Patricia Tricker asks:

Lauren Luke: hydrating moisturisers. Er, isn’t that what moisturisers are supposed to do?

It certainly is. However, many moisturisers also aim to reduce wrinkles or cover blemishes, so the word “hydrating” may have been used to indicate that Luke was concentrating on hydration specifically. Alternatively, its inclusion may have been a purely aesthetic decision by a subeditor.

Victoria Moulton asks:

Why was Dannii Minogue described in your piece as “still” breastfeeding her five-month-old baby? Shouldn’t it be considered the norm to be breastfeeding such a young baby?

To answer Victoria’s second question first: it should indeed be considered the norm, at least according to the World Health Organisation. The WHO suggests that babies should, ideally, breastfeed until the age of two,  with supplementary foods introduced after the age of six months.

To answer Victoria’s first question we need to examine the paragraph in question more closely. It reads:

“[Dannii’s] life is now dominated by the show, and by Ethan, her five-month-old baby with rugby player boyfriend Kris Smith, and today, like every day, she is juggling the two. She is here to promote her new dress range, Project D, but every spare minute of the afternoon is spent emailing song choices back and forth to the “boys” she is mentoring. And because Dannii is still breastfeeding, halfway through the make-up session Kris’s mother arrives at the studio carrying Ethan in his car seat.”

Looking at this paragraph, there seem to be three likely explanations for the use of the word “still”:

1. Its focus is on the baby: Minogue is still breastfeeding him, because he is still the appropriate age for this. The approximate meaning in this case is: “because Ethan is still very young and consequently Dannii is still breastfeeding him”.

2. Its focus is on Minogue herself: she is still breastfeeding, despite the fact that many families endeavour to wean their babies onto formula by this age, in order (for example) to make it easier for the mother to return to work.

3. The sentence is merely meant to establish that Minogue is breastfeeding, but the word “still” is included because the phrasing without it  (“because Dannii is breastfeeding”) might be read as implying that breastfeeding is an unusual choice.

Andrew Mathewson asks:

I confess that on 4 December I bought a different newspaper. Thankfully, the letters page on 11 December told me what I’d missed: an interview with Gordon Brown, jokes from around the world, a precis of This Column Will Change Your Life, Lenny Henry’s Q&A, Farrow & Ball paints in Space and a Blind Date that clicked. But where were the letters complaining about the price of the clothes in the fashion pages or the metropolitan focus of Let’s Move To… that you need when you’re trying to catch up?

There weren’t any! “Let’s Move To” on 4 December dealt with Mablethorpe, a small town in Lincolnshire; and the clothes in the fashion pages included none of the £1000+ outfits that dismay some readers. Consequently, the letters Andrew asks about simply don’t exist.

In fact, by relying on the following week’s letters page, Andrew missed out on 85% of the magazine! To fill him in quickly: Tim Dowling looked after a friend’s daughter; Lenny Henry is afraid of losing his voice; Ballet Black has grown since it was founded in 2001; Guy Pearce is less enigmatic than one might expect; homemade sweets make a good gift, as do ties; the 70s are in, animal print remains fashionable, and party dresses don’t have to be black; Bill Bailey has complex feelings about his hair; roses shouldn’t be planted where another rose previously grew; and the solution to the Scrabble problem was STRENGTHEN.