Cowell ‘crossing fingers’ for Dragon 3 Oscar win

Image copyright Getty Images
Image caption Cowell is the author of the How To Train Your Dragon novel series

One intriguing subplot at this year’s Oscars can be found in the animated feature film category, where the third How To Train Your Dragon film is up against Toy Story 4.

There’s previous here, as it was Toy Story 3 that stopped the first How To Train Your Dragon winning this award in 2011.

How To Train Your Dragon 2 also lost out in 2015 (to Big Hero 6), so this is the final opportunity for DreamWorks’ fire-breathing franchise to take home an Oscar.

Set in and around a Viking land called Berk, the series tells of a young warrior called Hiccup and his adventures with his loyal dragon Toothless.

One person who’ll definitely be rooting for How To Train Your Dragon: The Hidden World is Cressida Cowell, the British author (and Children’s Laureate) whose books inspired the series.

“I so want them to get it, I can’t tell you how much,” she told BBC News last month. “I’m crossing my fingers, I’m crossing my toes… I’m crossing absolutely everything.

“I could not be prouder of these movies and I really want them to get the Oscar they so deserve.”

Authors aren’t always pleased by adaptations of their books. Yet Cowell said she had found the process “really enjoyable”.

“I’ve loved the whole thing,” she declared. “It has been really fascinating to have an insight into a world I wasn’t really intending to end up in.”

Another bonus is the number of new young readers the films’ success has brought her way.

“Often people see the films as a sort of rival,” she said. “But I’m passionate about getting books in the hands of all children and the films have been wonderful for doing that.”

Two Netflix titles, Klaus and I Lost My Body, are also nominated this year, as is stop-motion animation Missing Link.

If the latter film doesn’t win, it will be the fifth time that Laika – the studio previously nominated for Coraline, ParaNorman, The Boxtrolls and 2016’s Kubo and the Two Strings – goes home empty-handed.

Image copyright Netflix
Image caption Klaus tells an alternative version of the Santa Claus origin story

Missing Link was crowned best animated film at the Golden Globes in January, while Klaus – an alternative version of the Santa Claus origin story – won the equivalent prize at the Bafta Film Awards last weekend.

Those films are generally considered to be the front runners in a category that has only been part of the Academy Awards since 2002.

Director Chris Butler was nominated, alongside fellow Brit Sam Fell, when ParaNorman was shortlisted for the animated film Oscar in 2013.

The Liverpool native describes Missing Link as “a kaleidoscopic travelogue” in which a 19th Century English explorer goes in search of a fabled Sasquatch creature.

“I started writing this 15 or so years ago, and the idea was to have a stop motion version of Indiana Jones,” he told the BBC last year.

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Media captionOscar-nominated film writer and director Chris Butler’s top tips

Hugh Jackman provides the voice for the heroic Sir Lionel Frost, while Zach Galifianakis voices the Yeti he discovers in America’s Pacific Northwest.

“Stop motion has a grand tradition of animated ape-men going all the way back to King Kong [1933], so I thought he was the perfect fit for this medium,” Butler continued.

Missing Link was not a box office success when it came out last April, barely recouping a quarter of its reported $100m (£77m) budget.

Toy Story 4, in contrast, made more than $1.07bn (£821m) worldwide, narrowly exceeding the $1.06bn (£813mn) that Toy Story 3 grossed in 2010.

The 92nd Academy Awards will be held at the Dolby Theatre in Hollywood, Los Angeles on 9 February.

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More than 600 presents stolen from Santa’s grotto

Image caption Gifts from the community Santa’s grotto included children’s books, modelling clay and card games

More than 600 Christmas presents for children have been stolen from a community Santa’s grotto.

The gifts were being kept in buildings at the bowling green in Eastville Park, Bristol, after Father Christmas was unable to deliver them on Sunday.

High winds cancelled the event so the wrapped presents were being stored while organisers worked out what to do.

Volunteers called police and said the theft overnight on Monday and Tuesday had “knocked them for six”.

Friends of Eastville Park had planned a wildlife winter wonderland themed Santa’s grotto along with entertainment and crafts for its first Christmas event for children.

