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R E A D E R ’ S D I G E S T

JUNE 2016

| S M A L L

In or Out?


Boris Johnson and Alan Johnson battle over Brexit PAGE 58


Silent Signs of Illness



“Storytelling is Healing” Sir Ben Kingsley on his passion for acting PAGE 24


100-Word-Story Winners



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JUNE 2016


Contents JUNE 2016


p 14


IT’S A MANN’S WORLD Why the village ramblers have left Olly Mann with a dilemma



BEN KINGSLEY INTERVIEW The Oscar-winning actor reveals why his profession is his passion—and salvation




The TV presenter on how his childhood fascination with nature became his life’s work 80

Meet the authors who beat thousands of entrants



Discover the best places to pluck those summer fruits


SILENT SIGNS YOU SHOULDN’T IGNORE How shrinking handwriting, 88 snoring, forgetfulness and more can be warnings of illness



EU REFERENDUM SPECIAL The two political Johnsons— Alan and Boris—battle it out over the issue of Brexit



Travel & Adventure

LIVING ON AN ISLAND Tracking down the individuals who’ve opted out of the rat race—and indeed society

VIVA CUBA! The spirit of freedom is growing in this island nation, but what will it bring? 06•2016





6 10

Over to You See the World Differently



IN DISCUSSIONS about this month’s referendum on Britain’s membership of the EU, there’s one common complaint: we just don’t know enough to make an informed decision. So we asked the two most high-profile spokesmen for the “in” and “out” campaigns—MPs Alan Johnson and Boris Johnson—to set out their cases. Read them on p58, and let us know if they’ve swayed your vote. Of course, we all want to escape these heated debates sometimes, and our feature on p88 profiles those individuals who’ve taken that desire to extremes—by relocating to remote islands. It may not be for everyone, but I had to suppress a twinge of jealousy! And if we’re talking about following your hearts, this month’s celebrity interviews—Sir Ben Kingsley on p24 and Chris Packham on p32— prove that it’s possible to turn lifelong passions into careers. Finally, the winners of our 100Word-Story Competition are unveiled on p69. Congratulations to all of them!

June’s cultural highlights

48 54


Advice: Susannah Hickling Column: Dr Max Pemberton



If I Ruled the World: Dan Snow


Travel & Adventure



Column: Cathy Adams Column: Andy Webb


Food & Drink

Tasty recipes and ideas from Rachel Walker


Column: Lynda Clark


Olly Mann’s gadgets

Home & Garden


Fashion & Beauty

Georgina Yates on how to look your best



June Fiction: James Walton’s recommended reads Books That Changed My Life: Kate Humble

129 130 133 136 140 143 144




Fun & Games

You Couldn’t Make It Up Word Power Brain Teasers Laugh! Beat the Cartoonist 60-Second Stand-Up: Rob Auton


Tom Browne​

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NATIONAL CYCLING MONTH Designer Gianluca Gimini turned rubbish scribbles by his friends into incredibly realistic bicycle designs.

Pride, not prejudice June marks the return of Pride month across the country, celebrating the lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender communities. To mark the occasion, we’re exploring the inspiring diversity of Britain’s transgender community. Trans people aged 50 or over have spoken to us about their experiences, explaining how much progress we’ve made towards equality and how far we still have to go. Visit to hear their stories.

Brexit or Bremain? On June 23, Britain will have a referendum to decide on our membership of the EU. Camp Brexit’s Boris Johnson and camp Bremain’s Alan Johnson are battling it out on p58, but we want to know what you think. Visit to have your say.


Visit readersdigest. for the full gallery





We pay £50 for Letter of the Month and £30 for all others

✯ LETTER OF THE MONTH... The photograph of a lion climbing to safety in “See the World Differently” took me back to when we lived in Rhodesia (now Zimbabwe). Our house was on a hill in a rural area with plenty of wildlife. Early every morning, a troop of baboons would appear to drink from our swimming pool, bottoms up in the air, and then scamper off down the valley. The same routine was repeated in the evening, and we enjoyed going into the garden to watch them. One particular male was sometimes bullied and would run behind my husband for protection. Peeping round, he would study the situation before creeping back into the group. As I remember, we called him Boris.  SHEILA CHISNALL, D e v o n

A HEALTHY HELP I was very interested to read your health article “How to Fix Joint Pain”. For the past couple of months, I’ve experienced pain in one knee and in the instep of one foot. There’s no particular reason, especially as I’ve not had any injuries. Anita Bartholomew reports that over 50 per cent of over-65s have 6



osteoarthritis and women are more susceptible than men. Damn— I’m a woman over 65. As I read, I realised I’m probably suffering from the condition. I was so engrossed reading this on the bus that I nearly missed my stop! This kind of article is really helpful. I’ve just ordered some chondrotin and I’m keen to see

how it helps my symptoms. Thank you for the information.  LUCY PESARO, Mi d d l e s e x

ALDO’S BEAUTIFUL GAME If his thoughts in “If I Ruled the World” are anything to go by, I wish Aldo Zilli did rule the world. He’d make a very good job of it. Like Aldo, I feel very strongly that Premiership football clubs should restrict purchasing so many players from abroad. No wonder we can’t win the World Cup—we need more home-grown talent. And although Premier-league clubs invest millions of pounds through their academies to develop young talent, many of the players being developed aren’t breaking through to play regular first-team football. Sort it out, Aldo!   STEPHAN BRYN, L i v e r p o o l

MUSIC THAT MAKES SENSE I really enjoyed Olly Mann’s article “The Sweet Sound of the States”, about country music. There are many great country artists to listen to, but for me one of the main attractions is that it’s a musical form that musicians of a “certain age” can perform without looking foolish. Its themes are ones that people of all ages can relate to, WE WANT TO HEAR


but often have a special resonance for ageing rockers. It seems more appropriate, for example, than singing about how you’d like to die before you get old when you’re 70!  ALAN HARDING, B e r k s h i r e

CARS AND CAKES Missing from your list of “Best of British: Service Stations” is Tebay on the M6. For me, this is the “Waitrose” of service stations—a low building nestled in the Cumbrian countryside amid ponds and stone terraces, and set in beautiful scenery. Best of all, it has a lovely farm shop selling organic food and delicious cakes and pastries. It’s certainly a destination in its own right! GORDON RENNIE, G l a s g o w

IN PRAISE OF THE QUEEN My husband and I didn’t do well in the “Happy Birthday Your Majesty” quiz. That’s not surprising though, as we don’t have much interest in the Royal family. Having said that, I regard myself as a moderate royalist. I believe we’re better off with a monarchy—it’s a lot better than having a dull and more expensive president.  AMBER JACOBS, C h e s h i r e

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Peer-To-Peer Lending The Smarter Alternative? LOOK NO FURTHER than Airbnb. Launched in 2007, the San Franciscobased room-letting website enables anyone, anywhere in the world, to list spare space—from a single room to an entire mansion—on the website and rent it out like a hotel. It operates in over 19,000 cities and in almost 200 countries, and is now so popular that an Airbnb room is booked every two seconds. Similarly, BMW announced in April that it’s preparing to be the first carmaker to develop a peer-to-peer offering, to be called ReachNow, under which owners will soon be able to generate extra cash by renting out their cars to other consumers in a Seattle-based trial. INVESTING TOGETHER

These and other similar initiatives are testament to the growing popularity of “collaborative consumption”— sharing, swapping and renting your possessions. This even extends to financial services and investing. For example, “peer-to-peer lending” is the now wellestablished practice of lending money to individuals or businesses through online services that match lenders

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directly with borrowers, enabling both parties to circumvent traditional providers such as the banks. These peer-to-peer lending companies operate almost entirely online, and so can provide services more cheaply than traditional financial institutions. As a result, those investing can often earn higher returns compared to those offered by the banks, while the borrowers can in turn borrow money at lower interest rates. The appeal of doing so isn’t surprising given that over £160bn of UK savings are currently languishing at or lower than the 0.5% base rate and that businesses—particularly those in the SME sector—have been starved of financing opportunities since the early days of the recession as far back as late 2008. NEW OPPORTUNITIES

Peer-to-peer lending doesn’t fit cleanly into any of the three traditional types of financial institution—deposit taking, investment or insurance—and is sometimes categorised as “alternative finance”. There are many types of peerto-peer lending in operation around

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the world. Many peer-to-peer loans are unsecured personal loans made to consumers, although some peer-topeer platforms, such as Wellesley & Co, specialise in making secured loans to businesses and using physical assets, such as property, as security for those loans, thereby minimising the risk

while maintaining high returns of up to 5.8% pa. By the end of 2015, UK peer-to-peer lenders had collectively lent almost £4.5bn to consumers and businesses. If you’re losing interest in your savings, why not do something more interesting with your money—The Wellesley Way!

Benefit from our exclusive offer for Reader's Digest readers and receive £100 cashback when you invest £2,500*. Claim £100 cashback only at Your capital is at risk and interest payments are not guaranteed if the borrower defaults. Your funds are not covered by the Financial Services Compensation Scheme. Wellesley & Co is authorised and regulated by the Financial Conduct Authority (registration number 655503) and has its registered office at St Albans House, 57/59 Haymarket, London SW1Y 4QX. *Terms and conditions apply.

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photos: © Alamy Stock Photo

see the world Turn the page

...differently A boat trip on railway tracks? You‘ll probably find such an engineering marvel only in Poland! To travel the 50 miles from Ostroda to Elblag via the Elblag Canal, the boats have to overcome a difference in height of almost 330 feet. By water, this would take more than 30 locks. Since 1860, five rail-mounted trolleys master this difficult task. With the help of counterbalances and water power, they pull the boats across the dry, hilly sections—on railway tracks.


It’s a Mann’s World 

Olly Mann has embraced country life, but leading the village ramblers might be several steps too far

A Walk On The Wild Side

Olly Mann is a writer, radio presenter and serial podcaster, with shows including Answer Me This!, The Media Podcast and The Modern Mann




Have you ever wanted to help someone, but reluctantly concluded your good intentions are outweighed by a crippling lack of ability? I’m imagining an occasion such as when an elderly lady is struggling to shove her shopping trolley in an overhead locker, but you know if you help her out, you’d dislocate your shoulder. So you stay guiltily silent. Or perhaps a Japanese tourist approaches you for directions: he’s desperately trying to deduce how to cycle from Holborn to Cornwall. You don’t have the linguistic chops to inform him the two destinations are entirely uncommutable, so you run away. That sort of thing. I’m currently in that kind of pickle. it began three years ago, when we moved to the country. I say “country”; our property has views of a field in both directions, so it feels deceptively rural. In reality, it’s a precarious remnant of green-belt protectionism—one box-tick away from becoming a sprawling suburban housing estate. But while planning laws continue to safeguard an aesthetic agricultural buffer around the city perimeter, it certainly feels like the country. There were two reasons we came here: one, we could afford a three-bedroom house (trading up a two-bed flat in London); and two, my partner wanted to lease a horse nearby. For the

Illustration by Chris Madden

record, the equestrian lifestyle holds about as much interest to me as enduring an all-day marathon of Keeping Up With the Kardashians, but the unspoken deal was sweet: “Allow me to lease a horse, Olly Mann, and I

Reader’s Digest

shall bear you a child.” And I really wanted a baby. So we left the cultural comforts of Zone 2 and became residents of a picturesque Hertfordshire village, where there’s nowhere to buy a pint 06•2016



It’s a Mann’s World 

of milk on a Sunday, but there are no despite his advancing years, he less than four churches. There’s also retains a Baden-Powellesque instinct an accompanying parish newsletter, for orientation. He can effortlessly featuring scintillating updates on the ad-lib an optimum route, taking in availability of allotment spaces, the the seasonal flora and fauna, and takings of the bring-and-buy sale, and avoiding muddy footpaths. It’s hard to what the WI have been up to (as far as imagine the village walk without John. I can tell, taking the longest possible time to organise a Christmas trip to so last month’s parish newsletter see Jersey Boys). Page one contains a came as a bombshell. The headline: diary of forthcoming John is leaving the events—baby yoga, village. “The tradition pensioner bingo and, of the Village Walk was on the first Sunday begun at least 35 years Had satnav of each month, the ago by the Village not been “village walk”. Society,” he wrote. “But Organised rambling, the tradition will end invented, unlike horse-riding, if a volunteer does not I’d probably appeals to me. I need take over from me.” to do more exercise, Suddenly, a dilemma! never have I enjoy exploring local On the one hand, I felt left the woodlands and byways, compelled to throw my and I like meeting hat into the ring: I’m house in my different generations a passionate advocate adult life in a godless setting. of the walks and (after So one Sunday I three years of residency) chanced my arm and the village, I’m exactly joined the group, and was delighted the right kind of age (35) to make to discover an amenable collection both old and young participants feel of 20 or so fellow villagers of different welcome. Also, I well understand that, ages and abilities, united under the as the village fills up with commuting competent leadership of a retiree ex-Londoners like me, this is precisely called John. the sort of activity that should be John is the kind of man you’d trust retained. But, but…I’m chronically, to get you out of a burning building debilitatingly dyspraxic. and back to the pub for lunchtime. It’s not that I have no sense of He appears to know all routes around direction—it’s worse than that. I the village off by heart, but probably typically head in the diametrically just follows his internal compass: opposite direction than I intend 16



Reader’s Digest

to, unless guided point-by-point by satellite. Had satnav not been invented, I’d probably never have left the house in my adult life. So the idea of leading a group of ramblers is utterly terrifying. I could learn a handful of routes by committing landmarks to memory, but what if I encountered a fallen tree across a footpath, or a road closed by a water leak? I’d end up leading a group of senior citizens and their grandchildren to their watery graves.

So I’ve remained silent, and I’m relying on someone else to step forward and keep this endearing tradition alive. I feel ashamed: what if nobody takes the initiative? The monthly walk will be consigned to history, along with at least two of the village’s pubs, which have been turned into residencies for urbanite émigrés. But I also feel relieved: this way, no innocent ramblers will die before their time. Sometimes, you just have to stay quiet.

MARRIAGE in the 21st century It turns out that this age-old institution is a wonderful source of modern-day amusement: @Xalqee: At least ten per cent of divorces can be avoided by buying bigger blankets. @TheCatWhisperer: I’m at the level of marriage where “getting lucky tonight” just means we’re having tacos for dinner. @Xplodingunicorn: [out in public] Me: “A kid is crying.” Wife: “It’s not one of ours.” [We pump fists.] @_troyjohnson: Marriage is mostly about knowing which hand towels you can use and which ones are for the better people who visit your wife’s home. @amydillon: When my husband goes outside to investigate a strange noise, how long do I have to wait before un-pausing the show we were watching? @simoncoholland: [sitting at a table] Wife: writes number on paper and slides it across. Me: crosses out and writes new number. Thermostat negotiations. SOURCE: BUZZFEED.COM




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Movie of the Month

by tom br ow n e

Love and tragedy: Emilia Clarke and Sam Claflin

■■Romance: Me Before You

© warner bros / © 20th cen tury fox

This adaptation of Jojo Moyes’ bestselling novel stars Emilia Clarke as Louisa, a wholesome and unambitious 26-year-old who accepts a job looking after William Traynor (Sam Claflin), a wealthy young man who’s disengaged from the world after being left disabled by a road accident. Can Louisa help him recover his love of life, and discover herself in the process? It’s easy to be cynical about Me Before You, an old-fashioned and sentimental weepie clearly aimed at a broad audience. But while the flaws are obvious (a clichéd narrative, a horribly intrusive soundtrack), the lead actors lend the film a lot of charm, and the traumatising issues it deals with are sensitively handled. ■■big-budget: Independence Day: Resurgence We’ve had to wait 20

■■Fantasy: Tale Of Tales This anthology

years for a sequel to Independence Day, one of the highest grossing films of all time, and we’ve lost Will Smith along the way. But if you thought the deadly alien force had been defeated in the last film, think again—they’re back with an even more enormous army for this follow-up, which adheres to the principle that any sequel should be bigger, louder and more expensive.

film is made up of three fables adapted from the writings of Italian fairy-tale writer Giambattista Basile, variously starring Toby Jones as King of Highhills, Salma Hayek as Queen of Longtrellis and Vincent Cassel as King of Strongcliff, along with a very colourful cast of supporting characters. As often with this kind of movie, the tone is rather uneven, with bizarre interludes alongside moments of real magic. But it’s a sumptuous and beguiling journey. 06•2016



e n t e r ta i n m e n t 

■■drama: learning to drive

Patricia Clarkson plays a buttoned-up literary critic going through a marriage meltdown, who forms an odd friendship with a reserved driving instructor (Sir Ben Kingsley, see interview on p24). The title is a slightly trite metaphor for gaining mastery over your life, and the film in general is rather contrived. All the same, there are some resonant scenes and the leads give solid performances.

■■biopic: elvis & Nixon Following his successful turn in House of Cards, Kevin Spacey here portrays real-life President Nixon and his infamous 1970 meeting in the White House with Elvis Presley (Michael Shannon), who was keen to be appointed a Federal Agent. This bizarre fusion of politics and showbiz is vibrant material for a film —the photo of the event is the most requested from US National Archives.

DVD of the month ■■The Revenant*

Leonardo DiCaprio is on Oscar-winning form as a frontiersman looking for revenge.

On Your Radar Amanda Quinn, writer rediscovered this series from the Eighties, which features a surprising number of wellknown actors. Reading: The Valley by Richard Benson A compelling mix of

imagination and social history.

Online: Paragraph Planet

I get a quick fix of flash fiction on this site, which publishes a 75-word story every day. Listening: One Direction and Little Mix My five-year-old

has recently discovered music, so I’ve been hearing a lot of these popular groups lately.

Fancy appearing in this section? Send your current cultural favourites, along with short descriptions, to 20




© Bleecker Street Media

Watching: Tales of the Unexpected (box set) I’ve


by ma n d i g o o d i er

The Dreaming Room by Laura Mvula

Reader’s Digest

Album of the Month

It would be a mistake to pigeonhole Laura Mvula as a soul artist. Her style neatly encompasses jazz, funk, pop and touches of classical—and this, her second album, twists and turns with ethereal arrangements. Mvula shines as a lyricist when she draws on personal experience. Critics have compared her to Billie Holiday, perhaps focusing on the dark side of Mvula’s lyrics coupled with her unique and powerful voice. But the melancholy comes with optimism. There’s an anthemic urgency here, and affirmations that defeat any negative energy the songs might amass. You don’t listen to this album—you embark on a spiritual journey. Key tracks: “Overcome”, “Show Me Love”, “Phenomenal Woman” Like this? You may also like: Jessica Ware, Lianne La Havas, James Blake Overlooked Record from the Past Baduizm by Erykah Badu

While we’re on the subject of artists that combine soul with other influences, check out this offering from 1997. Although it might sound slightly dated, Baduizm is one of the most laid-back albums of all time. Instruments are minimal and the production is bass-heavy, leaving plenty of space for Badu’s smooth voice. Indeed, it’s her talent for effortlessly filtering her jazz vocals through hip-hop-inspired beats that make this album such a joy. The lyrics are intelligent too, drawing inspiration from Badu’s heritage and experiences. listen to these albums at READERSDIGEST.CO.UK/LISTEN

On Our Radar Man v Horse Marathon, Powys, Jun 11. A 22-mile

runners-v-riders race. Edinburgh International Film Festival, Jun 15–26.

