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Read by 1,985,000 adults every Saturday – 453,000 more than its nearest Saturday competitor Read by 1,160,000 affluent AB adults – 236,000 more than its nearest Saturday competitor Read by an audience who spent a massive £15 billion on fashion, cars, holidays, food & drink, gadgets, beauty and home wares in the last twelve months – £752 million more than the readers of its nearest Saturday competitor magazine Source: TGI GB 2008 Quarter 4 (July 2007 - June 2008)


ink e dr su is nd is a th o d it h f o W ph ra leg Te

Telegraph magazine 29 November 2008

Food for thought Enabling the world’s poorest children to eat and learn Enchanter’s tale The man who drew Meg and Mog takes on the Nutcracker Christmas wrapped 15 pages of present ideas for all the family

No false idol

How Will Young learnt to believe in himself


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29 NOVEMBER 2008 CONTENTS

JANE HAHN / PANOS PICT URES

30 Learning lifeline Children at Temas orphanage in Liberia, helped by Mary’s Meals

the front features 8 Wildlife Thank you, fans. 11 The world of Pablo Ganguli, cultural entrepreneur. 13 Shop! Mary Portas goes to Dunhill. 15 Retail therapy For women and men. 19 Christmas crackers The best in the box. 20 Get your coat It’s time to party. 25 Beauty news Winter-perfect base. 27 Social stereotypes The pub quiz team. Plus Children’s retail therapy

Cover Will Young, photographed by Lorenzo Agius. Suit by Prada; shirt by Lanvin

EDITOR MICHELE LAVERY. ACTING EDITOR KATHRYN HOLLIDAY. ART DIRECTOR Gary Cochran. FEATURES EDITOR Jessamy Calkin. PHOTOGRAPHY DIRECTOR Cheryl Newman. ASSISTANT EDITORS Francesca Ryan, Vicki Reid, Paul Davies. PRODUCTION EDITOR Denis Piggott. CONTRIBUTING EDITOR Drusilla Beyfus. STYLE DIRECTOR Tamsin Blanchard. ACTING STYLE DIRECTOR Cat Callender. FASHION DIRECTOR Daniela Agnelli. MEN’S FASHION EDITOR Clare Richardson. BEAUTY EDITOR Kate Shapland. DEPUTY PICTURE EDITOR Krishna Sheth. DEPUTY ART DIRECTOR Danielle Campbell. CHIEF SUB-EDITOR Jeremy Farr. SUB-EDITORS Sarah Stephens, Rachel Ward. EDITORIAL MANAGER Sophie Ryan. HOME EDITOR Annabel Freyberg. DEPUTY HOME EDITOR David Nicholls. FOOD EDITOR Carolyn Hart

30 Hunger for learning Mary’s Meals, one of three charities supported by this year’s Telegraph Christmas appeal, offers the world’s poorest children a meal a day in return for school attendance. Serena Allott sees the difference its work has made in Liberia 40 Cover From now on Will Young confronts his fears, brings out a new album – and addresses the Oxford Union. Interview by Sheryl Garratt 48 Grim tales Jan Pienkowski’s new book explores the dark side of the Nutcracker story. The Meg and Mog illustrator talks to Louise Carpenter 54 Page turner Cornelia Funke’s bestselling fantasy novel Inkheart has been made into a film. Craig McLean visits the set 62 Curiouser and curiouser Moved by her daughter’s fancy-dress party, the photographer Vee Speers has made haunting portraits of children. By Drusilla Beyfus 68 Capricorn one The finest cashmere comes from goats on the Mongolian steppes. Lisa Grainger meets the fashion baron who struck a deal with the animals’ herders

christmas presents 15 pages of gift ideas for all the family 75 Wrapping paper. 76 Home and eco. 79 Children 0-5. 81 Beauty. 82 Women. 85 Boys 5-12. 87 Girls 5-12. 88 Gardeners and pets. 91 Men. 93 Jewellery. 95 Teenage boys. 97 Teenage girls. 98 Gadgets. 101 List of stockists 120 Horoscopes What the week has in store 122 Flashback Dawn French recalls a visit from the Queen Mother

The magazine online Find content from this and previous issues of The Telegraph Magazine at telegraph.co.uk, together with online extras such as film trailers, videos and songs to download

© Telegraph Magazine 2008. Published by Telegraph Media Group Limited, 111 Buckingham Palace Road, London SW1W 0DT (020-7931 2000) and printed by Polestar Sheffield. Colour reproduction by Wyndeham Pre-Press Ltd, London. 2p a week, if delivered. Not to be sold separately from The Daily Telegraph. While every reasonable care will be taken, neither The Daily Telegraph nor its agents accept liability for loss or damage to colour transparencies or any other material submitted to the magazine.


Wildlife Thank you, fans

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BIGPICTURESPHOTO.COM. XPOSUREPHOTOS.COM. SPLASH NEWS. FILMMAGIC.COM. PLANET PHOTOS. GETTY IMAGES. WENN. PACIFICCOASTNEWS.COM. ALPHA. BARCROFT MEDIA. ASSOCIATED PRESS. PICTURE RESEARCH BY EVE SMITH. CAPTIONS BY GEORGIA DEHN

When the hand that feeds you is forever flapping about in your face with a pen and a grubby notebook in its fingers, it must be hard to resist the occasional nibble. Especially as dedicated autograph hunters tend to be either greedy or unhinged – not easy to smile and sign when you know that those programme covers and ticket stubs are going to wind up on eBay, or sewn into some pallid loner’s gusset. Choosing the right moment to alienate your fanbase is tricky, so perhaps it’s no surprise that the rhythmically wayward Ringo Starr recently got his timing all wrong. Declaring himself ‘too busy’ to sign autographs rang rather hollow coming 19 years after Ringo drew a line under his entertainment career by opting not to narrate the third series of Thomas the Tank Engine. ‘Too old’ would have played better. These days celebrities rarely act on impulse, so what appears an unplanned act of violent ingratitude towards their fans may in fact be a cunningly orchestrated deterrent. A single graphic obscenity etched into an autograph hunter’s forehead will ensure you’re left in peace for years, except by the armed and dangerously obsessed. Some assaults are surely born of a celebrity’s guilt-ridden sense of unworthiness. They don’t deserve fame, or the adoration that comes with it. Think of it as self-harming by proxy: in many ways, though not the ones that draw blood, they’re actually stabbing themselves in the hand with that Biro, or driving over their own feet. Still, better that than the embittered has-been who rages against the dying of the limelight, punishing a lonely loyal fan for not being the throng of old. After decades of professional obscurity and a cosmetic surgery habit that’s turned him into a half-melted Hallowe’en candle, Mickey Rourke should be grateful that anyone still recognises him at all. Tim Moore

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Signing off 1 ‘This is a serious message… I’m warning you, with peace and love,’ Ringo Starr said in a video clip titled ‘Sorry, no more signing stuff’ posted on his website. He said any fanmail received after October 20 would be ‘tossed’. 2 The actor Will Ferrell was this year named the worst celebrity signer by the US collectors’ magazine Autograph, whose editor said, ‘What makes him so bad is that he’ll taunt people asking for his autograph.’ Ferrell retorted, ‘I’m not perfect. I am happy to sign autographs, but if I am in a hurry, then I don’t.’ 3 After fans posted pictures of Kiefer Sutherland’s drink-driving arrest on the web, for a time he stopped signing autographs. ‘I don’t do that any more,’ he said. ‘You guys screwed me.’

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Touched by fame 4 Amy Winehouse’s fans continued to egg her on at Glastonbury this year, until she leapt into the crowd and started throwing punches. 5 Courtney Love likes to live up to her reputation as the most controversial woman in rock. In 2004 she was arrested after allegedly throwing a mike stand into the audience while performing at a New York club. 6 It is not only young royals who party hard at Boujis in London. It was reported that the surgically enhanced actor Mickey Rourke stole a young Ukrainian model from under the nose of her fuming boyfriend and got a bit rough with a fan who tried to take his picture at the club in September 2005. 7 James Blunt was accused of driving over the foot of a fan who tried to get his autograph after a pre-Oscars party last year. No action was taken. 8 It seems that life imitates art for Sopranos star James Gandolfini, who punched an over-enthusiastic autograph hunter at a New York airport in January.

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Lone stars 12 Gossip blogs went mad for the story that Justin Timberlake beat a hasty retreat from a restaurant during his Australian tour last year, leaving fans crying a river after promising to stay and talk to them once he’d dined. 13 Gawker, the American gossip site, claimed that Jake Gyllenhaal avoided admirers by pretending to be deep in conversation on his mobile phone. 14 When it all gets too much, the 1980s pop queen Cyndi Lauper has been known to tell fans she’s a Canadian backpacker so she doesn’t have to stop and talk, according to an Irish newspaper. 15 Lewis Hamilton said he was moving to Switzerland to escape obsessive fans – nothing to do with it being a tax haven. ‘I go to the bathroom in a petrol station and people come in for autographs,’ he said.

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See you in court 9 He may be a showman on stage but it seems Prince is shy when it comes to the internet. His lawyers forced his biggest fansites to remove ‘unofficial’ pictures of him but he denied threatening to sue. 10 JK Rowling stuck up for all authors when she embarked on a legal battle with Steven Vander Ark, a fan who tried to publish a Harry Potter dictionary he wrote on the back of his popular Potter fansite. 11 After becoming irritated by unofficial fansites, Bryan Adams enlisted the help of Web Sheriff – a self-proclaimed protector of internet copyright – to get those running the sites to play by his rules and sign a rights agreement written by his people.

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Theworld of Pablo Ganguli, cultural entrepreneur For the past eight years, Calcutta-born Pablo Ganguli, 24, has organised arts festivals around the world to promote British culture (from opera seasons in Russia to literary salons in Morocco). Ganguli has been based in Britain since 2003 and in Edinburgh for the past year (liberatum.org). Morning routine First thing I do is switch my laptop on, around 8am, and check the hundreds of emails I get daily. Then I have a shower. I don’t have breakfast. I work the whole morning and early afternoon and only eat at about four, usually a light snack like hummus and pasta or savoury biscuits with pâté. I drink lots of smoothies throughout the day though.

Favourite meal I love garlic bread. I’m sure it’s easy to make but I like getting it from the supermarket and eating it with a homemade Italian dish. I also love lentils and rice, which remind me of growing up in India. I don’t really have a connection with India any more. I speak to my family maybe once a month. None of them live here. I met Simon [Scaddan, the one-time British deputy high commissioner to Eastern India and then high commissioner to Papua New Guinea] at 16 and from then I was living all over the world with him, from Papua New Guinea to Morocco. Bedside reading Susanna Clark’s The Ladies of Grace Adieu, a collection of short stories about magic in old England. I found Harry Potter quite dull; Clark is so much more raw and stimulating. Furniture All of it is Simon’s. We were together for four years. When we fell in love in

My Cavalli tigerprint jeans are shocking but not tacky I hope Childhood ambition I wanted to do something serious, something creative, but I wasn’t sure what. Even now I’m finding out what I want to be. My father is an art historian and my stepmother is a teacher. My biological mother, who I don’t really know, is an interior designer. Favourite authors Yann Martel. I read Life of Pi when I was 19 and it really helped me in believing in the power of luck and imagination. Also Agatha Christie: I love her wit, style and English humour. Favourite film I’m a sucker for French films and the actresses Isabelle Huppert – The Piano Teacher is my favourite – and Isabelle Adjani. I love Bertolucci’s The Dreamers and Fellini’s Amarcord, too. Most played album Madonna’s Ray of Light. I’m hoping to work with [the producer of that album] William Orbit at one of my festivals.

2000 he bought a huge abstract painting of the goddess Lakshmi by a Bengali painter called Shuvaprasanna (pictured). We took it with us from Calcutta to Papua New Guinea and now it hangs on the wall here. Simon and I split in 2004 but we’re still friends and I live in his Edinburgh flat. Bad habits I exaggerate. I get so carried away. Favourite item of clothing A friend once gave me a pair of Roberto Cavalli jeans, which

are tiger print with glitter on them (pictured). Shocking but not tacky I hope. Bad habit I throw clothes away after a month. I throw everything away or give things to friends. When I was 17 I spent all my money on lots of jewellery. I’ve since given it all away. Scent Clinique’s Happy. My mother gave it to me. She’s from Pennsylvania, USA. I never knew her growing up. My parents separated when I was one and she only got in touch recently when she came to see me in Edinburgh. We didn’t really gel, but she gave me this scent, which I still wear. Exercise regime I dance a lot. Six or seven hours a week. Often at home alone in the lounge. I dance to Arabic music, South American, everything. I love it. Best present received For my 18th birthday I got a Papua New Guinean white gold bracelet from Simon. Sadly I’ve lost it. I also got a brilliant

grey kimono from the Japanese ambassador’s wife. I haven’t worn it yet but it’s amazing. The prime minister of Papua New Guinea gave me a beautiful Ted Hughes book of poetry with his crest stamped inside it (pictured). Phobias Being stuck in a lift or tunnel. Biggest influences Three people: Simon, Cher – look at her, 62 and still going strong – and my paternal grandmother, who helped me be a strong, open-minded guy. We talk about everything,

even sex. She’s 74 now and lives in Bombay. Always in your fridge Lots of smoothies. Salmon fillets. Champagne. Treasured possessions When I was 18 the British minister for foreign affairs wrote to me to thank me for my contribution to British culture. That letter was very special. A few weeks later I got a letter from the Queen’s office. Evening routine I work until 10pm, usually calling artists and directors around the world. Then I’ll eat, a tagine or risotto or something trashy like black pudding. I don’t drink or smoke. Then it’s back to work, sometimes until four in the morning. I sleep badly. I only sleep well after I’ve been out dancing, to a club like GHQ in Edinburgh. I’ll go out dancing at least twice a month. Interview by Ajesh Patalay. Photographs by Martin Hunter

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Shop! Mary Portas finds Dunhill’s private-club atmosphere off-putting upstairs. The Discovery Room housed artefacts from the brand’s history.

Alfred Dunhill got into the smoking lark by accident. In the early 1900s his first love was for the pioneering motorist. He developed a pipe that stayed lit as you raced along in your open-top car, kick-starting the lucrative yet fatally flawed relationship the brand has since enjoyed with tobacco. A lot of people at Dunhill have wrestled with the issue of how to make the brand relevant today, including my now business partner, Peter. As the brand had moved its historic home on Jermyn Street to a Mayfair Grade 11-listed house, we went for a look.

Was I being served? When a club prides itself on discretion and privacy, it doesn’t seek publicity. And as far as I can gather, Bourdon House has hardly had any. The store was empty. Did I buy? No. So much space was given to the ‘wow’ pieces, such as the carbon fibre and titanium skis, that we had to search out the things people might actually want to buy, such as the cufflinks and the fountain pens. When I went online The website told me that Alfred Dunhill ‘committed to advancing the pursuit of male indulgence, has opened Bourdon House to become the ultimate in masculine luxury and retail lifestyle’. Unconvincing copywriting, undermining a great story.

The windows As we passed through the wrought-iron gates of Bourdon House in the early evening the first thing we noticed was that few of the shop’s 20 windows appeared to be illuminated. Mark, the sales assistant, revealed that most of the refurbished building is now home to Alfred’s, a gentlemen’s private club with bedrooms, a bar and games room. Peter tried to gain access based on his past association with the brand, but as his name wasn’t down, he wasn’t getting in. Shopability The floors we could visit didn’t disappoint. The downstairs mahogany room offered beautiful leather goods and suiting. Upstairs there was a men’s spa, an old-fashioned barber and a bespoke room with walls finished in an exquisite grey tailoring cloth. Downstairs was the humidor, wine cellar and a small bar. If we had fancied a tipple we would have been out of luck, as there’s only one licence and it has been nabbed by the club

Dunhill Davies Street, London W1 Visited Monday, 5.30pm Number of stores three What they sell men’s luxury leather goods, fashion and accessories Website store.dunhill.com Key player Chris Colfer, CEO

Sidecar pen, £200; silver steeringwheel cufflinks, £195

Verdict Chris Colfer, the brand’s CEO, has the energy to turn Dunhill into the world’s leading luxury brand for men. What he now needs is a retail director to direct the shopping experience and a marketing director to publicise the brand’s luxury positioning. If they want to use the theme of a private club to build the brand in London, they will need to learn to surf the line between exclusivity and elitism to make sure customers know if they are actually welcome or not. Star rating (( )) Good for service and environment. Bad for direction. A ‘closed doors’ club sits uncomfortably alongside a shop open to everyone Next week Staples

ILLUSTR ATION BY PHILIP BANNISTER

Ask a shopkeeper Alison Ewbank, owner of Happyfeet in Cromer, Norfolk Why a shoe shop? Before opening my own last year, I had worked in a shop selling shoes. A lot of people had come in looking for children’s shoes and I decided to fill a gap in the market. I pick the brands and do the paperwork, six days a week. What services do you offer? We sell children’s shoes and make sure the fit is good. Our age range is from crawling babies to adult size eight. The service includes a small gauge for the little ones and a Hush Puppy gauge that older children stand on, one foot at a time. We do different width fittings as well and the children are all measured manually. We have a range of

customers from those who want affordable shoes to those with children asking for a specific brand. Which ranges are in stock? Eight different brands including an Italian range called Promigi, from £33, a German brand, Ricosta, from £32, and Buckle My Shoe, from £30. We also sell Merrell, from £25, and Geox, from £37 (trainers). Start-rite and Hush Puppies do research to follow the trends. Start-rite have gone for the continental look for girls. How do you appeal to the young? We try to make the shop very relaxed. We are called by our first names. There are toys and they know

where we keep the lollies. Have you a tip for parents? Always buy leather, breathable shoes – children are in them all day. Any special satisfactions? The most rewarding thing is taking the time with parents who struggle with children with autism or similar conditions. They are so grateful for us being understanding. Also, children in general are a continual surprise – they give away their parents’ secrets! Interview by Summer Nocon Photograph by Mike Harrington Happyfeet, 7 Bond Street, Cromer, Norfolk (01263-512127; igothappyfeet.co.uk)

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Retail therapy for women TWINKLE TOES After the success of last year’s collaboration, the jewellery designers Erickson Beamon are back at Kurt Geiger adding their signature glitter to skyscraper heels and statement cuffs. Cuff, £140, shoes, £300 (kurtgeiger.com).

FULL STOP. JE WELLERY BY VIVIENNE BECK ER

THE C OC KTAIL PARTY LOOK

HEAD OUT The Sydney-based milliner Helen Kaminski has catered for whatever the weather throws at us this winter. Felt caps, towering shearling trappers and sheepskin snoods will help you through. Cream wool cap, £80, black velour fur felt cloche, £185, from Harvey Nichols (020-7235 5000). helenkaminski.com

One-shoulder layered dress, £99, Principles (08701-228802; principles.co.uk) Necklace, £20, Principles, as above

Clutch bag, £59, Reiss (020-7473 9630)

Studded suede heels, £80, Office (office.co.uk) Compiled by Victoria Bain

UNDER HER UMBRELLA The Barbados-born chart-topping beauty Rihanna is fronting Gucci’s fourth annual campaign to benefit Unicef. Make your mark with this oversize shoulder bag from the Tattoo Heart Collection – 25 per cent of sales will go towards helping orphans and children affected by HIV/Aids in Malawi and Mozambique. Gucci for Unicef Indy bag, £3,200 (020-7629 2716; gucci.com/unicef).

VELVET GOLDMINE The latest collection of luxury jersey basics from Velvet by Graham & Spencer has been sexed up with sparkle and lace. And for those escaping for a bit of winter sun, there are some bright and bold pieces in its new cruise collection. Dress, £287 (020-7580 8644).

LARGING IT The radical fashion designer Martin Margiela’s first fine jewellery collection sees cliché-ridden pieces such as the signet ring and the gold chain supersized into surreal XXL ornaments. Produced in collaboration with the jewellery house Damiani, the collection is available in silver, and yellow and pink gold – some diamond-set. From £585 (020-7629 2682). VB

Despite being pricey, Russell & Bromley’s tasselled shoeboot sold out after being spotted on Gwyneth Paltrow. They are back by popular demand this week. £435 (020-7629 6903).

