Dusty answer

In Make up on February 3, 2013 at 9:50 pm



Dusty Springfield – another name I could have added to the list of women who shaped my idea of feminine allure. She had a big TV show when I was a kid and I would sit close to the set studying her eye make and working out how I was going to achieve that look when I grew up.

Now I have a new poster girl who I aspire to be like when I grow up a bit more into an older woman – so for those readers outside the UK, may I please introduce, Mary Berry.

Mary Berry

In the UK these days, she’s a Living National Treasure. We LOVE her. She’s been a television food presenter for years, although she’s only come to big fame (and on to my radar) in the past couple as one of the judges on the Great British Bake Off.

It’s hard to convey the traction that this programme has in the British heart right now. We love it as Aussies love Masterchef (and we love our version of that too), but there’s something about BAKING and CAKES and BUNS and PIES, which makes bake off particularly cosy and heartwarming.

The skills of the amateur chefs – including the kids – on Masterchef leave me astonished, but with bake off, I feel a little bit closer to the action. I can make a cake and, thanks to Mary Berry, I can now also make a treacle tart.

I’ve read that an Aussie version of the show is happening this year, so I’ll be interested to hear what it’s like.

The UK one is staged in a very British marquee, complete with jolly bunting, in the grounds of some heavenly country house, with the garden in full summer glory. But the real triumph of Bake Off is the four presenters.


The hosts are warm and witty comedians Mel Giedroyc and Sue Perkins, but the glacé cherries on the top are the two judges, Mary Berry and professional baker Paul Hollywood. Also known as Paul Hubbahubbawood.

He’s middle-aged, quite stout around the middle, with a grey beard – and the most devastating blue eyes since Paul Newman. You really need to see him assessing a Chelsea bun, the killer blues thoughtfully narrowed, to appreciate his appeal, but I don’t know a woman who wouldn’t like his strong hands kneading her dough. I know I would.


But while we all fancy Paul, it’s Mary we adore. She’s just so lovely and funny and warm and wise and chic, with such a twinkle in her eyes (she sometimes tips male competitors a cheeky wink).And best of all, she’s never harsh or negative in her comments; she always finds a positive way to critique the most collapsed of meringues.

On the Celebrity Bake Off which was recently shown in aid of the Red Nose Day charity appeal, TV presenter Claudia Winkelman had a totally disaster with her lemon meringue pie, which arrived at the judges’ table in several pieces.

Paul Hollywood openly laughed at it. Mary Berry smiled warmly and said: ‘Now this one’s been on a journey…’ She’s the Dalai Lama of baking.

As well as her wonderfully positive outlook, the other thing I love about Mary Berry is her style. She wears gorgeous bright shades which bring out the colour of her eyes – a slightly deeper shade of astonishing blue than Paul Hollywood’s.

When I first saw her I thought she was a bit scarily slim for someone who bakes and eats cakes for a living, but have recently discovered that she has the telly presenter’s ideal body shape. She’s a classic British pear, so she looks very slender from the waist up and can hide all her Victoria sponge bulges behind the counter.

But my latest realisation about Mary Berry is the cleverness of her eye make up. Like darling Dusty, she wears false eye lashes all the time, which is what helps to makes her 77 year old face look so bright and appealing.


Of course it’s mostly bone structure and her attitude to life, but the false lashes make her eyes – which get steadily smaller as one ages, I am discovering, to my horror – stand out as they do when we are young. (Sob.)

This could be the answer I’ve been looking for to solve my current ageing eye make up dilemmas, more of which in my next post.

Meanwhile here is a Youtube link to the episode of Celebrity Bake Off featuring Claudia Winkleman’s lemon meringue.


  1. Maggie, please do not assume that all Aussies like Masterchief or any of those other hideous competitive cooking programs.

  2. Hear hear Jay … They ARE hideous. And boring! But I love your Stylenotes Maggie. Thank you!

  3. Absolutely agree with Jay! Australian Masterchef take themselves far too seriously – just watched some of the Comic Relief episode – absolutely hilarious! Definitely want to try some fake eyelashes – thought I may be too old, but Mary has sold me on the idea! Did try having my eyelashes semi permanently curled recently – very weird ‘scrunched’ look – reminded me of one of my old dolls whose eyelashes had seen better days!!

  4. I have to agree with Jay and Tracey, too! I don’t love Masterchef at all. Actually, haven’t watched it for ages. I personally much preferred the English version. It was far more sincere, less competitive and interesting. Nothing to do with cooking, but I did love “The Voice” (Aussie version) – for the reason you love Mary Berry’s critiquing – the judges were kind and nice, rather than the usual humiliating style of judging on these programmes. So much nicer to watch. Think most people agreed – it rated really highly.
    Now, I totally get the eye thing! I have taken to curling my lashes every day (with the shu uemura curler – zapped with the hairdryer to warm it….curl lasts much longer). Makes such a difference. I’ve never tried false lashes – keen to give these a shot. I can’t wait for your next post!
    Thank you again for this one, Cx
    PS – Dusty Springfield is the bomb. ‘The Look of Love’ has to be the sultriest, sexiest song of all time.

    • Ooooh that hairdryer tip is BRILLIANT. I lvoe that. Going to try it right now xxx

      • Just be careful not to let it get too hot! (I always test it first) My hairdresser told me about it. It truly makes a huge difference. Good luck! x
        PS – hope I didn’t offend re: the “Not all Aussies love Masterchef” bit – It did start off wonderfully and was HUGE – but I think it has run it’s course here now. All a bit too dramatic. Wish we had Mary and Paul here – love the look of that (just watched that link – good Lord he is sexy!)

      • Of course no offence taken, but the tweets when it’s on are hilarious. x

      • Tried the hairdryer zapped metal eyelash curler trick and now sporting a rather nasty burn on my eyelid! Oops …be warned…. A second or two only! But it does work.

