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The Daily Telegraph Saturday - April 7, 2018

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Saturday 7 April 2018 . telegraph.co.uk
***
I N S I D E TO DAY
Y
FAMILY LIFE
FOOD & DRINK
Wh I learnt when
What
I went back to
primary school
Rialto!
page 16
AGONY UNCLE
E
Russell Norman’s
man’s spring
flavours from
m Venice
page 9
Graham Norton
ton
ve
is here to solve
ms
your problems
GARDENING
Cedric Morris’s
paradise of pollen
and paint
page 30
Saturday
page 18
The great British weekend starts here
And the
bride
wore
trainers:
2018’s
wedding
checklist
INDIA HOBSON
Floral installations, doughnut
walls, mismatched dresses,
hag dos and brass bands...
Claire Cohen explains
what you’ll be seeing a lot of
this summer
***
Saturday 7 April 2018 The Daily Telegraph
COVER STORY
THE DRESS
D
ense, alcohol-soaked
and more than a little
bit fruity, for decades
it has been an
essential component
of any respectable
British wedding –
and I’m not talking
about a blue-blooded groom.
Yet, now it seems that the reign of
the fruitcake is over, at least if you’ve
been paying attention to the
impending nuptials of Prince Harry
and Meghan Markle.
Last month, the very modern Royal
couple announced that their wedding
cake would be a lemon and
elderflower buttercream affair,
whipped up by east London baker
Claire Ptak.
And by the reaction from more
traditional quarters, you would have
been forgiven for thinking that
Californian-born Meghan had
suggested the May 19 ceremony be
held in a London nightclub, rather
than St George’s Chapel, Windsor, on
the Queen’s estate.
As a bride-to-be myself, I gave a
knowing nod when I read about
Harry and Meghan’s decision to leave
fruitcake off the guest list. Because if
there’s one thing that is rapidly
coming to define the 2018 wedding, it
is the overturning of traditions by
brides and grooms determined to do
things their own way.
y of identikit
Gone are the days
receptions, featuring jam ja
jars, bunting
and choreographed
choreog
first d
dances.
Ins
Instead,
co
couples
are
fo
focusing
on
on their
pe
personalities
and adding
as m
as many
individ
individual
touches
as they can muster.
touches as
With my own wedding just months
away (219 days, not that I’m
counting), it all seems a bit daunting.
And I’m not even facing the prospect
of being watched on television by
three billion people.
Hours spent trawling Instagram
and wedding blogs have left me
surprised at the inventiveness that
has transformed what used to be a
relatively formulaic occasion into
something approaching a festival, at
which guests worship at the altar of
the couple’s creativity.
That’s not to say that there aren’t
trends, of course. And more than a
few “unique” elements have,
inevitably, ended up being widely
imitated. So even if you’re planning to
ditch the fruitcake (or forgo a cake
entirely), there are still some
ingredients no discerning couple
should be seen without in 2018…
Within hours of her 1981 wedding,
copies of Princess Diana’s dress
were for sale. Its puffed sleeves and
full skirt set trends for years after.
Similarly, the Duchess of
Cambridge’s Alexander McQueen
gown saw lace and long
sleeves become the bridal
fashion du jour and
replicas are still available
to buy online. Even her
sister’s wedding last year
was influential, says
Hamish Shephard, founder
of wedding planning
website bridebook.co.uk:
“Within 24 hours Pippa
Middleton had set trends,
with spikes in online
searches for her style of
high-necked dress.”
But while traditional
silhouettes are still
popular, many women are
turning away from the
classic white frock. My
searches on popular “real
wedding” websites such
as Love My Dress reveal
more women are choosing
separates – with the idea
that a top and skirt are
probably easier to re-wear.
These modern brides are
leaving their hair loose
and applying bright red
lipstick: maximum impact
for minimum effort.
“Brides are definitely
questioning tradition
more,” says Susie Young of
wedding planners Knot &
Pop. “Pale blues, soft
greys and pinks are on the
rise, with print and
embroidery applications from the
likes of north London’s Hermione
de Paula proving popular.”
Shephard has noticed a surge in
high street wedding dresses: “Asos
and Topshop are catering for the
bride who wants to spend her
budget on something else,” he says
– often designer shoes, with the
popularity of stilettos (usually
Manolos, as worn by Carrie in Sex
and the City) showing no sign of
being toppled – despite many
brides also buying metallic
Converse or Superga trainers to
change into for dancing.
Many brides opt for two dresses,
says Shephard. “They want the long
white one for the ceremony and
wedding breakfast, then something
else to party in. Many are choosing
jumpsuits, which Jenny Packham
has in her new collection [pictured
above]. It’s all about wearing
something white and spectacular,
but without a 20ft train.”
And for the gents? In its 2018
wedding report, Pinterest said the
three-piece tweed suit was the one
to watch, and noted the growing
trend for grooms to go tieless.
Though what Grandma might say
about that remains to be seen…
GETTY IMAGES; PATRICK KERRIGAN-HALL; CLAIRE PENN
2
THE GUEST LIST
Traditionally the most fraught element
of planning any wedding. Whether
you’re having 50 or 250, a line must be
drawn in the sand – and in days gone
by, who made it under the wire was
down to the couple’s parents.
But, says Susie Young, increasing
numbers are now able to pay for all, or
most, of their own big days – the
average age for a British woman to get
married now being 30.8 years old and
32.7 for a man, meaning the parental
grip has loosened.
“Weddings with fewer than 100 are
on the rise, as couples opt for more
intimate celebrations with their
nearest and dearest,” Young says. “This
could be linked to the parental
influence lessening, as many couples
choose to self-fund their wedding,
which therefore means less say from
the parents on the guest
list.”
So if you haven’t seen
Aunt Mildred in a decade, or
your cousin clearly dislikes
your wife-to-be, there’s no
pressure to send them a
manila envelope.
There is nothing so irritating as
thinking you’re being really clever
and original, then realising that 100
other couples have done exactly the
same thing.
That’s exactly how I felt, on
discovering that the “alternative”
hog roast we were planning for our
wedding reception was, in fact, the
height of fashion, with spits popping
up everywhere from Scotland to
Shoreditch.
Thankfully, Young has predicted
the end of feasting for 2018
nuptials. “The sharing style of
dining is losing popularity,” she
says. “If couples still want this, they
would rather it be for one course,
rather than the full meal.”
In fact, adds Shephard, the
wedding breakfast isn’t necessarily
the main event any more – it’s the
late-night snacks that are taking
centre stage: “People are now being
really experimental with food
trucks and mobile bars,” he
explains. “You can get any food you
want from crepe stations to Land
Rovers with pizza ovens in
the back.”
At his own wedding, 18 months
ago? It was midnight cheese on
toasted crumpets – naturally.
If you haven’t seen Aunt
Mildred in years, there’s
no pressure to send her
a manila envelope
the likes of Ruth Tomlinson and
Polly Wales. Prince Harry designed
Meghan’s ring himself with court
jeweller Cleave and Company, after
which online searches for bespoke
rings shot up.
Now wedding rings themselves are
getting in on the act. Global craft
e-commerce site Etsy has identified
“stacking rings” as one of its major
wedding trends for 2018.
“Now some brides are opting to
stack their favourite colour gemstones
or birthstones together for a custom
bridal look. It’s perfect for the
bride-to-be who doesn’t want to be
traditional,” it states.
“A rising trend for wedding rings is
for them to be cast out of an heirloom
piece of jewellery,” adds Shephard.
“While this is actually cost-saving in
itself, as the majority cost of a ring is
THE HEN AND
STAG DOS
We all know the drill: the
groom and his closest 40
pals invade a (usually
foreign) city and do their
best “Britons abroad”
impression, while the bride
and her friends have a girly day out
instead; spa, chocolate-making, wine
tasting and so on. And, if reports are to
be believed, it seems that Harry and
Meghan are following this welltrodden path – with the groom’s party
apparently searching for the perfect
stag do hideaway, and Meghan’s
besties organising a UK-based
“bachelorette”, somewhere like
Soho Farmhouse.
But not all British brides and
grooms are content to turn this into a
battle of the sexes. Increasing
numbers are opting instead for a
“hag” or “sten”, which sees both male
and female friends invited.
This year should see this trend
become more mainstream, as modern
couples throw off what they see as
outdated gendered conventions.
Although if British Vogue is to be
believed, the best way to do an
“alternative” hen do this year is to take
a life drawing class, have afternoon tea
or drink “flirty cocktails” at trendy
London restaurant Kitty Fisher’s.
THE RINGS
Left-field engagement rings – think
coloured stones and rose gold bands
– have been on the up for some time
now, with newly engaged couples
seeking out individual designs from
THE FOOD
***
The Daily Telegraph Saturday 7 April 2018
OUT WITH
THE OLD
Many couples
are ditching
long-held
traditions
THE VENUE
The boho wedding trend, declares
Shephard, is “on its way out”.
Instead, couples want venues that
reflect their personalities. Many opt
for an industrial, masculine feel
with exposed pipework, dark wood
features (my own has a whisky bar).
Neon lighting and signs – reading
“Til Death Do Us Party” or “All You
Need is Love” – are also on trend,
with table plans and place settings
printed on clear acrylic. And the
popularity of fairy and festoon lights
shows no sign of dimming.
Young also points to a fashion for
installations: “Rather than a
guestbook, couples are getting more
immersive – whether it be an
envelope wall with individual cards,
posters to sign (that can then be
placed in the home), or even
wallpaper to write on.”
But Shephard has noticed a swing
in the other direction: “More
classical weddings in English
country houses are on the way back.
Lots of couples have been inspired
by Pippa Middleton’s wedding.”
These are often three-day events, he
adds, with a rehearsal dinner on the
Friday, wedding on the Saturday and
“hungover brunch” on Sunday.
Young agrees: “Exclusive
homestays, such as Dewsall Court in
Hereford, operate on a two or
three-day hire which allows couples
and guests to enjoy a full weekend
of celebrations. Couples love the
idea of this extended celebration for
guests to properly relax, unwind
and enjoy the occasion.”
‘Some
traditions
are lovely
and give
good
structure
to the day,
but it’s
your day,
so have it
your way’
THE SPEECHES
Rumour has it that Meghan Markle, a
self-proclaimed feminist, is planning
to give a speech on the big day. It
really shouldn’t come as a surprise that
a woman in 2018 might want to speak
at her own wedding and it certainly
shouldn’t prove so controversial – but
a recent YouGov poll found that only
16 per cent of those surveyed thought
the bride should.
Despite this, increasing numbers
are breaking with tradition.
“Thankfully more women are taking
to the mic for speeches, bringing a
woman’s voice to the all male line-up,”
says Young.
“Some traditions are lovely
experiences and give good structure
to the day, but you’re in charge; you
can either go with them, ditch them
or give them a twist. It’s your day, so
have it your way.”
Shephard, too, has seen a rise in
speeches from women and a
Bridebook survey found that 47 per
cent of its female members planned to
say something. “A lot more people find
it weird and archaic that only the men
speak,” he says, adding that he’s “very
confident Meghan will. It’s a great
trend to start.”
THE CAKE
Those who think Harry and Meghan’s
elderflower cake is an affront to
tradition should probably look away
now. Because increasingly, couples are
choosing to ditch it entirely – no tiers
please.
Trendy options now include
doughnut walls (think a giant vertical
hoopla, with gourmet glazed rings
from the likes of Crosstown hung on
wooden pegs) and macarons. “Cakes”
made up from cheese wheels and pork
pies are still popular, too. “Many
couples are choosing to have a smaller
cake so they can get a photograph of
THE HONEYMOON
Forget jetting off for two weeks in
the Bahamas – 2018’s newlyweds
want adventure and are prepared to
wait for it. The “mini moon” trend
– where a couple indulge in a
week-long break to unwind
immediately after the big day, and
later take a three-week “official
honeymoon” – is still very much
alive. Lonely Planet has identified its
“must go” honeymoon destinations
for this year, with Switzerland
coming out top and African safaris
second – surely happy news for
Harry and Meghan, who have
revealed that their love blossomed
on a romantic holiday to Botswana.
the raw metal, it also adds
fantastic significance to the
bands themselves.
“My own wedding ring
was cast out of a diamond
ring I inherited from my
grandmother, and whose
stone I proposed to my wife
with.”
popular option – at least,
anecdotally – is for the
couple to stay together the
night before the wedding.
“After all,” as one recently
married friend told me,
“we’d have been far too
tired and sloshed to
consummate the marriage
on the night itself.”
THE BRIDAL
PARTY
As more and more couples
question traditional gender
roles, so the bridal party has
been broken up. “I have had
couples who had usherettes,
bridesmates, and have
challenged preconceived
roles and the divisions of
the sexes. And I’m so
grateful it’s happening,”
says Susie Young.
Others are doing away
with it altogether. Full
disclosure: I am not having
bridesmaids, but instead plan to ask
my closest friends to “get ready” with
me on the morning of the wedding.
Where couples are choosing to have
bridesmaids and ushers, they are
increasingly allowed to wear what
they want and sit where they want at
the wedding breakfast (top tables
being horribly old-fashioned).
So the days of being forced into a
peach satin frock that makes even the
best of us look like a sausage trying to
escape from its casing could finally be
over.
THE ‘FIRST LOOK’
While most still choose to see each
other for the first time as the bride
walks down the aisle, the “first look” is
set to be big for 2018 – when the
couple meet before the ceremony for
some peaceful time together and a
photo opportunity.
“The trend has made its way from
America, and is something that UK
couples are starting to embrace more,”
says Young. “I think it’s a lovely and
very intimate moment, and can help to
alleviate any stress if there is anxiety
over the ceremony and all eyes being
on the couple.”
Shephard adds that it’s a good way
to ensure you look your best in
photographs, as “you won’t have
cried yet. After the ceremony and a
few drinks, there’s a chance you
might not be looking your best.”
He thinks it’s something Harry and
Meghan might well choose to do: “It’s
quite likely and the chances of them
getting any quiet time once the day
has started would be very tricky.
Meghan will probably be terrified and
it would be a good chance to calm
each other down.”
And for those who think the “first
look” takes away some of the wedding
day magic, another increasingly
THE CEREMONY
THE FLOWERS
Over the past few years, you haven’t
been able to move at weddings for
wildflowers – which took over from
antique roses as the bloom du jour.
That trend is set to continue, says
Ellie Jauncey of the Flower
Appreciation Society, although she
has observed “ a shift away from the
country-style, jam jar shoving-in
approach”. This year’s displays will be
“much more considered, because
Instagram has made the expectations
brides have so much higher. Every
flower has to be placed perfectly.”
Couples still want wildflowers, she
adds, but with an emphasis on “more
unusual varieties, like butterfly
ranunculus which are new this year”.
The palette is “more muted: paredback neutrals, caramels and dark
plum”, which should suit Harry and
Meghan, whose flowers are being
curated by society favourite Philippa
Craddock, using foliage from
Windsor Great Park, such as
hornbeam, white roses and foxgloves.
They could also opt for the other
major 2018 wedding floristry trend:
installations. Jauncey is increasingly
asked by clients for trailing greenery
and vines – well, the Instagram crowd
needs something to pose with.
Thought this was the one
area of a wedding day that
remained sacred,
untroubled by trends?
Think again. The 2018
ceremony has already taken
on a very particular look…
behind closed doors.
“People are getting
[legally] married before the
event and then having a
‘ceremony’ in front of
friends that’s more
personal,” explains
Shephard – citing humanist weddings,
led by a celebrant who might be a
member of the family or a friend.
Where couples are choosing to
legally marry in front of their nearest
and dearest, they are still playing
around with tradition. One trend is to
ask the congregation to sing popular
songs instead of hymns – think
everything from Somewhere Over the
Rainbow to Two Become One by the
Spice Girls (who are rumoured to be
performing for Harry and Meghan).
A friend recently had us all belting
out Can You Feel the Love Tonight from
The Lion King – and rarely have I heard
such passionate singing.
Similarly, readings are erring on
the side of modern. Forget Winnie the
Pooh, The Velveteen Rabbit and those
other children’s storybook passages
that have characterised weddings
over the past decade; this year’s
millennial couples are seeking out
readings that capture the “reality of
marriage” – think John Cooper
Clarke’s poem I Wanna Be Yours (“I
wanna be your vacuum cleaner/
breathing in your dust/ I wanna be
your Ford Cortina/ I will never rust”).
And THAT Captain Corelli’s
Mandolin passage that everyone has
used over the past two decades is
also very much out. On wedding
blogs, I’ve come across everything
from the couple’s online dating
profiles to one of Mary Berry’s
recipes being read aloud.
Vows, too, have taken on a
21st-century twist, with couples
making personal promises that speak
to their lives together (example: “I
promise to leave you to go to the loo
in peace”) as well as the standard “for
richer, for poorer”.
“It’s all very British, adding that
sense of humour,” explains Shephard.
“Couples are taking it seriously – but
not too seriously.”
them cutting it as a souvenir,” says
Shephard. “But the days of the huge
fruitcake are probably over.”
Young agrees. “It really has
declined considerably,” she says. “If a
couple are opting for it, it’s normally
just a small tier and a request that’s
come from the parents.”
THE DANCING
Ah, the first dance, that signifier for
guests to swig down the last of the
wedding breakfast wine and throw
some shapes. There’s just one problem:
modern brides and grooms aren’t that
keen on being gawked at, as they sway
awkwardly to a Michael Bublé ballad.
Thus, the 2018 wedding crowd has
largely split into two camps: those who
don’t have a first dance and simply pull
their friends on to the dance floor the
second the music starts, and those
who choose a song so upbeat and
irresistible that their loved ones have
joined in by the time the chorus comes
around (see my friends who plumped
for Sex on Fire by Kings of Leon).
Live bands are still very much in
favour. The majority of couples are
still seeking out the very best covers
band they can afford, though more
imaginative souls might look further
afield. Klezmer music has become
popular, while Hackney Colliery
Band – who bring the brass “big
band” sound up to date, with
versions of modern songs – are a
favourite with discerning types.
3
4
***
Saturday 7 April 2018 The Daily Telegraph
5
***
The Daily Telegraph Saturday 7 April 2018
JOINING
THE CLUB
Pop princess
Kylie Minogue,
who will turn 50
next month
V E RY
BRITISH
P RO B L E M S
Is it just me…
SHANE WATSON
PEOPLE
WATCHING
Kylie looks fab as she approaches 50 – but
here’s what happens in your sixth decade
that the celebrities won’t tell you about…
GETTY IMAGES; MEGA; WIREIMAGE FOR E BY EQUINOX
D
oesn’t Kylie look
amazing at 50 (in a
month)? She’s not
fighting it, she says,
she is “feeling it”
and taking the
lead from her
50-something
girlfriends who “seem to inhabit
themselves more”. Well, she would
say that, wouldn’t she? These are the
kinds of things women turning 50
say, along with “I finally feel
comfortable in my own skin” and
“It’s liberating to no longer care
what other people think”.
That’s fine. But what they’re really
thinking is, “Do not lump me in with
those old losers. I don’t wish to be in
the 50-something club, so now I’m
hell-bent on being a Gofha [Good For
Her Age or maybe even Great For Her
Age] and I’m making it my mission to
claw back the attention that I feel
slipping away, by being the exception:
the fabulous dynamic one who no one
can believe is a day over 40.”