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Retail therapy for men, by Clare Richardson WALK OF FAME Converse have been on the feet of every rock band that matters, from the Ramones to Razorlight. So it’s appropriate that the all-star brand should pay homage to Jim Morrison with a new line of shoes that reference the Doors’ logo, album artwork and lyrics – this pair is tagged with a line from Unknown Soldier. £59.99 (0207287 4016; converse.com). COAT TALES If you are searching for the perfect casual winter coat, you need look no further than the English duffel coat specialist Gloverall. Its exclusive Montgomery coat for Dover Street Market comes in seven colours and is perfect for the Paddington Bear vibe. £310 (020-7518 0680).

20 VISION Giorgio Armani eyewear has launched two special-edition frames to celebrate 20 years in the business. Both pairs are gold-plated – one with a double bridge (left) and the other with a decorative bridge (right) – have flexible stems and can be fitted with prescription or tinted lenses. From £595 (01423-520303; giorgioarmani.com).

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SUSTAINABLE STYLE Is there such a thing as a virtuous rock star? If you fancy yourself as one, then look to Edun – the label with a social conscience. The collection has a hint of rock’n’roll and is made from ethically sourced organic cottons. Left: Brando shirt, £140; Henley long-sleeve tee, £85; Meteor jeans, £190. Right: Colony jumper, £160; Hanser jacket, £300; Meteor jeans, as before (edunonline.com).

CHECK SCARVES Black, red and grey, £15, Marks & Spencer (0845-302 1234; marksandspencer.com); black and cream, £110, Paul Smith (020-7379 7133; paulsmith. co.uk); brown, grey and navy, £80, Hackett (020-7939 6865; hackett.com).

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RE X FE AT URES. FULL STOP

WRITE ON What could be more special than a cashmere gift this Christmas? How about a personalised cashmere gift. Pringle has introduced a complimentary monogramming service so you can have a logo of your own embroidered on to its wares. Scarf from £145, sweater from £240, available for collection in 24 hours (0800-360200; pringlescotland.com).


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Christmas crackers by Kiera Buckley-Jones

The Nutcracker crackers, £40 for six, Fortnum & Mason (020-7734 8040; fortnumandmason.com)

Handmade recycled crackers, £19.95 for six, Liberty (020-7734 1234; liberty.co.uk)

Children’s crackers, £39.95 for six. Gifts include slinkies, whoopie cushions and mini coloured pencil sets, Daylesford (01608-731700; daylesfordorganic.com) Candy Man luxury crackers, £199 for six. Gifts include leather credit card wallet, fountain pen, Swarovski crystal stapler and whistle keyring, Harrods (020-7730 1234; harrods.com)

The Asprey cracker, £145 each, £820 for a box of six, £1,600 for 12 (you can buy an empty cracker for £16 and select the gift yourself, from £38 for a perfume), Asprey (020-7493 6767; asprey.com)

Linea black luxury crackers, £20 for eight, House of Fraser (0845-602 1073; houseoffraser.co.uk)

Fill-your-own illustrated crackers, £8 for six, Paperchase (020-7746 6200; paperchase.co.uk)

Christmas tree crackers, £16.50 for six, Emma Bridgewater (020-7371 5489; emmabridgewater.co.uk)

Dinner-party crackers, £9.99 for six, Homebase (0845-077 8888; homebase.co.uk)

Ski-print crackers, £12.50 for six, Cath Kidston (01480-417940; cathkidston.co.uk)

Penguin race game crackers, £10 for six, Paperchase, as above

Green crackers, £45 for six, the Conran Shop (0844-848 4000; conranshop.co.uk)

FULL STOP

Giant snowflake cracker (74cm), £12 each, Debenhams (0844-561 6161; debenhams.com)

Fluoro mini crackers, £20 for 10, Selfridges (0800123400; selfridges.com); Naomi Smith handmade mini crackers, £9.95 for nine, Liberty (020-7734 1234; liberty.co.uk); luxury mini crackers, £5 for six, Sainsbury’s (0800-636262; sainsburys.co.uk)

Rather Large Cracker (57cm), £29 each, £110 for four, Hotel Chocolat (0844-493 2323; hotelchocolat.co.uk)

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Get your coat The party’s about to start. By Alexandra Fullerton. Photographs by Chiara Romagnoli

Shearling coat, £595, Joseph (020-7610 8441); disc dress, £65, Asos (asos.com); gem-covered bib necklace, £20, Freedom at Topshop (01277-844476). Below shearling jacket, £150, Topshop (0845-121 4519); silk dress, £65, Warehouse (0870-122 8813); suede slingback sandals, £140, Pied à Terre (01865-881986); gem bracelets, £12 each, Freedom at Topshop, as before; opaque tights, £11.95, Emilio Cavallini at mytights.com

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Above left faux-fur jacket, £85, Miss Selfridge (0845-121 4517); purple metallic clutch, £79, Reiss (020-7473 9630); diamanté ring, £10, Diva at Miss Selfridge (01277-844437). Above right long-haired shearling coat, £1,600, Jaeger London (0845-051 0063); taffeta bustier dress, £130, French Connection (020-7036 7200); patent sandals with studs, £140, KG by Kurt Geiger (0845-257 2572); opaque tights, £11.95, Emilio Cavallini at mytights.com. Left faux-fur coat, £65, New Look (0500-454094); skinny jeans, £40, Warehouse (0870-122 8813); tights, as before; faux-snakeskin sandals, £65, Nine West (01865-881986)

Hair and make-up Carol Morley at onemakeup.com, using Stila and Aveda Model Ines at Premier Photographer’s assistant Andrea Cellerino

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Beauty news by Kate Shapland

THE S CEN T

THE EXPERT SECRET WINTER-PERFECT BASE While I am not convinced by the argument for changing foundation with the seasons, it can be useful to appraise your face base – and I include blusher in that. Skin tone is paler and its texture often drier in winter because the circulation slows, so bases that give a satin finish and heighten colour are helpful. I often find that mixing a darker summer base with moisturiser dilutes the colour enough and gives the required demi-matt finish that saves you buying a new foundation. And creams or tints are much kinder on drier skin than powder blusher. Three winter face-makers I rate: MyFace MyMix Foundation created by the make-up artist Charlotte Tilbury, this spreads like liquid satin; Tilbury recommends applying it downwards and blending well around nostrils, jawline and mouth (£12.99, boots.com). By Terry Rose de Rose is a fluid blusher with pigment extracted from rose petals, this will last you through winter and beyond (£38, spacenk.com). Jemma Kidd Rosy Glow Lip & Cheek Tint (£20, spacenk.com).

ILLUSTR ATION BY AU TUMN WHITEHURST

THE NOVELTY SCALP-KIND SHAMPOO Frederic Fekkai Au Naturel haircare products are the first I have used that don’t send my sensitive scalp into meltdown. Fekkai has managed to develop a shampoo and conditioner without sulphates and parabens – which tend to aggravate – but with plant-based surfactants to make the products efficacious and hair look polished, not a frizzy mess. Dermatologists agree that scalp eczema and psoriasis are increasing problems; so this is a real benchmark in haircare development. £18, lookfantastic.com.

ORMONDE JAYNE FRANGIPANI A fine interpretation of this queen of tropical flowers. To create it, the talented English perfumer Linda Pilkington merged top notes of linden blossom, magnolia and lime peel with a heart of white frangipani, jasmine, rose, plum and green orchid oil. For the base she applied amber and French vanilla. A heady initial impact trails off to leave a distinctive hint of the flower itself. Parfum, £112, ormondejayne.com.

THE WEBSITE WAHANDA.COM is the new queen of the spa websites and the most user-friendly by far. Not only does this site help you locate the best spa for the kind of treatments you want, but it can find you beauty treatments and fitness experts, too. So if you want a facial or personal trainer in London SW3, it will come up with the best in your area. Wahanda.com is the first site to offer this concept in a really easy way. THE COMEBACK LANOLIN It has had a bad press, but the ingredient supplier Croda wants to highlight the helpful side of lanolin. It points out that it is included in many topicals without us even realising because it is such a good skin protectant; lanolin reinforces the skin’s protective mantle. Often found in baby skincare, lanolin is also found in Palmer’s Cocoa Butter (£3.59, boots.com) – one of the best stretchmark softeners.

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Retail therapy for children SMALL TIME Kid by Phillip Lim has shrunk the designer’s 3.1 womenswear collection to miniature proportions for the third season. Coat, £280; skirt, £165; turtleneck, £85, from Selfridges (0800-123400).

POWER PLAY It used to be annoying to see ‘batteries not included’ on a children’s toy, but these days it’s greeted with a smile. Just wind up the buzz wire Mr Robot Head puzzle and let the eco-friendly games begin. £16.99 (nigelsecostore. com).

COMPILED BY VICTORIA BAIN

LOOK BOOK Gone are the days of drawing stick men in the corner of a notebook – with Bob Books children can star in their own flick book. Upload a video of a first bike ride, dance recital, or first wobbly steps and Bob Books will turn it into a fun nostalgic memento. £12.99 (bobbooks.co.uk).

ACTING UP They’ll be full of theatricals in Jigsaw’s offerings for winter. Velvet coat, £59.95; satin dress, £49.95; bow pumps, £23.95 (020-8392 5600).

Social stereotypes The pub quiz team. By Victoria Mather. Drawing by Sue Macartney-Snape Mervyn, by virtue of having a beard and knowing the chemical symbol for potassium, is captain of the Slam Dunkers. His wife, Sally, a librarian, is hot stuff on the Bible. She knows her Lamentations of Jeremiah, not to mention her Hosea from her Obadiah. Craig is the youth element, a treasury of football and popular culture. He was vetted by Mervyn and George, who combines his combover with an abject air of disapproval, and they were mightily impressed that Craig knew the only No 1 record whose title was a palindrome, performed by a group whose name was a palindrome. ‘Duh. Yeah. Like SOS. Abba.’ Craig may not do joined-up speech, but he’s as keen as mustard – an unfortunate colour for his shirt, given his spots. Jethro is only there for the beer, or so he says, it being uncool for an old hippiie with a ponytail to admit to competitive urges. He has unnatural knowledge of phobias, flags of the world, 1960s hit singles and the code names for airports. BKK is as nothing to regulars of the Fat Frog, most of whom have spent unwashed hours in

Bangkok airport, but what about LCT? Ah, Jethro’s got you – so close to home: London City. Gathered together on a drab Monday night, the Slam Dunkers are ready for anything the quizmaster can throw at them. ‘Now, an easy one to start, ladies and gents: by what name was Baron Manfred von Richthofen better known? A) Baron Greenback. B) The Red Baron. C) Lord Flashheart. D) Biggles.’ It’s hardly worth Mervyn chewing his pencil. The Slam Dunkers like a thumper: ‘What is the title of the only play written by the birthcontrol pioneer Marie Stopes?’ or ‘Which is the most southerly and westerly racecourse in Britain?’ George, a furtive punter, is on to that with Newton Abbot. The Slam Dunkers win £25 and Jethro blows it on a round. ‘Slam Dunk, mate? It’s a demon American basketball shot. We’re strictly Obama-mia.’ An exhibition of original Social Stereotypes drawings, in aid of Breast Cancer Haven, will be held on December 5 at Great Barn, Harewood Park, Herefordshire. For further information contact Benjamin Clowes on 01981500670, or bc@bclowes.co.uk

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eneath a pale-grey sky in which clouds hung heavy with rain, a large white cross was in danger of disappearing among the dense tangled bush that covers much of Liberia. Close by, on a cleared patch of ground beside a concrete hut, three women tended vast cooking pots balanced on charcoal fires. Each one wore a bright-blue T-shirt that – like the pots, the food they were cooking and the bowls it would be served in – had been provided by Mary’s Meals, a small charity with a big ambition: to ensure that every child in the developing world receives a meal in school every day. Currently it is feeding 354,000 children in 15 countries across the globe, including Malawi (where 300,000 are being fed), Liberia and Haiti (15,000 in each), and smaller projects in eastern Europe. The three women have been bent over their fires at the Roman Catholic mission in the town of Tubmanburg since 6.30am, and before the day is over they will have fed all 600 pupils from the mission’s school, St Dominic’s. To Father Gary Jenkins – the British priest who erected the cross in 1997 in 30

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memory of 300 children who had starved to death there the previous year when the town was cut off by fighting – there is a certain poetic justice in the fact that so many hungry children are now fed in the place where so many once died. Just before 1pm the school’s older children began to pour down the hill. Some of them ran, but the majority strolled, and at a distance they looked like schoolchildren anywhere. But Liberia is one of the poorest countries in the world. There is 85 per cent unemployment; schooling is almost non-existent; at least 87 per cent of the population is illiterate; life expectancy is 45; and one in five children dies before his or her fifth birthday. More than 200,000 people – almost 10 per cent of the population – died during the two civil wars that ravaged Liberia between 1989 and 2003, many of them killed by rebels or the National Patriotic Front troops of Charles Taylor, president from 1997 to 2003. Terrorising ordinary people was a key tactic, and by the time peace was restored in August 2003, 14 years of fighting, looting, indiscriminate massacre and rape had destroyed any

vestige of normality, leaving a country in economic ruin and more than a million people displaced. The United Nations Peace Keeping Force stationed in Liberia at the end of the war will remain in place until at least September 2009, and for the moment there is an uneasy peace. In 2005 Africa’s first female president, Ellen Johnson-Sirleaf, a Harvard-educated economist, was democratically elected, and is widely admired, not least for having ‘silenced the guns’. The following year, Taylor was taken from his exile in Nigeria to the Hague where he is currently being tried for crimes against humanity. In Liberia’s capital, Monrovia, a truth and reconciliation commission is conducting interviews with the aim of recognising what happened rather than bringing people to justice. Today, in a country without electricity and scant running water, soldiers, rebels and the people whose families they slaughtered live side by side. At one point St Dominic’s – founded by Fr Jenkins in 1977, and one of only two secondary schools in the area – was trying to rehabilitate 400 of the 21,000 child soldiers who had been


press-ganged into fighting. Many of them are still at the school. James Nyakun, 18, who hopes to be a doctor, was snatched by Taylor’s men while playing football when he was 10, and made – among a multitude of atrocities – to kill his best friend. Another pupil recently confided in Fr Jenkins that every day he sees the man he watched murder his mother; the man who swore he would kill him if he ever told. And 18-year-old Cyrus Cooper was born on the road as his mother Jennet Paye tried to walk her way to safety, his birth brought on by the soldier who killed his father then bludgeoned his mother’s nine-months-pregnant belly with his rifle butt. These people have no time for accusations or recriminations. For many of the children standing silently spooning rice into their mouths this – their Mary’s Meal – is their only food each day.

HUNGER FOR LEARNING By enticing the world’s neediest children into school with the promise of nourishing food, the charity Mary’s Meals hopes to free them from the poverty trap. Serena Allott sees the difference it is making in Liberia. Photographs by Jane Hahn

Magnus MacFarlane-Barrow. In 1992, prompted by horrific pictures of the Bosnian-Serb conflict, Magnus, then 25, and his brother Fergus, 26, both fish farmers, launched an appeal, filled a Land

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Mary’s Meals is the work of a 40-year-old Scot, Clockwise from top left Tony Peters, four, and Bostop Jallah, three, at the Eric Zinnah Community School, now with an extra 100 pupils thanks to Mary’s Meals; a cross marks the spot in Tubmanburg where 300 children starved to death during the first civil war in 1996; the lunch queue at St Dominic’s Roman Catholic school T E L E G R A P H

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Rover with aid, and joined a convoy driving out to Bosnia. They flew back intending to return to work, only to find that donations were still pouring into the house that their parents run as a Catholic retreat on the west coast of Scotland. Fergus returned to the fish farm, but Magnus decided to take a year off to distribute the funds. Within a year he had registered Scottish International Relief (SIR) as a charity, and had begun to work in the countries where he saw the most need. Ten years later, when famine struck Malawi, where he had set up a project to deliver food to remote villages, he met a woman dying of Aids and her five children. The eldest, 14-year-old Edward, told MacFarlaneBarrow that his twin ambitions were to have enough to eat and to go to school. Mary’s Meals sprang from that simple wish. Without an education, a child is trapped in poverty, but without food he will starve. Mary’s Meals solves both problems. ‘We called a meeting in Chilomoni village and invited the adults to discuss the idea of a school feeding programme,’ MacFarlane-Barrow told me. ‘I already knew Peter Nkata – now our country director in Malawi – who was running day nurseries for children under five, and feeding them a daily meal. He was using local volunteers, and we decided from the start that Mary’s Meals should be the responsibility of such volunteers as far as possible.’ This is key in every country in which Mary’s Meals now operates, although details vary according to the local diet and conditions. Before a school is accepted on to the programme, the Mary’s Meal deal is explained to the parents. The charity provides the country’s staple diet, which in Liberia is rice (200g per child per day), and a dried fish called bonny, salt and seasoning. It also gives each school cooking pots, serving bowls, cooking implements, and a bowl, cup and spoon for every child. In return, the parents have to provide firewood, palm oil and vegetables and arrange for volunteers to cook the food, usually soup or stew. The vast majority of food eaten in Liberia is imported, and the rocketing price of rice – when Mary’s Meals opened there in 2005 it was US$20 for a 50kg bag and it is now $35 – means that it is comparatively expensive to feed a child: it costs £16 per child per year. Liesbeth Glas, 44, a Dutch former hotel manager, runs Mary’s Meals in Liberia. Inspired by a missionary uncle working in Malawi, she knew from the age of 10 that she wanted to work in Africa. But it took her until 2001, when she went to work as a lay preacher at a refugee camp in Ghana; in 2005 she moved to Liberia, and a year later she began running Mary’s Meals. Many aid workers do six-month stints in the field; Glas plans to stay for ‘a long time or a lifetime. I have stopped working for money and I am working for people and it is the most fulfilling thing I’ve done. I can’t imagine any other way of life now.’ From the airport outside Monrovia we drove in sweltering heat through the city, where billboards proclaiming never again liberia, let’s live and work together stood beneath burnt-out buildings and lamp-posts riddled with bullet holes. We passed buildings under construction – a sign of hope – then the vast barracks of the UN peacekeeping force guarded by men in tanks. The Mary’s Meals house is situated just outside Tubmanburg, 30 miles north-west of Monrovia. Glas lives there with two volunteers: Iga Figula, 38, a Polish photographer, here for two years to record the work of Mary’s Meals; and Marie Shelli, 25, an American youth worker. It is a single-storey white-

washed building (like most in Liberia it had no running water and generator-only electricity) with a series of rooms arranged around an open courtyard. This was filled with buckets and bowls to catch the rain, which is used for cooking and washing. A pig and a puppy wandered in and out; a small furry bush creature called a dudu had taken up residence as a pet. ‘It’s very important to be present and not in some air-conditioned office in Monrovia,’ Glas said. ‘People have got to know you as a human being, not as an implementer of projects. They’ve got to be able to discuss things with you, to tell you what they want and need.’ Since 2004 the amount SIR has raised (including Mary’s Meals) has increased by 40 per cent each year, to almost £4 million, and while some money comes from charitable trusts and wealthy donors such as the Dragons’ Den tycoon Duncan Bannatyne, the charity’s key supporters are churches, schools and individuals. Only seven per cent of the budget is spent on fundraising and administration. Costs are kept low by the fact that the charity is still run from the shed belonging to MacFarlane-Barrow’s father where it first started, and the office staff numbers only 14 (including Magnus’s older sister, Ruth). Beyond this, there are eight Mary’s Meals charity shops in Scotland and a storage warehouse in Glasgow. Bureaucracy is kept to a minimum, enabling the charity to implement projects with remarkable speed. When, for example, Mary’s Meals schools on the ThaiBurmese border were destroyed by Cyclone Nargis

in May, emergency soup kitchens were in place within a week. In Liberia, the workload of Glas and her 11 staff – who operate from an office in the mission – grows by the day. Despite the rapid expansion of the programme – since October, the number of schools in Liberia receiving Mary’s Meals has grown from 40 to 62 – Glas still has a long waiting list. She tries to blanket each area to avoid children swamping schools that have Mary’s Meals at the expense of those that do not, as once the meals are in place, school rolls inevitably shoot up by an average of 20 per cent. To make sure things run smoothly, each school is visited twice a month: once to deliver supplies and once to monitor the project. Not far from St Dominic’s, we visited the Jemima Wilson Community School. Among the 11- and 12-year-olds in the top classes, there are also 17and 18-year-olds who, during the war years, missed out on education. The school runs an accelerated learning programme so pupils can cram two years of the curriculum into one academic year, and then try for their elementary certificate early, after three rather than six years of education. Unlike most of the teachers I met, the school’s deputy principal, Philip Holmes, 45, was a teacher before the civil war, and he remained at his post until rebels ransacked his village and he was forced into carrying their load to the border with Guinea. For 14 days he struggled under the weight of a generator until the rebels abandoned him at the border, leaving him with no papers, money or food.

