2012年12月27日

LEGOmaniacs! Thought Lego was for kids? Meet the men (and women) who spend 20 hours a week playing with their little bricks

Every year for the past 20 years, secondary school teacher Michael Addis and his wife, Catherine, have built a giant Lego model in their living room. Something so big and bold that it almost touches the ceiling.
Their latest creation is a 10ft-high replica of the 2012 Olympic mascot known as Wenlock. In previous years, they’ve built a giant Dalek, an oversized Victorian post box, even a replica of a 10th-century church that’s a few miles from  their home.
Each item is made entirely from Lego bricks — around 100,000 of them, assembled (with no instructions) over a period of around six weeks.
Olympian feat: Catherine Addis with a 100,000-brick replica of the 2012 Olympics mascot Wenlock
Lego enthusiast: Every year Catherine and Michael Addis build a giant Lego model in their living room
Olympican feat: Catherine Addis with a 100,000-brick replica of the 2012 Olympics mascot Wenlock. Catherine and her husband Michael have built a giant Lego model in their living room every year for the past 20 years
The regime is always the same. ‘We start on my birthday, October 13, and we’re finished by December 1,’ says Michael. ‘We work on it for roughly two hours every night.’
Why do they do it? ‘Because otherwise we’d just watch too much TV.’ And, anyway, it’s an affordable hobby: Michael, from Huntingdon, Cambridgeshire, buys his Lego secondhand on eBay, where you can purchase bricks by the kilo.
 

‘If the price goes above £10 for 1 kilo, I walk away,’ he says.
It’s an odd way for a grown-up to spend his time, you might think. But Michael is not alone in his Lego obsession. Up and down the country, there are people — OK, the vast majority of them are men — who devote their leisure time to the tiny plastic building blocks that most of us left behind for ever when we discovered members of the opposite sex, skateboards and booze.
Regime: The Addis family usually start on their masterpiece in October each year and they finish by December 1
Regime: The Addis family start on their masterpiece in October each year and they finish by December 1
There are regular shows where hundreds of enthusiasts — they call themselves AFOLS, or ‘adult fans of Lego’ — meet to swap notes and show off their latest creations.
And the things they create! There are warships, motor cars, football stadia, dinosaurs and spaceships. There are 40ft Christmas trees, working railway trains, architecturally accurate landmarks. The only thing the models have in common is that they are all huge.
I know what you’re thinking: geeky men, no girlfriends, live with their mums. Well, you’re wrong. All the Lego enthusiasts I’ve spoken to are happily married, and many of them blame their obsession on their wives, who reintroduced them to Lego in adulthood.
‘I hadn’t played with Lego since my childhood, but then, in my mid-40s, my wife bought me a large Star Wars Lego kit for Christmas,’ smiles 52-year-old Gary Davis. ‘And she’s been regretting it ever since.’
Gary is an amazing craftsman. By day, he is a self-employed ergonomics consultant (he helped design Sky’s remote control unit), but by night, he is a Lego fanatic, spending around 20 hours a week with his little bits of coloured plastic. He has a stash of ‘around half a million bricks’.
Flight of fancy: Gary Davis's (pictured) wife bought him a lego set when he was in his mid 40s. He now spends around 20 hours a week with his Lego bricks
Flight of fancy: Gary Davis's (pictured) wife bought him a lego set when he was in his mid 40s. He now spends around 20 hours a week with his Lego bricks
A while back, Gary, from Welywn, Hertfordshire, woke up with the idea of creating a super-sized model of the face of Yuri Gagarin, the first human to journey into space (as you do.) The project took him five months and 20,000 bricks. The result is an extraordinary work of art.
The process of adding a brick here, moving one there, with no colour-by-numbers masterplan to follow, is similar to the way a sculptor might manipulate a piece of clay. Meanwhile, he has also built a brilliant model of the Olympics aquatic centre, complete with two swimmers splashing about in the pool.
‘Some people think it’s childish that you’re playing with a kids’ toy — but they change their mind when they see the models I produce,’ Gary says. ‘They’re much bigger and more sophisticated than a child would make, so I don’t get so much mickey-taking now.’
Martin Long, 43, works similarly long hours on his Lego. He played with Lego as a child, stopped when he became a teenager, then returned to the toy in his 30s when he stumbled across some old sets on eBay.
Reaching for the stars: Gary Davis and his Thunderbirds Lego model
Reaching for the stars: Gary Davis and his Thunderbirds Lego model
‘I’d forgotten about Lego and how cool it was,’ says the Vodafone project manager from Faringdon, Oxfordshire. ‘I very rapidly began amassing large amounts of Lego.’
In fact, very large: his stash, he estimates, stands at around 500,000 bricks. Martin has had his loft converted in order to create a Lego room for himself, so that his wife, Susan, and their children Millie, nine, and Alfie, five, can enjoy a relatively Lego-free existence.
Not that it’s turned out quite like that. ‘I’ve got my Lego room full of bricks, but most of my garage is full of it and there are various other bits and bobs all over the place as well,’ he admits.
What does his wife think? He pauses for a moment, then laughs.
‘I think she’s comfortable with it,’ he says. ‘I guess she understands my hobby; “tolerates” might be a bit strong — but she certainly appreciates the fact that our children get involved.
‘In any case, at least my hobby doesn’t involve me disappearing every weekend. If I were playing golf or rugby, I could be out of the house for hours on end.’
Lego, it seems, is enjoying something of a boom. The family-owned Danish company is the world’s third biggest toy firm, and it is estimated that, on average, every person on Earth owns 80 Lego bricks.
In 2011, the company produced more than 36 billion (yes, billion!) pieces — the equivalent of 68,000 every minute. The firm now employs double the number of people it did five years ago.
Yet the company has struggled to attract girls to the delights of construction. In 2012, in an attempt to counter this, the company launched Lego Friends — featuring female mini-figures, garish pinks and the opportunity to build the ‘Heartlake pet salon’, a ‘summer riding camp’ or ‘Emma’s horse trailer’. As yet, it’s too early to know how many girls have been won over.
They’ll not have much luck if the grown-ups are anything to go by: when the AFOLs get together, there are at least four men for every woman.
The truth is, there is something very primitive and, dare one say it, rather male about the idea of plonking a block of something on top of another. When mankind was first standing on two feet, it was the bloke who roamed the neighbourhood collecting branches and leaves to build a shelter, while the female stayed behind to protect her young. Many thousands of years later, maybe horse trailers and pet salons might change the way Lego is viewed. But maybe they won’t.
Splash! Mr Davis has also built a brilliant model of the Olympics aquatic centre, complete with two swimmers in the pool
Splash! Mr Davis has also built a brilliant model of the Olympics aquatic centre, complete with two swimmers in the pool