Kylie is talking up 50, which is
very much the modern way. But
honestly, as someone who has been
50, and now knows exactly what it
entails, I think we’d prefer to have
the facts straight up, no sugaring the
pill. Less talk of feeling empowered
and more sisterly advice such as:
brace yourself for some hairdressing
bills like you wouldn’t believe. (Your
hair really disappoints once you turn
50. Those women with hair as thick
and glossy as the day they became
famous… it’s a wig.)
Here are some other things that
happen to everyone in their sixth
decade, which celebrities will not
tell you about.
…
You can’t find your friends in a
crowd. Everyone looks roughly
the same.
Is it OK to…
Be sceptical about Ben Fogle’s
claim that the BBC sacked
him from Countryfile, back
in 2009, because of his
“inaccessible” posh accent?
Sounds entirely plausible.
Anti-posh feeling ebbs and
flows and you just have to go
with it if you are a posho. But
it is worth pointing out that
Jack Whitehall’s rise began
in about 2009, Joanna
“madly darling” Lumley is
always presenting on TV,
Stephen Fry has not been
short of TV jobs over
the past decade and
Monty Don is very
posh, as is Mary
Berry. There are
plenty of poshos on
our TV screens but
maybe some silky,
wet-boy posh
accents grate more
than others?
…
You get oblong limbs. Everything
gets trunky. Maybe not if you are
doing two hours of Pilates a day, but
in all other circs.
… All the things you assumed made
you look cute now make you look
blokey, for example Puffa jackets and
boyfriend jeans.
… Your neck. Very disappointing and
nothing to be done.
… Small earrings disappear on you.
Everything you wear from now on
needs to be beefed up 25 per cent.
… You can’t do anything without
warming up.
… Your digestion is all over the
place. You have to eat dates every
day, or else.
… You can’t wear the high heels that
were fine up until a month ago. You
feel ungainly, and they hurt.
… You become less easy-going: you
don’t want to be fed at 10pm; you
don’t want to drink the £5.99 paint
stripper; you don’t want to sleep
under the stars. You become acutely
bathroom-aware and bed-quality
conscious… green shoots of fussy.
…
You become fresher at parties, and
may or may not be convinced that
everyone fancies you (because you
are a Gofha).
…
You must say goodbye to baby
pink (hello if you are male) and
almost all hats.
… You will take up painting, or
dancing, or singing, or step up the
gardening, or move house just so you
can flex your new creative urges.
… You start to crack down really hard
on your partner who has to get with
the new programme, and ideally
learn a language/retrain as an
architect/change totally.
Best of luck, Kylie.
Rob Temple on the small anxieties
of daily life
WITH THE NEIGHBOURS
1
Being baffled how your neighbour
manages to mow a lawn no larger than a
double bed for nine hours a day.
2
Knowing it’s more likely you’ll canoe to
the Moon than “come next door for
drinks some time!”.
3
Wondering what crime you committed
in a previous life to deserve your parcel
being left with someone on your street.
4
Becoming worryingly obsessed
with how and where everyone is
parking their car.
5
Greeting your neighbour with a cheery
“Oh, hello!” after a night of violently
banging on their wall.
6
Doing an SAS-style flat crawl around
the house after you exit the bathroom
naked only to find that someone’s opened
all the curtains.
7
Trying to find the huge sign saying “CAT
LAVATORY” that’s apparently
somewhere on your front garden.
8
Needing to post a card through your
neighbour’s letterbox, so dressing head
to toe in black and doing it at 4am.
9
Being curious as to how and why the
person with wooden floors who lives
above you has apparently come to own a
basketball-playing hippo.
10
Deciding to have a lie-in on the
morning your neighbour’s diary says
“Get the drill and do a full day’s drilling”.
Rob Temple’s latest book, Very British
Problems Vol 3: Still Awkward, Still
Raining (Sphere) is available from books.
telegraph.co.uk. Follow Rob on Twitter:
@SoVeryBritish
ILLUSTRATION: TOM MCGUINNESS FOR THE TELEGRAPH
Who saw that picture of
Meghan Markle’s father out
and about carrying the book
Images of Britain (A Pictorial
Journey Through History)
and thought,
“That’s a bit Homer
Simpson,” as well as
feeling sorry for Mr
Markle, who was
looking forward to
retiring and now
has the Tudors and
Stuarts for
homework. Also, if
he really feels
duty-bound to swot up on
British culture, wouldn’t he
do better downloading some
basic educational TV? So,
Towie. MiC. Britain’s Got
Talent. Gogglebox. Downton,
of course. Location, Location,
Location (or Cash in the
Attic), Countryfile and Match
of the Day. Wouldn’t that be
more help in the long run?
***
Saturday 7 April 2018 The Daily Telegraph
STYLE
When it comes to shoes,
handbags and
sunglasses, the way
forward is clear,
says Emily Cronin
S
ometimes the same
staples and motifs
appear in catwalk trend
reports season after
season: leopard print,
checks, trench coats,
lace, sheerness. While
we’ve become accustomed to sheer skirts, tops and dresses
layered on models in varying
configurations, designers took the idea
to another level for spring-summer
es.
2018 with a raft of clear accessories.
rio
Helmut Lang, Céline and Emporio
Armani featured clear handbags in
their shows. Karl Lagerfeld reached
ng
“peak clear” at Chanel, waterproofing
s,
his models with transparent raincoats,
bags and boots. Ellery and Simone
Rocha’s perspex-heeled Mary Janes
and ankle boots and Neous’s PVCpanelled mules are beloved by
in-the-know accessories hounds,
while Gucci’s star-spangled sunglasses
make the case for clear frames.
There’s an element of Nineties
nostalgia to all this, but clear
accessories date back further. In the
Fifties and Sixties, designers delighted
in the novelty of clear handbags. Later,
Pierre Cardin and André Courrèges
became obsessed with the futuristic
feel of glossy, man-made fabrics like
PVC, mixing vinyl skirts with clear
plastic headpieces and accessories.
The advantages of see-through
accessories are (sorry) clear. Helen
Mirren has noted the leg-lengthening
effects of plastic platform “stripper”
heels on the red carpet (although
inadvisable from a style perspective,
she’s not wrong). The new clear
handbags make terrific, lightweight
alternatives to leather bags in summer,
and are a safer way to buy into the
sheer trend than by, say, wearing an
organza pencil skirt over high-waisted
pants. The trend is highly Instagrammable, too – see Eva Chen’s back-of-taxi
pics with her Staud bag.
Vintage plastic can discolour and be
brittle, so check older pieces carefully.
If you find a good one, clean with
window spray and store in a soft cloth
bag to avoid dust.
A word of warning: going seethrough gives the world a glimpse
inside your handbag, so curate its
contents with care. Put less
photogenic belongings in opaque
pouches inside a large, clear tote – and
walk out with nothing to hide.
THE BEST
CLEAR
ACCESSORIES
TO WEAR NOW
VINYL
VINY
Y TOTE BAG
£29.99 Zara (zara.com)
£29.99,
TIBI PVC
BELT
£54 Shopbop
£54,
p
(shopbop.com
m)
(shopbop.com)
ISABEL MARANT
N
PERSPE
X DROP
P
PERSPEX
EARRIN
EARRINGS
£180,, matc
matchesfashion.com)
hesfashion
n.com)
n.co
MINI TRANSLUCENT
NSLUCENT
BAG
£29.40, Nordstrom (shop.
nordstrom.com)
MARYAM NASSIR
ZA
ADEH PERSPEX
ZADEH
W
WEDGE
SANDAL
LS
SANDALS
£4
£437,
437, The Modist
437
hemo
em dist.com)
(themodist.com)
CAT-EYE SUNGLASSES
SUNGLA
WITH STARS
STAR
I CAN SEE
CLEARLY
NOW
£645,
645, Gu
Gucci (gucci.com)
D U S T O F F YO U R . . .
Models
backstage at
Chanel’s SS18
ready to wear
show
S E E -T H RO UG H
AC C E S S O R I E S
STAUD
TAU
U D SHIRLEY
S HIR
HIRLEY
HI
LEY CR
CROCCROC-EFFECT
OC
O
C EFF
EFFECT
E
ECT
LEATHER
LEATH
LE
ATHER
ATH
ER AND
AN
VC TOTE £175, netaporter.com
PVC
TRACKING THE TREND
1966
FUTURISTIC AND FUN
French shoe designer
Roger Vivier made a splash
with this pair of orange and
crystal-clear plastic boots
– the low, wearable heel
almost balancing out the
clamminess of knee-high
plastic. An instant mod
classic.
2009
CHANDELIER DRESSING
Prada’s spring-summer
2010 collection will forever
be remembered in fashion
circles as the one that
launched the chandelier
dress – and the chandelier
sandal, a clear Perspex
sandal dangling with
crystal baubles that became
an instant sell-out.
2018
READY FOR APRIL
SHOWERS
For Chanel’s SS18
collection, Karl Lagerfeld
layered his models up in
showerproof accessories.
The clear hats, capelets and
boots made a strong
statement, but the
transparent handbags and
totes were the pieces
everyone wanted to
take home.
GETTY;AFP/GETTY;GAMMA-KEYSTONE VIA GETTY;WIREIMAGE
6
7
***
The Daily Telegraph Saturday 7 April 2018
BODY & MIND
H OW N O T
TO DIE
(YET)
Way, a book he hopes will
teach people how to apply
the ancient principles of the
art in their day-to-day lives.
“Ceramics are fragile,
strong and beautiful all at
once, just like people,” he
says. “Ceramics and life
can break apart into a thousand pieces, but not for
that reason should we stop
living intensely.”
n Japan, kintsugi is the anIt’s all about
cient art of repairing what healing our emohas been broken. Frag- tional wounds and
ments of a dropped ce- rebuilding
our
ramic bowl are scooped up lives, becoming
and put back together; stronger in the
mended using lacquer process. The first
dusted with powdered step to living a
gold that leaves the repair visible. The kintsugi life, Navrevitalised ceramic becomes a symbol arro says, is to not
of fragility, strength and beauty.
be scared of takBut now, kintsugi, which translates ing risks and getas “golden joinery”, is the latest lifestyle ting
damaged.
trend promising to transform our lives. “Do not try to live
Beyond its interior decorating roots, it a pleasant life
can be seen as a metaphor for life, says without suffering,
Tomás Navarro, a psychologist (pic- because if you do
tured right). Having spent 20 years as a you will be resigncounsellor, Navarro was struck by how ing yourself to surviving instead of livmany people talked about feeling “bro- ing intensely,” he says.
ken” after enduring heartbreak, grief
It is unrealistic to expect life will aland trauma.
ways be wonderful. It’s inevitable that,
As a result he was inspired to write even when taking the utmost care,
Kintsugi: Embrace Your Imperfections fragile things, such as our favourite
and Find Happiness – The Japanese mug, will occasionally break. Likewise,
we all suffer illness, tragedy
and the loss of loved ones.
Adversity is a collateral element of living.
…
Don’t concern adapt it little by
want to feel
While Navarro has noyourself with
little to your
better, you need
ticed people have different
being happy,
new situation.
to take action.
abilities to cope with adverinstead focus on
sity, he says “emotional
being strong.
…
Focus on
…
Do not stay
strength can be learned”.
enjoying the
anchored in the
By being prepared for the
…
Come to terms present, because past, stop
inevitable, when challengwith the fact
the future is
reliving what
ing times happen, we can apadversity is part
beyond your
happened.
ply kintsugi. Instead of
of life, so do not
control.
sweeping our problems unavoid, ignore or
…
A scar
der the metaphorical carpet,
reject it.
…
Do not wait
reminds us that
we can put ourselves back
until you hit
we have been
together in a way that em…
Accept that
rock bottom to
strong and
braces the challenges we
your life has
start picking up
overcome
have faced as part of our life’s
changed and
the pieces. If you adversity.
journey, while acknowledg-
A NEW
CHAPTER
Revitalised
ceramics show
fragility and
strength
Boudicca FoxLeonard learns how a
Japanese approach to
repairing imperfections
can help people cope
HOW TO LIVE KINTSUGI
GETTY IMAGES
I
ing that it is our scars that
make us strong and interesting people.
What does this mean in
practical terms? For a client
of Navarro’s who has overcome breast
cancer, kintsugi is wearing a swimsuit
on the beach and being proud of her
mastectomy scars.
“She was afraid of those scars at first.
But I told her to relax. Those imperfections are her story and show how
strong she is,” he says.
However, being too stoical is not
kintsugi. There’s a difference between
repairing and patching up, says Navarro. “Do not underestimate what has
happened, do not trivialise the conse-
quences of adversity.”
If we don’t properly take time to repair and reflect on life’s challenges, we
are at risk of miring ourselves in selfpity and victimisation.
Indeed, according to legend, kintsugi was invented in the 15th century
when shogun Ashikaga Yoshimasa
broke his favourite Chinese tea bowl
and sent it back to China to be repaired.
The bowl was returned, fixed, but held
together by ugly metal staples. The
coarseness of the repair spurred the
Japanese craftsman on to find a more
elegant solution.
For Navarro, art itself is an important tool for helping us to repair. He
recommends writing, building a sandcastle, learning to crochet, doing a collage; anything that occupies the mind.
“When we are immersed in a creative process, we adopt a new perspective that allows us to analyse the pain
that we’ve suffered, and transform it
into something beautiful.”
Kintsugi: Embrace Your
Imperfections and Find Happiness
– The Japanese Way by Tomás
Navarro (Hodder & Stoughton) is
available at books.telegraph.co.uk
for £14.99 plus p&p.
Dr Phil Hammond’s
guide to living longer
YOUNG HEARTS
RUN FREE
Telling kids to exercise now to keep their
hearts ticking years later can sound as
enticing as getting them to save for a
pension. But an Australian study of rats
suggests that early exercise improves not
just the strength and size of the
mammalian heart, but increases the
number of muscle cells in it. What’s more,
these extra cells live on in adult hearts.
Researchers took healthy male rats and
kept some of them sedentary while making
others run on treadmills. The runners were
divided into three groups, each of which
began exercising at a different stage of life
– childhood, adolescence and adulthood.
After a month of daily hour-long workouts
at a moderate pace, the hearts of some
were examined microscopically. Exercise
was then curtailed for the rest of the rats,
which spent the next several months
Rats that ran in childhood
had millions of additional
cardiac-muscle cells
(roughly equivalent to 10 human years)
inactive. Once they reached full adulthood,
their hearts were examined.
Rat runners at all ages had bigger,
stronger hearts than their inactive
counterparts, but those that ran in
childhood had millions of additional
cardiac-muscle cells. And these extra heart
cells found in both young and adolescent
rats remained in their hearts after they
reached adulthood, despite the cessation of
exercise. Whether this applies to humans
remains to be seen, but we know that
y age.
g
exercise is beneficial at any
n’t know is how to get kids
What we don’t
ds
away from iPads
ns
and PlayStations
e
to discover the
joys of getting
breathless
during the
school
holidays.
uld
Perhaps we could
ters
power computers
ls.
with treadmills.
Dr Phil
Hammond is an NHS
doctor, authorr and
ur dates
comedian. Tour
mond.
at drphilhammond.
com
ILLUSTRATION: TOM MCGUINNESS FOR THE TELEGRAPH
Finding the
beautiful in
the broken
8
***
Saturday 7 April 2018 The Daily Telegraph
***
The Daily Telegraph Saturday 7 April 2018
Food & Drink
9
K AT H Y KO R DA L I S
Honeycomb rum
– and other
stories
ories
Page
ge 12
I N F U S E YO U R B O O Z E / B R I N G A B O T T L E / W I N E S O F T H E W E E K
Spaghetti with
onions
This is a store cupboard
staple, a dish you should
be able to make without
going to the shops,
assuming that every larder
has plenty of dried pasta
and that your kitchen, like
mine, is never without
onions. It is probably the
dish made most frequently
by my Venetian
neighbours if they want a
quick, no-fuss lunch, and it
has become a favourite of
mine, too.
SERVES FOUR
INGREDIENTS
6 medium white onions
2 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
200ml chicken stock
400g dried spaghetti
Large knob of butter
Flaky sea salt
Handful of flat parsley
leaves, chopped
100g parmesan, grated
METHOD
… Peel the onions and,
using a very sharp knife,
carefully slice each one to
create complete rings,
around 5mm thick. Heat
the olive oil in a large
frying pan over a low to
medium heat.
… Add the sliced onions and
slowly sauté for 12 to 15
minutes, stirring frequently
to make sure they don’t
burn. They should take on a
glossy, translucent
appearance with a hint of
golden brown here and
there. Add the stock and
cook for 10 more minutes.
If the stock bubbles too
fiercely, reduce the heat.
… Meanwhile, bring a large
pan of salted water to the
boil and cook the spaghetti
according to the packet’s
instructions. When it’s
al dente, drain the pasta and
add it to the frying pan. Mix
well over a gentle heat,
adding the butter, a
generous pinch of salt and
pepper, the parsley and
most of the parmesan. Take
off the heat, incorporate
fully, and serve on warm
plates with the remaining
parmesan scattered on top.
Grilled asparagus,
goat’s curd and
speck bruschetta
The transformative
qualities of direct heat and
flame, well known to fans
of the barbecue, are less
common in the domestic
kitchen. For this reason, I
do like to get my griddle
pan out, not just for the
tang of charring, but also
the beautiful grill lines left
on those ingredients that
are subjected to the
smoking hot, ribbed
cooking surface.
This dish occurred to
me quite unexpectedly
one morning at the fruit
and veg barge on Via
Garibaldi, simply because
the asparagus had been
displayed next to the pea
shoots. The results were
rather lovely. Speck is a
delicious, lightly smoked
prosciutto from Alto
Adige, and you need to ask
for it to be sliced so thinly
that light passes through
it when you hold a slice up
to the window.
SERVES FOUR
INGREDIENTS
8 medium asparagus spears,
woody ends removed
Extra virgin olive oil
Flaky sea salt
4 decent slices of sourdough
bread, 2cm thick
1 clove of garlic, peeled
4 large slices of speck, very
thinly sliced
150g goat’s curd
Handful of pea shoots
JENNY ZARINS
METHOD
… If your asparagus spears
are more than a centimetre
The fabulous O
flavours of a
Venetian spring
Tradition, simplicity and the finest ingredients make for unforgettable
meals, as Polpo’s Russell Norman discovered during a year in Venice
h, how I love spring.
It’s my favourite
season. It’s a time of
rebirth and growth,
both
symbolically
and literally. The deliverance from winter
darkness seems almost miraculous, and when the daffodils, blossoms and bluebells finally
come out, I feel like I can breathe again.
I got the same sense of new life in the
markets of Venice when I was living
there last year writing my latest cookbook. It’s a culinary journey through
the four seasons in one of the world’s
most beautiful cities, and I knew I had
to chart those changes in produce and
dishes in real time by living, shopping
and cooking side-by-side with my
neighbours in the residential district of
Castello. Taking a short walk to the
floating greengrocer in Via Garibaldi
or getting the waterbus to the Rialto
fish market filled me with excitement
and wonder. In the regions of Italy generally (and in Venice in particular)
home cooks really don’t know what’s
CONTINUED ON PAGE 10 J
thick, you must blanch
them first. Bring a large
pan of salted water to the
boil, put the asparagus in,
and cook for two to three
minutes maximum. Drain
and plunge the spears into
cold water for a minute,
then dry and set aside. If
your asparagus are more
slender, you don’t need to
prepare them, other than
removing the woody stalk
ends in both cases.
