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The Times Magazine - 14 October 2017

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14.10.17
Supplement of the Year
HAIL
MARY!
Do you ever get
a takeaway?
Have you seen
the new
Bake Off?
Can I come
to dinner?
Deborah Ross
quizzes
Mary Berry
KIRSTY YOUNG:
MY CLOSE FRIEND
GEORGE MICHAEL
MY MOST
EMBARRASSING
RESTAURANT
REVIEW YET
By (a red-faced)
Giles Coren
AM I TOO
OLD TO BE AN
INSTAGRAM
INFLUENCER?
Over 40 and
looking for likes
14.10.17
12
24
COVER: DAVID TITLOW. THIS PAGE: GETTY IMAGES, ROMAS FOORD, LAURA EDWARDS
35
5 Caitlin Moran The Apprentice: where antiheroes are born. 7 This week I?m wearing Anna Murphy
on the fashion clash of the season. 9 Spinal column: Melanie Reid Cinema?s disabled clich閟? They?re
all true. 12 George Michael and me Broadcaster Kirsty Young on her 15-year friendship with the pop
star and a new documentary about his life. 18 ?Even the toughest men cry sometimes? The England
cricketer Jonny Bairstow tells Ben Machell how he?s coming to terms with his father?s suicide,
20 years later. 24 Can you be Insta-fabulous and fortysomething? Polly Vernon attempts to join the
ranks of social-media influencers, who can make a fortune from their posts. 30 Cover story At home
with Mary Berry Deborah Ross finds out what she thinks of the new Bake Off and what it?s like
to be in demand at 82. 35 Eat! How to cook Catalan. 48 The survivor Yossi Ghinsberg spent weeks,
lost and alone, in the Amazon jungle. Now Hollywood has taken up his story. 54 Home! The king of
bling?s opulent New York townhouse. 61 Pout! Lesley Thomas?s favourite products. 63 Shop! The best
dresses for autumn. 64 How to get dressed Sensibly priced handbags. 65 Men?s style Great brogues
and boots, and J by Jasper Conran. 68 Giles Coren reviews The Frog, London E1. 74 Beta male:
Robert Crampton My awful night in a hotel room. Nadiya Hussain is away
Follow us on Twitter
@timesmagazine and @timesfashion
and Instagram @thetimesmagazine
EDITOR NICOLA JEAL DEPUTY EDITOR LOUISE FRANCE ART DIRECTOR CHRIS HITCHCOCK ASSOCIATE EDITOR SIMON HILLS ASSISTANT EDITOR TONY TURNBULL COMMISSIONING EDITOR MONIQUE RIVALLAND CHIEF SUB-EDITOR AMANDA LINFOOT
DEPUTY ART DIRECTOR JO PLENT DEPUTY CHIEF SUB-EDITOR CHRIS RILEY PICTURE EDITOR ANNA BASSETT DEPUTY PICTURE EDITOR JODIE McEWAN FASHION PRUE WHITE CONTRIBUTING EDITOR BRIDGET HARRISON FASHION/EDITORIAL ASSISTANT HANNAH ROGERS
The Times Magazine 3
SPIROS POLITIS
S
CAITLIN MORAN
ometimes, it takes a while to
notice what is obvious. In Buffy
the Vampire Slayer, a massive
Hellmouth ? a portal between
Earth and Hell ? is situated
under Sunnydale?s high school.
And yet the population of
Sunnydale seem oblivious to
the fact that there are regular
waves of assorted fiends, vampires and ghouls
pouring out of the science block and feasting
upon souls. It?s like, guys ? look! Look where
they?re coming from! This is obvious! Someone
call it! THE SCHOOL IS THE BAD PLACE.
In the spirit of being the person to notice
an obvious thing, then, I am going to state
what, to me, also seems blindingly obvious:
The Apprentice is a televisual Hellmouth,
whence assorted fiends, vampires and ghouls
pour forth, to feast upon souls. It is an
inherently demonic show. It is an engine of
unholiness. It allows the dark-souled airtime
to ejaculate their filthy-moralled spores into
the national consciousness. It?s also one of my
favourite programmes, and I was so glad when
it returned I baked a special Apprentice pie, but
let?s not confuse the issue just yet.
The top line on this is that the two biggest
Apprentice alumni are Donald Trump and
Katie Hopkins. Since appearing on the show
in 2006, Hopkins has abandoned her business
ambitions in favour of being condemned by
the United Nations for describing migrants as
?cockroaches?, and then leaving LBC after her
response to the Manchester bombings was to
call for a ?final solution?.
For Hopkins, appearing on The Apprentice
was her antihero origin story: the moment
where, gaining attention for being ? and here
I use the technical term ? a massive, vicious
arsehole on TV, Hopkins realised that while
there might be thousands of other people toiling
to start up a viable business, there were very
few competitors in the running for ?being a
massive, vicious arsehole on TV?, and that this
was the lucrative direction she would now go in.
Donald Trump, meanwhile, was already rich
and infamous when he took the job on the US
Apprentice. However, as Fortune magazine said,
?Trump saw the show as a bridge to a new
market, a new audience ? A TV show would
allow him to mould his image as never before.?
Trump?s stint on The Apprentice was the
final jigsaw piece in his antihero origin story:
the moment he realised his complex and
tarnished image could be replaced with that
of a light-entertainment, well-lit, heavily
edited version of Trump, who was just, like,
?The Apprentice
is a demonic
show. So how
come I love it
so much??
this gobby rich white guy, getting shit done.
It was as ?gobby rich white guy, getting shit
done? that Donald Trump was elected, and it
is as ?gobby rich white guy, getting shit done?
that Trump has become the most divisive and
right-wing president the US has seen for a
century, bringing his country to the brink of
nuclear war with North Korea.
So that?s 1) condemnation from the UN,
and 2) a possible nuclear war ? from just
two Apprentice stars. That is an unparalleled
achievement for a light-entertainment
franchise. That stuff?s just not happening off the
back of the various global iterations of Bake Off.
But that is the whole point of The Apprentice:
it is, basically, an arsehole competition. As
even the Tory conference debated whether
unfettered market-led capitalism is failing,
The Apprentice doubled down on its Gordon
Gekko-like cartoon certainty that business
is simply about shouting, ?I WIN AT
WINNING!?, calling yourself, ?TEAM F***
YOU?, and trying to sell unhappy commuters at
London Bridge a shit sausage you?ve just made.
The Apprentice celebrates, above all, the
bullshit of business ? there?s never a mention
of, say, employees? pension plans, sustainability,
diversity quotas, tackling worker/management
pay inequality, ethical outsourcing, or any
one of the billion dull yet vital things that will,
ultimately, be what the market-led economy
will live or die by. The businesses that the
contestants wish to start up aren?t even
mentioned until the penultimate episode. No
one really cares. It is, instead, about 18 carefully
chosen arseholes doing whatever tasks a
multimillionaire tells them to do, because the
economy?s f***ed, and one of the few ways you
can secure capital these days is to trample on
17 other arseholes on primetime BBC.
And this is why, despite it being a Hellmouth,
The Apprentice is one of my favourite shows. It
comes across as, ultimately, a deeply satirical
gameification of 21st-century capital and
capitalism. Those 18 business arseholes are the
only minority it?s allowable to abuse any more,
without being problematic. Every week, they
are purposely encouraged to violently hustle,
bullshit and flam over a series of useless
products they don?t give two tits about, as we
sit at home, going, ?This is why capitalism is
failing. These are the worst people in the world.?
I just wish the makers made it slightly more
explicit that satire is the point. Because, every
so often, someone on the show unfolds their
leather wings and feasts on souls. n
caitlin.moran@thetimes.co.uk
The Times Magazine 5
This week I?m clashing... fabulously
R
SARAH CRESSWELL, GETTY IMAGES. ANNA MURPHY: STYLIST, PRUE WHITE. MAKE-UP: DANI GUINSBERG AT CAROL HAYES USING CLINIQUE. HAIR: ERNESTO MONTENOVO AT DAVID
ARTISTS USING TIGI. STOCKISTS: PREEN LINE, NET-A-PORTER.COM; VICTORIA BECKHAM, HARRODS.COM; MANOLOBLAHNIK.COM; ALEXA CHUNG, NET-A-PORTER.COM; HOBBS.CO.UK
BY ANNA MURPHY
ed and pink. How totally
wrong, right? Wrong! How
totally right. It makes you
wonder why fashion came
up with such rules in the
?rst place. Red and pink
works. And not just hot
pink but pale pink. Navy
and black works, too. So
does gold and silver jewellery.
So why did I for years operate a careful
apartheid between navy and black in my
wardrobe, gold and silver in my jewellery
drawer? Clash-matching both has become a
default among the fashion pack over the past
couple of years. It can look much more fun,
more interesting than sticking to one or the
other. But nowhere near as fun as clashmatching red and pink, of which the frontrowers just can?t seem to get enough.
During last month?s fashion weeks, Lauren
Santo Domingo (far right), co-founder of
modaoperandi.com, wore pretty much the
exact reverse of my combo, a red poloneck
and pink strides, and Giovanna Battaglia, of
W magazine, was spotted in a red tee and
accessories with a red and pink striped skirt.
On the autumn/winter catwalks, red and
pink were mixed and non-matched at labels
such as Prada and, particularly covetably, at
Valentino, where Pierpaolo Piccioli conjured
up the perfect bi-hued chiffon and lace dress
and styled a candy leather coat over a red
dress with boots of cerise. Yep, red plus pink
plus pink. Not for the beginner, that one. The
combo was still out in force on the recent
spring/summer catwalks, too.
Where to buy? Among the prettiest in pink
right now is Hebe Studio?s pale suit with fuchsia
lapels (jacket, �7, trousers, �1; hebe-studio.
com), Mango?s bright coat (�.99; mango.com),
H&M?s chiffon dress (�.99; hm.com) and
Arket?s crewneck knit, which is available in
two shades, bright and pale (�; arket.com).
Not forgetting Whistles? sublime and ever so
slightly ridiculous (in a good way) bubblegum
shearling jacket (�5; whistles.com).
Ravishing in red are Hobbs? Tilda coat (�9;
hobbs.co.uk), Joseph?s wrap Mati dress (�5;
joseph-fashion.com), Cos?s merino roll-neck
jumper (�; cosstores.com) and Manu Atelier?s
Mini Pristine bag (�0; selfridges.com).
Not sure you can pull it off? The coward?s
route is to buy a single piece that does the work
for you, like & Other Stories? strappy Wild Rose
dress (�; stories.com), Simone Rocha?s pink
shirt with red ?oral detail on the collar (�5;
net-a-porter.com) or Lily & Lionel?s Poppy blouse
and skirt (�5 and �0; lilyandlionel.com). n
Anna Murphy
Above, from left:
Valentino; Anna Murphy
wears top, �5, Preen
Line, trousers, �5,
Victoria Beckham, and
shoes, �5, Manolo
Blahnik; Lauren Santo
Domingo. Right: dress,
�.99, H&M; fashion
director Julie Pelipas;
red cardigan, �5,
Alexa Chung; jacket,
�7, Hebe; pink
coat, �.99,
Mango; red coat,
�9, Hobbs
The Times Magazine 7
Spinal column Melanie Reid
Health Columnist of the Year
People like me have all had the conversation
with our partners: ?Leave me and go get a life?
MURDO MACLEOD
T
he film Breathe is released later
this month, telling the story
of Robin Cavendish, who was
paralysed from the neck down
by polio in the Fifties. Defying
doctors, who gave him three
months to live, he pioneered
specialist wheelchairs, which
released fellow sufferers from a lifetime spent
in hospital inside iron lungs. Many devices,
including head-operated controls for phones
and TVs, were developed by him.
Two of the hottest English actors of the
moment, Andrew Garfield and Claire Foy,
are starring as Cavendish and his wife, with
disability sharing the lead role. Breathe is the
latest in a growing number of movies to do
this. It?s not long since the weepie Me Before
You, and next spring sees the release of
The Upside, starring Bryan Cranston as a
quadriplegic in what is a straight American
remake of the wonderfully subversive French
comedy The Untouchables.
Nothing?s simple in art. Some able-bodied
people are turned off by movies with disability
plots, while activists dislike them because
they?re ?pity porn?. I?ve only seen the trailer
for Breathe, so I can?t give it a personal
schmaltz rating. All I know is that the film has
the obligatory ?let me die in order not to be
a burden on you? scene, which I know will
infuriate the disabled lobby, because it?s
precisely the plotline they hate most.
And that?s a shame, because it?s authentic.
Veritas. It happened in real life to the
Cavendishes, it happened to me and it?s
happened to almost everyone I know who?s
been profoundly disabled as an adult. We?ve
all held that conversation with our partners,
variations on the theme of, ?Leave me and
go and have a life,? ?Switch off the machine
and go and be happy,? ?Buy me a ticket to
Dignitas,? or, ?You?re young enough to start
again.? And it may sound corny on screen
but, believe me, when you?ve been there in
real life, it?s anything but.
Anyway, having decided instead to
stay together, despite the iron lung, the
Cavendishes then attacked life together. They
were admirable people. The film will tell of
triumph over tragedy as Andrew Garfield?s
character revolutionises life for himself and
others in iron lungs. And thus presumably the
music will swell, the audience will be uplifted
by the power of human spirit, and the credits
will roll. Disability is Oscar bait. It genuinely
moves the general public.
But this is a really interesting area. There
are disabled people ? quite a few but not all
of them pro-life ? who hate the portrayal of
disability as tragic. They consider the film
industry to be infuriatingly wedded to clich閟
of bravery, inspiration, pity and the suggestion
that it?s better to be dead than disabled. They?re
fed up because the disabled, instead of playing
ordinary roles in a drama, instead of just being,
are almost always the issue upon which the
story turns. They see it as a lazy device to make
the audience cry. Take the hashtag ?#liveboldly,
fight cripple snuff films? that circulated after
Me Before You, a doomed romance about a
quadriplegic man who decided to go to Dignitas
because he didn?t want to ruin his partner?s life.
They also get offended that able-bodied
actors are chosen to play disabled people
on screen. Personally, if we?re going to be
impossibly idealist, I?d rather be offended by
the fact that 90 per cent of disability films cast
men in the victim role and women as their
lithe, loving, viably sexy, self-sacrificing nurses.
(Except for Misery. I love Misery.) But again,
it?s veritas. In real life, disabled men are always
marrying their carers. Disabled women have a
much lonelier time of it.
Anyway, my disability is my tragedy and
I claim it as such. I find the activists unrealistic
and often plain wrong; theirs is not my type of
outlook, but I?m glad they?re there to make us
think. Meantime, let?s celebrate the growing
acceptance from the film industry ? that
repository of all beauty ? that physical
imperfection can have a starring role. And
admire any actor who holds an audience for
two hours purely with facial expressions alone.
Having said that, nothing will tempt me
to go and see Breathe. Oh no. The Theory of
Everything hurt too much. When every day
represents a kind of grinding, mundane
triumph, I seek my entertainment elsewhere. n
Melanie Reid is tetraplegic after breaking her
neck and back in a riding accident in April 2010
The Times Magazine 9
George Michael and me
George Michael and Kirsty Young
on Desert Island Discs in 2007
They were friends for 15 years and were working together on a documentary
about his life when he died. Broadcaster Kirsty Young reflects on the man she
knew ? and reveals what he talked about in the last interview he ever gave
INTERVIEW Louise France
George Michael, 2006
PREVIOUS SPREAD: BBC, ESTATE OF GEORGE MICHAEL. THIS SPREAD:
REX SHUTTERSTOCK, SCOPE FEATURES, PA, GETTY IMAGES, GREG BRENNAN/CIA
George Michael and Andrew
Ridgeley, Miami, 1984
I
was standing in the atrium at Channel 5,
just after coming off air. My phone rang
and the person at the other end of the
line said, ?Hi, I?m George Michael and
I just want to say thank you.?
His single Shoot the Dog had just
come out and he?d had a lot of flak for it.
People ? including the two commentators
I?d just interviewed on 5 News ? had
it in for him. They thought it was
ridiculous that a pop star was indulging
in politics. As the presenter, I?d put the
counter view ? partly because that was
my job, and partly because I also happened
to believe what I was saying. I didn?t see why
someone who was an artist couldn?t make
social commentary.
George said, ?I?m getting a lot of stick and
you stood up for me.?
?I believed what I said,? I told him.
?I could tell,? he replied.
14 The Times Magazine
The release of Wake Me Up
Before You Go-Go, Wham!?s
first No 1, May 1984
There I was ? dancing
to a George Michael song
with George Michael
We chatted for a while. Afterwards, I
did a double-take. Did that really happen?
I immediately told my editor. ?Guess what?
George Michael watches the show.?
Over 15 years, I got to know George better
? visiting a couple of his homes, being invited
to his concerts when he performed in the
UK and, on the odd occasion, enjoying his
hospitality in restaurants and at parties
at his house. (I remember seeing Richard
and Judy Finnigan at one and thinking: hats
off, George, you are loving the TV. It seemed
testament to his normality.)
There was one memorable party to
which my husband Nick Jones and I were
invited by George and his partner at the
time, Kenny Goss. There was a brilliant DJ
and, at one point, he put on one of George?s
records. I was dancing with Nick and turned
round to find George right beside me.
Suddenly, there I was ? dancing to a George
Michael song with George Michael. I left
the party and said to Nick, ?That is it. We
can never go to a party again. How can
I ever better that??
The first time I went to his house I was
struck by how different it was from what I was
expecting. This was not a big shiny duplex.
There was a labrador by an Aga, with lovely
country tiles behind it. He was a very homey
person. And that was the great surprise. There
was a simplicity to his domestic life.
It was the same the last time I met him,
too, three months before he died. I knocked
Wham!?s farewell concert,
Wembley, June 1986
Talking to the US press
while on tour in 1985
With Anselmo Feleppa,
who died in 1993
George Michael and
Kenny Goss, 1999
With his parents at his 30th
birthday celebrations, 1993
on the door of this beautiful mill house in
Goring-on-Thames in Oxfordshire and he
answered it (I remember thinking, I don?t
imagine Madonna is answering her own front
door any time soon). Just before I left, we
stood at the window and talked about his
plans for the garden.
He was so smart, articulate and self-aware.
When I listen back to the Desert Island Discs
he did with me in September 2007, he seems
to understand himself and his motivations so
well that I wonder if he?d had therapy. Then
again, I think if he had he would probably
have said so because, while being very private,
he was in very many ways such an open book.
George was full of great insights into
himself ? how rare that is in someone in
his position. He told me how guilty he felt
growing up when his sisters didn?t get the
same treatment as he did, because he was
the boy. Such an honest thing to admit.
Imagine being so famous
at 22, he?d say, just walking
down the street was risky
He was always interesting. And always so funny
about himself. Nobody could be funnier about
George than he could be.
One time he told me about how, a little time
after he had been arrested in Los Angeles [for
being caught in a ?lewd? act in a public lavatory
with an undercover police officer], he had
tried to buy one of those beautiful multimilliondollar apartments off Central Park in New
York. He had to sit in front of a board to be
approved. They told him, ?We don?t want the
likes of you here.? He said, ?You?re kidding me.
I?m George Michael. I have millions of dollars
to spend on your overpriced apartments.? He
could see the irony in it. He could see how he
had sabotaged himself. He was outraged but
at the same time could see the funny side.
He understood that he led a rarefied life, but
that could also be immensely frustrating.
He was very relatable, which was
extraordinary, because this was not a relatable
life. Imagine, he?d say to me, being so famous
at the age of 22 that you can?t walk down
a street in America without the risk of
physical injury from people literally trying
to hold on to you.
He knew I loved his music and once or
twice he called and said, ?I?m doing a gig at
Wembley Stadium. Why don?t you come?? As
a young teenager I was too po-faced to be into
Wham! ? although looking back, I can see
that they were the best pop band of their
generation. But later, while au-pairing in
Switzerland and cleaning the kitchen floor,
The Times Magazine 15
REX SHUTTERSTOCK
I can clearly remember hearing Faith on the
radio for the first time. I remember being
amazed by it; it seemed so fresh and brilliant.
I?m almost 49 now so he was the soundtrack
to my life. He was always there. He had this
ability to make songs that articulate the way
you are feeling without you being able to
do it yourself.
This was a life of extremes. He would
say so himself. It was a life of great intensity.
Partly to do with the times he was living in
as a gay man, although he was adamant that
he was never put under any pressure by the
record company to conceal his sexuality. The
secrecy was absolutely self-imposed. It was to
do with his family circumstances.
He?d just been outed when I met him. By
this point he could laugh about it. I remember
a party that his father was at, and his two
sisters. There were gay and straight friends
there. Everyone seemed very relaxed about
his sexuality.
His mother had died by then. They had
been deeply close, but he described her as
being ?very Victorian?. He told me that if she
had known when he was younger that he was
gay, she?d have spent her whole life worrying
that he was going to die because of Aids.
He grew up in a family where any kind
of vanity was viewed as a sin. So the fact that
he was involved in a visually very muscular
profession was conflicting for him. (He felt
the same sort of conflict about his money.)
He wouldn?t look at himself; he wouldn?t take
pride in the way he looked. When he got older
he?d laugh about it. ?What was I thinking?? he
used to say to me. ?I was f***ing gorgeous.?
But I did worry about him when he hit the
headlines, such as when he crashed his car
under the influence of drugs in 2010, or was
seriously ill with pneumonia in 2011. I think he
tested things because of the indestructibility of
his talent; I think that is what he did with his
substance abuse. There was a degree of selfdestruction there, because he had this thing that
he could never destroy, which was his voice and
his ability to create. There was self-sabotage in
there, too. There has to be, if you are willing
to get behind a wheel when you are off your
head. That is not a sensible thing to do.
