Wednesday, November 21, 2007


-year-old girl in Mesa, Ariz., escaped with several serious wounds after a trifecta of unfortunate accidents, reported Tuesday.

The girl was playing in her backyard Monday and was somehow able to climb to the top of a cinderblock fence, when she fell off the wall and landed on a neighbor's cactus plant, reported. She was subjected to further bad luck when the neighbor's two dogs bit her and dragged her across the yard.

Click here for a video report from

Abby Trujillo Maestas, the girl's neighbor who was not home at the time, feels awful.

"Our prayers, our hearts go out to the child and her family," Maestas told

The girl's mother had to jump the wall to rescue the girl from the canines. She was brought to a local hospital for treatment of various puncture wounds on her head, neck and back. She's expected to make a full recovery, reported.

Bitten by a bat but kissed on stage
Why I don't want any of my readers to get rabies; how I appeared on the West End stageMatthew Parris
I take this opportunity to inform Alistair Darling that, sadly, my VAT payment at the end of this month will be lost in the post. And regrettably the disc on which I keep my tax records has gone missing so I shall skip the January payment.

Mr Darling may think that, even when a mega-blunder occurs, a Chancellor of the Exchequer need not consider his position, but Times columnists take our responsibilities more seriously. Were anyone bitten by a bat to die of rabies on account of reading this column last week and taking my advice not to bother seeing a doctor, I would feel honour-bound to resign. So I had better cover myself.

"I really would urge you," writes kindly Alison Rasey from the admirable Bat Conservation Trust, "to visit your GP to discuss post-exposure treatment for rabies." This she recommends "firstly with regards to your personal wellbeing, and secondly that of the public".

Ms Rasey's writes from (honestly) Battersea. She thinks I should not have given readers the impression that it is anything but folly not to have washed my bat punctures with soap and water, nor to have discussed with my doctor the possibility of inoculation. Emphasising that the incidence of rabies in British bats is very rare, she reminds me that it remains possible to contract rabies from a bat bite, and that a bat worker in Scotland died from this five years ago.

My perfect national motto
Think no evil? Are you serious?
Synthetic rage has gone. This is fury
Gobble, gobble! Another turkey from Farmer Brown
Should you, reader, be bitten by a bat, Ms Rasey wants you to know that further information can be obtained from the National Bat Helpline (0845 1300 228) or I simply pass this on. I have not the least intention of whiling away a morning in an NHS surgery but wouldn't dream of advising you likewise.

Times readers, do as Ms Rasey says, not as I do.

PS: The bite-marks have faded. I miss them. I was briefly privileged.

So it was too late when the former head of MI5 asked to see my bat punctures on Saturday. Dame Stella Rimington was with Michael Winner and me to discuss her BBC documentary about Russia (and my anthology of political brick-dropping) on Loose Ends on Radio 4, with Clive Anderson. She accompanied us to a pub after the recording.

Or, rather, she set out with us, but was soon besieged by autograph-seekers waiting on the pavement. I'm not sure anyone recognised any of the other guests. So the HM Secret Service boss did a public walkabout, signing books and cards, while the rest of us walked on, incognito.

The following night I appeared on the West End stage, tackling that most challenging of roles: the part of an anti-Blairite Times columnist. A charity performance of the satirical musical Blair on Broadway (its regular current venue the Hen & Chickens in Islington) had been staged at the Arts Theatre near Leicester Square. My cameo role involved walking on and saying a very rude word about Alastair Campbell, always a pleasure.

Stage fright! I haven't acted since 1967 when with spectacular lack of success I played the romantic male lead, Ferdinand, in a production of Shakespeare's The Tempest in Kingston, Jamaica. I was truly awful. My nemesis was a car crash of a French kiss with the 37-year-old divorcee playing Miranda. I was only 17 and doubt I'd ever kissed a girl before, except some of my aunts. I still wince at the thought of it.

And now, 40 years later, another on-stage kiss: with the handsome and talented young star of the show, Joshua Martin (playing Mr Blair). So this time the nightmare was his. But he took it with great fortitude. The show's huge fun. If anyone else would like me to kiss anyone on stage, would they get in touch?

Introducing my book of gaffes on Loose Ends, I got the name of my co-editor, Phil Mason, wrong. I know Phil well and do not know why I called him Paul ― put it down to nerves. Mortified, as Clive Anderson reminded me of my own collaborator's name, I was kind of hoping for a retake. No such luck. Stern Mr Anderson ploughed on. Quite right too.