Volunteer Chrissy Quinnell, said: “It’s really hard to conceive that somebody would take children’s presents.”

“Hundreds of people were involved in the preparations but we had to cancel the event because of really high winds,” said Ms Quinnell. “So the fact the event didn’t take place was a bit of a low point for us and then to find this as well.

“We’re all pretty flat at the moment.”

Along with wrapped gifts – including children’s books, modelling clay and card games – thieves also “helped themselves to everything of value” including bottles of mulled wine and catering equipment.

Volunteers said it would take them a while to “bounce back”.

Posting on the group’s Facebook page, Andrew Gee said the loss of over 600 children’s presents was “particularly upsetting”.

“We are currently looking at CCTV footage from the car park area in the hope that something might come up,” he said.

Police are appealing for anyone who knows where the presents are following the burglary between 16:00 GMT Monday and 10:00 GMT Tuesday to get in touch.

A police spokesman said: “We’d appeal for anyone who saw or heard any suspicious activity around the building to contact us.”

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Are award winners and losers out of fashion?

Image copyright EPA
Image caption Vogue editor Edward Enninful (right) awarded the 2019 Turner Prize to the four nominees

“It’s a crazy contest between an orange and a spaceship and a potted plant and a spoon – which one do you like better?”

That’s how singer Anohni, formerly of Antony of the Johnsons, summed up awards in 2005.

She had just won the Mercury Music Prize, but was suggesting it was faintly ridiculous to pit very different artistic works against one another for the sake of a trophy.

The 2019 Turner Prize was a crazy contest between human effigies and a futuristic feminist city and a film about Northern Ireland and a sound installation about Syria.

So, before Tuesday’s prize-giving ceremony, the nominees got together and decided they didn’t want an individual winner to be chosen, instead asking the judges to let them share the coveted art award.

That wasn’t just because it was so hard to compare their works, but because they wanted to make a show of unity in divisive times, and didn’t want one nominee’s political message to be judged as more worthy than the rest.

There had never been a tie for the Turner Prize before. But the prize has changed since the headline-making days of the mid-1990s. Out have gone the indulgent, attention-grabbing sensations by Damien Hirst and Tracey Emin, and in have come the socially conscious, message-driven works of recent years.

The gesture and the reasons behind it have been warmly received. But now this precedent has been set, will next year’s nominees feel they need to do the same thing?

And after the Booker Prize judges failed to choose one winner this year, is the notion of competition in the arts going out of fashion?

Image copyright Reuters
Image caption Margaret Atwood and Bernardine Evaristo shared the Booker Prize

“Everyone agrees that competition is the enemy of art,” wrote Charlotte Higgins in the Guardian after the Booker in October. “And yet, on the whole, there is also an agreement to conspire in the notion that it isn’t.”

After all, a competition brings a certain amount of excitement and attention that wouldn’t have been there otherwise – if, for example, the Turner Prize was just another group exhibition.

BBC arts editor Will Gompertz said: “Maybe annual awards like the Turner Prize and the Booker Prize, which also didn’t have a single winner this year, are reaching their sell-by date: an anachronism from a bygone binary age of winners and losers.”

But Turner Prize head judge Alex Farquharson, who runs Tate Britain, told BBC News that Tuesday’s result was “very specific to this year”, and that the award had always evolved in order to stay relevant.

Here are four more recent examples of when artists or judges have decided to share the love – and one where they withheld their love altogether.

Turner Prize 2016

Image copyright PA
Image caption Helen Marten said the art world should show “an egalitarian platform of democracy”

Until this year, the closest the Turner Prize had come to a split award was when the 2016 winner, sculptor Helen Marten, decided to share her prize money (if not the prize itself) with her fellow nominees.

“Promoting a hierarchy is never the most useful thing for anyone involved, or the public,” she told BBC News at the time.

Her Turner win came just three weeks after she did the same thing with the £30,000 prize money from her win at the inaugural Hepworth Prize, after which she said art was “deeply subjective”.

“To a certain extent I believe in light of the world’s ever lengthening political shadow that the art world has a responsibility, if not to suggest a provisional means forward, then at least show an egalitarian platform of democracy,” she told BBC Radio 4’s Front Row.