‘PARENTS ARE MUCH MORE LIKELY TO SEND THEIR CHILDREN TO SCHOOL IF THEY KNOW THEY ARE GOING TO BE FED THERE’ Top Magnus MacFarlaneBarrow, the founder of Mary’s Meals, with children at Bola school. Right Bookoi Massaley,12, at Kamanda school T E L E G R A P H

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He spent five months in a displaced persons’ camp and then, desperate to see his wife and three young children, he walked the hundreds of miles home. Once in Monrovia, it took him weeks to find his family in another displaced persons’ camp. When the peace treaty was signed and the new government declared that schools should be reopened, Holmes faced his first problem. How do you persuade children armed with AK-47s into a classroom? Teachers here have to meet the needs of teenagers who have been trained to kill, and children such as Janet Cooper, 11, who has been at Jemima Wilson for just one year but already has ambitions to go to college and become an accountant. Her mother died when she was a baby, and her father was killed by rebel soldiers, so she now lives with her stepmother and her sisters, aged eight and four, in a rented room. ‘My mother says to go to school and get Mary’s Meals because if I sit at home I’ll have no food,’ she said shyly. ‘After school I must go to the market to sell the potato greens that my mother grows in her garden.’ Janet sells the greens for five Liberian dollars each (there are 60 to the US dollar). If she sells 20 bunches, she can afford to buy two cups of rice to feed the family. The effect of regular nutrition on pupils who receive Mary’s Meals is considerable. Not only does attendance shoot up, but performance levels improve too. Last year, half the pupils whom Philip Holmes entered for the West African Examination Council (WAEC) elementary certificate passed. This year, with the benefit of Mary’s Meals, it was two thirds. ‘We are getting there, small, small,’ Holmes said with a broad smile. The spirit of these embattled people is very humbling. Smartly dressed in a red T-shirt and long blue skirt, Jennet Paye, 41, told me that the day her husband died he had been out looking for food.

Hearing shouting on the street, she rushed out and saw him being shot by soldiers. Paye and her son spent most of the war years in Ivory Coast where, concerned that her son seemed disturbed, she sought advice from a counsellor. ‘I told him how the soldier had hit my pregnant stomach, and he explained that Cyrus was suffering from a transfer of trauma. He said that all he needed was to feel protected, and to keep him closer to me. When I saw how this changed him, I decided I must become a counsellor to save the lives of others.’ After the war Paye and Cyrus returned to Liberia, where she trained as a counsellor. She now works as a volunteer at Tubmanburg’s hospital with rape victims (there are thousands), women with Aids (about five per cent of the population) and those who have lost their families. ‘It is my joy,’ she said. In addition to this, she has secured a piece of land, borrowed tools and mobilised 20 men and women to cultivate it. This small co-operative grows eggplant, pepper, cassava and rice. Cyrus helps on

the farm each day after school. ‘I am not always completely dependent on Mary’s Meals for food,’ he said, ‘but many of my fellow pupils are because they have been sent away from their families to get an education and they are living by themselves in Tubmanburg.’ Cyrus told me that he hoped to go abroad to complete his studies, and then return to Liberia to farm using modern methods. Fractured families exist all over Liberia. Nineyear-old Doris Ballah from John Berry Community School in Tubmanburg sat with her head bowed as she told me how her oldest sister beats her. Doris has not seen her parents for a year. They live some 25 miles away in a town called Bopalu. Her father is too old to work, so her mother sent Doris and her brother and sister, aged eight and five, to stay with their sister, in the hope that she would get an education. But her sister has no husband and two babies of her own to feed, so Doris has become her slave. She hauls water home balanced in a wheelbarrow, sweeps the floors and looks after the

‘MY MOTHER SAYS TO GO TO SCHOOL AND GET MARY’S MEALS BECAUSE IF I SIT AT HOME I’LL HAVE NO FOOD’ Top students at Jemima Wilson school. Right Janet Cooper, 11, whose mother died when she was a baby and whose father was killed by rebel soldiers T E L E G R A P H

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younger children. When her sister goes out at night leaving them alone, she is scared. Before Mary’s Meals there were many days when Doris ate nothing. ‘The food makes such a difference to the children, they are always happy to be in school when they can eat every day,’ Massa Sherman, 42, who teaches Doris, said. It makes a particular difference to girls, for whom education is often not a priority. Many of them are kept at home once they are old enough to be useful; many become pregnant. ‘But parents are much more likely to send them to school if they know they are going to be fed there,’

MacFarlane-Barrow said. ‘And bringing mothers in as volunteers to cook the food brings them closer to the educational process, so they understand it better and begin to value it for their daughters.’ At Eric Zinnah Community School the principal, Ambrose Corneh, explained that this year they, too, will be entering pupils for the WAEC exam. The problem, he said, is that pupils struggle to afford the paper they need to write on: five sheets of A4 costs five Liberian dollars. Last year, before Mary’s Meals arrived, there were 250 pupils at Eric Zinnah; now there are 350 aged from three to 16.

ONE PUPIL RECENTLY CONFIDED THAT EVERY DAY HE SEES THE MAN HE WATCHED MURDER HIS MOTHER Top William Sumo, a teacher at the Eric Zinnah school, marks test papers. Left children at the Temas orphanage open backpacks donated by Mary’s Meals supporters 36

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There are no desks, children sit seven or eight to a bench and the overflow squat on the floor. Some of them have copybooks balanced on bony knees, but because there are so few materials most classes focus on recitation. In the nursery class 67, three- to five-year-olds were crammed into a room no more than 10ft by 15ft. Corneh produced an A3 pad of paper and as he turned the pages revealing handdrawn pictures of a cat, a ball and so on, his pupils chanted in unison, identifying them. This was the only teaching aid I saw while in Liberia, and it was so well used that the bottom of each page was tattered, bearing the imprint of hundreds of hands. The next day we drove in a battered Mary’s Meals pick-up to visit schools in outlying villages. When considering schools to accept into the programme, Glas said that a building is ‘nice but not essential’. She looks for a coherent structure, a teacher figure with a definite plan for education and a supportive group of parents, who in addition to taking responsibility for the project, are also expected to support the teachers – many of whom work unpaid – even if it is only giving them firewood. ‘The fact that we are not providing everything means we can afford to reach many more schools and it is also important that the parents feel they own the project,’ Glas, who has pulled out of one school due to persistent lack of co-operation from the parents, told me. Parental involvement also encourages a community to develop around a school. In Bola we watched six men using ancient machetes to hack their way through bushes, shrubs and trees, clearing the land to create a farm to provide the school with vegetables. In Kamanda parents worked to rebuild the village houses (sometimes shared by four families) and the school. With clay walls and roofs made from matted palm leaves, these buildings often collapse in the torrential rain that falls for nine months of the year. At the school here, five volunteers teach 185 children aged three to 19. One volunteer, Moses Sah, 35, has an hour’s trek through the bush in flip-flops each day. ‘In order to rescue the children in this down-trodden country from illiteracy, we must keep going without pay until the government can contribute,’ he said. He and his family survived the war years in Ivory Coast but his mother died walking towards safety. ‘You can forgive,’ he said, ‘but you can’t forget.’ Like everyone I met, Sah has great faith in Ellen Johnson-Sirleaf, because, among other things, she has promised free education to all primary school children. With his 28-year-old wife also in school (she sees education as the only way forward – and anyway there is no work), Sah’s entire family survives on Mary’s Meals. Bola and Kamanda are reached by red dirt roads carved by potholes, but they are not far from Tubmanburg, unlike the Mary’s Meals schools in the Belle district, which in the rainy season can be a 28-hour drive away. Last year, when it became apparent that it was impractical to make the journey once a month, they decided to make the schools self-sufficient. Fr Jenkins drove 800 bags of rice seed and a rice mill to the schools there. The hope is that if the villagers can produce more rice than they need, Mary’s Meals will buy it from them: a virtuous circle might be made. ‘We would ideally like all the food used by Mary’s Meals to be sourced locally,’ MacFarlane-Barrow said. ‘Here in Liberia we would like to help local farmers grow rice and then buy it back from them. Even by providing a rice mill and being a market, we should help to incentivise them.’ So, Mary’s Meals has bought 25


acres of land just outside Tubmanburg on which to plant rice which, it is hoped, will meet 10 per cent of the charity’s need in Liberia. This will be part of the New World Farm, set up in 2006 for St Benedict’s Technical School. Sponsored by SIR, St Benedict’s offers adults courses in computing, carpentry, tailoring, auto-mechanics and agriculture. Steven Mathews, who runs the agriculture course at the school, used to own a mixed farm but during the war fighters slaughtered his animals and destroyed his crops. Now he teaches animal husbandry, fish farming, the growing of palm trees and cassava – and the processing of the cassava root to make the basis of gari, an energy-rich porridge. Attracting students to the farm can be difficult: NGO-raised children dream of being doctors and accountants, not farmers. ‘The work is labourintensive and can be very tedious. People are looking for quicker returns,’ Mathews said sadly. But the relatively small size of Mary’s Meals means that it can also respond in imaginative ways to local problems. The Mary’s Meals house is part of a campus – built through the generosity of a single donor, David Lamont, a Scottish businessman – which includes the Oscar Romero School for the Deaf. Meningitis, the excessive use of quinine to treat malaria (which is endemic), and the local medicines used on childhood ear infections all contribute to the unusually high number of deaf people in Liberia. Initially based in a tiny, empty corner of St Dominic’s, with a handful of children learning sign language for a couple of hours each day, Oscar Romero now has a line of classrooms painted with murals; there is a cookhouse, boys’ and girls’ dormitories (all the pupils board) and a playground. The school opened in

July with 15 pupils; now there are 50, aged five to 16, and a further 10 on the waiting list. One of these pupils is an 11-year-old boy who had been found by the police wandering through Monrovia. As he was unable to tell them anything about himself, not even his name, they put him in prison, where he stayed until the police heard about the new deaf school. Oscar Romero’s principal, Lee Douglas, named him Joseph and began to teach him sign language. Through appeals on the radio, it transpired that his family, who live in the remote north of Liberia, had sent him to Monrovia to live

with an aunt in the hope that she might find a way of educating him. While there he had been snatched from the street and then abandoned by his captors. His real name was Marcus, but he has decided to keep the name Joseph. Like the other pupils, with three meals a day, lessons morning and afternoon and the constant support of staff, he is making remarkable progress. The children, many of whom had never been to school before this summer, surrounded me, anxious to show off their newfound ability to communicate through sign language. On the way back to the airport we stopped at the


CHILDREN SURROUNDED ME, ANXIOUS TO SHOW OFF THEIR NEWFOUND ABILITY TO USE SIGN LANGUAGE

Far left drying cassava to make gari, an energy-rich porridge. Left Princess Johnson, six, a pupil at the Oscar Romero School for the Deaf

Temas orphanage, which is run by 46-year-old Doris Weefar who, in 1999, opened a home for five children. By the following year, when she was forced to flee, the number had grown to 35, and by 2003 – having moved twice more – she had 78 children. ‘There was no food, people were falling on the road. I could not leave their children.’ Now she has 66 orphaned or abandoned children; Mary’s Meals provides two meals a day. What did you do before Mary’s Meals, I asked, and she smiled: ‘We lived by the grace of God.’ The orphanage has two big bedrooms, one for girls and one for boys, each

housing 10 bunkbeds. The youngest children sleep three to a bed; there are no bedclothes. Weefar proudly showed off the boys’ wardrobe: a small room containing a row of shoes, and one small cardboard box of clothes. We came to the orphanage to deliver backpacks, a companion project to Mary’s Meals. ‘Our aim is to supply every child in every school that receives Mary’s Meals with a backpack filled with essentials,’ MacFarlane-Barrow said. Since the project was launched three years ago, 104,500 have been distributed. Donors provide a backpack and fill it

with shorts, T-shirts, notebooks, pens, pencils, soap, toothbrushes, towels – basics to us, luxuries for many in developing countries. ‘The contents of one of these backpacks can double the inventory in some households,’ Glas said. We watched as each child received their backpack. Where a western child would tear into it, the children savoured the moment. They put the backpacks on and paraded around in them. Only when they had become accustomed to the thrill of owning something did they open them to see what they contained. Since some of those to whom SIR first appealed live in the poorest streets of Glasgow, the charity has always insisted that the items – particularly clothes – need not be new. Magnus MacFarlane-Barrow is a father himself, of six children under 12. As we watched the children marvel at their presents he looked on in silence. He dreamt up a project to feed children and he has made it work. In Malawi it is considered so successful that the government wants to start universal feeding in primary schools and discussions about funding are under way with the European Union. The beauty of Mary’s Meals is that it is simple, sustainable and very cheap. On average, across the world, to feed a Mary’s Meals child for a year costs £8.40: less to you than the price of one ticket to the cinema. Mary’s Meals is one of the three charities supported by this year’s Telegraph Christmas Charity Appeal. For more information, or to donate online, visit telegraph.co.uk/charity. You can also donate by telephone – either on our phone-in day on Sunday, December 14, or by calling 0870-043 3759


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FROM NOW ON

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Since winning Pop Idol in 2002, Will Young has had huge commercial success, yet depression and self-doubt have dogged his achievements. Now with his critically acclaimed new album he is tackling life with vigour. By Sheryl Garratt. Photographs by Lorenzo Agius

teacher (Young refers to his friends by first names only, to protect their privacy). ‘He’s the model housemate. We never talk about work, because what we do is so different.’ There’s a riding hat on the table – Young has had a few lessons recently, in order to do dressage in the video for his current single, Grace. And his next challenge is doing a speed lap on Top Gear – he has been practising at Silverstone. (When Young does the show a few days later, he records the fastest wet-weather lap of the series, in one minute 48 seconds.) I ask what made him decide to confront his fears in such a head-on fashion. ‘I was always quite shy, and I ended up not really going out,’ he says. ‘I started seeing a therapist because I would get panic attacks when I had to go out to dinner, or to meet new people.’ He turned down interviewing Hedi Slimane for a magazine because he was worried the hip designer might think he was a loser. He wouldn’t go surfing, in case he looked stupid. ‘Then you get to 27 and you think, “You need to let this go a bit!” I find life so much better. I feel so alive at the moment, properly tingly, do you know what I mean?’ I find it hard to reconcile this with the singer who won our affection by famously talking back to Simon Cowell on Pop Idol in 2001, and who has gone on to build a four-album career by always appearing to be authentically, truly himself. ‘But that [Pop Idol] was different, because it was singing,’ he says. ‘That was what I had to do, something that I just knew I was always going to be doing.’ From an early age, he explains, he knew two very fundamental things about himself. He knew that he was gay, although he felt he could never be open about it at boarding school. And he knew that he could sing. But this too had to be a closely guarded secret. ‘I had a high voice and I thought people would find out I was gay if I sang, so I never did,’ he says. ‘I think that’s why there’s still almost like a naive enjoyment of it. Because I was never pushed.’ He didn’t know anyone who was gay, and saw no one in public life he could identify with. ‘I remember having a pair of red New Balance shoes, and I wouldn’t even wear those because I was worried people might know I was gay! That was the level of fear.’ He also spent a lot of time alone listening to tapes from his parents’ music collection, Annie Lennox and Joni Mitchell especially. At Wellington College, Berkshire, where he worked hard to fit in, to be liked by the lads, music was his escape. ‘It was such a lifeline for me then. I think that’s why I’ve always loved female artists, particularly. They really meant a lot to me.’ His parents always seemed eccentric, bohemian, compared with his friends’ parents. Young used to wear his father’s tie-dyed T-shirts and flares to school, and he recently embarrassed them during an interview on Radio 2 by men‘I HAD ONE MOMENT WHEN I THOUGHT I MIGHT END UP SINGING IN tioning their habit of pottering BUTLIN’S FOR THE REST OF MY LIFE, BUT I RANG MY FRIEND AND HE around the garden without their SAID, I THINK YOU’RE BEING A BIT MELODRAMATIC’ clothes on, as well as the fact that his mum has been known to saying, “Will Young cream teas – this way” to force dress up as a fairy. They are now in their mid-fifties, me to move out, so they could buy it at a reduced he says fondly, and still have great music taste – price. Now I get texts from my mum going, “The ‘Mum will call and say, “Hello darling, I’m at a PJ squatters have arrived!” It’s become a real family Harvey concert! You must get White Chalk. It’s amazing!”’ As he has grown older, he has realised house, which is what I wanted.’ In Cornwall he feels part of the community, that perhaps his parents were more conventionally something that he feels is lacking in London. ‘I middle-class than he thought. His father hated his don’t know anyone round here,’ he says, gesturing own time at public school, for instance, but still out of the window at his street. It is why he still has sent his sons away to board at the age of nine. a housemate, an old schoolfriend, Tim, who is a Young says it is not something that he resents, but 40

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t is a couple of hours before he is due to address the Oxford Union, and Will Young is nervous. Actually, he is more than nervous. ‘I’m s****ing myself!’ he whispers just after he arrives at the drinks reception arranged in his honour. But he hides it well, chatting comfortably to the students invited for this reception, and to the even more select group over dinner afterwards. Charming, funny and bright, they are all decked out in skimpy dresses and smart suits and swanning around a building that has seen generations of gilded youths like them come and go. It’s like Brideshead Revisited, one of them jokes, only dressed by Primark. Burt Bacharach was talking at the union the previous week (he passed on his regards to Young – they performed two London concerts together in 2002). Later in the term everyone from Gok Wan to Lord Patten will be speaking here, but there is still a genuine frisson of excitement when Young walks into the room, and quite a bit of polite jostling to bask in his celebrity glow. One girl has joined the union that day at a cost of £198 just to see him. ‘I voted for him every week on Pop Idol, when I was 12,’ another declares proprietorially. In the chamber later, with his father, Robin, looking proudly on and the cameras recording it for a South Bank Show next year, Young delivers his musings on the nature of modern celebrity. He gets laughs by quoting both Milan Kundera and Kerry Katona, but he is at his best when he departs from his prepared notes and talks movingly of his twin brother Rupert’s 10-year struggle with alcoholism and depressive illness, or when he recounts his own experiences in Oxford, where he came at the age of 18 to re-sit his A-levels, and where he lost his licence for foolishly driving round the corner to the kebab shop after a drunken night out. He also explains why, after turning down its invitations for years, he is finally addressing the union chamber. ‘Christ, this is nerve-racking!’ he says, looking out at the packed room. ‘But I said yes because it terrified me, and I’m trying to do things that terrify me at the moment.’ A few days later, I am at Young’s house in west London. It is a comfortable space, stylish but homely with a big kitchen at its heart, looking out on to a pretty, Moroccan-styled patio. He likes doing up houses, and tends to look for one as a project between albums. He has a place in Brighton that he has fitted out in 1970s retro chic and a 17th-century cottage in the middle of Bodmin Moor, which he retreats to on rare weekends off, but that is more often used by his family. His older sister, Emma, 33, a gardener who is pregnant with her third child, just spent half-term there with his two young nephews. ‘When I bought it, my parents joked that they were going to put a sign at the end of the drive


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ST Y LING BY CHERYL KONTEH. GROOMING BY TIM PAGEMAN. PHOTOGR APHED AT SUNBE AM STUDIOS.ORCHARD/GE T T Y IMAGES. NAV Y T-SHIRT AND TROUSERS BY PR ADA


Right Will Young speaking at the Oxford Union last month. Below performing on The X Factor earlier this month