Home of classic and innovative cinema. Wimbledon, Jun 27– Jul 10. Can Andy

Murray win it again?





Simple But Intelligent, The Smartphone For Beginners THE POWER of the modern smartphone has revolutionised the world of everyday communication. From online shopping, to playing games, from taking and sharing great pictures, to Googling the answers to your daily crossword. For digital natives—those young generations born into a world where personal computing already existed —adapting to the smartphone is intuitive. But for the older generations of digital immigrants it is not so easy. Doro, the world leader in easy-to-use mobile phones, is working hard to change that, and make smartphone technology accessible to all—no matter what their age is. Spending time learning to use a new technology is not necessarily a pleasure; there are many other things that you could be spending your time on. But Doro has

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developed ways of presenting information, and easy-to-follow instructions, which make using their smartphone brilliantly simple. The Doro Liberto® 820 Mini is undoubtedly a powerful smartphone, with all the functionality of the many competitors on the market, but because of the simple and highly visual instructions, older users particularly will be able to do more and faster. With large icons to identify clearly where to find each function, from making a call, to sending a message, or accessing the internet, the 820 Mini has a simple logic that is the result of endless hours of user testing and feedback from consumers all over Europe. In addition, for each of the main functions, there are step-by-step guides built into the phone to help the new owner get used to the technology at their own pace.

05/05/2016 09:14

And the unique My Doro Manager tool gives access to tutorials showing how to make the most of the smartphone world. This feature also allows trusted family members or friends to have a companion app on their own smartphone, allowing them to help manage the 820 Mini remotely.

Harness the power of three networks Of course, no mobile phone is going to be effective if the user is out of range of their network provider’s signal, a more common occurrence in rural areas or when walking in the countryside. By teaming the Doro Liberto® 820 Mini with innovative network operator Anywhere SIM, you can now have the power of the UK’s three leading networks at the same time. Anywhere SIM’s unique service roams throughout the UK using O2, EE and Vodafone—keeping users connected no matter where they are. The Anywhere SIM service is available on Pay As You Go, with the same flat rate of charges, whether in this country or across the EU. A perfect fit for those who are taking their first steps into the smartphone world, and to make it easier they can even transfer over their existing number.

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“Storytelling IsHealing” From Hamlet on stage to Gandhi on screen, Sir Ben Kingsley reveals why his profession has been his life’s passion—and his salvation BY F I ONA HICKS





“ STO RY T E L L I N G I S H E A L I N G ” 


now I’m a portrait artist,” says Sir Ben Kingsley, as we settle in to discussing his new film. “It’s the same craft, but now I focus on one individual and portray them, rather than bring the whole landscape to the attention of the audience.” Sir Ben, as he’s routinely addressed, spent the formative years of his career performing Shakespeare, so it’s no surprise that the 72-year-old actor knows how to spin a metaphor. But his reverence for his profession is entirely genuine—he’s a thespian in the truest sense. “Storytelling is healing,” Sir Ben says, enunciating each word as if projecting from a West End stage. “It’s an ancient, tribal ritual through which we explain, comfort and guide. I realise its potency and I realise I do have a place in it, for which I’m eternally grateful.” And yet his latest project Learning to Drive is one story that Sir Ben very nearly didn’t tell. Centred on the burgeoning friendship between a Sikh driving instructor (Kingsley) and a highly-strung literary critic (Patricia Clarkson), it’s a gentle and understated sort of film: full of undertones, allegories and characters undergoing private struggles. It’s 26



Sir Ben Kingsley with Patricia Clarkson in Learning to Drive; (right) Sir Ben was intrigued by the character of Darwan Singh: “I found him profoundly decent”

the sort of thing Sir Ben excels at— which was rather the problem. “As an actor, if you pursue a certain vein of roles, they can become burnt out, just like an electricity circuit.” He thought that Darwan Singh, grappling with displacement and finding contentment in a new world, was too close to the character of Colonel Behrani, which he’d recently played in The House of Sand and Fog.



tired, I’m fine,” he clarifies, “but that particular creative set of wiring, nerve endings, sense and sensibilities —whatever you want to call them— will become so.” He turned the role down. But, as fate would have it, the project was put on hold, the script refined, and second time around Sir Ben’s “overamped electric circuits had calmed down completely”, so he accepted the part. Thus began the process of bringing Darwan Singh to life. “It’s crazy what we do for a living, trying to print a page into flesh and blood on screen. It’s a series of bizarre miracles and a lot of hard work.”

“If I keep on portraying displaced persons, that creative part of me would become tired. I don’t become

WHAT HELPS SIR BEN in the nuanced process is a trick he honed during his many years on stage with the Royal Shakespeare Company—that is, distilling the character to a dramatic archetype. “Darwan’s archetype is warrior,” he remarks with delight. “He comes from a warrior cast—Sikhs were founded as great fighters.” Such a majestic vision isn’t easy to detect in the prosaic image of a driving lesson (which forms much of the film), but Sir Ben insists on his paradigm and his enthusiasm is infectious. “Darwan’s battleground is learning— he teaches people how to drive and 06•2016



how to live. At his heart I imagined him wearing a sword, as Sikhs are supposed to do ritualistically.” Like Colonel Behrani—and, of course, Mahatma Gandhi in the 1982 film for which he won the Best Actor Academy Award—Sir Ben brings a great sensitivity to the part. There’s a certain irony to the fact that some of his strongest and most applauded performances have been those where he’s portrayed non-Caucasian characters, because early in his career he changed his name, distancing himself from his heritage. He was born in 1943 to a Gujarati Indian father and a British mother,

you in our repertoire.’ The second I did as Ben Kingsley and they said, ‘When can you start?’ ” “I don’t think this reflects badly on anybody,” he insists. “Now Ben Kingsley is simply what I choose to sign my portraits with.” HIS LOVE AFFAIR with his profession is one that has stretched over 40 years, spanning more than 80 films, countless theatre productions and many TV projects (and, incidentally, four wives). It all started at a very young age. “I was recently working with Martin Scorsese, of whom I’m very fond,”

There’s such a thing as cause and effect, and if something is done to a child, it will come out in adulthood and was christened Krishna Bhanji. “The changing of my name was party due to the fact that my birth name was so ridiculous,” he explains. “I have a Hindu first name and a Muslim second name. In India, that would be ridiculous—it wouldn’t exist.” It was also a name that didn’t do him any favours at all when he was auditioning for parts back in the 1970s. “I did two auditions close together, one in Huddersfield and an identical one in Leeds. The first one was under my crazy birth name and they said, ‘Wonderful audition, but we wouldn’t know how to place 28



he says by way of explanation. “Marty, as you know, is a great film restorer and collector. We were talking about early experiences of film, and I told him my indelible memory of a film involving a little Italian boy called Peppino and his donkey Violetta. It’s a very beautiful film called Never Take No for an Answer.” Sir Ben first saw this film when he was six years old, and was struck by his similarity to little Peppino. “The imagination of the child is so malleable, flexible and impressionable —and I, in the cinema, became him. I didn’t even know what the word actor


“ STO RY T E L L I N G I S H E A L I N G ”

meant, but it was at that moment I determined to be one.” After telling this story to “Marty” on set, “The following morning, the DVD of the film was in my trailer. He’s taken the trouble to get hold of it from his own collection.” His voice almost breaks as he tells this story. It’s evident that the thoughtfulness and acceptance means a great deal to him, not least because he received very little when growing up. His parents, he says, showed no enthusiasm for his talent for acting. “I’m afraid, for whatever reason, all my efforts hit a vacuum. I really have no idea why. I would imagine it came from their own lack of nurturing. There’s such a thing as cause and effect, and if something is done to a child at a young age, it will come out in adulthood. “Ever since little Peppino and Violetta the donkey, I was determined to live in my bubble, heal myself and find a way of expressing myself that could be heard and acknowledged.”

Two of his four children, sons Edmund and Ferdinand, have followed his footsteps in treading the boards—and Sir Ben couldn’t have responded more differently to his parents. “I blast them with praise,” he says. “I focus and I tell them really directly, making sure it goes in. Those vulnerable moments after we’ve made an enormous gesture Sir Ben with his son Ferdinand, who’s also an actor; (above) as Gandhi in Richard Attenborough’s 1982 Oscar-winning film 06•2016



“ STO RY T E L L I N G I S H E A L I N G ”

[of performing] can leave a wound if they’re left unnurtured.” He’s also delighted that his sons are spending a long time in the theatre before going on screen. “It’s the right way round,” he says. “I know I couldn’t have stepped onto the epic stage of Gandhi had I not been among those great Shakespearean characters, whose destiny was very similar. Shakespeare’s works are the greatest piece of our heritage that we’ll ever have.” Gentle driving instructor Darwan Singh is a long way from Hamlet, but Sir Ben’s long career has been nothing if not diverse: hopping from theatre to blockbusters to TV and back again. “I’m guided by three principles,” he says. “Is it a story worth telling? Will it be filmed in a way that’s appropriate to the material? Is it life-enhancing?” It all sounds very worthy, but even Sir Ben isn’t completely detached from pragmatism. “Of course,” he adds,

“sometimes my accountant also guides my choices.” He’s particularly looking forward to working with his 41-year-old “wonderful wife” Daniela (who has a small role in Learning to Drive) again in the near future, among myriad other projects. By his own admission, it’s clear that his life’s work gives him the recognition he craved as a child. “I believe everything happens for a reason, even though that’s sometimes a bitter pill to swallow,” he states. It’s this sense of purpose that drives him on, and even in his eighth decade he shows no signs of slowing down. “I’d like to be remembered on film,” he muses. “And by my family and loved ones, as someone who hugged them really hard. Someone who filled the vacuum.” Learning to Drive is released this month. To read more excerpts from this interview, go to

CHEEKY CONVICT Christian Willoughby spent the night in a prison cell for a misdemeanour— and decided to post a review: “I’ve given this place four stars. It’s the all-day breakfast that lets it down really. Apart from that, the staff are pleasant enough. Had my own ensuite room and butler...who would come with tea and newspapers. Room was nice, the minimalistic idea was a nice touch. It was secure and safe...quadruple glazing and security door. Ideal place for winding down after a hard day. I’d definitely come back.” SOURCE: HUFFINGTONPOST.COM





Chris Packham, 55, is one of the nation’s favourite naturalists, best known for The Really Wild Show and fronting BBC’s Springwatch and Autumnwatch. His memoir Fingers in the Sparkle Jar is out now

Chris Packham

…IN INTENSE DETAIL. Such as the geography of our garden in Southampton, where I grew up. I remember every crack in the trees, and the shapes of the stones I constantly turned over looking for beetles and bugs. My parents tell me that even before I could walk I was crawling round looking for insects. My father sunk a baby’s bath into the ground, and I’d lie on the side with a spoon and bowl and scoop things out of the water, fascinated by the diversity of life: tadpoles, pond skaters, rat-tailed maggots. The garden may have been small, but it was a constant safari. 32



…MY FIRST DAY OF SCHOOL. I’d never met any of the children before and they were busy playing with plasticine when my mother dropped me off awkwardly late. But I liked plasticine and I was obsessed with dinosaurs. I made a perfect, anatomically correct T-Rex with jaws, teeth, claws and eyes, and put it on the display desk. It sat there next to a lumpy looking snake that Karen Harris had made and the rest of my classmates’ malformed blobs. …MY PARENTS' TOLERANCE. I was fortunate that both my parents didn’t seem to mind my obsession


“I Remember”

Chris, as a child, discovers a lifelong love. “My parents didn’t mind my obsession with animals”

with animals. Their garden lawn was quickly reduced to the size of a tablecloth as the rest was taken over with cages and other paraphernalia required for the animals I collected.

…PORTSWOOD PETS AND AQUARIA. My father took me to this remarkable shop at the weekends. I’d spin on the spot; there was such a tremendous variety of animal

…FEELING DISCONNECTED FROM OTHER KIDS. This was worse around adolescence. As my classmates’ interests focused around girls and social life, my world became ever more about animals. So I was excluded from their gatherings, and at that age I didn’t understand why. Kids can be cruel and merciless, and my shyness and obsession with the natural world won me few friends.

Chris as a punk: "The music and fashion were the perfect separating mechanism"

life to take in, with all these beautiful noises—the birds’ feet clattering on the bottom of their cages, their squawking and squeeking—and the exotic colours of the fish. There was a resident caiman and sometimes they’d get in really wacko things like fruit bats, chinchillas or chipmunks. In hindsight, the mortality rate must have been terrible, both in and out of the shop. My first significant purchase was a green lizard that my mother called Vite. I think she must have been trying to teach me some French and he was tres vite… 34



…THE BIRD. My kestrel was simply called The Bird —it was bigger than any name. I took it from its nest one sunny Saturday in June 1975. Everything had been perfectly planned. My father had agreed to help, but he couldn’t come with me until the afternoon; waiting for him made for the longest morning of my entire life. I climbed up the tree so quickly I got really sweaty, and the dust from the ivy and branches stuck to me. I could see the fields beyond and the young birds in the nest, backing away from me. I reached out and took one, and although its downy feathers made it look voluminous, in my hand it felt skinny and emaciated. I was terrified of hurting it. But we took it home to my bedroom, and when I woke the next morning and found it on my fist, I fell in love. It was perfect.


Kids can be cruel and merciless, and my shyness and obsession with the natural world won me few friends


…FLYING THE KESTREL BEFORE SCHOOL. I was 14 and all my focus was on The Bird. I’d take it out to fly before anyone else in the neighbourhood was awake. The surges of joy I felt during those times were sometimes almost unmanageable. They were my happiest times. I had the most brilliant thing in the world and it was entirely mine. …ITS DEATH HAS INFORMED THE REST OF MY LIFE. It died six months later, and even now I find it hard to talk about without crying. I'd found something I felt entirely connected to at a formative time in my life; it was more than just a bird to me. I tried to get the best veterinary care for it, but I still blamed myself. Of course, I’d had many animals who had died and I’d been observing death in the natural world all my life, but this was a very personal loss and difficult to bear.

…HEARING PUNK MUSIC FOR THE FIRST TIME. I had always listened to music—I’d been a T-Rex fan and I loved the extravagance of David Bowie. But when I heard The Clash sing “White Riot”, there was something about the energy and anger in the music that segued into the way I felt then, different from other people around me. The music and fashion were the perfect separating mechanism. I dyed my hair blue and wore a studded leather jacket and put safety pins everywhere. When I walked along the street, people would cross the road or shift along the bus stop to distance themselves from me. That suited me perfectly at the time. Chris with a feathered friend: "My world became ever more about animals"





…WORKING VERY HARD AT UNIVERSITY. I studied Zoology at Southampton University. I wasn’t happy there and didn’t fit in with the other students, but I was productive. I wanted to leave a better zoologist and, thanks to the staff, the high quality of the lecturing and the strong mammal ecology unit there, I accomplished my goal. …MY MANTRA. It was Go Harder, Go Madder, Go Faster. I had that written on the dashboard of my first car. When the police pulled me over once, I had a hard time explaining that it wasn’t about driving but about getting somewhere in life. I believe that if you want something, work hard enough and stick to your plan, you can achieve your mission. …MY AUDITION FOR THE REALLY WILD SHOW. I’d been working as a wildlife cameraman and a colleague said to me, “You never stop talking about animals, you should audition for this presenting job.” So I spent ages flicking paint from a toothbrush onto a chicken’s egg to make it look like it was a peregrine falcon’s egg. Then I made a box for it so it looked as if it were part of a precious collection from the Natural History Museum, and during the audition— while talking about the perfect 36



Chris with his partner Charlotte; (right) relaxing with Springwatch colleagues Kate Humble and Martin Hughes-Games

structure and camouflage of birds’ eggs—I “deliberately” dropped it and got everyone in a fluster. With my blonde quiff and ripped jeans, I gabbled away in a breathless, unpunctuated bout of enthusiasm; it was all a bit mad. When I didn’t hear back quickly enough, I took a train to Bristol and talked my way into Mike Beynon’s office at the BBC. Mike was a creative and imaginative



With my blonde quiff and ripped jeans, I gabbled away in a breathless, unpunctuated bout of enthusiasm force there. Luckily, when I walked up to his desk and said, “Look, I’ve got quite a few things I need to do with my life, so I need to know whether I’m going to get on with them or whether you’re going to give me the job,” he liked my attitude.

…FEELING LIKE A CHILD IN A SWEET SHOP. All of a sudden, I was working in a studio where people did nothing but bring me animals to look at and talk about. It was the perfect show for children, fast moving and diverse—a mix of entertainment and education. One day, a rather colourful and instantly likeable man brought in a cobra and got it to hood up for us, which was magnificent. His name was Jack Corney and—although he passed away before knowing this— I now share my life with his daughter Charlotte, who is director of the Isle of Wight Zoo. …BEING DIAGNOSED WITH MENIERE’S DISEASE. I’d always been healthy but, aged 37, I had the first of many attacks that I can only liken to trying to walk across a very bouncy castle. It’s a rare disease and affects the inner ear, causing unpredictable bouts of vertigo, paralysing dizziness and vomiting. I’ve become increasingly deaf in my right ear, which ironically has made the symptoms less severe over the years. The people I’ve worked with have been kind and understanding. One time,






when I was filming Nature’s Calendar on the beautiful island of Skomer off the coast of Wales, I had to ask the producer Jenny Craddock to stand behind the camera and jump around waving her arms, so I could focus on her to stop myself falling over. I’ve never wanted the disease to affect my professionalism.

…AN ANTEATER LICKING MY NAVEL. I was filming Secrets of Our Living Planet in Brazil and was holding a baby anteater in my arms. Suddenly its enormous tongue came out and down my t-shirt, licking the sweat from my body and giving me a good clean. It was a joyous moment —a little bit of heaven.

...WATCHING A WATER RAIL DREAM. Presenting Springwatch and Autumnwatch is just like being a kid again, only better because the cameras are on the wildlife 24 hours a day. I’ll never forget the time we were filming a female water rail who was incubating her eggs. I’d longed to see one of these most secretive of birds all my life, so it was wonderful to sit there watching her on her nest, enjoying the sunshine. Then I heard these small peeping sounds and saw her eyelids flickering and her head twisting. There was no doubt she was dreaming…but of what? We’ll never know. To me, that’s the perfect bridge between science and romance. As told to Caroline Hutton

A SPOT OF BOTHER We Brits are mocked for our social awkwardness, but Twitter account @SoVeryBritish takes great pride in documenting our eccentricities: Saying “anywhere here’s fine” when the taxi is directly outside your front door. “OK, lovely, cheers!” Translation: I haven’t taken in any of your detailed directions, but I’m going to drive off anyway. Showing your appreciation of sunshine by sitting outside, tilting your head back, closing your eyes and pretending to be warm. Noticing your neighbour is outside just as you’re about to leave the house, meaning you’re probably going to be late. “Oh, before I forget…” Translation: “What I’m about to say is the entire reason why I came over to talk to you.” 38




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Subtle clues—from handwriting to snoring— can reveal the earliest warnings of illness. Here’s how to read your own distress signals

s i l en t

s igns you

s hou l dn’t

Ignor e By Hall i e L evi n e

Ph oto by gabrielle revere


Forgetting people’s names Forgotten your neighbour’s name at a barbecue? It may be owing to stress or fatigue, but forgetfulness about little things such as names or shopping lists could indicate hypothyroidism, or low levels of thyroid hormone. “Patients complain that their brain just feels ‘fuzzier’. Without thyroid hormone, everything just slows down,” says Ashita Gupta, an endocrinologist at Mount Sinai Roosevelt Hospital in New York City. “I ask whether they still feel tired after a full night’s sleep. If they still feel foggy, it may signal that something hormonal is the culprit.” Other signs include always feeling cold, low libido and food not tasting as good as it used to. About half of those who suffer from a thyroid disorder are unaware of it, according to the American Association of Clinical Endocrinologists. But if you have any of the symptoms, it’s worth getting tested. “When patients are treated with thyroid medication, they’re always amazed at how much sharper they feel—that their memory lapses and difficulty concentrating weren’t due to just menopause or ageing,” adds Dr Gupta.