… Take the griddle pan and
rub the entire cooking
surface with a little olive
oil. Place on a high heat.
Take the asparagus spears
and coat with olive oil,
using your hands. Lay
them on the griddle pan
and crunch over some
flaky sea salt. After a
couple of minutes,
carefully turn them over
using kitchen tongs and do
the same on all sides until
you have nice, defined grill
lines. Cut the spears at an
angle into 3cm-long pieces.
Set aside.
… Rub a little olive oil over
both sides of each slice of
bread and lay them on the
hot griddle. A couple of
minutes each side should
give you nice dark grill
marks on the bread, too.
… Slice the garlic clove in
half and gently rub the cut
edge over one side of each
slice of sourdough.
Carefully lay on the slices
of speck, with a few folds
to create some height.
Crumble over the goat’s
curd. Evenly distribute the
asparagus pieces and
scatter over the pea shoots.
… Finally, add a pinch of
salt and a twist of black
pepper and finish with a
drizzle of olive oil.
10
***
Saturday 7 April 2018 The Daily Telegraph
JENNY ZARINS
FOOD & DRINK
J CONTINUED FROM PAGE 9
Red onion pizza
for dinner until they’ve been to the
market and seen what’s available.
Wherever I am, in Venice, London or
at my home in rural Kent, certain ingredients get my pulse racing in spring.
Asparagus is usually an early riser, appearing in southern England rather
punctually in late March. It’s a vibrant
symbol of life and fertility ( just look at
the shape of those spears!) and such a
thrilling flavour of spring that I eat it
whenever I can, in various guises, all
through the season until late June.
Broad beans and peas will usually make
their Italian debut in April (a month or
two later in the UK) and I can’t get
enough of those either: delicious, verdant pods of subtle sweetness.
Following the seasons is very important to Venetian home cooks. Religious
festivals and feasts fill the calendar, and
the dishes served throughout the year
are so intrinsically tied up with culture
and tradition that it is almost heresy to
veer from that protocol. Additionally,
the guiding principle is always that
simple is best. There is an inverse relationship between the quality of ingredients and how much you need to mess
with them. This was the greatest lesson
I learnt in Venice; the crucial edict in
my 14-month quest to learn to cook like
a 90-year-old Venetian granny.
These recipes are just a few of my favourites from the spring chapter of my
book and they are as easy to prepare
with UK supermarket ingredients as
they are with the romantic luxury of
Italian regional markets. It is their simplicity that makes them Italian, not esoteric imported ingredients. With the
exception of artichokes, revered in all
of Italy but difficult to grow here, everything is available from either the deli
shelf, the farms of Kent, Sussex and
Herefordshire or the fishmongers of
Dorset. The secret to good Italian cooking is good shopping, so buy the best
ingredients you can afford.
MAKES SIX PIZZAS
Recipes from Venice: Four Seasons of
Home Cooking by Russell Norman
(Fig Tree, £26)
INGREDIENTS
For the pizza dough
500g very strong white
bread flour
2 tsp fine salt
7g (1 sachet) easy-bake yeast
Extra virgin olive oil
For the tomato sauce
1 large onion, finely chopped
1 large carrot, finely chopped
1 large celery stalk, finely chopped
1 clove garlic, finely chopped
2 x 400g tins chopped Italian
tomatoes
2 tbsp tomato purée
Small handful of basil leaves, torn
1 bay leaf
Flaky sea salt
To assemble
6 very large handfuls of grated
mozzarella
6 large red onions, peeled and
finely sliced into rings
Flaky sea salt
Extra virgin olive oil
6 small handfuls of grated
parmesan
METHOD
… On a large, clean work
surface, carefully put the
flour into a small mound
and evenly mix in the salt
and the yeast. Make a well
in the middle. Add about a
tablespoon of olive oil and
about 200ml of warm
water from a measuring jug
of 600ml. Evenly bring the
flour in from the walls of
the well and slowly mix
into a firm dough. Add
more warm water, a little at
a time, kneading and
mixing all the while. You
should not need to use all
the remaining 400ml, but
make sure you do not make
the dough too wet.
… When you have a thick,
firm dough with a smooth
consistency, continue to
knead for a further 10 to 12
minutes, pulling back and
pushing forward. If you
prod your dough it should
spring back slightly. Roll it
into a ball, put it into a large
bowl, cover it with oiled
cling film and leave it in a
warm place for about two
to three hours, until it has
doubled in size.
… When you are ready to
make your pizzas, remove
the now large dough ball,
knock it back down to size
on a floured work surface,
divide it into six equal parts
and roll into separate balls
about the size of satsumas.
The dough will keep in the
fridge for up to 12 hours but
remove it half an hour
before you want to use it.
… For the sauce, heat a
good few glugs of olive oil
in a large pan. Sauté the
onion, carrot, celery and
garlic on a medium heat for
10 minutes, until soft and
glossy. Do not brown. Add
the tomatoes and purée and
stir well. Add the basil, bay
leaf and a good pinch of salt
and freshly ground pepper.
… Turn the heat to low,
cover and simmer for
40 minutes, stirring
occasionally. You may need
to add a splash or two of
water if the sauce is too
stiff – you want it to be
loose and shiny. Test the
seasoning and remove the
bay leaf.
…
Flatten and stretch the
one of the dough balls on a
floured surface until it is a
rough disc of around 23cm
or so. Try to resist the
temptation to roll it too
neatly. Leave the edges a bit
thicker. Place it on a lightly
oiled baking sheet. Using
the back of a tablespoon,
spread two tablespoons of
the tomato sauce evenly
over the dough base,
stopping about 1cm from
the edge.
… Preheat the oven as
high as it will go. Scatter
a handful of grated
mozzarella over the pizza
base, add a twist of pepper
and a pinch or two of salt,
and evenly distribute one
of the sliced red onions
over the top. Drizzle with a
little olive oil and place the
baking sheet directly on the
top shelf of the oven,
closing the door quickly.
Bake for around five
minutes, but watch it and
remove when the edges are
starting to darken and the
cheese is bubbling a little.
… Remove the pizza and
scatter over a handful of
parmesan, with a scant
drizzle of olive oil, a pinch
of salt and a twist of black
pepper. Repeat the process
with the other dough balls
and ingredients.
***
The Daily Telegraph Saturday 7 April 2018
Crab and chilli
linguine
The common-or-garden
crabs of the Venetian
lagoon are upstaged every
spring and autumn by the
moeche – miraculous little
moulting crabs whose
shells are soft for a tiny
period of around 19 hours.
But the rest of the time, it’s
the spider crabs and larger
Cromers that sit on the
crushed ice slowly waving
their claws and rotating
their eyestalks. Their meat
is delicious. Once cooked,
they yield smoky, nutty,
reddish-brown flesh from
the body and fluffy, delicate
white meat from the claws.
Your fishmonger, and
most supermarket fish
counters, will sell the meat
already dressed and neatly
packed, which makes this
an easy (yet impressive and
tasty) dish to prepare.
Broccoli and
anchovy crostini
This is inspired by a little
ciccheto that I spotted
behind the counter at a
wine bar near the Scuola
Grande di San Rocco. I’d
never considered broccoli
prepared any other way
than very fresh, briefly
boiled or steamed and
served with lots of salt
(having always associated
soft, pulpy broccoli with
school dinners). But here,
mashed, with salty, tangy
anchovies, it’s a
completely different
story. Perfect with a
pre-prandial Campari
and soda.
SERVES FOUR
A BAR SNACK FOR FOUR
INGREDIENTS
½ French baguette
350g broccoli florets
Flaky sea salt
2 small (28g) tins of anchovies
½ lemon
… Slice the baguette on an
angle to create eight pieces
1cm thick. Lay them on a
baking sheet and toast
lightly under a grill for a few
minutes each side until
golden brown. Set aside.
… Bring a large pan of salted
water to the boil and cook
the broccoli until quite soft
but not too watery and
mushy, about six minutes,
depending on the size of the
florets. Drain, rinse under
cold running water, drain
thoroughly again, then put
in a large mixing bowl.
Crunch over a generous
amount of salt and a twist of
black pepper, then, with a
potato masher, roughly
mash to a thick paste. Leave
to stand for a minute or two.
… Open the tins of anchovies
and separate the fish. There
are normally eight to 10
fillets per 28g tin. Roughly
chop half of them and add to
the broccoli. Mix thoroughly.
… Spoon an equal amount of
the broccoli/anchovy mix
over the eight toast lozenges,
drape an anchovy over each
lengthways, add a twist of
black pepper and a few
drops of lemon juice, and
serve as a bar snack.
INGREDIENTS
Extra virgin olive oil
1 clove of garlic, finely chopped
1 red chilli, deseeded and chopped
Small glass of white wine
150g brown crabmeat
400g linguine
12 cherry tomatoes, halved
150g white crabmeat
Large handful of flat
parsley, chopped
1 lemon
METHOD
… Heat a good glug of olive
oil in a large frying pan over
a medium heat, and gently
sauté the garlic and chilli for
a minute or two. Turn up
the heat and pour in the
white wine. When it starts
to bubble fiercely, remove
from the heat and add the
brown crabmeat. Mix well
into a paste.
… Meanwhile, cook the
linguine according to the
packet’s instructions, minus
two minutes. Retain a
cupful of the cooking water,
then drain the pasta. Add
the linguine to the pan
along with the tomatoes,
return to a medium heat
and mix well, stirring for a
minute or two. Add the
white crabmeat, the parsley
and a good pinch or two of
salt. Stir well, using a little
of the retained cooking
water to loosen the sauce
if necessary.
… Serve on four warmed
plates with a drizzle of
olive oil, a twist of black
pepper and a squeeze
of lemon.
Baby artichoke
risotto
In spring, the stalls in the
fruit and vegetable section
of the Rialto Market are so
laden with the spoils of the
new season that I
sometimes think they
might collapse. The
grocers shout, sing, grab,
weigh, wrap and sell at
such a rate it sometimes
appears that they have
multiple arms.
The vegetable that
upstages all the others is
the artichoke. You will see
the famous purple
artichokes from
Sant’Erasmo, a couple of
miles away in the lagoon,
but there are also similar
varieties from Liguria,
Savona and Tuscany. I
tend to choose the
smallest baby artichokes I
can find.
SERVES FOUR
INGREDIENTS
1.5 litres vegetable stock
Extra virgin olive oil
20 baby artichokes, trimmed of
their stalks and hard outer leaves
1 large white onion,
finely chopped
1 clove of garlic, peeled and very
finely chopped
Palmful of picked thyme leaves
Flaky sea salt
Glass of white wine
350g carnaroli rice
Small handful of basil leaves,
roughly torn
Small handful of flat parsley,
roughly chopped
Large knob of butter
150g parmesan, grated
Freshly ground black pepper
METHOD
… Heat the stock in a large
saucepan and keep it
simmering gently at the
back of the stove.
… In a separate large,
heavy-bottomed pan for
which you have a lid, heat a
few glugs of olive oil and
gently sauté the whole baby
artichokes until they are
starting to brown – about
five minutes. Now add the
chopped onion, garlic and
thyme with a good pinch of
salt, and continue to gently
sauté for a further five
minutes, until the onion is
glossy and translucent but
not browned. You may need
to turn the heat down to
prevent browning. Add the
white wine, carefully
stirring, and when it has
almost all evaporated into
that deliciously aromatic
steam, add a large ladleful
of stock. Cover the pan with
the lid and very gently
simmer for 10 minutes or
so, until the artichokes are
very tender.
… Remove the artichokes
and set them aside, add
the rice to the pan, mix
thoroughly with the onions
and add a ladleful of stock.
When the liquid is almost
all absorbed, add another
ladleful of stock. Continue
doing this, stirring gently,
making sure the mixture
never dries out but is not
waterlogged either, for
about 12 minutes.
… Take four of the loveliestlooking cooked artichokes
and carefully quarter them
lengthways. Roughly chop
the remaining 16. Add the
chopped artichokes to
the risotto for the last
10 minutes or so of the
cooking time, continuing to
stir and adding more stock.
When the rice is almost
done (test a grain between
your teeth – it should have a
slight bite to it), add the
basil, parsley and the knob
of butter. Stir thoroughly
until the butter has melted
and remove from the heat.
Scatter in most of the
parmesan, fold a couple of
times, then cover and rest
for a minute.
… Prepare four warmed
plates and spoon the risotto
carefully into the centre of
each. Evenly distribute the
quartered artichokes and
finish with a twist of black
pepper, the remaining
parmesan and a drizzle
of olive oil.
11
12
***
FOOD & DRINK
Saturday 7 April 2018 The Daily Telegraph
Simple syrup
MAKES 250ML
TAKES 10 MINUTES
INGREDIENTS
250ml boiling water
100g caster sugar
Jazz up a
G&T by
infusing
your booze
METHOD
…
Combine the water and
sugar in a small saucepan
over a medium-high heat
and stir until the sugar
has dissolved.
…
Remove from the heat
and add your choice of
flavourings, or leave plain.
Allow to cool.
…
Strain the syrup through
a fine-mesh sieve into a
sterilised glass jar or bottle,
discarding any flavourings.
…
Seal the jar tightly and
store in the refrigerator for
up to one month.
TIP
…
You can flavour this
syrup with just about
anything, including honey,
ginger, lychee, green
apple, vanilla, or even tea
leaves or bags.
JACQUI MELVILLE
2 cucumbers, thinly sliced
lengthways
1 lime, thinly sliced
1 tbsp coriander seeds
1-3 tbsp simple syrup (see box)
700ml gin
a cool, dark place for
three days, gently shaking
the jar occasionally to
help infuse the flavours.
…
After three days, strain
the gin through a
fine-mesh sieve into a
large jug, and discard the
fruit and seeds. Strain
again through a fine-mesh
sieve lined with a muslin
or a coffee filter.
…
Transfer to one large or
several smaller sterilised
glass bottles.
METHOD
…
Put the cucumber,
lime, coriander seeds
and simple syrup in a
sterilised one-litre glass
jar or bottle and pour over
the gin.
…
Seal the jar and store in
COCKTAIL TIP
…
Muddle some
cucumber and lime in a
highball glass with ice
and 25ml infused gin. Top
with ginger beer for a
refreshing Cucumber and
Ginger Sparkle.
Cucumber lime
and coriander
seed gin
MAKES 700ML
TAKES 3 DAYS TO INFUSE
INGREDIENTS
INGREDIENTS
200g apple, sliced
200g fennel, sliced
200g caster sugar
350ml apple cider vinegar
METHOD
…
Put all the ingredients
in a sterilised one-litre
glass jar or bottle. Seal the
jar tightly and shake
vigorously to combine.
…
Store in the refrigerator
to infuse for three days
before using.
…
Remove the sliced
apple and fennel, and use
within one week.
S
Extracted from Infused
Booze by Kathy Kordalis
(Hardie Grant, £12.99)
Shrubs, also known
as drinking vinegars
(pictured left), are one of
the most refreshing
things you can drink and,
mixed with your infused
booze, they can really
bring a cocktail to life.
Shrubs are a delicately
balanced combination of
vinegar, fruit and sugar.
Added to a glass with
something bubbly, such
as sparkling water, they
make a perfect drink for
the summer. Mixing
them with alcohol is
even better.
MAKES 350ML
TAKES 3 DAYS TO INFUSE
By using seasonal produce, you
can create a range of delicious
flavours, says Kathy Kordalis
upermarket shelves are
filled with flavoured
booze, but a lot of massproduced products are
full of artificial ingredients. By infusing your
own alcohol at home,
you can control the
quality and minimise the additives.
Done well, spirits infused with perfectly ripe, seasonal produce make a
great addition to your liquor cabinet and can add
lovely complexity when
used in cocktails.
When selecting the
“base” spirit, consider
what you want to flavour it
with. Vodka, gin or white
rum work with just about
any flavour. There is no
need to spend a fortune,
just choose something
with a neutral flavour that
you would be happy to
drink. Brown spirits, such
as dark rum and brandy,
are more complex in flavour so you need to be
careful when selecting
your aromatics. Bolder flavourings, such as spices
and nuts, go particularly
well. Source a spirit that is
clean-tasting and uncomplicated. When it comes to
choosing flowers, fruit or
herbs for your infusion,
the best way is to look at
what is in season. The possibilities are endless.
Apple and
fennel shrub
Green apple
ginger and yuzu
vodka
If you can’t find yuzu juice
(from an Asian citrus
fruit), use three parts lime
juice to one part orange.
MAKES 700ML
TAKES 4-5 DAYS TO INFUSE
INGREDIENTS
2 green apples, thinly sliced
2½cm piece ginger, peeled and
thinly sliced
700ml unflavoured vodka
1 tbsp yuzu juice
METHOD
…
Put the sliced apple and
ginger in a sterilised
one-litre glass jar or bottle
and pour over the vodka.
…
Seal the jar tightly and
store in a cool, dark place
for three days. Gently
shake the jar occasionally
to help infuse the flavours.
…
After three days, add the
yuzu juice and leave to
continue infusing. After
one to two days, strain the
vodka through a fine-mesh
sieve into a jug, and discard
the apple and ginger. Strain
again through a fine-mesh
sieve lined with a muslin
or a coffee filter.
…
Transfer to one large or
several smaller sterilised
glass bottles.
COCKTAIL TIPS
…
For an Apple Blossom,
serve 25ml infused vodka
with one to two teaspoons
simple syrup (see box
above), garnished with
fresh apple slices and apple
blossom flowers.
…
For an Apple Sparkle,
mix 350ml infused vodka
with sparkling water, apple
slices and mint sprigs.
INGREDIENTS
1 honeycomb,
cut in half
700ml dark rum
Honeycomb
infused dark rum
Honey is truly the nectar
of the gods. Using the
whole honeycomb to
infuse this rum looks
so beautiful with its
glowing colour, and
also makes a really
impressive gift.
MAKES 700ML
TAKES 3 DAYS TO INFUSE
METHOD
…
Put the honeycomb in
a sterilised one-litre glass
jar or bottle and pour over
the rum.
…
Seal the jar and store in
a cool, dark place for three
days, gently shaking the
jar occasionally to help
infuse the flavours.
…
Transfer to one large or
several smaller sterilised
glass bottles. If you plan to
store the rum for more
than three to four days,
remove the honeycomb.
…
Alternatively, leave the
honeycomb in the bottle
and serve straight out of it
as a showstopper!
COCKTAIL TIPS
…
To make a
Canchánchara, mix 25ml
of infused rum with the
juice of one lime and build
over ice in a rocks glass.
…
For a Pomrum, add
50ml of infused rum to a
cocktail shaker with 100ml
pomegranate juice, 50ml
orange juice and one
teaspoon of honey syrup
(see box above). Top with
ice and shake well, then
strain into a cocktail glass,
with an orange slice.