Just a few months before George died,
having not seem him recently, I suddenly got
a call from him asking me if I would interview
him for a documentary called Freedom that
he was just completing. Directed by George,
with his friend David Austin, it chronicles
the making of the 1990 album Listen without
Prejudice and the subsequent battle with
his record label, Sony. I knew he?d been in
Switzerland recuperating from his illness
and getting his act together. I agreed ? I had
watched the difficult twists and turns of his
life in the news over the past few years and
I was so glad to know that he was back at
Floral tributes outside George
Michael?s house, January 2017
That last time, he said his
new project would be the
best thing he?d ever done
work. And I wanted to see how he was. A few
days later, his manager called my agent.
?George wants to know how much you
want to get paid ? just name a price,? he said.
?I just genuinely want to see George,?
I replied.
But he was insistent that he didn?t
want me to do it as a favour, so in the end,
I suggested that, if he wanted to, he could
make a contribution to Unicef, because I?m
its UK president. The next day he donated
�,000. His one stipulation was that it was
anonymous. He did it for me even though he
knew I was happy just to show up. I am only
revealing it now because he isn?t here to talk
about it and because I have since read that he
would often make generous gestures like that.
That last time we met ? which would have
been the final interview he ever gave ? he
talked about Anselmo Feleppa, his first real
love, who died of an Aids-related illness in
1993. He was devastated by the loss ? which
was followed four years later by the death of
George?s mother ? but he never claimed his
grief was any greater than anyone else?s. It?s
what he did with his pain that was unique.
I think he was able to write songs about what
he had gone through that connected with
other people?s sadness.
His great love for Feleppa had been
difficult for his subsequent partners. There
was always a ghost in the room, he said.
The three years of the relationship had been
perfect in a way, but he also knew it had been
unreal because their time together was short.
It had an even great piquancy, too, because
it had been secret ? it was a relationship that
had existed in a very private space.
Around the time that Feleppa was
diagnosed, George started suing Sony. It
was a battle he took extremely seriously
? so much so that he spent $8 million of his
own money, and lost it. He always said he was
doing it for the sake of other artists, which
I think was true. At the same time, the legal
battle was a way to occupy himself when he
was suffering. It was a displacement activity:
?This is a battle I can fight, because I can?t win
the one for Anselmo?s life.?
Talking to George that last time, he was
in the room, as they say. He wasn?t pretending
to be anything other than who he was. He
told me that he had more to do. I interpreted
this as meaning more music and the prospect
of a new album. He said he had something
in mind that would be better than anything
else he had ever done and he was about to
start working on it.
Looking back, he looked older. But he
still seemed very together in everything that
he said and did. He wasn?t match-fit George
? not the George who pinged onto the
stage and took your breath away. A bit
tired, perhaps. Maybe not the slimmest
he had ever been, but welcome to all our
worlds. That is just getting older.
It is difficult to imagine how isolating
his life must have been. I think fame is like
power. You begin to try to second-guess
everything. A couple of times I reminded him
of something Oprah Winfrey said ? ?If you
come to fame not understanding who you
are, it will define who you are.? I think that
did strike a chord with him. As a young man,
he was totally destabilised.
His prescription painkiller problem? Well,
it?s a very common thing these days, and
people only do that if they are trying to
quell the pain inside. He had quite obvious
vulnerabilities. Some of them I think were a
by-product of being a gay man at the time that
he was. You look at those great rock?n?rollers
such as Keith Richards, whom I interviewed
last year, or Bruce Springsteen. Like George,
they had massive fame from an early age. Like
George, they have the talent, the wealth, the
ability to sustain a music career. So how come
they survived and George died? Well, they
have the benefit of a strong day-to-day
domestic structure, with very long-term
partners and kids. On a day-to-day basis,
when they look like they might be ?falling?,
someone will be there to catch them.
I heard the announcement about George?s
death on the radio. It was Christmas. The
house was full of people and I was in the
kitchen cooking. I was completely shocked.
Totally floored. I cried. I had a strong sense
that he felt there was more life to live. He was
in the process of marshalling himself for the
next chapter, having suffered so much, with
his heath and his dependencies. I think he had
a lot of hope that good things were ahead. n
George Michael: Freedom is on Monday,
October 16, at 9pm on Channel 4
The Times Magazine 17
YOU LOOK LIKE HIM.
YOU PLAY LIKE HIM.
YOU?RE NEVER GOING
TO BE AS GOOD AS HIM.
WHAT EVERYONE
SAID TO ME ABOUT
MY DEAD FATHER
Cricketer Jonny Bairstow is about to
defend the Ashes. But his rise to the
top was forged in tragedy ? the suicide
of his dad, David, who also played for
England. Interview by Ben Machell
PORTRAIT Jay Brooks STYLING Hannah Rogers
Jonny Bairstow, 28,
photographed at the
Pelham Hotel in South
Kensington, wears suit,
�0, Boss by Hugo Boss
COURTESY OF JONNY BAIRSTOW, REX SHUTTERSTOCK, GETTY IMAGES
H
ow do you talk about Jonny
Bairstow without talking about
his father? The short answer,
which Bairstow knows better than
anyone, is that you can?t. Bairstow
is a brawny redhead with pale
blue eyes. His dad, David, was
exactly the same. Bairstow plays
cricket for Yorkshire and England.
So did his father. Bairstow is a
wicketkeeper and formidable batsman. David
Bairstow was, well, you can probably guess.
Halfway through our interview, Jonny
Bairstow pulls out his iPhone. ?Just bear
with me for one sec,? he says quietly, scrolling
through his photos. He finds what he?s looking
for, then hands it over. It?s a picture of him
as a young boy, wearing his cricket kit and
clutching an oversized bat. Crouching behind
him, smiling at the camera, is his dad, the
man he has been compared to for most of
his life. ?You look like him. You play like him.
You?re never going to be as good as him,? lists
Bairstow. Because of his father, he has grown
up subject to this kind of scrutiny and more.
He lets out a breath. ?By the age of 16, I?d
been asked every single question about him
you could wish to be asked.?
In January, it will be 20 years since
David Bairstow died. He was 46 years old.
He hanged himself in the family home. His
body was discovered by his wife, Janet, and
their two children. Jonny was eight. Becky was
six. It was 8.30pm, a dark, wintry evening, and
the three of them had just come back from
Bairstow?s football training. He says he has no
real memories of what happened on returning
home that night ? he wonders if the trauma
of it all may have been too much to properly
process ? but in the weeks and months that
followed, he says that he adopted an approach
of deliberate internalisation and repression.
?I didn?t want to go through counselling,?
he remembers. Instead, he would simply not
allow himself to think about his father?s death.
He would not discuss it. ?I shut everything
off,? he says. ?I literally shut everything off
and that was how I dealt with it.?
This, though, is changing. It?s the reason
we are here, sitting together in a private room
in a Kensington hotel, talking about his dad,
his death, cricket, and how these three things
have combined to shape him into the man
he is today. Bairstow has written a book,
A Clear Blue Sky, which strictly speaking is
an autobiography, detailing the 28-year-old?s
gradual ? though by no means seamless ? rise
to becoming a key member of England?s Test
and one-day cricket teams.
But it is also a portrait of his father, and a
poignant one at that, a collection of memories,
anecdotes and unanswered questions. David
Bairstow, we learn, was an ebullient man. His
Wisden obituary described him a ?perhaps the
20 The Times Magazine
only unequivocally popular man in Yorkshire?.
He was charismatic, cavalier and funny. A very
quick example: it is 1980 and he is batting in
a one-day international against Australia in
Sydney. The Australian bowlers have been
taking wickets for fun and England are teetering
on the brink of defeat, still 35 runs short of their
target, when David Bairstow is joined at the
crease by the No 10 and fellow Yorkshireman,
Graham Stevenson. ?Most players in that
position would have muttered a few reassuring
platitudes to Stevenson about sticking in there
and making an OK fist of it,? writes Bairstow.
? ?Evening lad,? my dad said to him as if the
two of them were about to nip down to the
pub for a pint. ?We can piss this.? They did.
England won with seven balls to spare.?
But if David Bairstow was ?a big, brash,
loud character?, then his son, at least during
the hour or so we spend together, is different.
The first thing you notice is that he is polite.
He arrives eating a Pret breakfast roll and
holding a coffee, which he apologises for:
he?d been playing for England?s one-day
international side against the West Indies at
the Oval the previous day and hadn?t got to
bed till late, so has only just woken up. It then
occurs to him that he should have brought me
a coffee too, for which he also apologises.
He wears a denim jacket and has a broad
Yorkshire accent, plus associated vocabulary.
I don?t know many twentysomethings who
say, ?Blooming heck,? but Bairstow is one
of them.
His father?s death, he believes, forced him to
grow up fast. ?When you go through something
like that at a young age, you mature very
quickly. Whether that be in a good way or a
bad way ? when you?re growing up and going
through school and things like that, it might
not necessarily be a good thing that you?re
more mature than some of your peers.?
Right now, though, the England and Wales
Cricket Board will not regard his temperament
as anything other than a blessing. We meet
two days after a well-publicised incident
involving Bairstow?s England team-mate,
Ben Stokes, who was arrested on suspicion
of causing actual bodily harm following a
late-night altercation in Bristol. At the time
of writing, Stokes is suspended from England
selection pending the police investigation.
Bairstow, who in 2016 scored the highest
number of runs by a wicketkeeper in a
calendar year in Test history, is forbidden,
like all England players, from discussing
the incident. But it serves as a useful point
of contrast: Stokes the fiery, wildly gifted
all-rounder; Bairstow the circumspect, sober
and, frankly, more sensible player who has
had to repeatedly prove his doubters wrong.
?I like to think I?m just a normal kid who?s
been brought up very well by my mum, sister
and extended family,? he says.
After his father?s death, ?I
shut everything off. That
was how I dealt with it?
Sticking with the theme of maturity, he
returns to the immediate aftermath of his
father?s death. ?All of a sudden, at the age
of eight, you?re the man of the house.? He
considered it his ?duty to grow up overnight?
and serve as his mother and younger sister?s
protector, a decision also prompted by the fact
that his mum was, at the time, undergoing
chemotherapy for breast cancer. ?It was a
choice I made because Mum wasn?t very well.?
Because of her illness, he resolved that he
would not add to his mother?s load by allowing
her to see him cry. In fact, he promised
himself that nobody would see him cry.
?If I had to cry, I swore to myself that I?d do
it privately,? he recalls. ?If I found it necessary
to grieve, I?d be quiet about doing it.?
But there?s an edge to him, too, which he
acknowledges. ?It?s almost a hardness,? he
Bairstow?s maiden Test
century, in Cape Town,
January 2016. Opposite,
from top: with his father,
David, and sister, Becky,
in the early Nineties; with
mother Janet last year
says, frowning. He says that for a long time he
could be ?very abrupt? with people, particularly
when they raised the subject of his father.
What would his dad think of his career?
Does he think he?d be proud? These kinds of
questions, again and again and again. ?People
diving and digging, putting you on the spot,?
he says. I get the impression that Bairstow
doesn?t think these inquiries were necessarily
unreasonable; it?s just that there are only so
many times you want to field questions from
strangers about your dead father, particularly
if they never knew him in the first place.
?I?m able to shut people off from talking
about different bits that they don?t know
about,? he says. ?I can be blunt.?
This defensiveness, he says, has gradually
bled into his personality more broadly. I ask
if he has a girlfriend. He won?t answer. ?I?m not
putting any of that stuff in,? he says, nodding
towards the Dictaphone. OK, but does he?
?I am with someone, but it?s fairly recent,? he
eventually concedes, although he does not
exactly look over the moon to have said so.
He also has a reputation ? or at least,
had a reputation ? for being fairly brittle
when it comes to absorbing criticism from
pundits. ?Chippy? is a word that comes up when
speaking to those in the know, although it does
seem to be said with a degree of affection.
One cricket writer I spoke to described writing
up an innocuous Q&A with him, only to take
his seat in the stands the following day to find
that a visibly angry Bairstow was marching
towards him in order to confront him over
some perceived misrepresentation.
Earlier in his career, there were question
marks over his technical ability, about whether
he?d ever truly be composed enough for Test
cricket. This was not water off a duck?s back.
?The first experiences you have of someone
being not very nice to you in a newspaper, you
think, ?Hang on a minute. You don?t know me,
I don?t know you and you?re passing judgment
on me as a cricketer?? ? he says. ?But you have
to be able to park that stuff and accept that
those guys have a job to do, and if they don?t
have an opinion then they don?t have a job. It
just takes a while for you to do that.?
Bairstow grew up in a small village,
Marton cum Grafton, northwest of York.
Both his parents were originally from Bradford.
His mum is now an an administrator for
the Yorkshire County Cricket Club but was
once a policewoman, had dealt with rapes and
murders and been involved in the Yorkshire
Ripper investigations. She sounds tough.
?It?s a certain sort of person who wants to
be involved in the police force, isn?t it? It?s not
for the faint-hearted, especially for a female
going into a male-dominated environment in
the late Seventies, early Eighties.?
He thinks her police experience helped him
and his sister cope with their father?s death.
The day after she found her husband?s body,
for instance, she made sure her two children
still went to school. Anything to maintain
some kind of normality. When, in 2012, her
cancer returned and she required emergency
surgery, Bairstow was on tour with England
in India. She didn?t want to inform him ? she
didn?t want to worry or distract him ? but was
finally persuaded that he should be told. ?That
sums up everything you need to know about
her,? he says. He managed to travel from
Pune to York in ?pretty much a day?, arriving
at the hospital 20 minutes before she went
into theatre. She made a full recovery. She
is, he says gently, ?a fantastic mother?.
Bairstow had always been an accomplished
sportsman. From the age of seven he was
part of the Leeds United youth set-up,
playing alongside current England stars
Fabian Delph and Danny Rose. His father
was also a talented footballer, making 17
appearances for Bradford City. Aged 15,
though, he was released. He still seems
pained by it. ?It was a horrible experience.
A putrid experience. You?re in a room and
someone?s saying, ?Look, you?re not good
enough to do what you?ve been doing for the
past seven years. We?re not giving you a
contract.? It was as brutal as that,? he says.
?You don?t know how hurtful it is until you?ve
been through it.?
What?s interesting, though, is his reaction.
?I just didn?t play football again,? he says.
?That was it. I didn?t play another competitive
game.? It is possible, I suppose, to read this
as Bairstow attempting again to inoculate
himself from pain by avoiding the source
of it, shutting out football just as he shut
The Times Magazine 21
JONNY BAIRSTOW WEARS SHIRT, �, BOSS BY HUGO BOSS(HUGOBOSS.COM),
SHOES, �5, TRICKERS.COM, AND TIE, �5, DRAKES.COM
out his father?s death. But then, on the flipside,
it wasn?t like he didn?t have other sports to
throw himself into. His dad had been a
freemason and had done a great deal of
charity work. After his death, the local lodge
initiated a trust fund with which his mother
was able to pay for her children to attend
St Peter?s, a private school in York. Here,
Bairstow excelled at rugby and hockey, but
eventually settled on a career in cricket.
He signed a professional contract with
Yorkshire and began a business studies degree
at Leeds Metropolitan University, which he
then changed to a sports performance course,
though he eventually dropped out because of
the travel demands of his job. There were, he
admits, online modules he could have done
while abroad. ?But are you telling me that a
19-year-old lad is going to sit in and do that,
rather than go explore some of the sights
of Australia, or explore the seven different
islands we went to in the Caribbean? It
was a tough decision,? he says, not entirely
convincingly. ?But it might be something I go
back to at some point.?
It has been observed that much of
Bairstow?s development as a player has
followed a familiar pattern. An aspect of
his game or technique is called into question.
He goes away, he improves it and he comes
back a better player. ?There are times when
people question your technique or say that
you?re not good enough. But every time there?s
someone saying you can?t do something,
there?s always a reaction,? he says, meaning
that he responds on the field. Some cricketers
wilt under pressure and scrutiny. Bairstow,
in a stubborn way, seems to thrive on it. ?It?s
an individual sport played among a team, so
when you?re out in the middle, you?re the only
person facing that ball. It?s fight or flight. You
either combat what they?re going to throw at
you or you get out, basically.?
I ask if he has enjoyed proving people wrong,
and he pauses. ?I need to be careful with that,?
he begins, which isn?t exactly a resounding
no. He chooses his words. ?I wouldn?t say I
necessarily sought pleasure in it. But I definitely
think there was an inner drive to do it.?
You can observe this drive when you watch
him play. He is perpetually in the zone. Running
between the wickets, he seems to sprint as fast
as he can, even when he doesn?t necessarily
need to. While some batsmen will celebrate
milestones with beaming smiles and waves
to the crowd, joy is not always the expression
you see in Bairstow. He?s often defiant. He
sometimes bellows. Because his batting is so
strong, it has often been suggested to him that
he doesn?t need to be a wicketkeeper, and that
he could get into most England squads as a
specialist batsman (precisely his role when
he opened the batting in the aforementioned
ODI series against the West Indies). He could
22 The Times Magazine
Sometimes he cries.
?Blooming heck, I?m sure
some of the toughest
men in the world do?
avoid the discomfort of having to perform
hundreds of squats every match, risking flying
balls and swinging bats and the battered,
broken fingers that come with the job.
He remains incredulous at the suggestion.
No. He still wants to keep wicket. He
remembers, as a little boy, putting on a pair
of his dad?s old wicketkeeping gloves. They were
big and heavy and, owing to constant use, were
moulded to the precise shape of his father?s
palm and fingers. ?A lot of hard graft had gone
into those gloves. Just from putting them on, you
had a feeling of what they had been through.?
His fingers could barely reach the ends. It was,
he says, ?like holding hands with him?.
Bairstow does not know why his father
hanged himself. The coroner recorded an
open verdict. It is possible, the coroner said,
that David Bairstow had not meant to take
his own life, that it could have been a cry for
help and that he expected his family to find
him and save him. His family, for various
innocent reasons, returned home half an
hour later than they had expected. The
inquest heard that he had been suffering
from depression and stress, that his wife?s
illness had been hard on him and that he
was due in court to face a drink-driving charge
that would probably lead to the loss of his
licence and, in turn, the failure of his one-man
cricket marketing business. But there was no
suicide note. A few hours before he died, he
had made a restaurant reservation for the
following day, to celebrate his wife?s birthday.
To Bairstow, his death will always be an
?unsolved puzzle?. He says he feels no anger
towards his dad. ?Because you?ll only keep
asking questions that can?t be answered.?
One thing Bairstow does not do is blame
the sport of cricket, although it would
be understandable if he did. It appears
a morbid fact that England cricketers ? and
ex-cricketers in other countries ? are more
likely to take their own lives than the average
male. Some studies make them almost twice
as likely to commit suicide.
The reasons for this are complex, although
there seems to be a general understanding
that the nature of professional cricket is
unlike other sports. You can spend half the
year travelling, constantly among team-mates,
which can foster a deep sense of belonging
and purpose. To suddenly have this taken
away from you, the theory goes, can leave
men bereft.
I interviewed Andrew Flintoff not long
after his retirement and he talked about how
?raw? it felt to no longer be playing. When
I asked Jimmy Anderson, the veteran England
bowler, about what his plans were after his
cricket career ended, he looked genuinely
stricken. He did not have any. He did not
want to think about it.
The reassuring thing about Bairstow is that
he is thinking about it. ?My cricket could go
on for years or it could finish very soon. I?m
not delusional. If it were taken away from me
there would be a void left to fill, yes, but at the
same time I?ve a natural drive and ambition
to be successful in another field. You?ve got to
be able to step away. You?ve got to have other
interests.? He makes a point of trying to socialise
with people who are not involved in cricket. ?I
like being able to meet people from other walks
of life, other disciplines, whether that be rugby,
other sports, people working in property in
London. If you don?t put yourself in those
situations and try to learn, try to get a real
sense of what it is that other people do, then
how do you expect them to understand you??
Towards the end of our time, he lists a few
childhood memories of his father. Nothing
major, just standard dad stuff: chopping down
an old cricket bat so that it would be short
enough for his son; convincing Bairstow that
Santa was real and getting him to leave mince
pies and sherry by the fireplace; barbecuing
sausages; competing in vegetable growing
contests; weekend trips to Blackpool. Sometimes,
he says, he?ll cry. But that?s fine. ?It?s not a bad
thing. It?s not a negative thing. There?ll be one
little trigger that gets you. Blooming heck, I?m
sure some of the toughest men in the world
do it, do you know what I mean??
He sometimes worries that we imagine
him to be more taciturn than he really is, that
the hardness or abruptness he is occasionally
capable of now serve as a shorthand for his
entire character. ?I think that people sometimes
take things in the wrong way because of my
accent or mannerisms,? he says.
I guess the point is that he?s spent 20 years
not really talking about his father?s absence.
Only now, tentatively, he is. ?People deal
with different things in different ways, and
there was a choice I made at that certain time
when I was growing up,? he says. ?But now
I?m learning to get that softness back.? n
A Clear Blue Sky by Jonny Bairstow and
Duncan Hamilton will be published by
HarperCollins on October 19, priced �
AN EVENING WITH JONNY BAIRSTOW
In an exclusive Times+ event, the Yorkshire
and England star will be in conversation at
Headingley, Leeds, on October 18. To book
tickets, go to mytimesplus.co.uk
OVER 45. IN A BIKINI. LOOKING FOR LIKES.
PORTRAITS Romas Foord
AM I TOO OLD TO BE AN INSTAGRAM INFLUENCER?
There are money and prestige to be earned on social media. Polly Vernon, above, wants in
ROMAS FOORD, POLLYVERNON/INSTAGRAM
I
?m on my summer hols ? a September fortnight
in Andalusia, with my partner and two mates ? when
my editor from The Times calls. ?I?ve had an idea,?
she says. ?Like an experiment. While you?re away,
you should try to make yourself into one of those?