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‘I SAID YES TO THE OXFORD UNION BECAUSE I’M NOW TRYING TO DO THINGS THAT TERRIFY ME’ it’s not something he would wish for his own children, or his nephews. It was when he went to read politics at Exeter that he felt he could finally be more open. ‘I felt a lot freer, instantly. I had it in my head that I was going to meet someone at university and that was going to be how I came out to friends and my parents, because I’d be so in love I wouldn’t care. And that’s what happened.’ It wasn’t requited, he says with a laugh. In fact he never told his friend Adam how he felt. But they have remained friends. ‘He’s an actor in America now, and doing really well. He married an actress. I fell madly in love with him from the second I saw him, and that helped me come out. Even though he didn’t know.’ Adam had always known he would act, just as Young had always known he would sing. They used to joke about going on Parkinson together, and at university Will began singing in student musicals, and in 1999 won a competition run by the ITV show This Morning to find a new boy band. He was offered a place in the group but decided not to take it after his father counselled him that anonymity is not something we tend to appreciate until we lose it. A year later he took a summer job at Sony Music Publishing to learn more about the business side of his chosen career, and when they offered him a fulltime job his parents were far more encouraging. Instead, Young went back to finish his degree, and then to study musical theatre at the Arts Educational Schools in Chiswick. When the auditions for the first series of Pop Idol were announced in 2001, Young knew it was what he had been waiting for. He remembers saying to Adam, ‘This is it. I’d better get on with it.’ In its final stages the show became a contest between the shy, stammering young working-class boy and apparent favourite Gareth Gates and the older, outwardly more confident public schoolboy Will Young, whose family had a big house in Berkshire. Later, it emerged that it never really was that close: Young had topped Gates in six of the nine rounds of public voting. Young’s parents were supportive, but shocked by the media attention. They didn’t even come to see the show until the

fourth week. His sister, Emma, had been ‘a bit of a tearaway’ who left home at 16, his brother Rupert was struggling with what they later realised was alcoholism, his parents had their business interests and their pub to run. But having photographers camped outside the family home helped bring them together. After winning Pop Idol in 2002 and becoming a focus of interest for the tabloids, Young had no choice but to come out publicly. His new fans accepted it so readily, he thinks, because they had already got to know him through the show. ‘It made people look at their own prejudices. Are they really not going to like someone they’ve spent three months supporting, because of who they sleep with?’ Certainly it didn’t stop the momentum: the single (a double A-side featuring Westlife’s Evergreen, and Anything is Possible, a new song written for the winner), released immediately after the show ended, became the fastest-selling British debut ever, and the three albums that followed all

sailed well over the million sales mark. In 2006 and 2007 Young was voted Britain’s favourite artist of all time, and the upcoming South Bank Show is another indicator of his wide appeal. There has always been a welcome place in British culture for panto-dame-drag and camp comedy, with Paul O’Grady and Alan Carr being the latest of a long line of entertainers to be embraced by mainstream TV, but Young occupies a new territory as a gay artist who is open about his sexuality, but not defined by it. He was recently asked if he would ever kiss a man in a video. He doubts he ever will, but then if he were straight he wouldn’t be cavorting with girls, either. It’s just not his style. And not everyone finds it acceptable, he adds. ‘Walking down the street two days ago and getting shouted at, called “batty boy” by people is not the most wonderful thing to happen,’ he says drily. A couple of nights later, we meet at the Barbican to see Antony & the Johnsons performing with the London Symphony Orchestra. Neither of us has seen them live before, and we’re both excited. It has taken a long time for Young to get back to enjoying music in the same way he did in his teens. ‘For ages I lost that because it was just work.’ The singer Antony Hegarty has a voice of almost unearthly beauty, but he is also painfully hesitant on stage, and for most of the performance appears only as a silhouette in front of the orchestra, barely moving. I ask Young if it makes him realise his own confidence as a performer, and he laughs. ‘Next to him, I look like Justin Timberlake!’ It is only recently that he has been able to chat between songs, or come on stage without a hat to hide behind. ‘The last time we really toured I spent loads of money doing all these arty vignettes, and it confused people,’ he laughs. ‘They were like, “So why are you dressing up as a French assassin and a Bollywood star?” It didn’t really work.’ After becoming so utterly, publicly exposed by Pop Idol, Young says that he lost the confidence he gained at university, and drew back into himself. He didn’t have time to build a mask to hide behind, a public persona – which is one of the reasons he so enjoys acting. (He made his debut with a cameo T E L E G R A P H

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Right Young with Doraly Rosen and Bob Hoskins in Mrs Henderson Presents. Below with James Brown at the Olympic Torch Concert in London, 2004

‘I STOPPED LISTENING TO OTHERS, AND I STOPPED BEING GRACIOUS. BUT I’M OVER THAT NOW’ role in the 2005 Stephen Frears film Mrs Henderson Presents.) At industry events such as the Brits, he would be nominated for awards – eight, to date – but always assumed everyone hated him because of his route to fame, so he wouldn’t really mix. Partly, he says, it was because he couldn’t really stand by the music he was making. His debut album, From Now On, released in 2002, had its generic tone firmly set by Pop Idol: a duet with Gareth Gates, cover versions, and a charity track for Children in Need. On the subsequent albums Young has taken more control and increasingly contributed himself as a writer, but says even as he was performing songs, he would often find himself agreeing with his worst critics. ‘I wasn’t cool, and I hated that. There was definitely a stage when I wanted to be liked by the people that didn’t like my music, when I was determined to get on Radio 1. And that wasted so much of my energy.’ But now he feels comfortable with his music, and with himself. Part of it is just growing up: he turns 30 in January. Mainly, though, it is that he has finally begun to believe in his talent as a performer and as a writer. Let It Go is, he says, his most honest album to date, much of it written about the break-up of his last serious relationship, with a dancer named Conor, and sung in a sweet but sinewy soul style that feels totally his own. He played his first live show in two years this summer at Glastonbury, followed by V Festival and Glasgow’s T in the Park, and it felt right, like he belonged. He didn’t feel he had the credibility to play at such events before, so being voted best pop act at the festivals was a small personal triumph. ‘Now I’m like a kid in a sweetshop,’ he laughs.

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It is Saturday morning, and I am back at Young’s

house. He is making brunch – toasted bagel with scrambled eggs and bacon – and getting increasingly annoyed with the texts that keep pouring in wishing him luck singing live that night on The X Factor. It started at 8.30am, he sighs, when Rupert woke him up by phoning to discuss some tickets for the show that he had been given to

raise funds for his charity, the Mood Foundation. Some messages have been funny – one friend, the fashion designer Matthew Williamson, texted to say that Cheryl Cole was wearing one of his dresses on the show that night, so between them they were making a camp attack on prime-time TV – but mostly they are annoying because he isn’t usually swamped with messages before a show. ‘It’s like a time warp. I feel like I am doing Pop Idol again.’ When his brother calls again to ask him to organise transport for his ticket winners, Young gets snappy and tells him he should have thought of it sooner. ‘He’s pissing me off this morning!’ he declares, adding that part of the recovery process, for an addict, is learning to think for yourself. More usually, he talks about his brother with real pride. Rupert has been sober for three years, and has been diagnosed with a depressive illness that he manages well. He now works full-time on his charity, founded to help others access a variety of treatments for depression, and it is to raise the profile of

the charity that both men have begun to speak out about their own experiences with the illness. Towards the end of 2001, the week before Will was due to go on the first live show of Pop Idol, his brother slit his wrists. His parents were away, so Will was the one who had to go to the hospital, deal with it all. Then Rupert came to sit in the audience but his wound reopened while the show was on air. Just before he was due to go onstage, Will was told that his brother had left in an ambulance. He laughs about it now, but at the time it was hard – ‘Having an addict in the family can cause a lot of conflict’ – and his sudden fame also put new pressure on Rupert. When Rupert was involved in a fight in 2004, that and the subsequent court cases were covered in the press, and the family feared that he might end up in prison. ‘A lot of that had to do with him being my brother. They wanted to make an example. It was awful.’ Will is older than Rupert by 10 minutes. They look alike, but they are not identical. Rupert was always the one who needed looking after, while Will was seen as the winner: head of house at school, university graduate, then the pop star with the brilliant career. So no one really noticed his own struggles with depression. ‘Everyone was thinking, “William is fine,’’’ he says quietly. ‘And actually quite often William wasn’t fine. Rupert was a distraction for me, because I could play the role of the older brother who always turned up being very calm and composed, and everyone would say, “Isn’t it marvellous, how well you’ve dealt with it!” Then when he started getting better, I had my worst period of depression. Because suddenly I wasn’t looking after someone else. ‘I went to South Africa on a tour, and I was crying constantly. My parents were with me and my mum was really worried. You fall into the blackness and you can’t see any light at all. Your body starts shutting down, and it’s hard to get out of bed. It’s just complete self-loathing. The things you say to yourself, you’d never say to your worst enemy.’ He went through another bad patch at the start of 2007, when he was doing a three-month run T E L E G R A P H

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Below Young (right) with his twin brother, Rupert, aged four

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at the Royal Exchange theatre in Manchester, in the Noël Coward play The Vortex. His two-year relationship with Conor was beginning to unravel, and he felt his career was starting to slip away. ‘I think I had a bit of an ego, then, which I’ve never really had. I got a bit self-important. I controlled everything, and I drove myself potty. Budget meetings, marketing, I was in every single meeting that anyone was having about my career! I stopped listening to other people, and I stopped being gracious for a time. But I’m over that now. And luckily, I’m still here. Because you can go off into weird la-la land, and that’s it. Your career goes.’ Since then, as well as therapy, he has been on self-esteem courses. ‘That was hard, because I felt people would think, “What the f*** is he doing here?” But what I learnt was great, and I haven’t had a bad patch now for over a year. I think it’s why work is going so well, too: because I’m really happy, and people feed off that.’ Let It Go is his most accomplished album to date, showcasing his growing range as a songwriter

as well as a singer. ‘It’s the first album I’ve enjoyed writing, from start to finish. There’s nothing contrived, no trying to be someone else. And no breakdowns! I had one tiny moment when I thought I might end up singing in Butlin’s for the rest of my life, but I rang my friend and he was like, “You’re jet-lagged, and I think you’re being a bit melodramatic!”’ Before I go, Young plays me some of the new songs he has written, and they are beautiful. They are rough demos, mainly just him singing with a guitar, and with a raw, emotional directness I hope he will keep when they are finally released. He is full of plans for the future. He wants to do more acting, and rather than merely hoping for work he is actively pushing for it, taking meetings and putting himself up for roles. Next year he wants to go to America’s song-writing capital, Nashville, for a month and write with different people, play some small, low-key gigs, just to see what happens. He doesn’t really have a profile in America at the moment – if he is recognised there at all, it is as an actor, not a singer. He wants to play more festivals, maybe do a really good musical, and right now he’s fixated on the smaller but important goal of getting on Later… With Jools Holland. Starting his career the way he did, he has tended to miss these landmarks. ‘It was like snakes and ladders. You got on the ladder that took you up to 82, but there was a lot missed in between. I’m still filling in those things. And that, to me, is so exciting.’ Will Young is on tour until December 13. ‘Grace’ is out on Tuesday; ‘Let It Go’ is out now. For clips from Will Young’s latest single and videos, go to telegraph.co.uk/arts


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an Pienkowski remembers exactly when the muse struck for his new book, a sumptuous and eccentric visual interpretation of The Nutcracker. Last summer he found himself among a convention of goths gathered in Leipzig. ‘The goths were dressed entirely in black with sharp buckles and spikes everywhere and their hair standing in points,’ Pienkowski says. ‘They looked so elegant and yet so extraordinary at the same time. It came to me immediately. After all, Drosselmeier really is quite frightening.’ It is not surprising that what inspired Pienkowski might also appeal to the darker side of a child’s imagination – more than 30 years ago Pienkowski had introduced British children to their first proper pop-up book with the award-winning Haunted House, a scary visual journey through a house full of spooks, where Dracula sleeps with his fangs in a glass. There had also been the internationally successful Meg and Mog, the story of a clumsy witch and her cat, which has since made it on to both stage and screen. Pienkowski realised the story of The Nutcracker could be drawn in a way that was not as we have come to know it – all sugary sweet like the Tchaikovsky ballet. It became clear that his portrayal could be dark and magical, reflecting the much scarier tale first written in German in 1816 by ETA Hoffmann. And so, in Nut Cracker, a new version of the story translated by David Walser (Pienkowski’s lifelong partner) and published in time for Christmas, a gothic Godfather Drosselmeier has been born, complete with spiked hair and biker boots. The figures are drawn entirely in silhouette, and placed on elaborate sparkled backgrounds created by high-tech printing using a particular kind of glue. The style follows on from the phenomenally successful The Fairy Tales (2005 ) and The Thousand Nights and One Night (2007), for which Pienkowski and Walser attracted spectacular reviews. This time, the book’s finale goes

‘PERHAPS BECAUSE I HAD UNPLEASANT MEMORIES, I HAD SUBLIMATED THEM AND PUT THEM INTO MY BOOKS’ one step further, with a multi-layered boxed tableau of intricate laser-cut silhouettes in the style of traditional German papercraft, which Pienkowski first encountered as a terrified child in a bomb shelter during the 1944 Warsaw uprising. ‘I remember a soldier using nail scissors to cut figures out of paper to entertain us children,’ he says. ‘There is a great tradition of it across middle Europe.’ Bound in gold and covered in red sparkly glitter, the book feels like a piece of discovered treasure. And yet according to Pienkowski and Walser its technical achievements were nothing compared with the problems of evoking the true spirit of the original Hoffmann tale while marrying it to a few of the entirely unauthentic but intrinsic elements of the ballet. ‘After all,’ Pienkowski explains, ‘the ballet is how people know it, particularly little girls.’ ‘I would say we have been 95 per cent true to the Hoffmann,’ adds Walser, who worked meticulously on the relatively short text for a year. For the uninitiated, The Nutcracker ballet tells the story of a young girl called Clara whose godfather, Herr Drosselmeier, gives her a nutcracker doll on Christmas Eve. That night, at midnight,

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Jan Pienkowski’s new children’s book explores the dark side of the Nutcracker story. Louise Carpenter discovers that the shadows cast by the illustrator’s enchanting silhouettes can be traced back to Warsaw,1944 Above and opposite illustrations from Nut Cracker feature Godfather Drosselmeier with spiky hair and biker boots, a look inspired by Pienkowski’s encounter with a convention of goths

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Clara comes down to check on the doll, to find it has come to life along with the other toys. The room fills with mice, led by the Mouse King. A war breaks out. Clara hits the Mouse King with a slipper, giving victory to the Nutcracker, and he turns into a prince. The pair travel through the branches of the Christmas tree and through a winter landscape. The second act has them arriving in the Land of Sweets, where their tale is described to the Sugar Plum Fairy and elaborate dances follow. In Hoffmann’s – and Pienkowski’s – version the tale takes place over several nights and is far more complicated and menacing. The story of the war of the mice is told by Drosselmeier himself, perched on top of a clock with his cloak spread out behind him like wings. The tale he tells is of a time when he was clockmaker to the royal palace. In an act of revenge on the King and Queen for the murder of her seven sons, the Mouse Queen turns the royal baby, Princess Pirlipat, into a shrivelled creature with piercing eyes and a mouth ‘like a gash from ear to ear’. The only way of lifting the spell on the Princess is to find a boy capable of cracking a Krakatuk nut. The boy who can crack the nut turns out to be Drosselmeier’s nephew, but as he lifts the curse on the Princess it falls on him, and he in turn is changed into a shrivelled creature with a wide mouth – a nutcracker. The only way for Drosselmeier’s nephew to be restored is to kill the Mouse Queen’s seven-headed son, born after the deaths of her other sons. The battle that ensues is the beginning of the ballet as we know it. ‘There was a bit at the end of the German original when the nutcracker becomes a real man, introduced to Clara and her family, and then suddenly starts walking around the drawing-room cracking nuts with his teeth,’ Walser says. ‘I thought this rather far-fetched and sinister so I cut it out. But when I told a seven-year-old girl I’d cut it, she was so disappointed. Children like that kind of dark complexity, you see.’ We are sitting on the terrace of the vast southwest London villa that Pienkowski has shared with

Walser since the 1960s. The garden is bathed in autumn sunshine and is crammed with pretty trees, climbers and the planted vegetables that make the pair almost self-sufficient. Guests are encouraged to hand-pick runner beans and raspberries for lunch. It is a scene of near domestic bliss, but as in Nut Cracker, scratch the surface and there lies beneath the darker story of Pienkowski’s early life in Poland and its impact on him and his work. Jan Pienkowski was eight when the Warsaw uprising began in 1944. His minor aristocratic family had already been displaced from their estate by the outbreak of war in 1939, when he and his mother, aunt and cousins had been forced to travel

‘ITWAS LIKE NAPALM. THE PAVEMENTS WERE ON FIRE, THE WRETCHED MEN, THE NURSES. I REMEMBER IT AS IF IT WERE YESTERDAY, BUT NOT THE SCREAMS, THE TERRIBLE NOISE’

Above Pienkowski at his home in south-west London. Photograph by Eva Vermandel. Left a lifesize silhouette recreated from his book The First Noël for this year’s Christmas display at Chatsworth House

overland in a horse and cart. By the time of the uprising, a Polish revolt that was met by a barbaric and inhumane German response (women and children were shot and maimed, people were hanged from balconies), Pienkowski’s father had already gone into hiding as one of the orchestrators of an underground resistance movement. ‘He just disappeared one day,’ Pienkowski says, his eyes filling with tears. ‘I got a toy train in the post wrapped in brown paper. It was from him but I didn’t want it. I didn’t understand, you see. The fact that he went and didn’t come back was an enormous piece of terror for me.’ His father returned much later, leaving Pienkowski, an only child, to experience the terror and violence of the uprising with his very practical, scientific mother. Wartime had, perversely, been pleasant, with the family living on a farm in the manner of the Middle Ages. This served to make his father’s disappearance and the uprising yet more traumatic. Pienkowski’s memories of that short time of his life are clear: the systematic destruction of the city; lying in trenches dug under trains; watching a small girl being lifted high in the air from freight carriage to carriage as evacuees desperately tried to find her mother; sitting in a bombed-out garage watching the field hospital opposite burn to the ground. ‘It was like napalm,’ he says. ‘The pavements were on fire, the wretched men, the nurses. I remember it as if it were yesterday, but not the screams, the terrible noise. I’ve shut that out, but it was the only thing that really got my mother down.’ It is the insecurity of this period that has subliminally influenced much of Pienkowski’s work. Even in some of the most childish stories, uncertainty is never far from the surface. ‘Perhaps because I had unpleasant memories, I had sublimated them and put them into my books.’ This is seen most vividly in Haunted House, in which the final page shows an attic scene including a doll with one eye, a box of ammunition, a chainsaw and the goggles of a gas mask. ‘Much later, when as a young man I used to go to hospitals and draw the bodies donated to science, it never shocked T E L E G R A P H

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An illustration from The Fairy Tales (2005)

AT CAMBRIDGE HE SHARED A STAIRCASE WITH EM FORSTER. ‘IT WAS LIKE AN EARTHLY PARADISE. FORSTER’S ROOM WAS LIKE A MAGICIAN’S CAVE, FOOD AND BOOKS EVERYWHERE’ me,’ he says. ‘I suppose because I’d seen maimed people with missing arms and legs in Poland.’ When the war was over, Pienkowski’s family travelled to Italy and then in 1946, when Pienkowski was 10, they took up an offer from the British government to emigrate to England, settling first in Herefordshire and then in Notting Hill, London. ‘My father had met an Englishman who recommended a prep school in the North,’ he says. ‘I did not speak one word of English when I went there, but it worked. Within a year I was fluent.’ Once in London, having passed the 11-plus, he attended the Cardinal Vaughn school in Holland Park, and from there gained a place to read classics at King’s College, Cambridge, where he shared a staircase with EM Forster. ‘It was like an earthly paradise,’ he remembers. ‘Forster was painfully shy, as was I, and his room was like a magician’s cave, food and books everywhere covered in a coating of dust because the cleaners had been instructed not to touch anything.’ Pienkowski had been attending life-drawing classes at a painter’s studio from the age of 13, but it was at Cambridge that he found his metier, designing theatre sets and posters. It was here, too, that he was to form a lifelong friendship with Angela Holder, who would become his agent and artistic and business partner. After coming down from Cambridge, his design career took off. He secured a job in an advertising agency and in 1962 met David Walser. ‘I suppose I could have talked to my parents about it,’ he explains, sighing heavily, ‘but I didn’t choose to. There was a regret on my parents’ side, especially 52

