lucky that the IRA is not bankrolling a White House satire.