      • EEK! thanks for warning!

  5. I wish she was my Granny (I don’t have one). Isn’t she gorgeous?

  6. Paul Hollywood?! Is that his real name? Silver fox!

  7. Ahh, Paul Hollwood, I have seen him on telly (maybe when I was on holidays in the UK) and boy, did I clock him immediately!

    He can come and cook in my kitchen anytime 😉

  8. I would doubt that she is assuming all Aussies love masterchef, but masterchef has been a very popular cooking show so I’m guessing she used masterchef as a reference to explain this cooking shows popularity. As for eyelashes try Dior show mascara, it lasts ages and give the lashes a fabulous thickness 🙂

  9. have to agee with previous comments, I hate all cooking shows, Jamie Oliver the biggest turn-off, but I could live with Mary Berry, bring her downunder asap….please….

  10. Did you happen to see Mary and Paul when they appeared on Graham Norton’s NYE show?
    So delightful, Mary wasted no time cozying up to Hugh Jackman, one of the other guests.Hilarious segment with Hugh J and Billy Crystal reading some of Mary and Paul’s actual lines from Bakeoff…very funny!

    • OMIGOD so going to Google this RIGHT now. Thanks so much for this xxx

      • I googled John Bishop after that show, what a delicious trio of males! Billy Crystal great for a laugh, but hardly eye candy like the other 3!
        Thanks for the mention in the next column!I’m a diehard fan of yours from way way back. Haven’t bothered to read the Good Weekend since you left…so excited you’re posting more often again.xx

  11. I love the idea of the false eyelashes and have done them a few times myself, however don’t want to look like a wannabe “TOWIE”. Can you recommend an ‘appropriate’ (hate the connotations) eyelash? I find they are often too thick, or too long.
    Cathy (humming ‘the look of love is easy…..)

  12. Oh Maggie, I too, love Mary. Agree with Lisa Rosen you must see Hugh Jackman and Billy Crystal with Paul and Mary on Graham’s couch (it’s on Youtube). I laughed ’til I cried!

  13. Julia Baird gave Mary Berry a big serve in the SMH on Saturday:
    Although I’m a fan of Julia as a rule I can’t agreewith her this time. Everyone has to cook (or starve, or sicken from fast foods) so you are lucky if you enjoy it

    • I’m not interested in Mary Berry’s politics – she’s of a very particular generation – I just love her spirit and her recipes. Of course that is a brilliantly argued piece, but I think there are far bigger enemies for women to fight than Mary Berry…

  14. Dear Maggie, And (of course) a big plus genius element of the false eyelashes for me is that they don’t smudge (versus the lots of mascara and eyeliner combo, which when I do it inevitably results in Panda eyes). I have been considering searching out a good not too over the top pair later – will look harder now. Thanks for the reminder/motivation. BX
    PS I too hate the Aussie cooking shows for the ridiculously dramatic and drawn out judges’ responses – unbearable!

  15. My London based sister-in-law has long been a fan of Mary Berry and when you comment on something particularly yummy you often get the response ‘Mary Berry’ – seems her dishes are both delicious and practical which is what you want in food and a person….

    As for the food shows, let’s not even go there!

    • Very interesting backlash to the food shows. I suppose it was at its height the last time but one I was over, four years ago. When I was in Aus in October it wasn’t so prominent. It’s still very popular here.

      • Pretty much over cooking shows too, but I could watch Nigella boil an egg, and still be glued to the TV. Love.

      • I still get sucked in by every cooking show I turn on. Do you have Come Dine With Me in Aus? My guilty pleasure…

  16. Cooking shows aside, if anyone comes up with lashes that are not too over the top, I would be very interested. Haven’t worn them since forever but would consider trying them again.

    Me too, hate cooking shows. Yawn!


  17. We have Maggie Beer here in Aussie. You cant help but smile when she turns up. She is unfailingly upbeat. I love her show The Cook and The Chef or visa versa. My 28 year old daughter is totally smitten and wants her as her grandmother. (Dont worry all her grandmothers are no longer with us so won’t get miffed that they have been overtaken.)

  18. Even the name “Mary Berry” conjures warm, heavenly baking smells and lightly floured hands hovering over a checked apron. Ahhh!

    Re the eyes, ha, know what you mean about them shrinking. I looked at a wedding photo the other day (from 1986) and felt quite sad. Bright, large, clear blue eyes. I think the slight hoodedness (is that a word?) of today has diminished the appearance somewhat.

    My eyesight is also decreasingly alarmingly and I will soon need to invest in a pair of those dinky glasses where you can flip up each side as you do your makeup. I take my cue from my daughter’s look of horror when we are going anywhere: “Mum… how much eyeliner have you got on?!” I live in fear of going down the Barbara Cartland path…

    PS Sparseness of lashes, don’t get me started…

    • Dear Jane, did you see the fantastic make up tutorials Mary Greenwell did for high 50 out of the UK? Mary didn’t use false eyelashes on the model (personally I think they are a great idea as long as one doesn’t use anything too over the top and they reduce desire to add extra eyeliner courtesy of the built in ‘liner’ bar; I am about to start the search myself) but she did give some great tips and advice for girls of our age. If the tuts aren’t up on High50 anymore I’m sure you could find them on Utube; def worth taking a look. B
      PS Maggie is a High50 contributor – style/fashion

      • Thanks Bernadette, I will have a look. I do get High50 by email but have been slack about reading it.
        I like reading your comments…v.good sense of humour!

      • I did see them. The interviewer is my best friend and I love Mary Greenwell. I thought they were great, but – as I told my editor at High 50 – I was very frustrated by the camera work which was on Mary when it should have been on the model.

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