Difficulty managing finances When University of Alabama researchers followed 87 seniors with mild memory problems, the 25 who went on to develop Alzheimer’s showed 42



declines over a year-long period in skills such as managing bank statements and paying bills. “One question we often ask: ‘You’re out for lunch and the bill is £60. What’s a 15 per cent tip?’ ” says Daniel Marson, director of the Alzheimer’s Disease Centre at the University of Alabama. “People in the early stages of Alzheimer’s might struggle for a minute or two and then say, ‘It’s £7.’ ” (The answer is £9.) Everyone has an occasional senior moment, but “it’s a red flag if these issues persist”, says Marson. As Alzheimer’s develops, the brain’s cortex, which includes areas involved in thinking, planning and remembering, shrivels up. This makes managing day-to-day finances increasingly difficult. Trouble completing other daily tasks, such as following a favourite recipe or driving to a familiar location, is another early warning sign.

Random bursts of anger For many people, depression doesn’t translate into weeping or lying listlessly on the couch. More than half of patients with depression have irritability and anger; in fact, those symptoms are associated with a more severe, longerlasting form, according to a 2013 study. “A classic case: someone never suffered from road rage before, but now if they get cut off, they get so furious they go crazy tooting their horn,” says Philip Muskin, a professor of psychiatry at Columbia University Medical Centre.

wardrobe stylist: m arie blomquist; ha irstyli st: nate rosen kranz; make u p styl ist: su zy g e rste in; Model: Courtn ey McCa nn/Wilhelm ina; corset leotard by livethe proc e


Reader’s Digest

Women have depression more often than men, but men are more likely to experience the disease through irritability and anger, according to another 2013 study. If you’re constantly snapping at your spouse or the slightest annoyance gets your heart racing—and these reactions have lasted for more than two weeks— there’s a real chance that depression is the culprit. Many cases of depression respond well to a combination of antidepressants and cognitive behaviour therapy,

patients without sleep apnoea, snoring was linked with thickening of carotid arteries in the neck; such damage is a precursor to stroke and heart attack. Snoring was more strongly associated with this wall damage than were smoking, high cholesterol or being overweight. Why? Snoring may damage the carotid arteries, which supply blood to the brain. “We think the arteries are reacting to the vibration of the snoring, since they’re very close to the throat,” says study author Kathleen Yaremchuk,

Forgetfulness about little things such as names or SHOPPING lists could indicate hypothyoidism, or low levels of thyroid hormone a short-term therapy that teaches skills to avoid damaging thoughts or actions. A recent British study found that mindfulness-based cognitive therapy, which helps increase awareness of negative spirals, was as effective as medication in preventing a recurrence of depression over a two-year period.

Snoring It’s a commonly known symptom of sleep apnoea, which is associated with increased heart-disease risk. But snoring may play a bigger role in cardiovascular disease than experts thought. A 2013 study found that even among

chair of the Department of Otolaryngology, Head and Neck Surgery at Henry Ford Hospital in Detroit.

Inflamed gums A preliminary study found that the same bacteria that cause gum disease also promote heart disease. Other research shows that older adults with high levels of certain bacteria in their mouths have thicker carotid arteries, a predictor of stroke and heart attack. “The link has to do with the body’s response to inflammation,” says Stuart Froum, director of clinical research at NYU College of Dentistry. 06•2016




Frequent cleanings (every three to six months) by a dentist can usually control early-stage gum disease. Treating gum disease was associated with fewer hospitalisations among people with heart disease or type 2 diabetes, according to a 2014 study.

Damage to your teeth “I often get referrals from dentists with patients who don’t feel heartburn or other reflux symptoms, but their teeth

Changes in handwriting When you think of Parkinson’s, you probably think of tremors, but a telling early warning sign is handwriting that gets much smaller. Handwriting analysis identified patients in early stages more than 97 per cent of the time, a 2013 Israeli study found. “I have patients write a sentence such as ‘Today is a nice day’ ten times,” says Michael Okun, national medical director for the National Parkinson Foundation. “As

While sugary drinks wear down teeth at the front of your mouth, acid from your oesophagus tends to dissolve teeth enamel at the back enamel is completely worn down,” says Evan Dellon, a gastrointestinal (GI) specialist at the University of North Carolina School of Medicine. Many are shocked to learn they have acid reflux. While sugary drinks wear down teeth at the front of your mouth, acid from your oesophagus tends to dissolve enamel of the teeth at the back. Other subtle but suspicious symptoms of reflux include a persistent sore throat, coughing, unexplained wheezing or a frequent foul taste in your mouth. If you or your dentist notices any of these, see a GI specialist. Untreated reflux not only leads to tooth decay but can also increase your risk of oesophageal cancer. 44



they write, each sentence gets smaller and smaller, and the words become more crowded together.” Parkinson’s disease occurs when nerve cells in the brain become damaged or die off. They stop producing as much dopamine, a chemical that sends signals to produce movement; this causes muscle stiffness in hands and fingers, affecting handwriting. Two other early red flags of Parkinson’s: loss of smell—so you don’t notice mouthwatering odours—and really intense dreams in which you thrash, kick and punch during sleep. If you notice any of these symptoms, and they last more than a couple of weeks, see a neurologist. The earlier

Parkinson’s is diagnosed, the sooner you get control of symptoms and the better your quality of life will be.

Haemorrhoids About one third of patients with Crohn’s disease—an inflammatory disorder of the GI tract—have a form that affects just the anal region. It manifests as sores, ulcerations or fleshy growths outside the area, which can be mistaken for haemorrhoids. “Patients will say sitting is so unpleasant, it’s like they’re perched on top of a marble,” says David Rubin, chief of gastroenterology at the University of Chicago Medical Centre. This type of Crohn’s disease is often the most painful and has the worst prognosis, says Dr Rubin. (If left untreated, Crohn’s can lead to bowel obstruction, painful fissures and even colon cancer.) If you have what appear to be hemorrhoids that don’t respond to treatment, Dr Rubin recommends seeing a GI specialist for a second opinion as soon as possible. He or she can run blood tests to check for white blood cell count, C-reactive protein and other markers that can indicate undiagnosed disease.

Impotence Men over 45 who weren’t found to have heart disease but who had moderate to severe erectile dysfunction were up to 60 per cent more likely to be hospitalised for heart problems over a four-year period, according to

Reader’s Digest

a 2013 Australian study. Arteries to the penis are smaller than elsewhere in the body, so they may become blocked even before a man has any other heartdisease signs. “It’s embarrassing. Many men just want to get a prescription and avoid discussing the problem with their doctor,” says New York-based cardiologist Nieca Goldberg. “But it’s really important that they not dismiss it and get evaluated for heart disease.” If men have other risk factors, such as a family history of heart disease, the doctor may recommend advanced screening tests such as a coronary calcium scan.

Frequent toilet trips When you start developing type 2 diabetes, your body becomes less efficient at breaking down food into sugar to use as fuel for energy. As a result, sugar builds up in the bloodstream, where it does silent but significant damage to blood vessels and nerves, says Dr Gupta. Your body frantically tries to dump the glucose build-up by flushing it out in your urine. Translation: “You’re going to the loo more frequently, and producing much more when you go,” says Dr Gupta. You may find yourself getting up a few times during the middle of the night to pee. Since you’re urinating so much, you may be thirstier. Ask your doctor about getting an A1c test, a blood test that measures your average blood glucose over the course of three months (other tests, such as 06•2016




7 Cancer Warning Signs That Are Easy to Ignore Doctors diagnosed an estimated 2.7 million new cases of cancer in the EU last year. More malignancies are detected early, thanks to advances in screening and diagnosis, but initial symptoms can be subtle enough to overlook.


Unintentional weight loss. If you’ve lost more than ten pounds with no changes in diet or exercise, get it checked out. This happens most often with pancreatic, stomach, oesophageal or lung cancer.


Fatigue. If you’re under short-term stress, feeling more tired than normal is understandable, but if you’re struggling to get through work or can’t make it through every day without a nap, that’s a warning sign. Fatigue can indicate some colon and stomach cancers, as well as blood cancers such as leukemia.


Unexplained bleeding. Anything strange




such as coughing up blood (lung cancer), unusual vaginal bleeding (cervical or endometrial cancer), blood in stool (colon or rectal cancer), blood in urine (bladder or kidney cancer) or bloody nipple discharge (breast cancer)—should be brought to your doctor’s attention.


Pain. Pain owing to cancer usually means the disease has already spread and become advanced, but it can be an early symptom of bone or testicular cancer.


Sores or insect bites that don’t heal. They may be early-stage skin cancers. A long-lasting sore in your mouth could be oral cancer. A sore on your penis

or vagina may indicate penile, vaginal or vulvar cancer.


Nagging cough. Coughs don’t usually mean cancer, but if you develop a cough that won’t disappear, even though you’ve never had allergies, asthma or sinus problems, take note. It could be lung cancer or, if accompanied by hoarseness, cancer of the larynx or thyroid.


Bowel or bladder changes. Peeing more or less than usual could indicate bladder or prostate cancer. Constipation or diarrhoea may signal colon or ovarian cancer. We all have gas sometimes, but if gassiness and bloating lasts more than a week, talk to your doctor.

Reader’s Digest

the fasting blood glucose test, measure blood glucose levels only on the day of the test). “The sooner type 2 diabetes is diagnosed, the more likely you can reverse it with lifestyle changes such as weight loss and exercise,” explains Dr Gupta.

Itchy, blistery skin rash This reaction, which breaks out on the elbows, knees, buttocks, back or scalp, may look suspiciously like eczema, but it could be a more serious issue: coeliac disease, an autoimmune condition in which ingesting even the tiniest amount of gluten causes your body to attack its own intestines. Up to 25 per cent of people with celiac have this rash, known as dermatitis

herpetiformis. Many patients have no digestive symptoms. When someone with coeliac consumes gluten, the body releases an antibody known as IgA, which attacks the intestines; sometimes IgA also collects in small blood vessels underneath the skin, triggering the telltale rash. Patients with dermatitis herpetiformis don’t have to undergo an endoscopic biopsy for a definitive diagnosis. A doctor can biopsy the rash and look for antibodies that indicate coeliac. Once you start a gluten-free diet, the rash should disappear and you’ll protect your body from other long-term, serious damage of coeliac disease, such as osteoporosis or small intestine cancer.

cruel and UNUSUAL PUNISHMENTS Parents can get punitively creative, as these childhood memories reveal: “Once I was forced to hug every tree in the garden because I told my mum I hated gardening. We had over 30 trees.” “I used to slam doors when I was angry, so one afternoon after a tantrum my mum made me slam the door over and over again for what felt like an hour—but was likely ten minutes. I cried and cried, but she calmly said, ‘If you’re going to slam doors, you will slam doors.’ ” “One time, my parents got fed up with my sister and I fighting over the TV. So they changed the audio to Spanish and hid the remote.” “I genuinely forgot to put on my seat belt during the drive home from our summer holiday. My mum caught me and made me sit in the car for two hours (with the doors open) because that’s how long I hadn’t been wearing my seat belt.” SOURCE: BUZZFEED.COM





Putting Your Best Foot Forward BY S USA N N A H H I C K L I NG

OUR POOR FEET! No other part of our body gets quite so much grief, whether it’s from too-tight shoes or pounding the pavement. It’s time to show our tootsies a bit of TLC.

Athlete’s foot Susannah is twice winner of the Guild of Health Writers Best Consumer Magazine Health Feature

FOOT FAULT: A contagious fungal infection that can cause sore, red, itchy, flaking or peeling skin between your toes. Often picked up when your foot comes into contact with a surface touched by someone with the same infection. FIX: Creams containing antifungal medications such as clotrimazole, miconazole and terbinafine are the way to go. Always use the product for the recommended time— it’s tempting to give up treating your feet when the itching stops, but athlete’s foot has a nasty habit of flaring up again. Try treating your footwear by putting shoes in a plastic bag, sealing it and putting it in the freezer for 24–48 hours.

Calluses and corns FOOT FAULT: These are areas of dead, thickened skin. Calluses are superficial and may or may not be painful, whereas corns are smaller, more concentrated lumps that cause sharp pain. Calluses can turn into corns if they put pressure on a nerve. Both are the body’s response to pressure, often from shoes that are too tight. 48






FIX: Rub with a pumice stone to reduce thickness but don’t overdo it, as callouses protect sensitive areas. Over-the-counter remedies with salicylic acid soften the dead skin so it’s easier to slough off, but these aren’t suitable if you’re diabetic. A podiatrist can cut out the corn, giving instant relief.

Veruccas FOOT FAULT: Warty growths that occur when a virus penetrates the skin on the sole of the foot, forming a hard lump. They’re typically caught in communal showers and changing rooms. FIX: Eventually your body will kill off the virus, but if you want to intervene, use a product containing salicylic acid to eat away at the dead skin (again, avoid if you have diabetes). Some people swear by duct tape and even rubbing garlic on the lesion.

With summer fast approaching, get extra protection inside and out by eating a diet loaded with vitamin C, lycopene and beta carotene. These are all complexionenhancing antioxidants, which could help protect against UV rays. Tuck into: ■ Carrots ■ Spinach ■ Tomatoes ■ Iced green tea. However, none of these foods is a substitute for sunscreen. Make sure you apply it when you’re out in the sun, slapping more on every two hours.

VERUCCA OR CORN? Veruccas can look much like corns, so how do you tell the difference? Simple—veruccas are most painful

when squeezed on the sides, whereas corns hurt more when you apply pressure directly onto them. 06•2016



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Only one lump in 25 is cancerous, but a lump could also signal another condition that could cause you—or your sex life—problems in the future. 2 FEELING DEPRESSED Men are more likely to commit suicide than women, so seek help if you feel low. It could manifest itself as drinking too much, mood swings or losing interest in friends and activities you enjoy. 3 PROBLEMS PEEING Going too often or having difficulty getting going could be the sign of a prostate condition such as an enlarged prostate or, less likely, cancer. 4 MOLE CHANGES Know your ABCDE: is your mole Asymmetrical, does it have an uneven Border, have more than one Colour, measure more than ¼ inch in Diameter, or appear Enlarged? If so, have it checked out. 5 IMPOTENCE Having trouble getting or keeping an erection? It could indicate another condition such as

heart disease, diabetes, depression or high blood pressure. 6 BOWEL CHANGES Blood in your poo is the best-known warning sign of bowel cancer, but unexplained diarrhoea or constipation, pain in your stomach or back passage, and a feeling that you haven’t emptied your bowels properly are other symptoms. 7 BLEEDING Blood in your vomit, pee, or when you cough should always be investigated. 8 COUGHING See your GP if you’re still hacking after three weeks. It may well be a chest infection, but a persistent cough can also be a symptom of lung cancer, heart failure or a pulmonary embolism. 9 LOSING WEIGHT If you’re not trying to lose a few pounds, this can be a symptom of something more serious, such as a thyroid problem or cancer. 10 CHEST PAINS A sign of a heart attack that you should never ignore. Watch out for shortness of breath too. 06•2016



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When The Political Becomes Personal By max pe m b e r to n

Max is a hospital doctor, author and newspaper columnist

All that can be seen of him is one hand hanging lifelessly over the side of the bed. It’s got blood on it. His face and body, from where I’m standing, are obscured by the bed sheets, but I know who it is because this isn’t the first time this has happened. Several nurses are tending to a wound on his wrist. He’ll need stitches, I decide. I ask if he can move his fingers to see if he’s severed the tendons of his hand. This is the third time in as many months that Aziz has tried to kill himself. He’s been known to the mental-health team since he was eight and came to this country, having seen his mother and two sisters shot in front of him. He’d fled out of the back of the house, stowed away in the back of a lorry and arrived in this country, where he began to develop the symptoms of Post Traumatic Stress Disorder. He’s now in his early 20s, and after several years of work with psychologists and psychiatrists, he was beginning to get his life back in order. He still gets flashbacks to what he saw, he still wakes up screaming, but it’s not as bad as it was. He’d enrolled in a college and started training as a chef. As he was a minor when he arrived here, he’d been granted asylum, placed with a foster family and attended school. But when he reached the age of 18 this changed. He had to reapply for asylum and it was rejected. He appealed, and it was rejected again. He was to be sent back to his country,




illustration by an dy bridge

despite warnings that he’ll be killed. But he would rather die by his own hand in this country, because he considers this his real home. This was where people showed him kindness when he was at his lowest point, and he doesn’t understand why he can’t stay. It’s one of the strange things about medicine that, occasionally, the political suddenly becomes very personal. Aziz is from Afghanistan. His asylum was rejected because it’s now considered safe for him to return. He tells me a very different story, however—one that’s borne out by the fact his father and uncle, who fought against the Taliban, have recently been murdered. His cousins have warned him not to return as it’s still unsafe there.

there’s no doubt that the issue of immigration is complex and highly emotive—and I have a great deal of sympathy with people’s concerns about this. But Aziz has been here for the majority of his life. He’s as British as I am. Is it really fair to expect him to return “home” and start all over again when it’s now a foreign country to him? The topic of asylum seekers seems to be one of the last bastions of acceptable intolerance, and clearly the government wants to show that they have it under control. I just worry that in our eagerness to show that our foreign policy is working and that we’re being tough on immigration, we forget the human suffering involved. Sometimes it’s us who are left with blood on our hands. 06•2016




medical myths—busted!

Never Wake A Sleepwalker What’s the truth?

The good news is that there’s no recorded case of a sleepwalker ever having died from being woken up. It doesn’t trigger a heart attack or affect their bodies in any way. Waking a sleepwalker certainly might result in them momentarily being shocked or surprised to find themselves out of bed, but this disorientation soon passes and won’t cause harm.

As a child, my sister would sometimes sleepwalk, and I remember my gran impressing on me that if I ever found her, I should never wake her. It was never explained what would happen to her, but many people believe that if you wake a sleepwalker, they will die of a heart attack or have a stroke —or in some way suffer brain damage because of the shock. It’s also a myth that a sleepwalker cannot harm themselves. In fact, they’re particularly liable to tripping and falling while sleepwalking. 56



While waking a sleepwalker will not do them any physical harm, that’s not necessarily the case for the person doing the waking. There are documented cases of people being attacked as a result, because the person is confused or agitated after being woken. However, leaving a sleepwalker can result in them hurting themselves, so it’s best to try and guide them back to their bed. Having said that, if they’re in danger, or simply won’t go back to bed, it’s best to wake them gently to avoid getting hurt yourself!