Marten was following the example of the winner of the 2015 Artes Mundi prize, the Chicago artist Theaster Gates, who announced he was sharing his £40,000 prize with the nine other shortlisted artists.

James Tait Black Prize for Fiction 2019

Billed as Britain’s longest running literary awards, the James Tait Black Prizes recognise the best fiction and biography books of the year. Olivia Laing won the fiction award in August for her debut novel Crudo, and said she would share the £10,000 prize with her fellow nominees.

“I said in Crudo that competition has no place in art and I meant it,” Laing told the awards ceremony, according to the Guardian.

“Crudo was written against a kind of selfishness that’s everywhere in the world right now, against an era of walls and borders, winners and losers. Art doesn’t thrive like that and I don’t think people do either.

“We thrive on community, solidarity and mutual support and as such, and assuming this is agreeable to my fellow authors, I’d like the prize money to be split between us, to nourish as much new work as possible.”

Booker Prize 2019

It was the judges rather than the nominees who decided to split this year’s Booker Prize between Margaret Atwood and Bernardine Evaristo.

The Booker rules say the prize must not be divided, but the judges insisted they “couldn’t separate” the two works. Peter Florence, the chair, said: “It was our decision to flout the rules.”

He twice told organisers the judges wanted to declare a tie, and twice the organisers said no. The third time, the organisers relented. “We tried voting, it didn’t work,” Florence said. “There’s a metaphor for our times.”

But the decision was criticised by many, with some suggesting Evaristo would have benefited from having the spotlight to herself, whereas Atwood didn’t need it.

One of the judges was writer Afua Hirsch, who said the panel struggled to judge “the titanic career” of Atwood against “the quality and consistency” of Evaristo. That also raised hackles, because they were supposed to be judging individual novels, rather than careers.

“The outcome would always be imperfect, because it was an impossible task,” Hirsch wrote in the Guardian.

Bad Sex in Fiction Award 2019

The Literary Review’s tongue-in-cheek award for the most toe-curling descriptions of sex spoofed the Booker this year by also declaring a tie. Didier Decoin and John Harvey shared the dubious honour.

“We tried voting, but it didn’t work,” the judges said. “We tried again. Ultimately there was no separating the winners.

“Faced with two unpalatable contenders, we found ourselves unable to choose between them. We believe the British public will recognise our plight.”

Bollinger Everyman Wodehouse Prize 2018

The judges of the Wodehouse Prize for Comic Fiction had a different problem in 2018 – they decided none of the nominees were good enough to win. So the award was withheld.

“We did not feel than any of the books we read this year incited the level of unanimous laughter we have come to expect,” judge David Campbell said.

A statement said there were “many amusing and well-written books”, but “none fulfilled the criteria of making all of the judges laugh out loud”.

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Princess Beatrice engaged to property tycoon

Image copyright Princess Eugenie
Image caption Princess Beatrice and Edoardo Mapelli Mozzi got engaged in Italy earlier this month

Princess Beatrice is engaged to her boyfriend Edoardo Mapelli Mozzi, her parents have announced.

The 31-year-old daughter of Prince Andrew and Sarah, Duchess of York, got engaged to the 34-year-old property tycoon in Italy earlier this month.

The princess, who is ninth in line to the throne, will marry Mr Mapelli Mozzi next year.

“We are both so excited to be embarking on this life adventure together,” the pair said in a statement.

“We share so many similar interests and values, and we know that this will stand us in great stead for the years ahead, full of love and happiness,” they added.

Image copyright Princess Eugenie
Image caption The couple said they were “extremely happy” to share the news of their engagement
Image copyright Princess Eugenie
Image caption Mr Mapelli Mozzi designed Beatrice’s ring in conjunction with British jeweller Shaun Leane

Beatrice said on Twitter she was “so excited” by the announcement, while her fiance said on Instagram: “You will never be alone my love, my heart is your home.”

The Duke and Duchess of York said: “We are thrilled that Beatrice and Edoardo have got engaged, having watched their relationship develop with pride.”

