The silver lining for ‘eligible bachelor’ Sam Mendes

Mendes ‘becomes, once again, one of the world’s most eligible JewishRather than fighting under the slogan ‘A Future Fair For All’, his lordship suggests ‘Making The Best Of Things’ admitting the situation is bad but stressing that Tory policies could make it worse.

Apparently, the new slogan when tested ‘resonated clearly with voters’ reallife experience’.

My source says Gordon Brown will signal the new strategy in an April 1 speech. All Fools Day!

Former UKIP leader Nigel Farage, 45 now contesting the seat of the Speaker, John Bercow, in Buckinghamshire is involved in an unseemly row with a woman interviewer over his missing testicle.

The Sunday Times’s Camilla Long, prior to describing Farage as ‘vile and odious’, called his press officer to check which testicle it was right or left. comedienne Ruby Wax, 56, is said to be presenting ‘a more human face using humour, empathy and honesty’ at the Home Office, where she is now employed as an adviser on leadership.

Perhaps officials could call on her expertise on one of their major problems bogus marriages.

Adviser: Ruby Wax has been hired by the Home Office to help train staff

Ruby, the daughter of an American sausage maker, went through a ‘marriage of convenience’ to stay here in the 1970s when her visa expired.

Later she married the British TV producer Ed Bye.

Fianna Fail’s deputy leader, Mary Coughlan, is moved to the Education Department in a Dublin reshuffle.

Colleagues say a little education will do her no harm.

Recently she referred to ‘Einstein’s theory of evolution’.

Did Cherie Blair carry an expensive, outofkeeping Louis Vuitton handbag at the funeral of exLabour leader Michael Foot?

Some mourners compared it unfavourably with the modest black bag of 94yearold Mary Wilson, widow of the late Labour premier Harold Wilson.

In the Camden New Journal, Labour grandee Illtyd Harrington describes the bling bag as ‘a large part of a harmless African crocodile’. Anyway, I have seen a lot BETTER than him, and considering I find Jewish men very attractive, he does not even come close! For a Mexican guy he comes close 100%!

The million dollar review

GoldVish is another Swiss manufacturer, making the Swiss accountable for 2 out of the 3 brands in our article. The business is quite simple actually, never mind the obscene amounts of cash involved. Brits and Swiss make them, Russians buy them. Now, GoldVish is true Millionaire Fair stuff. Theirs is a pretty strict routine and they’re in no mood to experiment. The GoldVish idea of a premium handset is gold and diamonds nothing more, nothing less. And each GoldVish phone uses at least 150 grams of 18K gold.

By the way, the company got famous for releasing the world’s most expensive phone. The ‘Le million’ Piece Unique comes with a full diamond coat, which secured it a place in the Guinness book of records. As to mass production (or whatever gets closest to that, as these handsets hardly sell by the million pun intended) the company only has one line and we checked out two of their models.

Solid gold handsets are the GoldVish line of business, and diamonds are their ornament of choice. There are five handsets in the Illusion lineup, each coming in three different flavors.

The Violent numbers edition is heavier on the diamonds

We hate to break it to you but we only got the lowend GoldVish Illusion phones: the entrylevel Centerfold (yellow gold) and the nextinrank Violent Numbers (white gold). The name of the latter is a good enough warning of the extra 10 grand you’ll need to splash on it. Or is it the diamond encrusted numpad they had in mind? Anyway, the Centerfold with its single stone costs 21,000 euro, while the Violent Numbers goes around at 31,500. The diamonds used are all VVS1 clarity certified, which means the only acceptable imperfections are minor ones that are not visible to the naked eye.

The prices of the GoldVish Illusion handsets range from too expensive to “Are you serious?”

If you paid attention you would have noticed the croc skin at the back of each handset. You can pick from up to 12 different colors for the back of your GoldVish but it doesn’t end there.

Those rear inlays are available for purchase separately at around 500 euro a piece. It was never easier (and probably more expensive) to have your mobile handset match your evening outfit.