13
***
The Daily Telegraph Saturday 7 April 2018
Bringing a bottle? Plump for these safe bets
honed their skills to examination level
by treating a glass of wine like a joust,
and it’s an attitude they don’t
necessarily turn off in social
situations. “Hey, I thought we’d blind
the first three but I will tell you that
they’re all burgundies from the same
year,” was the opening gambit of one
Saturday night host whose house I’d
gone to for dinner, in the days before
I’d realised this sort of thing might
happen. I was already three carelessly
drunk glasses in by this stage and the
news that the easiest bits to pick
(grape, New World vs Old World,
country, region) had already gone left
or any rookie wine
me wondering if I would find anything
professional, the bring- to say at all.
your-own-bottle
Of course, before you even get into
invitation is not as
the scenario of being asked for an
benign as it might
on-the-spot opinion in front of a party
appear. That casual
that might include world-class
call-out to come
winemakers, specialist writers, and
around for a “getsommeliers who regularly run
together – we’ll throw some meat on
cellar-aged wines across their palates,
the barbecue and pull a few corks”
first you have to find a bottle to open
sounds like fun, but is about as relaxed in front of, effectively, a panel that
as having a few ATP tennis players
makes the Strictly Come Dancing
around for a knockabout. No one
judges look like a set of nursery
wants to look like they’re trying too
teachers handing out stickers for
hard, but everyone wants to win.
good movement.
The scenario gets more edgy the
The conundrum presents no
greater the number of Masters of
problem for those who once worked in
Wine, or Master Sommeliers, involved the City and spent huge bonuses
in proceedings. These creatures have
stocking up a private cellar before
deciding to
“follow their
heart” into wine
as a second career
THE SOCIETY’S
TH
cuvées, from different
– the wine trade
EXHIBITION NEW
EX
vineyards, as well as a
shelters a fair few
ZE
ZEALAND
cheaper “estate” blend. I
of these. Ditto
CH
CHARDONNAY 2016,
love the white and green
for the generation
New Zealand (14%, The
N
peach and satisfying
above mine, who
W
Wine Society, £14.95)
creaminess, which comes
bought fine wine
with just a gentle skein of
bef
before
it cost
T
Talking of the hard-tostruck match running
qu so
quite
p
please-crowd, Kumeu
through it.
mu
much.
For
R
River on New Zealand’s
tho who
those
WAITROSE DOURO
No
North Island is wellown a very
VALLEY RESERVA
known for the excellence
few
QUINTA DA ROSA 2016,
of its chardonnay and is
precious
Portugal (14%, Waitrose,
the producer behind this
bottles,
£8.99 down from £11.49
superb own-label. Think
that maybe
until April 17)
un
toasted cashews, vivid
we’d quite
lemon curd and sorbet.
like to
A beautiful red, made
open and
KUMEU RIVER
from a blend of port
fr
enjoy
CHARDONNAY
grapes grown on the
g
across an
CODDINGTON 2016,
sslopes of the Douro
evening
New Zealand (13%, Lea
Valley. Think of it as a
(wine geeks
& Sandeman,
deeper, darker, wilder
at dinners take a
£27.95/£25.95)
sort of a claret, and
few measured and
better than you usually
appreciative sips,
The same producer
find in Bordeaux at this
then look around
also makes several
price.
to see what’s next)
If you need to impress a
tough crowd, go blue
chip with bubbles – or
choose a please-all pinot
VICTORIA
MOORE
WINES OF THE WEEK
W
the dilemma of what to take is one that
can occupy you for weeks. I have a
friend who so comprehensively
flipped out under the pressure to
take something both delicious and
interesting/unpredictable that she
turned up to one of these suppers
with a magnum of Pol Roger under
one arm, and a bottle of Buckfast in
the other.
Like her, my standard solution to
the bottle problem is effervescent.
This applies both inside and outside
the wine trade. Go blue chip with the
bubbles, say Nyetimber, Camel Valley,
Hambledon or Gusbourne from
England or Bollinger or Pol Roger
from France, and you are always a very
welcome guest. Of course the wine
trade twist would be to take a grower
champagne (where the wine is
produced by the same estate that owns
the vineyards) but then there is the
danger that your choice may carry a
coded message. Larmandier-Bernier is
one I love and fairly safe. Bérêche is
another goody: I would describe its
position as mainstream for wine nerds.
Jacques Selosse on the other hand
says, “tiresome groupie show-off ” to
one set of wine minds, and “serious
There are
certain
wines in
the £15-30
bracket
that
everyone
(or nearly
everyone)
loves
wine aficionado with excellent taste”
to another. Dangerous.
Of course, all the usual social pitfalls
also apply. I was recently invited to a
“bring a bottle you enjoy drinking”
supper and for once had the suspicion
that my hostess might actually mean
precisely what she said.
“Oh no, no, no, no,” said the wine
merchant with whom I shared my
intention to take a really delicious
bottle of dolcetto (and one I would
have bought from him). “At these
dinners, you’re expected to spend
£30-50. Minimum. It’s not a supper,
it’s an event.” But I wasn’t sure. I had a
feeling this one might be more about,
you know, actually talking to people
over a few enjoyable glasses of wine. I
received assurances from several
quarters that this was rarely the case.
On this occasion I ended up taking a
bottle of 2001 Brunello di Montalcino,
bought years ago, and that had sat
around in my flat for too long before
being stashed in a friend’s cellar. I
thought it would either be delicious or
completely shot because I hadn’t
looked after it properly and the
Schrödinger’s Cat-ness of the situation
made it feel not too OTT a choice.
Actually, that metaphor is too apt
because the wine was indeed dead
when the bottle was opened.
What I have learnt though from
these gatherings is that there are
certain wines in the £15-30 bracket
that everyone (or nearly everyone)
loves drinking. In some circles these
might be considered too “obvious” for
a show-and-tell, but the truth is that
everyone is mighty pleased to see
them opened. All of them feel like a
treat, without requiring an overdraft
negotiation.
These include: Dog Point Section 94
(an oaked sauvignon blanc) and Dog
Point Chardonnay from New Zealand;
Kumeu River chardonnays, also from
New Zealand; Kooyong pinot noirs
from the Mornington Peninsula in
Australia; Paringa Estate wines;
Craven Clairette Blanche from South
Africa (it’s great with hard cheese);
Alain Graillot Crozes Hermitage;
Palacio de Fefiñanes Albariño from
Spain (this one’s in Waitrose so easier
to find); and Château Capbern
Gasqueton (also available at Waitrose
Cellar). And honestly, if my tough
crowd likes them, I really hope yours
might too.
ILLUSTRATION: ZOË BARKER FOR THE TELEGRAPH
F
14
***
Saturday 7 April 2018 The Daily Telegraph
DAYS OUT
DAY T R I P P E R
There are gems hidden among the 20th-century
concrete sprawl of this Buckinghamshire town,
so Tom Ough goes on the hunt for stardust
PAUL GROVER FOR THE TELEGRAPH; ALAMY
D
espite being as
visibly rock ’n’ roll as
afternoon tea with
Jacob Rees-Mogg,
Aylesbury recently
became the first
town in the UK to
erect a statue of
David Bowie. Even more recently,
it became the first town in the
UK to have its statue of David
Bowie vandalised.
Bowie’s head was sprayed with
purple paint, and the words “Feed the
Homeless First!” were scrawled on the
pavement in front of him. A diplomatic
“RIP DB” was daubed on the wall to
Bowie’s right, with another “RIP DB”
on the statue’s left. Has someone
checked on David Beckham?
The statue was built mostly because
it was here that Bowie debuted his
Ziggy Stardust alter ego. Thinking
about it, some stardust still wouldn’t
go amiss in Aylesbury, an old
Buckinghamshire market town that
had the bad luck of expanding rapidly
during the 20th century.
This means that its old town, which
is mostly Georgian but in some places
older, takes some finding among the
concrete. Bowie’s statue is just off a
market square whose half-timbered,
nook-filled pub, the King’s Head, is a
short way from the mouth of a dull
shopping centre.
But as Roald Dahl instructed:
“Above all, watch with glittering eyes
the whole world around you because
the greatest secrets are always hidden
in the most unlikely places.” The
quotation is emblazoned on a wall in
Aylesbury
L E T ’ S V I S I T…
AY L E S B U RY
the Roald Dahl Children’s Gallery, an
annexe to the Buckinghamshire
County Museum. Dahl was ostensibly
talking about minpins, a race of tiny
humans who live in trees, but the line
would have worked similarly well if it
had been composed in relation to
Aylesbury’s daytripping scene.
Let’s start with the Roald Dahl place,
which is here because Dahl spent most
of his adulthood in the nearby town of
Great Missenden. Somehow the
gallery’s management have taken a
scientifically educative approach to
Dahl’s best-loved books without
making them any less fun. There’s a
Giant Peach-themed look at insects, an
upside-down sitting room that will be
familiar to all readers of The Twits, and
some very fun and tactile stuff to do
with light and sound. It’s all faithful to
Dahl’s work, although overbearing
parents will be glad to know that the
glass elevator does not, currently, blast
into orbit.
Next door, the County Museum has
stuff about local history and industry
on its ground floor and an Elisabeth
Frink exhibition on its first. Frink, who
died in 1993, was an influential
sculptor of humans, horses and birds.
It’s a trio that feels appropriate in
Aylesbury, a town built on coaching
inns and known historically for its
eponymous duck breed.
Within a six- or sevenmile radius of Aylesbury
there’s Waddesdon Manor,
the fairytale-ish, chateaustyle country house built to
show off the Rothschilds’ art
collection and bequeathed
to the nation in 1957. There’s
Buckinghamshire Railway
Centre, too, and the
Chilterns. From Coombe
Hill’s windy summit you can
see all of Aylesbury and
Don’t ask me, ask our
much more besides. Make
hotel critics, who rated
the climb and perhaps you’ll
Hartwell House and Spa
decide Aylesbury, or at least
– a country house in
Aylesbury and its six- or
90 acres of grounds – a
seven-mile radius, is worth
solid 9/10.
visiting… just for one day.
THE STAY
THE PUB
It can only be the King’s
Head, a restored 15thcentury coaching inn
that has a cobbled
courtyard and a
hearty menu.
THE WALK
It’s not far to the
Chilterns, and Coombe
Hill is a good one to climb.
When you get to the top
you’ll find a large
monument to soldiers
killed in the Second Boer
War. It’s said to be one of
the first British war
monuments to
commemorate victims
rather than victors.
Clash: Aylesbury Market Square combines concrete and cobbles
***
The Daily Telegraph Saturday 7 April 2018
THE MANOR
Waddesdon Manor, a
short drive away, is open
daily. Family ticket to
house and grounds: £55.
NAT I O N O F
SHOPKEEPERS
Celebrating Britain’s unique retailers
WENDY LANGLEY,
TRUEFITT & HILL, LONDON
T
he salon has been here
since 1805, making it
the oldest barbershop
in the world. My first
day was 32 years ago, and I
remember being incredibly
nervous. At that time, it was
quite unusual for women to
work in a salon like this, and I
was one of the youngest
members of staff because I’d
come straight from college.
But the guys that I worked
with were incredibly kind and
caring and looked after me.
It’s been a good job, and
always a very interesting one.
We have a Royal Warrant, and
see a lot of titled people,
people with a lot of money,
politicians, CEOs, but we also
have ordinary people come in
with gift vouchers just to take
in the traditional Truefitt &
Hill experience.
It’s all kept very similar to
how it was done when the
shop was opened all those
years ago. We do a traditional
hot-towel shave with a proper
cut-throat razor, we use
badger-hair shaving brushes,
we do forward washes of
customers’ hair rather than
the more fashionable
backward washes. A couple
of us still use hand clippers
for cleaning up the back of
the neck and the sideburns.
Clients who come in after
1pm can have their shoes
shined, too.
The process takes about half
an hour for each client, which
is longer than at a high-street
barber’s. Especially nowadays,
people come in needing a little
bit of time out from their busy
schedule, and we make sure
there’s a real club feel to the
THE WRITER
THE STATUE
Bowie’s statue, which
depicts the singer
enjoying the apparition
of his various alter egos,
is just off Market Square.
Vandals, be warned: it’s
watched by CCTV.
THE
EXHIBITION
You have until April 21 to
see the Elisabeth Frink
exhibition at the Bucks
County Museum. Entry
is free.
JEFF GILBERT FOR THE TELEGRAPH
Roald Dahl, of course.
Find a child, any child, to
accompany you to the
Children’s Gallery. Go at
the weekend to avoid
clashing with school
trips. Family ticket: £22.
place. There’s no loud music
– no music at all, actually – and
no TVs. We have comfortable
leather chairs, wood-panelled
walls, and portraits and
prints on the walls.
Over time, you get to know
your clients well. We learn
about their lives and about
how they like their hair cut.
Our regulars will often bring
in family members, and I’ve
done grandfathers, fathers,
and now sons. Sometimes you
can tell they’re related by
examining their hair: hairlines
and things like that.
Wendy Langley at work
We’re in quite a lot of
tourist guides, so visitors
often know that we’re in the
Guinness World Records
book. When we had our
200th anniversary, we had a
big party here in the shop,
and we even had a couple of
members of the Royal family
come along to help us
celebrate. We had a plaque
unveiled for the anniversary,
and it’s up in the shop along
with our Royal Warrant.
We are more or less busy
the whole day long, and I
would always suggest to
people that they book an
appointment. Once they’ve
had their first cut here,
clients tend to want to come
back to the same barber. It’s
very much a place people
want to return to.
Interview by Tom Ough
A cut above: the shop’s exterior
71 St James’s Street, London,
SW1A 1PH. 020 7493 2961
15
***
Saturday 7 April 2018 The Daily Telegraph
FEATURES
Teaching
parents a
valuable
life lesson
Sarfraz Manzoor experiences school life at
the Lancashire primary school which has opened
its doors to grown-ups for a new TV series
I
t is a little past nine and inside the main hall of Blackrod Primary School the
students are quietly filing in for morning assembly. The one-form-entry
school, located on the outskirts of Bolton, Lancashire, usually has 245 pupils – but
today that number has increased by
one because I am spending the day as a
Year 6 student.
I am sitting on a wooden bench towards the back of the assembly hall and
wearing the same uniform as the other
pupils – slate grey trousers and a maroon top – the only difference is that
everyone else in my class is 10 or 11, and
I am 46. I am here because of a new
Channel 4 series called Class of Mum
and Dad, set in the school, in which 17
parents of Blackrod pupils have spent
half a term being taught as if they were
Year 6 students. The parents were
filmed over five weeks for the series
and cameras followed them as they
studied maths, English, PE and art –
and for their SAT exams.
“I have been asked for 30 years,
‘What can I do to help my child?’” Ian
Dryburgh, the headmaster of the
school, had told me when I had arrived
that morning. “So I agreed to let the
cameras and parents in, because I
thought it would be a good idea for
people to experience it for themselves.”
Personally, I have not experienced
primary school for a long, long time.
The last time I was in a primary school
classroom Adam Ant was number one
in the charts and ET was in the cinemas, so as I leave the assembly to head
to class I am feeling curious, nervous
and just a little self-conscious.
The parents who took part in Class of
Mum and Dad were taught by Year 6
teacher Mrs Mead and she will also be
my teacher for the day. I am instructed
to join a table towards the back of the
class, alongside four other students. In
two months’ time these children will
be taking SATs and much of today’s lessons are devoted to preparing for these
exams. First up is grammar revision. I
make my living by writing but it has
been
decades
since I studied
grammar and I
have forgotten almost everything I
was taught.
On our desks
are pieces of paper with printed
terms – “I am a
vowel”, “I am a
pronoun” and so
on. There are
other pieces of paper with definitions and our task
is to create a
poster using a
large sheet of paper, on which we
are to stick each
PAUL COOPER
16
term next to its definition, and draw
something that represents them both. I
start off feeling complacent – of course I
know what a noun and an antonym is –
but then I come across a piece of paper
that reads “I am a modal verb” and I am
flummoxed. I genuinely have no idea
what that is and it is a little embarrassing when Violet, one of the children on
my table, has to explain to me that it is a
“bossy verb”.
Everyone on my table has a mini
whiteboard and a marker pen. I grew
up in the era of teachers using chalk
and blackboards so this all feels very
new, as does seeing Mrs Mead tap a few
buttons on her computer, after which a
short animated film plays on the screen
at the front of the class. The film is
about a young girl who goes to a doll
Violet, one
of the
children
on my
table, has
to explain
to me that
a modal
verb is a
‘bossy verb’
shop and ends up turning into a doll.
Mrs Mead wants us to come up with
ideas for what happens next.
Creative writing seems right up my
street so I put my hand up. “What if the
girl has an identical twin that comes to
see where her sister is and ends up rescuing her?” I suggest. There is a murmur in the classroom. “That’s pretty
good,” I hear someone say. Still got it!
In my everyday life as a freelancer, I
get to set my own timetable – when I
want to stop and start work, and when
I want to go for a walk (as an excuse for
not working) – but in the classroom
I have no such freedom.
I am also not allowed to look at my
phone. I am not even meant to have
one in my pocket, but I “forgot” to
hand it in earlier.
***
The Daily Telegraph Saturday 7 April 2018
BACK TO
SCHOOL
Sarfraz Manzoor,
main, with his
classmates; above
dad Mark joined his
sons at the school;
below left, some
of the participants
of Class of Mum
and Dad
I am also, by mid morning, desperate
for a coffee, so am hugely relieved to
hear the bell ring that signals a 15-minute break. I repair to the staff room to
check my emails and guzzle down
some caffeine.
The bell rings again and within minutes Mrs Mead has got us all standing in
a horseshoe shape in the classroom and
is firing mental arithmetic at us. This is
not my idea of fun. We then return to
our desks and have to solve, in pairs,
puzzles involving algebra, long division and other things I have not needed
to think about since the Eighties.
When I was at school, I had quite enjoyed maths so I find the exercise rather
interesting and not too daunting – I am
much more nervous about what is to
come after lunch: PE.
My memories of PE at school are not
good. I was always last to be picked
when choosing sides for football and
during rugby I resorted to falling to my
knees in the mud to disguise the fact
that I had seen almost nothing of the
ball. Those memories are replaying in
my mind as I stand in my T-shirt and
shorts with my classmates.
Thankfully, today’s lesson is indoors.
Ms Parr, the PE teacher, gets us warmed
up by running, jumping and sidestepping across the hall before she hands us
all rackets and shuttlecocks. We are
then put into sides for a few rounds of
competitive badminton. I had been
dreading this moment, but to my huge
surprise I find it very enjoyable – and
the fact that it is competitive makes it
more fun. Whenever a team misses a
I had
forgotten
how much
fun it is to
play sport
in a team.
It’s sad that
I’m missing
this from
my life
shot or fails to get the shuttlecock over
the net they are out of the game. I feel a
jolt of pure euphoria each time I help
my side win a point. I’d forgotten just
how much fun it is to play sport as part
of a team and it makes me feel sad that
this is missing from my everyday life.
Among my classmates in PE is a boy
named Rob. He is autistic and struggles
with his hand eye co-ordination. There
is a point in the lesson when the teams
are evenly balanced and much is riding
on Rob, but the nerves get to him and
he keeps failing to get the shuttlecock
over the net. I find myself watching not
Rob, but our classmates – they are all
encouraging him, telling him he can do
it and not to get too stressed.