Instagram people. You know the ones.?
As it happens, I do know. They are more
properly called ?influencers?, and they are
a new professional class. Influencers are
individuals who achieve an unusually high
impact on social media, translating glossy
looks, charming dispositions and high levels
of jollity into tens of thousands ? or hundreds
of thousands, or even millions ? of followers
on the photo-sharing site. This generates a
potent traction that is tapped into eagerly by
marketing companies, which pay influencers
anything from �0 to �,000 to post a shot
that features their product.
Influencers are models cum celebrity
ambassadors cum brand identities in one
self-realised, self-sustaining package. You
could call them ?the future of advertising?;
although Chiara Ferragni ? the 30-year-old
Milanese fashion blogger turned superinfluencer, whom Forbes placed at No 1
in its newly published list of Top Influencers
? would go a step further. ?Influencers are the
new media,? she told Forbes.
As it also happens, a small part of me
had been wondering whether I might have
influencer potential. I started my Instagram
account five years ago, out of vague interest,
and because everyone else was doing it. I liked
it. I found it less spiteful and scrappy than
Twitter; and if others started using it as a
rolling document of heavily doctored images
of their fake-perfect lives, of their perfectly
turned-out children, their sumptuous homes,
the fabulous parties they?d attended, while
? what a shame! You weren?t invited ? I found
my speciality niche in curating images of
penises graffitied onto walls. I?d break out
occasionally. My new pair of shoes, as
seen from above. A packet of chocolate
digestives and a bottle of red, nestled in
Sainsbury?s self-service check-out area,
captioned, ?Dinner for one #domesticgoddess?.
But generally: graffiti penises.
Gradually, I accrued followers; 200 became
2,000 became 9,500-ish, at the last count.
Most of them seemed to enjoy the penises.
I regularly scored 100 or so likes ? the red
heart-symbol Instagram badge of approval
? per post.
I didn?t much like posting pictures of
myself. Couldn?t see the point. No image
of me could beat a chalk phallus in the
amusement stakes, plus I had a particular
aversion to the culture of selfies, of Instagram
26 The Times Magazine
and Facebook-friendly self-portraiture. Why
would anyone take endless, precisely angled,
flatteringly filtered pictures of their own head,
for heaven?s sake? It seemed both horrifically
narcissistic and intensely needy to me. The
subtext of selfies could only ever be, ?Please
tell me I look pretty, here. Please.?
But, occasionally, I?d do it, despite my finer
impulses. My friend ? an accomplished fashion
marketer and Instagram user ? took a picture
of the two of us in Manhattan when we met
for dinner during one Fashion Week. I posted
it and was surprised when my followers
responded more enthusiastically than normal,
delivering 300-odd likes and some breathless
commentary. The heart-eye emoji ? which
means, I think, ?loving looking at you? or
equivalent ? featured a lot, which I thought
odd. As far as I could see, I looked jet-lagged
and squishy-eye sloshed.
Then another friend launched a T-shirt
range and asked me to post a selfie posing
in one, to help promote it. I did. I wanted
to support my friend and, although I?m no
Chiara Ferragni, I appreciate that 9,500
followers isn?t nothing, especially to a
nascent fashion label. The T-shirt selfie
was moderately well received (162 likes);
more significantly, my friend reported an
instant uptick in sales, on top of which, two
of my followers ? both of whom exert far
more influence than I do ? got in touch
about the shirts, subsequently posted
images of themselves also wearing them
and created more sales yet.
Then a cashmere company sent me a
beautiful jumper, ?on the off-chance you?ll
like it and post about it?. I did, on both counts;
I got a record 371 likes. Next, I received an
exceptional facial and broke the no-selfie
rule again, to show off my well-tended skin
(#nomakeup #nofilter). I got 534 likes. I had
breakfast with an influencer specialist, who
AT FIRST, SELFIES SEEMED TO ME
BOTH NARCISSISTIC AND NEEDY.
THE SUBTEXT COULD ONLY BE:
?PLEASE TELL ME I LOOK PRETTY?
told me my followership meant I?m definitely
in the ballpark of charging for posts. ?Ten
thousand followers is the entry point on
dosh,? apparently.
I am, undoubtedly, intrigued. Could I do
it? What would it mean for me? If I do, and it
works, am I a massive sell-out? If I don?t even
try, am I blatantly, foolishly denying myself a
potential income?
At the same time:
?Aren?t I too old to start doing this?? I ask
my editor, on the phone from Spain. I am
46, 16 years older than Chiara Ferragni, never
mind that she began her journey towards
worldwide influencer status in 2009, aged
22, when she launched her fashion blog,
The Blonde Salad.
?Don?t think so,? my editor says. ?Look at
Liz Hurley.?
Hurley, you may recall, posted a series of
Instagram pictures of herself in a bikini, doing
yoga in her back garden, earlier this summer.
?She?s not an influencer,? I object. ?She?s
a famous person with an Instagram account
whose images went viral. That?s different.?
?Oh, give it a go!? says my editor.
And so I do.
Apart from my considerable age, I am
hampered in my mission to become a fashion
influencer by being on holiday, and therefore
limited in the wardrobe stakes. I have a ton
of swimwear, a denim skirt, a pair of shorts,
some T-shirts and a New York Yankees
baseball cap, which says nothing about my
sporting affiliations and everything about
Images from
Polly Vernon?s
Instagram feed
my desire not to wrinkle any more than
I have to. My hair is due a colour session.
My toenails are a state.
I read a piece earlier this year about
the attempts of Max Chafkin ? a relatively
ordinary New York journalist ? to do what
I, too, am trying to do, and become a style
influencer. I learn that what I really need
right now is an appointment with one of the
agencies rapidly establishing themselves to
manage the careers of influencers, and a
selection of 20 borrowed designer outfits in
which I must pose for a photo session with
the professional photographer I must also
hire, so that I have a collection of glossy
shots primed and ready to post. Also? A
hundred or so quid to spend on buying
followers, with which to boost existing
follower numbers. Oh, and I should follow
other, more established influencers, then add
breathless comments to the bottom of their
posts, in the hope I?ll win their attention and
spur them into following me back.
Once I start posting my photo-session
shots, I must hashtag each with a minimum
of 20 phrases, all of which are so hypey yet
anodyne, I can hardly bring myself to reprint
them. OK, OK: #liveauthentic is apparently
a good one. This kind of thing will, Chafkin
reports, direct strangers to your posts.
The only element of this rigorous
campaign that is open to me is the
professional photographer.
Sort of.
My partner used to be a fashion
photographer; he gave it up ten years ago
for a more noble professional calling (he?s
a policeman). This should put me at an
advantage. Every influencer needs what
is commonly referred to as
an ?Instagram Husband?, a
perennially available putz prepared
to devote hours of his or her
day to capturing the image of
their influencer life-companion.
A personal paparazzo. My boyfriend
is qualified to perform this duty.
He is also stubborn. He hates
taking pictures of anything and
anyone; most of all ? for reasons he?s
never been able to fully explain, other
than to accuse me of being ?really
vain and really difficult? ? he hates
taking pictures of me.
?TAKE MY PICTURE! IT?S FOR
WORK!? I scream at him, after he
point blank refuses for several hours.
He sighs, takes my iPhone, snaps a few
shots of me in a bikini, hands the phone back.
The pictures are terrible. Blurred, off centre,
unflattering, with my head half cut off. They
are designed to ensure I never again ask him
to take my photograph.
I start experimenting with the dark art
of selfie-ing. I discover the time-delay option
on the iPhone camera app, which delays
the shutter for either three or ten seconds,
allowing you, the selfie subject, to arrange
yourself more fetchingly, and ensuring that
every image you post is not framed by your
outstretched arms as they hold the phone
away from your face. I discover the time-lapse
video function, which creates whizzy speededup video clips.
I?ve acquired an instagrammable fashion
item from a Spanish beach vendor: a knockoff
adidas bumbag, ethnic and woven, with the
brand?s symbol stencilled unevenly to its
front. A snip at �. It is cheap, fun, brightly
coloured and (I think) cool; bumbags are
big in both mainstream fashion and in the
world of Instagram. Gucci?s, in particular, are
considered cult.
I clip the bumbag to my bikinied waist and
snap a selfie, or rather a torso-y ? my head
isn?t visible ? while posing on the balcony
of our villa (see above left). I snap another
and another, twisting my body around, this
way and that; I apply a filter to the best of the
bunch. I?ve decided, at some point, that this
will be the limit of how much I manipulate
the images I post. I?m happy to find my best
angles, and happy to filter images with one
of Instagram?s 24 standard-issue filter options.
But ? in the name of whatever passes
for ?integrity? in my head ? I won?t
use Facetune or any of the alternative
photoshopping apps to digitally alter the
substance of any pictures I post.
And so I post the bikini-money-belt
shot, with the caption, ?New totally genuine
bumbag, bought off the beach!? I cannot
bring myself to hashtag the caption, even
though Max Chafkin said I must. It seems
inexpressibly cringe-making, and I?ve already
had to overcome waves of cringing to get
this far.
The likes spring up rapidly, along with
complimentary commentary. Heart-eye emoji
face, ?#abs-piration!?, ?WOW!? ? That sort
of thing. One follower wants to know how
I work out, and how often. Despite myself,
and while knowing this is really nothing
more than basic Instagram etiquette, one
posts approving comments beneath a selfie,
regardless of how one actually feels about the
I FIND MYSELF DRAWN BACK TO MY
PHONE. HOW MANY LIKES DO I HAVE
NOW? WHO?S FOUND A NEW WAY
TO TELL ME I?M REALLY HOT?
selfie, in the way one claps at the end of a
play: because you know you?re supposed to.
I feel flattered. Approved of.
I take my phone and walk to the
sunloungers with new swagger. I pick up my
Kindle and attempt to re-engage with the
thriller I started on the plane, only I find
myself drawn back to my phone and my
Instagram app. How many likes now?
I am aware that, as interior monologues
go, this is a singularly unedifying example.
A few hours, some 250 likes and
70 comments later, I start to feel
uncomfortable. What exactly do I think
I?m doing, showing off like this? Who
am I hoping to impress? Worse yet: who am
I trying to make feel lesser? I?m about to call
off the whole project when, en route to dinner
in a beach bar, I spot a beauty of a phallus,
spray-painted onto an Andalusian garage
door. I snap it and post it. This is true
Instagram me, I think.
The penis scores 68 likes.
I feel renewed the next day; brazen, even.
Max Chafkin had explained the importance
of posting regularly to generate interest and
traction, so I know I must post again,
The Times Magazine 27
and quickly. I?m wearing a pair of white denim
hotpants and, as I?m contemplating the nature
of my next pic, I remember that, roughly ten
years earlier, I?d appeared in a newspaper, also
wearing hotpants, under the headline, ?Help!
Am I too old for hotpants?? The model Marie
Helvin, who was reviewing the papers on
Radio 4 on the day the article appeared,
selected my feature, informing the nation?s
airwaves that I most certainly was.
I post a hotpant shot, captioning it,
?Wearing hotpants (even though Marie
Helvin once said I shouldn?t)?. I get 223 likes
and a series of comments damning Helvin
for her ageism.
A couple of days and a few more wellreceived posts later, I am feeling pretty
confident. I?ve gone a little crazy, admittedly.
I?ve dropped my phone several times while
trying to wedge it into rock crevices so
that I can achieve specific angles on selfies;
miraculously, it doesn?t break. I?ve become
obsessed by my surroundings in a very specific
way. Where others see sea, sky, horizon,
I see only a low wall painted a fetching shade
of teal that would definitely make a nice
backdrop on a photo. I attempt to pose near
a pug ? which is very cute despite the fact it?s
destroying a plastic water bottle with rabid
intent ? and nearly get bitten.
One morning, Lucy Siegle, the writer and
broadcaster, who is also my friend and on
this holiday with us, leaves a comment on
the bottom of my latest post, instructing me
to join her immediately by the pool and ?stop
arsing around online?.
Then I notice something weird.
?Every time I post a picture of me in
a bikini, I lose 50 followers,? I wail.
Until this point, my follower figures have
stayed stable. They?ve grown quietly and
steadily, boosted by my appearing on a more
successful instagrammer?s podcast, perhaps;
but they?ve never noticeably dropped.
Suddenly, they are dropping, and only in the
aftermath of bikini shots. I post a test picture
of my breakfast: it results in 186 likes and no
losses. A picture of a dalmatian I encounter:
160 likes and no losses. Some palm trees at
sunset: 259 likes and no losses. Me in a bikini?
278 likes, and 55 unfollows! I do it again.
More likes, but also more losses. And
again. More losses.
?It?s as if they hate me,? I say. ?Why
were they following me in the first place,
if they hate me so much that when they?re
confronted by my flesh, they unfollow me??
I feel bereft, rejected by the entire
internet. I feel ashamed. My real-life fellow
holidaymaker friends and family think I?ve
lost my mind, in a really tedious way.
We head out for dinner. I keep monitoring
my falling followers.
?Put your phone down,? says my boyfriend.
28 The Times Magazine
?It?s spiralling,? I say. ?We?re spiralling.?
?OK, we need to stabilise,? says Lucy,
who has always been very sensible in an
emergency. ?You?re alienating people with the
bikini shots. We need to make you relatable
again.? Our drinks order arrives. I post a
boomerang ? a frequently repeated mini
video ? of us cheers-ing the booze.
Forty-eight likes and no losses.
The next morning, I post yet another
swimwear shot ? a time-lapsed mini video
in which I buzz around a balcony in a
swimsuit. In the caption, I refer to the follower
loss and ask what?s going on. Again, the likes
accumulate rapidly. One follower says that
she does understand why others might be
inspired to unfollow me. ?It does seem a bit
show-offy,? she says. Of course, she?s right.
I am showing off. But then, isn?t everyone on
social media? Basically?
?I just don?t understand why you need
the validation of strangers,? she adds.
Me neither, I think.
By the time I leave Spain, and despite
I NOTICE SOMETHING WEIRD. EVERY
TIME I POST A PICTURE OF ME IN
A BIKINI, I LOSE 50 FOLLOWERS.
?IT?S AS IF THEY HATE ME,? I WAIL
gaining about 70 new followers over this
fortnight of experimental posting, I?ve clocked
up net losses of 55. Given that I need to
reach 10,000 followers before I can even
begin to think of myself truly as an ?influencer?,
this isn?t ideal.
When I get back to London, I contact
my friend Camille Charri鑢e, an influencer
of extraordinary, well, influence. She is 30,
blonde, French, beautiful, with a degree in law;
she has 593,800 followers on Instagram, and
The Business of Fashion website named her as
one of its Fashion 500 Faces on the very day
I started trying to be an influencer. I met her
at a fashion event about six years ago; we sat
next to each other over dinner.
I?d never heard of the concept of
influencing at that point; I had no idea of its
power. She explained it to me, by instructing
me to post a picture of the floral dinner-place
setting on my Instagram feed at the same time
that she did. I got about 17 likes in the time
that she accrued more than 2,000.
?I don?t understand,? I said.
?Nor do I, really,? she replied.
I send her a message. ?How do I do this,
Cami? Give me tips!?
She tries to call me; it takes three goes,
because my phone is old.
?OK,? she says. ?My first tip for you is:
get a better phone. You?ve messed this up
already. My second tip is: if you?re going to
do this, do it properly. Think about it. Take
nice pictures. Change them. Change the
point of view, change the angles. Not all
selfies, not all the same. Caption them
cleverly. Honour your followers. My third
tip is: ignore your shame. The voice in your
head that says, ?Your friends and family
are laughing at you.? They are, but that?s
not relevant. The voice in your head that
says, ?You can?t post again today; you only
did it yesterday.? The voice in your head
that says, ?No one cares you?re in jeans
and a white T-shirt.? ?
?You have that voice, too?? I ask. I am
surprised. Charri鑢e is such an accomplished
influencer; she makes it look so easy. I?ve no
idea how much she earns, but I?m going to
guess it?s considerably more than I do as a
humble journalist.
?Of course I have that voice,? Charri鑢e
says. ?All the time. Ignoring it is half the trick.?
I ask her about my experience of being
unfollowed. Should I avoid bikini shots in
the future?
?No,? she says. ?What happened is, because
those posts inspired a lot of activity, the
Instagram algorithms would have pushed you
to the top of the feed of all your followers.
Some of those followers will have forgotten
about you. They followed you randomly
because they sat next to you at dinner three
years ago. They?ll see that picture, realise
they?re still following you, realise they don?t
care, and unfollow.?
Is that bad?
?No. It?s good. It?s like a cleanse.?
Before she rings off, I ask Charri鑢e if
she thinks I?m just too old to pull this off.
?God, no!? she says. Then, ?Remember:
people just want to know what you?re wearing.
That?s all. Show them.?
I feel rather inspired by the call. I go home,
take a picture of myself sitting on the edge
of my bed wearing a new bright red fake
fur coat from high street label Mango. I
hashtag it #fauxfur #redcoat #newcoat,
and I post it (see previous page). I get
543 likes ? a near record ? enough new
followers to compensate for those I lost
during bikini-gate, and no losses.
I feel good. I feel as if I?ve taken a small
step towards cracking this.
I mean, obviously, once this experiment
for The Times Magazine is over and this
article is written, I?ll stop. The selfies, the
hashtags, the fretting over followers, the
endless posing ? After all that, I?ll go back
to the penis graffiti and the day job.
Probably. n
TH E RE ?S
Mary Berry wears blouse,
�5, Gucci; trousers,
�0, Jigsaw; vintage
Herm鑣 belt, Mary?s own
SOM E T HIN G
AB O U T
M ARY
She?s the 82-year-old
businesswoman who
always makes her
husband dinner; the
cook who can carry off
Gucci. Deborah Ross
visits Mary Berry to
find out about life after
Bake Off ? and tries to
get invited to dinner
PORTRAITS David Titlow STYLING Prue White
PREVIOUS SPREAD: BLOUSE, �5, GUCCI (BROWNSFASHION.COM); TROUSERS, �0, JIGSAW-ONLINE.COM; EARRINGS, �, COCOANDKINNEY.COM; BELT, MARY?S OWN.
HAIR AND MAKE-UP: CLARE TURNER USING GIORGIO ARMANI BEAUTY AND SKINCARE, BUMBLE AND BUMBLE. THIS SPREAD: REX SHUTTERSTOCK, GETTY IMAGES
S
o, off to meet Mary Berry, who
was The Great British Bake Off
until she suddenly wasn?t, who
has published more than 70
cookery books, who has, before
you ask, no plans for retiring
? ?Gracious, no? ? and who in
2015 was ranked No 74 in FHM?s
100 Sexiest Women poll, beating
Jennifer Lopez and Daisy Lowe.
Do you think, Mary, you might be able to
move up a couple of places next year? If you
were to work on your sexiness? Are you
putting in the sexiness work, Mary? ?I am
not,? she says, but there is a little twinkle of
amusement in her extraordinarily blue eyes,
which is a relief, given it is everyone?s dearest
wish for Mary Berry to love them, surely,
and at various points it had seemed rather
touch and go.
We meet at her Buckinghamshire home,
which is ravishing. The house is large and in
the Queen Anne style, while the grounds are
sensational. I take a snoop, naturally. There?s
a wild meadow, a sizeable pond that may even
be a lake, an Italianate walk, a tennis court,
deliciously fragrant wigwams of sweetpeas
and a vegetable patch with onions bursting up
through the earth. I could be happy here and
may never leave, I tell her later. What?s for
dinner? But she nips that in the bud promptly.
?I?m out. I?m going to Rosemary Moon, who
is a dear friend and home economist. She?s
retiring to Scotland so her friends are doing a
dinner for her.? And, just so there is no room
for doubt: ?I?ll be going to Chichester.?
When I first arrive she is upstairs
somewhere being titivated by the stylists for
the photoshoot. Lucy, her assistant, makes
me a coffee (instant!) in the kitchen, which
isn?t industrial chic and doesn?t have exposed
brickwork or a bannister to slide down. Instead
it?s soothingly reassuring, with its cream units,
marble worktops, Aga, family photographs and
china figurines of pheasants and similar. She
has always described herself as a cook, not a
chef, but I wonder if, on occasion, she ever feels
like making something just a little bit cheffy. A
Yotam Ottolenghi, for instance. ?Oh, don?t be
daft,? she says. ?I don?t have those ingredients.?
And you?ve better things to do than peel
112 shallots and set out on a nationwide search
for kecap manis? ?Absolutely.?
Clean eating ? ever given it a shot? ?It?s a
fad, like nouvelle cuisine.?
What about at the other extreme? Does
Mary Berry order takeaways? ?I?ve never had a
takeaway. I?d have to go and fetch it. But I will
go into M&S on my way home and buy a �
meal. That to me is more fun than a takeaway.?
When she comes down, she has been
dressed by the fashion team and is wearing
black Jigsaw trousers, a Gucci pussy-bow shirt
and vivid pink Coco & Kinney tassel earrings.
With her children,
William, Annabel and
Thomas, in 1975
?I was quite frightened of
my father, really. But I?m
not of the generation
that analyses everything?
With Paul Hollywood,
Mel Giedroyc and
Sue Perkins, 2013
She looks terrific. She is 82 and may even be
the epitome of what all those magazines she
worked for in the Fifties and Sixties might
have called ?timeless glamour?. She likes the
trousers ? ?They fit your bum really nicely,
Mary,? confirms the stylist ? but thinks the
shirt and earrings are not anything she?d wear
in the normal run of things, which makes her
uneasy. ?People think of me as someone of my
age who wears nice clothes. If I have to wear
what?s brought in, it?s quite difficult.? I say that
for the magazine?s purposes, the image will be
more striking if you wear something you
wouldn?t wear normally. ?The fashion editor
wants fashion,? she concedes, ?but whenever
I see fashion, I think, ?Who the hell would
actually wear that?? ?