Our major disappointment with the GoldVish Illusion handsets is their performance. The company motto is luxury communication and we’re willing to trust them on luxury. Not sure about the rest. We guess there’s no need to fuss over ergonomics hand feel is irrelevant as long as there’s a handful of diamonds.

The worse part however is the obsolete and utterly unintuitive interface. It’s so terrible it must’ve been made by the same guys that skinned the crocodiles. A bit of graphics here and some more features there certainly wouldn’t have swollen the price too much (certainly not beyond affordability).

The display is also pretty bad, but we kinda saw that coming. It’s a 262Kcolor unit of 176 x 220 resolution. Oh well, more diamonds than pixels must be a fair deal to some.

It’s pretty obvious we’re dealing with jewelry rather than mobile phones here they have to look pretty and expensive, rather than being practical. But it sure makes more sense to simply carry a solid gold bar in you pocket and a regular phone. After all, the design of the GoldVish is hardly much more inspiring, is it?

Finally, just to end on a positive note, we would like to mention the GoldVish retail package. The enormous box is crafted from fine wood and is a pretty expensive item itself.

There’s a mirror inside, as you have every right to expect in a jewelry box. We just can’t help but wish the team that made the box and the team that encrusted the handset each set one person aside to work on features and interface. You’re right, we wish.

Alright then, we’re gonna watch about 150,000 US dollars worth of mobile phones slip through our hands. There goes the title of the article but we won’t fuss it. At least the million dollar liability coverage never came into force. Anyway, even if we reached the million mark we doubt it our conclusions would be any different.

But we hardly know anything about jewelry, so don’t take our words for it. And no, we’re not gonna tell you Vertu gets an edge out of a 3 MP camera, WLAN and Nokiamade interface. The rather obvious conclusion is just the opposite the best handset is the one with the most diamonds.

So, these phones are out there and some people are buying. If you’re next in line to unload a bag of cash, there’s little we can say to change your mind. And don’t let anyone tell you it can’t be a smart buy. It can’t be much worse than a Louis Vuitton hand bag, right?

The middle class sense of value

Louis Vuitton, Bvlgari, Christian Dior and their ilk have discovered the Indian rich and everyone is exulting over the coming of age of the Indian consumer. But long before these trendy luxury stores made their fashionable and perfumed entries into India, the Indian middle class consumer made a significant if littlenoticed transition up the value chain.

It was long believed that Indians equated value with “cheap” or “free”. But now that competition has given them the choice, Indian consumers have learnt to weigh value as a combination of price and service. Few companies have learnt this truth in quick time than public sector service providers.

Stateowned domestic carrier Indian Airlines (now called Air India after the merger with the eponymous flag carrier) was among the first to feel the pinch when private competitors began eating into market share.

It could be argued that the government airline, with its inherent decisionmaking rigidities, had to face competition from a private sector that has the flexibility to slash prices. (Of course, such price competition would have been exceptional in preliberalisation times with the Monopolies Restrictive Trade Practices Commission playing its timehonoured role as competitionbuster.)

The fact is that the threat to Indian Airlines’s dominance began long before the days of cheap fares. Few will remember that in the initial days of the open skies policy, private carriers were not allowed to charge consumers less than Indian Airlines on any route (and several went bankrupt as a result).

Yet, consumers were willing to pay for the demonstrably superior service of those private competitors that learnt to manage their costs.

Today, the stateowned airline’s market share is less than a fifth and it has ceased to be a significant competitor. The real battle for market share is now being fought between private players Jet Airways [Get Quote] and upstart newcomer Kingfisher Airlines. The two, ironically, are also competing for official patronage for their plans to start international operations.

Likewise, stateowned telecom companies BSNL and MTNL [Get Quote] may dominate the fixedline market. But in the larger, fastergrowing mobile telecom services the combined share of these behemoths is about a third.

This performance is despite favourable treatment from the government. First, part of private competitors’ earnings is impounded for rural connectivity. Second, the government has preferentially assigned the public utilities muchcoveted spectrum, the radio frequency that enables mobile communications, despite a long private sector waiting list.

In telecom, private sector entry changed the nature of the game. Fixed lines now account for less than a fifth of the total telecom services and their growth has been stagnant. The growth of mobile services, on the other hand, is among the world’s fastest though the cost of a mobile call is marginally higher than a landline call.