Illustration By DAVID HUMP HRIES

So what’s the answer? Where did the myth come from?

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26/02/2016 12:23




Why We Should Stay


Alan Johnson is the Labour MP for Hull West and Hessle. Among numerous other cabinet positions, he was home secretary in 2010. He is the leader of the Labour In For Britain campaign


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FOR ME, ANY ANALYSIS OF THE BENEFITS of being in the EU begins with the Zec cartoon published in the Daily Mirror on VE Day. It shows a wounded soldier coming off the battlefield to hand the reader a laurel depicting peace in Europe. The soldier says, “Here you are—don’t lose it again.” Twice in the first half of the 20th century, and repeatedly for a thousand years before, Europeans slaughtered one another in bloody conflict. After the Second World War, the European countries came together to do what Zec’s soldier had asked and created a peace that’s lasted to this day—by far the longest period of calm in the history of this continent. Of course Nato has played its part, but its main role is to protect against external aggression. The great visionaries Jean Monnet and Robert Schuman saw that the way to make war between the old adversaries inconceivable was to ensure that structures existed through which, to paraphrase Churchill, “jaw jaw” could replace “war war”. That vision of a Europe at peace was at the forefront of the argument on the last occasion we had a European referendum in 1975. It was just 30 years after the war had ended—many of the men I worked beside as a 25-year-old postman had fought in it. They were among the overwhelming majority who voted to remain in a European Economic Community of nine countries, of which Britain had only been a member for 17 months.





In the ensuing 41 years, The 1952 treaty setting happened close to we’ve grown so used to up the European Defence European borders in Community is signed Kosovo and Ukraine. peace that those in favour of leaving say the issue is immaterial because war in Europe is SINCE 1975, Britain has been now inconceivable—thus expressing instrumental in two of the most the aim of the EU’s founders without significant developments on the any sense of irony. They also display European stage. a worrying complacency given what’s The first is enlargement, which brought countries emerging from totalitarian rule into the EU. Each admission required approval by all After the Second World existing member states. When our War, the European parliament voted on the issue, it was the only occasion I can remember countries came together when every MP walked through and created a peace the “Aye” lobby. Thanks to the EU’s that’s lasted to this day commitment to free speech, elections and the rule of law, oligarchies 06•2016




converted to democracies overnight or the Commonwealth. Leaving without a shot being fired. aside the fact that we export more The second is the creation of the to Germany alone than to China, single market, removing all non-tariff and more to Ireland than we do to barriers to trade and creating today’s all 52 Commonwealth countries put market of over 500 million people— together, there’s nothing stopping the biggest commercial market in the us exporting to those countries now world, but one with rules to protect without risking our £250bn of trade workers and consumers. (half our exports) to the No EU country can single market. compete unfairly Critics say the EU by short-changing is undemocratic, with In areas like customers or by decided by health, policing, everything denying paid holidays bureaucrats. I’d like to education and to their staff; or by improve things about paying part-timers the EU (and we can, if the economy, less than full-timers; we stay), just as I’d like Europe has no or refusing to provide to change aspects of role to play at maternity leave. our parliament, such And contrary to all. The mantra as the unelected second popular belief, the But the EU is Europe where chamber. EU actually reduces “bureaucrats” propose necessary, red tape. Prior to legislation in the same its creation, a driver national where way that civil servants transporting goods often do in Whitehall. possible from, say, Sunderland The actual decisions are to Salzburg would need made by ministers from around 40 papers. Now the elected governments they need one. Tariffs that applied and, in most cases, co-decided by the to goods such as cars (14 per cent), elected EU Parliament. ceramics (37 per cent) and clothing Those decisions are only on the (20 per cent for gloves, 13 per cent narrow range of issues where member for socks) have been replaced by one states have agreed that the EU should single tariff—zero. This is why trade have exclusive competence (such has increased and prices decreased as trade, competition rules and the since our membership. preservation of fish stocks). There We are told by “leave” campaigners is shared competency on agriculture, that outside the EU we’d be able to the environment, transport and trade more successfully with China consumer protection. In all other 62




As for the biggest trade areas, such as health, Alan addresses the deal of all—our access to policing, education and Scottish Labour Party the economy, Europe has Conference last March the single market—we’d give it up if we threw away no role to play at all. The our membership. We could, like mantra is Europe where necessary, Norway, end up continuing to pay in national where possible. and accepting practically all the rules and regulations of the EU, including LEAVING THE EU will lead to at least free movement, without having any two years of uncertainty while we influence in their formulation. go through the process of extraction Either way, we’d spend time and while simultaneously trying to treasure urgently trying to get back negotiate 53 separate trade deals to to where we are now—part of an match the terms we already enjoy. Jobs would be at risk. As the governor institution we have helped to shape; that isn’t by any means perfect, but of the Bank of England has warned, which gives us the greatest chance Britain’s sky-high current account of peace, security and prosperity in deficit would leave us at the mercy an increasingly interdependent world. of overseas currencies. 06•2016




Why We Should Leave BY BO RIS JO H NS O N M P

Boris Johnson is the Conservative MP for Uxbridge and South Ruislip, and the former Mayor of London. He declared his support for Brexit in February, and is now a leading figure in the Vote Leave campaign





IT’S NOW 41 YEARS since Britain last had the chance to vote on our position in Europe. Anyone who took part may remember that the ballot paper helpfully included the words “Common Market”. It’s no wonder that so many people who voted Yes 41 years ago now feel so conned. The idea then sold to the British—that Europe was a free-trade area—is long gone. Instead, we have an ever-more powerful political entity that’s nibbled away at our democracy chunk by chunk. There’s nothing safe or secure about voting again to stay in, because the EU doesn’t stand still. It steers in only one direction—towards a European superstate that would turn its nations into museum pieces. Let’s be absolutely clear here. Voting to remain is not a vote for the status quo—it’s a vote for a federalist superstate with no possible future reprieve. BY LEAVING, we will be taking back control over our borders, over our laws and the future of our trade with the world, the motor that has always driven Britain’s prosperity. We’ll also be taking back control of the £350m a week that Brussels demands from us. It’s an eye-watering subscription for a club that bosses its members around, gives them such a raw deal and takes such shambolic care of its finances. The accounts in Brussels have not been given a clean bill of health for 20 years, because of the scale



farmers, but without of waste and fiddling in Supporters of Brexit at a Vote Leave rally recycling it through all the dubious schemes in Manchester the wasteful Brussels at which the EU squirts bureaucracy. We would money—not least the still have billions a year to spare grotesquely inefficient Common for our own priorities in the NHS, Agricultural Policy. the latest world-changing science If we left, we could afford to keep or badly needed new roads and paying just as much as we do now public transport. in support to poor regions and to THERE’S NOTHING SMALL-MINDED

Voting to remain is not a vote for the status quo— it’s a vote for a federalist superstate with no possible future reprieve

about wanting to get out of the EU. It is about Britain striking out into the world. Currently, we rely on Brussels to do our striking out for us as it occupies our seat at the World Trade Organisation. If we want to open up markets in countries outside Europe, 06•2016




we have to move at the speed of the THE EVER-GLOOMY EUROPHILES slowest ship in the euro-convoy. The believe the continent would want to EU is notoriously sluggish at reaching strangle trade with an independent free-trade deals because it has to Britain. But these are the same people cobble together a lowest-commonwho warned us in the 1990s that denominator negotiating position it would be a disaster if we left the to please all 28 countries. Exchange Rate Mechanism. When we leave, we will remain These are the very same people, close friends with our led as ever by the European neighbours. Confederation of I wouldn’t want it any British Industry, who other way. It’s the warned us that if we Already, civilisation that has didn’t join the euro, between a half given birth to the British industry and and two thirds greatest culture in the City of London the world. I lived would be finished of our laws are for many years in foreign investors sent down from and Brussels, and beyond would stampede for Brussels. We the hideous glass the doors. euro-palaces it’s a They were wrong cannot alter or beautiful old place that then and they are repeal them, and wrong now. We it is easy to fall in love our parliament ignored them, we left with. We are not voting to leave Europe; we risks becoming the Exchange Rate are voting to leave the and it a rubber stamp Mechanism European Union. brought us the longest There’s no reason period of economic for our free trade with growth in at least 200 our European friends to suffer when years. We ignored them, we stayed we vote leave, and it won’t. The out of the euro, and since the Europeans sell £68bn more to us financial crisis we have recovered than we export to them. They aren’t faster and created more jobs than going to tell such a good customer any of our continental competitors for their cars and their wine to push If we stayed, we would be agreeing off. They are also not going to deny to this ratchet system that drives their companies access to the world’s ever more power to the EU. Already, biggest financial markets in London. between a half and two thirds of our EU leaders may be madly federalist, laws are sent down from Brussels. but they aren’t plain mad. We cannot alter or repeal them, and 66





not be the best way to pile our parliament risks Boris campaigning in becoming a rubber stamp Newcastle. “We will be up Yes votes in Britain. taking back control” No doubt they will revive or, as Ken Clarke [the this plan if we vote yes. former chancellor and All we need is the self-confidence pro-European MP] once cheerfully to take back control from the forecast, “just a council chamber bureaucrats and judges of Brussels, in Europe”. so we can hold our elected representatives accountable for WE CAN DO LITTLE about the everthe laws they pass and boot them extending thicket of EU rules that out for their failures. stifle so many of our entrepreneurs. Democracy, freedom and The EU even tells us how to run our prosperity—those are the prizes homes. Recently, it banned highfor voting to leave on June 23. powered vacuum cleaners and there was nothing we could do to stop them. It was about to do the same to Which way are you going to vote? To kettles and toasters until it occurred have your say on the EU referendum, to someone in Brussels that go to or email vandalising British kitchens may 06•2016





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03/05/2016 17:10



Word Story Q
























sponsored by



Winners After many months (and some tense voting), we can finally reveal who won the prizes in our annual short-story competition

Congratulations to everyone who took part in the contest! We had a record-breaking year, with more than 6,000 entries—and this time you, the readers, voted for your favourites in the final round. Turn the page to find out who scooped the top prizes. 06•2016




RY winner ADULT CATEGO Mark Clementson ns the first wi Hertfordshire, Mark, 45, from 0 prize of £2,00

s the Mind Travel Broaden machine,

The Judges said: The highest compliment we can pay Mark’s story is that everyone laughed when they read it and it stuck in all our minds. It’s easy to strain for effect when writing short stories, but this one had a simple, surreal charm that appealed to the judges and clearly to our online voters as well. We only hope that Mark’s vision of the future isn’t prophetic…




Mark SAID: A hundred words felt restrictive, not enough to say something earthshattering. So I Googled: “What are the biggest questions in the world?” The stimulus was: “What comes after Homo sapiens?” I can’t claim to have entirely answered the question. My reaction to winning? Joy. The only thing better than writing is knowing that something you have written is enjoyed by others.

Photograp hY by Wi lde F ry

d a time Having invente the sending Charles by and tested it re, tu fu e th to in inute hamster one m . After st fir go where to Henry wondered wich, nd sa n co ba a and much thought s forward thousand year he decided two g stin would be intere ls. Coloured spira . zz hi W r. hi W ildings bu e Th . nt re Things look diffe d an s e is only gras are gone. Ther aring we g, pi a d rs. An trees and flowe of g in th owing no dark glasses. Kn es. ch oa pr ap y nr y, He the 41st centur up s ld ho s, on two leg The pig stands tween be y nr He ts oo sh a laser-rod, and ll. mily will eat we the eyes. His fa rts. pa e es th in arce Humans are sc

Im age EDITI N G: M i ke M E rci er


Dan Forrester

Michelle, 44, from Cambridge, wins £200

Dan, 37, from Lancashire, wins £200


One Step Forward

Ivan and Edna sat close together on the porch, the ancient swing seat creaking under them, peeling shutters thumping dumbly with every breeze. Wrinkled like sphinxes, silent, motionless; neither looked at the other. They sat. Their gazes travelled around the neighbourhood, watching children wailing in their buggies, teens skateboarding on the kerbs, young mums and dads flying along, frantic, never still. Life in all its frenetic pace passed them by. Ivan and Edna sat. Silent. Motionless. Passersby must’ve thought how dull their life looked. They couldn’t see the hands clasped together, the warm pressure of old love between the two.

The astronaut watched the wormhole collapse. In the moments before he had witnessed Truth, revealed to him through the light, and now he was enlightened. It was a small step to becoming one with the universe, but a giant evolutionary leap for mankind. He spied the Earth through the porthole, a brilliantly illuminated hemisphere of greens and blues and swirls of white, and for the first time measured the distance from his home in dimensions rather than kilometres. He was a butterfly looking at his own chrysalis, he thought, as he struggled to open the silver sachet containing his dessert. 06•2016



sc h o o l s 1 2 – 1 8 s C ATEGOR Y 

The Judges said: This story manages to be both sensitive and suspenseful. It’s always difficult to make every word count in this competition, but Jaimie manages it very effectively here, and it was the runaway winner in its category. JAIMIE said: I got the inspiration for my story while doing my make-up in the mirror. After watching me put it on, my little brother asked me if I could make him “look pretty too”. It was then that it came to me; I began imagining a young boy in my place, aspiring to be as beautiful as the girls we see in magazines. SPECIAL COMMENDATIONs Ellie Welbourn Ellie, 14, from

SCHOOLS 12–18 winner Jaimie O’Connor

g erset, wins a Samsun Jaimie, 16, from Som r i) and a Samsung Gea WiF , (8.0 S2 Tab axy Gal ool sch her for 0 £15 s plu 5 watch,


son gloss across I swept the sticky crim finishing touches. my lips, applying the lids, I stared as n lde go Fluttering my t, awakening my they danced in the ligh ck lashes kissing thi my s, dull brown eye my rouged cheeks. tion. I was I grinned at my reflec ly glowing cal cti pra s wa beautiful. I I wanted how s with radiance. This wa I had fallen . life my of day ry to look eve rous beauty in love with the glamo . me at ck beaming ba ed, and my The front door slamm n of my chest. ski heart tore through the n, “Thomas... tio Dad joined my reflec ?” ing do you are l what the hel

Tallie Blanshard Tallie, 15, from

West Park School, Derby, wins £100

Colyton Grammar School, Devon, wins £100

The Silent Messenger


The dove swoops gracefully amongst the clouds. He flies miles every day, catching the watchful eyes of humans, delivering messages the world over, a slave to the words on the printed sheets. He had never flown this far before. Landing on the rusty rooftop, he watched in confusion at the tragic scene below. Men with hardened faces stood poised with rifles; barrels aimed at…a man. His face shrivelled, tears drying in the sun as the bullets rained on his back. Reluctantly the dove turned away, flew down the street and dropped the yellow telegram outside the red front door.

They were coming. They had killed Michael’s wife yesterday—her death, painful. He hurried through the house, followed by footsteps and cries. “Quickly!” “Before he escapes!” Backing into the bathroom, Michael saw no escape. He darted for the only hiding place—the bathtub. Michael crouched inside, trembling. The footsteps got louder. “There!” Michael scrambled to escape but it was too slippery. He heard the whirring as their machine fired up. It was held above him, pulling and he was suddenly lifted. He braced his legs against the opening—all eight of them, but it was too powerful. “Spider’s gone, kids!”






-12s winner SCHOOLS Under Isabella Hudsonead Primary School, m Ashm Isabella , 10, fro y Tab S2 Samsung Galax London, wins a r school he r fo 00 £1 s (8.0, WiFi), plu


to y desk, unable I woke up at m t night. las t ou ab ng hi remember anyt s ector Lewis wa Detective Insp ’ve we h, ug y door. “H pounding on m to go u yo ed ne I , se got a murder ca ene in Camden.” to the crime sc drove me there— The police car where but I didn’t know I recognised it, e th e se mediately from. I could im a CCTV w sa I s. as gl of d weapon, a shar wall. camera on the cked shouted. We tra I a,” er “A cam for the ed ch ar se d an n the tapes dow raight derer looked st crime. The mur . ce fa y m w sa I at the camera. r. Now I remembe

The Judges said: The Under-12s category was particularly strong this year, and attracted a huge number of online votes. So it’s even greater credit to Isabella that her story emerged the winner. It manages to pack a neatly symmetrical narrative into a small number of words, and the twist at the end is subtly handled.




isabella said: I was inspired to write my murder mystery story by detectives and how they’re shown today. When the email came through, my initial reaction was to look to see if it was real. When I realised it was, I was extremely excited. People have made a fuss, but it’s been great winning the competition.


Edward Thomas

Ben, 8, from Forthill Primary School, Dundee, wins £75

Edward, 9, from The Crescent Primary School, Croydon, wins £75

Olly the Octopus

a new home

Olly was an octopus whose best friend was a dolphin called Sarah. Sarah had very shiny white teeth, which glowed every time she smiled, but Sarah had a problem. She was no good at hide and seek. She hid under a big rock, in some slimy seaweed, then behind a whale. But every time her beautiful teeth would give her away. “It’s no good, I just can’t play.” Olly had an idea. He squeezed a drop of ink from a tentacle and Sarah smeared it on her teeth. After that they were the hide and seek champions of the sea.

