True Gripes: Get a grip and hang on: Escalators can leave you out of step

Have you ever suffered the horrors of out-of-synch handrail syndrome? It is a curse which befalls unwary Tube passengers and department store shoppers. It can strike any time you board an escalator and its effects can be devastating.

In Thing: Louise Jackson scarves

'They're very dated,' says Louise Jackson about her scarves. 'I want them to look old-fashioned. Not like something that's very 1994.' And the hand-dyed velvet scarves do look like prizes salvaged from a vintage drama cupboard. Among them a long thin Twenties-ish butterfly scarf which widens at the ends, and a chic, black Garboesque opera coat scarf with secret pockets (for love letters, smelling salts and purloined trinkets). All are rich high-style 'must haves' for posers, prima donnas and party goers.

Political Commentary: Brimstone and treacle for the battle-weary troops

A FEW weeks ago Mrs Teresa Gorman accused Mr Michael Heseltine of disloyalty to the Prime Minister. She expressed her meaning by saying that Mr Heseltine was 'putting his puddings out for treacle'. I thought at the time that this must mean something incredibly filthy, but refrained from saying so, for fear of causing offence (which it has always been my purpose to avoid, as much to Mrs Gorman as to anyone). Instead I restricted myself to a reference to Finnegans Wake. Mrs Gorman now writes to inform me that 'the expression was used in our neighbourhood about any woman considered to be putting herself forward for attention - or suspected of paying the tradesmen's bills in 'kind']'

ETCETERA / Design Dinosaurs: 18 The Pakamac

IN THE 1820s Charles Macintosh fabricated the first genuinely waterproof waterproof from his own patented 'india-rubber cloth', using proofed seams. In 1851 George Spill inserted metal eyelets under the armpits to provide an outlet for perspiration. A year or two later, Crimean war hero Baron Raglan devised a garment from old potato sacks to keep his soldiers warm. It had diagonal slashes across the corners, from which developed the roomy 'raglan sleeve' for over-garments. In 1914 Thomas Burberry designed his weatherproof for warfare, the trench-coat. It was in 1949 that Leslie Cohen made the final entry in the Cloakroom of Fame. He adapted these classically styled garments to the material of the moment: plastic.

Leading Article: A bit of social history gone for a Burton

ANYONE who remembers the high streets of Britain between the Thirties and Sixties may find it scarcely credible that, as reported in our Business section today, Burton is to contract out the selling of suits in its own shops. In those days, where there was a high street there was a Montague Burton shop, its vacuously smiling dummies promising a suiting of decent, if unexciting, quality.

Body in harbour

Police were trying to identify the body of a woman found floating in the harbour at Dover, Kent. The woman, who was black and in her late forties, was wearing a blue swimming costume under a raincoat.

BOOK REVIEW / The dilemma of not being where we hoped: 'The Empty Raincoat' - Charles Handy: Hutchinson, 12.99

As we become more familiar with the shape and character of this decade, the profound issues of our time come into clearer focus. There is no more difficult nor central issue than the apparently growing divergence between the needs of business and that of society at large.

Sales]: Looking for a bargain? Start the search here

From smash-and-grab raids in the Harrods china department to the refined account customer preview at Jaeger, the January sales are still somehow special. Most of them start in December and - great news for last-minute Christmas shoppers - a few are already on. So check out our sales guide and pick the best shops for bargains.

ROCK / File under formative: Long forgotten, now revered: Ben Thompson meets the Raincoats

'THE RAINCOATS are so bad tonight that every time a waiter drops a tray we all get up and dance . . . I die so many times during their set that in India they think I'm the fourth prophet.' Such was the verdict of the NME in 1979. The reviewer: Danny Baker, en route to becoming a chat-show host and Daz Ultra's representative on earth.

You lose some, you win some: The travelling public misplaces its property. Then it buys it back. John Windsor explains

On the last day of each school year, the head teacher of Brampton Down girls' boarding school in Folkestone, Kent, used to get a telephone call from 'a parent', asking which train the sixth form was taking on its way home for the hols. The parent, a titled but impecunious woman friend of mine, knew that by the time the train reached Victoria the school- leavers would have dressed as vamps, discarding a uniform of tunics and expensive Harrods flecked tweed overcoats on the train.

Nicholas Wright's Masterclass: The Art of Theatre: 6 Dialogue

LORD JOHN: Miss Leete trod on a toad.

Letter: Too hot for comfort

Sir: I have noticed that in nearly all public buildings the temperature is adjusted to be comfortable for the employees who work there.

Letter: A cliche in a belted raincoat

IN 'The strange case of the vacant chair' (Review, 1 August) James Rampton sets out to illustrate how the rival detectives have borrowed from Morse. It is suggested that Michael Gambon's Maigret was a Morse clone, 'the moody middle-aged malcontent' (not forgetting, of course, the belted raincoat). In fact, Gambon's performance was highly reminiscent of the earlier TV occupant of the role, Rupert Davies, 20-odd years before John Thaw had ever heard of Morse. The article also suggests similarities between Thaw's character and a young, blonde, female detective: 'she drives a classic car, is a workaholic and has a confused personal life'. John Steed drove a classic Bentley in The Avengers 25 years ago] Z-Cars' John Watt had a confused personal life because of his workaholism. In fact, so did Sherlock Holmes. Irascibility - has Mr Rampton ever heard of Charlie Barlow, or Hercule Poirot? One reason for Morse's success was that he was an amalgam of so many of the detective cliches established by his predecessors.

The Agreeable World of Wallace Arnold: Steady course to disaster

AMONG the greatest of life's pleasures I count settling down to a goodly jar of Best Bitter with my old friend and quaffing partner Lord (if you will]) Rees-Mogg.

TELEVISION / Overstepping the borders: John Lyttle gives Strathblair a bit of Highland clearance and reels from the assaults of a mighty mouth

The past is always with us. Doubters should turn their attention to Strathblair (BBC1 Sunday) as the Fifties-located rural soap enters its second and final run. Another attempted escape into a pastoral never-never land where stability is signalled by the rigidity of the social order - here straddling the extremes of Scottish land labourers and English overlords - the programme has now evolved from a sheep-fanciers sex fantasy into the sum total of its period details.
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