“We are the lucky parents of a wonderful daughter who has found her love and companion in a completely devoted friend and loyal young man. We send them every good wish for a wonderful family future,” they added.

“I know what a mother feels so I have tears of joy,” the duchess added on Twitter.

“I am so proud of this sensational news,” she said.

“Andrew and I are just the luckiest people ever to have two great sons in law.”

Mr Mapelli’s parents, Nikki Williams-Ellis and Alessandro Mapelli Mozzi, said they were “truly delighted” by the engagement.

“Our family has known Beatrice for most of her life. Edo and Beatrice are made for each other, and their happiness and love for each other is there for all to see,” they said.

“They share an incredibly strong and united bond, their marriage will only strengthen what is already a wonderful relationship.”

Image copyright PA Media
Image caption Princess Beatrice and her fiance Edoardo Mapelli Mozzi at singer Ellie Goulding’s wedding last month
Image copyright Pascal Le Segretain/Getty Images
Image caption Beatrice (right) and Eugenie at the wedding of the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge in 2011

Beatrice’s sister, Princess Eugenie, married her long-term partner Jack Brooksbank at Windsor Castle in October 2018.

“I’m so happy for you my dearest big sissy and dear Edo,” she said in an Instagram post congratulating the pair.

“It’s been a long time coming and you two are meant to be,” Eugenie added.

Who is Edoardo Mapelli Mozzi?

Mr Mapelli Mozzi – known as Edo – is descended from Italian aristocracy, according to AFP.

He is the son of former alpine skier Count Alessandro Mapelli Mozzi, who competed for Britain in the 1972 Olympics.

His mother, Nikki Williams-Ellis, was formerly known as Nikki Shale, from her marriage to the late Christopher Shale – Edoardo’s stepfather.

Mr Shale – who died from heart disease at Glastonbury Festival in 2011 – was a senior Tory and close friend of former prime minister David Cameron.

Mr Mapelli Mozzi has been a friend of Beatrice’s family for some time.

The BBC’s royal correspondent, Jonny Dymond, said he believed the pair had been together for about two years – and that they have only been seen together in public a handful of times. He said things have “moved pretty quickly”.

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Beatrice is the Queen and the Duke of Edinburgh’s granddaughter, and a cousin of the Duke of Cambridge and the Duke of Sussex.

Her parents, the Duke and Duchess of York, divorced in 1996. The duke, Prince Andrew, is the third child of the Queen and Duke of Edinburgh.

Image copyright Peter Summers/PA
Image caption Royal Family fans will be preparing to celebrate another royal wedding.

In addition to his royal engagements, Andrew served as a special trade representative for the government until 2011, when his links to the disgraced financier Jeffrey Epstein forced him to step down.

Since their separation the duchess has been involved in various charitable projects, appeared on British and American TV and published several children’s books.

Further details of Beatrice’s wedding will be announced in due course, her parents said.

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Does fat shaming help people lose weight?

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After US talkshow host Bill Maher called for fat shaming to “make a comeback”, fellow host James Corden’s impassioned response won widespread support online.

“It’s proven that fat shaming only does one thing,” he said. “It makes people feel ashamed and shame leads to depression, anxiety and self-destructive behaviour – self-destructive behaviour like overeating.”

“If making fun of fat people made them lose weight, there’d be no fat kids in schools.”

But does Maher have a point? Almost two thirds of adults in England were overweight or obese in 2017. The NHS recorded 10,660 hospital admissions in 2017/18 where obesity was the primary diagnosis.

In the US, the situation is starker still. More than 70% of adults over 20 are overweight or obese, according to the National Center for Health Statistics.

On Twitter, the former professional baseball player, Kevin Youkilis, claimed he owed his “whole entire career” to fat shaming, having initially been overlooked by scouts because of his weight.

That experience, though, is atypical, says Jane Ogden, a professor of health psychology at the University of Surrey.

“Shaming is the wrong way forward,” she told the BBC’s Victoria Derbyshire programme on Monday.

“All of the evidence is that fat shaming just makes people feel worse. It lowers their self-esteem. It makes them feel depressed and anxious and as a result of that what they then do is self-destructive.”