Extraordinary: A while ago, he woke up with the idea of creating a super-sized model of the face of Yuri Gagarin, the first human to journey into space
Extraordinary: A while ago, he woke up with the idea of creating a super-sized model of the face of Yuri Gagarin, the first human to journey into space
For a start, many women might not enjoy adhering to the rather rigid rules many of the AFOLs insist on. The first of these is: no glue. Glue is only allowed if your model is to be exhibited permanently in public.
The reason? You guessed it: health and safety regulations. In case it falls down and hits someone.
What about Blu-Tack? Also frowned upon. Is it ever OK to paint a Lego brick in order to improve a sculpture? No, say the AFOLs, it is not. Ever.
Meanwhile, a tip: if you’re creating a building, it’s best to use a scale of around 1:40 — because that way they are in proportion with the Lego mini-figures (the little yellow-faced men and women) who will inhabit them.
That’s a rule that enabled Warren Elsnore, a 36-year-old former IT consultant from Edinburgh, to build an incredible replica of St Pancras railway station out of 180,000 bricks. It took him two years.
He returned to Lego courtesy of a former girlfriend, who bought him a Statue of Liberty set when he was 21.
He’s not looked back since. Indeed, Warren, who reckons he owns around two million pieces of Lego, recently gave up his job in order to focus full-time on his obsession.
And the decision — which has the full support of his wife, Kitty — seems to be paying off. It seems that many companies want Lego creations in their foyers, and, in the New Year, Warren has been employed to perform at a trade show in Florida. He also has a Lego book in the pipeline.
It is possible to make a living out of Lego. Duncan Titmarsh, a Surrey father of two teenage girls, left his job as a kitchen fitter to start a firm called Bright Bricks.
He is regularly called on to create ambitious installations in shop windows, from Hamleys to John Lewis.
Enthusiast: Mr Davis also created this Thunderbirds model. He has a stash of 'around half a million bricks'
Enthusiast: Mr Davis also created this Thunderbirds model. He has a stash of 'around half a million bricks'
Proud: 'Some people think it's childish that you're playing with a kids' toy - but they change their mind when they see the models I produce,' says Mr Davis
Proud: 'Some people think it's childish that you're playing with a kids' toy - but they change their mind when they see the models I produce,' says Mr Davis
This Christmas, he installed a 40ft tree in the Trafford Centre in Manchester. It took five people four weeks to assemble the 550,000 bricks — each of which had to be glued into place as passers-by do have a tendency to ‘pick’ at his pieces.
AFOLs are evangelical about their chosen medium. ‘The brilliant thing about Lego,’ says Warren Elsnore, ‘is that it’s so simple. If you’ve got enough bricks and a big enough model, there’s nothing you can’t build.’
Sadly, Warren does not get day-to-day pleasure from his St Pancras. It’s so huge that he has to keep it in storage.
But — bizarrely — most adult Lego fans don’t feel the need to keep their creations at all. Like a fisherman who throws his prize carp back into the water, it’s common to break up your model once it’s been exhibited.
Michael Addis, for example, throws a party on Twelfth Night, during which his friends help him to dismantle his Christmas creation.
Isn’t it a bit sad demolishing something that’s taken so long to make? ‘I always feel a bit like that,’ he says. ‘But we pack it away properly, and we know that we’re going to do it again next year.’
Michael is lucky. And unusual. His wife does not just tolerate his obsession, she is a willing participant.
It’s not like that for everyone. I ask Gary if he mentioned his affection for Lego when he went on his first date with the woman who was to become his wife, or that his plan, later in life, was to spend 20 hours a week messing around with little plastic bricks.
‘No,’ he smiles. ‘And it wasn’t mentioned in the wedding vows either.’

