Monday 27 February 2023

Climate crisis brings whiff of danger to French perfume capital


Climate crisis brings whiff of danger to French perfume capital


In Grasse, droughts, heatwaves, and excessive rainfall have made growing flowers increasingly difficult


Mélissa Godin

Sat 18 Feb 2023 09.00 GMT


When heatwaves used to hit the French town of Grasse, the perfume capital of the world, townspeople didn’t water their flowers. Instead, they marched along the town’s cobblestone streets, in a procession towards the church.


“They were calling for rain from the spirits,” says Carole Biancalana, a fourth-generation perfume flower producer whose grandmother participated in the rain ceremonies. “But I don’t think this procession would cut it in today’s climate.”


Since the 17th century, Grasse has been known worldwide for its fragrant flowers. Situated just inland from the French Riviera, Grasse enjoys a microclimate that allows fields of may rose, tuberose, lavender and jasmine to blossom. Today, the region produces flowers for some of the world’s biggest luxury brands, including Dior and Chanel, who spend significant amounts on raw materials from the region – Grasse’s jasmine sells for a higher price than gold.


Around the world, Grasse’s producers are recognised as leaders in the industry: in 2018, Unesco placed the region’s perfume culture on its intangible cultural heritage list.


But climate change is threatening this tradition. Extreme weather patterns such as droughts, heatwaves, and excessive rainfall have made growing flowers increasingly difficult. Last summer, Grasse faced extreme droughts, resulting in some producers losing nearly half of their harvest. High temperatures affect the future quality of roses and prohibit some flowers, such as tuberose, from growing. Biancalana felt these impacts directly: this year, her tuberose harvest dropped by 40%.


“The elders here keep telling us there are no more seasons,” says Biancalana, noting that winters are now warmer, with unseasonal cold spells in the spring. She jokes: “We can’t count on the spirits anymore.”


Grasse is not alone. Around the world, primary materials for perfumes are threatened by increasingly extreme weather patterns. Vanilla, a key material for the industry, has taken a particular hit. Grown primarily on the African continent, vanilla crops have been struck by heatwaves in recent years. In 2017, a cyclone in Madagascar destroyed 30% of crops, pushing the price to more than $600 (£502) a kilo.


“Climate change may not have an impact on the smell of perfume,” says Benoit Verdier, the co-founder of the custom perfume house Ex Nihilo Paris. “But it will affect the price.”


Ex Nihilo has watched the costs for raw materials like vanilla and saffron soar as a result of the limited supply caused by climate-induced droughts and disasters. Though they have not yet increased the price of their perfumes, rising costs for raw materials might force them to. As a result, they are considering turning towards synthetic alternatives.


“The romantic view of perfume is for it to be natural,” says Verdier. “There is mysticism around a place like Grasse, it gets people dreaming. But it isn’t always more sustainable.”


Crops for perfumes require a lot of water and land. Shipping raw materials around the world also results in significant carbon emissions. “It’s more sustainable to make perfume in the laboratory,” says Verdier.


Producers in Grasse disagree. “We actually consume very little water,” says Biancalana, noting that producers in the region use drip irrigation, which has historically accounted for only 5% of the region’s water use.


Producers in the region have made significant efforts to ensure their crops are environmentally friendly. In 2006, Biancalana founded Les Fleurs d’Exception du Pays de Grasse, an association that brings together producers from the region. One of their key mandates is that all producers be organic to ensure the protection of biodiversity, which they believe is one of their greatest weapons against climate change.


“What can we do, how can we adapt, who should we ask for support, what research needs to be done?” says Armelle Janody, the president of the association. “These are the questions we are asking.”


But to find answers, the association needs support. Currently, there have been few scientific studies on how climate change is impacting crops in the region.


“We are observing changes but we do not have scientific studies on what is objectively happening,” says Janody.


Leaders in the industry have already begun supporting local producers by investing in research and adaptation techniques, which they know is critical for their companies’ futures. But while producers welcome this support, some are wary of the potential strings attached.


“The question for us is how to have industry support without losing our autonomy and sovereignty,” says Janody, who fears companies could demand greater control over the means of production under the pretence of supporting climate adaptation.


“These brands want to associate their perfumes with our history and our heritage, yet they come in and want to change everything. We do not want to be servants to the industry.”


For producers, it’s not just their agricultural practices that are at stake: it’s their culture and way of life. The perfume industry has been at the beating heart of Grasse’s identity for centuries. Since 1946, the town has paid tribute to the region’s jasmine in an August ceremony that spans an entire weekend.


“This is so much more than just a job,” says Biancalana, whose family has been working the same fields for more than a hundred years. “We have a moral duty to our ancestors and to our territory. People here have always been ready to fight. That’s not going to change because of climate change.”