Phil's and my book mocks statesmen who forgot the names of people and places, with no chance for a retake; so fair cop ― hoist with my own petard.

― Mission Accomplished: Things Politicians Wish They Hadn't Said is published by JR Books

Last week on Project Runway we met all our designers and saw them start with a low ball challenge, giving them luxury fabrics, no budget and free design reign. But even all that freedom wasn't enough to save poor construction and questionable vision, and so we said good-bye to Simone. We hardly knew ye. Speaking of Simone, our show tonight started with some of the boys bemoaning her departure and gossiping about how they felt she knew how to dress a woman better than Elisa. In case anyone could forget, Elisa was the kook whose dress was described by Heidi Klum as making the model look like she was pooping fabric. And we're off!

Last week, the designers had their models assigned to them, but this week they got to pick who they wanted to work with. Most of them decided to stick with the model they were assigned, though Ricky swiped Elisa's girl and Wendy was shown the exit. After the model-pick, the designers were told this weeks challenge was to create a look for a pop culture icon. They speculated they would be designing for Madonna (I don't think her fake British accent allows her to do American reality television), Britney Spears (to which there were shrieks of "she needs it!", but I would be more concerned about the fact that she has a reputation for wiping chicken grease and puppy poop on couture) and - inexplicably - Snow White. I have no idea where that one came from. I have to admit that I figured they were going back to Nicky Hilton, so when Tim Gunn came into the work room with Sarah Jessica Parker, I shrieked. The designers went nuts. Including Chris, who immediately teared up and later camera talked that he moved to New York city after watching Sex and the City.

Sarah Jessica looked adorable and I can't wait for the Sex and the City Movie. I had to get that off my chest, sorry. She revealed to the designers that they would be creating a 2 piece look for her Bitten fashion line, which she described as high end American sportswear at affordable prices, because fashion is not a luxury and quality is not a privilege. The punch line to this was that the design would have to meet the retail price point of $40.00 total, giving the designers a budget of a whopping $15.00. They were then given 30 minutes to sketch before pitching their ideas to Sarah Jessica, who would choose 7 designs which would be worked on by teams of 2.

The pitching went mostly well, though Ricky cried during a confessional in which he admitted he wanted Sarah Jessica to like his outfit. He's 2 for 2 in the tears department. The worst error was committed by Kevin, he of the boy band look, who thanked Sarah Jessica and walked away, leaving her hanging with her hand in mid air, waiting for a handshake from him that never came. Guess who isn't getting picked? On the other hand, Elisa was picked first. Also chosen was Kit, Victorya, Marion, Ricky - who cried because Sarah Jessica picked him. When the teams were chosen, we ended up with Elisa and Sweet P, Kit and Chris, Victorya and Kevin, Marion and Steven, Ricky and Jack, Christian and Carmen, and Rami and Jillian. To add the final tweak, they were told the winning design would be sold as part of the Bitten line in Steve & Barry's stores, nationwide.

As the designers got to work, we saw mostly the contrast between Sweet P and Elisa. From the moment they got to Mood, Sweet P was lecturing Elisa on the need to finish the seams so she didn't get pigeon holed. After 2 designs, is that possible? When Elisa spit on the fabric to mark it, I think Sweet P might have had a tiny aneurysm. Further, when Tim Gunn came around and noticed how Elisa was hand sewing everything again (including 19th century styled hand rolled edging - now that is retro!), he told her she couldn't possibly sustain that type of work. Sweet P clutched him like a starving man to a Twinkie and Elisa visibly shrank under their matched scrutiny, camera talking that she decided to do what they said. Which was kind of sad. Also getting a frown from Tim was Christian, whose design had morphed into something from a Robert Palmer video. He was warned about getting too retro, but he sniffed and sniped "I think it's perfect". I think it's in bad taste to snub Tim Gunn. Tim Gunn always knows what's best and Christian and his horrifying haircut should realize that.

The next morning starts with the girls gossiping about Elisa, much as the boys were the morning before. They admit they understand the intrigue of her wackiness, but don't think she will last without knowing how to use a sewing machine, and they predict that she will be the elimination of the day. I think they should be careful or she may attempt to imbibe them with a more natural spirit by spitting on them. Back in the work room, the designers all hurry to finish up their outfits. Sweet P finally must admit that Elisa's design has come together well and thinks they may have a chance at winning. On the other side of the room is Marion, whose design looked very sophisticated, but whose reality has become a poorly fit brown mess.