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for my father, but they were very respectful of our relationship. We certainly made no secret of it.’ Pienkowski can count the number of ‘proper’ jobs he has had on one hand – working in advertising, designing book jackets for the publishing giant Tom Maschler at Jonathan Cape, editor/ picture editor of a political magazine – but always in the background was the increasingly successful greetings-card company he set up after Cambridge with Holder. Walser, himself part German and an accomplished Oxford-educated linguist, became a partner in the company and manager in charge of sales. One day, at a chance visit to a small village hall in Bristol, Walser made a breakthrough. ‘He came home and said I’ve found this extraordinary woman. Her name is Beryl Cook and she is very talented,’ Pienkowski recalls. ‘I think we discovered her at the same time as her gallery.’ Cook came on board and Gallery Five became so successful that it was made a limited company (Pienkowski retired from the board 10 years ago). ‘She was so shy and modest,’ he says of his old friend Cook, who died in May. ‘She would never come to lunch or dinner if we invited her – it was too much for her.’ By the late 1960s Pienkowski and Walser were living together in the large doublefronted villa that remains their home today. ‘I had designed some paper bags for an entrepreneur and he advanced me £10,000 to top up my mortgage,’ Pienkowski says. ‘I did some wallpaper for him, which ended up being incredibly successful.’ Pienkowski, it was becoming clear, was blessed with a Midas touch. Finally, Maschler offered him the chance to audition for the design commission

of a full book illustration of Joan Aiken’s A Necklace of Raindrops. Quite by accident, the commission gave birth to his love of drawing in silhouette. ‘I had to do one drawing to get the job. I was pretty pleased with it – they were flying through the sky on a pie – but their faces were terrible. I had to leave for the presentation and on a whim, I got my brush, dipped it in Indian ink and blacked in all the figures. I drove to Bedford Square with it drying on the passenger seat beside me.’ He never looked back, winning his first Kate Greenaway award (a prestigious children’s book prize) for a second Joan Aiken project, The Kingdom Under the Sea and then another Green away for Haunted House. To follow was Meg and Mog, which has since sold more than three million copies in Britain alone. Pienkowski can sometimes be tempted away from book illustration. His set designs have included Beauty and the Beast for the Royal Ballet and Sleeping Beauty at Disneyland, Paris. He is responsible, too, for the Booker trophy (another Maschler commission). But now, he says, he has learnt to be choosy, citing as an example The First Noël at Chatsworth House, in which he has created five lifesize silhouette tableaux from his book of the same name to be exhibited in the chapel this Christmas. ‘It is such an amazing place, I wanted to do it. But all my life I have had this terrible, horrible wish to please. Only now am I conquering it.’ He believes his new-found steeliness comes through the self-discipline of giving things up: cigarettes, following his father’s painful death from lung cancer in 1985; television, after a break-in at the house; driving, after his car was stolen; and answering the telephone (too distracting now that he no longer breaks for cigarettes). For all Pienkowski’s success, there remains a fragility about him. His hands often tremble and he is brought to tears on the subject of his father. He reveals that he regularly goes on retreat in Scotland. When asked whether he is fulfilled, he says, ‘We all have our jolly times. I suppose I am more moody than most and sometimes I feel everything is awful, but on the whole I am pretty fulfilled.’ He cites the government’s decision to introduce civil partnership as having made a monumental impact on his life. The morning it became law, he and Walser went to Richmond register office and made official their 40-year relationship. ‘That made a huge difference to me,’ he says, ‘a huge difference. Finally it was a recognised state in which to live as oppose to some kind of limbo.’ It is such lifelong relationships combined with his Catholic faith, particularly what he calls ‘the Latinness and clubbiness of it’ that have not only helped him feel safe, but have also given him, after so much early turbulence, a sense of belonging. He loves to travel but always with the knowledge of his return. Seeing the goths, he explains, appealed simultaneously to his sense of a ‘club’ – ‘they were all dressed in the same sort of fashion’ – and to his love of the extraordinary. ‘You English, it takes 40 years to get to know you properly. I’ve just got to that point so I don’t suppose I’ll ever move now. ‘I love this country,’ he continues with obvious deep feeling. ‘I feel it is mine. I never feel foreign.’ He pauses. ‘I do in a way, but not really.’ ‘Nut Cracker’ by Jan Pienkowski (Puffin, £17.99) is available from Telegraph Books for £15.99 plus £1.25 p&p (0844-871 1515; books.telegraph.co.uk). To see more of Pienkowski’s pictures and hear him talking about his work, go to telegraph.co.uk/arts


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he Queen (aka Helen Mirren) looks tired. She has just come back from an awards ceremony – she has been showered with accolades for her portrayal of Her Majesty in Stephen Frears’s The Queen – and again she has emerged victorious. But shiny gewgaws are no help to her today. This afternoon she must dodge a snorting Minotaur, avoid earthquake rubble and fight flying monkeys with the aid of a pitchfork. It is February 2007 and my daughter, Bella, and I are on the set of Inkheart, at Shepperton Studios in south-west London. The film is based on the children’s fantasy novel of the same name, written by Cornelia Funke. Bella, 12 – the same age as the

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story’s heroine – is a big fan of the German author, whose books, in English translation, have sold six million copies. Bella loves Inkheart (published in 2003) and the follow-up, Inkspell (2005), as well as an earlier Funke novel called The Thief Lord (which has also been adapted for the big screen). She is excited to discover from Inkheart’s director, Iain Softley (The Wings of the Dove, Backbeat), that the concluding part of the trilogy, rumoured to be called Inkdeath, will be published at roughly the same time as the film of Inkheart is released (March 2008). Bella has accompanied me to the film set to give me a child’s-eye view of the translation of her

beloved book to the big screen. Will the story remain the same? Will the characters, as brought to life by actors, be how she imagined them? As for the terrifying, amorphous black mass known as the Shadow (the baddest baddie in the book) that towers over the book’s setting of a ruined Italian mountain village – how do you conjure all that in a big hangar in Surrey? More broadly, in the era of The Lord of the Rings, Harry Potter and The Chronicles of Narnia, we are interested in the process of transforming children’s literary classics into multiplex-friendly spectaculars. What is lost, and what is gained? To secure answers to these questions, Bella – with

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A film adaptation of the children’s book Inkheart transforms fantasy into reality in more ways than one. Craig M

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some help from me – is conducting interviews with members of the cast and crew. ‘I was in The Borrowers,’ says Jim Broadbent, the first Inkheart cast member that we meet. ‘And they changed the actual story quite a lot to make it into a film.’ But he adds that there was such a strong idea behind The Borrowers tha t he feels that the heart of Mary Norton’s 1952 novel was retained in the 1997 adaptation. Likewise, he feels, with

When Mo reads stories aloud, fictional characters emerge from the pages into the world

Inkheart, ‘I think they have got the essence of it.’ I am especially interested in Bella’s thoughts because the plot of Inkheart is precisely about stories and characters coming to life. Meggie (played by the British actress Eliza Hope Bennett, now 16, in her first big role) and her father, Mo (Brendan Fraser), a bookbinder, both love books. Mo has a peculiar gift: when he reads stories aloud, fictional characters emerge from the pages into the real world. But this gift is a curse, too: it causes real people to be sucked into the book. Ten years previously, this is what happened to Meggie’s mother, Resa (Sienna Guillory), when Mo read out a book called Inkheart (written, as the story has it, by

an author named Fenoglio, played by Broadbent). Ever since, Mo has refused to read aloud and he has been searching for a copy of the now-rare book so that they can free Resa from the Inkworld into which she disappeared. On a visit to a book fair in the Italian Alps, Mo is confronted by Dustfinger (Paul Bettany), one of the characters he brought to life a decade earlier. Dustfinger tells Mo that the evil gang from Inkworld, led by Capricorn (Andy Serkis) and holed up in a ruined castle in the mountains, want to find Mo and force him to read from Inkheart and bring more villains to life. Mo and Meggie seek the help of Fenoglio and Aunt Elinor (Mirren), a recluse

g McLean, under the expert guidance of his daughter, goes on set. Photographs by Emma McCorkell

Left Andy Serkis, who plays Capricorn, with Iain Softley, the director. Top Brendan Fraser as Mo, Jim Broadbent as Fenoglio and Paul Bettany as Dustfinger. Above Fraser as Mo reads Inkheart to a young Meggie, a role played in turns by twins Esme and Isabella Clark T E L E G R A P H

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living in a remote house by an Italian lakeside. The production has already filmed on location in northern Italy, which is where Hamburg-born Funke was based when she wrote Inkheart (sh e now lives in Los Angeles). Softley was intent on avoiding the computer-generated imagery (CGI) used in many modern and phantasmagorical children’s films wherever possible for this adaptation. ‘I was very clear from the beginning that I wanted to shoot a lot of the exterior scenes on location to give us our look,’ Softley says. The setting of Inkheart is indeed otherworldly – but one that is rooted in a pre-war Europe. ‘I wanted it to have an almost pagan feel,’ Softley says of the ruined mountaintop village that has been constructed, in part, inside Shepperton. The production designer John Beard has brought stone from Liguria in northern Italy to build the houses, to ensure a visual and conceptual match. Softley says he loved Funke’s book, citing her descriptive passages as particularly powerful. ‘You really get a sense of those hills in northern Italy, with the snakes and the wild dogs – and the smells. She talks a lot about smells. It’s a very evocative book.’

‘WE HAD A REAL FERRET – WHICH WE GLUED HORNS ON TO! IT WAS A STINKY LITTLE CREATURE, BUT IT WAS FUN’ Softley has been working closely with Funke, who is a producer on the film and was also involved in the hiring of the scriptwriter, David LindsayAbaire, who won a Pulitzer Prize for his play Rabbit Hole. Another producer is Eileen Meisel from New Line – the studio behind the Lord of the Rings films and The Golden Compass. Softley says that Funke was ‘completely’ open to her book being altered. ‘She embraced the idea of letting it go and somebody else taking it in whatever direction they felt they needed to take it in. As long as you’re keeping the main points of the journey the same, that’s OK.’ While we are talking to the 33-year-old British actress Sienna Guillory, Bella picks up on a plot change. In the novel, Resa – who has lost the power of speech and is trapped for 10 years in a book, away from her family – has a relationship with Dustfinger. In the film, they are just good friends. Guillory says she liked this ‘complicated, real’ aspect of the book: ‘Resa’s a person that has chosen to survive by having a relationship with someone else… But my character’s pretty much been taken out of the equation because of the loss of that relationship.’ When we speak to Bettany on the phone later (he was not on set during our visit), he says, ‘There was a script once upon a time that tried to deal with it [the relationship].’ But by the time he received the final script, the relationship had been changed. One of the things he likes most about the film, he adds, ‘is that you don’t know whether Dustfinger is a good guy or a bad guy’. None the less, for all these changes, Softley is working hard to maintain the essence of the novel. Thus the emphasis on minimal CGI, real locations and real creatures – which had the added benefit of helping keep the budget down to (according to Funke) $70 million. And it helped the actors, allowing them to play their parts in a tactile environment, rather than pretend a blank blue screen was where the action was. ‘We had a real ferret – which we glued horns on to!’ Bettany laughs. ‘It was a stinky little creature, but it was fun.’ The net result, Brendan Fraser offers, is a film

with a ‘handmade feel to it’. The American actor, star of the special-effects-heavy Mummy series and the recent 3D romp Journey to the Centre of the Earth, says that, ‘I’ve come of age in filmmaking where I’ve watched CGI make things look beautiful and break through the glass ceiling with 3D.’ But with Inkheart, ‘The truth is, we don’t need that. Inkheart is about good old-fashioned filmmaking techniques.’ The first thing Bella is tickled by onset is the sight of Mirren acting out a scene – in this role she plays a turbaned bibliophile battling a menagerie of villains and animals drawn from books, both real (The Wizard of Oz, the Greek myths) and imagined. Four days prior to our set-visit, we watched the Bafta awards on television and saw Mirren win Best Actress. When we sit down to talk to her, Bella asks Mirren about her Bafta acceptance speech, in which she thanked her dialogue coach. What did that mean? ‘That was to do with the accent, and the kind of voice I had to use for The Queen,’ explains Mirren, who, like all the actors we speak to, is delighted to be interviewed by a child. ‘Dialogue coaches are a very useful tool for us actors.’ In Inkheart, though, she has no specific accent – although she

has brought something new to the character of Elinor. She says she only ‘sort of’ read Funke’s novel. ‘I wanted to be free to imagine this person how I imagined her,’ she says. Bettany says, half-jokingly, that he based Dustfinger – a court-jester-type character with dubious morality – on ‘some grumpy fire-eater that I met at a drunken music festival’. But when he first met Mirren during rehearsals he was impressed by the ‘huge carrier bag’ of research that Mirren had assembled – indicative, he says, of the ‘incredibly imaginative experience’ in which the actors were encouraged to participate during preproduction and filming. Mirren’s research pertained to the poet Edith Sitwell. ‘She was a very grand dame in the 1930s and 1940s,’ she explains to Bella. ‘I thought it was appropriate to base Elinor on her.’ In the book, Bella says, Elinor hates children – is that still the case? ‘No. I’ve slightly changed that – she’s someone who’s never thought of having children. She likes them fine, it’s just that they’re strange creatures that she doesn’t quite understand.’ We meet Serkis in his caravan between takes. Bella cannot quite believe that this is the actor who ‘played’ Gollum in The Lord of the Rings and King Kong in Peter Jackson’s blockbuster (I don’t tell her about his portrayal of the Moors Murderer Ian Brady). It’s especially hard to fathom this as he is in character during our conversation. At this stage of

Above Paul Bettany on location in northern Italy. Right the director Iain Softley with Helen Mirren, who plays Aunt Elinor alongside Eliza Hope Bennett’s Meggie

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filming, Capricorn and his cronies have not fully ‘emerged’ from Inkworld, and thus have lettering and words imprinted on their skin – a visual innovation that came from Softley and his team. Serkis says he based Capricorn on Hitler and Mussolini. He saw ‘lots of parallels’ between the fascists’ approach to literature ‘and Capricorn’s paranoia and the burning of books as a way of preventing himself from being read back into Inkworld’. ‘Of course they are fascists,’ Cornelia Funke says when we meet her after filming, postproduction and editing is completed. ‘But I had imagined Capricorn very, very differently. I was thinking of James Cromwell’s character in LA Confidential [the avuncular veteran cop who ultimately is revealed to be the story’s corrupt and venal mastermind] – to have that cold, emotional detachment. [Andy’s] was a very different approach.’ The finished film, she says, ‘is much more comedy. But of course in movies you tend to add that. You want some more laughs.’ We are talking to Funke, 49, in a London hotel. We have all seen the film, and all of us – author, reader, reporter – enjoyed the vibrant, real but still fantastical experience. More than 18 months have elapsed since our set-visit. Inkheart was trailed in cinemas last Christmas and was scheduled to come out this past spring. Bella and I had wondered if the critical and commercial failure of The Golden Compass – the first part of Philip Pullman’s His Dark Materials trilogy was an expensive flop last December – caused New Line to have second thoughts about releasing this latest children’s fantasy epic. Where does Funke think that The Golden Compass (which was filming in Shepperton at the same time as Inkheart) went wrong?

CORNELIA FUNKE IS RELAXED ABOUT ALL THE ‘LIBERTIES’ THAT HAVE BEEN TAKEN WITH HER TEXT. MOST OF THEM SHE SEEMS TO FIND AMUSING Above on location in northern Italy, which is where Cornelia Funke was based when she wrote Inkheart

‘The first script was not right. Then there was the problem of the incredibly huge CGI they had to do. Whereas we had these wonderful sets everywhere. I think where they went terribly wrong was with the minor characters – the gypsies and the witches didn’t really work. And that is of course a problem when you have such a complex book. You don’t have the time to really establish them. I felt it should have been an hour longer.’ In terms of the delay in the release of Inkheart,


Aunt Elinor (Helen Mirren) and Meggie (Eliza Hope Bennett)

she thinks a more pertinent factor was the takeover earlier this year of New Line by Warner Bros. There was also the matter of reshoots. The original edit of Inkheart mirrored the end of the book, and (without wishing to give too much away) things didn’t entirely go Dustfinger’s way. However, in test screenings, he emerged as the audiences’ favourite character. They wanted him to have a happy ending. Thus, last August, a new scene was filmed – one involving Bettany’s real-life wife, the actress Jennifer Connelly. ‘I was entirely resistant to it to begin with,’ Bettany says of the new ending. The producers explained the rationale, but it was only when he and Softley had a long conversation that he acceded, ‘and I thought it was a fair point’. He also says that what happens to Dustfinger at the end of the film is what happens to him at the start of the second book. Funke is relaxed about the change, and, it seems, about all the ‘liberties’ that have been taken with her text. Most of them she seems to find amusing. ‘Of course I knew when I heard that Helen Mirren was doing it, that she would have a different approach. For example, you don’t believe that Helen Mirren never was in love with anybody!’ she laughs. ‘Whereas with Elinor you almost think she was always a spinster in her library.’ But film adaptations of books, she believes, need such creative freedom. She mentions the Harry Potter movies, saying she was ‘not the greatest fan’ of the opening pair in the series. ‘With the first two Potter movies, the studio was so worried that children would be offended if they changed anything,’ she claims. ‘So they went for a traditional approach. And only in part three, when it had been hugely successful [were the producers] allowed a bit

more freedom. And also it was a learning process of course.’ That said, when it came to Inkheart, there was one aspect of the filmmaking process on which Funke dug in her heels: she insisted that Brendan Fraser be cast as Mo. She had written the character with him in mind. ‘I needed that boyishness, that voice,’ she says intently – indeed, she had previously hired Fraser to ‘voice’ her audio books. ‘And [the studio] hadn’t thought about The Voice! They were like, “What about Brad Pitt?” I said, “You don’t believe that’s a father who raised his child!”’ But there has been something niggling Bella about Fraser. On set we had watched him dash around, all raffish hair and strapping musculature. She tells Funke that she had never imagined Mo to be so ‘heroic’ – reading Inkheart she thought of him as more ‘fatherly’ and, well, cuddly. Funke, who is clearly never happier than when meeting her fans, is thrilled by this observation. She has had similar mild misgivings. ‘The muscle,’ she says, ‘is interesting. For research, Brendan visited a bookbinder in Los Angeles. He was taller than Brendan, and muscular. When he stamped the gold on to the leather, you saw what a tough job a bookbinder is. So I thought, “Oh, after all, it is right.”’ At Shepperton we had asked Softley about the pressures of adapting well-loved books. ‘It’s a two-way thing really – you do get that pressure from fans, and people have their own vision of the book in their mind. They own the film, if you like. And hopefully people will find this to be a different experience to the book, but one that is complementary to it. Certainly Cornelia, who has seen quite a lot of what we’ve done so far, has been delighted with it. I’m hoping that’s a sign that other people who love the book won’t give us too hard a ride.’ ‘Inkheart’ is released on December 12


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hildren love dressing up. Add to that a fashion photographer with a knack for pushing the creative boundaries and fancy dress takes on a new hue. The Australian photographer Vee Speers first came up with the idea for these photographs at her daughter’s fancy-dress 10th birthday party. She noticed the influence that costume has on people’s perception of character, and decided to work with children to create a series of portraits in which the props, styling and selection of model would add up to a fictional persona – one about which the viewer might hold an opinion, or jump to a conclusion. She researched the costumes for her cast, favouring the now old-fashioned looks of the years before and immediately after the Second

‘I WANT THE CHILDREN TO FEEL EMPOWERED. TO ME THEY LOOK AS IF THEY ARE THE ONES THAT ARE RULING’ World War. The children included her youngest daughter (she has three), her children’s friends, and children of acquaintances. Shot in close focus, using washed-out colours, the timeline of the images is a mythical yesterday. What has emerged is a portfolio that delights and disturbs in a glance. Certainly there is no fairy princess, Robin Hood or Batman on the guest list at The Birthday Party, the title of the book that arose from her portraits. Nor do the models smile. The whole show flies in the face of the idealised depiction of children much practised in the past by portrait photographers, but which many leading contemporaries in the genre have questioned. Among others who have had their turn at binning sweetness and light are the prize-winning surrealist artist Loretta Lux, who works with children and whose portrayals of disproportionate young faces and bodies seem to hint at some lost state of perfection, along with Richard Avedon and Diane Arbus in her ‘Freak’ series.

