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Saturday Magazine

Paloma Faith: a Cuban twist on the retro look

The singer Paloma Faith is known for her bold, retro look. But on a recent holiday in Cuba, she decided to give her signature style a tropical twist. Here, she explains how she did it

Beauty Queen: What perfume did Cleopatra dab behind her ears to

The combined efforts of Liz Taylor and the British Museum have done a good job of familiarising us with Cleopatra's make-up techniques, namely kohl and more kohl; and we've all heard that she softened her skin by bathing in asses' milk. One element of her ancient beauty routine is missing, however. What perfume did she dab behind her ears to impress Mark Antony and Caesar?

John Maynard Keynes: Can the great economist save the world?

Revered in his day, John Maynard Keynes was later pilloried as a dinosaur of big-state meddling by Margaret Thatcher and her fellow free marketeers. But now, as untrammelled capitalism implodes once more, people are asking: could the great economist's ideas really save the world?

Cadillac CTS Sport Luxury 2.8T

General Motors has been remarkably persistent in its efforts to establish Cadillac – its US luxury brand – in Europe but has not so far been rewarded with much success. That's a pity, because the latest models from Cadillac have largely eliminated the traditional weaknesses of US cars – space inefficiency, soggy handling and inattention to detail – without entirely losing their distinctively appealing American swank.

Skoda Superb 2.0 TDI PD SE

Price: £19,030

Top speed: 128 mph 0-60mph 10.2 seconds

Consumption: 47.9 mpg

CO2 emissions: 155g/km

Best for: New Mondeo men

Also worth considering? Audi A6, Saab 9-5, Volvo S80

Roisin Murphy: Meet the poster girl of cutting-edge chic

When I meet the singer Roisin Murphy at a café after the House of Holland show at London Fashion Week, it's hard not to feel as comparatively uncool and drably dressed as a policeman at the Notting Hill carnival. She is wearing a pink and grey shard-patterned sweatshirt by Vivienne Westwood, and huge vintage Courrèges sunglasses, although this is actually quite a subtle look by her striking standards.

Urban gardener: Computer says 'grow'

We've got a stowaway in the garden. It came in a pot of Saruma henryi that Roy Lancaster gave me earlier this year after a visit to his garden. Squeezing up a couple of grass-like shoots and gladioli-like flowers just before we went on holiday, I wondered for a moment whether Roy had inadvertently given me something rare and precious. On sending a photo, he confirmed that the infiltrator was Gladiolus papilio, a variable species from the Transvaal. Despite competition from the saruma it still reached its mature height of one metre but will need planting out in open ground if it is to make a nice clump. The flowers (late summer to early autumn) are like small funnels with subtle shades of purple and yellow that marble to darker maroon, and gold on the lower petals giving the impression of a butterfly, hence the name. It needs cool, moist humus-rich soil in sun to thrive (it will colonise by underground runners) and a good mulch should see it safely through a UK winter.

Urban gardener: Norman conquest

As a lapsed Catholic, I haven't had the urge to light a candle for anyone for quite some time, but I've just made an exception. A couple of weeks in France was made infinitely better by spending time listening to the French-language CDs of Michel Thomas. So impressed was I by the confidence they gave me to have a go (regardless of whether or not it sounded a load of bolleaux), that I was going to send a letter of gratitude to M Thomas, before someone told me that this Second World War veteran and genius of a language teacher had died three years ago. A candle, therefore, in a small seaman's chapel at the picturesque town of St Vaast-la-Hougue, would have to do instead.

Twingo Renault Sport 133 Cup

"I've got boobs, you know." Thus spake my front seat passenger as the Twingo crested another speedbump. She – I should make clear that it was a she, perhaps – made me only too conscious of the extreme effect that the "Cup" (no pun intended) chassis, as fitted to the sporty version of the Twingo, can have on even a well-supported bust. This is important. Somewhere along the line the manufacturers, or most of them, decided that, in order for a car to be taken seriously as a performance machine it had to be endowed with unforgiving, uncomfortable suspension.

How do I look?: Tawiah, singer, 21

My clothes are a reflection of me. If I'm feeling down, I'll be wearing black from head to toe. If I'm up, I'll be donning all the colours under the sun. There are people whose style I admire, but I pretty much do my own thing. If I see something and love how it looks on me, I'll just run it. I love granddad style. Those boys look gangsta in their little outfits.

My secret life: Nina Wadia, actress, 39

The home I grew up in... was a one-bedroom, ground-floor space that regularly flooded during the monsoon season in Mumbai. My brother, sister and I squeezed together on the bed and my mum and dad slept on a mattress on the floor. Aged nine, we moved to a two-bedroom flat in Hong Kong. It was like moving to a mansion.

Religion vs science: can the divide between God and rationality be

“A clergyman in charge of education for the country’s leading scientific organisation – it’s a Monty Python sketch,” pronounced Britain’s top atheist, Richard Dawkins, recently. How the world turns. In the days of Galileo it was the church which went around persecuting scientists. Now the boot appears to be on the scientific foot. That is how it must feel, at any rate, to Professor Michael Reiss who last month was hounded out of his job as the Royal Society’s director of education by a group of Nobel Prize winners who were outraged not by what he said but by what people might think he had said.