In the often unintelligible acronym- and jargon-crazed world of Work and Pensions Questions, no-one could accuse the right-wing Tory Philip Davies of not telling it like he thinks it is.

Thorpe to profit as middleman

Derek Pringle meets a batsman who has the technique to revive England


VANESSA WALTERS is 18, black and British, and she doesn't hang about. She's now in her first year studying law at University College London, but she wrote her debut novel, Rude Girls (Pan pounds 4.99), in her summer holidays from school; her headmistress recommended her to get an agent, and this led to a substantial advance from Macmillan while she was still a schoolgirl. The novel moves at speed, too. By the end of Chapter One we have met a gang of Yardies, been to a raucous all-day music festival, witnessed a shooting and been involved in a car-chase through the streets of Hackney. Shree, Paula and Janice, our three fun-loving, bare-as-you- dare heroines have appeared, complete with descriptions of their hairstyles (laborious) and body types (petite, stocky, tall and thin respectively).


ADVERTISING is increasingly in the business of yoking big, windy themes to small, particular things. Pre-Christmas is when the watches appear, usually in ads of stunning banality - but this year Sekonda's got a Big Theme.

how to be a bodyguard

Who needs the rich and famous? Close Protection Officers, otherwise known as bodyguards, do. They're the tall, stiff-looking types seen on the news and who shadow the Royals, the Prime Minister and other stars as they step in and out of their limos. Men that can spot trouble a mile away.

Sai Baba wanders the ashram in a Mercedes

LAST RESORT; Puttaparthi, Bangalore

BOOK REVIEW : Wolf, wolf! in fun-size cries Neat and pithy, to tell the truth

Beyond Certainty Charles Handy Hutchinson, pounds 12.99

pub life

THE FIRST time I went to The Lansdowne, angling for an under-age pint in 1985, a traffic warden came into the pub, passed over the niceties of community policing, and launched into a topless rendition of "Knees Up, Mother Brown". The birthday boy put a condom on his head and blew it up from inside, so that he looked like Astrosmurf, and then buried his head in the traffic warden's breasts and wept at the fickleness of time. Suddenly, there was more to passing yourself off as a man than asking for a pint of Greene King without a giveaway croak.

Who do they think is going to risk good money for these third- rate relics? We're reduced to bidding for some Swan Vestas as used by John Thaw on the television

While I was filming my Great Railway Journeys of the World trip for the BBC in Syria, one of the items was about the legendary Baron Hotel in Aleppo. The hotel is now run by Sally Malzoumian, an English nurse who married its Armenian owner in 1949. Though the hotel is now a faded shell, she is very proud of the guest book, which contains the names of a legion of former residents from the time when Aleppo was a stop-off for that most Thirties of phenomena - air races. TE Lawrence, Agatha Christie and the Lindberghs are in there, plus a whole load of people you've never heard of but who were real big shots in their day. "That's Count Ostrowsky, the famous canoeing balloonist," Sally would say, or "That's Tommy Shinbone - nobody's heard of him now, but he was terribly famous as radio's first comedy gynaecologist. He arrived with Ted Ray and Max Ernst in his airship from Beirut and such a crowd gathered that he had to be carried to the hotel in a bucket."

music Phil Johnson Andre Previn Jazz Trio, The Barbican

Bud Powell may have been a genius, but was he punctual? Come the time on the ticket - 7.30pm sharp - and Previn was at the keyboard and away, making this perhaps the first jazz concert in history to start on time. Already, the notion of "Tonight we improvise!" had a slightly Teutonic air of steely exactitude to it and, when it came, the chorus of "Satin Doll" was delivered with more than a touch of Beethoven's Fifth, the normally languid notes flattened into shape by the maestro's low-strung fingers. Previn's opening remarks had made a joke out of the presence of sheet- music for himself, Ray Brown on bass and Mundell Lowe on guitar but, as it turned out, the whole show progressed as if scored beforehand, the sequence as perfectly calculated as the movements of a Rolex. It was cocktail jazz of a very high order, the easy grace of the playing recalling Matisse's dictum of art as an armchair to sink luxuriously into.

Oyster cult

The material world

from mercedes to mulberry, rolex to ray-ban - 100 style classics to be won with

Today you can enter our prize draw to win a design classic. There are 100 prizes ranging from a classic car to the perfect fountain pen and to enter our prize draw you need to collect 12 differently numbered tokens from The Independent, at least one of which must have come from the Independent on Sunday. Today we publish Token 12 and the official entry form. We will reprint the entry form next Monday.

Goldsmiths twice as good


from mercedes to mulberry, rolex to ray-ban 100 style classics to be won with THE INDEPENDENT

IFASHIONS come and fashions go but classic style goes on for ever. That's why we are offering Independent readers the chance to win a prize, whether it is large or small, that will endure.

I've the watch if you've the time

John Windsor penetrates the hidden workings of the second-hand wristwatch market

Tennis: Lapentti beats Kuerten in Orange Bowl final.

Nicolas Lapentti, of Ecuador, drawing on his Davis Cup experience, ended his junior career by defeating his doubles partner, Gustavo Kuerten, of Brazil, 6-3, 7-6 in the boys' 18-and-under Rolex Orange Bowl International Championships at Miami Beach at the weekend. "There's not much pressure in this tournament after I've played Davis Cup with Andres Gomez, our country's hero, at home," Lapentti said.
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