Seeing how tolerant and inclusive
these children are takes me back to my
own school days and a boy called Gary
who was in my class and who was later
diagnosed with ADHD. We knew Gary
was different, but rather than being
understanding, the other children
would tease and pick on him. Not everything was better in the past.
The final lesson of the day is art.
Since my visit is in the run-up to Easter,
the children are given the job of drawing and colouring in a picture of the
Easter bunny. In my everyday life I
rarely spend time colouring in, so I was
surprised by how therapeutic and
calming the experience is as I colour in
the rabbit, cut out the outline and glue
it on to a sheet of pink cardboard. I am,
I admit, rather proud of my work and
feel it deserves its place alongside the
pictures produced by the other students – even though they are 35 years
younger than me. They are making
their pictures to take home to their parents, but I have made mine for my
daughter – usually she is the one who
comes home with pictures for me.
The bell rings to signal that the day is
over – the children will return tomorrow, but I’ll return to being a father and
not a child.
One of the things I most enjoy
about fatherhood is that it allows me to
vicariously get a glimpse of what it
is like to be a child. My day with the
Year 6 class has been a deeper version of that. My experience at Blackrod
left me convinced that all parents
of young children would benefit from
being able to spend a day at their
child’s school. The further one is away
from childhood, the greater the temptation to assume things are so much
worse today. As I prepared to reluctantly return to adulthood I felt grateful to have had the chance to witness
the children’s studiousness, humour,
tolerance and sheer niceness. It has
helped replenish my faith in the coming generation. You could say it’s been
an education.
Class of Mum and Dad starts on
Tuesday at 8pm on Channel 4
WHAT THE OTHER GROWN-UPS
THOUGHT OF THE EXPERIMENT
JULIA
LEGAL SECRETARY,
GUARDIAN TO ASHA
“I had been struggling
with my daughter’s
homework, so this was a
brilliant opportunity to see
how teaching methods
have changed and to
experience what Asha was
going through. We drop
our kids off at school and
we really don’t know what
goes on inside the school
building. My school days
were horrendous – I was
very badly bullied from
primary until I left school
so I hated the experience. I
was overweight and I was
made a target and the butt
of all jokes. You think you
leave these things behind,
but you don’t. The
experience has shown me
BILL
RETIRED,
GRANDFATHER TO
JESSICA AND JACK
IAN DRYBURGH
HEADMASTER
“I became head teacher in
1987 and in those days
schools had total
autonomy about how
and what they taught.
Everyone hankers to
what they experienced
themselves, but the idea
that there was once a
golden age is a bit of a
myth. Children in
essence have not changed,
but the world in which
that schools are so much
more nurturing now. I
would much rather be at
school these days, they are
a much more caring
environment – you can feel
the children’s happiness
going into the school.”
“I am 70 and I went to
school in the late Fifties. I
was bullied and I did not
learn a great deal, and if
you misbehaved in class
you saw a blackboard
rubber coming towards
you. It was a bit of an
eye-opener to go back to
school. I had not realised
the depth of the knowledge
these children need to
know – they are 10 years
old and they are doing
maths, English writing
and comprehension that
I thought would have
been done in secondary
school. Taking part in
the series has helped
me understand my
grandchildren so much
better and appreciate the
pressure they are under. I
think it would be a good
idea if more parents could
spend a day in their
children’s class.”
they operate has changed
dramatically. One of the
things that has resulted
from taking part in the
programme is that we are
looking at how other
parents can get a chance
to spend time at the
school. The benefits were
so profound – it was
transformative in terms
of the parents’
understanding of their
children and what they
were experiencing.”
17
18
***
Saturday 7 April 2018 The Daily Telegraph
GARDENING
‘A paradise of
pollen and paint’
With two new exhibitions of Cedric Morris’s work set to open, Christopher Woodward
considers the life of the artist-plantsman and the deeply felt affection for his work
W
hich
garden
would you like
to travel back
in time
to?
Versailles, as the
fountain played
for the Sun King?
Sissinghurst,
dead-heading at dawn beside Vita?
I’d like to go back to a farmhouse in
Hadleigh, Suffolk, where, in the Fifties,
art and gardening came together in a
“paradise of pollen and paint” (as the
writer Ronald Blythe put it). This very
English paradise was Benton End,
where in 1940 the artist-plantsman Cedric Morris and his partner, Lett
Haines, opened the East Anglian School
of Painting and Drawing.
Each summer, 1,000 iris seedlings
flowered, their colours crossed by Morris in the shades of a cubist paint box.
Young students set up easels in the sun;
Elizabeth David sloshed stew in the
kitchen as Haines mixed martinis and
told stories of Twenties Paris, and florist
Constance Spry gathered ornamental
rhubarb for her London shop window.
Morris died in 1982. He had been
half-blind for a decade, Haines was
dead, the school shut, and rare plants
collected over a lifetime of winter
botanising trips towered over long
grass. The Tate said farewell in a retrospective. This month, the Garden Museum opens an exhibition of 35
paintings of gardens and still lifes on
the same day that Philip Mould, the gallerist and art historian, opens Beyond
The Garden Wall, illustrating the journeys Morris made as a plant collector
and a painter, from succulents in Tunisia to black orchids in Portugal.
At the sale of David Bowie’s art collection in 2016, Mould – known as TV’s
art history sleuth – spotted a small oil
by Morris, thought to be of a landscape
near Assisi, thus unearthing a story of
how, as a young artist, Morris travelled
to Rome to exhibit at the Casa d’Arte
Bragaglia, and was involved in a clash
with the black-clad Fascists strutting
through the streets.
Prices have tripled in five years, with
Mould’s acquisitions of May Flowering
Irises No2 and Poppies setting new
records. And, if you want to break the
current record yourself, July Flowers
and Wood Warblers is on sale at a Lon-
A MODEST MAN
Cedric Morris by American
photographer Berenice Abbott
don gallery for £174,800.
There are rumours of
three biographies. Why
the sudden revival?
As a painter, Morris’s
reputation has rested,
happily, in a cheerful culde-sac of contemporary
art; many loans to the exhibition are treasures that
pupils and friends have
hugged close all their
lives. The Morris boom is
unique among 20th-century flower painters (although I’d tip Eliot
Hodgkin next). It’s a consequence of the fashionability of interwar British
art in general (think Eric
Ravilious), and celebrity
collectors such as Bowie
but, at bottom, the integrity of Morris as an artist.
Mould is famous for
sleuthing Van Dycks in
country house corridors
but is also a founder of the
charity Plantlife. He says:
“As an art dealer weened
on Old Masters, and particularly portraits, the last
thing I imagined would
capture my imagination
would be a 20th-century
painter of flowers. But
Morris’s paintings stalked
the weekend side of my
life – a lover of meadows,
wild flora and nature.”
To horticulturalists, a
tipping point was the
Howard Nurseries stand at
RHS Chelsea in 2015, displaying the Morris irises
collected by Sarah Cook. A
former head gardener at
Sissinghurst, one day a
flash of colour had caught
her eye: iris ‘Benton Nigel’
read the label. She discovered Benton End, and Nigel Scott, Morris’s lover.
(Morris and Haines met on
Armistice
Night,
and
stayed together despite
“energetic infidelities” on
each side, explains Andrew Lambirth, curator of
our exhibition.) Cook has
now collected 25 of the 90
irises that Morris bred and
named
after
lovers,
friends, favourite cats
(Baggage and Menace) and
a pet macaw (Benton Rubeo, red, ivory
and purple), as described in Telegraph
Gardening, April 2015. Their addictive
appeal is all about the colours that Morris crossed in his greenhouse: gaudy
and soft pinks and blues, which must
have shone through post-war Britain
like a Hermes scarf in a ration queue.
Morris’s first commercial hit was a
sexy pink registered in 1945 as ‘Edward
of Windsor’; Morris admired the Duke
because in the Thirties he had expressed support for the striking miners
in the Welsh valleys, where the Morris
family had made its industrial fortune;
Morris, heir to the baronetcy, was in
flight from the Establishment. He
never spoke of the past except to
chuckle at stories told by Haines, the
in-house raconteur. Morris had left
home to become a lift boy in New York
or a rancher in Canada, depending on
the audience; in fact, Mould’s research
team found his entry in Cunard’s passenger lists: he was 19, and gave his
profession as farmer. Back in London,
he studied as a baritone, then art in
Paris, and Haines is mentioned in the
party scene in Hemingway’s expat
novel, The Sun Also Rises.
In the book accompanying the exhibition, Lambirth, a historian of 20thcentury
British
figurative
art,
emphasises Morris’s sophistication as
an artist. He combined the forms he
studied with his radical friends in Paris
– such as Léger and Man Ray – with a
‘He liked the sun on his
back, the day’s colours in
his eyes, and the sights
and sounds of now’
COUNTRY HOUSE
Morris’s oil painting Benton
End, 1947; Lett Haines with
students at Benton End
photographed by Elvic Steele
unique primitivism of his own, producing an originality that sold out his first
solo show in London in 1928. It was
Morris who introduced the painter
Christopher Wood to his colour-block
views of Brittany, Lambirth points out;
and did he discover the primitive Alfred Wallis before Wood and Ben Nicholson
famously
passed
the
fisherman’s cottage window?
After a Bright Young Things’ fancy
dress party with “Positively Judgment
Day” as the theme, Morris came to prefer plants, and pets, to people and, in
1929, began The Pound, his first garden, at Higham in Suffolk. This only
survives in the vivid descriptions in
Hortus magazine by his gardening protégé, Tony Venison: a tunnel of trees to
a house in whose plaster walls Haines,
also an artist, set carved heads and
faces; a greenhouse
for cacti and geraniums, and a first
experiment in growing flowers from seeds
pocketed
on
his
travels, such as asphodels from the Atlas
Mountains.
And
dishevelled
parrots
and ducks as pets. (He
also painted still lifes
of dead wild birds as a
prescient attack on
agrochemicals.)
In 1939, he and
Haines set up their
first art school in
Dedham, offering students a chance to live
on site and explore their own styles, a
breezy contrast to the gymnasium
strictness of, for example, the Slade
School of Fine Art under William Coldstream. “The only rule was that there
were no rules,” one pupil remembers.
But a year later, that house burned
down: Lucian Freud admitted to smoking the offending cigarette.
Pupils ferried plants in bicycle
baskets to Benton End, an empty 16thcentury farmhouse seven miles away
on the outskirts of Hadleigh. That tall,
sloping house is most vividly recalled
by writer Ronald Blythe who, at 96, is a
cult figure himself but was then a
young librarian. Through windows of
“glaring Newlyn blue” (now, presumably, a Farrow & Ball colour, but then a
sign of bohemia) simmered a “faintly
***
The Daily Telegraph Saturday 7 April 2018
SEEDS OF
PASSION
Poppies, 1926,
main, The
Orange Chair,
1944, right,
Easter Bouquet,
1934, below
GARDEN SHOP
THREE EVERGREEN EPIMEDIUMS
Chosen by plant hunter Lark Hanham
ris filled a canvas from top left to bottom right with a complex design
without sketch or under-drawing.
To Lambirth, Morris’s uniqueness
as a flower painter is in his empathy
with his subject matter. “His paintings
were so positive and unhesitant,” he
says, because he “grew and bred and
tended his subjects”. Morris wrote:
“Others see prettiness and charm in the
world of plants, I see ruthlessness, lust,
and lack of fear. Perhaps it is modesty
we lack in recent European painting – I
am sure that only a modest man can
paint a flower.”
Morris went on to discuss the artist
“who happened to choose flowers as
one of his subjects, much as he might
any other still life…”. I call that the Marc
Quinn test, after the conceptual artist’s
giant bronze sculptures of flowers.
Skilled and clever, yes, but they might
‘His paintings were so
positive because he
grew and bred and
tended his subjects’
dangerous whiff of garlic and
wine… from distant kitchens… I thought I had never
seen anything like this”.
Beth Chatto, Blythe’s
childhood friend, credits
Morris as inspiring her to begin her garden at Elmsted.
Indeed, it was from Chatto
that I first heard his name,
when she pointed to the
photograph beside her. “My
two favourite men,” she
smiled. Beside her botanist
husband, Andrew, was Morris, tall and elegant in velvet and corduroy, scarf and jacket.
In the very first number of Hortus,
she remembers Benton End not as a designed garden but as compartments to
showcase a jeweller’s counter of rarities, from new irises to old-fashioned
roses and double primroses. And of the
oriental poppy he bred, she said: “Its
floating petals were ashen-pink, with a
central velvet knob deep in a pool of
dark purple-black blotches. We always
called it ‘Cedric’s Pink’ but now it has
become officially known as Papaver
orientale ‘Cedric Morris’.”
Tucked inside a treasured copy of
Richard Morphet’s excellent catalogue
for the Tate exhibition of 1984, I kept a
shot of the one still life that Morris
painted of these dream poppies, a canvas that for years I hoped the Garden
Museum might be able to acquire. No
luck – that holds the current record of
£131,000 – but it will be on loan to the
show, when you can gaze at how Mor-
LEGACY
GAP PHOTOS//MARCUS HARPUR
Cedric Morris,
c. 1930, selfportrait, above;
gardener Sarah
Cook in a bed
of Morris irises
collected
by her, left
be cans of beans, or lobsters, as much
as daisies. Flowers are just another subject. For Morris, by contrast, they are
the mystery of life itself. And he knew
you could never, really, own a flower.
Morris was the only person of the
20th century to achieve national significance in both art and horticulture,
although he refused honours from
both the Royal Academy and the Royal
Horticultural Society. He was a pagan,
according to Blythe, who “liked the sun
on his back and the day’s colours in his
eyes, and the tastes and sights and
sounds of now”. In old age, he lay barechested in the overgrown garden, like a
cat in the sun.
The garden lives on in paintings, and
in plants distributed by the executor
appointed. Snowdrops are in the garden of the artist John Morley, geraniums in the kitchen window of Blythe
and through the year at Chatto’s Elmstead where alliums, euphorbias, and
fritillaries “bring Cedric vividly to life”.
But Benton End’s afterlife is also present in those he taught or inspired. On
that first visit, Chatto was a mother and
housewife overshadowed by her
academic
husband; Morris was
the first person to
take her aspirations
seriously.
There would be
no Elmstead without Benton End.
And Blythe? Morris and Haines
taught him that to
survive he must
live “a little more
carelessly”.
The acclaimed
artist
Maggi
Hambling
was
the daughter of the
Hadleigh
bank
manager when she
was discovered, at
15, by Haines. The
kitchen at Benton
End was cosmopolitan and classless, electric with
laughter and arguments. “And it was
there, for me, that
life began,” she says. Haines taught her
that if you were to be a painter: “‘Your
work must be your best friend. You must
be able to go to it however you’re feeling’ is the most important thing anyone
has ever said to me,” Hambling reflects.
Benton End was no Arcadia. It was so
cold that each winter the house would
be shut up for Morris to go travelling in
the Mediterranean, while Haines
would go to Brown’s hotel off Piccadilly
to, he claimed, “economise”. When the
two quarrelled, they communicated by
leaving notes in the pocket of an old
coat hanging on the kitchen door. The
frontispiece of the exhibition catalogue
is a photograph taken of Morris in Man
Ray’s studio in Twenties Paris. As an
old man, he ripped it in two. Morris
knew that the forms of beauty that he
clustered to himself derived that
beauty from their ephemerality,
whether people, lovers, or flowers.
It’s these complexities that make
Morris the patron saint of artist gardeners. He loved the lazy scattering of
seeds and ferocious weeding; sun,
travel, and food; was chuckling and
moody, suddenly kind then decisively
selfish. Mixing paints in the studio, he
would want to be out in the garden –
when pushing a wheelbarrow the unfinished canvas itched at his back. And
he achieved what we all want: in
Blythe’s words (again): “a coherent,
beautiful oldness”.
As a curator, I have worked on exhibitions of 20, perhaps 30, artists and designers. But never have I come across
an artist as loved as Cedric Morris.
Cedric Morris: Artist Plantsman,
April 18-July 22, Garden Museum,
Lambeth Palace Rd, London SE1 7LB.
For further information call 020
7401 8865; gardenmuseum.org.uk
Come March and
through April,
the alluring, airy
flower sprays of
epimedium (also
known as
barrenwort)
float weightlessly
above the
unobtrusive
ornamental
leaves with
delicacy and
finesse.
Epimediums
are a family of
reliable longlived perennials.
The trick to
success with
them is to mimic
their natural
environment.
The key
considerations
are light levels
and the moisture
content of your
soil. Aim to
create a
woodland floor,
with fertile
humus-rich
soils where
rhizomatous
epimedium roots
can make an
impenetrable
carpet of
heart-shaped
leaves.
Supplement
soil with leaf
mould to feed
plants and
improve
moistureretentiveness and
keep it weedfree. Average
height and
spread 12-16in
(30-40cm).
‘MANDARIN STAR’
This medium-sized Chinese
variety is coveted for its
floriferous nature and
extra-large open flower
panicles that arrive en masse
through April and May. Similar
to ‘Wudang Star’, this variety
can tolerate drier positions. Its
glossy, elongated and spiny
evergreen leaves enticingly
splay beneath extra-long
flower stems. These are tall
enough to ensure the flowers
can be enjoyed uninterrupted.
In autumn, the mottled
foliage darkens from green
to burgundy.
‘BLACK SEA’ NEW
This is so new we struggled to
source it. Although its
parentage isn’t fully known,
epimedium enthusiasts
approve of the plant. It forms
vigorous spreading mounds of
up to 5ft (1.5m) of groundcovering evergreen foliage,
which is studded with a
profusion of upright, wellbranched flower stems that
hold thousands of miniature
starlike, peach-toned flowers.
During the autumn crescendo,
the foliage suddenly
transforms from green into a
stunning and unusual black.
‘PINK ELF’
On 14in-tall (35cm) arching
stems, dainty pink-spurred
blossoms arrive early in the
season among young,
russet-blushed evergreen
leaves. It’s a special
repeat-flowerer that first
appears as usual through
April and May. However, it
unexpectedly re-blooms in
a final flurry of pink later in
the summer, which adds to
its exquisiteness.
HOW TO BUY
Buy one for £9.99 or buy the mix of three for £19.98 (save £9.99), or buy the mix of six for only £34.94 (save £25). P&P at £4.95. Supplied as
9cm pots in 14 days. Order at gardenshop.telegraph.co.uk/Evepi or call 03337720325. Your contract for the supply of goods is with Hayloft Plants
Ltd. Offers subject to availability. Offer closing date is May 7 2018.
19
20
***
Saturday 7 April 2018 The Daily Telegraph
GARDENING
PRETTY
IN PINK
The grandstand
at Royal Ascot, left,
and, below, a
racegoer sporting
some striking
floral-themed
headgear on
Ladies’ Day 2017
The going’s
good for new
spring show
Will this inaugural
garden event at Ascot
racecourse be a winner?
Let’s hope so, says
Ambra Edwards
W
hen I heard last
year that a new
gardening show
was
to
be
launched at Ascot,
I
was
thrilled. Obviously, any new
gardening show is good news for the
hapless plantaholic, particularly one in
April, when the planting season is just
getting under way.