She is game, but cautiously watchful. As
a ?national treasure? and ?the nation?s gran?,
she is expected to radiate instant warmth and
cuddles. We forget she is first and foremost
a formidable career woman, businesswoman
and brand. She has her own spin-off ranges
including salad dressings, but when I ask
about the newest launch, a mango and lime
dressing ? is it tasty? ? she nips that in the bud
promptly. ?I don?t want to publicise any of that,?
she says, ?because we?ve just sold the business.?
She?s also made her own notes for this
interview, which she will keep reading from.
Her notes are on Mary Berry?s Country House
Secrets, her new TV show about the nation?s
most beloved stately homes (Highclere
Castle, Goodwood, Powderham Castle,
Scone Palace) seen though the prism of food,
and culminating in Mary taking over the
house kitchen and producing some kind of
celebratory meal. ?We spent six days on each
programme,? she will read. ?My idea was to
go and find all the things that people who go
round the house haven?t seen. We find secret
passages and secret letters that have never
even been read.?
It?s her first programme for the BBC
since Bake Off and, although her people don?t
want our conversation to be ?too Bake Offy?
because we are meeting the week Channel 4?s
version is due to air, it would be errant not to
mention it. As it is she has, she says, had the
tabloids at the door or putting notes through
her letterbox in the hope, presumably, she?ll
say something along the lines of, ?I pray it fails
Continues on page 45
The Times Magazine 33
T
OU P
LL EE
PU D K
AN
Eat!
HOW TO
COOK CATAL AN
RECIPES FROM JOS� PIZARRO?S
PHOTOGRAPHS
Laura Edwards
Chicken stew with
langoustines, page 42
NEW COOKBOOK
RABBIT RICE
Serves 4-6
? 1 wild rabbit, jointed into 6 (ask
your butcher to do this for you)
? Sea salt and freshly
ground black pepper
? Olive oil, for frying
? 1 large onion, finely chopped
? 2 celery sticks, finely chopped
? 2 garlic cloves, sliced
? 1 red chilli, deseeded
and finely chopped
? Pinch of saffron threads
? 1.4 litres fresh chicken stock
? 250g paella rice
1 Season the rabbit with salt and
pepper and fry in a little olive oil
to brown all over. Remove from
the pan and set aside.
2 Add a little more oil to the
pan and fry the onion and celery
for 10 minutes. Then add the garlic
and chilli and fry for 10 minutes
more. Stir in the saffron, then
pour in 1.2 litres of the stock
and bring to a simmer.
3 Return the rabbit to the pan,
cover and simmer for 1� hours
until really tender and the meat
is falling apart.
4 Stir in the rice and the rest
of the stock, season, cover and
simmer gently for 15-18 minutes
without stirring, until it is just
cooked but still a little soupy.
Spoon into bowls and serve.
RED MULLET STUFFED
WITH ANCHOVIES,
OLIVES AND CAPERS
Serves 4
? 6 salted anchovies
? 75g black olives
? 1 garlic clove
? 1 tbsp capers, drained
and rinsed
? Handful of parsley, torn
? Finely grated zest of 1 lemon
? 1 hard-boiled
free-range egg yolk
? 1-2 tbsp olive oil, plus
extra for frying
? 4 red mullet, filleted
? 1kg ripe tomatoes, sliced
? Handful of tarragon stalks,
leaves stripped
? Extra virgin olive oil
1 In a small food processor or
using a pestle and mortar, blitz
the anchovies, olives, garlic,
capers, parsley, lemon zest and
egg yolk until you have a rough
paste. Add enough olive oil to
loosen the mixture.
2 Put four of the mullet fillets
skin-side down on a board. Spread
them with the anchovy mixture
then put a second fillet, skin-side
up, on top to make a sandwich.
Tie up with kitchen string.
3 In a bowl, mix the tomatoes
with the tarragon and a good
glug of extra virgin olive oil.
4 Heat a little oil in a pan and
fry the fish for 1-2 minutes each
side until just cooked and golden.
Serve the mullet sandwiches
with the tomato salad.
The Times Magazine 37
Eat! PIZARRO
Catalonians are as passionate about their cuisine as they are about their politics.
Chef Jos� Pizarro shares his favourite recipes from Spain?s northeastern coast
Eat! PIZARRO
WARM DUCK, PUMPKIN
AND LENTIL SALAD
Serves 4
? Olive oil, for frying
? Knob of butter
? 700g pumpkin, cut
into small pieces
? 300g lentils, preferably
Spanish pardina
? Half a cinnamon stick
? 1 garlic clove
? 500ml fresh chicken stock
? 2 duck breasts, skin scored
? Sea salt and freshly
ground black pepper
? Wild rocket or spicy leaves
? A handful of finely
chopped parsley
For the dressing
? 1 tbsp sherry vinegar
? 1 tbsp red wine vinegar
? 1 tsp Dijon mustard
? 3-4 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
1 Preheat the oven to 200C/
Gas 6. Heat the oil and butter
in a pan and fry the pumpkin for
15-20 minutes until caramelised
and tender. Set aside.
2 Put the lentils in a pan with
the cinnamon, garlic and stock.
Bring to the boil, then simmer
for 20 minutes until the lentils
are tender. Drain and discard the
cinnamon and garlic.
3 Season the duck with plenty of
salt and pepper and place, skinside down, in an ovenproof pan
over a low heat. Cook slowly until
the fat has rendered out and the
skin is golden and crispy. Turn
the breasts and put the pan in the
oven for 6-8 minutes until the
duck is cooked but pink in the
centre. Set aside to rest.
4 To make the dressing, whisk the
vinegars with plenty of seasoning
and the mustard. Gradually whisk
in the oil to form a glossy dressing.
5 Toss together the lentils and
pumpkin. Slice the duck and add
any juices to the dressing. Pour the
dressing over the lentils and mix
with the rocket and parsley. Serve
with the sliced duck.
CLAMS ?A LA PLANCHA?
WITH OLIVE OIL
Serves 6
? 1kg large fresh clams, cleaned
? Flaky sea salt
? Extra virgin olive oil, to drizzle
1 Heat a plancha or heavy-based
pan until very hot. Add the clams
in a single layer and cook, turning
once, for 1-2 minutes until they
open (discard any that stay shut).
2 Spoon them into a large bowl,
season and drizzle with plenty
of extra virgin olive oil. Serve
straightaway with lots of bread
to soak up the juices.
The Times Magazine 39
Eat! PIZARRO
WHOLE ROASTED
CAULIFLOWER WITH
ANCHOVY SAUCE
Serves 6
? 1 whole large cauliflower
? Olive oil
? Sea salt and freshly
ground black pepper
? 2 shallots, finely chopped
? 3 garlic cloves, finely sliced
? Good pinch of dried chilli flakes
? 8 salted anchovies,
finely chopped
? 600g fresh tomatoes,
finely chopped
? 75ml fresh vegetable stock
? 100ml double cream
? 50g unsalted butter
1 Preheat the oven to 200C/
Gas 6. Remove the leaves from
the cauliflower and set aside to use
later. Bring a large pan of salted
water to the boil and blanch the
cauliflower for 4-5 minutes. Drain
well, then put the cauliflower in
a roasting tin and drizzle all over
with olive oil. Season well and
roast for 40-50 minutes until
tender and golden.
2 Meanwhile, make the sauce.
Add a little oil to a pan and fry
the shallots gently for 10 minutes
until softened. Add half the garlic
and all the chilli flakes and cook
for 1 minute more. Tip in the
anchovies and let them dissolve,
then add the tomatoes and stock.
Season and cook for 10-15 minutes
until the tomatoes have broken
down. Add the cream and bubble
for 1 minute more.
3 Heat the butter in a separate
pan with the rest of the garlic and
fry the cauliflower leaves with
plenty of seasoning. Serve the
cauliflower with the buttery leaves
and the anchovy sauce spooned
over the top.
SAUT镋D BABY SQUID
WITH BROAD BEANS
AND MINT
Serves 4
? 50ml olive oil, plus
extra for frying
? 50g unsalted butter
? 2 large onions, very finely sliced
? 500g fresh baby squid, cleaned
? 300g baby broad beans
? 150ml light fresh fish stock
? 2 tbsp chopped mint
? Rosemary flowers,
to sprinkle (optional)
1 Heat the olive oil and butter
in a pan and, when foaming,
add the onions. Cook slowly for
10 minutes, then cover with
a lid and cook for a further
45-50 minutes until really sticky
and caramelised.
2 When the onions are nearly
cooked, heat a layer of oil in a
clean pan over a really high heat.
Fry the baby squid for a couple
of minutes until almost cooked
and slightly charred. Add the
squid to the onions with the broad
beans and stock and simmer for
a few minutes until the beans
and squid are tender. Add the mint
and rosemary flowers, if using.
Serve straightaway.
The Times Magazine 41
Eat! PIZARRO
CHICKEN STEW WITH
LANGOUSTINES
Serves 4-6 (page 35)
? Olive oil, for frying
? 10-12 fresh langoustines
? 8 chicken thighs, skin left on
? Sea salt and freshly ground
black pepper
? Knob of butter
? 4 large onions, finely chopped
? 2 fresh tomatoes, diced
? 3 garlic cloves, finely sliced
? 1 bay leaf
? 200ml white wine
? 2 tbsp sherry vinegar
? 400ml fresh chicken stock
? Few sprigs of fresh tarragon
1 Heat a little oil in a large pan
with a lid. Add the langoustines
and cook for 2-3 minutes, then
remove and set aside. Season
the chicken and add to the pan.
Brown all over, then remove
and set aside.
2 Add a little more oil to the
pan with a knob of butter. Fry
the onions very, very gently
for 20-30 minutes until really
soft and caramelised. Add the
tomatoes, garlic and bay leaf and
cook for 10 minutes more. Stir in
the wine and vinegar and let it
bubble for a minute, then add the
stock and tarragon.
3 Return the chicken and any
juices to the pan, cover and
simmer for 15 minutes until
the chicken is almost cooked.
Add the langoustines and cook
for a couple of minutes more.
Serve with crusty bread to mop
up the juices. n
SLOW-COOKED
LAMB SHOULDER
WITH ASPARAGUS
AND SAMPHIRE
Serves 6
? 3 marjoram sprigs, leaves
stripped and finely chopped
? Small bunch of finely
chopped parsley
? 3 anchovies, finely chopped
? 3 garlic cloves, crushed
? Finely grated zest of 1 lemon
? 1 tbsp capers,
drained and rinsed
? Splash of sherry vinegar
? Sea salt and freshly
ground black pepper
42 The Times Magazine
? 4 tbsp olive oil, plus
extra to drizzle
? 1 large lamb shoulder
(about 2kg), boned
? 200ml fino sherry
? 2 bunches of asparagus
? 200g trimmed and
washed samphire
1 Preheat the oven to 200C/
Gas 6. Mix together the herbs
and anchovies with the garlic,
lemon zest, capers and vinegar.
Season well and add the olive oil
to make a paste.
2 Unroll the lamb and spread
the anchovy mixture all over the
inside. Loosely roll it up and tie
with string. Put the lamb in a
roasting tin, drizzle with oil and
season all over.
3 Roast for 20 minutes, then
lower the oven to 150C/Gas 2.
Pour the sherry into the tin and
add a splash of water, then cover
with foil and cook for 2�-3 hours
until really tender.
4 Cook the asparagus in boiling
water for 1 minute. Add the
samphire and cook for 30 seconds.
Drain and refresh in cold water.
5 When the lamb is cooked, set
it aside to rest. Skim the fat from
the cooking juices and toss the
asparagus and samphire through
the juices. Slice the lamb and
serve with the vegetables.
Extracted from Catalonia by
Jos� Pizarro, published by Hardie
Grant on October 19 at �
Nadiya Hussain is away
GETTY IMAGES
Mary Berry Continued from page 33
and Paul goes to hell in a handcart,? which,
admittedly, would be great. Go on, Mary. Say
it! You?ll feel so good afterwards! Get it off
your chest! But she will only say that yes, she
will watch it and no, she has not planned any
?Boycott Bake Off with Mary Berry? events.
?Life?s too short. I have a great friendship
with Paul and I want to see how he is doing
with the new lot and I just wish it well.?
She may be quite distrustful of the press
generally, having put up with a lot of nonsense
being said about her, one way or another. ?I
read stuff about myself that is not true, but my
father always said you never reply to anything
and I never do. I just think, ?How did you get
that information?? ?
So you don?t have hair extensions?
?That?s hilarious! A lot of it does make you
laugh. Hair extensions? No. And no facelifts,
nothing.? Botox? ?No. I?ve got wrinkles. That?s
what happens when you are older. It doesn?t
worry me.? Your beauty secret? ?I use E45
from a big bottle.?
We settle in the conservatory as her dogs,
Darcey (working cocker) and Millie (labrador),
pootle about. They are lovely dogs and she
likes to cuddle them well enough, but are they
allowed on the bed? ?No.? Her husband of
51 years, Paul Hunnings, a retired antiquarian
book dealer, is also pootling about. (He may
be allowed on the bed but I forget to ask, so
cannot say for sure.)
I am keen to suck up so remove from my
bag my copy of Mary Berry?s Cookery Course
(1991), which, genuinely, I?ve used so much
down the years it?s all but falling apart. She is
pleased about this ? ?Ah, isn?t that nice? ? but
then I fear I ruin it all by saying it?s not just
food that?s moved on in the past two and half
decades, but also food photography. Not being
rude, Mary, but that Spanish omelette looks as
if someone has thrown up in the frying pan.
Luckily, she agrees. ?Oh, it?s a cheapie and
they bought the photos in. I was furious.?
Suitably encouraged, I say the p鈚� looks
like something you?d scrape from your shoe.
Again, she?s in full agreement. ?Awful. Terrible.
Was it Piatkus? Very nice people, Piatkus, but
they had no money.?
And now, back to her notes: ?When we
were at Highclere, I absolutely loved the
outdoor life. I made scones. No, not scones.
I made a pheasant stew for the gamekeepers.?
In fact, Highclere was where Downton
Abbey was filmed, so she was made up about
that. ?I loved Downton. Just loved it. Wouldn?t
ever miss it for the world.? At one point, she
was strolling round the house when she
caught herself in a mirror and, ?I felt quite
like Lady Mary.? But did you then go on to kill
a Turk with your sexiness, Mary? She did not,
she says. As you have not worked on your
sexiness, I?m at all not surprised. Work on
your sexiness a little more, hang out with
Clean eating ? ever
given it a shot? ?It?s a fad.?
What about takeaways?
?I?ve never had one?
With her husband,
receiving her CBE, 2012
Rosemary Moon a little less, that?s my advice.
Another twinkle (I think).
As for her other favourite show, it?s Call the
Midwife ? ?Irresistible.? I?d assumed Victoria
would be right up her street, but it turns out
she can?t be doing with it. ?I would so like
someone to agree with me on this ? There is
someone in the background saying, ?And now
Victoria is leaning down to pray,? or whatever.?
Um, Mary, maybe you have the audio
description turned on? ?No, it?s part of the
programme. There is a voice telling you all
the time what?s going on. There are several
programmes doing it. It?s most peculiar.? Mary,
I seriously think you?ve somehow turned the
audio description on. ?They?ll say, ?And now
she is bending down to pick up the three
stones.? ? Most odd, I concur, having given
up. I wish they?d stop doing that, too.
I wonder about the first television
programme she can remember. ?Animal,
Vegetable, Mineral?,? she says, ?presented by
Sir Mortimer Wheeler. Black and white, tiny
screen. We didn?t have a telly, so the whole
family used to go to the Wills family on a
Sunday for a sandwich and to watch television.?
She was raised in Bath. Her father, Alleyne,
was a surveyor while her mother, Margaret,
stayed home to look after Mary and her two
brothers. Was your father, I ask, very much a
Victorian father? Yes, she says. ?You never had
praise from him. The first person in his eyes
was his wife. Mummy always came first for
him, and vice versa. Now it?s quite different. But
as children we were never spoilt at all. I was
quite frightened of my father, really. You had to
behave yourself.? Would you say you?ve been
seeking his approval all your working life?
Again, she nips this in the bud promptly. ?I?m
not of the generation that analyses everything.?
The major incident of her childhood was
contracting polio at 13. What does it feel like,
polio? ?I?d been out on my pony and I can
remember feeling as if I had flu. And then
I remember being in bed and having the fire
lit in my bedroom, and I knew I must be very
ill for them to have lit the fire. Dr Love came
and I was immediately sent to the isolation
ward at the hospital. I didn?t know what was
wrong with me. Someone read from the notes
at the bottom of my bed that I had infantile
paralysis, and then I realised I was ill. I was in
a glass room, and your parents couldn?t come
and talk to you.?
Were you scared? ?I was too ill to be
scared. It was just very odd.?
Did you worry about dying? ?I didn?t even
think about it.? It has left her with curvature
of the spine, a weak left arm and a misshapen
hand, which, she says, ?doesn?t matter to me
at all. I get lots of letters when I do television
saying you?re arthritic and offering me cures,
but it doesn?t worry me in the least.?
At school she wasn?t at all academic, and,
?I absolutely hated it.? She failed every subject
apart from domestic science and was told by
the headmistress, ?There isn?t any career I can
recommend for you.? At 17 she went to Pau, in
the south of France, to study at a domesticscience school. Here she learnt how to clean
windows with newspapers and vinegar ? ?It
works, but I?ve made a particular point of
never cleaning my own windows since? ? how
to clean toilets (?Flush, brush, flush,? was the
rallying cry) and how to make a bed. ?Miss
Neilson, the principal, would say if you?re doing
a double bed you put the open end of the
pillow towards the centre. A programme my
husband was watching, The Hotel Inspector,
with that very large lady, Ruth somebody ?
She was saying they?d made the bed badly,
with the open end towards the outside, and
Paul said, ?You are right, you know.? ?
Back in the UK, she ended up working as
cookery editor for Housewife magazine. Does
it, I ask, seem bizarre to you now that there
was a magazine called Housewife? ?No, it
doesn?t seem bizarre at all. We still have
Good Housekeeping and that is an excellent
magazine.? You never thought, ?Why aren?t
the men doing all this flushing, brushing and
flushing while newspapering windows and
fretting over how beds are made?? She says
it goes back to how you?re brought up. ?My
mother looked after my father. My father was
served first at the table and that?s what I?ve
been bought up to do, so it seems quite
natural that I spoil my husband.?
Would you ever arrive home after a long
day and find Paul has cooked dinner? ?Good
God, no! If I?m ill, which is very rare, he?ll do
a very good omelette, which he thinks is the
best.? And you?ve never felt resentful? ?He
does many other things and I wouldn?t
The Times Magazine 45
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Call Me By Your Name (Cert 15) will be released on Friday,
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change him, but if I had my time again I
would certainly set a few rules. I think of my
own children, how they are with their families,
both sharing everything, and it?s absolutely
wonderful. It?s this modern age. When you
don?t have help and you both work, you get
down and do it. It?s totally different.?
They had three children: Thomas, Annabel
and William, who tragically died in a car
accident when he was 19. She talks about this
most movingly in her autobiography. He was
home for the weekend from Bristol Polytechnic
when, on the Sunday morning, he and Annabel
drove off to buy the papers while Mary cooked
lunch. When they didn?t return and the
doorbell rang, she knew instantly something
was wrong. It was a policeman, saying the car
had overturned on the road. She was told
Annabel had survived but William had been
killed instantly. At the hospital, she was asked
if she?d like to see his body, and she said she
would. ?His little face was perfect,? she writes.
?He was serene and I knew he was all right.?
I wonder if she ever replays that morning
in her mind: if only I?d gone for the papers ?
If only I?d offered to drive ? ?No. You can?t.
You can?t go back. You can?t blame anybody. It
just happened. But I wouldn?t be surprised if
he walked in now, although I?d expect him to
walk in aged 19 but of course he?d be ? 48,
?Life?s too short. I have
a great friendship with
Paul; I want to see how he
is doing with the new lot?
with receding hair. Oh, I don?t want to think
about that, you know.?
Do you dream about him? ?He once jumped
off a bridge when we were in Scotland, into
the Spey, and I can remember seeing him
jump and thinking, ?You naughty boy.? I dream
of that and I dream of him playing rugger, and
I dream of him walking through the door ?
They are not nasty dreams.? Comforting?
?Yes.? Do you have religious faith? ?I do.?
It helps? ?It tells you not to ask why.?
She had enjoyed TV forays before then, but
after the accident she decided to stay home,
running Aga classes, and she was something
of a nostalgic figure until Bake Off came along.
You could never, I say, have predicted how big
it would become. ?Not at all,? she says. ?But
it?s just such an enchanting programme, so
happy.? I say, rather bravely that, like Strictly,
I?m not sure it matters about the presenting
team, because the format is so strong. ?It is an
amazing format, an absolute winner. And the
real stars of the show are the actual bakers.?
You don?t want to say, at this point, that
you wish Prue Leith would also go to hell in a
handcart? Get it off your chest? ?I know Prue
well, and if I could have chosen who would
take my place, I would have chosen Prue.? You
must have been heartbroken, though, to see it
go to Channel 4? ?The BBC commissioned it
and it grew for the BBC ? I just thought my
case was to stay with the BBC. I couldn?t ?
Anyway, it?s moved on.? Then it?s back to her
notes: ?I made a cricket tea at Goodwood.
Lord March is brilliant, up early and working
all the time to make it a success. He is such
an enthusiast.?
Our hour is up. She signs my battered old
book: ?Deborah, with love ? nice to see a wellused book, Mary Berry x.? With love! A kiss!
