dear annie

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Indy Lifestyle Online
I HAVE two problems. First, I have a pair of Italian brown lace up fabricy shoes, which I got from World of Difference, a lovely little Ecology shop in Woburn Walk. The lady warned me that I wouldn't be able to replace them as they were out of production now. The label calls them "Flirt". Can I get them anywhere? Second, I am about to look for a replacement for a 14-year-old-pair of Dunlop "Green Flash" tennis pumps (or daps, depending on which bit of the UK you went to school in). They have kept my feet warm, dry and comfortable in last year's Northern Italian snow, this year's Harwich snow (albeit with furry insoles) as well as in the filthy heat of Athens. I am prepared to brave derision in sports shops, but only if I can get these Green Flash things (or - even better - the Red Flash which were the thing at school in the Sixties). My Nike-clad son will die if you print this request, but I have told him that only Italians know good shoes when they see them, and I've yet to see an Italian lady in Nikes.

Jenny, Bedford

WELL, to spare your son's premature death, I have omitted your surname. And I wear Nikes to run in, so although you haven't seen me, that blows your theory. Now then, your pumps or plimsolls as I call them. Dunlop as were have ceased trading. That's all I know as no one called back to speak to me further about this sad news. Anyway. The good news is that you won't have to brave the derision of any snotty youths as Green Flash are stocked by that wonderful institution, and my favourite store, Johnny Loulous. They come in children's sizes 4-51/2, pounds 13 and in adult sizes, 6-12 plus half sizes, pounds 15. They don't stock Red Flash and I don't know anyone who does. No doubt Green Flash will now enjoy a massive resurgence. As for these saucy sounding "Flirt" shoes - no idea, but anyone who does, please let me know!

ONE OF my abiding memories of childhood (during the 1950s and 1960s) is the sight of my father (deceased) - a Polish refuge - wearing a beret (of the type worn by Frenchmen). I am now 41 and find that I enjoy things my father did at that age. I would like a beret but have no idea where I might be able to buy one. My hopes were raised at the recent Heineken Cup Final match. I hoped to be able to persuade a Frenchman to part with his beret as an exchange for my rugby shirt but did not get the opportunity. I noticed that some berets had a peak (worn at the back) and I thought how elegant they looked. Please could you let me know where I might be able to buy such a beret. I live in Leicester but work in Central London.

Zdzislaw Matusiewicz

WHAT a lovely letter. But it made me rather sad that at 41 you no longer have your Daddy, because Daddies are important things. A traditional French beret, also called a basque beret, is different from the usual ones because it has a leather band around the crown. I have just returned from Switzerland, where I bought myself a Swiss Army knife (after having wanted one for ever, my husband refused to buy me one, insisting instead on buying me diamonds, boring sod) and I did look out for one there for you. However, Hat Shop do them. Yippee! They come in eight different sizes (black only), pounds 17.75 from 58 Neal Street, London WC2, 0171 836 6718. Be happy now, you won't have to swap part of your wardrobe to get one. Please send me in a pic of you wearing it.

PLEASE could you recommend any local shops that sell "retro" clothing from the Sixties and Seventies, apart from second-hand clothing shops and preferably shops that aren't in London - particularly if you know of any that specialise in "petite" ranges as I am five foot and size 10, with short arms and legs.

Lucy, Hertfordshire

SO YOU want retro clothing, that isn't second hand, that is petite and that is local. Can I help? No. Although one can sometimes find new clothes that are based on retro designs, this is rather rare as I shouldn't imagine it is very viable. New ranges usually follow fashion - they need to to keep abreast of the demand for "what's in" to make money. The Sixties and Seventies do influence fashion nowadays, but not to the degree I think you want. Why don't you like second-hand? I really think that's your best bet. As for shops near you, I haven't a clue. Your local Yellow Pages will help. But if there is anyone out there that knows better, you know my address...

PRETTY soon I am going inter-active! Yes David, Doreen, Trevor and other regular readers can soon contact me via e-mail. Watch this space. Funky.

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