Barbara Piper, Wolverhampton
Ah yes, Barbara, but it isn't easy for me, is it? Obviously, you hadn't heard my baby news when you wrote this letter, which I pulled out of the pile and answered early as I have an affinity with this sort of business at the moment. This is definitely going to be my last. I just can't be doing with all these food cravings. Now it's Twixes, mashed potato with chopped-up mozzarella cheese and sausages with avocado salad and sushi. Not all at once, obviously. And my bosoms, buoyant at the best of times, have become ridiculously large. No matter how high I fill the bath, they still peek out of the top like cheeky chappies. My husband, bless him, is besides himself at having sired five children now. Anyway, must stop this baby chittie-chattie. Elvi, the size 14 "and up" range, have done the sweetest cardigan in their Spring/Summer range. It's in a raspberry colour, has an old-fashioned collar and short sleeves, and is made of cotton and viscose. It costs pounds 55 and is stocked in Beatties in Wolverhampton, tel: 01902 20985. Or contact Elvi on 0121 212 2392.
My daughter, aged 15, has decided that she is a vegetarian. I support her wishes and have attempted to cook her tasty veggie food (I come from a big meat-eating family and the only vegetably things I cook are strictly to go with meat... but I don't want you to think I am a bad mother!), however, now, she has decided that she won't wear leather, which poses a problem as far as shoes, belts, etc, are concerned. Please, please can you help me before I kill her?
Desperate, South-West England
Oh dear. Let me give you some useful addresses and things so that you can keep her happy and stay out of jail, which are awful places. Luxury without Leather make belts out of quality synthetic materials and they look rather nice. Call them on 01494 539136 for a brochure. Ethical Wares make outdoor and leisure-wear, footwear and clothing without using leather. Call 01929 480360 for a colour catalogue. Veggie Jacks make jackets and accessories. For mail order, call 01273 203821, and they have a shop in Brighton (same number). Vegetarian Shoes, also in Brighton (01273 691913) make shoes (surprise!). Finally, hideAway (01329 281313) specialise in jackets, skirts, trousers and waistcoats. See, no need to shed blood.
I know you will think that I am a pathetic man, but I need to buy my wife a first-anniversary present and I just don't know what. She means a great deal to me, obviously, so I don't want it to be something obvious. But I am not very clever when it comes to things like this and you seem to have a slant on things. Could you advise? Money is no problem, well up to maybe pounds 1,000, and she likes original things, but her tastes are diverse. She is very easy to please, but I want her to think I have really thought about this. Please help me.
Andrew (this is not my real name), Central London
What kind of tall order is this? I have no idea what she looks like, what size she is. Nothing. pounds 1,000 eh? Forget just spending money, although you should do that, too. You really want to impress her? Make her something. There is something dreamy about a man making something. It hints at the gentle side of you and she can swoon as she thinks of you having taken all that time over it. I've mentioned this before, but my husband, before he was, made me a Valentine's card that was a patchwork heart made out of some of his shirts. He sewed all the little squares together with mismatched thread. He stuffed it with feathers and then placed his favourite ring inside. Then he pinned the heart onto a card and gave it to me. So, do something equally romantic, then buy her an outfit from Ben de Lisi (tel: 0171 734 0089), something from Tiffany's (tel: 0171 409 2790), a ring from Jess James (see page nine of this week's "Real Life"), a pair of shoes from Emma Hope (tel: 0171 259 9566), some La Perla underwear (posh department stores) and a fleece from Patagonia (tel: 00 331 41 10 18 18). I also have another idea which I can't publish here, not because it's naughty, but because I am going to do it for my husband. So write in on the same sort of paper you used before (so I know it's you) and I'll write back and tell you. Ahhh...Reuse content