Retail Therapy: Sir Clive and other bright sparks

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The Independent Online
IF YOU have ever felt the need for a self-closing tea-bag, the Inventors' Forum is the place to be. The first show of its kind, the idea was to provide a shop window for independent inventors to put new creations into production and enable them to research the sales potential of their products. With so many boffins displaying, it is a wonder none of them had thought of it before.

Sir Clive Sinclair will be one of the main attractions, aiming to show off his Zike (pounds 499). Touted as the world's first viable electric bicycle (though we seem to have heard that one before), it aims to make life less taxing on two fronts: against headwinds and against bureaucracy, as the Zike apparently requires no road-fund tax or insurance.

Another curiosity is the Water Talker (pounds 3.99). Keen gardeners will be alarmed to hear their house plants answering back, as an electric singing voice emits a cry for water when the soil dries out. This humidity monitor comes with a built-in photo-electric cell to prevent waking you during the hours of darkness.

The forum is part of this year's Ideal Home Exhibition at Earls Court 2, London SW5, open 10am to 8pm. Entry to the entire exhibition is pounds 7 (pounds 4 concessions). The forum is on today and tomorrow.

THIS WEEK Ragdoll Productions, makers of the children's television show Rosie and Jim, opened a shop in Stratford-upon-Avon which is a welcome variation on the usual approach to selling TV spin-offs: pile 'em high and sell them for lots of money. More than half the premises are a children's play area.

Direct contact with its audience has been a primary concern for Ragdoll, which has its production office directly behind the shop. There are special postboxes throughout the shop from which children can send drawings and letters to their favourite characters.

Things to buy include Rosie and Jim tracksuits (pounds 21.99), TV videos (pounds 8.99), Rosie and Jim knitting patterns (95p), duvets ( pounds 22.99) and dolls ( pounds 14.99).

11 Chapel Street, Stratford-upon-Avon, Warwickshire.

OSBORNE AND LITTLE has followed in the footsteps of Jane Churchill and Designer's Guild, becoming the latest company to introduce a range of fabric and wallpaper designs for children. The collection, called 'Charades', features Victorian and Edwardian themed designs. Animal Tales is a jolly fabric and border of pale blue cartoon animals on a white background, in a pen-and-ink style. Penny Plain is a cream and red design based on Victorian theatrical figures. Other themes include topiary, shells, astrology and circus figures. Fabrics are pounds 19.50 per metre, borders are pounds 7.50, wallpapers are pounds 16.50.

Osborne and Little Showroom, 304 King's Road, London SW3. For stockists, ring 081-675 2255.

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