Deprived of Meg Ryan's counterfeit climax and Trevor Howard's stiff upper lip, I took a browse round our local newsagent to explore the lures appended to other publications - Arts and Entertainment - The Independent

Deprived of Meg Ryan's counterfeit climax and Trevor Howard's stiff upper lip, I took a browse round our local newsagent to explore the lures appended to other publications

It may come as a surprise, but the Weasel household is not taking advantage of this paper's irresistible video offer. The reason is that, after being relieved of our video recorder in two successive years by the local burglar, I issued an interdict against such gadgets. Despite the yips of the Weaslets and the volcanic snorts of Mrs W, I was adamant. But, being a kindly soul, I agreed to keep the video tapes. Indeed, I spend many an evening attempting to entertain the family by holding the cassettes up to a strong light and whirling the spools with a rotating digit, though I must admit the visual effect isn't quite the same.

Anyway, deprived of Meg Ryan's counterfeit climax and Trevor Howard's stiff upper lip, I took a browse round our local newsagent to explore the profusion of lures currently appended to other publications. These range from the witty (cough lozenges with The Stage) to the practical (a pack of "Free baby's arrival cards" in unisexual purple from Our Baby), from the potentially life-saving (water-purifying tablets in The Great Outdoors) to the reviving (a sample of Boots' grapefruit-flavoured Isotonic with Runner's World). Gifts may be miserly (a sachet of camomile tea with Healthcare) or melodious (an "E" string with Guitar Player).

Some offers were a touch disappointing. free: great breasts! was the startling announcement on the front of Company, but it turned out merely to be "Your intimate health and beauty guide". The wooden pegboard provided by Inspirations For Your Home was lacking two of its three pegs in the example adhering to the only remaining issue. The blusher brush promised by Sugar, similarly reduced to a single copy, was completely missing. Foreseeing such an eventuality, the magazine made the helpful suggestion: "If it isn't here ask your friendly newsie what the 'eck's going on!" Since my poking around the shelves was already prompting suspicious looks from my "friendly newsie", I decided not to follow this advice.

Gardeners are particularly well supplied with free gifts. Courtesy of BBC's Gardening World, Mrs W now sports a fetching pair of gardening gloves while engaged in her ongoing war with south London's snail population. Last year, a similar publication clogged up Britain's newsagents by giving away a large plastic trug with each issue.

Occasionally, however, editorial staff face a problem in giving a name to their giveaway. Last year, one journal aimed at the junior miss provided a plastic toe-spacer to overcome the perennial problem of smudging when lacquering their toenails. (A difficulty, you'll recall, that was circumvented by James Mason, when embellishing Lolita's toenails, by using balls of cotton wool.) But what was the term for this curious object? The elegant solution: a free thingy.

The designers of the pounds 9.5 million Ferris Wheel planned for London's South Bank claim it will be possible on a clear day to see Luton from the top of the 500-foot ride. Quite why anyone should want to do so remains a mystery. Still, even with each rotation lasting for 20 minutes, the time spent at the top will be comparatively limited. In fact, the spectacle that passengers will have the greatest opportunity of viewing is the monolithic tower of Shell Centre, virtually adjacent to the proposed site of the Millennium Wheel.

Since the block is 338 feet high, students of mid-century architectural aesthetics will be able to feast their eyes on every detail - except that there are no details. When the structure was erected in 1963, Kenneth Tynan described it as "a cenotaph with bullet holes". And Pevsner's Buildings of England, which customarily defends modernism, calls it "stodgy" and "disappointingly dull". But it does have one advantage. On days when the metropolis is shrouded in mist, and passengers are denied the distant, glorious vision of Luton, the wheel's 26-storey neighbour will be plainly visible.

Staying up a bit later than my customary bedtime, I caught a TV advertisement for breakfast cereal. Aimed at the young, it suggested that they should try the oh-so-zany experiment of consuming cornflakes for supper. How radical. But the concept has already been tried out and, indeed, taken to its ultimate conclusion. In the Thirties, there was an undergraduate society at Oxford which was devoted to reversing the customary daily gastronomic sequence. On certain days, its members would put on evening dress immediately on rising and consume a large brandy with a whopping cigar. Then they would scoff cheese, trifle, roast beef and soup, in that order and accompanied by the appropriate wines, before having a bracing G and T. Round about 5pm, they would have a light lunch in backwards order and then dress in pyjamas and dressing gown for the evening. Guess what was their last meal of the day?