A study by behavioural scientists at University College London found rather than encouraging people to lose weight, fat shaming led people to put on more weight.

Image copyright Victoria Abraham

Victoria Abraham, 19, lives and studies in New York city, but grew up in Florida.

She says that her first hand experience shows Mr Maher is wrong about fat shaming.

“I have been shamed my entire life for my weight and I am still fat. When nasty comments were made to me as a child I used to go home after school and eat food to make myself feel better.

“It’s not like people were saying these comments from a place of caring. They just wanted to make me feel small and negative about my body.

“The people who cared about my health were my parents and my doctor and that’s it. They were the only people who had the right to talk to me about my body. The kids on the street were just teasing me for being different.”

Victoria stresses that she is now very confident about her body and reflects that if her younger self could have seen her now then her childhood would have been much happier.

“Back then you weren’t allowed to be fat and happy,” she said. “You weren’t allowed to love yourself no matter what you looked like”.

It was changing the media she consumed that made all the difference.

“After I finished middle school I started reading books with fat characters and watching TV with fat women which started to change the way I viewed myself. If you only see media with thin white women then you think something is wrong with you. But when you see beautiful fat women you start to see the beauty in yourself.”

Victoria also acknowledges the health impacts of obesity.

“Losing weight is good for your health but I am anti-diet. I have tried most of them and you just put the weight back on after the diet. Now I just try and do more exercise and eat healthier things.”

“It’s a very hard conversation to have,” Professor Ogden told the BBC.

“The evidence out there for the impact of excess bodyweight and obesity – on cancer, on diabetes, on heart disease – is very clear. And that’s education we need to have out there.

“But because the line between getting that message out there and then actually making someone feel ashamed of who they are is so fine, those conversations are very difficult.”

Image copyright Will Mavity

Even if you do lose weight, fat shaming can negatively impact health in other ways.

Will Mavity, 25, lives in Los Angeles. Growing up in Atlanta, Georgia, he was, he says, “extremely chubby”.

It is not a description you would use about him today.

“They would call me double d, and this stuff added up. When I started high school I decided the only way I could avoid this was to never be fat again,” he told the BBC.

But Will developed an eating disorder.

“Fat shaming caused me to lose weight, but not in a healthy way. I started to purge after every meal,” he said.

“I injure myself over and over again because of over-exercise. I feel I have to. I start getting angry whenever I cannot work out. I can’t shake it. Because of the fat shaming, I associate my value as a human being with the way I look.”

“Shaming anybody for anything doesn’t help you – whatever the thing is that is being shamed,” Professor Ogden explained.

“It’s just not a positive way to run a society.”

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Peaky Blinders: Who were the real Billy Boys?

Image copyright Caryn Mandabach Productions Ltd. 2019
Image caption Tommy Shelby has been sent a warning by Glasgow gang the Billy Boys

The fifth series of Peaky Blinders has seen the arrival of the Billy Boys from Glasgow.

The gang sent a gory warning to Tommy Shelby (played by Cillian Murphy) and his family as they made their mark on the BBC TV series, which is set in 1920s Birmingham.

Who were the real Billy Boys?

Image copyright Caryn Mandabach Productions Ltd. 2019
Image caption Peaky Blinders is set in Birmingham in the late 1920s

Like Birmingham, Glasgow was famous for its razor gangs.

Author Robert Jeffrey told BBC Scotland the two main gangs in the 1930s were the Billy Boys and the Norman Conks.

“It was a religious divide,” he said.

“The Billy Boys were protestants and the Conks, who centred on Norman Street, were Catholics.”

Mr Jeffrey said the main aim of the Billy Boys was to terrify the Catholic population, who were mainly Irish immigrants, and make them feel as unwelcome as possible.

Their name came from William of Orange (King Billy), whose victory at the Battle of the Boyne in 1690 secured Protestant rule in England and Scotland, as well as Ireland.

The Billy Boys came from an area to the east of Glasgow city centre called Bridgeton, or Brigton as it was known.

The staunchly protestant gang was initially set up to fight against Irish immigrants but as well as the rampant sectarianism, the gang ran the entire neighbourhood, operating illegal scams, protection rackets and providing “stewards” for political meetings and open-air boxing bouts.