While it is true that the mobile market has grown as telecom tariffs have fallen, the threat to the government monopolies began before that. Consumers, long deprived of the privilege of making a simple telephone call, readily accepted higher prices in return for easier connectivity.

In that sense, the government has done consumers a signal service in recently lifting the limits on the number of competitors per service area.

Government broadcaster Doordarshanlost the battle long ago as cable and satellite gobbled up TV advertising revenues, if not viewers. At 70 million homes, the reach of cable and satellite broadcasting still lags DD’s 100 millionplus but it is rapidly catching up.

Advertisers understand this well. As a result, DD’s 20odd channels account for less than 10 per cent of TV advertising revenues.

DD’s directtohome service DD Direct is facing a similar problem. The service covers 4 million viewers and is freetoair (consumers only have to pay for a settop box). This coverage is higher than the 3.6 million viewers that watch the two relatively expensive private DTH services.

Yet DD Direct is not attracting broadcasters that see little value in paying the channel hefty carriage fees. So, more than 90 per cent of the channels that DD Direct broadcasts now are owned by Doordarshan.

In the Railways, Lalu Prasad had tried to counter lowcost airline fares by refurbishing first and secondclass airconditioned services and holding the priceline to little avail. Attempts to woo back freight operations from private road services have met with similar results.

The list could go on. The point to note is that many of these services are either free, cheaper or priced on a par with private competitors. Yet, consumers have consistently demonstrated a willingness to pay for competing services because they see a perceived value in them.

So, middle class consumers may not emulate their globetrotting counterparts in the rich lists. They may decline to pay Rs 25,000 for a pair of branded bathroom slippers or Rs100,000 for a monogrammed handbag. But they are shrewd enough to understand value when they see it. This is a lesson not just for public sector giants but for private monopolists too.

The secret of ‘Sex and the City’

So you’re one of those guys, one of the ones who puts “Sex and the City” in the same category as those lavenderflavored chocolates: You just. Don’t. Get it.

I hear you, bruh. But here’s the plan: Comb your hair, pull on your nicest Deuce McAllister jersey just so you feel like the man we all know you are and take her to see the new “Sex and the City” movie this weekend.

This is the woman you dragged to “Iron Man” and “Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull.” (And if you can add the interminable “Speed Racer” to that list, leave early and buy roses on your way to pick her up.)

But here’s the surprising thing: You’re probably going to like it.

Yes, it’s a movie about four women, and yes it’s the chickiest of chick flicks, but that doesn’t mean “Sex and the City” isn’t a pretty solid chunk of unisex entertainment.

You’ll have to sit through a few more fashion montages and misty musical interludes than you’d probably want to, but truth be told, “Sex and the City” is no more of a soap opera than your beloved “Battlestar Galactica.”

Fortunately, for those who would choose raunch over romance, Kim Cattrall sets the tone in the opening credits with a classic line that would make “Knocked Up” creator Judd Apatow blush.

You want bathroom humor? Kristin Davis’ gastrointestinal problems will get you giggling. And if that doesn’t win you over, Cynthia Nixon’s inadvertent beachfront imitation of Larry Fine will.

But you know what? None of that is the point. The point is that it’s her turn. Tonight’s the night she’s been waiting for, and you owe it to her to go along and to be a good sport about it.

The mental way blog

This is the first edition of a blog from a local service user who will write every month about her experiences, thoughts and opinions. She’s agreed to write regularly, using a pen name so that she can roam around any topic she wants to we hope you like it but please comment and if you would like to blog with us get in touch!

The Mental Way by Laura

Where to begin? I have around 20 years of mental health problems behind me and so where to start for my first ever blog? I shall begin by introducing myself. My name is Laura Brook. I am 41 years old and live in Essex with my partner and our three young children. I have been a service user of the North Essex Partnership NHS Foundation Trust for the last 5 years, and have seen different services provided by this Trust.