On to Runway!

Kit and Chris: It's cute and kicky. The sweater is incredibly well fit, the button accent on the stretch capri's is darling, and they chose perfect accessories. I was not a fan of the color choices, though. Black over brown just seemed off and I think a nice light heather on the capri's would have been more visually appealing.

Elisa and Sweet P: I am not normally a fan of capes, but this one is adorable. Even better is the dress beneath, which looks like it's a great fabric - one that wouldn't wrinkle and would be comfortable. The sleeves are sublime, really, and even the tie around the neck is a dazzling touch. I don't know if it's "polymorphic", but I like it.

Rami and Jillian: I am bewildered. It looks like a cross between a trench and bib shirt with kimono sleeves, none of which should work together, but it totally does. Even further, it manages to look classic somehow.

Marion and Steve: Oh, it's a mess. There's cut fringe, the sweater is too big and formless and completely overwhelms the skirt, which is sad because it looked like it may have had some interesting design elements before it was swallowed. I can't imagine this team will not lose.

Victorya and Kevin: It's interesting, basically a smock dress and a tiny vest with a racer back - but the plaid accent on the vest makes the outfit seem fashion forward. That said, I would not wear it for fear of looking like a tent or it seeming too short on my tall frame. It seems perfect for petite women only.

Christian and Carmen: Where are my Huey Lewis and the News albums? Holy geez, this couldn't be more 80s if it came from a John Hughes film. There is no editing here, and it needed it, badly. Everything from the color choice to the fit screams Aqua-net and jelly shoes.

Ricky and Jack: Adorable. I would buy this dress tomorrow. I love the color, the styling, the flow of the skirt and the gathering at the neckline. A big improvement over his baby doll of last week. However, it still doesn't show a particular point of view.

Right away the judges let Kit and Chris, Rami and Jillian, and Ricky and Jack know that they are safe and can leave the runway. Then they start right in on the remaining designers, and within seconds Sweet P is telling them that she was surprised Elisa's design worked out so well and tosses in that she spit on the fabric. Which seemed catty and apropos of nothing. Elisa took it all with grace, however, being far more sweet than Sweet P - who I want to re-name Old P. When Heidi asked Elisa what planet she came from, she replied with good humor by saying it was a planet that maybe didn't understand the language used down here, but understand how fabric worked, and she came bearing gifts. Well done. I don't think she will win the season, but she will be one of the most interesting to watch. The judges and Sarah Jessica all agree that the outcome is great.

The judges all fawned over Victory and Kevin's outfit - and I agree it's darling. I just don't think it would be appropriate for a wide audience. Marion and Steve's hot mess was compared to Pocahontas, though Heidi thought it looked more like a dirty rag. Christian and Carmen captured the best description when Michael Kors said all it needed was over sized button earrings and it would be ready for The Facts of Life. The judges ask the two lowest teams who they think should be eliminated out of their twosomes, and Carmen immediately cries, and votes for Chris. But it's OK, because he votes for himself too, and Marion and Steven follow suit by both of them voting for Marion. In the end, the winner is Victorya and Kevin, whose design was described as versatile, simple and beautiful, and the losing team is Marion and Steve, with Marion going home. Which is a shame, because his outfit last week was a stunner, while Steve's was a snoozer. I really think it was his fabric choice that worked against him.

What did you think? Is anyone ready to run out to a Steve & Barry's and pick up the winning outfit? If you do, it would look killer with a pair of black riding boots. I'm just saying!

are warning Spartanburg County residents to avoid wild animals after a Chesnee man was bitten by a rabid raccoon.

S.C. Department of Health and Environmental Control said that the man is undergoing inoculations to prevent rabies after being bitten by a raccoon that has tested positive for the disease.

Sue Ferguson, with DHEC's Bureau of Environmental Health, said the man was bitten by a raccoon that was in a yard.

Ferguson said that about 400 South Carolinians have to undergo preventive treatment for rabies every year after being bitten by a rabid or suspected rabid animal.

This is the fifteenth confirmed rabid animal in Spartanburg County in 2007.


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