A snail slithered across the pavement, he was desperately looking for a new home. First he found a can that had been deserted on the pavement. “Could this be my home?” he said. “Ouch! Too cold,” he complained. Next he found a shoe. Could this be my home, he thought. “Too smelly,” he sighed. As the sun was setting he saw a broken glass bottle. He looked into it and saw a round brown oval sitting on his back. He tried shaking it off, but it wouldn’t budge. Then he realised it was attached to him. “MY HOME!” he exclaimed. 06•2016




Dan Snow, 37, is TV historian and son of the former Newsnight presenter Peter Snow. He has a regular history slot on BBC1’s The One Show

If I Ruled the World Dan Snow I’d remove religion from our governments. People are welcome to hold any religious belief they want, but religion has no business in our schools, political bodies or legal frameworks. I wouldn’t do a Henry VIII and take all the assets from religious groups, but I would remove all their privileges and their tax exemptions. Then I’d plough the extra money into education. I’d build thousands of sail boats and get every child in the world to spend two weeks on one of them. I did this when I was a kid and it was an unbelievably positive experience. You learn about the sea and 76



illustrated by Jam es S mith

I’d tell schools to focus on boosting creativity and a love of learning. Otherwise, in 100 years’ time, we’ll have robots doing everything for us. This might be easier, less effort and more convenient, but people are happier when they have a love of books, art and poetry.

about yourself. I picked up skills and lessons from that fortnight that set me up for life. I’d make the World Health Organisation a proper, well-funded world body, with enough power to deal with the problems we face. We’re heading for a serious problem should a drug-resistant disease rear its head again. I’ve studied the Spanish Flu epidemic of 1918 and the various outbreaks of bubonic plague—we need to find better ways of dealing with diseases like these, before one of them comes for us. I’d cease all fishing in the seas for two years. Fish stocks replenish quickly, so it would only be a temporary ban. But fishing as it is now has to stop. We’ve decimated the world’s oceans with little regard for the future. You’ve got huge ships hoovering up the ocean floor. It’s short-termist human behaviour in its worst form. I’d have more women in schools. Everyone knows that things only get better when you have women teaching kids. Men are nowhere near as good at this—they just start something, then leave and help no one but themselves. I’d protect old buildings from development, particularly near the coasts. The development is brutal

by the sea—hotels, private beaches. Safeguarding our heritage would be another way of helping people deal with their mental-health issues. People feel better when they’re surrounded by old beautiful buildings that mean something to them. Too often though, what’s beautiful gets replaced by absolute rubbish. I’d cover a small part of the Sahara desert with solar panels to provide Western Europe with all its power needs. You’d only need a small area, but it would revolutionise our lives. For a start, we wouldn’t be dependent on fossil fuels from horrible people. I’d have electoral systems that reflected the will of the electorate. I’m not against digital voting, but once elected, our representatives would be required to engage directly—and I mean physically— with the electorate. I’d teach more history. If you learn about history, you’ll understand better what’s going on now. Palestine, the Middle East, Northern Ireland— there’s a historical context in all of these current situations. If we learn more about where we came from, we’ll understand more about where we’re going. As told to Crispin Andrews You can listen to Dan’s new history podcast at 06•2016




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Own Summer is here, and what better way to spend it than gathering fresh fruit and vegetables? Here’s where you should go… By fi o n a h i cks


Best of British

best of british

Stonepitts Farm KENT

This farm has been firmly on the rural map since the late 19th century, when it was a successful fruit- and hops-growing enterprise, and farmers would send their produce up to the London markets by the fastest horsedrawn transport. Fast-forward to 1960 and it once again accrued a sterling reputation— this time for being one of the UK’s first pick-your-own farms. Soft fruit is what Stonepitts does best, with six varieties of strawberries and three varieties of raspberries to choose from. If you’re not sure which are best, fear not—the staff here are knowledgeable and will be able to tell you which should be enjoyed fresh, which can be frozen or which should be made into jam. They’re also delighted to share recipes, and have a particularly good one for strawberry ice cream. ■ Visit for details

The Balloon Tree YORKSHIRE

Named after a majestic horse chestnut tree that stood at the turning to the site, this family-run business started out as a humble wooden hut and table at the side of the road. Their motto was “Fewer Food Miles—More Farm Yards”, 82



which meant that food was sold straight from the field. It’s a motto and a philosophy that remains today—even though the understated table has now given way to a large and lively farm shop. Most of the food is dug up mere hours (and sometimes minutes) before appearing on their shelves,

R e a d er ’ s Di g est

or on plates in their popular cafe. There’s also a punnet point near the shop with a map of a pick-yourown trail, showing what’s available that day. Expect classic berries, along with peas, plums and broad beans… and even pumpkins for Halloween. ■ Visit for details 06•2016



best of british

Woodborough Garden Centre WILTSHIRE

Founded in 1883, this garden centre went by the company name “Walter T Ware – Nurseryman”. Mr Ware swiftly became famous for his flowers, particularly his tulips and daffodils, which were exchanged with Dutch growers. Rumour has it that Monet even purchased bulbs from Mr Ware for his garden in Giverny. The bulb nursery has evolved into a fully-fledged garden centre, and it attracts visitors from the picturesque Pewsey Vale and beyond to pick their own daffodils in spring and strawberries in summer (many of which, like at Sharnfold Farm on p86, are grown on easy-to-reach tables). Such is the popularity that the family owners reveal, “Stock levels can decrease rapidly even within just a few hours, so we do encourage you to call before making your journey!” ■ Visit woodboroughgardencentre. for details


This family-run farm is a dream for apple aficionados. Some of the awardwinning varieties on offer include Cox, Royal Gala, Braeburn, Howergate Wonders and Herefordshire Russet— all available to hand-select from the trees or ready-picked in the enormous fruit bins. The orchards, of course, 84



woodborough photos courtesy of Katie P earn

R e a d er ’ s Di g est

Trevathan Farm CORNWALL

are at their best in the autumn, but you can stock up on strawberries, raspberries and cherries and plums in the meantime. No visit here is complete without a perusal of the farm shop. With a tantalising array of condiments, the best Scotch eggs for miles around, as well as “Clive’s Wobblejuice Cider” available to buy straight from the barrel, it’s a real foodie haven. There’s also a butchers—so you can buy some sausages to go with your home-made apple sauce.

“Visit Trevathan Farm for a taste sensation you won’t forget!” exclaims Mark Symons, whose family have farmed here since the 1850s. His claim is entirely accurate: along with the range of fruit and veg available to pick straight from the field, their new farm shop and restaurant offer a fantastic array of goods (including, of course, authentic clotted cream). Another great draw of this 300-acre paradise is that you can stay there. Eleven historical farm buildings have been lovingly converted into stone holiday cottages, and even come with access to a tennis court. “We have visitors from all over the world,” says Mark. “Malta, Germany, Australia…you meet people from all walks of life.” Tennis with strawberries and cream—what more could you want from a British summer? ■ Visit for details

■ Visit for details CL IVE ’ S FRUIT FARM PHOTOS by e lizabeth Hargreaves




fruit, they grow a whole host of vegetables, including asparagus, runner beans and sweetcorn. Of course, availability changes throughout the year, but there’s a handy chart on their website that gives you an idea of what’s ripe for picking on any given month. “Fresh fruit and veg is good for you, and you can’t get it any fresher than if you pick it

Sharnfold Farm EAST SUSSEX

Sharnfold has been offering pick-your-own strawberries for more than three decades, and a few years ago even introduced table-top strawberry picking—which means those of us who have a little trouble bending down to the ground can still enjoy this seasonal activity. The acres here are the envy of any allotment owner. Along with 86



yourself,” says Dennis Hilsdon, in charge of the outdoor crop space at Sharnfold. “It’s such a healthy thing to do, but it’s also incredibly therapeutic. It’s something that’s deeply in our genes…hunting and gathering. It’s instinct.” ■ Visit for details

Cairnie Farm FIFE

This farm (another family-run success) has won a plethora for awards, namely the Countryside Alliance Award for Best Rural Enterprise and the 2014 Agricultural Business of the Year. And yet— while pondering its vibrantly green rows of fruit plants, staggering views and sunflowers that seem to be smiling—nothing about it feels remotely business-like. Each year, the local landmark is filled with pickers meandering through the rows, sipping smoothies in the tea room or selecting prepicked punnets in the light and airy farm shop. Soft fruit is their real

Reader’s Digest

speciality, including cherries—which are surprisingly rare in the world of pick-your-own. Self-titled “farmer’s wife” and coowner Cameron Laird says, “We’re the oldest family-run pick-your-own enterprise in Scotland. As well as the 20 acres of fruit, there’s a six-acre Maize Maze and outdoor funyard to explore.” The latter reaches its full height next month, and is bound to keep energetic youngsters entertained all day. ■ Visit for details Where do you go for fresh fruit and vegetables? Email readersletters@ and let us know! 06•2016




Getting Away

From It All Have you ever longed to escape the rat race and find some peace? Amanda Riley-Jones talks to some determined people who did just that—by moving to an island

Bardsey Island off the north coast of Wales—taken by Ben Porter, who grew up here

A Life






JO AND STEVE PORTER, 46 and 49, live on a Welsh island. Winter population: four In 2007, Jo, an ecologist, and Steve, an outdoor-pursuits instructor, moved from a house with a vegetable patch in rural Conwy, North Wales, to Bardsey Island—a National Nature Reserve in an Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty. The tiny island is two miles off the mainland with no cars, electricity grid or indoor toilets. After dark, the only lights are the stars and the glow from Dublin. “The children had loved holidays here and had no qualms. But Steve and I wondered whether we’d cope, being the only permanent inhabitants in such an isolated place,” recalls Jo. “But the role and place fitted us.”

The couple’s strong faith gives them a deep connection with the island, which has been a place of pilgrimage since the fifth century. “Modern life boxes religion and everyday life into different compartments. But here we can entwine both,” she explains. Their life is demanding, with just two of them managing the island’s farm, 300 cows and fragile ecosystems. Jo also works for the RSPB and tries to grow enough veg to keep them selfsufficient. They buy staples in bulk and their goat supplies milk. “If the weather is settled, Tesco can deliver to a farm on the mainland and then Colin the boatman brings it over on the boat,” she adds. Their phone system relies on a solar-powered battery, and our first interview was called off because of overcast weather. “Sometimes I have to sit on the mountain with my mobile!” says Jo. They use the generator only for the vacuum cleaner now they have installed solar panels and a wind turbine. “I’ve learned to check the weather before I put the washing on,” she laughs. Doctor’s appointments have to be over the phone, although they needed the coastguard helicopter in their second week there. “Ben crushed one of his The Porter family on Bardsey Island: (from left) Rachel, Jo, Steve and Ben





Jo makes willow baskets and sheep-wool rugs; (below) Bardsey Island in bloom


becomes very busy with visitors and I’m growing vegetables to sell and working in our cafe. By autumn, I’m looking forward to winter. I’m probably a hermit at heart—I love having time to be creative,” says Jo. When the weather is bleak and windy, Steve misses paragliding and stargazing from his observatory. Bardsey’s population doubled last Christmas when a second couple

fingers when repairing a fence,” Jo explains. Jo, who says she’s “constantly on a steep learning curve”, also successfully home-schooled her children up to A levels. Rachel and Ben, now 22 and 20, are at Falmouth University in Cornwall, sharing a static caravan. Rachel studies drawing while Ben has followed his mum into conservation and ecology. “Getting them home for Christmas was stressful,” remembers Jo. “We hadn’t seen them for three months and there was only one two-hour gap in the storms that coincided with the right tides. There was no other chance for the following three weeks.” Jo and Steve’s lives are a cycle of alternating solitude and interaction. “In spring and summer, the island

moved onto the island—to look after the bird observatory and rental properties. “We have each other round for meals and help each other out,” says Jo. “It’s been lovely.” “I read somewhere that islands can either free you or become your prison,” she concludes. “We feel so privileged to live on Bardsey and be free to be who we are.” 06•2016




DAVID GLASHEEN, 73, lives alone on Restoration Island off Australia’s far north Queensland coast “I can go a month without seeing another human being when it’s winter and all the yachts have gone,” says Dave, speaking by solar-powered satellite phone from his tropical island home. “But I love the quiet time. I’m discovering a new life here, a more natural way of living. There’s no noise or stress, only nature. The bats are flying around now.” His nearest neighbours are the KuukuYa’u Aborigines on the mainland, 40 minutes away by boat. And his sole companion (after his previous dog was killed by a snake bite) is a dingo. “Without Polly, it would be lonely. But yeah, I do miss female company—having someone to talk to and share with.” He was “a corporate bloke” in his previous life, a millionaire yachtowning workaholic living in Sydney. But after the 1987 stock market crash he lost $10 million and his home. He and his wife separated. “I was depressed and decided not to get back into the stress of the mainstream,” he says. “There had to be more to life than money.” As a boy, he’d loved camping, fishing and been transported by Robinson Crusoe and The Swiss Family Robinson. Together with his new partner, they started looking for an escape. 92



In 1997, Dave started leasing the habitable part of Restoration Island— of Mutiny on the Bounty fame. Nearer Papua New Guinea than Cairns, it’s the dream desert island, with white beaches, coconut palms and coral reefs. “It’s restored me in every way,” he says. Home is a tin-roofed Second World War boatshed with shelves of bottles, food packets and water containers on the crushed coral floor. Mod cons are limited to a gas-powered freezer, rainwater-flushing plastic toilet, mobile wireless phone system and solar-powered wi-fi computer. Dave leads a stripped-down life— catching fish, growing vegetables such as pak choi, tomatoes and melon, and living in tune with the natural cycles of light and dark, tides, weather and seasons. While he clearly relishes the daily challenge, his partner found that island life wasn’t for her. She returned to the mainland with their son when he was six months old. Alone, Dave grew a white beard and stopped wearing shirts. “I don’t like looking in the mirror,” he laughs. “But I can carry more rocks than most people of 40. My diet is healthy and I don’t get sick.” Just as well, as medical help is 16 miles away. “Oh yeah, it’s hard work fighting the elements, growing food in a place with no rainfall May to December. I’m up at six, working flat out!” he says cheerfully. “I try to finish soon after midday. Reading in the afternoon,


escaped to Restoration Island after losing a fortune and his home


with a glass of wine and a breeze, is a great pleasure!“ He does one or two meat shops a year and exchanges home-made beer for prawns from passing trawlers. He enjoys odd visits from friends (“they tend to be itinerant and we keep in touch by Skype”) and international

I decided not to get back into the stress of the mainstream. There had to be more to life than money


farming volunteers (from World Wide Opportunities on Organic Farms) who help him on his farm. Once a year, Dave travels 500 miles to Cairns to see his son, now 17, and to stock up on essentials. Although he takes shoes to the mainland, he stays barefoot. “I’m sure people think I’m homeless,” he says. Tragically, his youngest daughter took her own life several years ago and he hasn’t seen his other daughter since the funeral. “Family issues are not easy, but I never shut people out of my life,” he says. Indeed, his latest plan is to develop a non-profit healing centre so others can come here to “detox from the modern world”. 06•2016




GRACE AND PAUL YOXON, both 59, moved to Skye over 30 years ago to raise children—and otters Despite growing up in Croydon and Liverpool, neither Grace or Paul felt at home in the city. After meeting at Staffordshire’s Keele University, they fell in love with Skye on a geology field trip in 1979. “The island is only 50 miles north to south, but the variety of terrain and wildlife is spectacular,” says Paul. Grace, who also studied biology, adds, “We both loved Gavin Maxwell’s Ring of Bright Water and were really passionate about otters. It was our dream to get away from the rat race, get married and run wildlife holidays and courses on Skye.” Five years and 29 loan applications later, they moved with six-monthold daughter Kirsty to open the Skye Environmental Centre in a converted guest house. They were relieved to say goodbye to crowds and traffic,




The Isle of Skye with the Cuillin mountains in the background; (below) Grace and Paul

and found that the island (population: about 10,000) attracts like-minded people. “A lot of musicians and crafts people move here, looking for peace,” says Grace. After locals started bringing them injured animals, they built a wildlife hospital and have since cared for 170 otters. Paul has gained a PhD in otter ecology and they’ve set up the International Otter Survival Fund (, which supports conservation projects worldwide. Their three kids had carefree childhoods in a tightknit community. “There’s only one primary school and

one high school,” Grace explains. “We could give them lots of freedom because people watch out for each others’ children here. Connaire was always poking around in rock pools and taking his time walking back from primary school.” She continues, “We go to Inverness


about once a year for a concert, but otherwise everything we want is here. You have to be mentally and practically self-sufficient. We built a metal shed on the croft, but that took off in the 90mph winds. Anything not built solidly will leave. “It’s very often dark and wet from November to March, which can be quite depressing. If there’s wind and rain at the same time, no amount of waterproof clothing will keep you dry. But we make up for it in the summer. With the long days, there’s nowhere better.” Older teenagers tend to leave for the mainland—but then percolate back. Ben, 26, is living at home before going travelling, Connaire, 23, is an apprentice electrician in Inverness and Kirsty, 31, has come home after seven years teaching in Spain. Grace concludes, “There’s something so special about living here and having a sense of belonging.” To read more interesting adventures and escapes, go to

CURLING UP WITH AN ECCENTRIC BOOK Looking for a good read? These titles are at least out of left field: Does God Ever Speak Through Cats? by David Evans Fancy Coffins to Make Yourself by Dale Power How to Avoid Huge Ships by Captain John W Trimmer The Practical Pyromaniac by William Gurstelle 06•2016



TRAVEL & ADVENTURE The Riaño reservoir, ov erlooked by (below) the the Picos ; famous brid ge in Canga s de Onis BY C ATH Y A DA M S

My Great Escape: Run To The Hills Donna Garner from Cheshire sets off for the Spanish mountains in a motorhome

Cathy has danced in Rio, been microlighting in South Africa and hiked the mountains of Oman



MONTY THE MOTORHOME has been our home since 2010, during which time my husband Phil and I have driven many miles in the UK and Europe. But few places are as challenging as the Picos de Europa, the mountain range in northern Spain: roads that would be a minor challenge in a car are much trickier in a motorhome. Most Picos roads are narrow and twisting, with overhanging rocks looming around every bend. Some roads are full of potholes, with small rocks littering the surface. On this trip we started from a campsite on the northern Spanish coast before driving up to Fuente Dé, where we rode the cable car to the 6,000-foot-high top station. It’s a fourminute, 2,500-feet whizz up the mountain, which did nothing for my husband Phil’s vertigo but afforded jaw-dropping views of snow-covered vistas to take his mind off it. Leaving the snow behind and above us, we descended to the relatively low heights of Potes, a pretty Cantabrian village. We stayed at a riverside campsite and sunbathed and relaxed, or indulged our palates at the local restaurants. After a few days we continued our journey with Monty,

heading for the village of Riaño. We lunched on the banks of the amazing reservoir and admired the spectacular mountain backdrop. Our next stop was Cangas de Onís, famous for its Romanesque bridge that spans the Sella River and the local cider. The cider must be poured in a way to increase the frothiness. The bottle is held above the head, while the glass is held as low as possible in the other hand, creating a distance of about four feet! Despite the driving conditions, the Picos more than compensated with its spectacular scenery, natural beauty and culinary delights. ■ A PASSAGE TO PICOS EasyJet flies to Bilbao from £27.49pp one-way (

Postcard From ...Peru

THE HEART OF THE OLD INCA EMPIRE, Peru has one blockbuster

attraction: Machu Picchu, a 15thcentury citadel set high up in the Andes. British Airways started flying direct to the Peruvian capital Lima last month—once a slightly sketchy South American city, now a vibrant foodie and cultural centre—meaning this most sublime of Latin countries is much easier to get to. ■ LATIN LOVERS Tucan Travel offers a 21-day “Peru Completed” tour from £2,199pp, which includes accommodation, breakfast, some meals, excursions and internal travel. Excludes international flights (tucantravel. com; 0800 804 8435).



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T R AV E L & A D V E N T U R E 


THE ITALIAN LAKES IN TWO MINUTES ■ SEE: LAKE ISEO ART Artist Christo unveils his Floating Piers this month on Lake Iseo. This is a series of walkways that will link two of the islands in the lesser-known Italian lake. Look out for the yellow structures from June 18 ( ■ STAY: HOTEL GRAND TREMEZZO The grande dame of Lake Como, the idyllic Hotel Grand Tremezzo is the place to see and be seen in the Lakes. This luxury property has panoramic views over beautiful Como and rooms from £418 a night (grandhotel; +39 0344 42491). ■ DO: CRUISING Unsurprisingly, the best way to get around the Lakes is by boat. A local navigation service runs ferries, steamers and boats around the three main lakes: Como, Maggiore and Garda. Take it slow and enjoy the views ( 98



LONG: Detroit The former downtrodden Michigan city kicks off a schedule of festivals, concerts and events this month. First up: Autopalooza, a celebration of the city’s motor heritage. Return flights from London start from around £800pp with Virgin Atlantic (; 0344 209 7777). SHORT: Bordeaux This month sees the opening of La Cite du Vin, a vast museum to showcase worldwide stories of wine. easyJet flies to Bordeaux from £27.49pp one-way (

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travel & adventure

There’s a new spirit of freedom in this historic island nation. What changes will it bring ?

Viva Cuba! By H é l è n e d e Billy

Cruising on the Malecón boulevard in Havana


“D v i va c u b a ! 