School-leavers will be able to train as lawyers and accountants without a university degree

School-leavers will be able to train on the job as lawyers, insurance brokers and accountants without a university degree, under plans revealed yesterday.
In a radical shake-up, skills minister Matthew Hancock outlined a scheme of ‘professional’ apprenticeships to allow youngsters to go straight from A-Levels into City careers.
He said a university education ‘is not for everyone’, but all youngsters should have the chance to aim for ‘valuable jobs’ in areas such as a law, financial services and engineering.

High quality apprenticeships, he said, would be seen as equal to a bachelor’s degree, instead of making an ‘artificial and counterproductive’ distinction between academic study and employment.
It comes as the number of students entering university fell by 57,000 this year – nearly 9 per cent – many put off by fees of up to £60,000.
Mr Hancock wrote in the Daily Telegraph: ‘We are offering apprenticeships instead of university as a route into the professions, including insurance, accounting and the law.
‘University is not for everyone. There is no reason why you can’t reach exactly the same qualifications without the degree, starting on-the-job training in an apprenticeship from day one.’
The minister said he is in talks with the BPP Law School in London over an apprenticeship scheme which could help school leavers qualify as solicitors.
And he added that professional services company PricewaterhouseCoopers is developing a master’s level qualification in auditing or tax accountancy. He said other firms would be encouraged to follow suit.
Mr Hancock said apprenticeships were already helping to tackle a skills shortage in crucial sectors such as engineering and plumbing and helping Britain compete on the global stage.
Opportunities: Mr Hancock said a university education 'is not for everyone' but that all youngsters should have the chance to aim for 'valuable jobs' in areas such as a law, financial services and engineering
Opportunities: Mr Hancock said a university education 'is not for everyone' but that all youngsters should have the chance to aim for 'valuable jobs' in areas such as a law, financial services and engineering
But from next year apprenticeships would be expanded to meet ‘the changing needs and ambitions of our nation’. He said it fitted with plans to make all pupils study English and maths up to 18.
Apprenticeships have been championed by the Prime Minister who announced last year the Government would train students ‘to gain the skills they need for the jobs of the future’.
Last year it was announced an extra 100,000 apprenticeships would be created by 2014 to encourage companies to take on young workers.
However critics warned the Government should ensure fair access to university for youngsters of limited means, instead of encouraging them to choose a cheaper option.
Rob Wilson, an MP on the Fair Access to University Group, said students should not forget ‘the excellent value universities bring in terms of additional career earnings and the more rounded education’.

Skyfall and The Avengers help Hollywood film studios achieve record sales at box office


Hollywood has had its most successful year at the box office.
Films such as Skyfall and The Avengers helped film studios sell $10.8bn in tickets in 2012.
For the first time in three years sales of tickets in the US went as moviegoer flocked to see big budget films.
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Everybody loves Bond: Hollywood has had its most successful year at the box office thanks to films like Skyfall
Everybody loves Bond: Hollywood has had its most successful year at the box office thanks to films like Skyfall

The sci-fi film The Avengers featuring super heroes from Thor to The Hulk  was the most successful film of the year taking $1.5bn worldwide.
The latest in the Batman series The Dark Night Rises took $1.1bn at the box office while Daniel Craig's third appearance as James Bond in Skyfall was also a huge success.
The 23rd Bond film is expected to pass the $1bn mark by the end of the year making it by far the most successful of the 50 year old franchise.
Other blockbusters included The Hunger Games, and The Twilight Saga: Breaking Dawn – Part Two.
Animation films such as Ice Age: Continental Drift, Madagascar 3: Europe's Most Wanted,  Brave were also box office hits taking more than $500m.
Ticket sales were helped by many of the films being shown in 3-D and at Imax movie theatres were prices for individual tickets were more expensive.
Hollywood executives are confident they will hit $11bn in sales for 2103.
Films such as Les Miserables and Zero Dark Thirty about the hunt for Osama bin Laden are expected to get 2013 off to a stellar start.
'If we deliver the product as an industry that people want, they will want to get out there,' said Don Harris, head of distribution at Paramount Pictures.
'Even though you can sit at home and watch something on your large screen in high-def, people want to get out.'

Thames Barrier shuts for the first time in two years to prevent flooding in London as fresh Atlantic storm promises yet more rain

Neighbours help out after a 300-year-old cottage flooded in the village of Hemingford Abbots, Cambridgeshire, for the first time in its history
Neighbours help out after a 300-year-old cottage flooded in the village of Hemingford Abbots, Cambridgeshire, for the first time in its history

Owners of the cottage awoke to find the property under two feet of water after the Great Ouse burst its banks
Owners of the cottage awoke to find the property under two feet of water after the Great Ouse burst its banks
A tree had to be felled after it threatened the safety of monkeys in a sanctuary in Cornwall
A tree had to be felled after it threatened the safety of monkeys in a sanctuary in Cornwall