(Sit on that, Rosemary Moon!) But then I go
and ruin it all by moving in to give her a hug,
at which point she stiffens. ?This is another
thing that is very difficult for people my age,?
she says. ?This hugging business. I hug my
grandchildren. I hug my dogs.? Sorry, I say.
?It?s a new thing, isn?t it, hugging?? I guess so,
I say. And then she?s gone. Damn. n
Mary Berry?s Country House Secrets
begins in November on BBC One
LOST. ALONE. TRAPPED IN QUICKSAND.
STALKED BY A JAGUAR. STUNG BY HORNETS.
THE BACKPACKING
TRIP THAT WENT
HORRIBLY WRONG
He was a naive young backpacker who went
on a journey into the Amazon rainforest. Now
Yossi Ghinsberg?s story has been made into a
Hollywood film, starring Daniel Radcliffe. But what
really happened was even more terrifying than the
screen version, he tells Julia Llewellyn Smith
Yossi Ghinsberg,
now 58, photographed
in Tel Aviv by Zohar Ron.
Opposite: Daniel Radcliffe
playing Ghinsberg in
the new film, Jungle
COURTESY OF YOSSI GHINSBERG
I
t was night in the Bolivian Amazon, and
on a mountain ridge Yossi Ghinsberg, a
22-year-old Israeli backpacker, lost and
alone for five days so far, injured and
famished, was lying on the ground,
wrapped in a mosquito net, unable to
sleep. Around him snakes slithered and the
jungle echoed with the noises of birds and
buzzing insects, of a monkey screaming
as some wild animal devoured it.
Suddenly, Ghinsberg heard branches
snapping and the thud of something
approaching. Leaves rustled on the ground.
Heart pounding wildly, he put his head out
of the net and shone his torch around him.
Nothing was there. Still petrified, he began
banging a tin can with a spoon in the hope
of scaring predators away. But the noises
grew nearer. He stuck out his head again
and found himself face to face with a jaguar.
?He was a large cat, covered with black
spots, and when I shone the flashlight in his
face he just froze and looked at me, his tail
wagging back and forth,? Ghinsberg recalls.
?I was trembling and panicking, but I grabbed
my cigarette lighter and a can of insect
repellent and put the flame to the spray.
It started an enormous blaze. I was completely
blinded, I could feel the hairs on my hand
scorch, but I held it there for a few minutes
until I ran out of spray and lighter fluid. When
I put it down, the jaguar had left, but I was
screaming and crying, shocked to my core.?
The jaguar encounter was only one of a
nonstop series of almost biblical tribulations
that Ghinsberg endured, after a 1981 trip with
two other backpackers and a guide into one
of the most hostile environments on earth
went disastrously wrong.
Separated from the group (two of whom
never returned ? of which more later),
Ghinsberg, a naive young man fresh from
compulsory military service, twice survived
near-drowning when he was swept over a
waterfall and then later slipped walking along
a riverbed; twice he nearly sank to his death
in quicksand.
He fell off a cliff, had patches of skin
devoured by termites, woke to find his body
covered in leeches, battled through ranges
of thorns and spent nights drenched and
freezing, with giant trees crashing all around
him as the area witnessed its worst storms
in a decade, then the next day clung to trees
to avoid being swept away by flood-water
torrents rushing through the jungle.
?Things just got worse and worse and
worse; I got more injured and more famished,?
says Ghinsberg, now 58, who comes across as
warm and garrulous, and talks with a strong
Israeli accent. ?None of my injuries healed
and then my feet completely deteriorated
? it turned out I had trench foot.?
50 The Times Magazine
?I WAS BLINDED, MY HANDS
SCORCHED, BUT WHEN
THE FLAME DIED DOWN,
THE JAGUAR HAD LEFT?
Walking became so excruciating, he tried
to distract himself by thrusting his hands in
a nettle patch, then shaking a tree full of fire
ants onto his head. ?I became a human torch:
each ant bite was like someone stubbing a
cigarette on your body. I was in so much pain
I was floating and couldn?t feel my feet.?
A typical passage in Jungle, the bestselling
book he wrote four years after his experiences,
describes how he slipped on wet grass, landing
on a sharp stick that penetrated his anus.
?I was paralysed by the pain,? he writes.
On the next page, he stumbles into a nest
of hornets, who ?swarmed on me in frenzied
attack?. Immediately afterwards, he has to hide
from wild boar, renowned for being even more
aggressive than jaguars. And so on it goes ?
It?s taken more than 30 years, but the
book has now been made into a film, also called
Jungle, directed by Greg McLean (Wolf Creek)
and starring Daniel Radcliffe as Ghinsberg. Shot
in Australia and Colombia, the film, released
next Friday, is packed with hide-behind-thecushions scenes, such as when Radcliffe
smashes open some eggs and swallows raw
chicken foetuses, or when he lances a bump
on his forehead and, with blood cascading
down his face, extracts a long, wriggly worm.
But Ghinsberg says such moments pale in
comparison to what he really suffered.
?Usually, movies are bigger than life,
but this is smaller than life,? he tells me
in New York State, where he?s attending a
conference in his current incarnation as a
tech entrepreneur.
?Everything you see is on a smaller scale
than what really happened. Often, it?s to do
with the narrative?s need to compress the
action ? one night I had termites attacking
me and the next fire ants, so termites or
fire ants, you have to choose which ones to
include. I nearly died in two swamps; you have
to make it one swamp.
?Then there are the budget issues. The
storm, the collapsing trees, the flooding river
? what you see in the movie is not even close
to the magnitude I witnessed. The jungle
was falling down around me. The river was
much wider than the one in the movie; there
were tens of thousands of trees shooting from
bank to bank.?
Then there?s the scene where Radcliffe
is thrown from a raft and carried down a
Above: the rescue
of Yossi Ghinsberg
in 1981. Right: two
days after his
ordeal ended
Ghinsberg with
Daniel Radcliffe on
the set of Jungle
ON HIS 17th DAY, HE SPOTTED A SEARCH PLANE ABOVE
THE TREETOPS. ?THAT BROKE ME COMPLETELY?
waterfall, banging his head on a rock so hard
that the water fills with blood.
?That too was much more dramatic in
real life. But you know, Greg McLean is the
master of illusion and, even with his budget
of $12 million [�million], I think those scenes
are much more powerful than those in The
Revenant with Leonardo DiCaprio, and that
had a $170 million budget.?
Also too complex for the film to fully
explore are the fascinating ? and ultimately
tragic ? friendship dynamics that existed
between Ghinsberg and his fellow travellers.
The son of two Holocaust survivors,
Ghinsberg arrived in South America eager
for adventure. ?Israel is quite a small and
isolated place and I was a thrill-seeker ? not
in the adrenaline, extreme-achievement sense,
but in terms of romance: I loved the idea of
discovering lost tribes in the jungle.?
His travels took him to La Paz, Bolivia?s
capital, where he met Karl Ruchprecter, a
thirtysomething Austrian, who presented
himself as a sage of the hostile jungle,
where he claimed to work as a geologist.
He offered Ghinsberg his services as a
guide, promising gold-panning sessions
and a visit to undiscovered Indian villages,
for a nominal $50.
Enthralled, Ghinsberg persuaded two friends
he met on the gringo trail ? Kevin Gale, a
29-year-old American photographer, revered
in the backpacker community for his macho
exploits, and Marcus Stamm, a 28-year-old
Swiss teacher ? to join him.
The men took a bush plane over the slopes
of the Andes to the lush green Amazon basin,
where their trek began. Rapidly, however,
it became clear that although Ruchprecter
understood the jungle, preparing shelter,
fire and food for the group, he was an
unreliable guide. His geologist backstory
proved false, his geography of the area was
shaky and neither the promised gold nor the
lost villages materialised.
Meanwhile, Stamm, a gentle character,
began irritating the others with his constant
complaining and sensitivity ? refusing, for
example, to eat a monkey that Ruchprecter
had caught and cooked for them. Ghinsberg
and Gale ? previously Stamm?s best friend
? started mocking him behind his back,
calling him ?Girl Scout?. Ghinsberg relished
the chance to exclude Stamm and cosy up
to the American he hero-worshipped.
?This is where I discovered my own
darkness,? Ghinsberg says sadly. ?I had
investment in seeing Marcus being defeated.
It was a very ugly victory because he was
such a beautiful person and so loveable;
he mirrored my flaws. But now he wasn?t so
perfect and Kevin preferred to be with me.
Because Marcus was weak I could pretend
I was strong, and though I was scared I could
pretend to be brave.?
After three weeks, and at Stamm?s
insistence, the group agreed to turn back. Then
he developed an agonising foot infection.
To save Stamm from walking, they paid
locals to build them a raft to carry them
along the Tuichi River, a tributary of the
Amazon. But after just a mile of paddling,
it was clear they lacked the skills to navigate
even placid waters.
Warning the group that they were
approaching an impassable canyon,
Ruchprecter insisted they continue on foot.
Gale, who was sceptical that Ruchprecter
actually knew the river, declared he would
continue rafting alone. Despite misgivings,
Ghinsberg agreed to accompany him. Stamm
asked to join them but ? by now completely
alienated from him ? Ghinsberg persuaded
Stamm to continue on foot with Ruchprecter.
The four said goodbye, agreeing they?d
all see each other in a few weeks later in
La Paz. Neither Ruchprecter nor Stamm
were ever seen again. Ghinsberg and Gale
launched the raft on the wide, calm river,
but within three hours the banks narrowed,
the water speed suddenly quadrupled and
whitewater hurtled them towards the San
Pedro Canyon, which no person had ever
succeeded in crossing.
The raft struck a rock where the currents
pinned it. Gale managed to swim to the
banks, where he watched as Ghinsberg
? clutching the raft ? was swept by foaming
rapids down a waterfall and vanished into
the canyon, flanked by sheer cliffs. Several
times, he was thrown into the air as the
raft hit more boulders, until after about
20 minutes it emerged from the canyon
and he managed to leap to shore.
Battered and shaken, Ghinsberg was
convinced Gale would soon find him. But
after four days? waiting, Gale still hadn?t
come. Buoyed by having discovered, stuck
between the rocks, the raft?s emergency pack,
containing a torch, lighter, a few matches
(mainly useless in the wet weather), a tiny
amount of rice and beans (which he hardly
touched, preferring to hoard) and some
amphetamines, Ghinsberg decided to start
walking in the pouring rain upstream.
?I was crying. My only hope was to
find Kevin, otherwise I was sure I wouldn?t
survive. I did not think of myself as a strong
guy, with the physical or emotional strength
to deal with this.?
A turning point came when Ghinsberg tried
to climb a rock face to reach a plum tree, but
was stopped in his tracks by a lora snake.
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?When a snake is snapping at you, some
sheer inner wisdom kicks in,? he says. He
grabbed a rock and smashed the snake to
death, peeled it and gutted it. ?There was
no more fear, just total composure. I was
throbbing with the intoxication of discovering
my own power. For the first time in my life,
I felt I actually was the hero. It was like
claiming my place as a man in the world.
That moment changed my life.?
For several days after, convinced (wrongly,
since the map Ruchprecter had drawn him
turned out to be inaccurate) he was only
a short walk from civilisation, Ghinsberg
was so enamoured of his new intrepid
persona, that ? despite his endless travails
? he hoped not to be rescued, but rather
to hobble out of the jungle to be greeted by
awestruck villagers. He subsisted on foraged
fruit and sustained himself mentally by losing
himself in fantasies about food, which he
craved only slightly more than the company
of other people.
But things became even harder after the
floods, which swept all the fruits from the
forest floor. For five days, he ate nothing. On
his 17th day in the jungle, he spotted a search
plane above the treetops, oblivious to his cries.
?That broke me completely,? he says.
He only once considered suicide, when
trapped in a bog, deciding to swallow
the remaining amphetamines rather than
suffocate (in the end, he managed to kick
his legs free).
?Towards the end, every step caused
excruciating pain and I?d realised I would
never walk my way out of the jungle, but
I was not at all planning on dying. My spirit
was still strong.?
On the 21st day, emaciated, covered in
mud, his clothes cut to ribbons and his feet
?shredded of all skin ? just pus and blood?,
Ghinsberg arrived at a beach with signs
of former settlement. Momentarily elated,
he then realised he?d been there previously,
and all this time had been walking in a
circle. He decided to stay there, at least
until the rainy season passed. ?I planned
a Robinson Crusoe life: I?d build a shelter,
use my net to trap birds, collect eggs. I was
determined to survive.?
Collapsed on the shingle at dusk, he heard
an engine noise, but dismissed it as an
hallucination. Eventually, he staggered to
his feet and saw people disembarking from
a canoe. Among them was Gale. ?I tried
to call, but nothing came out,? he recalls.
?[Kevin] ran frantically to me and threw his
arms around me ? We held each other tightly,
unable to let go.?
Later, Ghinsberg learnt Gale had walked
around the canyon, then floated downriver
on logs for five days, until he was spotted by
The Tuichi River valley
?EVERY DAY I COULD
HAVE DIED; THAT I LIVED
WASN?T PROWESS, IT WAS
SIMPLY PROVIDENCE?
local hunters. He urged the authorities to find
his friend, joining a Bolivian airforce rescue
flight. But realising the pilot wasn?t taking
things seriously, he commissioned a boat for
a river search. After two days on the river, the
captain announced the mission was hopeless
and ordered the crew to turn the boat round.
It was then Gale spotted the mud-caked
Ghinsberg on the shore.
?Kevin is a real-life action hero, so noble.
Everyone told him nobody could survive the
rainy season, but he never gave up looking
for me.?
They returned to La Paz expecting a
reunion with Ruchprecter and Stamm, only
to learn they hadn?t arrived. Not a trace of
either has ever been discovered. Ghinsberg
speculates that Ruchprecter may have been
killed in a fall and Stamm was unable to
carry on alone. Another theory is that a
falling tree ? common in the jungle ? crushed
them in the night.
To this day, the guilt of abandoning Stamm
haunts him. ?We didn?t send Marcus to his
death; we sent him to what we thought was
his safety,? he says. ?We didn?t do something
evil. We thought Karl knew the jungle and
could get him out, while we were doing this
crazy, dangerous thing.?
Gale, who married an Israeli woman and
today lives near Tel Aviv, is also tormented.
The pair are still great friends, but disagree
over Jungle?s narrative, with Gale, who?s
recently completed his own memoir of the
trip, refuting Ghinsberg?s version of the fateful
parting of ways.
?I respect Kevin and I?ve told him many
times your memory is as good as mine, but
he?s very upset when I say Marcus was injured,
because he says in that case we wouldn?t
have split the group,? says Ghinsberg, who?s
now based with his wife and three children
(aged 14, 11 and 7; a 32-year-old daughter lives
back in Israel) in the Australian rainforest
near Byron Bay.
?But I cannot forget what happened.
I know Marcus felt betrayed when we decided
to split. We didn?t want to take him because it
was just awkward, but Kevin says it?s because
he couldn?t handle the situation. He finds it
hard to accept the Lord of the Flies element
of my story.?
Both men tried to make amends ?
searching for Stamm for years afterwards
all over South America. Ghinsberg visited
Stamm?s family and made a ?full confession?
about their falling out. For a period, he spent
Christmas with them, before they lost touch.
Attempts to track them down before the film?s
release have proven fruitless.
The men later learnt that Ruchprecter
was well known to the authorities as a
troublemaker, having previously abandoned
a tourist after leading him into the jungle.
He was wanted by the Austrian police and
Interpol for his involvement in radical leftist
groups and had fled to Bolivia on a fake
passport. ?Karl had dark aspects. He was
his own victim; none of his stories had happy
ends,? Ghinsberg says.
After his ordeal, Ghinsberg spent a month
in hospital with a blood infection, but says
there was no psychological trauma. ?I never
had any therapy, any issues.? Rather than
returning to his overjoyed family, who?d only
known he was missing a few days before his
rescue, he remained in South America for a
couple more months.
After his book was published, readers
started visiting the locations he described. To
protect the area?s ecosystem, he helped the
locals establish a conservation area and hotel.
He?s in demand as an inspirational speaker
and is frequently asked to appear on survival
reality shows. ?I always refuse,? he says.
?I wouldn?t survive a day on something like
I?m a Celebrity... ? it promotes all the wrong
values about being cunning and manipulative
and betraying your friends.
?I never watch Bear Grylls,? he continues.
?I don?t believe in his type of survival, because
my experience has shown me we know it
already. We don?t have to learn it. Every day
I could have died; that I lived had nothing to
do with my prowess, it was simply providence.
When it?s your time to go, nothing will save
you. Karl was the best of us in that respect,
and he didn?t come back. Marcus was the best
person of us, in terms of being almost saintly,
and he didn?t come back either.? n
Jungle is in cinemas from October 20
The Times Magazine 53
Home!
THE KING OF BLING
A champagne room, crystal ceilings ? fashion designer
Philipp Plein?s pied � terre is not your average home
REPORT Barbara McMahon PHOTOGRAPHS Luke White
Clockwise from bottom
left: Philipp Plein; the
kitchen, with bronze
bee installation on the
ceiling; the bathroom,
with Italian marble
Home!
One of the house?s
three living rooms
P
hilipp Plein?s approach to fashion is
often described as being ?the right
amount of wrong?. At his most
recent show, models walked down
the runway in lace ruffled dresses
harnessed by leather bondage
straps and in T-shirts depicting
a bound and gagged Cinderella.
His over-the-top catwalk shows
have featured explosions, duels
on jet skis, monster trucks and a full-scale
rollercoaster. He employed ex-con Jeremy
Meeks, the so-called ?hot felon? who is now
dating Sir Philip Green?s daughter, Chloe, on
his release from prison.
It is inevitable, therefore, that there will be
surprises behind the door of his New York
residence, a townhouse on the ritzy Upper East
Side of Manhattan. The 39-year-old Germanborn designer bought the 9-level property ? he
owns other homes in Switzerland, Germany,
France and is building one in Los Angeles
? for $13 million (� million) 2 years ago
and has refurbished it from top to bottom.
?Houses are my passion,? the designer
declares in accented English. ?In fashion, the
clothes you make come and go. Houses give me
the chance to create something that will last for
more than a season. I?m not a house flipper.?
The dining room
The spot-lit champagne room is
rather peculiar and impractical
since the designer only drinks
Red Bull. ?It?s a bit of fun?
The property, originally built in 1920, is no
shrine to minimalism and is a testament to
Plein?s philosophy that it is important to break
the rules.
The pi鑓e de r閟istance is a champagne
room where bottles of Mo雝, Bollinger and
Veuve Clicquot are nestled on individual
shelves, under spotlights, like pieces of
jewellery. It?s completely impractical and
rather peculiar since the designer does not
like alcohol and only drinks Red Bull. ?It?s
a bit of fun,? he tells me.
In a hallway, there are photographs of Plein
with the model Naomi Campbell and with
Snoop Dogg, the rapper, both friends.
This leads into the dining room, where 600
wands of white selenite crystal ? named after
the Greek goddess of the moon, Selene, and
thought to have healing and calming properties
? have been suspended from the ceiling. ?It
took two days to hang them,? observes Plein.
Upstairs, in one of the property?s three living
rooms, twelve chandeliers are hung from the
ceiling, projecting another blaze of light.
Visitors to the kitchen inevitably take a step
back when they see what appears to be an
insect infestation in a corner of the room. It
is a swarm of bronze bees and butterflies
suspended from the ceiling and appearing
The Times Magazine 57
Home!
to fly towards the breakfast room. The effect,
however, is delightful.
There is a handsome Viking stove. Does he
make much use of it? ?I?ve never cooked,? he
says, shaking his head. ?I have chefs.?
One of the reasons Plein chose this house
is because its street number, 162, matches his
birthday, which is February 16. ?A lot of things
like this happen in my life and I don?t know
why,? the designer says.
In the master suite, that magic number is
incorporated into a logo picked out in frosted
brass on the headboard above his king-size bed.
He went to Italy, to the quarries of Massa
Carrara, to personally pick out the marble
for the house. ?I had Italians working on the
house for four months ? they lived here,? he
says. ?Only the electrician was from the US.?
He points to the door handle of the walk-in
shower in his en suite bathroom, which is bigger
than most New York apartments. Shaped like
the branch of a tree, he describes the handle
? one of many throughout the property ? as
a way of bringing a touch of nature indoors.
They were made by the British architectural
ironmongery firm Philip Watts Design.
Plein started his career in law school,
switched to furniture design and says he got
into the fashion business ?by mistake? after
using leftover cuts of leather to make handbags.
The man who has been called the king of
bling started his business in 2004 and now
has three brands: Philipp Plein, Plein Sport
and Billionaire Couture. His empire turns
over $300 million a year and he owns the
business outright.
?We are 100 per cent self-financed. I don?t
have rich parents. I don?t have an investor.
I don?t have a loan from any bank. We created
something out of nothing and have grown
organically,? he says.
Celebrities such as Iggy Azalea, Grace
Jones, Fergie from the Black Eyed Peas, Rita
Ora, Lindsay Lohan and Paris Hilton are fans.
Plein, who talks a mile a minute, clearly
regards himself as an outsider and says he
was initially snubbed by the cliquey fashion
establishment. ?The fashion industry is
controlled by a few big conglomerates and
it?s very old-fashioned,? he says, rapping his
knuckles on a table for emphasis. ?I see myself
as part of the new generation.?
One of his favourite areas of the fourbedroom, seven-bathroom property, which
also has a sauna and a gym, is a terrace that
is just above tree height. ?If you?re in a New
York apartment you might get the big view, but
you can?t open your windows,? Plein says. ?To
me, this is a more European style of living. I
have a tree so I see greenery all day. I leave my
windows open at night. To me, that is luxury.? n
Philipp Plein?s shop is at 98 New Bond Street,
London W1 (plein.com)
The townhouse?s
champagne room
The tree-height
outdoor terrace
The master suite
The Times Magazine 59
14.10.17
Pout!