Founded by Spanish conquistadors

in 1519, Havana’s current population of 2.1 million includes craftsmen, mechanics, state workers, bureaucrats, maids, policemen, Communist Party members, writers and artists—but rarely do you cross paths with bankers. Regardless of its crumbling buildings, potholed streets, absence of a quasiinternet connection and shortages of many basic necessities, the capital 102



has much to offer. It begins with its people—friendly, cultured and with a healthy sense of humour, “without which we would never survived the years of hardships”, affirms a young rickshaw driver. As in the black-and-white films of Naples starring the young Sophia Loren, there’s laundry drying on clothes lines in La Habana Vieja, Old Havana. By late afternoon, kids (some still wearing their school uniform) play together under the archways. Beneath a perfect blue sky, rickshaws, yellow taxis, trucks and animal-drawn carts slalom in a cleverly choreographed ballet, accentuated by honking horns. Regardless of where you look, there’s nary a sign, fast-food outlet or known brand name to be seen. Burned by political adventures of every kind and subjected to cruel hardships during the periodo especial, as A Cuban flag at Santa Maria beach in Havana’s Playas del Este; (below) cooling off in Havana Bay with the El Morro fortress in the background

photo, p revious s prea d: ©tan dem stock

His tone implied a miracle. Indeed, for many Cubans it seems that the clocks have begun to run again after a long slumber. Since Presidents Raúl Castro and Barack Obama thawed diplomatic relations between their two countries in December 2014, Havana has opened its eyes. In a climate still marred by famine and the last vestiges of the Cold War, the city is allowing itself to breathe in a new spirit of freedom. What changes will it bring? A suspense of sorts accompanies the transformation now underway. That’s why so many of the curious flock to Havana these days.

this sp read: © Lisette P oole x2

o you see that?” uttered my driver Aurelio Rodriguez Estrada as he drove along the Malecón, the six-lane boulevard that stretches along the coastline in Havana. Sitting beside him, I tried to make out the El Morro fortress, built during the 16th and 17th centuries to guard the city from pirates. “No, here,” Aurelio corrected me, pointing to the built-in clock in the dashboard of his dazzling blue 1948 Chevy. “You see? It works.”

Photos, c lockwi se f rom top left: © Jon A rnold/corbi s; Peter Turnl ey/corbis ; © Gran t Rooney / Ala my; © Danita D eli m ont/getty

Reader’s Digest

the years following the Soviet Union’s collapse were called (a situation that pushed the country into an economic crisis), Cubans individually have won the save-what-you-can challenge. With an average salary of £15 a month, they have had little choice. With a literacy rate of almost 100 per cent, inhabitants of this island nation of more than 11 million continue to emigrate en masse as they have for the past ten years, particularly since 2013 when regulations surrounding foreign travel were significantly relaxed. An estimated one million to one-and-a-half million Cubans, nearly three-quarters of the diaspora, have settled in the US. Those who remain here have used their resourcefulness to keep afloat. Alejandro, 46, a bachelor who trained as an electronics technician, joined the bastion cuentapropistas, or self-employed entrepreneurs, five years ago because he wanted to travel and buy black-market clothing, food and trainers. (“The state makes ugly shoes,” he says.) Using his mother’s Soviet-model car, a 1991 Moskvitch, he works for himself as a taxi driver, spending 12–15 hours a day behind the wheel. Havana’s hotels give priority to official taxis, Clockwise from top left: street musicians in Old Havana; clothing in the colours of the US flag have proliferated; children on their way to school; Unesco-protected Old Havana

which creates hassle. “I have trouble with competition,” he says. “I’d like to become a public servant, but the state doesn’t pay its employees well.” Thus he, like others, are already weighing the risks of transitioning to a market economy.

Cubans have won the save-whatyou-can challenge. With an average salary of £15 a month, they have had little choice Despite its difficulties during the past few decades, Cuba has given birth to talented artists, internationally acclaimed writers (Leonardo Padura, for example) and sought-after painters. Havana’s Plaza de San Francisco de Asís, with its magnificent baroque church rebuilt in the 18th century, offers classical-music concerts almost every night. Architecture, somewhat overlooked for half a century, is making a comeback in the bustling capital whose splendour was offensive to revolutionaries from the outset. Havana, whose Old City and fortifications system are included among Unesco’s World Heritage sites, can boast many lavish examples of Art Deco architecture. 06•2016



v i va c u b a ! 

Aboard a bus with American academics, I learned about the architectural heritage of western Havana, thanks to Professor Julio César PérezHernández. He’s an architect who envisions a future for his city with a proliferation of green spaces, revitalisation of the waterfront and improvements to public transportation. Some fear this interest in architecture and real estate. “The Americans will again impose their way of life,” warns a professor of Cuban history. This distrust is deeply rooted in the collective psyche of one of the few

countries persistently to snub the leader of the free world. Cuba’s inhabitants remain attached to aspects of Fidel Castro’s socialist model. According to the archbishop of Havana, Cardinal Jaime Ortega, his countrymen will never agree to give up free education or the free universal healthcare system. Yet “Cubans love the Americans,” says Guy Chartier, a Canadian realestate promoter who divides his time between Montreal and Havana. Chartier oversees, in partnership with the Cuban government, preparations for

homage to havana Lodging: There’s a shortage of hotel rooms in Havana. But one can easily stay with local residents in casas particulares (private homes). Comfort and hospitality vary greatly; for suggestions, see, cubaabsolutly. com and From £17 to £45 for a double room. Dining: Paladar Vistamar Avenida 1ra between Calle 22 and Calle 24, Havana. Old architectural home, with view. Renowned for its seafood. From £35 for two with wine (+53 7 203 8328). Nazdarovie! 25 Malecón, Prado y Cárcel, In the historic district of Havana. Russian specialities. Sunset views from the balcony. From £26 per person (+53 7 860 2947). El Floridita Obispo 557 esq. a Monserrate, Havana. Just steps from the Museo Nacional de Bellas Artes, favourite restaurant of Ernest Hemingway (+53 7 867 1300). Attractions: Museo de la Revolución Calle Refugio 1, Havana. Housed in the former Palacio Presidencial, museum honours those who opposed the tyranny in Cuba. Outside is the yacht Granma that carried Fidel and his comrades (including Che Guevara) from Mexico to Cuba in 1956. A tank and other war vehicles evoke the invasion of the Bay of Pigs.




Reader’s Digest

the construction of a hotel complex and a tourism business complex due to open in 2018–2019. “If I’m in a meeting with an American,” says Chartier, “he’ll receive the warmest welcome, even though I come from a country that has never severed relations with Cuba. These two peoples share many things and not just the love of baseball. In my view, their reunion will unfold quite naturally.” About 12 miles away, lying on one of the East Havana’s beaches, tour-bus driver Tomas Marti is taking a day off to celebrate his wife’s birthday with the family. Now in his 50s, Marti had been a law professor at the University of Havana. As he has many children to feed (this is his third marriage), he abandoned that profession for a more lucrative job. Marti would like to learn Italian, but he hasn’t managed to find a learning tool. When I suggest he listen to discs by Italian singer and composer Paolo Conte, he replies that they are unavailable in Cuba. Cubans seem to have a thing for foreign languages. One tells me of a passion for French, another, like Pablo Fernandez, begs me to speak to him in

English in order to improve his vocabulary. Fernandez tells me he has taken computer classes, but says these have served him little as there are no career prospects in this sector in Cuba. Intelligent, sociable and humorous, Fernandez’s smile freezes when I mention including his name in my article. I’ve misread the sense of freedom in the streets of Havana. For even if people are at ease in engaging in conversation, freedom of expression is still in its embryonic state here. There are, however, encouraging signs—things that were unthinkable only a few months ago. For example, t-shirts, caps and other clothing in the colours of the American flag have proliferated in the Old City since the diplomatic thaw. And in March President Obama became the first sitting US President to visit the island in nearly nine decades. Clearly, Havana will change a lot. That’s why we should visit now. For we don’t often have the opportunity to witness the present…from its past. All of the Cubans interviewed requested their names be changed in order to ensure confidentiality.

FEELING TIRED? Over the course of their lives, the average human will yawn around 250,000 times. SOURCE: REUTERS.COM





Is Your Home

Properly Insured?

IF YOU’RE PAYING too little for your insurance premium, you risk being underinsured. This can have a devastating impact should you need to make a claim, and yet it’s been reported that 20 per cent of homes are underinsured. Say you have an insurance policy that covers £40,000 of household

contents, but the actual value of all the items in your home is £80,000. This means you’re underinsured by 50 per cent and so, if you had to make a claim for £30,000 of stolen items after a burglary, you will receive a payment of just £15,000. Precious metal and diamond prices can change drastically over short

Reader’s Digest Insurance Services provide a range of home insurance policies from leading insurers such as Aviva, Ageas, Axa, Allianz and Legal & General. To discuss your home insurance and to obtain a competitive quotation call us today on 020 8069 3102.

Higos Insurance Services_DPS.indd 2

20/04/2016 13:56

THREE TIPS TO HELP AVOID BEING UNDERINSURED: Get an up-to-date valuation If you own precious items, arrange valuations in order to ensure the value specified on your insurance policy is correct and appropriate for your needs. Tip 1

Make sure the valuation contains detailed information It’s important to have a professional valuation, so there’s no confusion in the event of a claim. A valuation stating “A Solitaire diamond ring: £20,000” is ineffective. There are no indications of carat weight or grading, details of the mount or whether the ring is antique or modern. This level of information is vital when seeking a replacement. Tip 2

periods of time, amplifying the risk of being underinsured. The value of gold has increased by more than 200 per cent in the last ten years. The popularity of expensive gadgets, such as laptops and tablets, also increase the risk of underinsurance. Calculating the true value of your contents can be difficult, but it’s important to give information that’s as accurate as possible.

Ensuring your home insurance policy matches your needs Ensure your home insurance policy adequately covers the value of your contents, so your possessions are properly protected. Tip 3

Vivat Finance Limited trading as Reader’s Digest are an Introducer Appointed Representative of Higos Insurance Services Ltd trading as Reader’s Digest Insurance Services, who are authorised and regulated by the Financial Conduct Authority FRN no 302690

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20/04/2016 13:57


Setting Aside For A Rainy Day Saving money isn’t easy in the modern world, but there are plenty of ways to improve your thriftiness BY A N DY W E BB

IT’S A COMMON REGRET IN LIFE that we spend more than we save—money that could go into a savings account or into a pension. Whatever age you are, it’s never too late to start thinking about saving for your future, though the earlier the better. Here are six ways to get you going.

Find out what you can afford to save Andy Webb is a money expert at the Money Advice Service. Visit money adviceservice. for details

It’s hard to know what you can afford to save if you don’t have an accurate budget, so doing this is a key first step. Once you’ve made a record of everything you spend each month and everything you earn, you’ll be able to see how much money you have left.

Look for ways to cut back If you don’t have much left after bills and essentials, you can use your budget to find ways to cut back. It might be you’re spending on things you don’t use, or are able to get something similar for less. You could still be paying long-forgotten direct debits and standing orders, so check your bank statements.

Get into a regular habit Choose a fixed day each month to put money into savings. Payday is great as you won’t be tempted to spend the cash. You can also set up a standing order to move money 110



automatically into a savings account each month, so you won’t forget.


Earn as much interest as you can There are different places you can put your savings, from tax-free ISAs to high-interest current accounts. Wherever you choose, keep an eye on the interest rate. Many have bonus rates for the first year and drop down afterwards. If that happens, look to move your money elsewhere.

Set yourself a goal If you know exactly what you’re saving for, it’s far more likely you’ll keep putting money away. It could be to ensure you’re comfortable in the future and have enough to maintain

your standard of living, or you might want to fund a big expenditure this year. It’s also worth thinking about building an emergency fund for unexpected expenditures.

Work out if you need to boost your pension First, however, check to see that you’ll have as much as you hope. You can request a State Pension Statement online from, or if you’re over 50 you can apply by post. For any work pensions, you should be getting a statement each year with an estimate of your retirement income. If you can’t find the details, try your pension provider, former employer or the Pension Tracing Service. 06•2016




A major study by the Money Advice Service has revealed that one in six British adults are dealing with problem debt. There’s no doubt that starting to deal with your debt can feel difficult, and only one in five people with financial difficulties seek advice. But there’s evidence that getting free debt advice is a great way to get on top of managing your money. Nine in ten people who sought debt advice through MAS partners in October to December last year went on to take positive action to better manage their debts. Debt advice doesn’t have to be frightening, and these figures show the real rewards of seeking advice. Debt-advice centres are full of trained advisors who can give you free, confidential help—and even better, they’re local to you.

A comprehensive report The MAS report gives a picture of debt in the UK, indicating where people are “over-indebted” (fallen behind with their bills in at least three of the last six months, or feel their debts are a heavy burden). Here are five key factors linked with problem debt. 112



1 A third of the UK population rent their home, yet half of those over-indebted are renters. In fact, you’re twice as likely to have debt problems as a tenant than a homeowner. 2 If you have children, you’re twice as likely to be over-indebted than those without, more so for adults with three children or more. 3 25–34 years olds are four times more likely to have problem debt than over-65s. 4 There are more debt problems in the city than the country, with eight of the ten most over-indebted local authorities in urban areas. 5 Single parents are one and a half times more likely to have debt problems than two-parent families.



Solving Your Debt Worries


Boosting Your Budget If you need some extra cash, the first thing to investigate is your bills. You can save hundreds by moving your business to a different company —or at least talking to your current supplier and seeing if they can offer a better deal. Here are four simple switches that will make a big difference. 1 GAS AND ELECTRICITY

If you’re on a “standard tariff”, the average saving you could make by switching your energy is £300—a huge amount of extra money. Fixing for a set period is often the best way to bring down prices, although this only sets the price of the energy. What you pay will depend on how much you use. 2 INSURANCE

If you let your insurance roll over each year, you’ll find you’re paying far more than if you searched for a better deal. This is because the best prices are reserved for new customers. Now have a think about all the different types of insurance you have. There’s buildings and contents insurance for your home, car insurance if you drive, probably

illness cover for family animals if you’re a pet owner…the list goes on. 3 PHONE, INTERNET AND TV

Once your contract expires and the special offers end, it’s likely your bills will jump up. Taking your business to a different company often comes with big discounts and even freebies. While you’re at it, look to see if you need everything you’re paying for, such as “free calls” and extra channels. 4 BANK ACCOUNT

If you’ve never moved your bank account, you’re probably getting very little in return. Since 2013, it’s been possible to switch your current account in just seven days—and the banks are competing fiercely to get your business. You can get huge interest rates, cashback on bills and even bonus payments of up to £150.

food & DRink

Easy-to-prepare meals and accompanying drinks

Pissaladière By Rac h e l wal k e r

Rachel Walker is a food writer for numerous national publications. Visit for more details

This simple but sensational tart from southern France is a great dish for a summer lunch party, and you only need to remember one thing to guarantee its success: cook the onions slow and low to extract their full juicy, sweet flavour, and you can’t go wrong.

Serves 4 • 2tbsps olive oil • 3–4 large onions (combined weight, 600g), sliced • 1tsp salt • 320g puff pastry • 50g anchovies, halved lengthways • 8–12 pitted black olives

For the tomato salad • 400–500g tomatoes (look for mixed colours and varieties. Naatora via Ocado have a great selection) • ½tsp salt • 1tbsp red wine vinegar • 3tbsps olive oil • ½tsp dried oregano

1. Preheat the oven to 200C. 2. Heat the olive oil in a saucepan and then add the sliced onions and salt. Cook on a low heat for a minimum of 20 minutes, stirring occasionally. By then, the onions should become sweet and soft enough that they can be crushed with the back of a wooden spoon—yet no darker than a light, honey colour. [This can be done in advance, and the onions can be refrigerated and covered overnight.] 3. Roll out the puff pastry into a square or a long, thin rectangle. Move it onto a floured baking tray, or one lined with baking paper. Use the tip of a sharp knife to score a 114



Photograp hY by Tim & Zoë Hi ll

border, 2cm from the edge—enough to make a mark that’s visible, but not cutting through the pastry. 4. Spread out a thick layer of onion within the border, and then lay the anchovies on top to make a diagonal grid. A traditional pissaladière has lines of anchovies stretching from edge to edge; they have a very strong, salty flavour, so for a gentler flavour, make a thin and long pastry shape and use the anchovies to create a line of crosses down the middle. Stud a black olive in the middle of each diamond in the grid, or in the space round the edge of the cross. 5. Put the tart in the hot oven for 25 minutes, resisting the temptation

to open the oven (it can cause puff pastry to collapse). By the end of cooking, the tart should be puffed and golden. 6. While the pissaladière is cooking, cut the tomatoes into similar sizes. (eg. cut a beef tomato into segments, and just halve cherry or plum tomatoes). Wash, drain in a colander and toss with extra salt to draw moisture out of the tomatoes; leave for 10 minutes. 7. Meanwhile, shake together the red wine vinegar, oil and Dijon mustard in a jam jar. Tip the tomatoes into a serving bowl, toss in the oregano and then the salad dressing. Serve alongside the pissaladière. 06•2016



Food and Drink 

Tasty Rosés The drift of spring into summer marks the start of rosé season, and its boom in popularity means that there’s more choice than ever. When it comes to a wine pairing for pissaladière, it’s an ideal excuse to immerse yourself in regional flavour and enjoy rosé from Provence. It accounts for 84% of wine production in the area—no surprise when there’s such a growing market for it. In 2001, Brits drunk £105,000 worth of Rosé from Provence, but by last year, that figure had shot up to £8.9m. This is no doubt down to its dry and delicate qualities; Provençal-style rosé is the antithesis to the sweet, headache-inducing rosés of old. It’s easy to pair with food, standing up well to the big flavours of local dishes, which are laced with anchovies and olives, as well as the thyme, rosemary

and fennel that make up the famous Herbes de Provence blend. The demand means there’s more competition than ever. Mirabeau is made by expat couple Stephan and Jeany Cronk, who have won accolades for their elegant rosé. The Côtes de Provence Rosé in Aldi’s Exquisite Collection is a great value option with delicate strawberry notes, and the Corent Côtes d’Auvergne is an exciting entry to The Wine Society range—it’s my pick to kick off a summer evening.

life’s looking Rosé ■ Mirabeau, Côtes de Provence Rosé 2015 (13%), £9.79, Waitrose ■ Corent Côtes d’Auvergne, Saint-Verny 2015 (13.5%), £7.95, The Wine Society ■ The Exquisite Collection Côtes de Provence Rosé 2015 (12.5%), £5.99, Aldi




Reader’s Digest


Pudding of the Month

Orange Jelly Segments

Is There a Nutmeg in the House? by Elizabeth David, £14.99. The latest from the doyenne of French cuisine. Budget

With sports days in full swing, this riff on a classic half-time snack is a fun thing to pack for a picnic.