The photographer Vee Speers took inspiration from her daughter’s fancy-dress party to create beautiful yet disturbing portraits of children, designed to evoke memories of our own childhood. By Drusilla Beyfus

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Speers prods some contemporary concerns. One shot of a primary-schoolage girl suggests that adulthood comes prematurely. The pretty model appears to be blowing a bubble as she cuts a paradoxical figure in a grownup’s hula-hoop dress and a big beehive hairstyle that Amy Winehouse might appreciate. Angels are not what they were. One such figment has feathered wings sprouting from a bare torso, its angelic qualities taking a dive beneath a cartoon duck mask. Another is engulfed in black wings. The subject of the cautionary tale of Strewelpeter with its phallic fears has changed sex. A young schoolgirl, depicted from behind, wearing a white-collar-and-cuffed frock, is characterised by a suggestively long plait of hair; her hands are holding a pair of open scissors. At the very least there is an element of ambiguity in many of the images. I asked Speers what was in her head and she deconstructed some of the pictures in a way that gentled them. ‘People see in the pictures what’s in their mind. The bubble-blowing scene is partly a reference to bath time as I remember it as a child. Sitting in the bath and blowing soap bubbles. The angels are no stranger than any fictional creature in Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland and I love those. The model with the long plait came out of my own anxieties at school that someone behind me would jump out and dot me one. ‘I tried really, really hard to think back to my own childhood. I want people

‘THE MODEL WITH THE LONG PLAIT CAME OUT OF MY OWN ANXIETIES AT SCHOOL THAT SOMEONE BEHIND ME WOULD JUMP OUT AND DOT ME ONE’

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to see in the pictures some connection with their own experience. Perhaps half-forgotten or long-buried.’ That there is more to the work than this is supported by Susan Bright, the curator of the Face of Fashion exhibition at the National Portrait Gallery last year, who writes an introduction to The Birthday Party. ‘It is as if the children are resilient survivors in a catastrophe, living by new rules… here boys wear tutus and girls adorn suits.’ The ‘resilience’ referred to finds an echo in a remark by Speers, who told me, ‘I want the children to feel empowered. To me they look as if they are the ones that are ruling.’ There is likely to be more of the kind from Speers. She has worked in Paris for 15 years and lives in the red-light district. Her book Bordello (2005) , inspired by brothels that existed in between-the-wars Paris, and her portfolio Parisians illu strate her belief in the power of dressing up and acting out a role. ‘It sets you free to create your own stories, your own mysteries,’ she commented in a newspaper interview. Next on her agenda is a make-believe shoot with adults playing the parts. ‘The Birthday Party’ (Dewi Lewis Publishing) is available from Telegraph Bookshop for £26 plus £1.25 p&p (0844-871 1515; books.telegraph.co.uk)

‘I TRIED TO THINK ABOUT MY OWN CHILDHOOD. I WANT PEOPLE TO SEE IN THE PICTURES SOME CONNECTION WITH THEIR OWN EXPERIENCE’

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arely does one get to hear a man – in particular a fashion baron – wax lyrical about sheep and goats. But Pier Luigi Loro Piana’s entire empire has been built on wool from the finest merino sheep, velvety hairs of the Peruvian vicuña and soft fibres of the Mongolian goat. These are the raw materials for the sumptuous clothes and homewear sold in each of Loro Piana’s 110 international boutiques. Furry four-legged creatures are at the heart of his brand, as precious as fragrant roses to a perfumer or ripened grapes to a winemaker, which is why to him they are ‘so, so beautiful. If you look into the face of a vicuña, and look

into her eyes, it’s difficult not to fall in love with her. And to stroke her, you know, it’s a pleasure.’ If anyone should understand softness, it is Pier Luigi. As the sixth generation to run Loro Piana, alongside his brother Sergio, Pier Luigi, 56, has handled some of the finest fabrics in the world, from gossamer Chinese silks to Scottish tweeds. He is, he says, ‘obsessed with quality’, always pushing the boundaries of what can be done to make fabrics better, constantly traversing the world in search of something softer. In April he awarded a trophy to two Australian sheep farmers who had produced wool whose fibres measured a mere 11.7 microns

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thick (one micron is a thousandth of a millimetre), which will be made into bespoke suits for a handful of Loro Piana’s most loyal clients. Now, after 10 years’ research and development in Mongolia, he has launched a product made of the softest goat’s hair ever produced: baby cashmere. The plains of Mongolia are among the most barren on earth. For nearly 1,500 miles from east to west, sandwiched between Russia and China, there is little else but rolling glacier-cut hills, dry grassy plains, deserts and sky. This area, about half the size of Europe, is home to a population of about two and a half million. And alongside

The world’s finest cashmere originates in one of its most hostile environments. Lisa Grainger meets the Italian fashionisto who struck a deal with the goat-herders of the Mongolian steppes Above goats graze on pasture in Gobi National Park, the sand dunes of Khongoryn Els rising behind. Right wool from the dense undercoat of Hircus goats is sorted and combed 68

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the people live about ďŹ ve times as many sheep and goats. For centuries these have been the lifeblood of Mongol nomads, who wander the desolate steppes in search of pasture. In summer, particularly in May and June, winds can whip dry soil and sand from the Gobi Desert for hundreds of miles, sandblasting man and beast. In winter, for months it is often sub-Arctic, with temperatures in Ulan Bator (the coldest capital in the world) plummeting to -30C and snow and ice covering the plains, sending herders and their ocks into thick, felted gers (mushroom-like yurts) until spring. Such extreme temperatures, you might think,

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‘I DON’T WANT A LOT, I JUST WANT THE BEST: SOMETHING DEEP, SOMETHING IMPORTANT, SOMETHING GOOD’

Above fibres are checked for quality. Left cashmere sweaters, from £690. Right baby cashmere cardigan, £1,110; silk stretch shirt, £685; wool flannel trousers, £580

would not be conducive to creating one of the world’s most luxurious fibres. And yet, Pier Luigi explains, it is precisely because of the temperatures that Mongolian hircus goats produce such extraordinary cashmere. To protect themselves they grow a dense undercoat – or duvet – of very fine, very soft hair. The colder it is, the more hairs they will produce (it is combed off by hand twice a year in November and May). And the less food that is available, the finer – and therefore more valuable – the hairs become. Unlike the Andean vicuña population, which in 1966 had to be protected by the Peruvian government to prevent its being poached to extinction, the number of cashmere goats in Mongolia has increased dramatically in the past 20 years. For seven decades the country was communist and Russian-financed. But since independence in 1990, Mongolians have had to adapt to capitalism and find ways to make money. The West’s hunger for luxurious fibres made goat-herding a natural option – and the reason why today about 50 per cent of Mongols are nomadic, leading their herds further and further into the steppes to find pastures to sustain them. It was the resulting glut of cashmere, plus the appearance at market of rough, thicker fibres (blends of goat’s and sheep’s wool), that led Pier Luigi Loro Piana to start thinking about how he could improve the quality of cashmere. You only have to look at the kids to understand why Pier Luigi believed he had found a solution. Hircus kids, like their parents, are pale, long-haired creatures with downy underbellies. But their hair is infinitely softer and finer (13.5 microns). They are fluffier, whiter, more dandelion-like. And Hircus goats often give birth to twins and triplets – handy, given that each kid will shed a maximum of 80g of hair at first combing (usually at an age of between four and eight months old), only half of which will 70

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be clean, soft and perfect enough to be used to make baby cashmere yarn. One sweater uses the wool of 19 kids. Pier Luigi first visited Mongolia to investigate the viability of baby cashmere in the late 1980s, talking to the nomads who shepherded the Hircus goats and trying to persuade them that, although the yield from kids wouldn’t be as high, nor the hair as heavy, it would be much more valuable. ‘They were nervous at first, of course, because this was new, no one did it,’ he says. But with regular contact – and an upfront payment of cash, taken to the plains in containers escorted by armed guards – slowly the herdsmen began to appreciate the value of the finer, softer fibre and having a regular customer who would buy as much of it as they could produce. ‘The relationship is very important,’ Pier Luigi says passionately, ‘because if I know what they do and how they do things, I understand better what’s possible. And if they know us, too, they understand our needs and what we worry about.’ What the average Loro Piana customer worries about, apparently, is quality. ‘Our target customer enjoys the sort of life I do,’ Pier Luigi says. ‘I work a lot, so I really want to enjoy the little bit of free time I have. I like to sail, to ski, to be in nature. If you work hard you make qualitative choices rather than quantitative. I don’t want a lot, I just want the best: something deep, something important, something good. Not something flashy or too technical, or something that is beautiful but not functional. It must be both.’ This ability to deliver cashmere that is strokeable as well as hard-wearing and even waterproof is one of the company’s great achievements, Sergio says proudly (casually mentioning that both the Italian equestrian team and the New Zealand sailing team wear Loro Piana). It is the reason the company has been able to diversify into interior design, fitting

out private jets, for instance, with cashmere carpets, seats, blankets and cushions, and furnishing superyachts with water-resistant cloth. It is why their customers ski in cashmere if they want, protected from the elements externally, their skin cosseted by the finest natural fibre. Loro Piana’s ambition this year is to introduce natural waterproofing (updating its current GoreTex-like Storm System lining, which uses nylon in the warp). ‘What is wonderful for us is that the knowledge of how to make a yarn is coming back, and so is the desire for natural fibres,’ Pier Luigi says. ‘Which I believe in completely, because natural fibres on my skin feel right and manmade fibres never do. Besides, what people don’t realise is that products made from oil will cost an enormous amount to destroy. A wool jacket will follow nature; it will follow my body and die with me. But a nylon jacket will never die; we still don’t know how much it will cost our society to dispose of this kind of clothing.’ The benefits of producing natural fibres also filter down to the society that nurtures the goats, Pier Luigi adds. Thanks to the extra premiums paid for baby cashmere, he says, fewer people are abandoning the nomadic life for jobs in the city. Instead, they are investing in making their lives more comfortable: some buying horses for their children to get to school, others setting up satellite dishes outside their gers to tune into entertainment during the winter when they are holed up. It is not unusual now, says Loro Piana’s spokeswoman Ludovica Cofrancesco, to see a car parked outside a ger, its battery providing power for a couple of hours’ light at night, or to see shepherds eating fruit and vegetables (rare commodities on the steppes, which only those with cash can get hold of). ‘The nomads seem to appreciate what we are trying to do. They know we will pay more for quality, that we will go back every year, that we will buy about 90 per cent of their product. For them, this is fantastic.’ ‘Travelling across those Mongolian plains is like nothing you’ve ever done before,’ Pier Luigi says enthusiastically. ‘It really is the middle of nowhere. You drive 500 or 600km from Ulan Bator on dirt tracks for about two and a half days, across endless plains. And even when you get there, we find just a few nomads who know we are coming, and have put up their tents. Maybe some horses, for transport. And, of course, goats, which are very beautiful, you know: really white and soft.’ And then he is off again, on his favourite subject, while I go off to feel the products: a sweater made of mousse-effect baby cashmere (a candyfloss-light creation for £605), a typically understated overcoat of cashmere not just on the outside, but the inside, too, so wearers get the full silky effect on the skin, and a jacket with shaved mink lining (a staggering £24,865 handful of luxury). Given Pier Luigi’s affinity for creatures, I am surprised to find mink and chinchilla fur used for cuffs and lining. But in a luxury company, he tells me, it is something customers expect. ‘Fur is a huge market – and something that is not accepted by each of us,’ he says. ‘I don’t wear it and I don’t agree with the hunting of species that are dying out. But it’s life, you know. And at least it’s under control now, and species that are dying out are protected. That most important thing we can do is protect animals that need it, and ensure their continuity. And that’s what we do. You know, I like animals and nature very much.’ Loro Piana, 153 New Bond Street, London W1 (020-7499 9300; loropiana.com)


IN ASSOCIATION WITH

Going the extra 107 miles At exactly 107 miles, the M62 represents the extra distance per tank that the new Audi A6 delivers. Taking the car on a roadtrip from the Humber to the Mersey, the photographer Will Sanders encounters a series of startling sculptures

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Left the acoustic mirror at Kilnsea, built in the First World War to detect air invasions from across the North Sea. Right Vinea wine bar and deli at Albert Dock. Far right one of Sophie Ryder’s hare figures at the Yorkshire Sculpture Park

Left Turning the Place Over, Richard Wilson’s art installation in Liverpool. Right the photographer Will Sanders with the new Audi A6

Left looking out over the North Sea from Easington. Previous page Thomas Heatherwick’s B of the Bang in Manchester

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he M62. At exactly 107 miles in length it’s the perfect route to take the new Audi A6 (107 miles being the extra distance per tank that the new A6 is capable of delivering*) for a road trip across the north of England. Driving the 107 miles I was struck by how quickly everything changes. Even the accent; I noticed a different one every time I got out of the A6. The first place I stopped was the Humber estuary near Easington. In a field at Kilnsea I spotted an incredible construction facing out over the ocean that looked like a large concrete satellite dish. It turned out to be an acoustic mirror, an earlywarning system built in the First World War that amplified the sounds of approaching Zeppelins, so that they could be picked up by a radio operator – a primitive form of radar. Looking out to sea, which was particularly dark and moody, it was extraordinary imagining it being used back then. Looking back to the A6, it made me realise just how much technology has advanced. From there, I could only head west, through Hull and then onwards to Pontefract. I decided to stop


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in the town, and wandered into the indoor market hall. It was packed with great independent producers. My favourite discovery there was the cheesemonger Cryer & Stott. They clearly believe wholeheartedly in what they are doing, and really know their cheese. I tried lots of them before returning to the car with some delicious Swaledale that had been soaked in Old Peculiar ale. Not far further west, I reached the Yorkshire Sculpture Park near Wakefield. It is an incredible place to discover – I am not the biggest fan of museums and galleries, I sometimes feel that they are not the best places to see art, with people all bunching up around the works. But in the open air in a beautiful landscape felt like the perfect way to see sculpture. There are fantastic works by artists such as Henry Moore and Barbara Hepworth, and I loved Sophie Ryder’s hare figures with human bodies. The park is so big, I could have spent the rest of the day there, but headed on towards Manchester over the Pennines, via the highest stretch of motorway in the country. There is one portion where the motorway divides and you can see a single farm

sandwiched between the two carriageways. It was the perfect opportunity to settle back in my seat and experience just what all the fuss about the new A6 is all about. It really was a case of just pointing the car in the direction you wanted to go in and enjoying the drive. When I got to Manchester, I drove to the City of Manchester Stadium where there is an incredibly dramatic sculpture, an explosion of enormous spikes. Created by Thomas Heatherwick, it is called B of the Bang, inspired by something the sprinter Linford Christie once said about leaving the blocks the moment the starting pistol goes off. It is so towering, it was hard to capture in a photograph. I headed on to Liverpool where, opposite the Moorfields station, I came across another massive artwork, Turning the Place Over. The artist Richard Wilson had taken an unremarkable disused building, and cut into the facade a huge oval that tilts and rotates out of the building. It was so surprising to find it, and jaw-dropping to watch in action. As evening came on, I visited Albert Dock and found a brilliant wine bar, Vinea, attached to a deli,

with lots of young couples enjoying an evening drink. I ended my trip at the Hope Street Hotel, a gorgeous modern hotel in an 1860 building. They have used lots of beautiful wood in the design, and I absolutely loved it. As I went to sleep I was already planning a return visit (preferably in an Audi), so I could stay here again. You can see more of Will Sanders’s photographs at telegraph.co.uk/107miles

Why 107 miles? No, Audi haven’t made the fuel tank bigger on the new A6 model, they’ve just made their engines more fuel efficient. On the new Audi A6 2.0 TDIe manual*, for instance, you’ll get up to 107 more miles each time you fill up. And across the whole A6 diesel engine range, you’ll get between 48 and 127 miles. So be it a drive to a sculpture park or over the Pennines, one place you won’t be going with all those extra miles is the petrol station.


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Christmas presents

ASSISTANT: K IER A BUCK LE Y-JONES

What do you buy for a baby? How do you delight a teenager? What do you give to a gardener? Our experts offer tempting suggestions over a wide price range for all the family

WRAP STARS From top: purple glitter £1.95 per sheet, Selfridges (0800-123400; selfridges.com), with gold rosette, £1 for six, Marks & Spencer (0845-302 1234; marksandspencer.com). Ski scene (double-sided, with red-spot design on other side) £1.75 per sheet, Cath Kidston (0845-026 2440; cathkidston.co.uk). Purple flocked by Globe, £3.50 per sheet, with silver ribbon, £4.95 per 2m roll, both Liberty (020-7734 1234; liberty.co.uk). Red wrap £3.50 for two 3m rolls, Muji (020-7323 2208; mujionline.co. uk), with ribbon and rosette from a selection at John Lewis (08456-049049; johnlewis.com). Gold and red glitter by Globe, £3.50 per sheet, with purple ribbon, £4.95 per 2m roll, both Liberty, as before. Black and gold holographic floral £3.50 per 2m roll, Marks & Spencer, as before. Gold damask by Wrapology, £3.95 per sheet, Harrods (020-7730 1234; harrods.com). Baubles by Ella Doran, £3 per 4m roll, John Lewis, as before. Photograph by Matthew Donaldson

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Home by Annabel Freyberg and David Nicholls UNDER £25 Majamoo pot stands Cloudberry Living. Sinuous trivets in Finnish birch ply that fit inside each other. Lamb egg cosy by Hut Up Selvedge Objects. Hand-felted merino wool cosies. A sheep teacosy is also available. Birdie stopper and bottle 19cm tall, Habitat. Stoppers in the shapes of squat little birds and jewel-coloured glass bottles, unashamedly inspired by Iittala’s far more expensive glass bird ornaments by Oiva Toikka. UNDER £50 Hot water bottle cover by Orla Kiely for Heal’s. One of the more affordable pieces from the designer’s new range. Squirrel light 26cm tall, Couverture. A hand-painted resin light that glows. Tree glasses by Snowden Flood Hidden Art Shop. Strong, rhythmic prints on tumblers. SKY’S THE LIMIT Gold spider by Kelly Allsopp Vessel. A 9cm-wide porcelain spider painted gold. There’s also a platinum lustre version. Birdie Blossom cushion 56x56cm, by Paul Smith for the Rug Company. The woven tapestry cover captures the quality of a watercolour painting. Tripod clock 17cm, by George Nelson, SCP. The fact that this was designed in 1947 goes to show that good design really does last. Stockists, p101

Birdie Blossom cushion £275

Majamoo pot stands £19 for set of two Tripod clock £185

Hot water bottle covers by Orla Kiely £45 each

Tree glasses by Snowden Flood £39.95 for four

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Squirrel light £49

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CHRISTMAS PRESENTS

Eco by Tamsin Blanchard Organic cotton bedlinen from £14

Sock knitting kit £15.95

Gold spider by Kelly Allsopp £99

Stacker ring £350

G-Wiz i with Ella Doran leafy wrap £11,159

Purse £15

Birdie stopper and bottle £8 Rob Ryan Clothkits skirt £48

Mini sewing machine £49

Lamb egg cosy £20

UNDER £25 Organic cotton bedlinen Gossypium. I would love a set – just plain white (they call it ‘eco white’) sheets, pillowcases and duvet cover. Useful and luxurious. Sock knitting kit Loop. I love the idea of knitting my own socks in delicious colours. I imagine spending time learning to knit might be therapeutic. Purse Stinkie Industries. This London-based company makes bags and purses from recycled leather and vintage fabrics – you can send them your own. UNDER £50 Rob Ryan Clothkits skirt Clothkits has been going for years, but if you thought it was all hippie-dippy cheesecloth, think again. It has teamed up with the artist Rob Ryan to make these wearable skirt designs. Making your own clothes leads you to treat them with a bit more care – the ultimate antidote to the throwaway fashion we have all got horribly used to. Mini sewing machine 23x27cm, John Lewis. Great for teens who want to get creative and customise all that Primark stuff rotting in their wardrobes – or to learn how to make their own clothes. Also… A subscription to The Ecologist £28. A present every month to keep the eco-aware up to date on the latest in green issues. Electricity monitor £34.59, Amazon. A gadget for checking on how much electricity you are using. Be warned, you can become obsessive about turning off the lights. SKY’S THE LIMIT Stacker ring Cred Jewellery. Guilt-free jewellery made from fairtrade gold and conflict-free stones. G-Wiz i electric car GoinGreen. This one has a limited-edition leafy wrap by the graphic designer Ella Doran. Stockists, p101