I developed Anorexia Nervosa in my early twenties, followed by episodes of depression and periods of good health. Some 5 years ago my mental health deteriorated as I became anxious and developed obsessive behaviours. Things became worse after the birth of my youngest child about 4 years ago when I developed severe post natal depression. I was seen by the Crisis Team but after a month of not improving I was admitted to the Mother and Baby Unit in the Linden Centre. I stayed there for nearly 3 months attending the Tillingham day hospital and receiving input from the Eating Disorder Team as I started to develop issues around food again. The picture of the tulip I made during Art Therapy at Tillingham, and whilst not a masterpiece I am proud of it. After discharged I remained with the Crisis Team for a while and had a course of ECT. I began to lose weight and the Anorexia came back. I was admitted to the acute psychiatric ward for two months followed by a time attending the day hospital. I then went back to the community teams and also attended family therapy.

These were frightening times, with fear and apprehension often present. Out of all the services I have used I was the most frightened during inpatients admissions, but once I was settled in on the Unit a weight dropped of my shoulders. Most of the time I felt safe as an inpatient. Feeling safe is a basic human need as a patient, a child, or adult whether that is within the confines of a hospital, at work, or at home. Fundamentally we all need to feel safe.

Half a year ago I started with psychological therapy and I thought the worst had passed. However, having therapy and reliving past experiences is tougher than I thought it would be. I am confident though that the therapy will eventually unlock the hold the illness has over my life. I need to learn to ‘let go’ of my troublesome thoughts although this is not easy.

Over the past two years I have been helping the Trust and I have been involved in several events and groups to offer my views, based on my own experiences as a service user. It feels good to ‘reach out’ to help others and being involved in improvements to services within the Trust. It is a positive experience to be surrounded by people who believe in me and are interested in my views and opinions.

The rise of Chinese luxury brands

Hong Kong, China (CNN) Shop at any of the high end stores in Hong Kong and it’s easy to see why luxury brands love Chinese shoppers.

Mainland Chinese tourists queue outside Chanel, clear the shelves at Louis Vuitton, and show off their latest purchases at Cartier, Gucci, or Ferragamo. They’re also buying designs of Chinese fashion label Shanghai Tang. Company CEO Raphael le Masne de Chermont told me ever since the Beijing Olympics in 2008, wealthy Chinese have been flocking to his stores.

“Chinese who used to be a bit shy about their culture, and their economy, all of a sudden they won those medals,” he said. “They started to feel proud to be Chinese.”

That pride helps to support his company’s hopes to conquer markets in the West. Shanghai Tang has stores open in several fashion cities including London and New York. Here are excerpts from a conversation with CNN.

Are your international stores more for your Chinese consumers or international customers?

Le Masne de Chermont: We are mostly focused on the Asian market and more particularly in China, where it is the ‘El Dorado’ of luxury today. However we ought to be international and we have ventures in the capital cities. First, because it’s a business for us. And also because our main target of customers, the Chinese, need some reassurance of our presence in the Western part of the world. If they see Shanghai Tang on Madison Avenue or in Sloane Street in London or in Paris Place Saint Sulprice in SaintGermaindesPres, then they feel proud.

Then are your international stores more for your Chinese consumers as opposed to international consumers?

No. Our international stores are for everybody. But it’s a plus that our presence in the international world, in the Western world, gives some reassurance with the Chinese. But of course they are independent business units.

In the international markets have you ever faced any obstacle in trying to convince people that a Chinese brand can also be a luxury brand?

Yes. Of course. This is a main challenge, but they are coming to it. Twenty years ago if you were saying a Japanese brand cannot be luxury, people will say ‘no no, Japanese brand is cheap’, because ‘made in Japan’ 20 years ago was cheap. And then since then you had Kenzo Watanabe and you had Comme des Garcons and so on and so forth so it’s a question of time, people would be convinced.

Does it hurt you at all that you are from China and a lot of people have these negative associations with China when it comes to clothes, quality?

This is true. That was one of the main challenges that we had at the beginning of the business. There is a lot of cliches about China just because China was quiet for decades. But as we evolve, and how China is becoming the superpower of the world at the moment, and everybody is doing business with China. This China culture and China design is more and more accepted in the West.