Makes 8 segments • 2 naval oranges • 400ml orange juice

• 40g caster sugar • 4 gelatin sheets

1. Cut both oranges in half and scoop out the filling, using your hands to squeeze the juice into a jug. Rinse the halves of orange and clean away as much pith as you can, as you would prepare a pumpkin. 2. Use shop-bought orange juice to fill up the jug of juice to 400ml. Add the sugar to it and gently heat the orange juice, stirring until the sugar dissolves. 3. Meanwhile, soak the gelatine sheets in cold water for five minutes, until they go soft. Stir them into the warm orange juice. 4. Sit each orange half on a mug or jam jar to make sure they are stable. Fill with the mixture and put in fridge until set. Use a knife to cut each orange half in half again, to make an orange segment. FOR MORE, GO TO READERSDIGEST.CO.UK/FOOD-DRINK

Bonne Maman Creme Caramel, Ocado, £2.50 for four. A cheap and easy way to round off a French-inspired meal. Blow out

Dijon Originale Mustard with white wine, £35/500g. You can refill your jar at Piccadilly’s Maille Boutique. 06•2016



home & Garden

By Ly n da C la rk

Lynda Clark is a homes, property and interiors expert, and is editor of First Time Buyer magazine

Constructing A Perfect Workspace Whether you need a place for your computer or laptop, or just an area to store bills and paperwork, a home office can be as large or small an area as you require. It’s important that it’s practical and has good storage, but it can still be a pleasant space that reflects your personality. Choose somewhere with good daylight, as it’s always beneficial to have natural light when working. If you can, put the desk by a window so you can enjoy the view during breaks from your tasks! A comfortable chair is essential, as is keeping things organised, so don’t be afraid to invest in clever and durable (yet pretty) pieces.

Florence desk, £450; magazine rack, £32; Coco chair, £575; angular copper bin, £29; concrete table lamp, £40, ■ All available at Oliver Bonas (

Get The Look

Create an enviable home office with these stylish accessories. ■ “To do” pad, £5.95, Amara ( ■ Valsecchi desk organiser, £107,

Amara ( ■ Retro desk chair, £159,

Cuckooland ( ■ Logan desk, £25, Next ( 118



Happy Birthday Your Majesty!

Celebrate the Queen’s 90th in style with these collectible pieces

This limited-edition mug is numbered and signed by the decorator, £25 (

Garden DIY It’s time to update your garden fences, and Ronseal Fence Life Plus will give rough- and smooth-sawn wood added protection, which is guaranteed to last up to five years. It’s showerproof in just an hour, application is easy—it can be brushed on rough, smooth or damp wood or even sprayed on—and it will protect your fences in all weathers. Buy from £14.99 at B&Q (


We can’t forget the Queen’s favourite dogs! Union Jack corgi, £10 (

This commemorative tea towel celebrates the Royals and Britishness, £7 ( 06•2016




Accessories and apps for your phone, plus the perfect way to illuminate a summer festival

Selfies With A Smile BY OLLY MANN


The Chinese telecoms giant (pronounced “wah-whey”) aren’t a household name here, but have gained a reputation for “good for the price” handsets. For the premium P9, they’ve teamed up with photo brand Leica to craft the camera app. The result is two rear lenses—one colour, one monochrome—capturing depth and detail, and a front-facing lens for “beauty selfies”. The quality impresses; the rest of the phone doesn’t dazzle but is, indeed, good for the price.

Olly is a technology expert, radio presenter and podcaster


WhatsApp and Facebook Messenger have offered the option of sending voicemails for free, but it hasn’t caught on. Yet I find much to admire in this “walkie-talkie app”,




not least that it shares a name with my GCSE geography teacher. Roger provides a big red button, you push it to record a message, then share with your chosen contacts— they needn’t have even downloaded the app.


As a student I used tea lights and fairy lights to illuminate most rooms in my house, partly because I wanted it to look like the video for “Dancing in the Moonlight”, and partly because we weren’t great at keeping up with our electricity bill. Now I can recreate that look wherever I want, thanks to this rechargeable, waterproof flexible strip of LED lights that magnetically attaches to any steel surface. A good solution for music festivals, it can be looped in a carry-bag to guide you to the loo, then hooked to your tent to illuminate the camp.


Is your phone made of wood?’ is a patently ludicrous question, yet one I’ve been asked daily since wrapping my iPhone in an “ebony Chevron” cover from Oregon-based company Toast. Their delectable cases are made from real wood veneers, engraved and cut by laser in a range of distinctive designs, and arrive in the post flat-packed. The wood clings on with a powerful adhesive, so there’s no clunky plastic, but it cannot be reapplied once removed—so look elsewhere if you’re the kind to swap covers along with your moods. But I love it.


If you run a small business, you’ll know that standing out on social media can be a struggle. This neat app from Microsoft is here to help: it seamlessly generates mobile postcards, flyers and e-cards from your phone. So montage together three shots of a product, your logo and contact details, and tap to share on Twitter. A great concept, limited only by a small selection of templates.




Fashion & beauty

By G e org i n a yate s

Georgina is a fashion and beauty editor for numerous travel titles and a blogger at

Fountain Of Youth The Beauty Elixir from French cosmetic brand Caudalie (£32, is a part-serum, parttonic spray that can be used to help tighten pores, refresh the skin and reduce signs of fatigue. Released in 1996, it remains one of Caudalie’s staple products and has become a favourite among notable folk. Indeed, Beyoncé’s make-up artist Sir John makes sure he has a bottle in his kit: “It helps me address signs of fatigue quickly, without relying on make-up.” Use the Elixir in the morning before applying make-up to give tired skin an energy boost, spray it over your foundation before applying powder to help set your base, or apply to clean skin before bed and let the Elixir work its magic overnight.

Summer sparkle ■ Seeking a sun-kissed look? Bobbi Brown’s Nude Finish Illuminating Powder (£39, bobbibrown. is sunshine in a box—sweep over cheekbones, jawbone and collarbone for an enviable glow. 122



Night and Day ■ Take your make-up look from day to night with Clinique’s Pretty Easy Palette (£35, The illustrated “how-to guides” tucked inside the palette will help you achieve different looks.


■ A hat or fascinator must be worn inside the enclosures, which warrants a call for a spectacular handmade headpiece (£365, holly

■ Short, sheer and strappy are out of the question, but this 100% silk frock in royal blue is very “Ascot” (£169,

For Him

■ Add a little pizazz to your suit with a few delicate accessories, such as this gorgeous silk pocket square (£45,

■ You’ll be spending the whole day in heels, so wear a pair with a chunky base for better stability and comfort (£90,

■ Black dress shoes are mandatory, so stand out from the crowd in these smart show-stoppers by designer Simon Carter (£175,

■ Top it off with a traditionally made top hat from classic millinery company Christys’ Hats (£215, 06•2016




A complex, compelling page-turner with a sense of history, and a long-trailered debut novel that justifies the hype


James writes and presents the BBC Radio 4 literary quiz The Write Stuff

Black Water

by Louise Doughty (Faber, £12.99) I’ve always enjoyed Louise Doughty’s books —especially 2013’s best-selling Apple Tree Yard, which catapulted her into the literary big time. Even so, I wasn’t quite prepared for how good her new one would be. John Harper is an Indonesian-born Dutchman working for a kind of private espionage company that helps Western businesses abroad. Because of his background, he was sent to Indonesia during the 1965 uprising that many readers won’t know much about, but that cost more than a million lives. In 1998, and in his fifties, he returns to find the country in turmoil once again. The result pulls off the John le Carré trick of combining real moral complexity with page-turning excitement. But that’s just for starters. Doughty’s story-telling is so generous that we also get a touching tale of middle-aged love, some gruesomely well-researched history and, almost in passing, a terrific section set in pre-Civil Rights America that many

NAME THE AUTHOR (Answer on p128) Can you guess the writer from these clues (and, of course, the fewer you need the better)? 1. Her numerous books have been




banned from more libraries than any other author’s. 2. Her characters Dick and Fanny are now renamed Rick and Frannie. 3. When she died, she was Britain’s biggest-selling children’s writer ever.

writers might have considered worthy of an entire novel. Not only that, but Black Water has a sense of place as vivid as Graham Greene’s.


The Girls

by Emma Cline (Chatto & Windus, £12.99) Not many first novels of recent times have caused as much advance fuss as this one. At 25, Emma Cline has already signed a seven-figure publishing deal, with the film rights to The Girls also snapped up. Yet there’s something about the book that’s likely to annoy struggling writers even more: it triumphantly lives up to the hype. As a 14-year-old in California in 1969, the narrator Evie is dazzled by a group of hippy girls she meets in the park. Much to her delight, she’s then invited to their compound, run by the sinister Russell, whose flaky New Age teachings are eventually replaced by more murderous instructions to his female disciples. (So yes, the book has Charles Manson in mind.) Cline does a fine job of conjuring up late-Sixties California. Even so, what really interests her—and us—is that, while their actions are certainly extreme, Russell’s acolytes may not be as unrecognisably weird as we’d like to think. The book suggests that their willingness to sacrifice their identities for male approval is an impulse shared by young women everywhere.

PAPERBACKS ■■Tennison by Lynda La Plante (Simon & Schuster, £7.99). A

Prime Suspect prequel that’s duly being adapted for TV. The young Jane Tennison gets her first police job in the 1970s: a time before computers—or genderawareness training. ■■ Francis: Pope of Good Promise by Jimmy Burns (Constable, £9.99). A balanced

but mainly supportive biography, particularly impressive on Francis’ Argentine background. ■■ Dictator by Robert Harris (Arrow, £7.99). Final volume in

the trilogy about Ancient Rome finds Julius Caesar now in charge. Until the Ides of March, that is… ■■You and Me, Always by Jill Mansell (Headline Review, £7.99). Another warm and funny

romance from one of Britain’s most popular authors. ■■ Call the Midlife by Chris Evans (Weidenfeld & Nicolson, £7.99). The new

Top Gear presenter enters middle age— and seems to like it. Your fifties, he reckons, are far too precious to be wasted on a crisis.






To mark Father’s Day, this month’s book is a son’s affectionate and rather bewildered portrait of a commentating legend

The Thief of Bad Gags BY HIS DEATH IN 2012, Sid Waddell had been a well-loved part of British life for so long that it was easy to overlook the improbability of his success. Now, this hugely entertaining biography of “the voice of darts” by his son reminds us just how extraordinary Sid’s life was. The early sections, for example, winningly plunge us into a now-vanished world of Northern working-class life, as Sid is born in a Northumbrian pit village before winning a scholarship to the local grammar school—neither of which would be possible now. From there, he went to St John’s College, Cambridge (other famous alumni: Lord Palmerston and William Wordsworth) and wondered about becoming an academic. So how did he end up dedicating much of his

We Had Some Laughs: My Dad, the Darts and Me by Dan Waddell is published by Bantam at £16.99. 126



life to what even he called “fat men throwing things at the wall”? The book answers this question with a mix of filial pride and mild bewilderment. Instead of academia, Sid headed into local TV, where he decided to bring working-class sports to a wider audience. Hence Indoor League (producer: S Waddell), in which Fred Trueman introduced games of table football, arm-wrestling and shove ha’penny. Then, in 1977, the BBC asked Sid to try out as a darts commentator. After a fairly orthodox start, he was soon giving full rein to

his enthusiasms, not just for darts but also for references to literature, history and the Bible. Dan proves very good at capturing his experience of being a teenager at the World Championships during darts’ all-drinking, all-smoking pomp. Here’s the first he ever went to in 1985, aged 12, with his friend Glen…


As we were taken in through the entrance, I not only crossed into the world of darts but into the world of men. We walked through a set of double doors into a pungent smog of smoke and ale. Rows and rows of men in a run-down cabaret club, wearing cardigans, chuffing on fags and pipes, trays of drinks both full and empty strewn across the tables, the floor sticky with booze. Eric Bristow was playing Dave Whitcombe in the semi-final... From there we were whisked around the back of the hall, through the beery miasma, to a tiny prefab wooden box. A man in maroon blazer stood at the foot of a small set of portable steps, which led to its door. He held up a huge hairy hand. ‘Sid’s son and his mate,’ said our guide. The maroon giant put his hand down and grinned. My chest swelled fit to burst. Our guide put his hand to his lips, then led us up the stairs. The door flew open and we were bundled in. He was sat facing a monitor, a



“Cliff Lazarenko’s idea of exercise is a firm press on the soda siphon.” “It’s the kind of jousting we used to see when Ivanhoe was stuffing the Normans.” (Of the unusually hunky darts player Steve Beaton): “He’s not Adonis. He’s the Donis.” “These guys look calm, but inside they are as nervous as a vampire who knows there’s a sale at the wooden-stake shop in the morning.” “Eat your heart out Harold Pinter, we’ve got drama with a capital D in Essex.” “Hitting that bull—as good a feeling as Jason and the lads finding the fleece.” “Keith Deller is like Long John Silver—he’s badly in need of another leg.” “Alexander of Macedonia had conquered the known world by the time he was 33. Bristow’s only 26!” (The correct version according to Dan.) “The atmosphere is so tense, if Elvis walked in with a portion of chips, you could hear the vinegar sizzle on them.”





microphone pressed to his mouth. He saw us, put down the mike and gave us a manic two-handed wave. Then he pointed exaggeratedly at two chairs directly behind him. We sat down. He picked up the mike and returned to his performance. On stage Bristow hit double 16 to take the set.

of papers, used envelopes and other scraps on which he’d scribbled his notes and stuffed them in his bag. Then he burst out of the door and we followed. My father walked quicker than any man I’ve ever met, and here, the nervous energy that fuelled his performance still coursing through

‘With all the accuracy of a Kalashnikov rifle,’ my dad screamed. I looked at Glen and we giggled. Until then my dad had been subdued, whispering, restrained. But now he was on his feet shouting. I was halfmortified, half-entranced. He put the mike down, switched it to talkback, and turned to Glen and me. He winked at us both. ‘Good ’ere innit…’ It was, Glen and I agreed. The game ended, my dad gathered the pile AND THE NAME OF THE AUTHOR IS… Enid Blyton. (Banned for her supposedly outdated attitudes, including by a 1970s group called Librarians for Social Change. Rick and Frannie are in The Magic Faraway Tree.)




him, he was out of the traps like a greyhound. Glen and I struggled to keep up. But there was another reason for him to walk so fast. As he made his way around the back of the audience, a few of the fans saw him. ‘Sid!’ ‘Why aye kidda!’ ‘The greatest comeback since Lazarus!’ ‘Jocky on the oche!’ The shouts, his name, lines he’d said in commentary, came thick and fast. A beery, glass-eyed throng was soon trying to envelop him. He did his best to smile and sign a few autographs, while making sure Glen and I didn’t get swallowed by the huddled, befuddled masses. But it took 15 minutes to make a 30-second journey. I couldn’t believe he was this well-liked and appreciated. My dad, famous? It seemed absurd.



Until then my dad had been subdued, whispering, restrained. But now he was on his feet shouting



Kate Humble is a writer and presenter. Her television credits include several years on Springwatch and Autumnwatch. Her new book Friend for Life, exploring the relationship between man and dog, is out now.

Winnie the Pooh BY A A MILNE

My father used to read this to me when I was very young—he used different voices for all the animals. The characterisation was so clever; we all know someone just like each inhabitant of the Hundred Acre Wood: gloomy Eeyore; thick but loyal Pooh; enthusiastic Tigger. A A Milne was masterful in exploring the way they got along together, opening my eyes to how society really works.

Last Chance to See



This book tells of the authors’ adventures as they set out to find the rarest of animals, those on the brink of extinction. Their travels are rather hectic and they share a wonderful humour, which really appealed to FOR MORE, GO TO READERSDIGEST.CO.UK/BOOKS

me. Yet underpinning everything is the realisation that we can’t just sit back and allow species to disappear. I read the book in my teens, when I’d barely travelled. But the idea that we must take responsibility for our fragile planet was a hugely inspiring one to me. I’ve never looked back.

Picture Palace BY PAUL THEROUX

I’ve always loved Theroux’s travel writing, but this novel took my breath away. I picked it out in a second-hand bookshop, read the first paragraph and thought, How does he do that? The words aren’t long or complicated but, from that first paragraph, his writing grabs you by the nose hairs and drags you along. I had an art teacher who told me, “You’re only an artist when you’ve found your own style, not when you’re copying someone else,” and Theroux epitomises this. As told to Caroline Hutton 06•2016



FUn & Games

You Couldn’t Make It Up Win £50 for your true, funny stories! Go to readersdigest. or WHEN MY DAUGHTER





doing a weekly shop and Connor, my six-year-old, spied the beer I put in the trolley. He didn’t look too happy and commented, “Do you realise, Dad, how many sweets I could buy with that money?”  JASON DAVID, He r t f o rd s h i r e I STOPPED IN DESPERATION at a

remote service-station toilet in the early hours of the morning and ran in. It was very basic—and I laughed when I saw on the back of the toilet

Cartoon by Steve JO n es

Rebekah was three, we went into my local town on a Saturday and I treated her to an ice cream. Of course she managed to get it all over her face and I didn’t have anything with which to wipe it off. The local covered market was nearby and leaving her with her dad, I hurried over to a stall selling cheap single rolls of toilet paper for just 50p each. Perfect, I thought. As I handed my money over, the stallholder asked me if I wanted a bag. Without thinking, I said, “No thanks, I want to use it now,” and I started to unwrap the packet. He replied with a cheeky grin. “I don’t think that’s a good idea, love, you might get arrested.” Realising my faux pas, I laughed amid amused shoppers—wishing the ground would swallow me up!  KAYE RICHARDS, b y e m a i l

door, someone had scrawled, “I bet you regret having that curry now!”  JOANNE CAMPBELL, C o u n t r y An t r i m MY MOTHER TOLD ME she’d argued

with my father. Apparently she had reminded him that when they married all those years ago, he’d said he would spend his whole life trying to make her happy. My father had retorted grumpily, “Yes, but I didn’t expect to live this long.”  ANNA HAMMETT, C h e s h i r e THE SUNDAY SCHOOL TEACHer was discussing the Ten Commandments with a group of five- and six-year-olds. After explaining the commandment to honour thy father and thy mother, she asked, “Is there a commandment that teaches us how to treat our brothers and sisters?” Without missing a beat, one little boy (the oldest of a family) answered, “Thou shalt not kill.”  CORRINA WILLIAMS, D e n b i g h s h i r e IT WAS MY SON’s first day at school and his teacher asked him what his mother called him at home. Was it Ben, Benjamin, Benji? Ben, three years old, replied, “She calls me Cheeky Monkey!” AMBER JACOBS, C h e s h i r e “WHAT IS THAT MAN SELLING?”

my granddaughter asked her dad as they walked along a street in London. He duly answered her question, to

Reader’s Digest

which she responded, “Why is he selling bigger shoes?” My son-in-law took a moment or two to make out her response. “No, not bigger shoes,” he laughed. “Big Issue.”WENDY WILLIAMS, B u c ki n g h a m s h i r e WE LIVE IN A SMALL VILLAGE with a tiny part-time library. Yesterday it was open so I went in. I was followed by a pensioner who was well into her 80s. The elderly volunteers who manned the counter obviously knew her and asked how she was. She replied, “Not so good. I ordered a vibrator and it’s coming next week. So I popped into the fire station and asked if they could send a young man round to fit it in and check it works.” I almost dropped my books in shock. As the old lady left, an assistant saw me blushing and said, “Perhaps I’d better explain. Ada is registered deaf, so she needs special alarm that vibrates instead of ringing if there’s smoke in the house. This needs to be installed by the fire brigade. Phew! Thank goodness she cleared that up.  MARITA BERNDT, Nor thumb erl and I TEACH YEAR TWO, and during our English lesson we have a session where we have to find “amazing words”. It changes every week, and last week’s word was “inquire”. One child put his hand up straight away. “I know what it means,” he said. “It’s when you sing in a church!”  LOIS JONES, C l w y d 06•2016



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it pays to increase your

Word Power This month’s quiz is for fans of the BBC series Sherlock, as well as readers of the original mystery tales by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle. Sleuth out the meanings—or follow the trail to the next page for answers. By E m ily Cox & Henry Rath vo n

1. connoisseur n—A: swindler. B: expert. C: paid informant. 2. faculties n—A: intricate details. B: powers. C: sudden insights. 3. infallible adj—A: never wrong.

