Pandora: Oddie in a flap at humanist buses

Author: By Alice-Azania Jarvis

The quirky bird watcher tells me that he’s launched a personal campaign against a decision by the Humanist Association to decorate London buses with the slogan: “There’s probably no God, now stop worrying and enjoy your life.”

He claims to have petitioned the association in writing and over the telephone, but to no avail.

“What they are doing is dangerous,” he insists. “In doing something like that they’re speaking straight to extremists. I’d like to know how they sleep the night after one of those buses gets blown up.

“I’ve put that point to their head office and you know what she said? That’s why they put the word ‘probably’ in. It’s pathetic.

“The problem is that they’ve aligned themselves with Richard Dawkins. I would happily design dozens of alternative slogans for them. There are so many good things that they could advertise and instead they’ve chosen to go with Dawkins.”

Alas, a spokesperson from the Humanist Association tells me that Oddie’s generous offer has come too late. “We raised all the money on the merit of that slogan so we can’t change it now, though I do intend to get in touch about the possibility of future support,” she said.

The critics don’t get to Gok

fighting talk from Gok Wan over his latest project, Miss Naked Beauty. The perky fashionista ? who endeared himself to the masses with his previous TV show, How To Look Good Naked ? has taken a mauling over his new programme’s competitive edge.

Although the show is billed as “the definitive hunt for a woman who embodies confidence”, some reviewers have claimed that it is quite the opposite, with the harshly critiqued contestants often left in tears.

But, Wan tells me, as

far as he’s concerned it’s all water off a duck’s back.

“Some people just don’t get it. There has been some controversy, but I think that that mainly comes from people who don’t understand the concept. When you challenge society like that, you are bound to get a reaction along those lines. I’m sure that by the end of the show they all will have changed their minds and fallen in love with it.”

Not so amazing for Grace

Pandora wasn’t sure what to make of Mel B’s outfit for the Mobo awards last month. Sporting a matching pink dress and hood, the retired Spice Girl cited Eighties oddball Grace Jones as her “inspiration”.

Now it seems Jones was equally unmoved. “I heard about that afterwards,” she told me at the premier of Monkey: Journey to the West. “It’s not like it’s anything new. People have been doing the flat-top hair thing for ages and I’ve had designers copy me so, you know, it’s not the first time.”

In for higher praise was her new album. “Everyone says it’s the best work I’ve ever done,” she boasted.

Mandy makes it a date… eventually

Since Lord Mandelson’s effortless glide back into the Cabinet, we’ve heard surprisingly little on the state of (power) play between him and Gordon Brown.

But the PM’s authority appeared to get its first test during this week’s PMQs, when the Labour backbencher Claire Curtis-Thomas complained that the Mandelson had declined to meet her to discuss payments to government contractors. Brown assured her that his former foe would be “happy” to meet, and a date would be arranged. Mandelson’s office says he has been willing to meet Curtis-Thomas all along and she simply “got her facts wrong”. But the Brownites say that the PM has won the day: Mandy is to meet her on Monday.

The other royal anniversary

What with the fuss surrounding Prince Charles’s 60th birthday today, another royal anniversary has been entirely overlooked. The historians Lady Antonia Fraser and David Starkey remind me that Monday marks the 550th anniversary of Elizabeth I’s accession to the throne. And the duo, both biographers of the monarch, are determined the occasion doesn’t pass without celebration. “We’re planning a private drink in her honour,” they chuckle.

Cleese hair today (and yesterday)

Those surprised by John Cleese’s candid revelation of his hair transplant (or his “Elton John”, as it’s known in the trade) would do well to bear in mind that this isn’t his first dalliance with follicular fakery. On the contrary, the veteran comic first admitted to restorative work some 20 years ago while appearing on a chat show with Michael Aspel. Not that it, er, showed.

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