& Shop!
The beauty editor?s
top 10 buys, plus
this season?s 16 best
dresses ? with sleeves.
You?re sorted
Kendall Jenner,
left, and Gigi
Hadid at the
Tom Ford show
last month.
Photograph by
Jason Lloyd-Evans
Pout!
My ten top buys for autumn, by Lesley Thomas
A deep berry lip shade
I don?t think red lips will ever go out of
fashion, but there is a vampy alternative this
season. Berry and plum were a bit of a thing
at the autumn/winter collections. Bobbi
Brown?s Crushed Lip Colour in Blackberry
(�; bobbibrown.co.uk) is excellent for
creating a pre-Raphaelite lip stain. Bourjois,
the bargain French brand, has some good,
highly pigmented ones, too ? try its Rouge
Velvet lipstick in Berry Formidable (�99;
superdrug.com). If you like your lips matt and
the colour intense, go for Dior?s Diorific Kh鬺
in Vibrant Tourmaline (�.50; dior.com).
JASON LLOYD-EVANS,
DAN KENNEDY, TOM JACKSON
A shockingly sexy scent
Tom Ford F***ing Fabulous (�5
for 50ml; exclusively at 201-202 Sloane
Street, London SW1)
Yup, you read that right. It is the rudest
fragrance name ever. This lightly spicy,
leathery scent is the latest addition to
Mr Ford?s luxy collection. I can?t lie,
though: an immature part of me just loves the
name, especially when I?m asked to identify
the incredible fragrance I am wearing.
The ultimate brow-scara
Glossier Boy Brow (�; glossier.com)
This exciting new American brand has a host
of millennial-focused products that us elders
will want to get our hands on. I have been
seeking the perfect
brow-enhancing
product for at least two
years and I am now calling
off the search. This browmascara is easy to apply without
making a mess and does not budge
once applied. It?s great for those of us
who like eyebrows to remain looking
like actual hair, rather than something
that?s been drawn on by an amateur
calligrapher. If you want fuller, darker, but
still natural-looking brows, this is The One.
A stealthy glow
Sensai Glowing Base (�; harrods.com)
Make-up artists are raving about Sensai?s
new base products. The primer in the
range is outstanding. I?ve been using it
alone, rather than under make-up. It
62 The Times Magazine
gives a believable glow to midlife skin and
somehow evens out the colour. It doesn?t
exactly cover anything, but it will get your skin
as close as it can be to flawless without the use
of camouflage. Science, eh? I really don?t know
another product like this.
The indispensable eye palette
Charlotte Tilbury Instant Eye Palette
(�; charlottetilbury.com)
Once again, Tilbury (above right) has
produced something totally foolproof and
incredibly useful. This sleek 12-pan palette
has eye shades in flattering, non-scary
colours (essentially browns, beiges, taupes,
gold and silver). For eyeshadow novices or
scaredy-cats, they are grouped into ?desk?,
?date?, ?disco? and ?day?, with Tilbury?s
trademark colour-by-numbers tips on
where exactly to apply them around your eyes.
As good as it is, it is still 60 whole pounds
for some eyeshadow. Autograph at M&S
has just launched a Lasting Colour Luxe
Eyeshadow Palette ? 12 neutral shades for a
more breathable � (marksandspencer.com).
A perfect face palette
Hourglass Ambient Lighting Edit Volume 3
(�; johnlewis.com; spacenk.com)
Hourglass has always set high standards for
complexion make-up; it?s the brand that does
contouring for grown-ups. It
has outdone itself with this
six-shade palette. That may
seem an excessive number
of colours for one face, but
you don?t have to use them
all; you could just use the
bronzer or one of the blush
or highlighter shades. Follow
the simple application instructions and
your skin will look as if it has its own
subtly flattering Instagram filter.
Thrillingly inexpensive nail colour
Beauty Pie nail colours
(from �30; beautypie.com)
Beauty Pie is an innovative way to shop
for cosmetics products. The brand
charges ridiculously low prices if you
sign up as a member (for as little as �).
The seven newly launched nail colours
(in classic nudey, red and vampy
shades) are as enduring as any
of the pricier salon offerings.
BARGAIN
BUY
A high-speed skin hydrator
Balance Me Hyaluronic Plumping Mist
(�.80; johnlewis.com)
Hyaluronic acid is just about the best
ingredient for keeping skin hydrated, drawing
and holding wrinkle-fighting moisture. It is
usually pretty expensive, though. This product
is an inexpensive way to plump up fine lines.
Don?t be fooled by the low price; this is
a smart, plant-derived skin booster that
is great for sensitive skins.
Some high-tech sheet masks
Dr Frances Prenna Jones Homework
Konjac Sheet Masks (� for a set of 4;
drfrancesprennajones.com)
Dr Frances Prenna Jones
(right), one of London?s
most sought-after cosmetic
doctors, has an exquisite
skincare range. These
vitamin and mineral-rich
sheet masks pack a serious
punch. My skin was
smoother and instantly
enlivened after one use.
An emergency cover-up
Elizabeth Arden Flawless Finish
Everyday Perfection Bouncy Makeup
(�; debenhams.com)
I don?t usually go for full-cover foundation. I
like skin that looks like skin. But sometimes,
there is stuff to hide ? zits, scars ? and
you want something more powerful
than a tinted moisturiser. This new
powder-gel compact is just the ticket.
It?s lightweight, but still gives proper
concealment if that is what you
need. There is a good colour range,
too ? 14 shades from Porcelain
to Hazelnut. n
instagram.com/lesleyjthomas
Shop!
By Rachael Dove
GRE AT DRESSES
S
E
V
E
E
L
S
H
WIT
�0, LK
Bennett x Preen
(lkbennett.com)
�9 and, left,
�9, essentielantwerp.com
BEST
BUY
Above, from left �0, Boden Icons (boden.co.uk); �0, Boden Icons; �0, Isabel Marant
(net-a-porter.com); �, finerylondon.com; �9, warehouse.co.uk; �, Issa (houseoffraser.co.uk).
Below, from left �5, stories.com; �9, whistles.com; �, kitristudio.com; �0, cefinn.com.
EDITOR?S
PICK
Above, from left �, stories.com;
�0, boden.co.uk; �5, rixo.co.uk.
How to get dressed
Hilary Rose
The �0 sweet spot for bags
I
n honour of my new handbag, we?re going
to talk about yours. Mine is bright red and
orange. It really is. I?m not even joking. My
editor looked suspiciously at me, and then
at the label and said, ?Is it real?? World
wars have started over less. Of course it?s
?ipping real. It was my birthday present to
myself, since you ask, and surely she knows
that I?d rather carry a bag from Primark than
a knock-off Prada from Thailand? Actually,
I wouldn?t dream of carrying either but
anyway, seeing as nearly every bag I?ve ever
had has been black or navy, I?ve decided to
embrace colour.
Against the odds, I think I love it. It?s been
three weeks now, in which I?ve looked at it
slightly askance and wondered if I might
have to take it to Farrow & Ball and paint it
Elephant?s Breath. I use the same bag every
day, so carrying something this loud runs the
risk of it clashing horribly with whatever I?m
wearing, but so far, so good. This could of
course be because all I wear is navy or black,
except on the days when I really shake things
up and wear navy and black. The bottom line
is, my new bag shouts, but it?s working.
You, on the other hand, might prefer to
do the sensible thing, which is to buy a nice,
practical neutral-coloured tote, into which
the kitchen sink will ?t snugly, and which has
a zipped pocket for your purse. Oh, and it?s
going to cost no more than �0, because
that, I am told, is what normal people think
What we love
Bag, �0,
Boden
It ticks all the boxes and might
pass for Prada in a dark alley
a handbag should cost. I am not normal about
bags and shoes, and never claimed to be, so
I?ll just pretend that I agree. And don?t suggest
Michael Kors, because I have issues with the
ubiquity and pricing of Michael Kors bags.
Buy Massimo Dutti?s black tote with a wide
handle instead, which ticks all of the above
boxes, might pass for Prada in a very dark
alley, costs a reasonable �9 and doesn?t have
a stupid MK gold symbol dangling from it
(massimodutti.com).
If you like hobo bags then you should
probably buy M&S Collection?s brown leather
sling hobo (�) but I?m strangely drawn to an
in?nitely less practical cream (Autograph So?a
bucket hobo, �; marksandspencer.com).
Boden?s Toulon bag comes in a terrifyingly
cheerful yellow and a really grim magenta. I?d
strongly advise you to pass on both in favour
of the navy or tan (�0; boden.co.uk). & Other
Stories? black chunky chain leather bag is a
duffel/tote hybrid (�5), and there?s also a very
Gucci dark green leather tote, with blue and
red canvas handles and a shoulder strap, but
it doesn?t have a zipped internal pocket
(�5; stories.com/gb).
If you live the sort of life, in the sort of
place, where a zipped pocket for your purse
doesn?t matter, I envy you. Where are you?
Stornoway? I?m jammed on to the Tube every
day, so my bag has so many zips it looks like
an explosion in a zip factory. It?s also red and
orange. I think I mentioned that. I love it. n
Shiny black boots
NATALIE HAMMOND
BEST
BUY
RUSSELL & BROMLEY, �5
(russellandbromley.co.uk)
64 The Times Magazine
GUCCI, �5
(net-a-porter.com)
AEYDE, �5
(aeyde.com)
TOPSHOP, �
(topshop.com)
FINERY, �5
(finerylondon.com)
ROBERT CLERGERIE X SELFPORTRAIT, �7 (farfetch.com)
Style
For men
SIMON HILLS
All-terrain boots
Woolrich, the outdoor
clothing company, has
launched a new hybrid
footwear collection
in collaboration with
the sole manufacturer
Vibram. It features a
mountain boot, �0,
which uses ?outdoor
technology? but works
as something you?d
be happy pounding
city pavements in
(woolrich.eu).
NO BOAT REQUIRED
The Natural Consort jacket from
Henri Lloyd, featuring rubberised
natural linen (�9; henrilloyd.
com), is based on a 1965 design
worn by yachtsman Sir Francis
Chichester on his round-theworld trip in 1967. When it was
suggested green wouldn?t stand
out in the sea, he replied, ?Who
would be there to see me??
5 reasons
why we love...
Orbitsound
ONE P70
More dash
than cash
STOCKISTS: OLIVER SWEENEY, JULESB.CO.UK; BODEN.CO.UK;
GRENSON.COM; RUSSELLANDBROMLEY.CO.UK; AMI, ENDCLOTHING.COM
Jasper Conran?s latest J by Jasper
Conran capsule collection for
Debenhams includes padded
jackets, merino wool rollnecks
BUY THIS and buttoned polos in great
Argyle
autumnal shades ? khaki,
sweater, �0 camel and ?merlot?.
(uk.tommy.com)
Prices are attractive too.
The tan wool Epsom coat,
above right, is �0, with the top,
�, and jeans, �. The padded
funnel-necked coat, above left, is
�, shirt, �, and cardigan, �.
The sweater, right, is �, and
shirt, � (debenhams.com).
1. You get stereo sound from
wherever you are in the room.
2. It?s slim and understated ?
3. ? but you still get an
integrated 5.25in subwoofer in
the box. 4. You can just place
it on a shelf or attach it to the
wall. 5. It will ?learn? your TV
remote, which means you don?t
have to use two controllers
(�9; orbitsound.com).
THE LITTLE THINGS THAT COUNT
Suede brogues. By Rachael Dove
M A N TA L K
?Every time I meet
someone, I compare her
with Jessica Lange in
Tootsie. That?s probably
why I?m not married?
Alexander Skarsg錼d
eney
liver Swe
�8.99, O
en
�0, Bod
nson
�0, Gre
ley
ell & Brom
�5, Russ
�9, AMI
The Times Magazine 65
My ultimate kitchen
A practically perfect kitchen
CGI: BOLDER CREATIVE, PHOTOGRAPHY: AMIT LENNON
Functionality as well as good looks ? cook and
food writer Ed Smith?s stylish space has it all
W
ithout wishing to be clich閐,
the kitchen really is the heart
of my home. It?s where I spend
virtually all of my time apart from
sleeping. I cook for my family, but it?s
also where I make my living, creating
recipes and writing cookbooks.
My London flat is open-plan and not
very big, but it has everything that you
need. My knife rack is on the wall close
at hand. I could probably cook with my
eyes closed, I use it so much.
We?ve got high ceilings, so my Kilner
jars of pickles sit on top of the cabinets.
I love fermenting food, it?s a great way to
add crunch and sourness to dishes.
My perfect kitchen has a counter looking
out over the room. I like being involved in
the conversation when I cook, and
cooking at a counter is very social. It has a
professional-style stainless-steel top that?s
easy to clean and can take hot pans
without any worries about damaging it. It?s
a psychological thing. Stainless steel
makes me feel like I?m back in a restaurant
kitchen ? it gets me into work mode.
The tiles are stylish and simple but
quirky, and the dark cupboards are
contemporary but functional. You pick up
too many smudges with a white kitchen.
I like to make
meals from
the last of
the greens
and the
gnarly bits
I know I?d get one dirty quite quickly.
Practicality wins every time, though I still
appreciate style and I use items on display,
like jars and chopping boards, to add
character and decoration. I always have a
sturdy mortar and pestle ? a real smasher.
I think lots of cooking is still best done in
a tactile way. You get better results doing,
say, a pesto by hand. It?s like gas hobs. Gas
is really reactive and primal.
I?ve only recently allowed a microwave
back into the kitchen. We got rid of the
last one but we?ve just had a baby and
I?ve relented because otherwise sterilising
everything becomes a pain. He?s only
ten weeks, but I can see myself writing
children?s recipes in the future, and I?m
planning to strap him to my chest and
cook ? whether he likes it or not.
Here, I?ve tried to create a good-looking
PROMOTED CONTENT
Get the look
The stylish but useful accessories that
create Ed Smith?s ultimate kitchen
1
1. Apron
Enrich and Endure
?Hubbard?, �,
enrichandendure.com
7. Kettle
Hario V60 ?Buono?
Large, �,
hario.co.uk
2. Stand mixer
KitchenAid Artisan in
Empire Red, �9.99,
johnlewis.com
8. Frying pan
Netherton Foundry
12in (30cm) spun
iron pan, �.50,
netherton-foundry.
co.uk
3. Paint
Farrow & Ball ?Stiffkey
blue No 281?, �.50
for a 2.5l emulsion,
farrow-ball.com
4. Pestle and mortar
Granite, �.50,
souschef.co.uk
2
5. Oven
Grundig GEZST47000BP Divide
and Cook, �9
grundig.co.uk
3
4
5
6
7
8
9
6. Bar stool
Hem ?Drifted?,
about �0,
hem.com
9. Knives
Misono UX10 Gyuton
#711 and Honesuki #741,
�0 and �5,
knivesforchefs.co.uk
Other appliances
featured in
Ed?s kitchen
Multifunction
oven, GEZM47001BP,
�9; Gas hob,
GIGA7235251X,
�9; Dishwasher,
GNF41823X,
�9; Fridge
freezer, GKN17920DX,
�9
kitchen that?s also functional. I?ve used
the traditional chef?s triangle, having a hob,
fridge and sink each on a point without
anything impeding your route.
Two ovens are a luxury. It?s not just about
capacity, it?s being able to cook different
things at the optimum temperature at the
same time. Grundig?s Divide and Cook
oven does this in one unit; it?s like having
a double oven in the space of a single oven.
Thanks to the ceramic divider I can use the
whole oven or split it into two. It also comes
with a meat optimiser, so you can set it to
how you like your meat cooked. I hate
wasting food, so we should applaud initiatives
such as Grundig?s Respect Food campaign,
which is a commitment to reducing food
waste and developing appliances to keep
food fresh for as long as possible.
At home, I give myself a Ready Steady
Cook challenge to clear the odd bits left in
my fridge. Typically, I?ll have a fridge forage
on a Monday or Tuesday when I haven?t got
round to doing the weekly shop, so I?ll make
a dish from the last of the greens and gnarly
bits. Broccoli and cauliflower stems often
end up being thrown away, but they are
actually delicious. If in doubt, add anchovies,
parmesan, bacon and/or an egg, and you?ve
got the makings of a decent meal.
Ed Smith, is a cook and author of the food
blog, www.rocketandsquash.com
Ed Smith?s ultimate kitchen was designed
using CGI. For more design tips from Ed
Smith, go to thetimes.co.uk/ultimatekitchen
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Eating out Giles Coren
?I begin in confusion,
then move through
rage to a finale so
embarrassing I?ll be
years getting over it?
The Frog
SIMON JESSOP, TIM GREEN
T
68 The Times Magazine
he review you are about to read
of the Frog in Spitalfields is one
of those restaurant reviews that
only I can provide, for it begins
in ignorance and confusion, then
moves through prejudice and rage
to a finale so deeply embarrassing,
I will be some years getting over it.
There will, of course, be plenty of
chat about food along the way, some nice
descriptions of smells and flavours, a wise and
thoughtful portrait of the clientele, a corrective
offered to received opinion on the place and
some marks out of ten. But mostly there will
be hubris, swearing and mortification. For,
alas, I know no other way.
So let?s start with the ignorance and
confusion, shall we? A few days ago, I received
a press release by email of which I read
only the subject line (as is my rule with such
emails), informing me that, ?The Frog E1 wins
best restaurant of the year at the ?? and I said
to myself, ?That?s weird. I thought it had only
just opened.? For there it was in my diary, in
cold black Biro, under ?New openings?.
So I phoned to book and they said,
?No, we?ve been open for a year now.? So
I did a bit of googling and found that what
has just opened is in fact the second Frog
restaurant, in Covent Garden, technically
called ?Adam Handling?s the Frog? (Handling
is chef-prop at the Frog E1, without having his
name on the actual door). So I tried to book
there instead ? in a desperate bid to be up
to date ? but couldn?t get a table for the time
I wanted. So I thought I might as well go along
to the original and put myself in a position,
when I go to the new one, to say that it fails
to measure up (we restaurant critics always
think that, regardless of the truth, just like
literary and music critics).
I was quite excited about my awardwinning supper as I climbed into an Uber with
Esther, but that lasted about nine minutes,
which was the time it took me to read all the
newspaper reviews of the Frog from 2016 on
my phone, which were universally sneery. It
was all ?peak hipster? and ?rather silly? and
?an assault?, and most of all there was mockery
of this Handling fellow for having been a
finalist on MasterChef: the Professionals.
Critics are always snooty about chefs who
have been on MasterChef. But as I have never
seen MasterChef, I tend not to be. In fact, I?d
say the very fact that these critics sit about
on their fat arses in front of food programmes
at 8pm on a weekday evening watching idiots
cook against a clock while shouting a lot
(okay, I?ve seen it once or twice) explicitly
disqualifies them from being snobby about
the chefs who take part.
That said, when I eventually found the
Frog, in a dark nook off Brick Lane where the
beards grow as bushy and irrelevant as buddleia
on an urban railway siding, it did look kind
The Frog
2 Ely?s Yard, Old
Truman Brewery,
Hanbury Street,
London E1
(020 3813 9832;
thefrogrestaurant.com)
Cooking: 8
Service: 7
Shame: total
Score: 7.5
Price: dishes from
��. Five or six
is plenty. Decent
value for such
elaborate cooking.
of daft. It?s partly in a sort of tent (bespeaking
its heritage as a pop-up) with varnished MDF
tables and plastic windows and then hanging
loveseats (which diners struggle to eat in,
as they rock away from the table with every
stab of their fork, in full accordance with
Newton?s second law ? like eating in space)
and a load of dried flowers and hops hanging
from the roof, reminiscent of those ghastly
1970s cling-ons, La Poule au Pot in Pimlico
and Maggie Jones?s (if that?s still there) in
Kensington, with a whiff of provincial pub.
And the signage seems to indicate an Aussie
backpacker?s beachside tattoo parlour more
than a restaurant (says my wife, who has at
least one Aussie beach tattoo).
The clientele was mostly young, multiethnic and fashionable though, so maybe this
crazy decor is coming around for a third or
fourth time and it?s me who?s off the pace.
They were also mostly on their phones,
but that?s normal. What wasn?t normal was
the guy at the table next to ours typing away
on his laptop for the whole meal. The whole
meal! Tap-tapping away like he was in the
office, pausing briefly to fork food into his
mouth and then cracking on with the emailing.
I know this happens in Soho House-type club
environments and office/hospitality crossover
spaces, but NOT WHEN I AM TRYING TO
HAVE MY DINNER!!!
I stage-whispered to Esther about it for a
while, harrumphing and sighing and shaking
my head in the old-fashioned way, and when
that did no good I took to Instagram Stories
(an as-live video feed of 15-second shorts
that die after 24 hours online) and filmed the
bastard and his girlfriend, with myself in the
foreground calling them all sorts of terrible
names and asking what the hell the world
thought it was coming to.
Then I drank a barrel-aged Negroni
with a proper big spherical hipster ice cube
in and ate some sourdough bread with butter
that had been whipped with chicken fat to
sensational effect and then sprinkled with
crispy chicken skin, and settled down a bit.
After that came two ?snacks? I had
ordered (listed on the menu with the rather
patronising injunction to ?Eat with your
hands?) that made me even happier: some
smoked cod and cr鑝e fra頲he in a little rolled
pastry, and a cube of crispy beef incorporating
American mustard with some very dill-scented
pickle for that posh Mickey D?s flavour you
simply cannot beat.
Then came tuna tartare cubed large, fresh
and firm, with ripe avocado and jalape駉 in
delightful harmony and, better still, a crescent
of veal tartare with herbs and flowers. It was
raw, of course, but with the scent and tonguetang of barbecue, plus a confit egg (with a
scatter of ash that I didn?t mind at all) that
bound each mouthful stickily and well.