Pepper, the 10-month-old capuchin monkey died after getting tetanus, possibly linked to flooding at the Looe Monkey Sanctuary in Cornwall
Pepper, the 10-month-old capuchin monkey died after getting tetanus, possibly linked to flooding at the Looe Monkey Sanctuary in Cornwall
A dog walker is battered by strong winds on the Hamble seafront
A dog walker is battered by strong winds on the Hamble seafront

Back in April that barely seemed imaginable with Britain in the midst of the worst drought since 1976.
More than 20million people were subject to a hosepipe ban as the Environment Agency drew up contingency plans believing the drought could last until Christmas.
But after the wettest summer in 100 years, Britain's climate swung back the other way.
Professor Tim Palmer, from the University of Oxford, told the BBC the topsy-turvy conditions are the result of changes in the movement of the Atlantic jet stream which travels to our shores from America.
'When the jet stream moves up to the north, and then travels back down to the UK, it brings with it cold air, blizzards, very severe and unpleasant weather from that perspective,' he said.
Professor Palmer predicted Britain will see more extreme patterns of weather with periods of drought followed by flooding and cold weather as the jet stream continues to be affected by climate change.
'The question of how it will change is still a very active research problem, and we don't have clear-cut answers yet.
'But I think there is quite a big possibility that what we will see is the jet stream undergoing quite dramatic and erratic excursions.'
A large depression over the Atlantic is set to hit Britain bringing more rain and winds of up to 60mph
A large depression over the Atlantic is set to hit Britain bringing more rain and winds of up to 60mph
Flooding in Spring Cottage, Leicestershire, which is expected to see more wet weather over the weekend
Flooding in Spring Cottage, Leicestershire, which is expected to see more wet weather over the weekend

A dog walker braves the downpours as Britain's relentless wet weather continues
A dog walker braves the downpours as Britain's relentless wet weather continues

'My modelling agency told me I looked ugly with red hair,' reveals natural blonde Christina Hendricks

Christina Hendricks' modelling agency thought she looked 'ugly' when she first dyed her hair red.
The Mad Men star - who is a natural blonde - changed her hair colour when she was modelling early in her career, and despite initial criticism, she decided to keep her flame-coloured look after beating off competition from a number of other models thanks to her new bright tresses.
She said: 'When I first started modelling I was blonde. Then I got a job and they wanted to do my hair bright red. I'd always wanted to, but the head of my agency was like, "You look terrible, it's so ugly, you cannot have red hair."
'I came back as a redhead and couldn't get my hair back to blonde for two days - in the meantime I had to audition.
'I booked two or three jobs, because were a lot fewer redheads than blondes, and I was like, this is working for me, I'm keeping this!'
Christian also credits her flame-coloured locks for helping her to land Hollywood movie roles, such as 2011 action film Drive, and she says her hair ensures people remember her.
She said: 'I think it does make you stand out. People remember you when there's a sea of faces. It helps.'
Blondes don't always have more fun: The actress in a 1997 TV commercial
Blondes don't always have more fun: The actress in a 1997 TV commercial

Obama reveals he REALLY ran for reelection so he could have 'men with guns' around daughter Malia, 14, as she starts dating boys

President Barack Obama revealed the 'real reason' he wanted a second term as president is because his daughter Malia, age 14, is about to start dating boys.
'One of the main incentives of running was continued Secret Service protection so we can have men with guns around at all times,' the father of two joked.
The President and First Lady delved into their personal lives - including how they keep 'the fire alive' in their marriage - during a chat with ABC's Barbara Walters, their first sit-down interview since the election. 
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Candid: President and Mrs Obama spoke about their personal lives - including their oldest daughter's maturation into a young woman
Candid: President and Mrs Obama spoke about their personal lives - including their oldest daughter's maturation into a young woman
Armed guard: Malia, the First Daughter, walks off Air Force One under the watchful eye of a Secret Service agent. The President said one of the perks of being president is having armed guards watch his teenage daughter
Armed guard: Malia, 14, walks off Air Force One under the watchful eye of a Secret Service agent. The President said one of the perks of being president is having armed guards watch his teenage daughter
The president said respect is the key to happiness after more than two decades together Michelle.
'You know, we've been married now 20 years and like every marriage you have your ups and you have your downs. But if you've worked through the tough times, the respect and love that you feel deepens,' he said.
Michelle added: 'And there's a lot of laughter.'
 