And you make all of your clothes in China?

We make everything in China proudly since the beginning.

Is there a stigma?

Made in China’ for Shanghai Tang is not a problem because it is a part of our DNA. We have always said loud and clear we’re proudly made in China. However, some luxury brands start to produce in China. At the beginning they were shy because they thought it will kill some dream. But today everybody produce in China. Simply because you can get quality in China the same way you can get quality in the Western World. Why? Because the technology and the knowhow has been transferred. And honestly Chinese people are very hardworking people and they are doing as well as the Western people today.

The material never goes on strike

It’s not as if there’s a shortage of material out there. Just read the news. Sometimes the punch line comes included.Consider the little war among Republican presidential candidates about who has the brassiest stomach for torture. They all talked tough and refused to rule out waterboarding except , the one candidate who knows something about war and torture . mocked the notion that sleep deprivation constitutes torture. , whose national security adviser once said he would “stick a knife in someone’s thigh in a heartbeat” to elicit vital information from terror suspects, “won” this round of oneupsmanship.The moral and legal abyss of Guantanamo Bay has even generated pangs of angst, if not conscience, within the . Not so for the steely eyed Romney. He topped the masmacho sweepstakes by proposing doubling the capacity of Guantanamo.Or take the case before the state , about whether an employee can be fired for testing positive for marijuana if he or she uses it for medical purposes. The issue might be taken more seriously if a doctor’s “recommendation” for medical pot wasn’t quite so cheapandeasy to get in San Francisco.If the discrimination lawsuit were to prevail, then employers throughout the state might have to come up with “reasonable accommodations” for potmedicated workers. district and you get the credit!Nez could host Saturday Night Live, playing himself in a skit on “How to live like that rich action hero in the governor’s office.”One of the better lines of the presidential primaries came from Sen. , DDel., who suggested the common elements in every Giuliani sentence were “a noun and a verb and 9/11.” Biden’s own sentences tend to consist of a noun, a verb, 911 words and then, perhaps, a breath. But that’s another story.The shamelessness of Giuliani’s 24/7 “9/11 strategy” doesn’t need any creative enhancement. The laugh lines in “Ten Ways Rudy Giuliani exploits 9/11″ can be taken directly from the news: From a supporter’s “$9.11 for Rudy” fundraiser (checks later returned, after outrage erupted) to his act of absolution to the in which he claimed his views on handgun control changed after you guessed it 9/11.There’s something of a symbiotic relationship between politicians and latenight comedians. It’s hard to imagine one without the other. But switching between serious and satirical is not so easy, as shown by NBC anchor ‘ semiunstarched, semifunny recent stint as host of Saturday Night Live.’s tried to boldly cross the line between oneliner predator and oneliner prey when he paid the $2,500 filing fee to get on the Democratic primary ballot in his home state of South Carolina. The state party was not laughing; its executive committee last week voted 133 to refuse to certify his candidacy.Colbert claimed to be so choked up about the demise of his campaign that “I am going off the air until I can talk about this without weeping.”He’s off the air all right. But why? Surely the Stephen Colbert who was brave enough to riff irreverently about in the president’s presence should have the courage to ad lib on a taped television show.What’s a fan of latenight comedy to do? Cable television news may be the nextbest thing. Colbert’s fauxindignant conservative act is a spoof of the likes of Fox News personality , who has become a parody of himself, especially when going into high dudgeon over all things San Francisco.

The rise of ‘Farmscrapers’ in China

Latest COE results show slight increase in almost all categories

Certificate of Entitlement (COE) premiums see a slight increase in almost all categories, according to the latest bidding results released on Wednesday. Nevertheless, the design firm said, “our view is to turn each constrain into an opportunity and convert waste into renewable natural resources”, adding that the project, dubbed the Asian Cairns, is “only a sign of what’s to come”.

“It is a prototype to build a green, dense, smart city connected by technology and ecodesigned from biotechnologies. Its design is especially important during a time of hyper growth and accelerated urbanism.”