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CHRISTMAS PRESENTS

Children 0-5 by Michele Lavery

Two-height babywalker £29.50

UNDER £25 Wheel sorting box Green Baby. A simple, classic toy for children to learn about shapes and sizes. This one is made from sustainable beech. Baby shapes Social Baby. This is by far and away the best gift for a newborn. They are transfixed by the black and white images in the books and the mobile continues to appeal for years. City Stickers Cheeky Monkeys. These foam shapes stick to the side of the bath. UNDER £50 Two-height babywalker Blooming Marvellous. A classic, and as popular as ever. Children love to push anything; with this they can learn to walk holding on and then play with the bricks. This version has two handles at different heights so they can switch from one to the other as they grow. World Sky Nightlight Great Little Trading Company. Transforms bedrooms into a magical starry night. Tiny Love activity gym with lights and music, Littlewoods Direct. There are many variations on the activity mat for newborns but this is one of the best, well-designed, loved by babies and not as gaudy as some. SKY’S THE LIMIT Likeabike Jumper Likeabike. There is nothing like a shiny bike for Christmas. This one has no pedals and is great for children to learn to balance before getting a proper bicycle when they are older. Full kitchen Holtz Toys. This is nicer than my own kitchen and the price reflects it, but it is beautifully handmade in alder wood by a wonderful company based in Cornwall, and it will appeal to children far beyond their toddler days. There are lots of cheaper versions available elsewhere. Stockists, p101

World Sky Nightlight £40

Wheel sorting box £14.99

Likeabike Jumper £125 Baby shapes £10 .79

Full kitchen £470 Tiny Love activity gym with lights and music, £47.99

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City Stickers for the bath £9.99

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Beauty by Kate Shapland UNDER £25 Chanel Fire nail varnish Selfridges. The hottest red. Even if you don’t wear it on your fingers you will on your toes – a cheerful moment when you take your socks off in winter, and stunning with a tan and sandals in summer. Smith’s Rosebud Strawberry lip balm HQ Hair. This smells delicious and has just the right slip and texture to absorb without making lips feel greasy. Apply it as a pre-colour plumper or after lipstick to enhance shine. Reavley’s Cream Developed by Robert Reavley in the 1920s, this glycerine-rich cream is unsurpassed in its hand-softening capabilities. UNDER £50 Acqua di Parma cube candles Harrods. These cast the softest scent of mellow carnuba wax around the room. Santa Maria Novella pomegranate bath oil The queen of bath oils from the best fragrance apothecarist. One bottle of this uplifting tonic will get you through to spring. Jo Malone Orange & Geranium night cream A decent face moisturiser, neither expensive nor high-tech, just one that will nourish and protect your skin, last well and be a joy to use. Estée Lauder After Hours slim gold metal compact Contains a refillable slip of transparent powder for retouching nose, forehead and chin. SKY’S THE LIMIT Guerlain Jicky Parfum Proper, sophisticated scent. Time is up for ‘celebrity fragrances’ that all smell the same; well-crafted conventional scents are back. Smythson travel vanity case A gift for life, this handcrafted raspberry crocodile-print leather beauty bureau combines elegance and practicality. Stockists, p101

Acqua di Parma candles £45 each

Chanel nail varnish £15

Santa Maria Novella bath oil £50 Jo Malone night creams £38 each

Guerlain Jicky Parfum £171

Smythson travel vanity case £1,520

Estée Lauder compact £30

Smith’s Rosebud Strawberry lip balm £6.95

Reavley’s Cream from £1.95

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CHRISTMAS PRESENTS

Women by Mary Portas

Print by John Currin price on application

UNDER £25 Lucas Papaw Ointment Pawpaw Shop. I discovered this completely amazing all-purpose balm in Melbourne and approached the manufacturer with an offer to import it to the UK. He thought I was mad. Ten years later it’s still relatively unknown and I still have to ask mates to send supplies between my trips down under. Aromatherapy Associates miniature bath oil collection Space NK. My ultimate indulgence would be to soak in my dream claw-footed bath in front of the window overlooking the garden with some Aromatherapy Associates oils. UNDER £50 Christmas pudding hamper Daylesford Organic. My local garden centre, Clifton Nurseries, has a cute Daylesford Organic Miniature bath oil collection £24 concession with lots of hampers to choose from to satisfy all budgets. Château la Fleur de Boüard, Lalande de Pomerol Berry Bros & Rudd. Pomerol has been my wine of choice for years. And Berry Bros my vintner. Silk handkerchief Holland & Holland. I’d love to receive anything from Holland & Holland – it’s one of the few remaining true British luxury brands. C and C California black T-shirt Harvey Nichols. A practical basic for every wardrobe. I’d wear it on my Sunday run in Regent’s Park or when I walk Walter, my schnoodle dog. SKY’S THE LIMIT A month in Mauritius To truly relax I have to get away from the city and zone out, pampering myself with ayurvedic treatments to recharge my batteries before heading back to my life in London. A ring from Solange Azagury-Partridge Made to order. I’m known for my signature jewellery and I’d love this ring to wear every day. I always look for pieces on my travels, and have them made for me – the bigger the better – in gold, topaz or bright semi-precious stones. Girl in Bed print from Milestones by John Currin, a portfolio of seven prints, price on application, Gagosian Gallery. Art plays a big part in my life, my house is full of it. John Currin’s work reflects a great sensitivity, it’s not everyone’s taste but I would love another of his pieces to add to my collection. Stockists, p101

Lucas Papaw Ointment £3.49

Holland & Holland silk handkerchief £45

Château la Fleur de Boüard, Lalande de Pomerol £29 Ring by Solange Azagury-Partridge to order

Christmas pudding hamper £45

C and C California T-shirt £48.95

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© JOHN CURRIN. COURTESY OF G AGOSIAN G ALLERY. FULL STOP

A month in Mauritius


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CHRISTMAS PRESENTS

Boys 5-12 by Annabel Freyberg UNDER £25 Kitchen Chemistry Science Museum. At a certain age, there’s nothing more fun than making a mess; this kit actively encourages you to mix things up and its 40 experiments are designed for a domestic kitchen. Secret Message Kit BrightMinds. Outwit the grown-ups with eight ways of messaging, including ciphers and morse code (torch included). Spider model/puzzle Whippet Grey. Intriguing cardboard construction kit that actually looks good once you’ve finished. UNDER £50 Natural History Museum Flapping Falcon Debenhams. Thrillingly controlled flying for up to 100ft inside and out – you get to choose the bird’s flight path. Disney Mickey Mouse 1GB MP3 Player Next. Clever, pocket-sized gadget: twiddle one ear to turn up the volume, the other to move tracks; you get up to seven hours of music. It also comes in pink. Unicycle Urchin. A fun skill for the agile to master. SKY’S THE LIMIT Maxi Micro scooter microscooters.co.uk. Specially designed for this age range, its three wheels give greater stability than two, so higher speeds are possible, while the joystick requires concentration and co-ordination. Magnetic iCoaster Harrods. Children with nimble fingers and a love of speed can devote hours to this award-winning construction. Requires 4xC batteries (not included). Meccano Spykee Firebox. Not an obvious beauty, this extraordinarily versatile robot first has to be built (part of the fun) then put to work – it can take pictures and videos, be a VoIP phone and webcam, play music, guard your room and more. Stockists, p101 Magnetic iCoaster £79.95

Kitchen Chemistry £15.99

Maxi Micro scooter £79.99

NHM Flapping Falcon £40

Secret message kit £9.99

Disney Mickey Mouse 1GB MP3 player £39

Meccano Spykee £199.95 Spider model/puzzle £9.50 FULL STOP

Unicycle £29.99

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Girls 5-12 by Annabel Freyberg UNDER £25 Russian Doll name necklace 6cm long, ladyluckrulesok.com. Cute, wooden and personalised – irresistible. Temporary tattoos notonthehighstreet.com. Children love to adorn themselves and these 100 jaunty tattoos will let them do so many times over; they also wash off. Paint your own umbrella Blooming Marvellous. Budding artists can do a painting that endures – it’s designed to be shown off in the rain. Balloon modelling kit Lakeland. Balloons never fail to appeal, and these can be twisted into inventive forms. Annabel Karmel Big Baking kit Marks & Spencer. Quantities of bright-coloured plastic cookware that can go on being used long after the ingredients have been scoffed. UNDER £50 Spa Science Science Museum. Girls adore smelly things, and these natural ingredients and essential oils can be custom-made into scents, lotions and foaming baths. Goodmans XB4CDG karaoke machine Argos. A pretty professional CD-compatible karaoke machine designed for children; should provide hours of entertainment. SKY’S THE LIMIT Willow pavilion wingreen.co.uk. On lazy summer days, this tent would be the perfect place for girls to loll around. Apple 8GB iPod Nano John Lewis. Music fans will be thrilled with the new Nano: it’s super-thin, comes in eight colours and has an impressive capacity to play music, store photographs and more. Stockists, p101

Russian Doll name necklace £13

Spa Science £24.99

Temporary tattoos £10

Willow pavilion £295

Paint your own umbrella £9.99

Goodmans XB4CDG Karaoke Machine £49.99

Annabel Karmel Big Baking kit £25

Apple 8GB iPod Nano £109

Balloon modelling kit £3.99

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Gardening by Kylie O’Brien and Joanna Fortnam UNDER £25 Vintage plant pots (sizes vary, approx H10cm), RE. All gardeners want a supply of weathered terracotta pots in every size. Scarecrow kit (without hat), Hen & Hammock. Give your garden a co-ordinated rustic look down to the last detail. Carrot handcream (100ml), Baileys. Something no gardener buys for him or herself, but hugely welcome. UNDER £50 Bumper aluminium label pack The Essentials Company. This company stocks a wide variety of good plant labels. 20cm pruner with holster Daylesford Organic. For pruning, deadheading, grafting and general cutting. Set of three large glass cloches (35cm, 30cm, 26cm), Bells of Suffolk. Practical and beautiful, use as plant protection until spring, then let them sit out all summer – they’ll make the veg garden look special, rather than like an allotment. SKY’S THE LIMIT Seed tray set with bulbs, gloves and tools, Marston & Langinger. An indulgence you’d never buy for yourself, but treats like this make gardening feel so easy. Narcissus bulbs work indoors or out, but at Christmas force them into flower in a tall glass vase and then plant them out for next year once they’ve faded. Almond tree Trees Direct. Utterly gorgeous in spring with delicate palest-pink blossom, and you should have a good harvest of nuts in year two or three. Plant two trees for best pollination and cropping. Pottery gift voucher Whichford Pottery. All Whichford pots are fabulous-looking, British-made and have a 10-year frostproof guarantee. Eva Sola bird table 2.5L thediningstore.co.uk. A bird table that doesn’t look like a Swiss chalet. Stockists, p101

Seed tray set £96

Label pack £37.50

Bird table £67.50

Whichford Pottery gift voucher £50

Scarecrow kit £24

FULL STOP

Vintage plant pots £3 each

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Pets by Pete Wedderburn Cat bowl £40

Aquarium £209

Almond tree £55 Dog jumper £45

Pet stairs £395 Dog collars £66

Scoobee Laserchase £3.99

Pruner £39 Carrot handcream £7

Bungee cord lead £19.95

Cloches £36 for three

UNDER £25 Ruff Wear Roamer Hands-Free Bungee Cord Lead Canine Spirit. This lead gives your dog freedom to roam for up to 11ft without a length dragging on the ground. The adjustable handle can be held, clipped to your waist or secured around a post; a second handle allows tight control. Scoobee Laserchase Pet Planet. The low-intensity laser beam appeals to cats’ hunting instincts. It comes attached to a keyring. The Furminator from £25, Pet Planet (not pictured). A new grooming device for cats and dogs that removes the loose undercoat while leaving the top coat untouched; the manufacturer claims it reduces shedding by up to 90 per cent. UNDER £50 Ceramic cat bowl 15cm across, Mungo & Maud. Your cat will enjoy eating from it and you’ll enjoy looking at it. Dishwasher safe. Merino wool dog jumper Mungo & Maud. High-quality snugness with a touch of style. SKY’S THE LIMIT Biorb Life Collection aquariums Seapets. Ideal starter kits. Made from strong clear acrylic, the tanks have a built-in filtration system to ensure the water is cleaner and healthier for longer. The LED lighting system replicates sunrise, sunset and blue moonlight. River Swale pet stairs Bear & Boosie. Claiming to be ‘practical stairs’ as well as an ‘eye-catching work of art’, this extravagance allows your pooch to make his own way on to your bed rather than being lifted. Pirates of the Caribbean dog collars Holly & Lil. Collars with Swarovski crystals and pearls are also available, but if your dog is more of a goth, it will no doubt prefer the skull and crossbones charms. Stockists, p101

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Men by Clare Richardson UNDER £25 Charles Buchan football Bloomsbury. Printed in retro images from Buchan’s Football Monthly launched in 1951, this leather football is perfect for nostalgic football fans. UNDER £50 Cashmere-lined gloves (not pictured) £39.50, Marks & Spencer. That Boxing Day walk would not be the same without a new pair of gloves to keep your hands toasty. Fair Isle scarf French Connection. All men need a scarf in their stocking and this is the best around. Tweed flat cap Hackett. Flat caps have come soaring on to the fashion radar this winter and this is as stylish as they come – perfect for anyone who fancies themselves a country gent. Damien Hirst Levi’s T-shirt exclusively at Dover Street Market. Wear your art on your chest – an original work from the enfant terrible at a fraction of the price. SKY’S THE LIMIT M3 folding bike Brompton. Finely engineered and elegant, this bike folds away so easily and compactly you can take it with you anywhere. Skull and crossbones wallet Prada. Forget hidden treasures, you’ll want your gold out for all to see. Skis Dunhill. There will be envy on the chairlift with these skis that can be engraved with initials or even a message. Train set Paul Smith. Follow his lead – Smith recently took this briefcase into a meeting, and to the surprise of his guests, revealed the train set inside. Yohji Yamamoto messenger bag exclusively for Hermès. If budget is no problem, this slimline satchel is just the thing for the fashion-savvy man. Stockists, p101

M3 folding bike £607

Skull and crossbones wallet £155

Tweed flat cap £40

Charles Buchan football £19.95

Fair Isle scarf £35 Train set £825

Damien Hirst Levi’s T-shirt £55

Skis £1,190

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Yohji Yamamoto messenger bag £3,370

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Jewellery by Vivienne Becker UNDER £25 Pencil brooch Tatty Devine. The design duo Tatty Devine create witty yet wearable Pop Art-style anti-jewellery. These brooches are made from recycled oak. Anemone ring by Françoise Montague, V&A Shop. In pale blue, ivory and green. Orange acrylic and silver stud earrings by Fafafa, Kabiri. I love the fun and irony of a faceted acrylic gem in wild opaque colours. UNDER £50 Drop earrings Erickson Beamon. Each season Vicky Sarge at Erickson Beamon comes up with just the right mix of vintage and fashion-forward, and these earrings made of Swarovski crystals and faux black pearls in moody colours are perfect for Christmas. Vintage cat brooch Linda Bee at Grays Antique Market. Vintage finds are often original and good value. This laminated acrylic cat is one of several different brooches made in the 1960s by Lea Stein in Paris. Fern brooch Highgrove Shop. One of a series, this brooch is made of real leaves taken from the Prince of Wales’s Highgrove garden and dipped in pure silver. SKY’S THE LIMIT Vintage brooch and earrings Sandra Cronan. Jewellery from the 1950s embodies sophisticated, elegant femininity – perfect for today’s sculptural, sensual minimalism. This bird of paradise brooch and earrings are set with emeralds and baguetteand brilliant-cut yellow-and-white diamonds mounted in yellow gold and platinum. Peacock feather bracelet Moussaieff. The peacock feather is an iconic jewellery motif and this spectacular bangle, set in titanium, has a wispy, feathery lightness, with a pear-shaped, old-cut diamond ‘eye’ at its centre that is surrounded by pavé diamonds. Vampire ring by Kevin Coates through the Goldsmiths’ Company. Coates’s sculptural and narrative rings are heirlooms of the future. This ring, in 20ct gold, set with an egg-shaped garnet, represents the letter V. Stockists, p101

Vintage brooch and earrings £6,500

Pencil brooches £21 each Drop earrings £50

Vampire ring £8,450

Vintage cat brooch £45

Peacock feather bracelet price on application

Anemone rings £25 each

Stud earrings £25 Fern brooch £45

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Teenage boys by Carolyn Hart UNDER £25 Trojan Dub CD box set Amazon. Repetitive noise if you’re over the age of 17, a terrific beat to live your life to for everyone else. Stunt Granny with turbo button play.com. All teenagers love this series of animated grannies, but Stunt Granny is probably the coolest. Comic Book Mighty Wallet Conran Shop. A brilliant combination of retro-chic and comic book. UNDER £50 Picooz remote-control Insecta Night Predator Conran Shop. It’ll drive you insane on Christmas Day, but boys will love it. Retro sweet hamper iwantoneofthose. com. Take a deep breath – it’s the quantity that appeals here. Waistcoat Topman. This is the place to dress a teenage boy and its line in waistcoats is particularly good. SKY’S THE LIMIT Bose QuietComfort 2 acoustic noise-cancelling headphones Apple Store. ‘Noise’ and ‘cancelling’ are the words you want to concentrate on here. Rock Band 2 game Xbox.com. Baffling to parents, but absolutely the latest thing in game technology. Includes a guitar, drums and microphone kit. Limited-edition multi-stripe fisheye camera by Lomography Paul Smith. Very cool. Stockists, p101

Bose noise-cancelling headphones £225

Comic Book Mighty Wallet £12.95

Picooz remote control £29.99

Rock Band 2 game £169.99 Retro sweet hamper £29.99

Waistcoat £30

Trojan Dub CD box set £7

Fisheye camera £75

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Stunt granny £12.99

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Teenage girls by Carolyn Hart UNDER £25 Benefit Posie Tint lip and cheek stain and Benefit Bad Gal plum mascara both Boots. All teenage girls love Benefit, and this mascara is about as cool as it gets in make-up terms. Military hat Topshop. It’s red, brassy and reminiscent of the army, therefore a hit. Latest issue of Rubbish magazine rubbishmag.com. Hardback, ultra-cool quarterly mag edited by Jenny Dyson. UNDER £50 Reebok high tops Office. All girls want high tops and these are the chicest in the range. Vivienne Westwood Let it Rock eau de parfum John Lewis. Anything that Vivienne Westwood does is OK with teenage girls, so this scent will make a brilliant present. Tim Walker Pictures book Amazon. The 21st-century version of Beaton and Parkinson. Cashmere wrist warmers Brora. Going up and up in style terms, cashmere wrist warmers are almost practical as well as fashionable. SKY’S THE LIMIT Princess Sovereign bike Pashley. Old-fashioned and entirely covetable, but not suitable for a narrow hallway – it’s enormous. Chanel twotone tights Expensive, disconcerting to look at and therefore just what a stylish teenager wants. Stockists, p101

Benefit Posie Tint lip and cheek stain £22.50

Military hat £15 Benefit Bad Gal plum mascara £14.50

Pashley Princess Sovereign bike £545 Rubbish magazine £23.45

Chanel tights £105 Reebok high tops £49.99

Tim Walker book £42

Cashmere wrist warmers £45 each Vivienne Westwood perfume £29.50

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Gadget guide by Matt Warman and Claudine B UNDER £25 Desktop coffee maker Firebox. Forgo your expensive morning coffee in favour of an ‘al desko’ brew. It makes proper filter coffee from the blend of your choice. USBCell batteries Big Green Shop. These AA batteries can be used in any gadget. Slot into the USB port on your computer to recharge. Gorillapod Safield. This clever, flexible tripod is splendidly compact. The bendy legs will provide a solid shooting base on uneven surfaces. UNDER £50 Philips digital photo frame John Lewis. Philips makes the best digital picture frames. This one has a 5.6in LCD screen and automatically resizes images to fill the screen without distortion. Arc Mouse Microsoft. An external mouse is a necessity for travelling with your laptop, but most lack style. Microsoft’s Arc Mouse folds so small and looks so crisp that you may want to use it at home, too. SKY’S THE LIMIT Nikon D90 with 18-105mm lens Nikon. This 12.3-megapixel digital SLR camera has a bright 3in LCD screen, a range of clever pre-sets, and all the image-stabilisation and red-eye reduction settings you’d expect on a camera of this quality. iPhone 3G free with £45 per month contract with O2. Apple’s bestselling combination of mobile phone, iPod and web browser. More a pocket computer. Horizon Duo-i Boston Acoustics. There are scores of iPod docking alarm clock-radios, but we haven’t found one that sounds as good as this. Asus Eee PC World. The ultra-cheap, ultra-portable laptop PC against which all others are measured. Small enough to slip into a handbag, this netbook runs the Linux operating system, has 4GB of storage and built-in Wi-Fi. Stockists, p101 Desktop coffee maker £19.99