The Obamas married in 1992 after they met at the Chicago law firm where they both worked.
The nation has watched Malia and Sasha, age 11, grow up in the White House - and watched Malia turn into a teenager.
Malia was recently given a cell phone and her mother says she has given the 14-year-old a 'long rope.'
Light-hearted: The interview with Walters focused on the Obamas' personal lives in the White House and less on political or policy issues
Light-hearted: The interview with Walters focused on the Obamas' personal lives in the White House and less on political or policy issues
Her father, though, admits his fears about teenage boys calling his daughter and asking for dates.
He lamented that cell phones mean boys no longer have to ring up the house phone and get past him or his wife before they can talk to Malia.
The Obamas said she had not started dating yet, but the President conceded that the day may soon come when some brave boy tries to take his daughter out.
'She’s a teenager, she’s going to start at some point being interested in dating boys,' he said.
The couple also addressed Michelle's political ambition - or lack thereof.
Mrs Obama said couldn't run for office because she doesn't have the patience required of a politician.
'And she has bigger difficulty biting her tongue,' Barack Obama added.
In a moment of defensiveness, Mrs Obama scoffed: 'I've done pretty well with that,' she said.
On tour: The First Lady showed Walters around the White House during Christmas. She said 90,000 guests will visit during the holidays
On tour: The First Lady showed Walters around the White House during Christmas. She said 90,000 guests will visit during the holidays
The couple also revealed the story behind the photograph of their hug that became the most shared picture in Twitter's history after it was released on election night.
'Because I love my wife,' the President said.
Mrs Obama said got gushy when she explained that their embrace, captured during a campaign stop in Iowa, was real.
'I hadn't seen him in a while and when you're campaigning, it's two ships passing in the night,' she explained. 'The first time I saw him was when I walked on stage to greet him.
'That's my honey giving me a hug.'
Love: Asked why he was hugging his wife so tight in this photograph, President Obama said, 'Because I love my wife'
Love: Asked why he was hugging his wife so tight in this photograph, President Obama said, 'Because I love my wife'
The president added: 'I like giving you hugs.'
The Obamas sat down with Walters on December 11 and the segment as slated to air on December 14.
However, the shooting at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Connecticut led ABC to postpone the segment.
This is Walters' fourth interview with the president.
Her meeting at the White House included a tour of the holiday decorations led by the First Lady and 'first dog' Bo.

Maggie's war with treacherous Mitterrand over Exocet missile: Archive files reveal relationship with France was stretched to breaking point

In his memoirs, former Defence  Secretary Sir John Nott describes France as Britain's 'greatest ally' during the Falklands War.
But behind the scenes, the relationship between the two countries was strained almost to breaking point over the sale of French Exocet missiles in 1982, newly released documents reveal.
Declassified files show that prime minister Margaret Thatcher warned France that if the weapons fell into Argentine hands, the consequences for British-French relations would be 'disastrous'.
HMS Antelope was bombed by Argentine forces in the bay of San Carlos, East Falkland Island, on the May 6, 1982 during the Falklands War
HMS Antelope was bombed by Argentine forces in the bay of San Carlos, East Falkland Island, on the May 6, 1982 during the Falklands War
There was an increasingly strained relationship between Mrs Thatcher and then French president Francois Mitterrand during the Falklands, documents reveal
There was an increasingly strained relationship between Mrs Thatcher and then French president Francois Mitterrand during the Falklands, documents reveal
There was an increasingly strained relationship between Mrs Thatcher and then French president Francois Mitterrand during the Falklands, documents reveal
The files, released today under the 30-year rule by the National Archives in Kew, document the increasingly strained relationship between Mrs Thatcher and then French president Francois Mitterrand.
At the start of the conflict, Mitterrand had declared an embargo on French arms sales and assistance to Argentina and allowed the British fleet to use French port facilities in West Africa.
He also aided British efforts to stop Argentina acquiring Exocets on the world's arms market and provided detailed information about planes and weaponry France had sold to Argentina.
 

But when Argentina used the French guided missiles against the British Task Force to devastating effect, relations between Mrs Thatcher and Mitterrand soured.
On May 4, 1982, a pair of Argentine navy French Super Etendard fighter planes attacked British ships heading towards the Falklands with air-launched Exocet AM39s missiles.
One hit the Type-42 destroyer HMS Sheffield, crippling the ship which sank six days later, killing 20 crew and bringing home the full magnitude of what the Task Force was up against.
French President Francois Mitterrand gestures -- watched by the British Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher -- during a joint press conference in London in 1983
French President Francois Mitterrand gestures -- watched by the British Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher -- during a joint press conference in London in 1983
Controversial: An Argentian Super Etendard fighter with Exocet missiles
Controversial: An Argentian Super Etendard fighter with Exocet missiles

A Wessex helicopter hovers overhead as HMS Antelope, still burning fiercely, slips beneath the water of Ajax Bay
A Wessex helicopter hovers overhead as HMS Antelope, still burning fiercely, slips beneath the water of Ajax Bay
HMS Sheffield after being hit by an Argentine Exocet missile in the South Atlantic. The vessel sank whilst being towed back to safe water
HMS Sheffield after being hit by an Argentine Exocet missile in the South Atlantic. The vessel sank whilst being towed back to safe water
Terrorists' prison ship
Three weeks later, on May 25, two more Exocets sank the Atlantic Conveyor which was carrying vital supplies, including Chinook helicopters which were supposed to transport troops and equipment.
Twelve lost their lives in the attack and the news badly affected the nation's morale.
The force commander Admiral Sandy Woodward later admitted that if one of the aircraft carriers Invincible or Hermes had been hit the mission would have effectively been over.
Tensions increased still further when the French were initially reluctant to reveal how many Exocet missiles they had supplied to Argentina.
It was only on May 11, a week after the attack on HMS Sheffield, that the British embassy in Paris was told that an order for ten missiles had been agreed, of which five had been delivered.
The files reveal that although France agreed to delay the completion of the deal, there was concern that they had agreed a deal to send four Exocets to Peru.
As there was every indication that they would end up in the hands of the Argentines, Mrs Thatcher raised the issue with Mitterrand on May 17.
Although he assured her the delivery would be delayed 'as long as necessary', he phoned Mrs Thatcher on May 29 to say that he was in a 'difficult position' over the deal.
Antelope was a Type 21 frigate which was sunk in the Falklands War on May 24, 1982
Antelope was a Type 21 frigate which was sunk in the Falklands War on May 24, 1982
The files state: 'Peru had made it known to other Latin American countries that France was declining to execute the contract. Consequently, France's contracts with other Latin American countries were in danger.'
He then demanded a 'precise estimate' of the date by which the missiles would no longer endanger the British Task Force.