Who was their leader?

Image copyright Caryn Mandabach
Image caption In the TV show the Billy Boys are led by Jimmy McCavern (Brian Gleeson)

The gang took their orders from Billy Fullerton.

Former journalist Mr Jeffrey, who has written a number of books on Glasgow’s gangs, said: “Like in gangster films and TV shows, such as Peaky Blinders, you needed someone at the top who has got to have the guts and the respect and carry the troops with him.”

Fullerton always claimed he had been attacked by a gang of Irish Catholic immigrants after performing well in a football match against their team.

He regularly gave overtly sectarian speeches which aimed to inflame feelings against immigrants.

According to Mr Jeffrey, Fullerton created a well-organised unit.

“It was so disciplined, it was like a private army,” he said.

Mr Jeffrey said that at a time when there was mass unemployment, being with Fullerton and his gang gave the young men a sense of power.

The Billy Boys took a lead role in activities such as church parades and religious processions but they used them as an opportunity to march through Catholic areas goading and abusing them.

Image copyright Caryn Mandabach Productions Ltd. 2019
Image caption British fascist leader Oswald Mosley is played by Sam Claflin in the series

They had a flute band and their own songs, including the infamous “Billy Boys”, which was sung in the TV show.

“The main aim was to damage the Catholic population and make them feel unwelcome,” Mr Jeffrey said.

“They would march up and down Norman Street, where the Conks came from, and sing ‘we are the Billy Boys’.

“The intention of that was to terrify the Catholic inhabitants of the area.”

With up to 800 young men involved, the police were outnumbered and intimidated.

There were violent skirmishes with other gangs, often involving knives, hammers, broken bottles and chains.

The activities of the gangs continued throughout the 1930s despite the crackdown from new police chief Percy Sillitoe, who waged war on their activities.

In the run-up to World War Two, Fullerton and the Billy Boys became involved with Oswald Mosley’s fascists, providing a bodyguard for their meetings.

The war, as well as the police crackdown, brought that chapter of Glasgow’s gang culture to an end.

Fullerton died in 1962 at the age of 56.

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Supermarket cat holds ‘book signing’

Image copyright Book Guild
Image caption Garfield, now 12, has been visiting the supermarket since 2012

A cat that gained 5,000 Facebook followers after making a supermarket his second home has been “signing” copies of a book about his adventures.

Ginger tom Garfield took a liking to Sainsbury’s in Ely, Cambridgeshire, after the store was built on his old stomping ground.

The co-author Cate Caruth said copies of the book – What’s THAT doing There? – sold out in half an hour.

Garfield “signed” his book in Ely Library with a paw-print stamp.

It was modelled on his real paw.

Garfield, now 12, first started visiting the store after it was built in 2012 on a meadow opposite the flat where he lives with owner David Willers.

Image copyright Tali Iserles
Image caption Garfield was “banned” from using the escalator to get to the rest of the supermarket

His favourite spot was a sofa in the Virgin travel shop in Sainsbury’s lobby, and he often tries to get into people’s cars outside the store.

Fans of the cat posted photos of him at the supermarket and at one point his owner had to ask people to stop feeding him as he was becoming fat.

A Facebook page set up with photos of the cat in the supermarket has a following of more than 5,500 fans from places as far away as the United States, Canada, Australia and Russia.

Image copyright Ginny Phillips
Image caption A second print-run had to be done after the book sold out “within hours”, owner David Willers said

A book of his adventures and misadventures has now been written by Mr Willers with Suffolk author Cate Caruth.

The title – What’s THAT Doing There – refers to Garfield’s reaction when a fence was erected across his favourite meadow ahead of the supermarket being built.

Image copyright Ginny Phillips
Image caption Garfield was not happy when a shop was built on his favourite stomping ground
Image copyright Ginny Phillips
Image caption The book fictionalises a number of the cat’s adventures in the store
Image copyright Cate Caruth
Image caption A paw-print stamp was made for the book signing

The book tells how Garfield was once banned from the store for scratching a customer who became a little too familiar – and many of his other adventures.