When recently announcing initiatives by the Better English Campaign, its chairman, Trevor McDonald, cited John F Kennedy as a great defender of language. The late president seems a peculiar choice as a linguistic hero, since he was a notorious gabbler. On one occasion in December 1961, he achieved a record for the highest speed of public speaking by burbling away at an incomprehensible 327 words per minute.

I suppose Trev and his cronies at the Better English Campaign mean well, but I've always been inclined to the opinion that what is being said is more important than how it is said. This view was reinforced by the experience of a friend when attending the 40th birthday party of an ex-girlfriend in a Southwark wine bar the other day.

Since their relationship was concluded well over a decade ago, he knew none of the other guests, who were mainly nobby types from the posher enclaves of Clapham and Wandsworth. After a lonely drink or two, he essayed a remark about the decor of the wine bar to a pleasant-looking woman also standing alone. "Oh, eeh bah goom. Put wood in t' ole. That's reet gradely lad," he was astonished to hear her reply, in a weird pastiche of a Yorkshire accent.

"Why are you talking in that extraordinary way?" he inquired.

"Oh, I'm so sorry," she replied, "I thought you were pretending to come from Yorkshire. I didn't realise..." And then she dashed off.

Though my friend spent his early life in the north, he has lived in London for the past quarter-century. In the normal run of things, no one remarks on his accent from one year to the next. Thinking that his first communicant had perhaps overdone the valpolicella, my pal had a few more solitary slurps, peered at the dado rail, examined an interesting crack in the wall, that sort of thing, before summoning up the courage to address a party of four young women with an innocuous plaisanterie. The same thing happened as before. "Eh opp, there's trouble at t' mill" the girls tittered. "Bah the 'eck. Well, I'll go to t' foot of our stairs."

At this, my chum realised he was on to a complete loser and scarpered for the welcome anonymity of central London. It was obvious that, at least in their social lives, the inane ditzes in the wine bar never, ever, met anyone who talked even slightly differently from themselves. Of course, these noodle-heads all spoke perfect cut-glass English, or "received pronunciation" in the lingo of the linguistics biz. Nevertheless, I think it should be a top priority for Generalissimo McDonald to dispatch a crack battalion from the Better English Campaign down to the faubourgs of SW4

Arts and Entertainment
Robin Thicke's video for 'Blurred Lines' has been criticised for condoning rape

Robin Thicke admits he didn't write 'Blurred Lines'

music
Arts and Entertainment
While many films were released, few managed to match the success of James Bond blockbuster 'Skyfall'

film
Arts and Entertainment
Matt Damon as Jason Bourne in The Bourne Ultimatum (2007)

film
Arts and Entertainment
Sheridan Smith as Cilla Black

Review: Cilla, ITV TV
Arts and Entertainment

TV
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Arts and Entertainment
Keira Knightley and Benedict Cumberbatch star in the Alan Turing biopic The Imitation Game

film
Arts and Entertainment
Kanye West is on his 'Yeezus' tour at the moment

Music
Arts and Entertainment
Rob James-Collier, who plays under-butler Thomas Barrow, admitted to suffering sleepless nights over the Series 5 script

TV
Arts and Entertainment
Bradley Cooper and Jennifer Lawrence star in new film 'Serena'

film
Arts and Entertainment
Some might argue that a fleeting moment in the actor’s scintillating, silver-tongued company is worth every penny.