REBEL DEAN OF ST PAUL'S WANTED LORD'S PRAYER READ IN SPANISH

The rebel Dean of St Paul’s Cathedral wanted the Lord’s Prayer to be read in Spanish during a thanksgiving service after the Falklands, the papers reveal.

A memo from Mrs Thatcher's private secretary Clive Whitmore on July 2, 1982, also said the Very Rev Alan Webster wanted the order of service to contain a printed translation of the prayer.

Mrs Thatcher responded by underlining almost the entire paragraph and scribbling 'why?' next to it.

Although the translation was prevented, the then Archbishop of Canterbury, Robert Runcie, provoked controversy by telling the congregation they should remember the Argentine casualties as well as the British.
The following day, she sent him a strongly worded telegram which said: 'If it became known, as it  certainly would, that France was now releasing weapons to  Peru that would certainly be passed on to Argentina for use against us, France's ally, this would have a devastating effect on the relationship between our two countries.
'Indeed, it would have a disastrous effect on the alliance (Nato) as a whole. This is the last thing that either of us would wish.'
The next day the French backed down and said the Peruvians would be told the missiles could not be sent for 'political reasons'.
It was thought the French had supplied around 100 Exocets to air forces around the world, of which 30 to 35 could be available for sale on the international market.
To prevent the missiles ending up in the hands of the Argentines, the Ministry of Defence set up a secret arms traffic cell to prevent the sale of any Exocets.
MI6 launched an elaborate operation designed to convince the Argentines that the cell was buying Exocets on their behalf.
Attorney general Michael Havers wrote a memo suggesting a plan – 'which may be thought to be appropriate to a James Bond movie!' – to arrange for a businessman to take a job at a cargo airline and act as a spy, monitoring all shipments and ensuring the missiles weren't handed to Argentina.
However, Mrs Thatcher appeared unimpressed, writing on the document: 'Can we have a word? MT.'
A letter by then Attorney General, Sir Michael Havers to Margaret Thatcher in which he proposes an elaborate deception plan aimed at Argentinian arms buyers which he himself admitted was 'more appropriate to a James Bond movie'
A letter by then Attorney General, Sir Michael Havers to Margaret Thatcher in which he proposes an elaborate deception plan aimed at Argentinian arms buyers which he himself admitted was 'more appropriate to a James Bond movie'
National Archives handout photo dated 1982 of a map key of British forces
National Archives handout photo dated 1982 of a map key of British forces
A map showing British forces surrounding Port Stanley, released by the National Archives under the 30-year rule
A map showing British forces surrounding Port Stanley, released by the National Archives under the 30-year rule

A map of San Carlos Water in East Falkland
A map of San Carlos Water in East Falkland

A close up of British military positions around the Falkland Islands
A close up of British military positions around the Falkland Islands


Murderers and drug dealer to get IVF in prison and you'll be paying! Criminals using European Human Rights laws to start families at taxpayers' expense

Four murderers and a drug dealer are in line for taxpayer-funded fertility treatment so that they can father a child from behind bars.
The killers are demanding to be allowed to take part in IVF treatment despite serving life sentences. Ministers may be powerless to refuse because of a ruling by the European Court of Human Rights concerning the right to a private and family life. 
Turning down the prisoners’ demands could lead to court action and compensation claims running into tens of thousands of pounds.
Killers are demanding to be allowed to take part in IVF treatment despite serving life sentences. Ministers may be powerless to refuse because of a ruling by the European Court of Human Rights concerning the right to a private and family life
Killers are demanding to be allowed to take part in IVF treatment despite serving life sentences
Ministers may be powerless to refuse because of a ruling by the European Court of Human Rights concerning the right to a private and family life
Ministers may be powerless to refuse because of a ruling by the European Court of Human Rights concerning the right to a private and family life
The cases will provoke outrage at the rights afforded to individuals who have committed shocking crimes, and spur demands for action against the power of European human rights judges, who are also demanding an end to the ban on prisoners voting.
 