Sunday 26 February 2023

Roald Dahl publisher announces unaltered 16-book ‘classics collection’ / Camilla forces U-turn in Roald Dahl censorship row

Roald Dahl publisher announces unaltered 16-book ‘classics collection’


Series will be released alongside controversially amended versions to leave readers ‘free to choose which version they prefer’


Sarah Shaffi and Lucy Knight

Fri 24 Feb 2023 13.26 GMT


A collection of Roald Dahl’s books with unaltered text is to be published after a row over changes made to novels including Charlie and the Chocolate Factory and The Witches.


Dahl’s publisher Puffin, the children’s imprint of Penguin Random House, was criticised this week after the Telegraph reported that it had hired sensitivity readers to go over the beloved author’s books and language deemed to be offensive would be removed from new editions. In response, Puffin has decided to release Dahl’s works in their original versions with its new texts.


The Classic Collection will “sit alongside the newly released Puffin Roald Dahl books for young readers”, the publisher said in a statement, adding that the the latter series of books “are designed for children who may be navigating written content independently for the first time”.


On Thursday, Camilla, the Queen Consort, appeared to weigh in on the debate. At a Clarence House reception for her online book club, she told authors : “Please remain true to your calling, unimpeded by those who may wish to curb the freedom of your expression or impose limits on your imagination.”


Changes to Dahl’s books in the 2022 editions include using “enormous” rather than “fat” to describe the antagonist Augustus Gloop in Charlie and the Chocolate Factory and “beastly” rather than “ugly and beastly” to describe Mrs Twit in The Twits.


In James and the Giant Peach, a rhyme by the Centipede originally read: “Aunt Sponge was terrifically fat / And tremendously flabby at that,” and, “Aunt Spiker was thin as a wire / And dry as a bone, only drier.” Now it has been changed to say: “Aunt Sponge was a nasty old brute / And deserved to be squashed by the fruit,” and, “Aunt Spiker was much of the same / And deserves half of the blame.”


Salman Rushdie, who is published by Penguin Random House, was among those to criticise Puffin, writing on Twitter that “Roald Dahl was no angel but this is absurd censorship. Puffin Books and the Dahl estate should be ashamed.”


Philip Pullman – also published by Penguin Random House – said Dahl’s books should be allowed to go out of print, while prime minister Rishi Sunak said the issue was one of free speech.


The singer-songwriter and activist Billy Bragg also weighed in on the discussion on Twitter, expressing his support for the changes made to the 2022 editions. “Suppose your mum wears a hairpiece due to chemotherapy and kids in your class call her a witch because they read in Dahl’s book that witches all wear wigs” he tweeted in response to a comment piece for the Telegraph by Suzanne Moore.


The Roald Dahl Classic Collection will consist of 16 titles. In a letter to staff, Penguin Random House UK CEO Tom Weldon said the publisher acknowledged “the importance of keeping Dahl’s classic texts in print”.


The collection will come out later this year. “Readers will be free to choose which version of Dahl’s stories they prefer,” said Weldon.


He said the publisher was used to “taking part in cultural discourse and debate”. He added: “Sometimes that can be challenging and uncomfortable, and this has certainly been one of those times.”


In a public statement, Francesca Dow, managing director of Penguin Random House Children’s, said the publisher had “listened to the debate over the past week” and it had “reaffirmed the extraordinary power of Roald Dahl’s books and the very real questions around how stories from another era can be kept relevant for each new generation”.


The Telegraph’s associate editor Christopher Hope described the announcement of the new collection as an “extraordinary win” for the reporters who broke the original story, but others were critical of the publisher’s move. Sam Missingham, publishing commentator and founder of The Empowered Author book marketing service, said the decision was “truly pitiful” and that the debate has been a distraction from more important issues.


Others pointed out that, with two sets of editions on sale, Puffin could make even more money from Dahl’s books. Bookseller D Franklin tweeted: “Puffin and the Dahl Estate really have worked out how to cash in here: first a sales spike from the controversy seeing people buying up the previous printing, then a spike in people ‘supporting’ the changes, and now TWO sets of books in print.”


Puffin’s current 16-book Roald Dahl set is now at No 2 in the Amazon children’s books bestsellers chart.

The Independent

Camilla forces U-turn in Roald Dahl censorship row


Roisin O'Connor

Fri, 24 February 2023 at 12:24 pm GMT·3-min read


 The Queen Consort has forced publisher Puffin UK to back down on its censorship of Roald Dahl books after she intervened in the row over the decision to edit his words.


 Camilla gave an impassioned defence of free speech and the right of writers to express themselves at Clarence House on Thursday 23 February, just days after she let it be known privately that she had serious concerns over the changes to Dahl’s books.


 Last week, it emerged that the best-selling children’s books were being rewritten to remove language considered offensive.


 The word “fat”, for example, had been cut from every book. Augustus Gloop in Charlie and the Chocolate Factory is instead described as “enormous”, an investigation by The Telegraph found.


 Puffin has now issued a statement announcing that it will make both the original and censored versions available to readers.


 Francesca Dow, MD of Penguin Random House Children’s – which owns Puffin UK – said it has “proudly” published Roald Dahl’s “mischievous” books for more than 40 years.


