Belfast Telegraph

Home Life Weekend

Troubled childhood: Macaulay Culkin with mum Patricia and father Kit in 1990

Why it was not a wonderful life for Macaulay Culkin after he found fame in the hit Christmas film Home Alone 

How did we not know, you wonder. When Home Alone first appeared on screens, 27 years ago next week, and instantly became as much a part of Christmas as It's A Wonderful Life and Fairytale of New York, we ought really to have suspected there would be some casualties. Even the poster for the film - a small boy, his mouth open and his face in his hands - evoked The Scream by Edvard Munch.

Attentive pupils: a lesson at Belfast Cookery School

Belfast Cookery School: Joris Minne puts culinary skills to the test under tutelage of top chef 

Review my own cooking? I don't need a full page to tell you I'm a hopeless cook. I have a couple of set pieces for family dinners, a firm grasp of the microwave functions and a sensitive if formal approach to setting the table; but my culinary talents are ultimately narrow, limited and unimpressive. The adviser on the other hand is an accomplished cook which makes domestic meal preparations all the more stressful for me.

The Barking Dog restaurant on Belfast’s Malone Road

Restaurant review: The Barking Dog 

Restaurant lifespans are measured in months, not years. Along with haulage, fashion and scented candle making, restaurants have the shortest life expectation of any start-up businesses. But those who do survive can look back to see how and why they got through the difficult first year and point to quality of service, food and atmosphere (as well as clever management of tight margins, rates, supplier payments, staff retention and an endless list of other risks and governance issues).

Elvis Presley with wife Priscilla and their daughter Lisa Marie

Elvis: how the King made a sensational comeback ... and toll it took on family life 

Priscilla Beaulieu was just 21 years old when she married Elvis Presley at the Aladdin Hotel in Las Vegas in May 1967. He was more than 10 years older. To avoid crowds, the wedding party had sneaked out of Elvis's Palm Springs home at midnight the night before, climbing over a back wall and into a car heading for the airport. Frank Sinatra had donated his private jet to take the couple and their closest friends to the ceremony.

Sarah Silverman

‘I do get death threats because of my comedy and my politics... I might get murdered soon but right now I feel fine’ 

Sarah Silverman asks as she curls up in an oversized armchair at the hotel where we meet: "So… am I everything you imagined?" I want to say yes, but, in fact, she seems a little too much on the money of the Sarah Silverman brand to be quite real: that slightly helium-inflected voice, the whimsical woman-child musings, the winsome body language - it's all so perfectly observed you half-wonder if she's an impersonator. "Yes! My God, you are onto me, the real her is much surlier," she laughs. "Don't tell anyone: I'm her body double, I do all her interviews, while she sleeps."

Daphne Montgomery relaxes at her Greyabbey home

The adventurous life of a Co Down lady of the manor: witnessing a murder, mixing with political elites and finding romance on a chance visit to Ireland 

Tucked away on the eastern shores of Strangford Lough, the tiny village of Greyabbey is steeped in history. In fact, with 17 antique shops clustered around the main street, every few steps can send you tumbling into the past. But the biggest slice of history sits cloistered behind the stone walls of Grey Abbey Estate. Surrounded by ancient woodlands, beautiful gardens that boast rare and exotic plants, a walled vegetable garden and two orchards containing a collection of Victorian and, more recently, Irish fruit trees sits Grey Abbey House, home to William and Daphne Montgomery.

The PPI deadline is next year

PPI in the sky? Christine Manby wonders if she should have paid attention to those infuriating cold callers after all 

When did you last use your landline? A quick poll of a totally non-representative sample of friends and acquaintances suggests that we all stopped answering our landlines in around 2011, which was when the banks agreed to pay compensation to customers who had been mis-sold Payment Protection Insurance (PPI) and our phones started ringing off the hook with offers of assistance in claiming money we didn't even know we were owed.

Christian Louboutin is renowned for his signature red-bottomed shoes

Shoe designer Christian Louboutin tells Katrin Israel about a family revelation, why he'll never do a high-street collaboration, and his new-found enthusiasm for keeping fit 

Christian Louboutin is a designer who needs little introduction. For 27 years, the 55-year-old has been the sole face and driving creative force behind his independent shoe and beauty empire, his much lauded (and often copied) red-lacquered soles having shod everyone from Dame Elizabeth Taylor to the Duchess of Cambridge. Last year he sketched some 600 designs, produced 800,000 pairs of shoes at his factory in Milan and reportedly turned over £52.7m in the UK alone. He converted the Noughties 'It' shoe frenzy and designer accessories boom into a global powerhouse.

Arlene Phillips with her new Signia Styletto hearing aids

Candid choreographer Arlene Phillips talks to Gabrielle Fagan about wearing hearing aids, ageing and the ‘curse’ of Strictly 

Former dancer and leading choreographer Arlene Phillips has, it seems, never paid any attention to age. The 75-year-old is super-glamorous, looks far younger than her years and is still working. She's worked on a host of West End and Broadway musicals, from Cats to Grease and Saturday Night Fever, but even she's had to accept that ageing does have a consequence - she's going deaf.

Sally Field

Sally Field on the childhood abuse that cast a shadow over her later relationships ... and how husband Burt Reynolds belittled her acting 

Sitting in the library room of London's Charlotte Street Hotel, Sally Field cuts a delicate figure. She's dressed down in black jeans, ballet slippers and a cashmere sweater of the palest pink. Framed behind dark-rimmed spectacles, her eyes, fringed still with the thickest of thick black lashes, are wide and earnest, and she greets me with an expression that conveys both openness and caution.

Will Self

He has battled with drink and drug addiction, was thrown off then PM John Major's aeroplane for taking heroin and now his former wife is tweeting cringeworthy details of their divorce... an encounter with the surprisingly charming Will Self 

It's almost a Will Self interviewing trope to mention how intimidating the prospect of speaking to him is. From Russell Brand to The Guardian to The Times, interviewers have wondered if they will be able to keep intellectual pace with this titan of English literature and his dauntingly ornate vocabulary.

BBC NI presenter Jo Scott

'Presenting Children in Need reminds me of my late dad, not with sadness but with a smile because he was so like Terry Wogan' 

BBC presenter Jo Scott is looking forward to presenting Children in Need this year for several reasons, one of which is that the show brings back memories of her beloved father Alan, who sadly passed away in 2014. The south Belfast mum-of-two says the late great Sir Terry Wogan, so much part of the fabric of the long-running fundraising drive, reminded her greatly of her dad and for that reason, as well as many others, she is proud to be a part of it.

Cecelia Ahern.
Picture By David Conachy.

How Cecelia Ahern's new book made hard-headed television bosses cry 

Cecelia Ahern has been working on her latest book, Roar, for five years. For a writer with an almost legendary output - 15 books in 14 years - and for whom the start of the writing process is not a struggle, but a delight - choosing between two ideas, rather than struggling to come up with one - this is a huge change of tack. But Roar differs from any of Cecelia's previous work. Written for herself, as much as with the intent of publication, it is a collection of 30 short stories about women at crucial moments of their lives. It is funny, magical, and her most powerful, most feminist work yet.

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