Last year the Daily Mail revealed that a prisoner had been given access to artificial insemination treatment on the NHS at a cost of around £2,000.
Since then, 13 applications have been made by inmates in England and Wales. Eight have been rejected but five remain in ministers’ in-trays.
The names and details of the inmates are protected by privacy laws, but three were convicted of murder, one of murder and aggravated burglary and the fifth of possession of a Class A drug with intent to supply.
Last year the Daily Mail revealed that a prisoner had been given access to artificial insemination treatment on the NHS at a cost of around £2,000
Last year the Daily Mail revealed that a prisoner had been given access to artificial insemination treatment on the NHS at a cost of around £2,000
Last night Justice Secretary Chris Grayling, who has said he wants to ‘curtail’ the powers of the Strasbourg court, said: ‘There can be no clearer example of why we need changes to the human rights framework.
‘The European Court of Human Rights in Strasbourg has extended its remit into areas which have little to do with real human rights issues and I intend to bring forward proposals about how we change that.’
Andrew Percy, Tory MP for Brigg and Goole, said: ‘When you commit a crime such as murder you should lose your rights and liberties.’
The doors were opened to a flood of new applications by a 2007 Strasbourg ruling in the case of a convicted killer, Kirk Dickson.
Dickson and a friend kicked to death a 41-year-old man in 1995 and he was sentenced to a minimum of 15 years.
He met his wife Lorraine through a prison pen pal scheme while she was serving 12 months for a £20,000 benefit fraud. 
They married in 2000 after her release but while he was still behind bars.
In 2001 David Blunkett rejected the couple’s application to authorise her access to  sperm donation from him for IVF treatment.
With at least £20,000 in legal aid, they took the case to the High Court and the Court of Appeal but were rejected at every turn.
'Using the right to a family life'
In 2007 the case went to Strasbourg, when Dickson was 35 and his wife 49.
Ministers fought the case, arguing that losing the opportunity to have children was an inevitable result of being jailed.
But the Grand Chamber of the European Court of Human Rights ruled that

Spiciest soup on the menu burns hole through Chinese man's stomach lining



Doctors in China were left dumbfounded when they discovered a hole in a man's stomach wall after he ate a notoriously spicy bowl of soup.
The 26-year-old unnamed male had consumed a mala soup, meaning 'numbing hot', a traditional Chinese dish.
After choosing the spiciest version of the dish from the menu, the man soon experienced a piercing pain in his stomach.
Deadly: After consuming a dish of mala soup, the 26-year-old male was admitted to hospital in Wuhan, China. Doctors concluded that the notoriously spicy soup had burned a hole through his stomach
Deadly: After consuming a dish of mala soup, the 26-year-old male was admitted to hospital in Wuhan, China. Doctors concluded that the notoriously spicy soup had burned a hole through his stomach
The unlucky customer soon found himself vomiting blood before being rushed to a local hospital in Wuhan.
Despite having no medical history of ulcers or other gastrointestinal disorders, doctors concluded that the spicy soup had burned a hole through his stomach wall.
According to a report on Japanese site Rocket News 24, 15 per cent of incidents involving stomachs at the hospital are related to hot pot dishes.
 

The traditional Chinese dish is prepared using Sichuan pepper, a local spice, and chilli pepper/
The combination is known to cause a numbing sensation when consumed.
Most restaurants serving the dish offer it with varying degrees of spiciness.
According to local reports, many Chinese restaurants have begun to replace the natural, more expensive ingredients in hot pot dishes for cheaper, synthetic additives that replicate the spiciness.
Danger: The man was brought to a hospital in Wuhan, China
Danger: The man was brought to a hospital in Wuhan, China

Lightning strike sparks devastating blaze at school just three years after £12m refit is completed following arson attack

A bolt of lightning is understood to have sparked a devastating fire which destroyed large parts of school today, just three years after it had undergone a £12million refit following an arson attack in 2000.
The blaze erupted in the roof of the arts and theatre block of Lytchett Minster School in Poole, Dorset after a huge storm, and quickly spread through the rest of the two-storey building.
Members of the public dialled 999 when they spotted the 20ft flames and huge plume of smoke. Crowds of teachers and students raced to the scene as more than 60 firefighters tried to put out the blaze.
 
Blaze: Flames rip through the roof and upper floor of Lytchett Minster School near Poole in Dorset, in a fire thought to have been started by a bolt of lightning early this morningBlaze: Flames rip through the roof and upper floor of Lytchett Minster School near Poole in Dorset, in a fire thought to have been started by a bolt of lightning early this morning
 
In a cruel twist of fate, the school was only recently fully reopened after a £12 million rebuild following a fire in 2000Panic: More than 60 firefighters battled the flames throughout the morning. In a cruel twist of fate, the school was only recently fully reopened after a £12 million rebuild following a fire in 2000
 
Storm: The fire is thought to have been started by a bolt of lightning early on Thursday morningStorm: The fire is thought to have been started by a bolt of lightning early on Thursday morning
 
Firefighters were called just after 7am but they were still trying to douse the flames by late afternoonFirefighters were called just after 7am but they were still trying to douse the flames by late afternoon
Crews from Dorset, Devon, Hampshire and Somerset have been tasked to help with the inferno that has left the building a blackened shell.

'Joy turned into tragedy in a split second': Emotional tributes to 'precious jewels' killed on their way to wedding in Christmas Day crash

The boys killed in a crash on the M6 on Christmas Day were ‘precious jewels’, their family said yesterday.
Adnan Habib, ten, and his four-year-old brother Arsalaan died when the car their mother Parveen was driving overturned on the motorway, apparently after hitting a branch. Their aunt Bushra Tazarib, 32, also died.
The family, from High Wycombe in Buckinghamshire, were on their way to a wedding in  Bolton attended by boxer Amir Khan, and many of their relatives were caught up in  the subsequent traffic jam.