 “We’ve listened to the debate over the past week which has reaffirmed the extraordinary power of Roald Dahl’s books and the very real questions around how stories from another era can be kept relevant for each new generation,” she said.


 “As a children’s publisher, our role is to share the magic of stories with children with the greatest thought and care.”


 Dow said it was “both a privilege and a responsibility” to publish books for children and that Dahl’s books were often the first stories young children would read independently.


 “We also recognise the importance of keeping Dahl’s classic texts in print. By making both versions available, we are offering readers the choice to decide how they experience Roald Dahl’s magical, marvellous stories.


 “Roald Dahl once said: ‘If my books can help children become readers, then I feel I have accomplished something important.’ At Puffin, we’ll keep pursuing that ambition for as long as we make books.”


 In her speech to mark the second anniversary of her literary initiative Reading Room at Clarence House, Camilla urged writers “to remain true to your calling, unimpeded by those who may wish to curb the freedom of your expression or your imagination”.


 In what was interpreted as her disapproval of the changes made to the text of Dahl’s classic books, the Queen Consort said: “Let there be no squeaking like mice but only roaring like a pride of lions!”


 The decision to censor Dahl’s books also attracted sharp condemnation from a number of leading literary voices, including Salman Rushdie, who called the edits “absurd”.


 “Roald Dahl was no angel but this is absurd censorship. Puffin Books and the Dahl estate should be ashamed,” he tweeted.


 American author Michael Shellenberger also criticised the changes, branding them a case of “totalitarian censorship”.


 “The publisher of the books of the late Roald Dahl has made hundreds of changes to them, supposedly to make them more palatable to ‘sensitive’ audiences,” he wrote. “This is totalitarian censorship and should be broadly condemned by authors and publishers.”


 The Roald Dahl Classic Collection will now sit alongside the newly released Puffin Roald Dahl books for young readers, which are designed for children who may be reading on their own for the first time.

Saturday 25 February 2023

This England | Teaser / This England review – so sympathetic to Boris Johnson it is absolutely bananas / Kenneth Branagh Plays Boris Johnson; Defends Covid Drama ‘This England’ Slammed By Critics As “Too Soon”


This England review – so sympathetic to Boris Johnson it is absolutely bananas


Kenneth Branagh’s impression of the former coward-in-chief is spot on, but Michael Winterbottom’s Covid drama is leaden, artless and a disservice to all those who died


Lucy Mangan


Wed 28 Sep 2022 17.25 EDT


The voice is spot on. That awful moist, blustering sound – a semi-croak, squeezed out of a tense throat by a man who can never relax because he has no foundations to rely on – is perfect. Close your eyes and Kenneth Branagh could easily be Boris Johnson. The face full of prosthetics is less convincing and becomes a distraction. But that the mask begins to slip the more time you spend in the man’s company may be the metaphor to end all metaphors. If so, it’s one of the more successful elements of Michael Winterbottom’s six-part drama This England (Sky Atlantic), which follows the then prime minister Johnson and his government through the first wave of the pandemic.


It is hampered from the off by feeling both too soon and wildly out of date. This England was in post-production when the Partygate scandal broke and the decision was taken not to try to revise it at such a late stage, when presumably only the most superficial changes could have been made. And of course, Johnson has since been replaced by someone who is shaping up to be – though it hardly seems possible – even worse, albeit in a less showmanish and more stunned-halibut way.


The entire project now has the air of only telling half the story and not telling the truth. This would undermine any drama based on real-life events, let alone one that devotes as much time as Winterbottom’s to what feels – to quite deadening effect – like simple reconstruction. The salient points of Cobra and Sage meetings, the public daily briefings and the handshaking hospital visit are shown, and the pros and cons of locking down, contact tracing and mass testing are laid out for us and Matt Hancock by doctors and scientists via dialogue so leaden that you wonder if it was really possible for the pandemic to have been this boring for anyone. Meanwhile, a tally of reported and actual cases scrolls by on screen as the days pass. There is no art here and it doesn’t work as documentary either. The factual films that emerged during and after the height of the pandemic have been without exception more informative and moving than this.


Partygate and all the other revelations since make the Dominic Cummings (Simon Paisley Day) and Barnard Castle debacle, rendered here in exhaustive detail, seem wrongly weighted. It was, we know now, a bagatelle. And it makes the hugely sympathetic portrayal of Johnson, as a man pulled in many directions by a new wife (to be), baby and dog, saddened by a distant relationship with his other children, a biography on Shakespeare overdue and now – oh what a sea of troubles! – a pandemic to deal with on top of everything else, which would have raised eyebrows at the best of times, seem absolutely bananas.


The characters are merely ciphers, even Johnson. The only suggestion of any kind of hinterland is his occasional glance out of the window to mutter a quote to himself instead of to an effortfully appreciative audience. He is nothing more than the idle, cowardly buffoon we already know him to be. Cummings is no more than the robotic weirdo whose image you conjure from the times when he was still allowed to appear in front of cameras. Care home supervisors and members of the public whose sickening, ventilation and deaths we see are merely sketched in. This is a disservice.