TV
Arts and Entertainment
Colin Firth stars as master magician Stanley Crawford in Woody Allen's 'Magic in the Moonlight'

film
Arts and Entertainment
U2 have released Songs of Innocence in partnership with Apple

musicBand have offered new record for free on iTunes
Arts and Entertainment
Brad Pitt stars in David Ayer's World War II drama Fury

film
Arts and Entertainment
Top hat: Pharrell Williams

music
Arts and Entertainment
Jonah Hill and Channing Tatum star as undercover cops in 22 Jump Street

film
Arts and Entertainment
David Bowie is back with fresh music after last year's hit album The Next Day

music
Arts and Entertainment
Keith Richards is publishing 'Gus and Me: The Story of My Granddad and My First Guitar', a children's book about his introduction to music

music
Arts and Entertainment
Calvin Harris has generated £4m in royalties from the music platform

music
Arts and Entertainment
Jenna Coleman stars as the Time Lord's companion Clara in Doctor Who

TV
Arts and Entertainment
Time and time again: the popular daytime quiz has been a fixture on Channel 4 since 1982

TV
Arts and Entertainment

To mark Tolstoy's 186th birthday

books
Arts and Entertainment
Rachel McAdams is reportedly competing with Mad Men's Elisabeth Moss for a major role in True Detective

TV
Arts and Entertainment
Sam Smith returned to the top spot with his album 'In The Lonely Hour'

music
Arts and Entertainment
Steve Backshall is set to dance with Ola Jordan on Strictly Come Dancing. 'I have a friend who's a dancer and she said to me 'You want Ola because she's a fantastic dancer and she can make anyone look good' meaning 'even you'!' he said.

TV
Arts and Entertainment
Sting and Paul Simon on stage together at Carnegie Hall in New York

music
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?

ES Rentals

    Independent Dating
    and  

    By clicking 'Search' you
    are agreeing to our
    Terms of Use.

    Mystery of the Ground Zero wedding photo

    A shot in the dark

    Mystery of the wedding photo from Ground Zero
    His life, the universe and everything

    His life, the universe and everything

    New biography sheds light on comic genius of Douglas Adams
    Save us from small screen superheroes

    Save us from small screen superheroes

    Shows like Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D are little more than marketing tools
    Reach for the skies

    Reach for the skies

    From pools to football pitches, rooftop living is looking up
    These are the 12 best hotel spas in the UK

    12 best hotel spas in the UK

    Some hotels go all out on facilities; others stand out for the sheer quality of treatments
    These Iranian-controlled Shia militias used to specialise in killing American soldiers. Now they are fighting Isis, backed up by US airstrikes

    Widespread fear of Isis is producing strange bedfellows

    Iranian-controlled Shia militias that used to kill American soldiers are now fighting Isis, helped by US airstrikes
    Topshop goes part Athena poster, part last spring Prada

    Topshop goes part Athena poster, part last spring Prada

    Shoppers don't come to Topshop for the unique
    How to make a Lego masterpiece

    How to make a Lego masterpiece

    Toy breaks out of the nursery and heads for the gallery
    Meet the ‘Endies’ – city dwellers who are too poor to have fun

    Meet the ‘Endies’ – city dwellers who are too poor to have fun

    Urbanites are cursed with an acronym pointing to Employed but No Disposable Income or Savings
    Paisley’s decision to make peace with IRA enemies might remind the Arabs of Sadat

    Ian Paisley’s decision to make peace with his IRA enemies

    His Save Ulster from Sodomy campaign would surely have been supported by many a Sunni imam
    'She was a singer, a superstar, an addict, but to me, her mother, she is simply Amy'

    'She was a singer, a superstar, an addict, but to me, her mother, she is simply Amy'

    Exclusive extract from Janis Winehouse's poignant new memoir
    Is this the role to win Cumberbatch an Oscar?

    Is this the role to win Cumberbatch an Oscar?

    The Imitation Game, film review
    England and Roy Hodgson take a joint step towards redemption in Basel

    England and Hodgson take a joint step towards redemption

    Welbeck double puts England on the road to Euro 2016
    Relatives fight over Vivian Maier’s rare photos

    Relatives fight over Vivian Maier’s rare photos

    Pictures removed from public view as courts decide ownership
    ‘Fashion has to be fun. It’s a big business, not a cure for cancer’

    ‘Fashion has to be fun. It’s a big business, not a cure for cancer’

    Donatella Versace at New York Fashion Week