The inaugural Ascot Spring Garden
Show has commissioned six well-established garden designers, some of
whom (Kate Gould and Catherine MacDonald) have already bagged Chelsea
medals; all six will be creating show
gardens. Another six gardens will be
made by Young Designer of the Year
entrants from colleges around the
country. Some 50 specialist nurseries
will be displaying their wares, and visitors also have the opportunity to pick
the brains of John Anderson, keeper of
the Savill Garden, and assistant keeper
Harvey Stephens, on choosing plants
for the spring garden. Suddenly Ascot
becomes an irresistible destination for
horticulture as well as horses.
My very earliest gardening memo-
ries come from
Ascot, so this
news has provoked a flood of
nostalgia, and a
pleasing sense of
life coming full
circle. My father worked at Ascot Racecourse, which in those days offered allotments to its staff in what had once
been the grounds of a very grand
house. Every weekend, I was an unwilling slave, set grumpily to work
thinning carrots or sowing lettuces. (Of
course, I now know it was my mother
who was the author of my misfortunes.
What man would willingly take a sulky
eight-year-old to his place of refuge?)
After a while, I’d skip off and go and
find Bert, our ancient and endlessly patient neighbour, who would let me
scrump his apples and eat his peas from
the pod, and by stealth taught me the
rudiments of veg-growing. Visitors to
y instead get
the Ascot Spring Show may
top tips each day from the redoubtable
Pippa Greenwood. There is no finer
he has not
horticulturist, but alas, she
rs…
Bert’s resplendent whiskers…
ment site
The track to the allotment
orest of
wound through a dense forest
ants of a
rhododendron, the remnants
h blazed
woodland garden, which
urple every
pink and white and purple
spring. Clumps of flowers would appear randomly between the
ghplots and alongside the neighrobouring gallops – lupins, cro-
ROYAL
HISTORY
Ascot is on Crown
land and the Queen
is a regular visitor
cosmias, martagon lilies – echoes of a
once-splendid garden. The area around
Ascot is full of gardening ghosts. Here
were some of the greatest nurseries of
the early 20th century – Sunningdale
Nurser
Nurseries,
Waterers and Russells –
famed especially for their rhododendrons and azaleas, today reduced to
gener garden centres.
general
Th
There
was Tower Court, which
from 1918 became one of the greatest
plan
plantsman’s
gardens in the world,
packe with rarities collected by all
packed
gr
the great
Himalayan planthunters.
When collector J B Stevenson died in
1950, the choicest of his 75,000 rhodod
dodendrons
were snapped up by
Si Eric Savill for the gardens he
Sir
w
was
making in Windsor Great
21
***
The Daily Telegraph Saturday 7 April 2018
DAZZLING
SHADES
Park. In the 18th
century,
Ascot
House boasted the
most fashionable
of grottoes; in
1936, it was at Fort
Belvedere,
his
much-loved garden in Sunningdale, that Edward
VIII signed his abdication.
The royal connections are still
strong at Ascot.
The racecourse,
where the show
takes place, is on
Crown land, and
the Queen is still a
keen racegoer. So
was her mother.
As a child, it was a special treat to be allowed to tiptoe into the Royal Box,
which was planted around with bright
blue mophead hydrangeas. These, my
father assured me, were the Queen
Mother’s favourite. So fat and round
and blue – so like her hats… The flowers
stayed so blue, he said, because every
year they dug in a handful of nails.
(These days you can buy a powder.)
It was the Queen Mother’s father-inlaw, George V, who commissioned Sir
Eric Savill to create the magnificent
Savill Garden and Valley Gardens in
Windsor Great Park, alongside the existing Georgian landscape of Virginia
Water. This, in its time, was the largest
body of man-made water in England,
and you can still walk around the lake
and view the fake Roman ruins, recreated, entirely randomly, from columns
and stones imported from the site of
Leptis Magna, near Tripoli.
The Valley Gardens lie on the northern shore – 250 acres of dramatically
undulating woodland garden, packed
with rare trees and every glorious variety of spring blossom (including the
Tower Court rhododendrons). As a
child, it seemed to me an enchanted
forest. As a teenager, I would wander
melancholically among the groves and
dells and, following my A-level results,
briefly considered casting myself into
the lake. The gardens are open daily,
free of charge, and exploring them can
take all day. The highlight in spring is
the Punch Bowl, which is a natural amphitheatre planted with some 60,000
Kurume azaleas in dazzling shades of
pink, the species chosen from a group
known as the Wilson Fifty in honour of
E H Wilson who brought them from Japan. Elsewhere are more subtle effects,
with narcissi massed among cherries
and magnolias.
If the Valley Gardens are incomparable in spring, the adjoining Savill Garden offers delights
all year. I’ve seen
it in midwinter,
with the grasses
frosted with silver
and the fountains
frozen to icicles;
in autumn, when
the prairie plantings are at their
peak; and in summer, when the
rose garden, with
its
innovative
pairing of roses
with grasses, is
not to be missed.
So there is already much to
tempt
gardenlovers to Ascot.
The new show is
the brainchild of
former
RHS
shows supremo
Stephen Bennett, who not only ran
Chelsea but introduced all the other
major RHS shows during his tenure, so
expectations are high.
The challenge for the designers, says
exhibitor Kate Gould, is to make appealing gardens without the floral fireworks that arrive later in the year.
Rather, says Gould, she will be depending on architectural and evergreen
plants, showing “how inviting and textural a simple green scheme can be”.
My father was in charge of keeping
Ascot’s grandstand in good order, or as
near as he could manage. It was replaced, in 2004-6, with the present
swanky new one. It is in these infinitely
more elegant surroundings that the
new Spring Garden Show takes place.
I do hope the show becomes part of
the social calendar in the manner of
Royal Ascot week, the celebrated annual race meeting that for 200 years
has shown off the very finest in racehorses and millinery. I also hope the
visitors wear hats, and that the hats are
trimmed with flowers. But even if they
don’t, I predict a winner.
The Ascot Spring Garden Show,
April 13-15 (0844 581 6990; ascot.co.
uk/spring-garden-show-friday).
B I G GA R D E N
B I R DWAT C H R E S U LT S
Last year was golden for goldfinches, says Kate Bradbury. Thanks, in part, to
their taste for the sunflower seeds we leave out for them
G
oldfinches seem to be
everywhere at the
moment – in the
garden and
allotment, and the
supermarket car park. They
gather in big gangs, or
“charms”, a sea of bright-red
faces, biscuit-brown bodies
and black wings with yellow
wing bars. I usually hear
them before I see them –
their twittering song is a
watery mix of squeaking
hospital trolley, wheezes and
raspberries. I look up and
find 10 or 15 in a tree, the
whole lot of them singing
together as if having a very
excitable chat.
Their scientific name,
Carduelis carduelis, is a nod
to their favourite food, the
seeds of plants in the thistle
e (Cynareae) tribe,
or carduaeae
de thistles and
which include
knapweeds. In winter, less
ers may spot
tidy gardeners
ng on
them feasting
teasels.
mbers
Their numbers
ly
have steadily
ince
increased since
s,
the Thirties,
when their widespread
d capture
hunting and
came to an end. They
om farmland
migrated from
rbs only fairly
to the suburbs
rtly, it’s thought,
recently, partly,
due to the niger seed and
sunflower hearts we leave
m. Indeed, so at
out for them.
hey now in our
home are they
at they have
gardens that
heir
switched their
feeding
preferencess
– according to a
sh
recent British
rnithology (BTO)
Trust for Ornithology
dwatch Survey,
Garden Birdwatch
they prefer sunflower hearts
d, these days.
to niger seed,
It should come as no
en, to learn that
surprise, then,
ch had a “golden
the goldfinch
year” in the 2018 RSPB Big
dwatch (BGBW).
Garden Birdwatch
ose by 11 per cent
Sightings rose
ures, and it was
on 2017 figures,
re than two-thirds
seen in more
of gardens. Now at number
six in the BGBW Top 20, it’s
one of our most common
garden birds.
“Last summer was a really
good year for many breeding
birds, with warm weather
creating great conditions for
smaller birds to raise their
young to adulthood,” said
Dr Daniel Hayhow,
conservation scientist at the
RSPB. Favourable breeding
conditions in 2017, combined
with a mild autumn and
winter weather in the run-up
to the BGBW (before we were
hit by the Beast from the
East), are thought to have
contributed to their
continued success.
Goldfinches nest in loose
colonies in hedges and trees,
typically in larger gardens.
And they nest late, too, often
with young still present in
August. If you have
goldfinches in your garden
and you suspect they’re
nesting, do be sure to
hold off trimming
your hedge until
you’re sure
they’re no
longer
using it.
Other birds that did well
this year include the longtailed tit, which increased by
16 per cent; the coal tit, which
increased by 15 per cent; and
the blue tit, which increased
by five per cent. Again,
favourable breeding
conditions and mild
temperatures are thought to
have boosted numbers,
although we are yet to see
what became of them after
temperatures plummeted in
late February.
Happily, this year also
proved to be a better year for
the greenfinch, which has
suffered a 60 per cent decline
in sightings since the survey
began in 1979. This is mainly
due to trichomonosis disease
which prevents the birds
from feeding properly. Could
the five per cent increa
increase
in sightings signal bett
better
times ahead?
A dip in sightings of more
th
solitary species like the
t
blackbird reflect only the
mild weather, as these birds
ti
will have spent more time
foraging for food away from
our gardens. However,
numbers of robins and wrens
it
were also down, and it’s
thought this may reflec
reflect an
numbe
overall drop in numbers.
“Unlike tits and finches,
finc
robins and wrens did not
have a good breedi
breeding
season in 2017,” says
Dr Hayhow.
hou
The house
sparrow
rema
remains
at
the top of
th
the
B
BGBW
ran
rankings
as the most commonly seen
garden bird; the starling
starlin held
on to the second spot; and
the ever-present blue tit
t
moved up one place, coming
co
in at number three.
For a full round-up of all the
RSPB Big Garden Birdwatch
Bird
results and to see which
whic
birds were visiting gar
gardens
where you live, visit rspb.
rs
org.uk/birdwatch
GETTY
HEATHCLIFF O’MALLEY FOR THE DAILY TELEGRAPH; APF/GETTY IMAGES; GAP PHOTOS; ALAMY
The Punch Bowl
in the Valley
Gardens, main;
the Long Walk
to Windsor
Castle, and the
Savill Garden
rose garden,
right. Bottom:
the Leptis
Magna ruins at
Virginia Water
***
Saturday 7 April 2018 The Daily Telegraph
GARDENING
The long tail of
the Beast keeps
spring in check
rise and keep your dibbers crossed for
windy weather. It’s amazing how fast a
breeze dries sodden soil – and how
quickly spring blows in.
However, I and many others like me,
were badly caught out by the snow –
with taps left unlagged, the pump still
in the pond and evergreens battered
and splayed – and not once but twice.
Still, it could have been so much worse.
According to Guy Barter, RHS chief
horticultural adviser: “The cold came at
he snow drifts of the a good time as hardy plants like daffoBeast from the East dils soon bounce back and trees, prohad barely melted vided they’re in bud, retain their
when the mini-beast hardiness. Even magnolias and pears,
(aka the “Wrong-un which open early and are notoriously
from Russia”) blew vulnerable, are safe in bud and will hold
icily in on its heels.
for a long time until temperatures rise.”
For my postman
The fluffy quality of the snow also
the snow was a boon: “My garden looks helped, piling on to pots and protectas good as the neighbours!” But for me, ing plants from the icy winds. Peter
living in the usually balmy climes of Gibbs, former BBC weatherman and
south Devon, it came as a surprise. I chairman of Radio 4’s Gardeners’ Queshad taken all the Met Office warnings tion Time, who gardens in Maidenhead,
with a pinch of the stuff they spread on says: “Snow is a good insulator and
the roads. Why wouldn’t I when in the most plants here seemed to have come
past two decades we’ve had more solar through unscathed, although I’ll have
eclipses than inches of snow?
to wait and see whether my MediterraWhile the Beast’s bark turned out to nean fan palm re-sprouts.”
The worst damage was to evergreens
be worse than his bite, he also had a
long tail that cast a gloomy cold shadow too big to protect as the withering
over the Easter holidays and beyond. winds “freeze dried” the leaves and
April always has its showers but on al- robbed them of moisture; my bay trees,
ready cold and wet soil every drop de- for example, have turned black.
lays spring still further.
Normally when I catch up with
The important thing is to
Christine Walkden, her garsave sowing or planting
den on the Hertfordshire/EsSURVIVORS
tender vegetables and
sex border is always colder
Magnolias,
flowers until temperatures
than mine, but this year the
below; right,
natural order has reversed.
Trachycarpus
Walkden says: “I have seen no
wagnerianus; far
damage in the garden as we
right, daffodils
did not have much snow. I
rather consider it a normal
spring. I think we forget that in the past
few years spring has come early.”
This echoes Barter’s observation
that the snow has chilled the soil, putting spring on hold. “It was looking like
being an early season but now it looks
like it’s going to be late,” he says.
The Met Office’s forecast confirms
that there is a greater than usual chance
of cold spells in April. So it might still
be worth lagging those taps.
BARROWS
OF FUN
Gardener Chris
Orton wheels
his way through
drifts of crocus at
Wallington Hall,
Northumberland
It may be cold comfort,
but recent weather
only ruined the bank
holiday, not spring.
By Toby Buckland
T
ALAMY; GAP PHOTOS//RICHARD BLOOM; ALAMY LIVE NEWS; PA
22
COLD CONSEQUENCES
… Very cold temperatures
cause water inside plant
cells to freeze. As the water
expands, cell walls are
damaged and leaves look
bruised and distorted.
When soil freezes, roots
are unable to take up water
and plants die of drought.
… Check plants for life
by gently scraping away
the bark from “Beastravaged” plants. If there’s
green sap underneath
they’re alive, but if
they’re brown the cold
has killed them.
… Don’t rush to dig up
plants that have jettisoned
their leaves. Scorched
evergreens, like bay, will
bounce back by June/July
while tender woody types
such as Salvia ‘Hot Lips’,
Melianthus major and
Tetrapanax papyrifer
‘Rex’ often re-sprout from
the base. When this
happens, cut away frosted
growth to a healthy bud to
prevent further dieback.
… Branches splayed by the
snow won’t regain their
shape without help. Use
soft twine to tie them back
in place or, for larger
shrubs, use bungee cords.
These can be removed in
summer when the
wayward limbs have set
back into position.
… Cordylines, palms,
yuccas and echium
growing in the soil will
recover if their trunks stay
solid and the growing
point intact. Trim any
leaves that are bent or
blackened to make way
for the new. If the stems
become spongy, all but the
echium can, fingers
crossed, re-grow from
the base.
… Keep Mediterranean
plants dry, such as French
lavender, sage and
rosemary, to prevent
fungal infections caused
by the cold spreading to
their centres. If short of
greenhouse space, position
pots in the rain-shadow
of a house wall. When
new growth comes,
water generously.
… If small plants have
caught a cold, trowel
them out of the ground,
pot up and keep in the
greenhouse/cold frame.
They’ll recover more
quickly if out of the
damp soil.
… Early sowings and newly
planted seed potatoes may
blooms will coincide with
flowers of late spring.
… Feed bashed evergreen
hedges with a balanced
fertiliser – one with equal
amounts of nitrogen,
phosphorus and potassium
such as fish, blood and
bone – to boost recovery.
have survived beneath the
protective quilt of powdery
snow… but the cool
weather means they won’t
be much earlier than
replacements planted now.
… Protracted frosts kill
pests but the jury is out as
to whether we’ve had
enough cold to curb their
numbers. Keep an eye on
your daffodils and if you
spot nibbled petals, slugs
have made it through
and vulnerable plants will
need protection.
… A slow start means that
spring, when it does arrive,
will come in an explosion
of colour as delayed early
… A late spring means it
pays to wait before sowing.
Victorian gardeners would
check that conditions were
warm enough by sitting
their bare derrière on their
veg beds. If the earth was
comfortable for a bottom it
would be for a beetroot.
Or – you could wait for the
first flush of annual weeds.
When they appear, seeds
will be fine to sow.
… Celebrate five years of
Toby’s Garden Festival,
April 27-28. Speakers
include Toby Buckland,
Rachel de Thame, Terry
Walton and Jim Buttress.
Advance tickets from
tobygardenfest.co.uk
***
The Daily Telegraph Saturday 7 April 2018
GRASS
ROOTS
Feed your lawn
twice a year to
keep it in good
condition
T WO H O U R S
ON THE
VEG PLOT
HELEN YEMM
THORNY
PROBLEMS
GAP PHOTOS//F
This week: is a moss-free lawn worth the
hassle, a yucca with spotty leaves, how
to prune a rugosa rose for the first time
A SPOTTY YUCCA
My yucca has been attacked by a fungus
and looks beyond help. I plan to replace
it after scrubbing the container and
surrounding area with soapy water,
using fresh compost and gravel. What
else can I do to ensure that the
replacement plant does not go the same
way? My roses got black spot last year. Is
there a connection?
DEREK GREGORY – VIA EMAIL
Your yucca does indeed seem to be
suffering from fungal leaf spot
(brownish spots with black centres
on many of the bladelike leaves, some
of which are clearly dying).
The disease is probably
compounded by winter-wet roots:
Yuccas need immaculate drainage
and, ideally, some winter protection.
All the scrubbing and washing is a
good idea, as is fresh, very freedraining compost (John Innes No 3,
with fine grit added). A preventive
treatment of the new plant with a
systemic fungicide (e.g. FungusClear
Ultra) might be a sensible move.
As for your contagion hunch: there
are a vast number of different fungal
leaf diseases all spread by spores in
the air, and I understand that each is
specific to a plant family. Fungal
diseases attack basically unhappy
plants, however, and roses are fussy:
concentrate on dealing with the black
spot by keeping the plant healthy, by
pruning (branches with purple
streaks are infected – cut back any
that you see), and feeding (Toprose or
equivalent). Fungicide treatment (as
for the yucca), repeated as often as
the instructions allow, is essential.
AN OVERGROWN RUGOSA ROSE
I have a glorious bush rose (label
indecipherable), planted about 10 years
ago but never pruned. It is now about
LETTER OF THE WEEK
MOSS VERSUS LAWN
I would like your advice on
the best way to treat moss in
a largish, south-facing
lawn partially shaded by
trees. For three consecutive
years from 2014, I employed
a specialist lawn
contractor. Last year, I gave
up and just fertilised the
grass myself. The moss is as
bad as ever. What shall I do?
JANET GRAHAM – VIA EMAIL
At the risk of upsetting a
lot of perfect-lawn-ists (and
possibly your good self) I
am going to say “not much”
(apart from perhaps to try
to reduce the shade from
trees if feasible, and keep
the grass in good nick by
continuing to feed it twice
a year, spring and autumn).
You could, of course,
return to the arms of your
contractor, with all his
powerful chemicals and
machines, but you may
still need to cultivate a
seriously blind eye during
the dank winter months.
Along with an
increasing number of
garden lovers who could
be considered a bunch of
lazy imperfectionists, I
view the search for the
holy grail in the form of a
moss-free lawn as a bit of a
waste of time, if not
downright masochism.
All it takes is a change of
attitude: moss is a virtually
indestructible life form
and, in our climate, which
is in so many other ways an
absolute gift for which
British gardeners should
be forever grateful, it will
always show up when
6½ft (2m) tall, but still flowers profusely
on the tips of its branches. If I cut it back
a lot will it no longer flower? Can you
please advise?