The message seems to be: “Well, everyone was trying their best. Tough situaysh, you know?” Which won’t really do.


It feels as though it is still too soon for drama. To see such recent, terrible times again is so gruelling that, although I stand by my criticisms and have tried to control for the effect, it makes us resistant to engaging with it again.


Yes, we need to process our individual and collective experiences and art will help us do that – but the artists have to be ready first. On this evidence, we are all still in a state of post-traumatic stress, able only to repeat what happened to us until we can cope with the facts. In time, hopefully, we will be able to observe the events from different perspectives, combine and recombine them as stories that aid understanding and dissipate our horrors, allow for questions and posit some answers. But we are not there yet.

Kenneth Branagh Plays Boris Johnson; Defends Covid Drama ‘This England’ Slammed By Critics As “Too Soon”

By Caroline Frost


Caroline Frost


September 11, 2022 1:25am


Kenneth Branagh has defended upcoming political drama This England, in which he stars as British former prime minister Boris Johnson, which many people have slammed as “too soon.”


The six-hour series details how the UK government addressed the first chaotic months of the coronavirus and national lockdown. Critics of the forthcoming show say it’s too soon to depict such a drama, with its huge death toll leaving hundreds of thousands of Britons still bereaved and economically vulnerable.


To those, Branagh says in an interview with The Times, “I think these events are unusual and part of what we must do is acknowledge them. It might allow people to process a little of what went on. Any way of understanding it better is important.”


Oscar winner Branagh spent two hours every day in makeup, transforming himself into British former premier Boris Johnson but deliberately chose not to reveal himself to the cast and crew each day until he had been turned into Johnson, he told the newspaper.


“When you’re playing Shakespearean kings, the main part of the performance is given to you by those who react to you in the way they might to a king. I found that was the case in this instance. I didn’t really see another actor as myself, so when I came on the set people responded a bit like their characters might [to the prime minister].”


Branagh also revealed he had to actively stretch himself out at the end of each day after hours of playing the politician, who was beleaguered on the political and personal front at the time – his first months as the country’s prime minister and addressing the demands of Covid-19 coinciding with his divorce, and the imminent birth of his child with girlfriend Carrie Symonds.


“He has a top-heavy, barrelling physicality heading into the world,” Branagh told The Times, describing Johnson as a “very hunched-forward kind of guy.”


This England, like many other British TV series, has had its debut on Sky Atlantic in the UK delayed by a week after a national period of mourning for the Queen was declared. It will now be aired on Sky Atlantic and Now early next month.

Thursday 23 February 2023

A Labour of Love — Edward Green

Edward Green is an English shoemaker founded in 1890. Edward Green is based in Northampton, England. The level of handwork involved in production is very high and only around 250 pairs of shoes are completed a week.


During the 1930s, Edward Green was one of the largest manufacturers of officers' boots for the British Army. Their shoes have also been selected by such clients as the Duke of Windsor, Ernest Hemingway and Cole Porter.


Edward Green shoes are available from their own shops in Jermyn Street in London and on the Boulevard St Germain in Paris, as well as stores around the world such as Double Monk in Melbourne, Isetan in Japan, Matches in Wimbledon Village, Saks Fifth Avenue in New York City, Tassels in Hong Kong and Unipair in Seoul.




The Edward Green store on Jermyn Street in London

In 1890, Edward Green began to make hand-crafted shoes for men in a small factory in Northampton.


The company was sold in 1977 by Green's nephew, Michael Green to an American leather entrepreneur, Marley Hodgson, but financial problems continued and it was sold for a single British pound to another bespoke shoemaker, John Hlustik, an expert at finishing who is often credited with making brown shoes acceptable to British gentlemen. Upon Hlustik's death in 2000, the company was willed to his partner, Hilary Freeman.

Edward Green store PARIS

Unboxing: Edward Green Galway 82E London grain

Tuesday 21 February 2023

How is the restoration of Notre Dame Cathedral going? | Focus on Europe / A High-Maintenance Relationship for 637 Years, but Milan’s Duomo Is Still Adored

A High-Maintenance Relationship for 637 Years, but Milan’s Duomo Is Still Adored


The care for Milan’s cathedral has been nonstop since 1386, but despite the constant need for refurbishment, the beloved landmark’s hold on the city is unbreakable.


By Elisabetta Povoledo

Feb. 19, 2023


MILAN — Even in a city with La Scala, the glorious opera house, Milan’s cathedral unquestionably reigns as the most beloved landmark in Italy’s fashion and financial capital.


But the Duomo, as it’s known, has also been an extraordinarily high maintenance icon for six centuries, demanding constant care essentially since construction began in 1386.