B: remaining questionable or unsolved. C: carefully balanced. 4. minatory adj—A: unethical. B: with a menacing quality. C: subversive. 5. furtive adj— A: tall and thin B: nervous. C: sneaky.

9. tenacious adj—A: persistent. B: extremely well concealed. C: supremely rational. 10. desultory adj—A: yielding no clues. B: hot and humid. C: having no plan. 11. proficiency n—A: enormous likelihood. B: right-handedness. C: great skill. 12. illustrious adj—A: graphic. B: eminent. C: deceiving.

6. untoward adj—A: illogical.

13. injunction n—A: order. B: shot of medicine or drugs. C: coincidence.

B: very strongly opinionated. C: not favourable.

14. truculent adj—A: cruel

7. facilitate v—A: make easier.

or harsh. B: puzzled. C: of very few words.

B: confront. C: unravel. 15. sardonic adj—A: carelessly 8. incisive adj—A: really urgent.

B: doubtful. C: impressively direct.

dressed. B: angry or threatening. C: mocking. 06•2016



Word Power 

Answers 1. connoisseur—[B] expert. “ ‘Can

9. tenacious—[A] persistent.

you recommend an art connoisseur?’ the detective asked after the robbery at the museum.”

“Though not very personable, Officer Bluntley can be as tenacious as a bulldog.”

2. faculties—[B] powers. “The

10. desultory—[C] having no plan.

prosecution set out to test the full faculties of the defence team.”

“After finding no clues at the crime scene, the police began what felt like a desultory search for evidence.”

3. infallible—[A] never wrong.

“ ‘Our key witness has an infallible memory,’ the lawyer said.”

11. proficiency—[C] great skill.

4. minatory—[B] with a menacing quality. “The thief gave his victim a minatory gaze before leaving her in the alley.”

12. illustrious—[B] eminent. “After

5. furtive—[C] sneaky. “I didn’t for

one second trust the suspect—he has a cruel and furtive look.” 6. untoward—[C] not favourable.

“ ‘Barring untoward circumstances,’ said the judge, ‘we’ll have a decision by the week’s end.’ ” 7. facilitate—[A]

make easier. “The sergeant needed at least one more lead to facilitate the investigation.” 8. incisive—[C]

impressively direct. “ ‘Guilty,’ the juror offered in a most incisive tone.” 134



“I claim no proficiency at lab work— but I am a huge CSI fan!” an illustrious 30-year career, Detective Klein finally decided to step down.” 13. injunction—[A] order. “For

failing to follow the injunction, Thomas was ordered to serve 90 days of community service.”

WORD OF THE DAY* RONYON: term of abuse or contempt used in Macbeth. Alternative suggestions: How I order my boiled egg: a ronyon with soldiers. The name they gave to the biggest onion Ron grew in the West country village vegetable competition. When Ronnie O’Sullivan is on for a 147 break.

14. truculent—[A] cruel or harsh. “The witness was unscathed by the prosecutor’s truculent remarks.” 15. sardonic—[C]

mocking. “ ‘Catch me if you can!’ cried the felon with a sardonic laugh.” Vocabulary Ratings

9 & below: bloodhound 10–12: junior detective 13–15: master sleuth


Win £19 000! Advertisement


One word from the word list below is NOT in the puzzle grid. This missing word is your £19,000 answer!


1 x £19000 27 x 1000 67 x £150






























PLUS: This Puzzle Also Contains The £1500 6 Letter Hidden Mystery

Hurry! Closes Midnight Saturday 18th June Simply call our £19,000 correct answer phone line with your answer and you will be told on the phone if your entry has been accepted. But hurry because we have limited the time for entries - our phone line closes midnight Saturday 18th June!


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Calls cost £3.60 per min and last 1min 30secs. Max call cost £5.40 plus your phone company’s access charge.

As a responder to this promotion, Wynnington Ltd may contact you with similar exciting offers by post and email. You may also receive similar offers from selected third party companies, including premium rate competition promoters, by post. If you do not wish to receive such offers, please opt-out by writing to us at Wynnington Opt Out, PO Box 133, Rye, TN31 9EU, or by calling us on 0808 129 0484 or by emailing us at *At the end of the call you will be given the option to transfer to another phone line and register your answer for the extra £1500 Hidden Mystery Word Competition. If you choose to do so the second call will last 2 minutes and cost £3.60 per minute plus your phone company’s access charge. Maximum call cost £7.20. Maximum call cost to enter both competitions combined is £12.60. The Jackpot Giveaway competition may be promoted via different layouts of print and online media and may include various puzzle challenges. Each correct entrant is allocated a unique number between 1 and 513,131. Prizes available: 1 x £19,000; 27 x Secondary Prizes of £1000; 67 x minor prizes of £150. One winning number will be independently drawn for each available prize and if there is an exact match with an active entry the prize will be awarded. Alternative free postal entry: send your name, address and original completed puzzle sheet to customer services, marking your envelope ‘Jackpot Giveaway’. Approximate odds of winning a cash prize: 1:5401. Draw date: 05/07/2016. The extra £1500 Hidden Mystery Word Competition is run in conjunction with a number of other Wynnington competitions and requires entrants to identify the 6 letter hidden mystery word in any one of these separate Wynnington puzzles. One £1500 winner will be randomly drawn from the pool of correct entries on 03/06/2016. Wynnington are not responsible for errors or circumstances outside their reasonable control and reserve the right to amend competition rules to ensure a fair competition. Should you be a winner, your contact details, testimonial and photograph can be used for publicity purposes without further consent. Actors’ photos may be used to represent genuine winners. Our Registered Office is 23 Shackleton Court, 2 Maritime Quay, London, E14 3QF but all competition related queries should be directed to customer services. © Wynnington Ltd 2016, registered in Great Britain no: 8271507. T/A Jackpot Giveaway. 2072. Wynnington Customer Services, Jackpot Giveaway, PO Box 133, Rye, TN31 9EU or call 01797 309000.



Challenge yourself by solving these puzzles and mind stretchers, then check your answers on page 139. OUT ON THE TILES

Which of the options below is the missing tile? B



Each of the symbols in this diagram represents a door that is closed but unlocked. When you open a door, all the other doors with the same symbol become locked and cannot be passed through. How is it possible to get from one side of the maze to the other?









Robert and his little sister Isabelle are on a see-saw. In the first two pictures, they are balanced because the torque they’re applying to each side (with some help from their five-kilogram cat Moishe) is the same. For our purposes, torque is equal to an object’s weight multiplied by its distance from a pivot point. Assuming that each coloured section of the see-saw has the same length, where should the cat sit in the final picture to balance it?

Connect the dots to make three rectangles of the same shape and size. In doing so, use each dot at least once.


If the numbers below are placed according to a rule, can you fill in the five that are missing?

13 8






52 32 20 12






65 40 25 15 10


26 16 10 39



48 30 18 12 6

15 9















15 19


17 20 22



26 28


12 15 17 19 20 21 24 25 26

 ritten promise to pay (inits) (3) W Gradient (7) Tuft of hair that sticks up (7) Black liquid mineral (3) Addictive number puzzle (6) Flower bunch (5) Related to hearing (5) Burial vault (5) Egyptian wading bird (4)





ACROSS 16 01 Surf, large waves (8) 05 Pre-owned (4) 19 Burst forth from 21 the earth (5) 10 Government by the masses (3,4) 27 11 Apple seeds (4) 13 Galvanising metal (4) 14 Under the weather (3) 29 16 Camping gas (6) 18  Stick of wax for colouring (6) 21  Food soaked in liquid (3) 22  Thug, hooligan (4) 23  After-bath powder (4) 27  Accidently meet (3,4) 28  Chum (5) 29  Obtains (4) 30 Bring an abrupt end to (3,5)





DOWN 01 Swear-word substitute on TV or radio (5) 02 Provide gear to (5) 03 Flying toy on a string (4) 04 Stay (6) 06 In a cheeky manner (7) 07 ____ on, keep thinking about (5) 08 Overshadow, darken (7)


Across: 1 Breakers 5 Used 9 Erupt 10 Mob rule 11 Pips 13 Zinc 14 Ill 16 Butane 18 Crayon 21 Sop 22 Lout 23 Talc 27 Run Into 28 Buddy 29 Gets 30 Cut short

Here’s a chance to test your general knowledge

Down: 1 Bleep 2 Equip 3 Kite 4 Remain 6 Saucily 7 Dwell 8 Obscure 12 IOU 15 Incline 17 Topknot 19 Oil 20 Sudoku 21 Sprig 24 Audio 25 Crypt 26 Ibis




BrainTeasers: Answers

* Entry is open only to residents of the UK, Channel Islands, Isle of Man and Republic of Ireland aged 18 or over. It is not open to employees of Vivat Direct Limited (t/a Reader’s Digest), its subsidiary companies and all other persons associated with the competition.


B. Going from left to right and top to bottom, each tile has one more segment than the preceding one. Therefore, the ninth tile must have nine segments.

£50 PRIZE QUESTION Answer published in the June issue Which of the dice should replace the question mark?



Moishe should sit two lengths away from the pivot on Robert’s side. (Robert weighs 40 kilograms and Isabelle weighs 25.) THE SPECKLED GRID




? D

The first correct answer we pick on May 5 wins £50!* Email



(From top to bottom) 8, 6, 5, 24 and 78. On the rows, each number is the difference between the two numbers to its left. Or, on the columns, the numbers in the second, third, fourth, fifth and sixth cells are equal to the product of the first cell multiplied by four, two, five, three and six, respectively.

D. Each line contains one smiling, one frowning and one straight-mouthed image. Each line contains two images looking forward and one looking right. Each line contains one open-eyed image and two with half-closed eyes. The missing image should be straightmouthed, with half-closed eyes looking forward.

AND THE £50 GOES TO… John Royal, Durham




FUn & Games

Laugh! Win £50 for every reader’s joke we publish! Go to readersdigest. or APPARENTLY one in five people

in the world are Chinese. And there are five people in my family, so it must be one of them. It’s either my mum or my dad. Or my older brother Colin. Or my younger brother Ho-Chan-Chu. But I think it’s Colin. COMEDIAN TOMMY COOPER teacher: “Donald, what’s the

chemical formula for water?” Donald: “H I J K L M N O.” Teacher: “What on earth are you talking about?” Donald: “Yesterday you said it’s H to O.” HEIDI CLARK, Yo r k s h i r e IS GOOGLE MALE OR FEMALE?

Female, because it doesn’t let you finish a sentence before making a suggestion. SEEN ONLINE On a train from london to

Liverpool, an American was braying at the Englishman sitting across from him in the carriage. “The trouble with you English is that you’re too stuffy. You set yourselves apart too much. 140



You think your stiff upper lip puts you above the rest of us. Look at me: I’m me. I have a little Italian in me, a bit of Greek blood, a little Irish and some Spanish blood. What do you say to that?” The Englishman lowered his newspaper and replied, “How very sporting of your mother.”  TRACY DAVIDSON, Wa r w i c k s h i r e GIVE A MAN A FISH and he can eat

for a day. Give him a fishing rod and he can feed himself. Alternatively, don’t poison his fishing waters, abduct his great-grandparents into slavery, then turn up 400 years later on your gap year talking a lot of s**te about fish. COMEDIAN FRANKIE BOYLE I’M IN A GREAT MOOD tonight

because I entered a competition and I won a year’s supply of Marmite... one jar. SEEN ONLINE ACCORDING TO MOST STUDIES,

people’s number-one fear is public speaking. Number two is death.

Death is number two. Does that sound right? This means, to the average person, if you go to a funeral, you’re better off in the casket than doing the eulogy.  COMEDIAN JERRY SEINFELD

Reader’s Digest

SAY CHEESE! Allan Dixon from Ireland has a real knack for cross-species selfies (as seen on


to me with a red rose and said, “Your eyes sparkle like diamonds.” I called over the waiter and said, “I asked for a-ROMATIC duck.”  SEEN AT FACEBOOK.COM WITH STAND-UP IN BRITAIN, what you have to do is bloody swearing. In Germany, we don’t have to swear. Reason being, things work.  COMEDIAN HENNING WEHN A MAN GOES to a psychiatrist.

“I keep having these alternating, recurring dreams,” he tells him. “First I’m a teepee, then I’m a wigwam, then I’m a teepee, then I’m a wigwam. It’s driving me crazy. What’s wrong with me?” “It’s very simple,” says the doctor. “You’re two tents.”  SEEN ONLINE MY FRIEND keeps telling me I’m in the closet. I just say, “It’s Narnia business.”  COMEDIAN WILL FERRELL WHAT DID THE GREEN GRAPE say to the purple grape? “Breathe!”   SEEN ONLINE 06•2016




A MAN WALKED into a bank


in London and asked for a loan of £4,000. “Well, before we lend you the money we’re going to need some kind of security,” said the cashier. “No problem,” the man responded. “Here are the keys to my car. You’ll see it—it’s a black Porsche parked at the back of the car park.” Three weeks later, he returned to pay off his loan. While he was paying up, along with the interest of £11, the manager came over. “Sir,” he said, “after you left, we looked into you and discovered you’re a millionaire. If you don’t mind me asking, why would you need to borrow £4,000?” “Well,” the man replied. “It’s quite simple. Where else can I park my car for three weeks in London for £11?”  SEEN ONLINE

but each has a terrible secret. They each decide to confess to the other: he has smelly feet and she has revoltingly bad breath. As they retire to bed on their honeymoon night, he throws his socks into the bath. She sprays her mouth with a breath freshener. Once they are snuggled up he says, “Darling, there’s something you must know—I have smelly feet.” The wife sits up and says, “I have a confession as well.” “I think I know what it is,” says the husband. “You’ve eaten my socks, haven’t you?” JOSEPH STOKOE, D u r h a m WHAT DO YOU CALL a sleepwalking nun? A roamin’ Catholic. 


THAT REALLY HAPPENED Modern woman @alanalevinson uses 140 characters on Twitter to share her observations on the trials and tribulations of life today. Predictably— yet gloriously—they’re frequently funny: Dad: “Apparently it’s been around for years, but we just discovered this site YouTube. You can learn how to get a stain out of the couch!” There is no humiliation like watching the art department photoshop your online dating profile A little-discussed reality of working with a lot of men is trying to keep up with them when we go out drinking and failing miserably i’ve always wanted to dramatically rip up a cheque. Will this ever happen for me?




Reader’s Digest

Beat the Cartoonist! in the July issue

Think of a witty caption for this cartoon—the three best suggestions, along with the cartoonist’s original, will be posted on our website in midJune. If your entry gets the most votes, you’ll win £100 and a framed copy of the cartoon, with your caption. Submit to or online at by June 17. We’ll announce the winner in our August issue.

April’s Winner A sign of the times, perhaps, but reader Jacqueline Roberts’ caption, “Once upon a time there was a millionaire who paid all his taxes...”, was the runaway winner this month, relegating cartoonist Steve Jones’ effort, “Are you sitting comfortably? Then I’ll begin with the minutes of the last meeting…”, to third place. It’s another triumph over the pros—and to save their blushes, we’ve now removed the scoreboard.

Oh, Come All Ye Unfaithful! How Sanderson Jones, founder of the humanist church Sunday Assembly, is bringing worship to the godless.

Plus • Best of British: Camping • Summer Photo Competition • The Future of the Human Microbiome • Fern Britton: “I Remember”





60-Second Stand-Up We catch up with comedian, poet and public speaker Rob Auton WHAT’S YOUR FAVOURITE OF YOUR OWN JOKES?

People from Yorkshire have a reputation for being tight. I didn’t know I was tight until I had a dream where my friends and I were in the pub and when it came to my round, I woke up. WHAT’S THE BEST PART OF YOUR CURRENT TOUR OR SET?

I say I saw the dolphin version of “Top 100 Things To Do Before You Die” list. Swimming with humans wasn’t on it.

I did a gig at Brighton Fringe that had sold out. I thought, Fantastic—until I realised a teacher had bought half the tickets for his Finnish students. They couldn’t speak any English. WHAT’S YOUR FAVOURITE ONE-LINER?

John Cooper Clark: “I’ll tell you one thing about the hotel I’m staying in: they stole my towels.” WHO’S YOUR COMEDY INSPIRATION?

The main person is Ivor Cutler. He wasn’t a comedian—more of a writer, 144



poet and performer—but he still made people laugh. IF YOU WERE A FLY ON THE WALL, WHO’S WALL WOULD YOU BE ON?

Frank Spencer. Although it’s a wall that might fall down at any minute. IF YOU COULD HAVE A SUPER POWER, WHAT WOULD IT BE?

To be able to eat without ever getting full. I’m a rake and I’ve been trying to put weight on forever. Rob is touring nationwide throughout this year. For details and to book tickets, visit


© steve ullathorne



Edward IV, England’s Forgotten Warrior King

His Life, His People, and His Legacy Dr. Anthony Corbet £24.95 hc | £17.95 sc | £3.49 eb

You Must Be Kidding Dr. Supratic Gupta Dr. Supratic Gupta; Prakash Chandra £10.81 hc | £5.11 sc | £3.49 eb

Learn about the life and legacy of Edward IV, England’s Forgotten Warrior King, whose marriage was claimed invalid, but despite that claim, Henry Tudor (VII) married Edward IV’s daughter, Elizabeth, from whom all English monarchs since have descended.

We all want a better world for our children. Observing the rigid and outdated systems in the educational system, two authors set out to propose a better way. These are their thoughts about creating a system focused on happiness and success.

Another side of thoughts

Crazy Life

Anders Wennerstrom £9.61 hc | £5.40 sc | £3.49 eb £9.99 sc

This is about a relation both before it begins and after it ends. In between that, there is also a counter point of being alone with one ones thinking one ones perception of the realms which are experienced.

Alzheimer’s - Dementia

Find the Best Nursing Home with Sister Ann Ann Marie Gallogly £19.99 hc | £11.95 sc | £2.99 eb Alzheimer’s – Dementia: Find the Best Nursing Home with Sister Ann is a guide on how to recognize good nursing home care for people suffering from dementia. Ann Marie Gallogly writes step-by-step about choosing a facility for your loved one.

Anoop Madan

Crazy Life takes readers through the journey of life and makes them realize the ultimate truth— death. What they get today is the reflection of the past and what they get tomorrow will be a reflection of the present.

From the Window of Gelato Jaideep Singh Chadha £13.10 hc | £6.55 sc | £3.49 eb

From the Window of Gelato reveals stories about people, their cultures, traditions and politics that were gathered from the Gelato Ice Cream and Coffee parlor in Chandigarh, India. These stories will be handed down to future generations for posterity.

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