DOUG HOWELL – VIA EMAIL
TIP OF THE WEEK
Re-invigorate
long-term potted
hostas by replacing
the top inch of
compost, watering
them with
Maxicrop seaweed
(brown bottle),
and/or top dressing
with Slug Gone
(slow-release
nitrogen feed/
effective snail
barrier). As an
alternative or
additional barrier
use Doff’s copper
sticky tape around
the outside of
each pot.
Looking at your accompanying
picture, I observed crinkly, coarse
leaves on numerous finely prickled
stems: your rose is clearly a rugosa of
some sort. Rugosas are a mixed
bunch but all are remarkably disease
resistant, with highly scented flowers
and, in most cases, very decorative
hips. Some rugosas are grafted on to
vigorous wild rootstock (from which
alien-looking suckers occasionally
appear that should be ripped off, not
snipped off, at source). Others are
naturally suckering and form a
thicket of stems that together form a
usefully impenetrable flowering
hedge. Your rose appears to be one of
conditions allow, ie
every autumn/winter, on
damp and shady lawns,
particularly those on
acid soil.
Moss is beautifully green
during otherwise dismal
months when grass may be
barely there. Then, as
clocks change, the lawn
grass starts to perk up. And
just as the moss dies back
(so that we hardly notice it
anyway), along come all the
flowers to distract the eye.
Nature at its kindest and
most brilliant.
the former, and has not produced
wild suckers, for which be thankful.
All rugosas can be pruned quite
hard if needs be – down to about half
their existing height – and any dead
wood and skinny lower growth
should be pruned out too. And don’t
worry, the remaining stout stems will
produce a succession of flowers
(perhaps a little later than usual) on
the tips of whatever grows in the
coming season.
SEND YOUR QUESTIONS
Write: Gardening, The Daily Telegraph,
111 Buckingham Palace Road,
London SW1W 0DT
Tweet: @TeleGardening
Email: helen.yemm@telegraph.co.uk
For more tips and advice from Helen Yemm,
visit telegraph.co.uk/authors/helen-yemm
Helen Yemm can answer questions only
through this column.
ALAMY
Grow your own carrots for a sweeter
meal deal. By Jack Wallington
Lumps and bumps: home-grown tastes better
I don’t know what supermarkets do to
carrots, but I suspect they marinade them
in washing-up liquid. In contrast, homegrown carrots taste incredibly sweet.
Start sowing this weekend, ½in (1cm)
deep in rows 1ft (30cm) apart, spacing seeds
every 2in (5cm). I sow sparingly to avoid the
bother of thinning and to prevent carrot fly,
which I’ll come on to. For constant carrots, I
find that three short 4ft (1.2m) rows with a
different variety in each, repeated every few
weeks, is right for a small
family. Carrots do grow in pots
but you’ll never have enough.
With hundreds of varieties,
the carrot pages of seed
catalogues are daunting and,
at the same time, dull. No
wonder we find purple carrots
appealing – they’re a life raft
in a sea of orange. Speaking of
which, I grow ‘Purple Sun F1’
(right) for solid colour and
almost beetrooty sweetness.
Never boil purple carrots unless blue water
and grey veg appeals; instead, steam or
roast to hold colour. Orange carrots I love
are ‘Adelaide F1’ and ‘Resistafly F1’ (mrfothergills.co.uk). Despite the off-putting
name, the latter is my favourite. I’m also
trialling rainbow carrots ‘Sweet Imperator
Mix F1’ (thompson-morgan.com) this year.
On my allotment, we haven’t had carrot
fly, but I’m paranoid about it. Damaged
foliage releases the smell and attracts the
fly. I grow mint nearby and rustle it when
digging out carrots, to confuse the fly.
While people say to remove stones for
perfect roots, I say no. My allotment is on a
gravel bed making it easier to remove the
soil than stones. My carrots grow in all sorts
of weird shapes, which I love and swear
taste better. Grow your own knobbly
wobbly carrots to see what you think.
Find Jack’s Garden Blog of the Year at
jackwallington.com. Follow on Twitter
@jackwallington, and Instagram @jackjjw
23
***
Saturday 7 April 2018 The Daily Telegraph
OPEN ROAD
THRILL OF
THE CHASE
Steve McQueen
drove a Mustang
in Bullitt in 1968;
50 years on, it’s
still going strong
All-American
hero returns
at a gallop
ANDREW
ENGLISH
MOTORING
CORRESPONDENT
Ford has given the
Mustang a mid-life
makeover, but will
horsepower be enough
to win us over?
T
he Ford Mustang has
a special place in
American hearts.
From Martha Reeves
and the Vandellas
singing Nowhere To
Run in a Mustang
convertible on the
Dearborn assembly line in 1965, to film
appearances in Goldfinger and Bullitt,
this is a car cemented in the collective
consciousness of a nation. The US
Navy even ran a recruitment
advertisement intoning: “The Beach
Boys. Apple pie. The ’67 Mustang.
Three things worth fighting for.”
Ford sold 700,000 in the first nine
months and nine million in the
ensuing 54 years. Yet the first “pony
car” was based on unexceptional
chassis parts from the Falcon/Fairlane
saloons, cobbled together to make a
cheap sports coupé for baby-boomers.
Powerful, certainly, but not a great
drive, even by the standards of the day.
From the original 1964 coupés, the
1968 Mach 1, the mighty 1966 Shelby
GT350 (of which 1,000 were put on
STUART PRICE; SNAP STILLS/REX
24
the Hertz fleet for hire at $17 a day)
right through to the questionable
“aero-look” Eighties version and the
2001 “Bullitt” model, the Mustang was
a flexy, oversteering monster with
sloppy steering, sometimes shoddy
build-quality, slap-happy suspension
damping and questionable dynamics.
And while the original looked great,
Ford’s designers soon sold out their
blue-collar coupé. As Lee Iacocca,
Ford’s general manager at the launch,
later mourned:
“Our customers
abandoned us,
because we’d
abandoned
their car.”
By 2003 key
rivals such as the
Chevrolet Camaro
and Pontiac
Firebird were out
of production and
poor sales
indicated that the
pony car was
ready for the glue
factory. But
someone at Ford
still loved the
Mustang and J
Mays’ sharp,
back-to-basics
concept at the
2002 Detroit motor show went into
production in 2004.
Engineered by Hau Thai-Tang (aka
“the man who put the ‘Tang’ back into
Mustang”) that Mk5 version was still
far from over-engineered, sporting an
old-fashioned live rear axle, but it was
a commercial success in the US. And in
2015 the Mk6 built on that, with better
brakes, gearbox, interior and muchneeded independent rear suspension.
More importantly for us, Ford sold it
officially in Europe, even in righthand-drive in the UK.
This year, the all-American hero
gets a mid-life boost. Like the car itself,
Ford’s description of the changes are
straightforward and succinct: “Looks
faster, goes faster, more athletic
styling, enhanced powertrains,
advanced driver assist tech.”
Unpacking that a little, the changes
are modest but significant. The body is
more wind-cheating with less
aerodynamic lift thanks to a lower
bonnet line, a more effective front air
splitter, a diffuser element to the rear
and even an optional rear spoiler on
which to rest your can of Budweiser.
The choice of hard- and soft-top
body styles remains, as does the
angel-versus-devil debate between a
V8 engine and a turbocharged,
2.3-litre four-cylinder unit. That
smaller engine delivers 286bhp and
324lb ft, giving a top speed of 145mph,
0-62mph in 5.8sec, 31.4mpg and
199g/km of CO2. It costs from £35,995
(or £39,495 in convertible form), with
a 10-speed automatic gearbox adding
another £1,590.
INSIDE JOB
The interior
feels cheap,
although this is
a car for the
heart, not head
“What!? A four-cylinder Mustang? Is
that the spirit that built the railroads,
opened up the West and sent a man to
the Moon?” Of course not, so the top
version sports a 5.0-litre, naturally
aspirated V8. That’s an endangered
species these days, but this example is
no relic; it produces its 444bhp at a
head-spinning 7,000rpm. The top
speed is limited to 155mph while
0-62mph takes about 4.6sec. Prices for
the V8 manual start at £41,095, with an
auto ’box adding £2,000 and electromagnetic adjustable damping
(recommended) another £1,600.
The materials used in the interior
are either too shiny or harsh and the
handles creak as you pull the long
doors shut. The optional Recaro seats
are slippery and uncomfortable, and
the switchgear feels a bit cheap.
As well as the digital driver’s
binnacle, there’s a centre touchscreen
displaying the satnav, audio and
connectivity systems including Ford’s
CALL OF THE OPEN ROAD
The uprated Mustang is also available as
a convertible, costing from £39,495
Sync 3 set-up. The graphics
are novel and clear, but it’s
a shame the speedometer
isn’t marked with radial
numbers like that of the
original Mustang.
The digital instrument
display swaps configuration
according to the engine and
suspension mode selected;
as well as Normal, Sport,
Track and Snow/Wet modes
there’s also a Drag Strip
mode with a launch control
and a front-brake line lock
so you can smoke the rear
tyres. The exhaust has active
valves to manage the
enhanced sound (and start up more
quietly in the morning) and there are
modern radar- and camera-based
active city braking, pedestrian
detection and adaptive cruise control.
It’s barely a two-plus-two as there’s
precious little rear leg room. The
408-litre boot, however, is large
enough for the takings from a smalltown bank job.
On start-up the V8 waffles and
woofles the air. Electronics make it
slightly slow to rev and the output is
flat until 3,000rpm, but after that
there’s a progressive power up to the
crackling, bellowing peak at 7,000rpm.
The sound is frankly glorious, like
two brass bands having sex. While the
six-speed manual feels as mechanical
and tough as a fist-fight, it also slots
through its narrow gate and changes
smoothly thanks partly to the new
two-part flywheel. The automatic
alternative offers a closer ratio spread,
but it’s a bit slow, especially if left to its
own devices, and you need to
manually flip the steering-wheel
paddles when overtaking. The brakes
are over-sensitive on first press, but
powerful and progressive after that.
And this is still not the world’s most
sophisticated chassis. The body
clatters around on road seams and
potholes, even with the MagneRide
dampers set to soft, but for a 1.7-tonne
car with this much performance, the
ride isn’t bad. The steering is lifeless
but direct and well weighted, though
it never gives you much confidence.
Throw the car through a series of
bends and the back will slide out if
***
The Daily Telegraph Saturday 7 April 2018
TECTION
PROTECTION
KET?
RACKET?
I am buying a new
VW T-Roc. The
dealerr suggested I
purchased
hased GardX
paintt and interior
ction for £625.
protection
Is it worth it, and is
this a good price? JB
THE FACTS
FORD
MUSTANG
5.0 V8 MANUAL
TESTED
4,951cc V8,
six-speed
manual gearbox,
rear-wheel drive
PRICE/ON
SALE from
£35,995-£46,595
(as tested
£42,695)/now
POWER/
TORQUE
444bhp @
7,000rpm, 390lb
ft @ 4,600rpm
TOP SPEED
155mph
C racket and general
gener
CVT
SR 1.4
noise. My Astra SRi
turbo automati
automatic cost
eig
£13,000 at eight
w
months old with
A
8,000 miles. After
a
m
year, I like it more
B
than my old BMW
3-series. AK
ACCELERATION
0-62mph in
4.6sec (est)
FUEL
ECONOMY
22.8mpg/17mpg
(EU Combined/
Urban), 17.9mpg
on test
CO2 EMISSIONS
277g/km
VED BAND
£2,000 first
year, £450
next five years,
then £140
VERDICT
While it has a
special place in
American hearts,
the Mustang
isn’t that suited
for European
roads or driving
conditions. Its
naturally
aspirated V8 is a
phenomenon
and sounds great
(though the 2.3
four-cylinder is a
better car), and if
it’s lacking
dynamically, the
Mustang still
has presence
in spades
TELEGRAPH
RATING
ÌÌÌÌÌ
provoked, but it never feels as natural
as it should and the stability control
electronics brutally step on any
tail-wagging. It’s simply not as easy to
drive, or as much fun, as it should be.
There’s no substitute for cubes, goes
the saying. Well, yes, there is. Within
50 yards you can tell that the 2.3-litre
four-cylinder is the dynamically
superior machine. It has more chassis
feedback, the lighter nose turns in
more readily and the steering talks to
you. You can place the car on the road,
it encourages you to drive it harder,
it’s more comfortable and not
significantly slower.
Drawbacks? The artificial engine
note is wearisome and it isn’t a V8. As
the car’s chief project engineer
Matthias Tonn says: “This is the car
HONEST JOHN
EXPERT
ADVICE
The dealer you can trust is on hand
to answer your questions on car
problems and consumer issues
HEATED DEBATE
There are now many small SUVs with
three-cylinder 1.0-litre turbo engines.
How should one look after the turbo? JY
There are no problems with everyday
motoring. Because the turbos are
watercooled, the heat from the turbo
warms the engine (and interior) more
quickly in winter. But it’s best to idle
the engine for a minute or two after a
long motorway run, ascent or towing,
to keep oil and coolant flowing in the
turbo while it is still red hot.
BUMP STEER
Do you have any evidence that speed
humps contribute to structural
damage? My house is crumbling. NM
You would have to commission a
y to measure the
seismic study
tremors; see https://bit.ly/2H7VFGf.
you want, but the V8 is the car
everyone thinks they want.”
d
So while it is cheap horsepower and
outclassed by almost anything you
u
might consider to be a rival, when you
climb behind that deeply dished
steering wheel you’re driving a bit of
American history, even more redolentt
in an age where plausible politicians
and software oligarchs seems to be
unrepentantly selling off the freedom
of the open road by the pound.
As Martha sang in Nowhere To Run:
“I know you’re no good for me.” But a
V8 Mustang is something you want
with your heart, not your head.
The treatment will
ably cost the
probably
er £100-£150,
dealer
e rest of that
so the
£625 will be
mission. A tub
commission.
utoglym High De
ef
of Autoglym
Def
Wax is about £50,
ugh you’ll have to
t
although
y that yourself.
apply
VOICE OF REASON
I have been quoted £175 for a
one-year extended warranty
on my Skoda Yeti. Do you
think that’s reasonable? GS
Yes. That’s cheap for cover
that comes from a dealer
which will attend to any
warranty work. Just make
sure it’s not riddled with
exclusion clauses.
SHUDDER TO THINK
I have owned my 2004 Honda CR-V
from new and it has done 93,000 miles.
Recently, it has developed a steeringwheel shudder when I accelerate to
60mph on joining a motorway. I have
had the wheels checked for balance and
they are fine. Have you heard about a
similar problem and the cause? ID
It could be a driveshaft CV. But the
first check (to make sure it isn’t a
tyre) is to swap the fronts with the
backs on the same sides. It might also
be caused by water ingress to the
rear diff that causes a problem with
the four-wheel-drive system.
MUCH ADO ABOUT NOTHING
I purchased a four-year-old Nissan Juke
automatic. No problems, but when
driving through traffic lights there is
occasion
occasionally a bleep. The selling dealer
was baffled.
b ffl
baffl
ffled. Any suggestio
suggestions? AM
It sounds
sound
ds like a system in
i the satnav
to warn
n of traffic light an
nd speed
and
camera
as; it works as
cameras;
spe
eed warning if
a speed
yo
ou are over the
you
limit when
nearing a
camera.
That’s good news,
especially for
wor
the workers
at the
Elles
Ellesmere
Por
Port
fact
factory.
BEAT THE SYSTEM
SYST
OBVIOUS ANSWER
I have suffered diesel particulate filter
(DPF) problems on my Jaguar XF. I am
considering getting a Jaguar F-Pace
instead, but am I likely to have the some
problem if I buy a diesel version? MW
If you have had DPF problems
with a 2010 Jaguar XF, this
suggests your pattern of
use created them. Go
for a petrol model.
X COMMUNICATION
My BMW 3-series
Touring xDrive is three
years old with 44,000
miles. I intend keeping
it, so are there any
potential problems? DB
The xDrive system’s Haldextype clutch will need fresh fluid
and filter at the end of year four. And
a disparity of more than 3mm in tread
depth between the tyres could lead to
damage. If it has a B47 3.0-litre diesel
engine, an exhaust gas recirculation
(EGR) valve service action has just
been released.
SWEDE DREAM
My wonderful 2006 Jaguar
XJ6 is becoming expensive to
run so I want to exchange it for
something with comfort and
character. Would a late Saab
9-3 Convertible with low
mileage be a sensible option? JR
That
That’s a good choice. If you buy one,
make sure you get the Saab chaincam engine, not a belt-cam Vauxhall
unit – and definitely not the 1.9 diesel.
A LIFE
LIF LESS ORDINARY
My wife
w thinks that supermarket petrol
is best
bes for her new Fiesta Sport. Is it? GP
She’s wrong. It needs superunleaded
97-99 RON – and stick to the same
bran to get a consistent additive
brand
pa
package. If she runs it on ordinary
p
petrol
she’s far more likely to
have problems.
STAR QUALITY
S
I’m delighted to read positive
comm
comments about the Vauxhall Astra. I
bough
bought mine after owning a Toyota
Auris Hybrid. I could not live with the
I is possible with car
It
careful
timi
ing to transfer ownership
owner
timing
without a tax (VED
D) rip-off
(VED)
rip-off. When
transferring my VW Passat to my son,
we waited a few days until the new tax
year was due on April 1. He purchased
insurance to start at midnight on
March 31 and earlier that day I told the
DVLA that ownership had been
transferred. Then on April 1 my son
could tax the car in his name. GB
This doesn’t usually
work, so top marks for
succeeding. You
managed it by using
the electronic system to
beat the system.
WINTER SUMMARY
In cold weather, is it
good practice to let the
engine idle for half a
minute or so before
pulling away?
Should you
limit the speed
for the first few
minutes? And
is there a
difference
between petrol
and diesel? RM
No. As soon as the windows
are clear, drive off so the
engine reaches operating
temperature as soon as
possible. If it’s petrol, try to
keep the revs down to
about 2,000 for the first five
miles. If it’s diesel, try to keep the
revs up to about 2,000 to help with
the particulate filter regeneration.
MULTIPLE CHOICE
My wife and I both drive my Mazda6
diesel Tourer and her MX-5 and have
maximum no-claims discount (NCD). I
have now bought a petrol Skoda Citigo
for short, local runs and was astonished
that my NCD can’t be taken into account
for its insurance. Is this unfair, or am I
missing something? IB
You need to switch to a multi-car
policy that consolidates the NCD for
all cars. Admiral does one.
WRITE TO HONEST JOHN
We cannot accept postal queries. For
consumer and used car advice, or car faults,
email: honestadvice@telegraph.co.uk
25
***
Saturday 7 April 2018 The Daily Telegraph
FAMILY LIFE
Hey Alexa, what
are you teaching
my children?
With the demand for
digital home assistants
growing, Tanith Carey
questions whether they
help or hinder parenting
A
s a mother raising her
six-year-old daughter,
Boo, on her own, Rosie Corriette is used
to having the last
word.
But
ever
since the arrival of a
new helper at her
Sussex home last Christmas – a voiceactivated Google Home assistant – she
has discovered she is no longer the ultimate authority.