In the book he is called Garfield Abercrombie Reginald Fergusson, but as that was “far too much like hard work… everyone just called him Garfy”.

“It is a little familiar of people,” Garfy would always think, “but I suppose I can live with it,” he says in the first chapter.

Image copyright Cate Caruth#
Image caption Garfield took the book signing in “his stride” said co-author Cate Caruth
Image copyright Cate Caruth
Image caption Garfield was very relaxed during the book signing and “lapped up” the attention

Speaking after the book signing on Saturday, author Ms Caruth said it was a “big hit.”

“Garfield took it all in his stride, posing for photos with his fans and inspecting the library services with great care.

“It was non-stop for two hours and we sold out of books in half an hour” she said.

Image copyright David Willers
Image caption Garfield’s proud owner has had a tattoo of his cat on his leg

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‘Too few’ poor white university students

Image copyright PA

More than half of England’s universities have fewer than 5% of poor white students on their books, says an analysis of university entry figures.

The report, from the National Education Opportunities Network (Neon), shows white students from deprived areas in low numbers in many top universities.

There are 3% at the University of Oxford, compared with 28% at Teesside.

The study says too few universities have clear targets to recruit white working-class students.

Education Secretary Damian Hinds has previously warned of the risk of communities feeling “left behind”.

The study, from an organisation promoting wider access into higher education, calls for a “national initiative” to tackle the educational underachievement of disadvantaged white youngsters across schools, colleges and universities.

The university figures show the problem in recruiting white students from poorer backgrounds – and how many universities have very low proportions of them.

It warns that fewer than a fifth of universities have targets for admitting more poor white students – and that there are only “variable” efforts to improve participation.

Even if a target of 5% of poor white students were to be set across universities, it would mean another 10,000 students going to university, says the research.

Missing out

The study looks at white students from so-called “low-participation neighbourhoods” – areas where few people usually go to university.

In total numbers, white students, of all social backgrounds, are the biggest group going to university, show figures from the Ucas admissions service.

But in terms of a proportion of the population, white youngsters are less likely to go to university than Asian or black teenagers.

The latest application figures, for courses in the autumn, show that applications from white students are declining, while they are increasing for Asian and black youngsters.

Cutting across this is a widening gender divide – with women much more likely than men to apply to university.

When these factors combine, it means that white, working-class men become among the most under-represented groups in university.

The study says projects to widen entry into university might need to be “redefined”.

Wide divide

The report shows a starkly divided picture in where poor white students are likely to attend.

They are particularly likely to take higher education courses in local further education colleges.

Among those going to university, 70% go to new universities, with low numbers going to some high-ranking institutions.

Image copyright Getty Images

Cambridge has 2%, Warwick and Bristol 3%, Durham 4%.

At University of Sunderland, 27% of acceptances are from white students from deprived areas and the figure is 22% in Staffordshire University.

The numbers are particularly low in London universities – many of them 1% or 2%.

But these figures might be affected by the high overall levels of young people in London going to university – much higher than elsewhere in England.

‘Left behind’

Because of such high entry rates, even from deprived youngsters, there are relatively few “low-participation neighbourhoods” in London, or young people who would fall into this category.

The high cost of living in London could also deter some poorer students from elsewhere from coming to study in the capital.

Graeme Atherton, report co-author and director of Neon, warned of “big variability” in the chances of different groups to get to university.

“We need to know more about why this variability exists and do more to eliminate it,” he said.

A spokeswoman for Universities UK said that universities were “committed to widening access to higher education and ensuring the success of all their students, regardless of their background”.

The spokeswoman for the universities’ organisation said that “18-year-olds from the most disadvantaged areas in England are more likely to go to university than ever before” – and that this could be further helped if the government restored “maintenance grants for those most in need”.

Mr Hinds has highlighted the importance of supporting education in communities that might feel “left behind”.

In a speech in the autumn, Mr Hinds said: “White British disadvantaged boys are the least likely of any large ethnic group to go to university.

“We need to ask ourselves why that is and challenge government, universities and the wider system to change that.

“It’s vital that we do this to make sure that no part of our country feels as though it has been left behind.”

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