Rather a lovely treat yesterday as I was asked to review the Sunday Times revamp, featuring its all-new and wondrously glossy magazine. Naturally I took this as the perfect excuse to lounge around all day and fob off anyone who asked me to do anything by saying I was engaged on Very Important Reviewing Work on the sofa.
I’m not sure even the cat really believed me but it certainly took all day to do the newspaper justice. There is a section for every interest, Money, Travel, Business, Beards, Cosy Murder Mysteries …. I may be making some of these up, but you get the picture. If you have a niche interest, the Sunday Times will make you feel welcomed, nurtured and entertained.
Of course, I headed straight to the Home section, which turned out to be divided into two – there’s a Home International version in case you don’t find the plain old Home section, awash with gorgeous multi-million-pound UK pads, aspirational enough.
As a massive Antonio Banderas fan (I’ve watched Puss In Boots several times and not just for the children) I was agog to discover from the fascinating Home cover story that Zorro is now living in a prefab in Cobham, Surrey – solid stockbroker country. Banderas was divorced from fellow film star Melanie Griffith last year. They promptly sold up their $15 million-plus hacienda, complete with recording studio, fitness centre, pool and seven bedrooms – so far, so Hollywood. What then made Banderas head for Cobham, instead of the Hollywood hills? As the interview reveals, Banderas is now with a new lady, Dutch-German Nicole Kimpel, who is an investment adviser. That’s a little bit like a stockbroker, isn’t it? Aha! Now it all makes a little bit more sense. For Kimpel, at least, Cobham is a much more natural habitat than Los Angeles. And they are living in a Huf Haus which, although prefabricated, is a classy type of German designer prefab, which does actually look beautiful in the photos. They bought it complete with all the furniture and Banderas cheerfully says he will be burning the bits he hates out in the back garden. Thank goodness, you can take Zorro out of the movies, but there’s still a little bit of bad boy lurking even in the furthest reaches of Surrey. And the last news is the best – Banderas will be back on our screens soon, playing Picasso with Gwyneth Paltrow. Possibly an even more unlikely scenario than his current one.
I also loved the feature on reusing Farrow and Ball tester pots. We had an awful time deciding on a shade of grey for our kitchen cupboards (definitely a first world problem) and could now virtually stock an F&B tester shop. Suggestions include painting a bedhead, using a template to stencil lettering on the walls, painting a canvas and finally, washing out and reusing the little pots to store paperclips and jewellery. I’m not sure the world is ready for my art on a large scale yet, but I confess that in the past, I have used the pots to paint plain terracotta flowerpots to zing up the garden (as much as 50 shades of grey flowerpots can).
There was a sweet story from a restless novelist about moving 23 times before finding the one – a beautiful Cotswolds cottage which would definitely have me saying ‘I do’, and then in the interiors section, a snippet about alpaca bedding which I shall definitely look into. Meanwhile, there’s serious news for Midcentury Modern fans – all those Eames-like chairs costing £50 will shortly be outlawed as legislation comes in protecting copyright. So you’ll be looking at £459 for an iconic Danish lampshade like those starring in Borgen, instead of the £20 currently charged at dozens of internet sites. Oh dear. On a cheerier note, I loved the item on Capability Brown, who died 400 years ago this April and whose landscaping genius still influences us today.
As the light faded and even the cat decided she might need to stretch a bit, I finally tottered off the sofa and allowed the rest of the family a go with the newspaper. I have a feeling we’ll be dipping in to various sections all week long.
Just a few days after the Independent announced it’s going online only, it was lovely to feel that newspapers will survive in printed form, and that the Sunday Times, at least, will be flourishing in many different sections for years to come.