The firm’s principal architect, Vincent Callebaut, has designed many mega eco projects including the Lilypad a ‘floating ecopolis’ which looks to house people displaced by climate change. He is also the founder and More

Fasting with less hunger, fatigue and thirst Mon, Jul 1, 2013 Ramadan, a holy month for all Muslims, falls on the ninth month of the Islamic calendar. It is a time when Muslims are encouraged to practice selfrestraint. This includes fasting or refraining from More

The master is toppled

Of all the dynasties to occupy the English throne, none has imprinted itself more durably on the nation consciousness than the Tudors.

The four Hanoverian Georges often seem interchangeable; Plantagenets recede into medieval mist. But Henry VIII, the boyking Edward VI and his sisters Mary and Queen Bess were the instantly recognisable stars of our most violent historical soap opera, long before the series The Tudors reinvented Henry VIII as an oversexed tyrant with boyband good looks.

Peter Ackroyd retelling of their tale forms the second volume of a planned sixvolume history of England. This is the sort of Everestsized project that few serious historians have attempted since the great Lord Macaulay in the 19th Century.

Ackroyd is now a third of the way up the mountain, but already there are worrying signs that he may not be quite up to the task.

As with the television Tudors, Ackroyd begins not with the dynasty uncharismatic founder, Henry VII, but with his son the youth Henry VIII.

The story moves forward in short, welldramatised scenes. Plot lines and personalities are clearly drawn. And the focus rarely shifts from the world of the court that epicentre of conspiracy and intrigue.

Ackroyd has a keen eye for the curious detail such as Elizabeth I being the first Monarch to wear a wrist watch and a still keener one for the horrors of the age. Beheadings, hangings, and boilingsinoil punctuate his narrative with grim but arresting regularity.

He rightly draws back from judging the practices of the Tudor age by the values of our own.

Still, it is hard to believe that even contemporaries were not revolted by the sight of the evangelical Bishop Latimer from an executionsite pulpit at the sufferings of a friar loyal to Rome, as he was suspended over a fire and, over a period of two hours, burnt to death.

Of course, such moments of suffering were commonplace over the course of England transformation from a Catholic to a Protestant state. As Ackroyd insists following what is now historical consensus there was nothing foreordained about that transformation.

Her successor, Elizabeth, then presided over a form of Protestantism that her Chief Minister, Lord Burghley, called a This was the compromise from which Anglicanism eventually emerged.

Revealingly, Ackroyd refers to himself as a modernday chronicler of the past, a recorder of specific moments and events and at this there is no doubting he is a master.

But a history requires something more than a chronicle. It demands an ability to explain causes and consequences, to discern the patterns in events that prevent a narrative from being more than just a sequence of urbanely told vignettes.

This we never get. Ackroyd final chapter makes an attempt at this task, but it offers little more than a jumble of familiar yet mostly unsubstantiated claims: he credits the Reformation with developments that range from a emphasis on the individual rather than on the community and writes of the efflorescence of English drama in the 16th and 17th Centuries

On the rare occasions Ackroyd does venture a generalisation or conclusion such as matters of politics, the winner takes all it very often demonstrably wrong.

Indeed, one reason why the Tudor courts were so rife with faction was that monarchs often prevented this outcome: the winners in court politics rarely took all. If his skills as a historian could match his talents as a teller of tales, the endeavour will be a triumph. If not, it going to be a pretty pointless trudge to the summit.

The return of the mule

I wondering if spring will mark the of backless mule, which has an endangered species over these last few years of by the extreme platform.

I noticed mules in of the spring 2012 Louis Vuitton show in Paris on Wednesday and in the Miu Miu show. left, more ladylike with metallic accents, Miu Miu more quirky velvet or satin with floral appliques.)

Perennial trendsetters Mary Kate and Ashley Olsen were wearing mules, skinny pants scrunched down over them, at the presentation of their Row collection New York Fashion Week last month. shoes to be with crystal Manolo Blahnik perhaps?

I was inspired to dig out an old pair of Manolo mules with beaded turqouise buckles I bought years ago. I also got my eye on pair in royal blue buckles for the holidays. I welcome the change from hooker heels to something more elegant, how about you?.