The cathedral, along with the 3,400 or so statues and carvings adorning its countless nooks and crannies, and its buttresses and pinnacles and spires, is crafted from rare pink-hued marble mined from a single quarry on the slopes of the Alps, some 60 miles to the north.


The stone’s unique physical and chemical characteristics make it particularly beautiful. But the stunning coloration also comes with a flaw: The marble is particularly fragile.


“The marble can shatter suddenly,” said Francesco Canali, the site manager for the Veneranda Fabbrica del Duomo, the association that has been responsible for the restoration and preservation of the monument since 1387. Veins in the marble contain traces of ferrous materials, and when they, or the iron pins placed through the centuries to link the stones together, oxidize, they expand and shatter the marble into “little pieces or even chunks,” Mr. Canali explained.


 Climate change and pollution are adding to the challenges.


“Interaction with the environment has left profound consequences,” said Mr. Canali, an engineer by training.


The record-breaking heat waves of recent summers mean that the differences in temperature between the parts of the cathedral most exposed to the sun and those in shadow to the north can put additional stress on the monument.


Pollutants like nitric oxide and sulfur dioxide build up black crusts on the marble, “like tartar that preludes cavities in teeth,” Mr. Canali said.


The cost of all this cleaning and upkeep has always been steep, and now the cathedral, which is “owned by the Milanese,” as its archpriest, the Rev. Gianantonio Borgonovo, likes to say, has been looking to boost aid from the private sector to cover some of the nonstop expense.


This has led to an “Adopt a Statue” program, which allows companies to finance the restoration of one of the Duomo’s thousands of statues and, in exchange, take it home to show it off for three years.


That’s how a striking marble statue of King David holding a harp wound up on proud display in a corporate atrium.


Until the 1960s, the marble statue of the biblical king, carved by an unknown sculptor in the first half of the 16th century, had adorned the Gothic-style Duomo in the center of the city. But after the statue languished in a restoration workshop for decades, part of its repair was paid for by a Milan-based adhesives and chemical products company.


“We thought that a Milanese company just had to have a little piece of the Duomo, so it seemed like a wonderful and symbolic project,” said Veronica Squinzi, the chief executive of the company, Mapei.


Officially, the cathedral was finished in 1965, 579 years after it was started, explaining the Italian saying for something that is never ending: “è come la fabbrica del Duomo,” or “like the construction of the cathedral.”


But the continuing need for marble for repair work has been good news for the quarry in Candoglia, a hamlet of 200 people, which has managed to stay operational thanks to its sole customer.


“There’s always plenty of work,” said Marco Scolari, who oversees the Candoglia quarry and its marble restoration laboratories, of which there are two, one in Candoglia, the other in Milan.


The laboratory of the Veneranda Fabbrica del Duomo di Milano, the institution responsible for the conservation, restoration and development of the Milan Cathedral.Credit...Fabio Bucciarelli for The New York Times


Experts at the Veneranda Fabbrica closely monitor the Duomo’s structural well-being, with the entire monument wired with sensors that provide constant digital measurements of varying kinds, “like a constantly working electrocardiogram,” Mr. Canali said.


Twice a year, too, the cathedral’s statuary and decorative elements are given a physical checkup by specialized workers who swing from cranes, inspecting them for fractures and fissures.


When repairs are necessary, the marble is now pre-worked by machines, but specialized training is still necessary for the stone workers called on to replicate the handiwork of long-dead sculptors. “The human hand is essential,” Mr. Scolari said.


Fabio Belloni, a stone carver at the Milan laboratory, said he had once worked on a single block on the facade of the Duomo for 18 months.


“You have to know the material, where to put your hands; there can be no margin for error,” Mr. Belloni said. “You need patience,” he added, and one wrong move “could betray months of work.”


A large part of the decorative stonework on the Duomo dates to the past two centuries, a flurry of activity that followed the completion of the facade — which Napoleon Bonaparte insisted be done by 1805, so he would have an appropriate setting for his crowning as king of Italy.


The Milanese of the time didn’t embrace that facade, but it didn’t stop them from loving their cathedral. The work of the Veneranda Fabbrica was subsidized for years by the donations and legacies of wealthy Milanese, but also by locals of more modest means who would drop valuables in boxes on the construction site that would then be auctioned off.


As recently as a century ago, there was a cafe at the top of the Duomo where Milanese would meet to socialize and gossip. On the ground, the cathedral’s construction workers discovered that the saffron they used to color stained glass yellow had a savory side purpose when added to the vats of risotto cooked up for lunch, now known as risotto alla Milanese.


“The Duomo has always been the house of the Milanese,” said Fulvio Pravadelli, general director of the Veneranda Fabbrica.


If saints and martyrs have dominated for centuries as favored subjects, carvers over the years have sneaked in more contemporary figures, including the boxer Primo Carnera, a world heavyweight champion in the 1930s, and even a small head of Abraham Lincoln.


Over time, hundreds of statues and decorative motifs have been replaced, the originals ending up in an ersatz cemetery on the city’s outskirts.