Then a little burrata, decapitated for
dipping into with a pair of what looked like
enormous Bran Flakes, with pickled slivers
of beetroot and pumpkin and a handful
of pumpkin seeds. All these small dishes
came in the order the kitchen deemed best
(but not in the order in which the waiter had
thought they would), having been chosen from
an arbitrary arrangement under the headings
?Garden?, ?Sea? and ?Land? ? a system I am
simply not going to mock, as some others do,
because that horse has bolted.
After that came a ?Plaice schnitzel?, a
pretty rhombus of crisped fish under crushed
capers that I feared would have been sousvided but wasn?t (apparently Handling is not
a water bath kind of guy) and which was hot
and fine, and came with a puck of mashed
potato dimpled to retain a green juice whose
flavour I forget, and a blob of something fishy
and greasy that I didn?t care for.
Then ?Mac & cheese ? the Frog way?, which
I found spellbinding, being a proper stack of al
dente macaroni right out of 1970s after-school
tea, with at least three different cheeses in
different stages of melt, puffed with air, high
and tangy, and then two slices of roast lamb
with crispy Jerusalem artichoke that was ?
Sorry, I don?t know what it was because
I was so distracted by the guy who was
STILL ON HIS COMPUTER!!!! So I went
back on Instagram Stories and filmed myself
(with the perpetrator and his girlfriend
both unwittingly in the background) shouting,
?I mean, I?ve been sitting in front of a screen
all day, too! I don?t want to look at these
****bags bringing their ****ing office to
the ****ing restaurant! Stay at work and
get a ****ing Nando?s, you ****heads!!!?
And then I finished the lamb and ordered
some cheese doughnuts and the girlfriend of
Laptop Guy got up and went to the loo. Then
she came back. They talked quietly for a bit.
Then Laptop Guy turned round to me and
smiled and said, ?Hello, I?m ??
Yup.
?? Adam Handling. We thought it was
you, but we weren?t sure. My girlfriend just
saw your Instagram feed.?
HIS GIRLFRIEND JUST SAW MY
INSTAGRAM FEED.
?I?m sorry about the laptop,? he said as my
very soul leaked out of my trousers and onto
the floor. ?We?re very casual here: flip-flops,
laptops, whatever. No rules. We?ve got this
other restaurant opening so I?m very busy and
was just pushing on with work while I ate.?
So then we talked for a little bit, but
my ears and forehead were too hot to hear
what he was saying. And then they left and
I went on Instagram Stories and said sorry to
Handling, his girlfriend, my wife, my mother,
my children and the world.
And then I killed myself. n
The Times Magazine 69
INTERIORS
INTERIORS
INTERIORS
LIFESTYLE
Beta male
Robert Crampton
MARK HARRISON
?I?m too wide for the
bed and the shower
curtain reminds
me of Psycho?
After my annual weekend away walking with
friends, I?m compelled to ask the age-old
question: why are so many provincial British
hotels still so shit? I?m not talking about cheap
and often not very cheerful, 50 quid a night
places. I?ve stayed in my share of those and
hey, you get what you pay for. Except you don?t
always. Because more regularly I shell out at
least twice that, and it still isn?t any cop.
I don?t get it. In the quarter-century since
we started doing the walk, most aspects of the
service/hospitality/catering industry in this
country have improved immeasurably. The
food, most obviously. But also coffee, booze,
competence of staff, decor, etc. Transport links,
too, I would argue, have got better (although
to be fair, I am rarely required to suffer
the indignities of Southern rail). Even rural
minicab drivers these days are hardly ever the
misanthropic, racist, homophobic potential
mass murderers of yesteryear. Some of them
? Steve and Debbie in Dorset a fortnight ago,
for instance ? are positively charming.
And yet step inside a hotel ? not all hotels,
by any means, but way too many for it to be a
coincidence ? and things start to go wrong.
Or rather, things start to go strange.
Is there a factory somewhere, I wonder,
specifically charged with making comically
small tellies for sale to the hotel trade? Perhaps
it?s the same factory where kettles destined
for the same bedrooms go to have their ?exes
shortened to a maximum of eight inches? And
where otherwise standard-measure single beds
have four inches shaved off the edge?
I?m not a tall man ? I?m a shade above
average height ? and although I probably
am somewhat, ahem, wider, than most chaps,
I reckon I fall well within normal parameters.
Yet lying in many hotel beds leaves me
precious little margin for error. I tend to have
dreams about being in one of those cradles
climbers suspend off the vertical face of El
Capitan or the Eiger?s Nordwand to get some
kip on the ascent. Those guys probably sleep
more soundly, lashed in as they presumably are.
Maybe I should be packing ropes, bungees
and karabiners in my weekend luggage.
Someone is cropping the bath towels, too.
In fact, someone, I suspect, is making a good
living recycling all the excess wiring, telly
casings and bed-frame offcuts, straight out
of the back door of the special hotel-requisites
factory. Also, what?s the thinking behind those
minuscule coverlets that only fit over the
bottom quarter of the bed?
I can?t stand the bathroom beakers shrinkwrapped in plastic, either. It?s like you?re in
a hospital ? But I guess there?s some sort of
health and safety rule going on there.
I don?t mind the end of the bog roll being
folded into a triangle, funnily enough. Sure, it?s
fussy ? but it?s also quite cute.
I can understand why the shower cubicles
are so small, with those nasty plastic curtains
that magnetise to your body and make
you worry you?re in Psycho ? the builders
have been told to cram in as many units as
possible. But I don?t get the rationale for the
handkerchief-sized tellies, ledge-beds and
stunted kettles. It just seems mean.
But then, I hate to say it, there is a
meanness about many hotels. You can see
it in the frightened, miserable, haunted faces
of the people in them. And that?s just the
customers, never mind the staff. You can see
it too in the way you get a trouser press, a
contraption no one has used since 1975, yet
only four not very complimentary sachets of
coffee and the same number of teabags.
You can see the meanness also when you
order a sandwich for lunch, costing �99, and
you?re served three slim rectangles of ?annel
bread, totalling not even two slices, plus a few
crisps and a dollop of coleslaw. I didn?t order
crisps or coleslaw! I wouldn?t have minded,
on the other hand, a decent-sized sandwich.
And by decent-sized, I mean something
commensurate with having just paid seven
quid for the pleasure.
No room service. Choose your main course
for dinner a week in advance. Chef goes home
at nine. Pay on arrival ? or at best, cough up
a huge deposit. View of a brick wall through
the windows that don?t open. Fire alarm goes
off randomly with no explanation. Heavily
hyped spa/sauna/swimming pool sadly out
of action due to ongoing maintenance issues.
Receptionists can?t work the computer and
behave as if they?ve never checked anyone out
of a hotel before in their entire career.
Hugely complicated lighting, air con, shower
and heating controls. Harsh overhead lighting,
crappy hunting prints and animal heads
on the walls in the public areas. Cavernous,
three-quarters empty dining room. Waiters who
say, ?No problem,? when you thank them for
performing the most basic element of their job.
And don?t get me started on ?Please Wait to
Be Seated?. n
robert.crampton@thetimes.co.uk
� Times Newspapers Ltd, 2017. Published and licensed by Times Newspapers Ltd, 1 London Bridge Street, London SE1 9GF (020 7782 5000), printed by Prinovis Liverpool.
Editorial separations by News UK Repro Production. Not to be sold separately in the UK
and her two
brothers. Was your father, I ask, very much a
Victorian father? Yes, she says. ?You never had
praise from him. The first person in his eyes
was his wife. Mummy always came first for
him, and vice versa. Now it?s quite different. But
as children we were never spoilt at all. I was
quite frightened of my father, really. You had to
behave yourself.? Would you say you?ve been
seeking his approval all your working life?
Again, she nips this in the bud promptly. ?I?m
not of the generation that analyses everything.?
The major incident of her childhood was
contracting polio at 13. What does it feel like,
polio? ?I?d been out on my pony and I can
remember feeling as if I had flu. And then
I remember being in bed and having the fire
lit in my bedroom, and I knew I must be very
ill for them to have lit the fire. Dr Love came
and I was immediately sent to the isolation
ward at the hospital. I didn?t know what was
wrong with me. Someone read from the notes
at the bottom of my bed that I had infantile
paralysis, and then I realised I was ill. I was in
a glass room, and your parents couldn?t come
and talk to you.?
Were you scared? ?I was too ill to be
scared. It was just very odd.?
Did you worry about dying? ?I didn?t even
think about it.? It has left her with curvature
of the spine, a weak left arm and a misshapen
hand, which, she says, ?doesn?t matter to me
at all. I get lots of letters when I do television
saying you?re arthritic and offering me cures,
but it doesn?t worry me in the least.?
At school she wasn?t at all academic, and,
?I absolutely hated it.? She failed every subject
apart from domestic science and was told by
the headmistress, ?There isn?t any career I can
recommend for you.? At 17 she went to Pau, in
the south of France, to study at a domesticscience school. Here she learnt how to clean
windows with newspapers and vinegar ? ?It
works, but I?ve made a particular point of
never cleaning my own windows since? ? how
to clean toilets (?Flush, brush, flush,? was the
rallying cry) and how to make a bed. ?Miss
Neilson, the principal, would say if you?re doing
a double bed you put the open end of the
pillow towards the centre. A programme my
husband was watching, The Hotel Inspector,
with that very large lady, Ruth somebody ?
She was saying they?d made the bed badly,
with the open end towards the outside, and
Paul said, ?You are right, you know.? ?
Back in the UK, she ended up working as
cookery editor for Housewife magazine. Does
it, I ask, seem bizarre to you now that there
was a magazine called Housewife? ?No, it
doesn?t seem bizarre at all. We still have
Good Housekeeping and that is an excellent
magazine.? You never thought, ?Why aren?t
the men doing all this flushing, brushing and
flushing while newspapering windows and
fretting over how beds are made?? She says
it goes back to how you?re brought up. ?My
mother looked after my father. My father was
served first at the table and that?s what I?ve
been bought up to do, so it seems quite
natural that I spoil my husband.?
Would you ever arrive home after a long
day and find Paul has cooked dinner? ?Good
God, no! If I?m ill, which is very rare, he?ll do
a very good omelette, which he thinks is the
best.? And you?ve never felt resentful? ?He
does many other things and I wouldn?t
The Times Magazine 45
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splendour Elio and Oliver will discover the beauty of
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change him, but if I had my time again I
would certainly set a few rules. I think of my
own children, how they are with their families,
both sharing everything, and it?s absolutely
wonderful. It?s this modern age. When you
don?t have help and you both work, you get
down and do it. It?s totally different.?
They had three children: Thomas, Annabel
and William, who tragically died in a car
accident when he was 19. She talks about this
most movingly in her autobiography. He was
home for the weekend from Bristol Polytechnic
when, on the Sunday morning, he and Annabel
drove off to buy the papers while Mary cooked
lunch. When they didn?t return and the
doorbell rang, she knew instantly something
was wrong. It was a policeman, saying the car
had overturned on the road. She was told
Annabel had survived but William had been
killed instantly. At the hospital, she was asked
if she?d like to see his body, and she said she
would. ?His little face was perfect,? she writes.
?He was serene and I knew he was all right.?
I wonder if she ever replays that morning
in her mind: if only I?d gone for the papers ?
If only I?d offered to drive ? ?No. You can?t.
You can?t go back. You can?t blame anybody. It
just happened. But I wouldn?t be surprised if
he walked in now, although I?d expect him to
walk in aged 19 but of course he?d be ? 48,
?Life?s too short. I have
a great friendship with
Paul; I want to see how he
is doing with the new lot?
with receding hair. Oh, I don?t want to think
about that, you know.?
Do you dream about him? ?He once jumped
off a bridge when we were in Scotland, into
the Spey, and I can remember seeing him
jump and thinking, ?You naughty boy.? I dream
of that and I dream of him playing rugger, and
I dream of him walking through the door ?
They are not nasty dreams.? Comforting?
?Yes.? Do you have religious faith? ?I do.?
It helps? ?It tells you not to ask why.?
She had enjoyed TV forays before then, but
after the accident she decided to stay home,
running Aga classes, and she was something
of a nostalgic figure until Bake Off came along.
You could never, I say, have predicted how big
it would become. ?Not at all,? she says. ?But
it?s just such an enchanting programme, so
happy.? I say, rather bravely that, like Strictly,
I?m not sure it matters about the presenting
team, because the format is so strong. ?It is an
amazing format, an absolute winner. And the
real stars of the show are the actual bakers.?
You don?t want to say, at this point, that
you wish Prue Leith would also go to hell in a
handcart? Get it off your chest? ?I know Prue
well, and if I could have chosen who would
take my place, I would have chosen Prue.? You
must have been heartbroken, though, to see it
go to Channel 4? ?The BBC commissioned it
and it grew for the BBC ? I just thought my
case was to stay with the BBC. I couldn?t ?
Anyway, it?s moved on.? Then it?s back to her
notes: ?I made a cricket tea at Goodwood.
Lord March is brilliant, up early and working
all the time to make it a success. He is such
an enthusiast.?
Our hour is up. She signs my battered old
book: ?Deborah, with love ? nice to see a wellused book, Mary Berry x.? With love! A kiss!
(Sit on that, Rosemary Moon!) But then I go
and ruin it all by moving in to give her a hug,
at which point she stiffens. ?This is another
thing that is very difficult for people my age,?
she says. ?This hugging business. I hug my
grandchildren. I hug my dogs.? Sorry, I say.
?It?s a new thing, isn?t it, hugging?? I guess so,
I say. And then she?s gone. Damn. n
Mary Berry?s Country House Secrets
begins in November on BBC One
LOST. ALONE. TRAPPED IN QUICKSAND.
STALKED BY A JAGUAR. STUNG BY HORNETS.
THE BACKPACKING
TRIP THAT WENT
HORRIBLY WRONG
He was a naive young backpacker who went
on a journey into the Amazon rainforest. Now
Yossi Ghinsberg?s story has been made into a
Hollywood film, starring Daniel Radcliffe. But what
really happened was even more terrifying than the
screen version, he tells Julia Llewellyn Smith
Yossi Ghinsberg,
now 58, photographed
in Tel Aviv by Zohar Ron.
Opposite: Daniel Radcliffe
playing Ghinsberg in
the new film, Jungle
COURTESY OF YOSSI GHINSBERG
I
t was night in the Bolivian Amazon, and
on a mountain ridge Yossi Ghinsberg, a
22-year-old Israeli backpacker, lost and
alone for five days so far, injured and
famished, was lying on the ground,
wrapped in a mosquito net, unable to
sleep. Around him snakes slithered and the
jungle echoed with the noises of birds and
buzzing insects, of a monkey screaming
as some wild animal devoured it.
Suddenly, Ghinsberg heard branches
snapping and the thud of something
approaching. Leaves rustled on the ground.
Heart pounding wildly, he put his head out
of the net and shone his torch around him.
Nothing was there. Still petrified, he began
banging a tin can with a spoon in the hope
of scaring predators away. But the noises
grew nearer. He stuck out his head again
and found himself face to face with a jaguar.
?He was a large cat, covered with black
spots, and when I shone the flashlight in his
face he just froze and looked at me, his tail
wagging back and forth,? Ghinsberg recalls.
?I was trembling and panicking, but I grabbed
my cigarette lighter and a can of insect
repellent and put the flame to the spray.
It started an enormous blaze. I was completely
blinded, I could feel the hairs on my hand
scorch, but I held it there for a few minutes
until I ran out of spray and lighter fluid. When
I put it down, the jaguar had left, but I was
screaming and crying, shocked to my core.?
The jaguar encounter was only one of a
nonstop series of almost biblical tribulations
that Ghinsberg endured, after a 1981 trip with
two other backpackers and a guide into one
of the most hostile environments on earth
went disastrously wrong.
Separated from the group (two of whom
never returned ? of which more later),
Ghinsberg, a naive young man fresh from
compulsory military service, twice survived
near-drowning when he was swept over a
waterfall and then later slipped walking along
a riverbed; twice he nearly sank to his death
in quicksand.
He fell off a cliff, had patches of skin
devoured by termites, woke to find his body
covered in leeches, battled through ranges
of thorns and spent nights drenched and
freezing, with giant trees crashing all around
him as the area witnessed its worst storms
in a decade, then the next day clung to trees
to avoid being swept away by flood-water
torrents rushing through the jungle.
?Things just got worse and worse and
worse; I got more injured and more famished,?
says Ghinsberg, now 58, who comes across as
warm and garrulous, and talks with a strong
Israeli accent. ?None of my injuries healed
and then my feet completely deteriorated
? it turned out I had trench foot.?
50 The Times Magazine
?I WAS BLINDED, MY HANDS
SCORCHED, BUT WHEN
THE FLAME DIED DOWN,
THE JAGUAR HAD LEFT?
Walking became so excruciating, he tried
to distract himself by thrusting his hands in
a nettle patch, then shaking a tree full of fire
ants onto his head. ?I became a human torch:
each ant bite was like someone stubbing a
cigarette on your body. I was in so much pain
I was floating and couldn?t feel my feet.?
A typical passage in Jungle, the bestselling
book he wrote four years after his experiences,
describes how he slipped on wet grass, landing
on a sharp stick that penetrated his anus.
?I was paralysed by the pain,? he writes.
On the next page, he stumbles into a nest
of hornets, who ?swarmed on me in frenzied
attack?. Immediately afterwards, he has to hide
from wild boar, renowned for being even more
aggressive than jaguars. And so on it goes ?
It?s taken more than 30 years, but the
book has now been made into a film, also called
Jungle, directed by Greg McLean (Wolf Creek)
and starring Daniel Radcliffe as Ghinsberg. Shot
in Australia and Colombia, the film, released
next Friday, is packed with hide-behind-thecushions scenes, such as when Radcliffe
smashes open some eggs and swallows raw
chicken foetuses, or when he lances a bump
on his forehead and, with blood cascading
down his face, extracts a long, wriggly worm.
But Ghinsberg says such moments pale in
comparison to what he really suffered.
?Usually, movies are bigger than life,
but this is smaller than life,? he tells me
in New York State, where he?s attending a
conference in his current incarnation as a
tech entrepreneur.
?Everything you see is on a smaller scale
than what really happened. Often, it?s to do
with the narrative?s need to compress the
action ? one night I had termites attacking
me and the next fire ants, so termites or
fire ants, you have to choose which ones to
include. I nearly died in two swamps; you have
to make it one swamp.
?Then there are the budget issues. The
storm, the collapsing trees, the flooding river
? what you see in the movie is not even close
to the magnitude I witnessed. The jungle
was falling down around me. The river was
much wider than the one in the movie; there
were tens of thousands of trees shooting from
bank to bank.?
Then there?s the scene where Radcliffe
is thrown from a raft and carried down a
Above: the rescue
of Yossi Ghinsberg
in 1981. Right: two
days after his
ordeal ended
Ghinsberg with
Daniel Radcliffe on
the set of Jungle
ON HIS 17th DAY, HE SPOTTED A SEARCH PLANE ABOVE
THE TREETOPS. ?THAT BROKE ME COMPLETELY?
waterfall, banging his head on a rock so hard
that the water fills with blood.
?That too was much more dramatic in
real life. But you know, Greg McLean is the
master of illusion and, even with his budget
of $12 million [�million], I think those scenes
are much more powerful than those in The
Revenant with Leonardo DiCaprio, and that
had a $170 million budget.?
Also too complex for the film to fully
explore are the fascinating ? and ultimately
tragic ? friendship dynamics that existed
between Ghinsberg and his fellow travellers.
The son of two Holocaust survivors,
Ghinsberg arrived in South America eager
for adventure. ?Israel is quite a small and
isolated place and I was a thrill-seeker ? not
in the adrenaline, extreme-achievement sense,
but in terms of romance: I loved the idea of
discovering lost tribes in the jungle.?
His travels took him to La Paz, Bolivia?s
capital, where he met Karl Ruchprecter, a
thirtysomething Austrian, who presented
himself as a sage of the hostile jungle,
where he claimed to work as a geologist.
He offered Ghinsberg his services as a
guide, promising gold-panning sessions
and a visit to undiscovered Indian villages,
for a nominal $50.
Enthralled, Ghinsberg persuaded two friends
he met on the gringo trail ? Kevin Gale, a
29-year-old American photographer, revered
in the backpacker community for his macho
exploits, and Marcus Stamm, a 28-year-old
Swiss teacher ? to join him.
The men took a bush plane over the slopes
of the Andes to the lush green Amazon basin,
where their trek began. Rapidly, however,
it became clear that although Ruchprecter
understood the jungle, preparing shelter,
fire and food for the group, he was an
unreliable guide. His geologist backstory
proved false, his geography of the area was
shaky and neither the promised gold nor the
lost villages materialised.
Meanwhile, Stamm, a gentle character,
began irritating the others with his constant
complaining and sensitivity ? refusing, for
example, to eat a monkey that Ruchprecter
had caught and cooked for them. Ghinsberg
and Gale ? previously Stamm?s best friend
? started mocking him behind his back,
calling him ?Girl Scout?. Ghinsberg relished
the chance to exclude Stamm and cosy up
to the American he hero-worshipped.
?This is where I discovered my own
darkness,? Ghinsberg says sadly. ?I had
investment in seeing Marcus being defeated.
It was a very ugly victory because he was
such a beautiful person and so loveable;
he mirrored my flaws. But now he wasn?t so
perfect and Kevin preferred to be with me.
Because Marcus was weak I could pretend
I was strong, and though I was scared I could
pretend to be brave.?
After three weeks, and at Stamm?s
insistence, the group agreed to turn back. Then
he developed an agonising foot infection.