“When I told Boo to put her coat on
the other day, she said: ‘I don’t need
it!’,” says Corriette, 29. “When I insisted, she said our Google Home had
told her it wasn’t that cold outside and
wasn’t going to rain. At that point, I had
to explain that while Google Home
might know the weather and the
temperature, as a mother I knew she
would catch her death of cold!”
While they might have started out as
a gimmick, digital home assistants,
which also include Amazon Echo and
Apple HomePod, have become virtual
family members in three million UK
homes in the past couple of years. After
all, who wouldn’t want a hands-free
digital butler who instantly responds to
your voice commands – and can answer any question you may have when
your children are running you ragged?
Yet it’s becoming clear that virtual
assistants come with strings attached.
Some parents have been taken aback
by the way these disembodied voices
have been appropriated by young children – making them more curious and
independent, but also more impatient
because they can get any answer instantly without so much as a please or
a thank you.
So just as parents had to get to grips
with the effects of screen time, do we
now need to get a handle on this new
wave of screen-free technology before
it races ahead and out of our control?
Hunter Walk, a former Google executive, wrote in a blog post last year that
his Amazon Echo was turning his fouryear-old daughter into a brat – “be-
ALAMY STOCK PHOTO
26
cause Alexa [the voice operating
system that answers questions] tolerates poor manners. The prompt command is, ‘Alexa…’ not ‘Alexa, please…’.
And Alexa doesn’t require a ‘thank you’
before it’s ready to perform another
task. Cognitively, I’m not sure a kid gets
why you can boss Alexa around but not
a person.”
“It creates patterns and reinforcement,” he added, “that you can get
what you want without niceties.”
Leaving the house is not the only
time Corriette, who writes the blog
mummyandboo.com, finds herself pitted against the gadget with the soothing voice and who is never too busy
to reply. “At other times, Boo will ask
me a maths question. She will say:
‘What is 47,000 divided by seven?’ I
see it a challenge because I did maths
at A-level, but she will then pit my answer against Google.
Corriette’s experience chimes with a
new survey by online retailer Moonpig, which found that 38 per cent of
mothers say their child would seek answers to some questions from a tech
device, rather than them. So is this the
start of a slippery slope in which children turn to gadgets rather than
busy parents?
Mum-of-five Emma Chanagasubbay
from Surrey got her 11-year-old daughter Isabella a Google Home Mini for
Christmas, and has become concerned
that Isabella will start to ask it questions about friendship, relationships or
sex, that only a parent can properly answer. “It worries me that she will go to
VOICE OF
REASON?
The Amazon Echo
can solve
arguments, above;
Gill Crawshaw,
below, has no less
than three Echoes
at home for Eliza
and Florence
it for more complex
emotional
issues,” says Chanagasubbay,
38,
who writes the
blog thejoyoffive.
com. “If she asks
the device a nuanced question,
she’s just going to
get a matter-offact answer, or
one that could be
misconstrued
–
not the one she really needs.”
Other parents,
however, see the
gadgets as a force
for good. Gill
Crawshaw,
38,
finds her Amazon
Echo devices indispensable when
she’s
got
her
hands full with
daughters Eliza,
six and Florence,
three. She has
three – in the living room, kitchen and
master bedroom of her house in Bromley, Kent. For Crawshaw, it’s a “personal DJ” for kitchen discos and even
cuts back on the time that her daughters spend on screens – because they
now spend more time listening to music than watching television programmes or films.
Crawshaw, who writes the parenting
blog ababyonboard.com, says the gadgets also act as unofficial babysitters,
“setting alarms for things like screen
time and bed time and also getting out
of the house in the morning”.
They even come in useful as an impartial referee in sibling disputes.
“If the girls disagree about what to
watch on television we will ask Alexa
to settle the dispute using the ‘heads or
tails’ function. They never disagree
with the verdict.”
So are these gadgets undermining
our authority as parents or freeing up
time to make parenting less stressful –
something that can only be good for
children? Professor Kaveri Subrahmanyam, a developmental psychologist and chair of child and family
studies at California State University,
says: “Within limits, virtual assistants
can be useful in helping children find
the answer to their questions. But there
is some evidence that if they know
where the answer is and it’s so easy to
find, they don’t hold that information
in their minds. That in itself is not bad
– but it is if it also leads to a loss of critical thinking.
“Accepting Google’s answer unquestioningly then becomes problematic,
especially as we are learning that answers to internet search queries can
be manipulated.”
‘It worries me that my
daughter will go to the
device for more complex
emotional issues’
Prof Subrahmanyam also raises concerns about how such devices can interrupt parent/child interaction.
“The use of any device – whether by
parent or child – has the potential to interrupt meaningful conversations. And
that is a legitimate worry if the assistant can provide more answers than
the parents themselves.
“There are also concerns that interactions with these devices do not have
emotional nuances and other face-toface cues – and we really don’t yet
know what the consequences will be if
children interact with them from a
very early age and for too long.”
For Corriette, who has sometimes
been surprised to see her daughter,
Boo, treat the disembodied voice coming out of her Google Home like “an
equal” in conversation, it’s a matter of
waiting and seeing.
“Overall I hope it will make her more
curious. But when she reaches her
teenage years, if starts using it to argue
her side about curfews, then I will have
to show it the door.”
DIGITAL ASSISTANTS
GOOD PRACTICE
MODEL GOOD
MANNERS
While digital
assistants are not
real and can’t
have their
feelings hurt, it’s
a good idea to get
small children to
say “please” and
“thank you” to a
device. Prof
Subrahmanyam
says: “Parents
should
remember that
they are
modelling
interactions with
the assistant
and that children
are likely to
imitate them.”
times of day they
can be used.
SET LIMITS
As the number of
digital assistants
soars in UK
homes, so have
reports of
children buying
things – either by
mistake or
behind their
parents’ backs.
Turn off voice
purchasing or set
a PIN so only you
can do so.
Just because
digital assistants
don’t have
screens, doesn’t
mean parents
should not set
some limits on
them as well.
Experts says
children need to
unplug from
these devices –
so decide what
CHECK YOUR
SETTINGS
***
The Daily Telegraph Saturday 7 April 2018
THE
DA D
B E AT
ALL
POWER
TO HIM
Robert
overcame TB as
a child to find
stardom in
classic sitcom
Citizen Smith
I
was very ill with TB when
I was 10, which I only
found out when I was 40.
I had to go for a medical
check-up for a movie and
the GP found an old TB
scar on my left lung. My
parents had kept it from
me; I was told I had pleurisy and
pneumonia. I was in a
sanatorium for eight
weeks and never knew.
You didn’t talk about TB; it
was taboo – a poor
person’s disease.
I was an only child until
I was 12 when my sister
arrived; then, three years
later, my brother was born.
We didn’t have much – a
little council house in
Ilkeston, Derbyshire – but
there was so much
laughter. Mum and Dad
were great practical jokers,
always up to silly tricks,
such as dressing as
insurance men and trying
to fool the neighbours.
They were the funniest
people ever.
I was incredibly imaginative and
lived in a fantasy world for most of my
childhood. It wasn’t until I was 15 that
my art master at my secondary
modern recognised this and made me
a school orator and a grand thespian. I
didn’t even know what a thespian was.
Most of my mates went into local
industries; the mines and steelworks
– Rolls-Royce if you were clever
enough. My metalwork teacher was
my careers master. When I told him I
wanted to act, he asked if I was
“bloody daft”. Then he asked if I’d
considered hairdressing.
Fortunately my art master found a
drama course in Nottingham. Then it
all happened. By 17 I’d left home and
was at RADA in London. After six
months living with my aunt in
Edmonton, I found a flat in King’s
Cross with two mates. It was 1968 and
JAY WILLIAMS
What would your
younger self make of
your life today?
I F I C O U L D S E E M E N OW
RO B E RT
L I N D SAY
68, actor
London was just abuzz.
My accent was very broad, so people
at RADA didn’t understand me. One of
my tutors said, “We’re going to have to
lose your accent or you’re not going to
progress.” I was getting a bit political,
and maybe had a working-class chip,
so I said, “No, I’m not losing my
personality.” But changing it was the
best thing I did. It opened a world of
roles. I’ve done amazing Shakespeare
plays and sitcoms – I would have been
quite limited if I had stayed as I was.
At weekends, I’d go home sounding
like Donald Sinden. My dad said, “If it
doesn’t work out, you’ll be the bestspoken dustbin man in the area.”
Part of me misses the old me; I even
changed my name. I was Robert
Lindsay Stevenson. When mail comes
for Robert Stevenson it’s always rather
depressing; it’s usually a tax bill.
Robert Lindsay
gets cheques
and jobs.
Success
really threw
me. I never
wanted fame,
I wanted to perform. When I did
Citizen Smith in the Seventies, at one
point we were getting 20 million
viewers. I couldn’t walk the streets,
and that frightened me. The producer
told me when I signed the contract
that I was signing away anonymity for
life, but I didn’t listen. I was too
excited – and broke. I had bills to pay.
My younger self would warn me of
the perils of the modern age. I’m
constantly battling with my kids to get
them off their phones. We live in the
sticks with so many rural walks. We’ve
got bikes – they’re never used.
My children roll their eyes when
I talk about my outside lavatory
growing up; “There he goes again,
in his big house in Buckinghamshire,
talking about being poor.”
I’ve been fortunate to win awards
over the years, and I have them on
Harry de Quetteville’s tales from the
fatherhood front line
At least my Ma was honest with us.
“I may have gone slightly overboard with
the Easter egg hunt,” she confessed as we
arrived last Sunday. This from a granny
who, at the best of times, is unbridled in
her devotion to the monsters.
As a result we now live in the age of
chocolate. Humanity has already survived
brutal change, such as the Ice Age, so
theoretically we should be able to adapt
again to the harsh new conditions of the
Choc Age. But it is not always easy.
A rising tide of cocoa has submerged
everyday life. Normally slow-moving
glaciers of chocolate in our house have
become raging torrents; giant bergs of the
stuff are torn away from the main choc
sheet of the Big Egg, never to be seen
again. And just like the Arctic, in each case
eerie silence is followed by the most
monumental crash.
That’s why the Creme Eggs had to go,
winkled from the hoard and disposed of
halfway home, like some incriminating
stash. For toddlers, it really is Class A stuff.
Mole had one, and about an hour later
Mole had one Creme Egg
– an hour later, it was like
the end of Trainspotting
display in my office. They remind me
of where I’ve come from and what I’ve
achieved. I still remember people
saying to me, “You’ll never work.”
The irony was that when I left
Ilkeston, the mines and steel works
shut down and women started doing
all the work while the men sat around
the pubs and betting shops. And here
I am now, in the most insecure
profession in the world – and, touch
wood, I’ve never stopped working.
Interview by Boudicca Fox-Leonard
Robert appears in the new series of
Plebs, Monday, 10pm, ITV2
started whirring around Granny and
Grandpa’s house, high as a kite. Then came
withdrawal – the full lying on the floor,
lashing out, assaulted by demons, tiny fists
pumping, five-year-old carnage. Frankly, it
was like the end of Trainspotting.
The hunt itself was a real turn-up. Usually
Cosmic is freakishly lucky, so much so that
we all simply assume he will win at cards,
games and Easter egg hunts alike. This time,
though, Mole’s extra half foot gave him
observational prowess which Cosmic, no
matter how fortunate, could not match.
It’s weird, though, this luck. I was the
same: a younger brother who always rolled
a six at the right moment. Which came to
be written in family lore. And somehow fed
into much else.
Beloved and I are both guilty of this:
Cosmic is the “lucky” one; Mole the
“thoughtful” one. It’s so tempting: This one
is “creative” that one “watchful”. So with
“academic” or “artistic”. The lure of the
label is almost irresistible.
We have to remind ourselves to fight the
categorisation. Mole, who loves to read and
write now, might jettison his inward world
and become wildly expressive: who knows?
Maybe his Easter egg hunt victory is his
first step out of the pigeonhole.
27
28
***
GAMES
There are 276,000
permissible words
in Scrabble, and
the best way to
check them is with
Collins Official
Scrabble Words.
There’s one to be won
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along with a
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Saturday 7 April 2018 The Daily Telegraph
The Daily Telegraph Saturday 7 April 2018
***
29
GAMES
30
***
Saturday 7 April 2018 The Daily Telegraph
A
heating, the light, the shelter. The
very best of luck with your treatment
– and may you find strength in the
choices you have made.
Dear Graham
Plans for my friend’s
stag do are turning into
a nightmare
A friend of mine is getting married in
the autumn and his best man is going
overboard planning the stag do. We all
have a round robin email where we’ve
been comparing dates and ideas and
his latest plan is flying to Marrakesh
and getting Jeeps out into the desert to
have a big dinner in a tent. Lots of us
can’t afford anything like that, so
people are saying they can’t make this
or that date. We don’t want to say we
want something simpler because we
don’t want the groom to feel he’s not
worth celebrating.
Do you have any tactical tips for
dealing with the best man – or, come to
that, any ideas for a celebration for 12
men in their thirties?
BILLY, KENT
GRAHAM
NORTON
AGONY UNCLE
The author, comedian and presenter
advises readers. Send your quandaries
to graham@telegraph.co.uk
Dear Billy
Dear Graham
I’m getting no support
from my sisters when
I need it most
I have recently been diagnosed with
breast cancer. I am unmarried with
no children; I’m a full-time carer for
my mother who is deaf and has
dementia.
I have two sisters, one older, to
whom I’ve never been close, and one
younger. I used to get on OK with the
younger one but three years ago I had
to relay a message from my mother to
her about a decision my mother had
made. It wasn’t a big deal but she was
very unhappy about it. Since then she
has cut me off totally. A couple of times
I’ve asked her for a bit of help with my
mother but she angrily refused. She
lives nearby but very rarely invites my
mother over or calls.
With all my scans and treatment
coming up I really need some help. My
younger sister has texted me, saying
she was sorry to hear about my illness
but not offering to help. I am so angry
with her, for our mother’s sake as well
as mine. Please can you advise?
JENNY, NUNEATON
MISTERNED.COM
Dear Jenny
I am so sorry to hear about your
diagnosis and wish you a full and
speedy recovery. Your anger towards
your sisters is perfectly justified but,
at a stressful time like this, it won’t be
doing you any good at all.
It seems we can simply forget
about your older sister. For whatever
reasons, she has decided to absent
herself from the family. So, what to do
about your younger one? It seems she
has reopened the lines of
LETTER OF THE WEEK
Dear Graham
I’m worried my
son has inherited
his father’s
drinking problem
On Boxing Day I invited my
family over as usual.
Everything went well until
my son carried on drinking
when everyone else had left.
He was not unpleasant, just
a bit overbearing. In fact,
he behaved just like his
father, my husband, who
died in 2007, used to.
Sitting across from my
son, who looks more like his
father, I found myself
getting very emotional. A
couple of weeks later I told
him I didn’t want to see him
again. I was crying. We
said a few things which I
can’t remember and left.
We have had our ups and
downs. But as I write, I can
see it’s my husband I am
angry with. We all knew
my husband had a drink
problem, but he was also a
hard-working, caring
husband and father.
My question is, how do I
get talking to my son
again? My daughter is
upset because she feels she
has lost her brother. They
used to talk but that seems
to have stopped. I am 66
this year and wish it to be
settled between them, even
if I can’t patch things up
with him.
JANE, VIA EMAIL
Dear Jane
I think anyone can
understand why you
became upset but your
response to the situation
does seem extreme. Your
son may have pushed your
buttons but he did so
unwittingly, so it seems
communication and I think you
should do your best to keep them
open. Thank her for her message and
perhaps mention that because of your
hospital visits you will be out of the
house a great deal.
Tell her how great it would be if
she could find the time to pop in to
see your mother. Leave it at that. I
know you have every right to berate
both your sisters and clamour for
practical help, but their refusal will
simply add to your anxiety. The good
very unfair to punish him
for a crime he doesn’t
know he committed. I’m
sure this rift can be healed
but it may take some time.
The first thing you must
do is apologise. Don’t
phone, but write to him, be
it a letter or an email. That
way you can be measured
and logical, while your son
will have time to compose
his response. Perhaps
show a friend or your
daughter what you have
written before you send it.
Your explanation of your
response doesn’t need to
be a demolition of your late
husband’s reputation. As
you say, he was your
partner and the father to
two children, but in
addition to those things, he
was a man with a drinking
problem. Don’t suggest
your son has one, and
stress how he did nothing
wrong on the night, but
news is that you were coping without
them and you will continue to do so.
I’m not sure how severe your
mother’s dementia is, but she is
probably less aware of your sisters’
lack of involvement than you are.
Take comfort in that. You must start
making decisions that benefit you.
If you need to spend time away
from your mother or find you need to
rest, ask for help. Your mother may
not be as understanding about your
diagnosis as you’d like, so make sure
explain that seeing him
across the table looking so
like his father brought
back difficult memories.
Your son is a man now
and should understand
there were things he was
protected from as a child,
but were upsetting for you.
Ask for forgiveness. If your
daughter understands the
full story, perhaps ask her
to intercede.
Your late husband’s
drinking is continuing to
damage your family. That
has to stop. It might be
useful for you to contact
some of the organisations
that help relatives of
people who abuse alcohol.
I really hope you and
your son can get past this.
Allow him to be angry with
you, but in future don’t
blame him for the sins of
his father. Try not to allow
the past to cast a shadow
on the future.
you get the space and time to get well.
I don’t know what went on in your
family in the past, but your two
sisters have been severely damaged
by it. You have been blessed with a
sense of empathy, along with
responsibility and duty. It may seem
like an incredible burden, but would
you really want to be the sort of
person who could simply look the
other way?
Don’t feel like a doormat. People
like you are the whole house; the
WRITE TO US
Email
graham@telegraph.
co.uk
Write
Dear Graham,
The Daily Telegraph,
111 Buckingham
Palace Rd, London
SW1W 0DT
When appropriate,
the best letter will
win a bottle of
Champagne
Louis Roederer
Brut Premier
So many stag dos sound like stag
don’ts. Why do men think that the
best way to celebrate their friend is
an expensive weekend of selfinflicted torture? But spare a thought
for the best man; it will never be
possible to please everyone.
Step away from the round robin
email and ask people: are they going
to go? If enough are, leave them to it
and spend a bit more on the wedding
present. If everyone is bowing out of
the plan then the hapless best man
will be forced to think again.
Often there seems to be a pressure
on the groom to become a totally
different person than the man he was
prior to his engagement. How many
times have we heard of men who
don’t drink to excess or frequent lap
dancing clubs being coerced into
doing those things? It’s as if people
want the marriage to begin with an
almighty row.
The other problem with stag events
is that often the groom is everyone’s
only mutual friend, so it is essentially
a group of strangers being forced into
a weekend together. It is a rare man
that would look forward to that, even
if it does involve a Jeep. Far better in
my view to plan something that
brings people together but then
allows them to opt out when they
have had enough. This is, of course,
much easier said than done.
I think your task is to not make the
job of the best man even harder than
it is, and if the plan is something you
don’t want to do or can’t afford then
make an excuse. By the time your
friend is on his second marriage
nobody will even remember there
was a stag do.
By the way, there is one thing I can
think of that 12 men in their 30s
might do together, but I don’t think
you’d enjoy it.
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