For the stone carvers in Milan and Candoglia, even the smallest decoration — which can take months to replicate — is worth the effort.


“The beauty of our work is to bring forth from a piece of marble something that wasn’t there,” said Paolo Sabbadini, a stone carver at the Candoglia laboratory, who said that when a piece he was replicating was especially worn, he would add a personal touch to the decoration, even though he knew that at hundreds of feet off the ground, it was unlikely to be noticed, “even with a zoom lens.”


“But in theory, we’re not working for ourselves,” Mr. Sabbadini said. “It has to be done well even if you can’t see it, otherwise we’d have no reason for being here.”


Elisabetta Povoledo is a reporter based in Rome and has been writing about Italy for more than three decades. @EPovoledo • Facebook

Monday 20 February 2023

New Rule: A Woke Revolution | Real Time with Bill Maher (HBO)

Salman Rushdie, Brian Cox slam Roald Dahl publisher for inclusive book edits / Roald Dahl rewrites: edited language in books criticised as ‘absurd censorship’


Roald Dahl rewrites: edited language in books criticised as ‘absurd censorship’


Author Salman Rushdie among those angry after some passages relating to weight, gender, mental health and race were rewritten


Associated Press

Mon 20 Feb 2023 04.05 GMT


Critics are accusing the British publisher of Roald Dahl’s classic children’s books of censorship after it removed colourful language from works such as Charlie and the Chocolate Factory and Matilda to make them more acceptable to modern readers.


A review of new editions of Dahl’s books now available in bookstores shows that some passages relating to weight, mental health, gender and race were altered. The changes made by Puffin Books, a division of Penguin Random House, first were reported by Britain’s Daily Telegraph newspaper.


Augustus Gloop, Charlie’s gluttonous antagonist in Charlie and the Chocolate Factory, which originally was published in 1964, is no longer “enormously fat,” just “enormous”. In the new edition of Witches, a supernatural female posing as an ordinary woman may be working as a “top scientist or running a business” instead of as a “cashier in a supermarket or typing letters for a businessman”.


The word “black” was removed from the description of the terrible tractors in 1970s The Fabulous Mr Fox. The machines are now simply “murderous, brutal-looking monsters”.


Booker prize-winning author Salman Rushdie was among those who reacted angrily to the rewriting of Dahl’s words. Rushdie lived in hiding for years after Iran’s Grand Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini in 1989 issued a fatwa calling for his death because of the alleged blasphemy in his novel The Satanic Verses. He was attacked and seriously injured last year at an event in New York state.


“Roald Dahl was no angel but this is absurd censorship,’’ Rushdie wrote on Twitter. “Puffin Books and the Dahl estate should be ashamed.’’



The changes to Dahl’s books mark the latest skirmish in a debate over cultural sensitivity as campaigners seek to protect young people from cultural, ethnic and gender stereotypes in literature and other media. Critics complain revisions to suit 21st century sensibilities risk undermining the genius of great artists and preventing readers from confronting the world as it is.


The Roald Dahl Story Company, which controls the rights to the books, said it worked with Puffin to review the texts because it wanted to ensure that “Dahl’s wonderful stories and characters continue to be enjoyed by all children today”.


The language was reviewed in partnership with Inclusive Minds, a collective working to make children’s literature more inclusive and accessible. Any changes were “small and carefully considered”, the company said.


It said the analysis started in 2020, before Netflix bought the Roald Dahl Story Company and embarked on plans to produce a new generation of films based on the author’s books.


“When publishing new print runs of books written years ago, it’s not unusual to review the language used alongside updating other details, including a book’s cover and page layout,’’ the company said. “Our guiding principle throughout has been to maintain the storylines, characters, and the irreverence and sharp-edged spirit of the original text.”


Puffin didn’t immediately respond to requests for comment.


Dahl died in 1990 at the age of 74. His books, which have sold more than 300m copies, have been translated into 68 languages and continue to be read by children around the world.


But he is also a controversial figure because of antisemitic comments made throughout his life.


The Dahl family apologised in 2020, saying it recognised the “lasting and understandable hurt caused by Roald Dahl’s antisemitic statements”.


Regardless of his personal failings, fans of Dahl’s books celebrate his use of sometimes dark language that taps into the fears of children, as well as their sense of fun.


PEN America, a community of 7,500 writers that advocates for freedom of expression, said it was “alarmed” by reports of the changes to Dahl’s books.


“If we start down the path of trying to correct for perceived slights instead of allowing readers to receive and react to books as written, we risk distorting the work of great authors and clouding the essential lens that literature offers on society,” tweeted Suzanne Nossel, the chief executive of PEN America.


Laura Hackett, a childhood Dahl fan who is now deputy literary editor of London’s Sunday Times newspaper, had a more personal reaction to the news.


“The editors at Puffin should be ashamed of the botched surgery they’ve carried out on some of the finest children’s literature in Britain,” she wrote. “As for me, I’ll be carefully stowing away my old, original copies of Dahl’s stories, so that one day my children can enjoy them in their full, nasty, colourful glory.”