Precious jewels: The family of Adnan, left, and Mohammed, right, said they were 'always smiling and bringing smiles to everyone they met'Precious jewels: The family of Adnan, left, and Mohammed, right, said they were 'always smiling and bringing smiles to everyone they met'
Loving: Bushra Tazarib was described as a 'vital' member of the family Loving: Bushra Tazarib was described as a 'vital' and supportive member of the family
In a tribute, the Muslim family said: ‘Christmas Day began with all the joy all over the UK. We, as the rest of the nation, had the build-up to the Christmas holidays, attending school plays and preparing for a family wedding.
‘The joy turned into tragedy in a split second. Adnan and Arsalaan were our family’s precious jewels, spreading joy wherever they went.

'They were happy and joyous boys, always smiling and bringing smiles to everyone they met. Bushra had been part of the family by marriage for almost 14 years, and was a vital person, always helping and supporting every member at all times.

'Bushra was so loving of all children, even though she was not blessed of any of her own.'
They added: 'We thank everyone for their kind words of support, and we would like everyone to remember them in your prayers.'
The red Ford Focus the three were passengers in crashed and overturned on the northbound carriageway between junctions 14 and 15.
The mother of the two young boys, Parveen, 38, who was driving the car, and their 17-year-old sister Misbah survived and were discharged from hospital yesterday.
Boxer Amir Khan, who was at the wedding in Greater Manchester that the family were travelling to, also spoke of his despair at the deaths.

The former world champion, a second cousin of the bride, was at the wedding when the news of the crash came through.
He told the Sun it was 'utterly heartbreaking'.

He added: 'My heart goes out to the families of those involved in this terrible accident.
'No one could believe it. One minute everyone at the wedding was joyous - the next it had turned into despair.
Investigation: The car is covered in tarpaulin at the side of the M6 motorway as police officers begin an investigation into the crashInvestigation: The car is covered in tarpaulin at the side of the M6 motorway as police officers begin an investigation into the crash
Horrific: A recovery vehicle was pictured next to the wreckage of the car as police began to try and establish the circumstances surrounding the horror crash
Horrific: A recovery vehicle was pictured next to the wreckage of the car as police began to try and establish the circumstances surrounding the horror crash
'Some people actually left the wedding service to pay their respects - and others were in tears.'
The bride, Rabia Khan, is the former world champion's second cousin and he was at the ceremony when the news came through, his father Shah Khan confirmed.
Mr Khan said the family were from the groom's side and that Amir and the rest of the family were very upset to learn of the accident.
Despair: Amir Khan said hearing the news of the crash was 'utterly heartbreaking'Despair: Amir Khan said hearing the news of the crash was 'utterly heartbreaking'
He said: 'It shocked everybody. The family is trying to support them.'
The boys' mother and sister left the University Hospital of North Staffordshire on Boxing Day.
Friends and extended family of the boys had gathered at a local Islamic centre where prayers were being said.
The children's father was said to be 'inconsolable' at their deaths.

A witness said the maroon Focus appeared to have struck a tree beside the hard shoulder before flipping. No other vehicles were believed to be involved.
Chief Superintendent Martin Evans from Staffordshire police said afterwards that emergency services worked 'seamlessly' in 'very sad and exceptionally difficult circumstances'.

He added: 'Unfortunately the outcome is extremely tragic and our thoughts are with the family of those who have died.'
Police spent more than three hours clearing the wreckage, leading to huge tailbacks on the motorway.
High Wycombe Police Commander Superintendent Gilbert Houalla said: 'Our thoughts are with the family and the local policing community in Wycombe will be fully supportive of them at this very difficult time.

'We will continue to provide support, as needed, as the investigation into the collision takes place.'
Meanwhile, the family of the a middle-aged couple who were also killed on Christmas Day have today paid tribute to the 'devoted and much loved parents'.

Ann Goodrich, 57, and her husband Paul, 56, were being driven by their son to enjoy a festive day with their family, including their two-year-old grandson Daniel, when the Volkswagen Golf crashed off a road near Basingstoke and hit trees.
The couple, from Fleet, Hampshire, were pronounced dead after the crash on Odiham Road at Heckfield Heath, near Basingstoke.
Their son Darren was at the wheel when the crash happened and was seriously injured.

The family said in a statement: 'Ann and Paul were on their way to spend Christmas day with their son Darren, daughter Hannah and her family, when the tragic, fatal accident occurred.
'A close-knit family, they were looking forward to also enjoying the day with their grandson, Daniel, aged two years.
'Ann and Paul, devoted and much loved parents, will be greatly missed.
'The family thank the emergency services, family support officer and hospital staff for their compassionate care and attention.
'We are absolutely devastated and request to be left in peace, to grieve in private, at this sad time.'
Darren Goodrich, 29, from Farnborough, is being treated at the Royal Berkshire Hospital in Reading suffering from serious chest pains.

Police are asking witnesses to contact them on 01785 234094.