To save Stamm from walking, they paid
locals to build them a raft to carry them
along the Tuichi River, a tributary of the
Amazon. But after just a mile of paddling,
it was clear they lacked the skills to navigate
even placid waters.
Warning the group that they were
approaching an impassable canyon,
Ruchprecter insisted they continue on foot.
Gale, who was sceptical that Ruchprecter
actually knew the river, declared he would
continue rafting alone. Despite misgivings,
Ghinsberg agreed to accompany him. Stamm
asked to join them but ? by now completely
alienated from him ? Ghinsberg persuaded
Stamm to continue on foot with Ruchprecter.
The four said goodbye, agreeing they?d
all see each other in a few weeks later in
La Paz. Neither Ruchprecter nor Stamm
were ever seen again. Ghinsberg and Gale
launched the raft on the wide, calm river,
but within three hours the banks narrowed,
the water speed suddenly quadrupled and
whitewater hurtled them towards the San
Pedro Canyon, which no person had ever
succeeded in crossing.
The raft struck a rock where the currents
pinned it. Gale managed to swim to the
banks, where he watched as Ghinsberg
? clutching the raft ? was swept by foaming
rapids down a waterfall and vanished into
the canyon, flanked by sheer cliffs. Several
times, he was thrown into the air as the
raft hit more boulders, until after about
20 minutes it emerged from the canyon
and he managed to leap to shore.
Battered and shaken, Ghinsberg was
convinced Gale would soon find him. But
after four days? waiting, Gale still hadn?t
come. Buoyed by having discovered, stuck
between the rocks, the raft?s emergency pack,
containing a torch, lighter, a few matches
(mainly useless in the wet weather), a tiny
amount of rice and beans (which he hardly
touched, preferring to hoard) and some
amphetamines, Ghinsberg decided to start
walking in the pouring rain upstream.
?I was crying. My only hope was to
find Kevin, otherwise I was sure I wouldn?t
survive. I did not think of myself as a strong
guy, with the physical or emotional strength
to deal with this.?
A turning point came when Ghinsberg tried
to climb a rock face to reach a plum tree, but
was stopped in his tracks by a lora snake.
The Times Magazine 51
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?When a snake is snapping at you, some
sheer inner wisdom kicks in,? he says. He
grabbed a rock and smashed the snake to
death, peeled it and gutted it. ?There was
no more fear, just total composure. I was
throbbing with the intoxication of discovering
my own power. For the first time in my life,
I felt I actually was the hero. It was like
claiming my place as a man in the world.
That moment changed my life.?
For several days after, convinced (wrongly,
since the map Ruchprecter had drawn him
turned out to be inaccurate) he was only
a short walk from civilisation, Ghinsberg
was so enamoured of his new intrepid
persona, that ? despite his endless travails
? he hoped not to be rescued, but rather
to hobble out of the jungle to be greeted by
awestruck villagers. He subsisted on foraged
fruit and sustained himself mentally by losing
himself in fantasies about food, which he
craved only slightly more than the company
of other people.
But things became even harder after the
floods, which swept all the fruits from the
forest floor. For five days, he ate nothing. On
his 17th day in the jungle, he spotted a search
plane above the treetops, oblivious to his cries.
?That broke me completely,? he says.
He only once considered suicide, when
trapped in a bog, deciding to swallow
the remaining amphetamines rather than
suffocate (in the end, he managed to kick
his legs free).
?Towards the end, every step caused
excruciating pain and I?d realised I would
never walk my way out of the jungle, but
I was not at all planning on dying. My spirit
was still strong.?
On the 21st day, emaciated, covered in
mud, his clothes cut to ribbons and his feet
?shredded of all skin ? just pus and blood?,
Ghinsberg arrived at a beach with signs
of former settlement. Momentarily elated,
he then realised he?d been there previously,
and all this time had been walking in a
circle. He decided to stay there, at least
until the rainy season passed. ?I planned
a Robinson Crusoe life: I?d build a shelter,
use my net to trap birds, collect eggs. I was
determined to survive.?
Collapsed on the shingle at dusk, he heard
an engine noise, but dismissed it as an
hallucination. Eventually, he staggered to
his feet and saw people disembarking from
a canoe. Among them was Gale. ?I tried
to call, but nothing came out,? he recalls.
?[Kevin] ran frantically to me and threw his
arms around me ? We held each other tightly,
unable to let go.?
Later, Ghinsberg learnt Gale had walked
around the canyon, then floated downriver
on logs for five days, until he was spotted by
The Tuichi River valley
?EVERY DAY I COULD
HAVE DIED; THAT I LIVED
WASN?T PROWESS, IT WAS
SIMPLY PROVIDENCE?
local hunters. He urged the authorities to find
his friend, joining a Bolivian airforce rescue
flight. But realising the pilot wasn?t taking
things seriously, he commissioned a boat for
a river search. After two days on the river, the
captain announced the mission was hopeless
and ordered the crew to turn the boat round.
It was then Gale spotted the mud-caked
Ghinsberg on the shore.
?Kevin is a real-life action hero, so noble.
Everyone told him nobody could survive the
rainy season, but he never gave up looking
for me.?
They returned to La Paz expecting a
reunion with Ruchprecter and Stamm, only
to learn they hadn?t arrived. Not a trace of
either has ever been discovered. Ghinsberg
speculates that Ruchprecter may have been
killed in a fall and Stamm was unable to
carry on alone. Another theory is that a
falling tree ? common in the jungle ? crushed
them in the night.
To this day, the guilt of abandoning Stamm
haunts him. ?We didn?t send Marcus to his
death; we sent him to what we thought was
his safety,? he says. ?We didn?t do something
evil. We thought Karl knew the jungle and
could get him out, while we were doing this
crazy, dangerous thing.?
Gale, who married an Israeli woman and
today lives near Tel Aviv, is also tormented.
The pair are still great friends, but disagree
over Jungle?s narrative, with Gale, who?s
recently completed his own memoir of the
trip, refuting Ghinsberg?s version of the fateful
parting of ways.
?I respect Kevin and I?ve told him many
times your memory is as good as mine, but
he?s very upset when I say Marcus was injured,
because he says in that case we wouldn?t
have split the group,? says Ghinsberg, who?s
now based with his wife and three children
(aged 14, 11 and 7; a 32-year-old daughter lives
back in Israel) in the Australian rainforest
near Byron Bay.
?But I cannot forget what happened.
I know Marcus felt betrayed when we decided
to split. We didn?t want to take him because it
was just awkward, but Kevin says it?s because
he couldn?t handle the situation. He finds it
hard to accept the Lord of the Flies element
of my story.?
Both men tried to make amends ?
searching for Stamm for years afterwards
all over South America. Ghinsberg visited
Stamm?s family and made a ?full confession?
about their falling out. For a period, he spent
Christmas with them, before they lost touch.
Attempts to track them down before the film?s
release have proven fruitless.
The men later learnt that Ruchprecter
was well known to the authorities as a
troublemaker, having previously abandoned
a tourist after leading him into the jungle.
He was wanted by the Austrian police and
Interpol for his involvement in radical leftist
groups and had fled to Bolivia on a fake
passport. ?Karl had dark aspects. He was
his own victim; none of his stories had happy
ends,? Ghinsberg says.
After his ordeal, Ghinsberg spent a month
in hospital with a blood infection, but says
there was no psychological trauma. ?I never
had any therapy, any issues.? Rather than
returning to his overjoyed family, who?d only
known he was missing a few days before his
rescue, he remained in South America for a
couple more months.
After his book was published, readers
started visiting the locations he described. To
protect the area?s ecosystem, he helped the
locals establish a conservation area and hotel.
He?s in demand as an inspirational speaker
and is frequently asked to appear on survival
reality shows. ?I always refuse,? he says.
?I wouldn?t survive a day on something like
I?m a Celebrity... ? it promotes all the wrong
values about being cunning and manipulative
and betraying your friends.
?I never watch Bear Grylls,? he continues.
?I don?t believe in his type of survival, because
my experience has shown me we know it
already. We don?t have to learn it. Every day
I could have died; that I lived had nothing to
do with my prowess, it was simply providence.
When it?s your time to go, nothing will save
you. Karl was the best of us in that respect,
and he didn?t come back. Marcus was the best
person of us, in terms of being almost saintly,
and he didn?t come back either.? n
Jungle is in cinemas from October 20
The Times Magazine 53
Home!
THE KING OF BLING
A champagne room, crystal ceilings ? fashion designer
Philipp Plein?s pied � terre is not your average home
REPORT Barbara McMahon PHOTOGRAPHS Luke White
Clockwise from bottom
left: Philipp Plein; the
kitchen, with bronze
bee installation on the
ceiling; the bathroom,
with Italian marble
Home!
One of the house?s
three living rooms
P
hilipp Plein?s approach to fashion is
often described as being ?the right
amount of wrong?. At his most
recent show, models walked down
the runway in lace ruffled dresses
harnessed by leather bondage
straps and in T-shirts depicting
a bound and gagged Cinderella.
His over-the-top catwalk shows
have featured explosions, duels
on jet skis, monster trucks and a full-scale
rollercoaster. He employed ex-con Jeremy
Meeks, the so-called ?hot felon? who is now
dating Sir Philip Green?s daughter, Chloe, on
his release from prison.
It is inevitable, therefore, that there will be
surprises behind the door of his New York
residence, a townhouse on the ritzy Upper East
Side of Manhattan. The 39-year-old Germanborn designer bought the 9-level property ? he
owns other homes in Switzerland, Germany,
France and is building one in Los Angeles
? for $13 million (� million) 2 years ago
and has refurbished it from top to bottom.
?Houses are my passion,? the designer
declares in accented English. ?In fashion, the
clothes you make come and go. Houses give me
the chance to create something that will last for
more than a season. I?m not a house flipper.?
The dining room
The spot-lit champagne room is
rather peculiar and impractical
since the designer only drinks
Red Bull. ?It?s a bit of fun?
The property, originally built in 1920, is no
shrine to minimalism and is a testament to
Plein?s philosophy that it is important to break
the rules.
The pi鑓e de r閟istance is a champagne
room where bottles of Mo雝, Bollinger and
Veuve Clicquot are nestled on individual
shelves, under spotlights, like pieces of
jewellery. It?s completely impractical and
rather peculiar since the designer does not
like alcohol and only drinks Red Bull. ?It?s
a bit of fun,? he tells me.
In a hallway, there are photographs of Plein
with the model Naomi Campbell and with
Snoop Dogg, the rapper, both friends.
This leads into the dining room, where 600
wands of white selenite crystal ? named after
the Greek goddess of the moon, Selene, and
thought to have healing and calming properties
? have been suspended from the ceiling. ?It
took two days to hang them,? observes Plein.
Upstairs, in one of the property?s three living
rooms, twelve chandeliers are hung from the
ceiling, projecting another blaze of light.
Visitors to the kitchen inevitably take a step
back when they see what appears to be an
insect infestation in a corner of the room. It
is a swarm of bronze bees and butterflies
suspended from the ceiling and appearing
The Times Magazine 57
Home!
to fly towards the breakfast room. The effect,
however, is delightful.
There is a handsome Viking stove. Does he
make much use of it? ?I?ve never cooked,? he
says, shaking his head. ?I have chefs.?
One of the reasons Plein chose this house
is because its street number, 162, matches his
birthday, which is February 16. ?A lot of things
like this happen in my life and I don?t know
why,? the designer says.
In the master suite, that magic number is
incorporated into a logo picked out in frosted
brass on the headboard above his king-size bed.
He went to Italy, to the quarries of Massa
Carrara, to personally pick out the marble
for the house. ?I had Italians working on the
house for four months ? they lived here,? he
says. ?Only the electrician was from the US.?
He points to the door handle of the walk-in
shower in his en suite bathroom, which is bigger
than most New York apartments. Shaped like
the branch of a tree, he describes the handle
? one of many throughout the property ? as
a way of bringing a touch of nature indoors.
They were made by the British architectural
ironmongery firm Philip Watts Design.
Plein started his career in law school,
switched to furniture design and says he got
into the fashion business ?by mistake? after
using leftover cuts of leather to make handbags.
The man who has been called the king of
bling started his business in 2004 and now
has three brands: Philipp Plein, Plein Sport
and Billionaire Couture. His empire turns
over $300 million a year and he owns the
business outright.
?We are 100 per cent self-financed. I don?t
have rich parents. I don?t have an investor.
I don?t have a loan from any bank. We created
something out of nothing and have grown
organically,? he says.
Celebrities such as Iggy Azalea, Grace
Jones, Fergie from the Black Eyed Peas, Rita
Ora, Lindsay Lohan and Paris Hilton are fans.
Plein, who talks a mile a minute, clearly
regards himself as an outsider and says he
was initially snubbed by the cliquey fashion
establishment. ?The fashion industry is
controlled by a few big conglomerates and
it?s very old-fashioned,? he says, rapping his
knuckles on a table for emphasis. ?I see myself
as part of the new generation.?
One of his favourite areas of the fourbedroom, seven-bathroom property, which
also has a sauna and a gym, is a terrace that
is just above tree height. ?If you?re in a New
York apartment you might get the big view, but
you can?t open your windows,? Plein says. ?To
me, this is a more European style of living. I
have a tree so I see greenery all day. I leave my
windows open at night. To me, that is luxury.? n
Philipp Plein?s shop is at 98 New Bond Street,
London W1 (plein.com)
The townhouse?s
champagne room
The tree-height
outdoor terrace
The master suite
The Times Magazine 59
14.10.17
Pout!
& Shop!
The beauty editor?s
top 10 buys, plus
this season?s 16 best
dresses ? with sleeves.
You?re sorted
Kendall Jenner,
left, and Gigi
Hadid at the
Tom Ford show
last month.
Photograph by
Jason Lloyd-Evans
Pout!
My ten top buys for autumn, by Lesley Thomas
A deep berry lip shade
I don?t think red lips will ever go out of
fashion, but there is a vampy alternative this
season. Berry and plum were a bit of a thing
at the autumn/winter collections. Bobbi
Brown?s Crushed Lip Colour in Blackberry
(�; bobbibrown.co.uk) is excellent for
creating a pre-Raphaelite lip stain. Bourjois,
the bargain French brand, has some good,
highly pigmented ones, too ? try its Rouge
Velvet lipstick in Berry Formidable (�99;
superdrug.com). If you like your lips matt and
the colour intense, go for Dior?s Diorific Kh鬺
in Vibrant Tourmaline (�.50; dior.com).
JASON LLOYD-EVANS,
DAN KENNEDY, TOM JACKSON
A shockingly sexy scent
Tom Ford F***ing Fabulous (�5
for 50ml; exclusively at 201-202 Sloane
Street, London SW1)
Yup, you read that right. It is the rudest
fragrance name ever. This lightly spicy,
leathery scent is the latest addition to
Mr Ford?s luxy collection. I can?t lie,
though: an immature part of me just loves the
name, especially when I?m asked to identify
the incredible fragrance I am wearing.
The ultimate brow-scara
Glossier Boy Brow (�; glossier.com)
This exciting new American brand has a host
of millennial-focused products that us elders
will want to get our hands on. I have been
seeking the perfect
brow-enhancing
product for at least two
years and I am now calling
off the search. This browmascara is easy to apply without
making a mess and does not budge
once applied. It?s great for those of us
who like eyebrows to remain looking
like actual hair, rather than something
that?s been drawn on by an amateur
calligrapher. If you want fuller, darker, but
still natural-looking brows, this is The One.
A stealthy glow
Sensai Glowing Base (�; harrods.com)
Make-up artists are raving about Sensai?s
new base products. The primer in the
range is outstanding. I?ve been using it
alone, rather than under make-up. It
62 The Times Magazine
gives a believable glow to midlife skin and
somehow evens out the colour. It doesn?t
exactly cover anything, but it will get your skin
as close as it can be to flawless without the use
of camouflage. Science, eh? I really don?t know
another product like this.
The indispensable eye palette
Charlotte Tilbury Instant Eye Palette
(�; charlottetilbury.com)
Once again, Tilbury (above right) has
produced something totally foolproof and
incredibly useful. This sleek 12-pan palette
has eye shades in flattering, non-scary
colours (essentially browns, beiges, taupes,
gold and silver). For eyeshadow novices or
scaredy-cats, they are grouped into ?desk?,
?date?, ?disco? and ?day?, with Tilbury?s
trademark colour-by-numbers tips on
where exactly to apply them around your eyes.
As good as it is, it is still 60 whole pounds
for some eyeshadow. Autograph at M&S
has just launched a Lasting Colour Luxe
Eyeshadow Palette ? 12 neutral shades for a
more breathable � (marksandspencer.com).
A perfect face palette
Hourglass Ambient Lighting Edit Volume 3
(�; johnlewis.com; spacenk.com)
Hourglass has always set high standards for
complexion make-up; it?s the brand that does
contouring for grown-ups. It
has outdone itself with this
six-shade palette. That may
seem an excessive number
of colours for one face, but
you don?t have to use them
all; you could just use the
bronzer or one of the blush
or highlighter shades. Follow
the simple application instructions and
your skin will look as if it has its own
subtly flattering Instagram filter.
Thrillingly inexpensive nail colour
Beauty Pie nail colours
(from �30; beautypie.com)
Beauty Pie is an innovative way to shop
for cosmetics products. The brand
charges ridiculously low prices if you
sign up as a member (for as little as �).
The seven newly launched nail colours
(in classic nudey, red and vampy
shades) are as enduring as any
of the pricier salon offerings.
BARGAIN
BUY
A high-speed skin hydrator
Balance Me Hyaluronic Plumping Mist
(�.80; johnlewis.com)
Hyaluronic acid is just about the best
ingredient for keeping skin hydrated, drawing
and holding wrinkle-fighting moisture. It is
usually pretty expensive, though. This product
is an inexpensive way to plump up fine lines.
Don?t be fooled by the low price; this is
a smart, plant-derived skin booster that
is great for sensitive skins.
Some high-tech sheet masks
Dr Frances Prenna Jones Homework
Konjac Sheet Masks (� for a set of 4;
drfrancesprennajones.com)
Dr Frances Prenna Jones
(right), one of London?s
most sought-after cosmetic
doctors, has an exquisite
skincare range. These
vitamin and mineral-rich
sheet masks pack a serious
punch. My skin was
smoother and instantly
enlivened after one use.
An emergency cover-up
Elizabeth Arden Flawless Finish
Everyday Perfection Bouncy Makeup
(�; debenhams.com)
I don?t usually go for full-cover foundation. I
like skin that looks like skin. But sometimes,
there is stuff to hide ? zits, scars ? and
you want something more powerful
than a tinted moisturiser. This new
powder-gel compact is just the ticket.
It?s lightweight, but still gives proper
concealment if that is what you
need. There is a good colour range,
too ? 14 shades from Porcelain
to Hazelnut. n
instagram.com/lesleyjthomas
Shop!
By Rachael Dove
GRE AT DRESSES
S
E
V
E
E
L
S
H
WIT
�0, LK
Bennett x Preen
(lkbennett.com)
�9 and, left,
�9, essentielantwerp.com
BEST
BUY
Above, from left �0, Boden Icons (boden.co.uk); �0, Boden Icons; �0, Isabel Marant
(net-a-porter.com); �, finerylondon.com; �9, warehouse.co.uk; �, Issa (houseoffraser.co.uk).
Below, from left �5, stories.com; �9, whistles.com; �, kitristudio.com; �0, cefinn.com.
EDITOR?S
PICK
Above, from left �, stories.com;
�0, boden.co.uk; �5, rixo.co.uk.
How to get dressed
Hilary Rose
The �0 sweet spot for bags
I
n honour of my new handbag, we?re going
to talk about yours. Mine is bright red and
orange. It really is. I?m not even joking. My
editor looked suspiciously at me, and then
at the label and said, ?Is it real?? World
wars have started over less. Of course it?s
?ipping real. It was my birthday present to
myself, since you ask, and surely she knows
that I?d rather carry a bag from Primark than
a knock-off Prada from Thailand? Actually,
I wouldn?t dream of carrying either but
anyway, seeing as nearly every bag I?ve ever
had has been black or navy, I?ve decided to
embrace colour.
Against the odds, I think I love it. It?s been
three weeks now, in which I?ve looked at it
slightly askance and wondered if I might
have to take it to Farrow & Ball and paint it
Elephant?s Breath. I use the same bag every
day, so carrying something this loud runs the
risk of it clashing horribly with whatever I?m
wearing, but so far, so good. This could of
course be because all I wear is navy or black,
except on the days when I really shake things
up and wear navy and black. The bottom line
is, my new bag shouts, but it?s working.
You, on the other hand, might prefer to
do the sensible thing, which is to buy a nice,
practical neutral-coloured tote, into which
the kitchen sink will ?t snugly, and which has
a zipped pocket for your purse. Oh, and it?s
going to cost no more than �0, because
that, I am told, is what normal people think
What we love
Bag, �0,
Boden
It ticks all the boxes and might
pass for Prada in a dark alley
a handbag should cost. I am not normal about
bags and shoes, and never claimed to be, so
I?ll just pretend that I agree. And don?t suggest
Michael Kors, because I have issues with the
ubiquity and pricing of Michael Kors bags.
Buy Massimo Dutti?s black tote with a wide
handle instead, which ticks all of the above
boxes, might pass for Prada in a very dark
alley, costs a reasonable �9 and doesn?t have
a stupid MK gold symbol dangling from it
(massimodutti.com).
If you like hobo bags then you should
probably buy M&S Collection?s brown leather
sling hobo (�) but I?m strangely drawn to an
in?nitely less practical cream (Autograph So?a
bucket hobo, �; marksandspencer.com).
Boden?s Toulon bag comes in a terrifyingly
cheerful yellow and a really grim magenta. I?d
strongly
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