Salman Rushdie, Brian Cox slam Roald Dahl publisher for inclusive book edits

by Emily Jacobs, Weekend News Editor

 February 20, 2023 02:58 AM


The decision to revise some of Roald Dahl's classic children's books to make them more inclusive was met with widespread condemnation over the weekend.


Dahl's publisher, Puffin Books, a division of Penguin Random House, and the Roald Dahl Story Co., which manages the works’ copyright and trademarks, told Britain's Telegraph for a report published Friday that the two collaborated with Inclusive Minds, a collective that works on making children's literature more inclusive, to make the hundreds of changes. Critics of Dahl, who remained a vocal anti-Semite until his death in 1990, have argued that some of his works are bigoted.


Renowned author Salman Rushdie, whose novel The Satanic Verses led Iran’s Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini to issue a fatwa in 1989 calling on all Muslims to kill him, denounced the changes to Dahl's works.


"Roald Dahl was no angel but this is absurd censorship," Rushdie tweeted Saturday. "Puffin Books and the Dahl estate should be ashamed."


Actor Brian Cox, who currently stars in HBO's Succession and has worked with the Royal Shakespeare Company, decried the revisions by likening them to McCarthyism.


"I really do believe [these books are] of their time and they should be left alone," he told the Times of London in a radio interview. "Roald Dahl was a great satirist, apart from anything else. It's disgraceful."


"It's this kind of form of McCarthyism, this woke culture, which is absolutely wanting to reinterpret everything and redesign and say, 'Oh, that didn't exist.'" he continued. "Well. it did exist. We have to acknowledge our history."


Suzanne Nossel, the CEO of PEN America, a nonprofit that defends free expression in literature and other art, said her organization was "alarmed" by news of the changes.


"If we start down the path of trying to correct for perceived slights instead of allowing readers to receive and react to books as written, we risk distorting the work of great authors and clouding the essential lens that literature offers on society," Nossel wrote on Twitter.


Laura Hackett, a lifelong Dahl fan who serves as deputy literary editor for London's Sunday Times newspaper, vowed to collect old, unaltered copies of Dahl's works for her children while condemning the revisions.


"The editors at Puffin should be ashamed of the botched surgery they’ve carried out on some of the finest children’s literature in Britain," Hackett wrote. "As for me, I’ll be carefully stowing away my old, original copies of Dahl’s stories, so that one day my children can enjoy them in their full, nasty, colorful glory."

Sunday 19 February 2023

Paris a une nouvelle attraction touristique... Les toilettes rénovées de La Madeleine / Restored Paris art deco public loo worth every penny of €2 charge

Restored Paris art deco public loo worth every penny of €2 charge


Lavatory de la Madeleine, opened in 1905, has been closed for 12 years but has been renovated to full belle époque glory


Kim Willsher in Paris

Sat 18 Feb 2023 05.00 GMT


Paris authorities promise it will be worth every penny spent renovating France’s first ever public convenience.


The Lavatory de la Madeleine, a belle époque jewel that opened in 1905, will cost €2 (£1.80) to use when it reopens on Monday.


It was fitted out in art deco style with the finest materials: varnished mahogany woodwork, stained-glass windows, ornate ceramics, mosaics, brass taps and floor to ceiling tiles and has been listed as a historic building since 2011 when it closed.


It was originally an exclusively ladies’ lavatory – the nearby gents’ constructed at the same time is now used by the public transport body RATP – but became mixed sex when several of the cabins were turned into urinals in the 1990s.


The lavatory, shut because of disuse and lack of maintenance, has taken 12 years to restore. The restoration of the woodwork, glass and tiles were finally completed last month but the toilets, sinks and taps have been replaced with similar modern models. An old shoe-shine chair, preserved on the site, adds to the impression of entering a grand “throne room”.


The idea of a public lavatory was inspired by those in London introduced in the 1880s. The underground facilities were intended to be not only useful but beautiful and luxurious. Only six such toilets still exist in Paris, one of which is on the Champs-Élysées.


“It’s a journey back in time; a dive into the Paris of the belle époque,” Karine Taïeb, the deputy mayor of Paris in charge of heritage, said as she conducted a party of journalists around the conveniences this week. She said regrettably the toilets were not accessible to disabled people because they were too small.


The mosaic tiled entrance to the lavatory is still cracked and will undergo further restoration next year when the cause of the damage has been identified.


The Lavatory de la Madeleine will reopen to the public on Monday and remain open between 10am and 6pm every day. The €2 charge is to cover the cost of an attendant and cleaning. Paris city hall says there are 435 other free public toilets in the city.

Wednesday 15 February 2023

Lord To The Queen Risks Losing His Family Home | Country House Rescue | ...

  14 Oct 2022  #abode #renovation #mansion

Colbrook Park has belonged to the Brookeborough family since the 1600s. The current Brooks residents are on the brink of losing the house. Entrepaenur, Simon Davis, is on a mission to help them keep their doors open. However, with every idea being shot down, it seems like the couple don't even want to help themselves. Can Simon save this historic house?