Digital photo frame £49.95

USBCell batteries £8 for two

FULL STOP

Nikon D90 £850


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iPhone 3G per contract

Horizon Duo-i £179

Gorillapod £9.99

Asus Eee £167.97

Arc mouse £49.99


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S TO C K I S T S amazon.co.uk Apple Store 0800-048 0408; store.apple.com/uk Argos 0845-640 3030; argos.co.uk Baileys 01989-561931; baileyshomeandgarden.com Bear & Boosie 01765688889; bearandboosie.com Bells of Suffolk 01986894456; bellsofsuffolk.com Berry Bros & Rudd 0870-900 4300; bbr.com biggreenshop.co.uk Blooming Marvellous 0845-458 7407; bloomingmarvellous.co.uk Bloomsbury 01225-461049; bloomsburystore.com Boots 0845-070 8090; boots.com Boston Acoustics bostona.eu/en Bright Minds 08444122250; brightminds.co.uk Brompton 020-8232 8484; brompton.co.uk Brora 0845-659 9944; brora.co.uk Canine Spirit 0870-421 5828; canine-spirit.com Chanel 020-7493 5040; chanel.com Cheeky Monkeys 020-7243 8647; cheekymonkeys.com Clothkits 01243-600301; clothkits.co.uk Cloudberry Living cloudberryliving.co.uk Conran Shop 0844-848 4000; conranshop.co.uk Couverture 020-7229 2178; couverture.co.uk Cred Jewellery 01243-536638; credjewellery.com Daylesford Organic 0800-083 1233; daylesfordorganic.com Debenhams 0844-561 6161; debenhams.com Dining Store 01636817878; thediningstore.co.uk Dover Street Market 020-7518 0680; doverstreetmarket.com Dunhill 0845-458 0779; dunhill.com Ecologist 01371-851879; theecologist.org Erickson Beamon 020-7259 0202; ericksonbeamon.com Essentials Company 01379-608899; theessentialscompany.co.uk Estée Lauder 0870-034 2444; esteelauder.co.uk Firebox 0844-922 1010; firebox.com French Connection 0844-557 3285; frenchconnection.com Gagosian Gallery 020-7841 9960; gagosian.com GoinGreen 020-8574 3232;

goingreen.co.uk Goldsmiths’ Company 020-7606 7010; thegoldsmiths.co.uk Gossypium 0870-850 9953; gossypium.co.uk Great Little Trading Company 0844-848 6000; gltc.co.uk Green Baby 0870-240 6894; greenbaby.co.uk Guerlain 01932-233887; guerlain.com Habitat 08444-991111; habitat.net Hackett 020-7939 6865; hackett.com Harrods 020-7730 1234; harrods.com Harvey Nichols 020-7235 5000; harveynichols.com Heal’s 020-7636 1666; heals.co.uk Hen & Hammock 01844-217060; henandhammock.co.uk Hermès 020-7499 8856; hermes.com Hidden Art Shop 020-7729 3301; hiddenartshop.com Highgrove Shop 0845-521 4342; highgroveshop.com Holland & Holland 020-7499 4411; hollandandholland.com Holly & Lil 07811-715452; hollyandlil.co.uk Holz Toys 0845-130 8697; holztoys.co.uk HQ Hair 0870-3502390; hqhair.com iwantoneofthose.com 0844-573 7070 John Lewis 08456-049049; johnlewis.com Jo Malone 0870-034 2411; jomalone.co.uk Kabiri 020-7224 1808; kabiri.co.uk ladyluckrulesok.com Lakeland 015394-88100; lakeland.co.uk Likeabike 01937-844068; likeabike.co.uk Linda Bee 020-7629 5921; graysantiques.com Littlewoods Direct 08448-222321; littlewoodsdirect.com Loop 020-7288 1160; loop.gb.com Marks & Spencer 0845-609 0200; marksandspencer.com Marston & Langinger 020-7881 5710; marstonand-langinger.com Micro Scooters 0845-258 7532; micro-scooters.co.uk microsoftstore.com Moussaieff 020-7290 1536; moussaieff.co.uk Mungo & Maud 020-7952 4570; mungoandmaud.com Next 0844-844 8333; next.co.uk

nikon.co.uk notonthehighstreet.com 0845-259 1359 O2 0870-521 4000; o2.co.uk Office 0845-058 0777; office.co.uk Pashley 01789-292263; pashley.co.uk Paul Smith 0800-023 4006; paulsmith.co.uk Pawpaw Shop 07989576070; pawpawshop.co.uk PC World 0844-561 0000; pcworld.co.uk Pet Planet 0845-345 0723; petplanet.co.uk play.com 0845-800 1020 Prada 020-7647 5000; prada.com Reavley’s 01993-823144; reavley.co.uk RE 01434-634567; re-foundobjects.com rubbishmag.com Rug Company 020-7229 5148; therugcompany.info Safield 0871-310 9991; safield.co.uk Sandra Cronan 020-7491 4851; burlington-arcade.co.uk Santa Maria Novella 020-7460 6600 Science Museum 020-7942 4994; sciencemuseumstore.com SCP 020-7739 1869; scp.co.uk Seapets 0845-230 4777; seapets.co.uk Selfridges 0800-123400; selfridges.com Selvedge Objects 0208341 9721; selvedge.org Smythson 020-7318 1515; smythson.com Social Baby 0845-094 5494; socialbaby.com Solange AzaguryPartridge 020-7792 0197; solangeazagurypartridge.com Space NK 020-8740 2085, spacenk.co.uk Stinkie Industries 0208809 0754; imstinkie.com Tatty Devine 020-7739 9009; tattydevine.com Topman 0844-984 0265; topman.com Topshop 0844-984 0264; topshop.com Trees Direct 01588-680280; treesdirect.co.uk Urchin 0844-573606; urchin.co.uk V&A Shop 020-7942 2696; vandashop.com Vessel 020-7727 8001; vesselgallery.com Whichford Pottery 01608-684416; whichfordpottery.com Whippet Grey 01494890400; whippetgrey.co.uk Win Green 01622-746516; wingreen.co.uk xbox.com 020-7365 9792

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Discover France by train Choose from this fabulous selection of escorted tours for 2009

Languedoc-Roussillon Six days from £499 per person Regular departures from March to November, 2009 Languedoc-Roussillon combines a gentle coastline with a rugged hinterland, vineyards and historic towns and cities. From your base in the delightful southern city of Montpellier this six-day tour offers a taste of the fantastic variety that this beautiful region has to offer. Highlights of the tour include the amazing Lord-Foster-designed Millau Viaduct, the medieval citadel of Carcassonne, Narbonne, Pézenas, Sète, the walled town of Aigues-Morte and the Camargue.

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Experience the stunning beauty of Provence

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Six days from £399 per person Regular departures from February to December, 2009

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This delightful tour visits one of France’s most distinctive and beautiful areas, the mountainous Savoie region together with its atmospheric second city, Lyon, famed for its cuisine. Highlights include your base, the delightful town of Chambéry, Annecy and its stunning lake, the charming mountain town of Grenoble, and historic Lyon. Tour based at three-star Chateau des Comtes de Challes.

One of the most alluring regions of France has to be Provence, conjuring up images immortalised in countless films and books of sleepy villages, Boules, rustic cuisine and robust wines. However, this is only part of the truth. Provence is also a region that boasts some of the best-preserved Roman sights in the world, beautiful cities with world-class museums, galleries and restaurants, and stunning scenery.

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Travelling by Eurostar and French railways from the superb new stations at St Pancras International and Ebbsfleet

Dordogne Six days half-board from £599 per person Regular departures from April to October, 2009 Probably the most beautiful river in France, the Dordogne winds majestically through a magnificent tableau of medieval villages, hillsides and vineyards. Highlights of this tour include Sarlat, Beynac, Rocamadour, the replica Lascaux cave paintings and much more from our base, the charming three-star Le Soleil d’Or in the town of Montignac, located on the pretty Vezère river.

Cézanne and Picasso in Aix-en-Provence

Stunning Lake Annecy Mont Blanc, Lac Léman and Geneva

Six days from £649 per person Regular departures from May to September, 2009

Six days from £499 per person Regular departures from April to October, 2009

Aix is a wonderful destination in 2009, with a major exhibition at the Musée Granet focusing on the relationship between Cézanne and Picasso at the turn of the 20th century. For the first time ever, Picasso’s villa, the 17th century Chateau de Vauvenargues, where the artist lived from 1959 to 1965, will also open its doors to the public. Timed visits to both are included on this exceptional tour as well as some of the highlights of southern Provence including the Gorges du Verdon, Ste Maxime, Marseilles, the Calanques and Cassis.

This excellent tour offers the opportunity to visit the stunning town of Annecy, majestic Mont Blanc and Chamonix, Lake Geneva, the spa town of Evian and the medieval village of Yvoire.

Choose from half board basis at the friendly three-star Les Grillons, Talloires or bed and breakfast basis at the three-star Carlton in the heart of Annecy.

Prices for all tours include • Return standard-class Eurostar and TGV/SNCF from St Pancras International or Ebbsfleet (Leisure Select/first class available at a supplement of £145) • Transfers and full touring itinerary

• Five nights’ accommodation at well-located three or four-star hotel, based on shared occupancy of a twin room • Tour manager throughout

Similar tours also available to Alsave, the Auvergne, Brittany, Burgundy, Franche-Comté, the Loire Valley, the Lot, and the Pyrenees

For a brochure or to book, please call 0844 873 0775 or visit www.travelshop.telegraph.co.uk

Prices are per person and based on shared occupancy of a twin/double room. Single rooms available at a supplement, optional insurance extra. These holidays are operated by, and your subsequent contract will be with, Travel Editions Ltd, 69-85 Tabernacle Street, London EC2A 4BD (registered in England 2926062) Fax 020 7251 7399, a company wholly independent of Telegraph Media Group Ltd. Please refer to the Data Protection Notice in today’s personal column.


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Pompeii, Capri and the Bay of Naples Eight days' half-board from only £619pp Regular departures March - October 2009 The Telegraph has teamed up with the city of Sorrento and the Campania Regional Government to promote this fabulous tour of Pompeii, Capri and the Bay of Naples.

Includes visits worth over £160

No surcharges

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iviera offer you a choice of carefully selected three-star and four-star hotels in Sorrento, which is everything you expect an Italian town to be. You will discover tiny cobbled streets and quaint squares with flowers decorating almost every building. Mouth-watering aromas drift from the numerous restaurants and bistros, plus, there are pavement cafés serving fine cappuccino on almost every street corner. Managing to retain its roots and traditions better than most other modern nations, Italy is a superb destination for a holiday. It has a stunning blend of excellent food and wine, gorgeous scenery, an enviable climate and a phenomenal cultural legacy. Add the Italians themselves with their legendary love of life and you have all the ingredients for a wonderful holiday. This fabulous tour has a comprehensive sightseeing itinerary, including travelling along the Amalfi Coast, one of the most beautiful coastlines in Europe. You will also Fully-escorted price incudes: visit Amalfi and Ravello; take a boat trip to Þ Return flights from London Gatwick, the island of Capri; visit the archaeological Manchester, Bristol, East Midlands, Birmingham, museum in Naples; and after a guided tour Newcastle and Glasgow of the remains of Pompeii you will be taken Þ Seven nights’ half-board accommodation in a to Vesuvius – the only active volcano on the choice of excellent quality three-star or European mainland. From the top you can four-star hotels in Sorrento enjoy breathtaking views of the Bay of Þ Guided tour of Pompeii, a city preserved Naples and beyond. in time

Visit to the magnificent volcano of Vesuvius Tour of the Amalfi Coast – one of the most beautiful coastlines in the world Þ Cruise to the stunning island of Capri Þ Visit to Naples and the archaeological museum Þ Executive coach travel Þ Accompanied by an experienced Italian-speaking tour manager Þ Þ

For a brochure, please call 0844 873 0325 or visit www.travelshop.telegraph.co.uk alternatively email telegraph@rivieratravel.co.uk Prices based on two people sharing a twin room. Single rooms and optional insurance available at a supplement. Riviera Travel, New Manor, 328 Wetmore Road,Burton upon Trent, Staffordshire DE14 1SP. Fax: 01283 742301, ABTA V4744 ATOL 3430 protected. This holiday is operated by, and your resulting contract will be with, Riviera Travel (registered in England no 1869298) a company wholly independent of Telegraph Media Group Limited. Please refer to the Data Protection Notice in today‘s Personal Column.

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H O RO S C O P E S

Catherine Tennant looks at the week ahead weekend. It also makes you feel more centred in yourself and sure of where you stand, so the decisions you make now will be the right ones. Do not put off a conversation with a loved one later in the week. It could have far-reaching repercussions. Starline 0906 8 951 449 Gemini May 22-June 21 An emotional commitment should be fulfilling this weekend, while sympathetic Venus is in tune with stable, steady Saturn. You can also count on the support of someone close midweek, so do not hesitate to push through changes that you know are overdue. You will do no one any favours if you give into demands from others, so do not settle for short-term solutions. Starline 0906 8 951 450 Cancer June 22-July 23 Communication problems ease this week, so

do not let misunderstandings, caused by introverted Saturn, make you hedge your bets with someone. Your working life also enters a more active phase from Thursday, when the New Moon and energetic Mars are due to boost your confidence and give you extra motivation. Be proud of what you have to offer. Starline 0906 8 951 451

MIGY.COM

Leo July 24-Aug 23 Finding unexpected common ground with

Sagittarius Nov 23-Dec 21 The energising Sun and forceful, motivated Mars help you take on the world and win this week, so let no one tell you to rein in your ambitions or slow down and listen to advice. If you take advantage of the stars, you can transform your chances of career success in the months to come. Take action early in the week. Starline 0906 8 951 456 Capricorn Dec 22-Jan 20 This weekend’s link between your ruler Saturn and romantic Venus helps you give a more secure foundation to a close relationship or a new friendship. With so much action in your chart’s most psychic zone, you pick up easily on others’ feelings, so trust your judgement and sense of timing. If you take a confident approach to life, many things could change this week. Starline 0906 8 951 457 Aquarius Jan 21-Feb 19 With dynamic Mars, the Sun and the New

Moon all lighting up the area of your skies that rules your social life and friendships, the importance of being open to people you meet, and of breaking exciting new ground, is strongly stressed this week. The time has also come to take a much more confident approach to a career dilemma. Make the opening move midweek. Starline 0906 8 951 458 Pisces Feb 20-Mar 20 A more ambitious and successful phase in your career begins this week, when the New Moon and the Zodiac’s most energetic planet, Mars, help you to sweep obstacles aside and make decisions that you have postponed. Someone you meet through work could also open doors and introduce you to a whole new world. Accept an invitation later in the week. Starline 0906 8 951 459 Aries Mar 21-April 20 Events this week should make you see your

situation from a positive new angle, so leave worries in the past. From Thursday, when your ruler Mars, the Sun and the New Moon join forces to inspire you, little can hold you back. Go for what you want and ignore pressure from a friend or colleague. Starline 0906 8 951 448 Taurus April 21-May 21 A powerful link between your ruler Venus and serious, committed Saturn puts you in tune with your real feelings this

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colleagues, or enlisting the support of those who count, could transform your outlook on a new creative project. From Thursday, when the Sun, your ruler, meets the action planet Mars, you can really start to make things happen, so draw up detailed plans and be ambitious and determined. Someone you spend time with later in the week could have a lot to offer. Starline 0906 8 951 452 Virgo Aug 24-Sep 23 A friendship or relationship that starts this week

has the stars behind it, so be open to people you meet and flexible about your plans. Thursday’s New Moon in your chart’s domestic zone also helps you streamline your routine and organise your life to give yourself more time to spend pursuing personal goals. Insist that others recognise your need for extra space. Starline 0906 8 951 453 Libra Sep 24-Oct 23 Feedback from family or friends this week should make you realise that you do not need to stand alone, or take on more than you can handle. Something you discover later in the week, when the planets gather in your chart’s communication zone, could also make you see a tricky situation in a different light. Use your Libran tact and charm to find out what you need to know. Starline 0906 8 951 454 Scorpio Oct 24-Nov 22 Spending time with people who are on your

wavelength this weekend could give you the confidence that you need to bring about important career changes. Success will come from doing what you really want to do, not from fitting in with others, so do not allow uncertainty about the future to colour your decisions. A lucky break could also come your way midweek. Starline 0906 8 951 455 Call a top astrologer for a live one-to-one reading For a personal reading on any aspect of your life from one of Catherine’s hand-picked team of top professional astrologers, call 0906-123 2999 between 9am and midnight. Calls cost £1.50 a minute (maximum 20 minutes). Calls are recorded for security purposes and are for guidance only. Helpline: 0870-125 0011. Service provided by Astro Live Link Ltd, PO Box 4114, London W1A 6TF (a company wholly independent of Telegraph Media Group Limited). In-depth personal reports Your year ahead Catherine’s in-depth forecast covers every aspect of your life in the coming year: £18.50. Personality profile Catherine’s detailed report describes your unique personality and true potential: £18.50. For all cards (except Amex/Diners), call 01451-810598; or send a cheque to Telegraph Horoscopes, PO Box 7, Northleach GL54 3YL, with full name, date, place and, if known, time of birth of each person. Allow 14 days for delivery. Starline calls are 60p a minute at all times


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FLA SHBACK

My dad was in the RAF so our family moved around a lot. When I was four and my brother, Gary, was six we were stationed at RAF Leconfield in Yorkshire and it was here that my father heard that we were to be visited by the Queen Mother. Two officers from the base had been selected to show her their homes: one commissioned officer, one lower-ranking serviceman, the latter being my father. My dad was a very genial and affable chap so I’m not surprised he was chosen. Being only four I didn’t really know who the Queen Mother was. I knew who the Queen was, I think, but I couldn’t understand this expression ‘the Queen Mother’. I couldn’t understand why people weren’t saying the ‘Queen’s mother’, like ‘Dawn’s mother’. I thought perhaps I should call my mum the Dawn Mother. In the weeks leading up to the visit, we were sent a booklet from the Royal household with advice about what was acceptable and what wasn’t, whether you curtsied first or not, whether you could speak before the Queen Mother spoke. The house was cleaned from top to bottom. My mother got into the habit of spitting on the corner of her apron and rubbing our faces. It’s not that we didn’t have water – we did – but there was always some extra spitting to be done. We were all bought new outfits, which was rare because my mum and my auntie used to make most of our clothes and my mum always knitted our jumpers. We weren’t poor but new clothes were quite a big deal. But that day I had a new tartan skirt, new jumper, new vest, new socks and new red patent Start-rite shoes. I was thrilled because I really, really wanted those red shoes. As the royal helicopter flew over our house we knew the Queen Mother must have arrived at the base. She first made a visit to the house of the commissioned

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officer at the smarter end of the camp, and then she came to see us oiks down our end. There was quite fierce competition between the two ends of the camp so my mum turned it into this big thing that we must not let the side down. My brother and I were determined to put on the correct display of manners, to show a united front and to stick up for the servicemen in the ranks and their families. Of course all our neighbours crowded around and were green with envy that we were the chosen ones. Quite a lot of my friends at school didn’t believe me when I told them what happened, but when the local paper came out the photos of us were printed so I could prove that it had actually happened. The Queen Mother arrived at our house and walked up our garden path accompanied by some top nobs from the RAF. We all greeted her with our best smiles. I’d done the curtsying practice but stupidly we hadn’t worked out how long to hold your curtsy before standing up, so I stayed in that position for much longer than I should have. She came inside our house and was completely charming. We all had tea and cake, and she chatted with my parents. I think my parents were relying on me, always the chatterbox of the family, to be talkative but I was so terrified by her witch-like browny-black teeth that I only said one word to her, ‘nice’, when she asked me about my school. Then she looked at my brother’s train set, went upstairs to see our bedrooms and left. It was very brief. Brief but brilliant. Afterwards, we all felt huge relief – relief that we hadn’t farted, or weed, or said a bad word or stuck our tongues out. It was great. My dad was 6ft tall with pride about the whole thing. Interview by Sophie Robinson Dawn French’s autobiography, ‘Dear Fatty’ (Century), is out now

COURTESY OF DAWN FRENCH

Dawn French remembers a visit from the Queen Mother in 1961


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