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It is time we got a fair deal I

KNOW I have a vested interest, but it is really time pensioners got a fair deal. Next month’s measly rise will be immediately swallowed up by dearer council tax and higher heating and food prices, leaving them worse off. It is scant reward for those who have worked all their lives, given much to their country which often turns a blind eye to them in their hour of need. Compare them with the army of shirkers, who often generation after generation, have never laboured and have no intention of doing so, and live the life of Reilly, courtesy of a Government that makes empty promises to wield the big whip. So many other countries treat the silver brigade with respect and generosity. Why can’t we? Of course, it is not only the retired who are being hit by an alarming jump in food prices. Many of the poorer paid are feeling the pinch at the way basic items are in danger of becoming out of their reach. Take, for example, a packet of breakfast cereal. A few weeks ago you could get one for around £1.27. Now it costs between £1.78 to £2.10, depending where you shop. Such a percentage increase is completely unjustifiable and unacceptable.


What a way to treat heroes and no wonder they are so angry they are handing back their medals


HEY are the bravest of the brave, so why do we treat them so shabbily? The Gurkhas, those superb warriors from Nepal who have been part of our Army for nearly two centuries, are rightly up in arms over the way they are being treated by the British Government. For a start they receive lower pensions than UK soldiers, and if they completed their army service before l997 they have no automatic right to remain here. Both problems need remedying, and fast. It’s open door for thousands upon thousands of Poles and others from eastern Europe most of whom come here for economic reasons and will probably go home when their bank balances have swollen. They have no allegiance to Britain. Yet we make it difficult for the Gurkhas – who are fiercely loyal to this country and the Crown and have proved it so many times in the heat of battle – to make their home here. What a way to treat heroes and no wonder they are so angry they are handing back their medals.





The estate agency which came up with this bright idea deserves marks for its ingenuity

S the county council so cash-strapped it has decided to sell of some off the street furniture to boost its depleted coffers? At the weekend I spotted a sign which might give that impression. In the Northampton street I drove through, a For Sale sign has been attached to a street lamp. The estate agency which came up with this bright idea to boost the sale of the house near the lamp deserves marks for its ingenuity. But I wonder how long it will be before the firm is asked to remove it, otherwise it will be copied and other street furniture similarly adorned.


Women are buying

Got myself a




RETIRED woman wanders around a hall, cuddling a baby in her arms, attracting the attention of cooing passersby who congratulate the new gran. But, on closer inspection, they realise the child is not real. It is a prosthetic replica baby, known by doll collectors as a “rebornâ€?. Therese Perchard, a grandmother to nine real children, makes fake babies as a hobby and drums up interest by carrying them around at model railway exhibitions and doll conventions. The 60-year-old, from Moulton, has created 17 reborn dolls to date, which fetch between ÂŁ150 and ÂŁ300. Top notch American “artistsâ€? can sell their creations, made from exactly the same parts as Therese uses, for a staggering ÂŁ8,000. It is a growing business across the globe, as more people “adoptâ€? – AKA buy – these babies and the hobby spreads. A recent documentary by Channel Four, My Fake Baby – depicted women who took dolls for walks in prams, changed nappies and treated them like real babies. Some onlookers find the reborns “weirdâ€? and “disturbingâ€? and assume collectors have a sad history of child loss. But Therese insists they are simply the latest step in collectables. She started collecting them two years ago and her husband, Roy, has since converted half their garage for their storage. The other half was used for his model train collection. “When I first saw them, I was flabbergasted. They look so real.â€? said Therese. “Some people think they are weird, but everybody to their own. The television programme made it look like it was a lot of weirdos and women who are trying to replace children. But I have never come across that. People enjoy the artistic side and the work that goes into them.â€? In Therese’s home, in an alcove at the top of the stairs, is a collection of ceramic, silicon and porcelain dolls of all shapes and sizes. Toddler dolls loom over the landing as babies nestle in baskets. It is obvious from this collection that the reborns are just the next step for Therese. She has always had an interest in arts and

crafts, which she says gave her an enjoyable pastime after her day job of monotonous secretarial work. The walls of her living rooms are adorned with watercolours of flowers and landscapes and she was attracted to the reborn babies because of their hand-painted finish. Last summer, she decided to invest in all the equipment and began making dolls. “It is a blank canvas. I like seeing it coming to life and all coming together. I like picking all the names,� she laughed enthusiastically. “Every single one is different. You could never make the same one twice. I like posing them and buying clothes for them. If I am out and about shopping and see stuff reasonably priced, I will buy them. I also get knitted and crochet stuff off eBay. “I enjoy taking their pictures and setting them up. I do more girls than boys, as they have frilly stuff and most people buy them to pose them.� Her first reborn baby was sold purely by accident, when she put pictures of it on a website forum to ask other reborn collectors what they thought. She was then contacted by a forum user, who asked her if it was for sale. Therese said: “From January, when the fake baby programme was on, it has taken off. I decided to put some on eBay and people have started to know my name.� Therese likes customers to come to her nursery to see them in the “flesh�. That nursery is a summer house, bought for Roy’s model trains but commandeered by Therese. It is filled with prams, cots, clothes, fake baby formula, mobiles, soft toys and bunting, like a real life nursery. “People can come in and have a nice cuddle, if they want. They can see the detail. Women will start rocking them and petting them.� Therese admits in the winter she put her babies into coats, but now she only changes their clothes to pose for a picture. Buyers are happy to travel miles to visit the nursery. “People buy them from all over the country and I have had a couple of inquiries from America.�

Do you have an unusual collection? Tell Lily Canter on Northampton 467047

â– Therese Perchard and a doll

d doll 1  

‘ ‘ T I I Theestateagencywhichcameup withthisbrightideadeserves marksforitsingenuity Whatawaytotreatheroesandno wondertheyaresoangrytheyare...

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