Tuesday 14 February 2023

Pajama Party: A History of Leisurewear




In 1865 Miss Elisabeth New and Mr Samuel Lingwood founded the business which still bears their names, New & Lingwood. They subsequently married and laid the foundation on which the business still prides itself, unsurpassed quality of merchandise and truly personal service.


In 1922 New & Lingwood opened a shop in Jermyn Street and although these premises were destroyed in the blitz during the Second World War, we re-established our presence in the street shortly after the war, this time at number 53, on the corner of the Piccadilly Arcade. It is fair to say that today New & Lingwood is unique in London in being the most traditional of the small number of gentleman's outfitters supplying bespoke and ready-made shirts, hosiery and shoes of the highest quality.


The company was formed in Eton to serve the scholars of Eton College, the most famous of English Public Schools, and soon gained official status as outfitters to the College, a great honour for the firm. For over 147 years New & Lingwood has served many thousands of Etonians, in many instances five or more generations of the same family, on the same site it has occupied since its foundation. This is a consequence of the high standards of quality and service that New & Lingwood have maintained.


In 1972 the old and famous shoe and boot-making firm Poulsen Skone joined the Company extending the classic range of shoes.




Based on previous experience of working with Helen, we chose her to bring together our vision for what is a unique flagship store in St James’s. Her strong work ethic and meticulous aesthetic meant that once she’d been given the complex brief, she delivered something that both our own staff, our builders and our PR agency were able to use extremely effectively. Not only did she unify the many elements of the project, she also worked long hours and late nights to ensure it was delivered on time and to budget. I wouldn’t hesitate to work with her again.

— Simon Malony, Product and Marketing Director | New & Lingwood



After producing events for New & Lingwood, we were delighted to be asked to work on the design of the refurbishment for their two flagship stores in Jermyn Street.


New & Lingwood is a brand with 153 years of rich, traditional English heritage, a storied outfitter for Eton and bespoke men’s wear maker that heralds back to 1865.


In 1922, New & Lingwood expanded from Eton into London and today have an international reputation as a quintessentially English gentleman's outfitters, with eccentric flair.


Their two London stores are located on the corner of the Piccadilly Arcade, facing Jermyn Street, and they’ve held residence there since 1946.


New & Lingwood have established themselves as a forward looking luxury design brand, and sought to refresh their Jermyn Street stores to reflect this development.



To create an open, bright and vibrant design which reflected the brand’s character and wit. Introduce more retail theatre to the space whilst retaining the unique heritage and maintaining continuity for loyal customers.



We provided a design overview for the refurbishment - from conceptual drawings to the final finishing touches – with a hands on approach throughout the project.


Working closely with Mark Clark Associates, we filtered the ideas of the fantastic creative team at N & L, then presented conceptual designs, colour rendered perspectives and mood-boards, which enabled the client to visualise and approve the proposed changes.


The refit was extensive, requiring a total refurbishment, so each store was closed in tandem whilst the work took place.

Working successfully within a strict timeframe the transformation was completed on schedule.


The smaller store was transformed into an opulent silk and gown space, with fittings and furnishings deliberately chosen to tell a story and to coordinate with the larger store.


With the installation of a layered lighting scheme, rich silk drapes, a bold tartan carpet and multitude of meticulous finishing details the stores were transformed.


We employed British companies to reflect the brand’s ethos and create classic style and quality craftsmanship throughout the stores. Cabinet makers, Silk weavers, Paint manufacturers, Carpet makers and Velvet suppliers were all sourced in the UK.


The tone was set using Mylands beautiful paints. Museum Teal was used throughout both stores, a beautiful tranquil colour and a perfect backdrop to showcase the product. In contrast the Theatreland Red feature walls offset the picture walls to perfection.


N & L are famous for their Jacquard silk dressing gowns. In tribute a bespoke silk fabric was created especially for the project and incorporated in the changing room drapes and numerous stairwell and cabinet panels.



The stores now have an ambient welcoming appeal, with natural light streaming in through new entranceways,

Scrumptious design detail throughout and a stunning new lighting design all bringing fresh life and energy to the brand

Our Eton Connection


Our Eton Connection

Not just a uniform, a mark of honour and pride


118 High Street, Eton,

Windsor, Berkshire,



Since our founding in 1865 New & Lingwood has proudly outfitted the students of Eton College. From uniform essentials, our extensive offer of house and society colours through to refined tailoring, shirts, shoes and silk accessories, our Eton store has something for gentlemen of all ages.


We apply personalised name tags to all newly purchased uniform and any alterations are made at no extra cost. Plus, we will provide free dry cleaning for the first term of the new school year.


Additionally, each new boy who purchases his full school uniform from New & Lingwood will be invited to sign our uniform register which will entitle him to two free formal shirts upon his departure, post A Levels.