Toby Young

Harriet Walker: A cuts lesson from my one-year-old niece

It's standard etiquette, I think, not to take things away from a child – unless of course they're wielding a chainsaw, or a spoonful of jam next to a white carpet. The big wigs know this as well as the rest of us. Last week saw the release of a government-commissioned report which found that early intervention in a child's development would break the cycle of "dysfunction and under-achievement". The early years of a child's life are the ones that count, in terms of ability to socialise, learn, communicate and, quite simply, to exist to the very best of their ability.

Diary: Prezza backs wrong Piers

As if a 100-foot billboard of Piers Morgan in Times Square wasn't sufficiently sickly, the rookie CNN interviewer's marketing team yesterday dispatched large boxes of resolution-busting CNN/Morgan cupcakes to newspaper offices across London, no doubt hoping to secure favourable reviews for their man's first outing with Oprah. (I poked it down with tea, sipped from my similarly bizarre Sky News/Adam Boulton mug, received a day previously.) The cupcakes were as nothing, however, to the surprise one loyal reader of this column registered upon learning that former Deputy PM John Prescott had joined the smug one's cheerleading squad: Prescott, it seemed, was tweeting that he planned to stay up until 2am (Morgan's live transmission time), to pull a "Piers All-Nighter". Of course, when said reader rubbed his/her eyes, they realised that Prescott's links led, instead, to live footage of the filibustering House of Lords debate on the Parliamentary Voting System and Constituencies Bill – also known as the "Peers' All-Nighter". Sleep has never seemed so inviting.

Bespoke: Delusions of grandeur

It is not enough to buy designer – one has to order bespoke. But this 'Grand Designs' life of endless choice is just an ego-stroking sales pitch that lets us believe our cash makes us creative, argues Charlotte Raven.

An Angela at my table: Toby Young invites a local chef to cater a

The average UK temperature in the first week of January was -2.1 degrees, and things haven't improved that much since. In such extreme weather conditions, the last thing you want to do is leave your house in the evening. Battling your way into work and back is hazardous enough, so why risk going out to a restaurant?

Toby Young: Why giving boys chocolate powder and coloured sand is no

As the father of three boys under five, I share the Government's concerns. My oldest boy, four-year-old Ludo, started in reception last September and is finding it more difficult to master the basics of reading and writing than his sister did at the equivalent stage. Sasha is now six and has a reading age of nine. Ludo has to be dragged, kicking and screaming, past each developmental milestone – and his two younger brothers are the same. If the discrepancy between them remains, Sasha will start secondary school with a huge advantage over her male siblings.

Toby Young: How Brüno creates his buzz

Is there anyone better at creating buzz around his own movies than Sacha Baron Cohen? He did a good job of publicising Borat three years ago, but it was nothing compared to his efforts to promote Brüno. His surprise appearance at the MTV Awards earlier this month was watched by 100 million people – and countless more on YouTube.

Toby Young: Is Art Buchwald the man behind Harrison Ford's success?

The news that Harrison Ford is Hollywood's highest-earning actor may come as a surprise to some. After all, isn't he a bit of a has-been? His last film, Crossing Over, grossed less than $500,000 at the US box office. Yet according to Forbes, the 66-year-old action star earned nearly $65m in the 12 months between June 2008 and 2009. How did he manage it?

Screen test: Look what they've done to my book!

Book-writing is a very different art from writing screenplays. So what happens when an author's cherished creation finds itself in Hollywood's tender embrace? Charlotte Cripps asked nine novelists how they cope

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