Dear annie

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Indy Lifestyle Online
I Wrote to you last year and you never replied so I thought I'd try again. I want slip-on plimsolls, like you used to wear at school. They're great for summer. Please, please find some for me. I'll be your best friend for ever.

Imogen, Cirencester

First off, thank you for your letters asking why the column was so short last week. I know, I know. Peed me off too, but lack of space and all that. Second off, back to Imogen. "Be my bezzie" eh? And let me use all your felt tip pens? Thank you but no thank you, I have a best friend already and splendid she is too. I remember you from last year. I'm sorry I didn't reply, I wish that I could to everyone but I can't. So, then, you persistent girlie. I know what you mean - Racing Green (0345 331177) do some really pretty ones for pounds 15 in navy, bright blue, olive, red or white in sizes 36-42. So plod off now and stop stalking me.

I Have a lovely, pale yellow cotton jumper, with some cabling and decorative ribbing at the cuffs and bottom. But I have been unable to wear it for a while because, despite careful washing, it has stretched to ridiculous proportions. Although still OK in width, its length now reaches my knees and the sleeves flap around about 5in beyond my fingertips. Is there anyway I can successfully shorten it again? I am very handy at sewing but to date have been afraid of taking the scissors to it for fear of ruining it. Please don't suggest I wear it as a dress as that would look very silly on me. Perhaps you and your panel of experts can come up with a solution for me?

Cathy Sweeny, Dublin

Why don't you wear it as a dress? Joke! This business of "you and your panel of experts" - there isn't one, there is just me. I have assistants sometimes, for a few days here and there, but then I miss the research, the detective work as I track things down and the thrill of it all, and I drive them mad with my nit-picking "have you tried there, or there, or here, or look in there and through that" and I can see them thinking "do it yourself then". So I mostly do it myself. Before you heed my advice you must realise that I cannot take responsibility for anything going wrong OK? The proper way to do it is to unravel the yarn until it is the length that you want it to be, then you need to go round with a crochet hook and secure the stitches. It is impossible for me to describe this to you (and I don't actually know how to do it as my mamma always does it for me) so I suggest you find a friend who is good with a crochet hook and get her/him to show you. The other, very irresponsible thing I've done is cut a jumper, then with a big needle threaded with some spare yarn that you take from the severed bit, sew the hem up, catching the stitches as you go. But remember that you will end up with a plain hem that most probably flares out because you have removed the rib. As it's a shop-bought knit I doubt you will be able to reproduce the rib yourself by hand-knitting it. Find an old aunt somewhere, shove it in her direction and give her a digestive biscuit and a cup of tea. I've been no help at all have I?

Iona of Chichester (22 December) might be able to find nipple concealers if she has any contacts in Japan. A couple of years ago, in Tokyo, I saw packs of pinky flesh-coloured discs for sale. The idea was to stick them to the unfortunate nipples (though not, I think, to the dress at the same time). I remember wondering if this practise of restraining the poor old nipples was philosophically linked to the Japanese practise of encasing legs in 20-denier American Tan tights, beneath shorts!

ND, Brussels

Mmm, yes ...

I AM 35, a photographer and I love fly-fishing, the opera, William Morris, Pre-Raphaelite art and Triumph Heralds, of which I have two, one light blue and one dark blue. I like to dress in jeans, t-shirts that kind of thing, and sometimes even velvet suits. My problem is that I cannot find, anywhere, black leather gloves in a size 81/2. Eight yes, or even nine, but not 81/2. Please can you help me as my hands are getting cold.

Pete, London

Young man. Where exactly have you looked? I bet you just popped into Johnny Loulou's, couldn't find what you wanted and thought, "I'll write to that bird in the paper and let her do the work while I do some fishing". Visit Harrods or Selfridges, thumb through the Yellow Pages for glove shops. Or just buy the gloves in a size 9. Goodness sake.

I Have been passed various copies of your paper last year in which wails of anguish about static cling and creep have been published. Now I have a subscription, I can offer the solution:

1. Apply hand or body lotion liberally to legs, hips and tummy, and rub in well.

2. Put on tights or stockings, coat your hands with cream and lightly rub them all over the surface of your tights from the knees up.

3. If wearing a slip, repeat the process for the tights, then put on your dress.

I have found this to be foolproof but you have to be very careful to get the amount of cream just right. Not enough and the static barrier won't work. Too much and you'll look like the wrapping from fish and chips. I would be curious to learn if this succeeds for others or perhaps works only in warm climates south of the equator. And please tell Dr Alex Scott Samuel that black lace-up plimsolls are readily available in Zimbabwe for Z$70.00 per pair (about pounds 3.50).

Noreena Elwell, Harare, Zimbabwe

Zimbabwe has always been one of my most favourite words, ever since Angela Rippon pronounced it so emphatically while reading the news. The only thing for Dr Scott Samuel is that the plimmies may cost pounds 3.50, but the airfare over to Zimbabwe might make it slightly prohibitive, especially with what doctors earn nowadays. Anyone trying the static tip successfully, do let me know. And anyone popping over to Zimbabwe, buy Dr Scott Samuel a pair in black, size 11 or 12. Zimbabwe.

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