❚ IN THE FASHION WORLD, protest T-shirt designer Katharine Hamnett, 63, and Raymond Kelvin, 55 (founder of Ted Baker), are appointed CBEs, an order of chivalry granted twice a year by the British monarch for exceptional public service. Hamnett graduated from Saint Martin’s School of Art in 1969. Ten years on, she launched the Katharine Hamnett label and her first protest T-shirts bearing slogans such as Choose life, Worldwide nuclear ban now, Preserve the rainforests, Save the world. The British Fashion Council declared her designer of the year in 1984, when her designs became popular with pop stars including Wham! and Madonna. That year she famously met the then-prime minister Margaret Thatcher at a Downing Street party wearing a T-shirt proclaiming “58% don’t want Pershing” (the US ballistic missile). The meeting made news across the world and Vogue called it one of the most iconic moments in fashion. Hamnett remembers: “She didn’t notice it at first, but then she looked down and made a noise like a chicken. Then quick as a fishwife she said: ‘Oh well we haven’t got Pershing here, so maybe you are at the wrong party’, which I thought was rather rude as she had invited me.”
❚ OSCAR-WINNING COSTUME DESIGNER SANDY POWELL, 50, receives an OBE for services to the film industry. She studied theatre design at Saint Martin’s and won her third Oscar earlier this year for The Young Victoria. Her previous wins were for Shakespeare In Love, in 1999 and The Aviator, in 2005. Of her job, she once said: “A costume designer’s contribution is to help make some believable characters, that’s all.”
❚ ABERDEEN-BORN SINGER ANNIE LENNOX, 56, is appointed an OBE for work fighting Aids and poverty in Africa. As one half of the Eurythmics, she brought her own unique voice and style to the music scene in 1981 with the hit Sweet Dreams, and later Thorn in My Side and Walking on Broken Glass. Today she is an Oxfam ambassador and, inspired by Nelson Mandela, founded her SING campaign to raise awareness of Aids in Africa. She said of her OBE: “It either means I’ve done something terribly right — or they’ve done something terribly wrong.”
❚ RECORD PRODUCER TREVOR HORN, 61, who dominated orchestral pop in the 80s, receives a CBE, as does Howard Goodall, 52, National Ambassador for Singing, who created theme tunes for TV shows that included Blackadder. During Horn’s influential career his epic treatment made ABC’s The Lexicon of Love one of the masterpieces of 1980s pop, and enhanced hits by Frankie Goes to Hollywood on his own ZTT label, the Pet Shop Boys, Robbie Williams, Tina Turner, Simple Minds and Grace Jones’s mesmerising Slave To The Rhythm. He was named best producer at the Brit awards in 1983, 1985 and 1992, and won a Grammy in 1995 when Seal’s Kiss from a Rose was named record of the year.
❚ TALKING OF BLACKADDER, its producer John Lloyd, 59, also becomes a CBE — he also oversaw the landmark 80s comedy series Not The Nine O’Clock News and Spitting Image.
BRITISH ASTRONAUT RECALLS
THE SMELL OF SPACE
❚ HE WAS NEVER A NEW ROMANTIC, but astronaut Piers Sellers, 55, from Crowborough, East Sussex, is from the same generation. He is one of the nine Brits who have flown in space and he receives an OBE for services to science. Dr Sellers had to become an American citizen to be considered by Nasa, and then flew three missions aboard the shuttles Atlantis and Discovery in 2002, 2006 and again this year. He has carried out six spacewalks to continue the assembly and maintenance of the International Space Station. With the shuttle programme coming to an end, Dr Sellers — who took a degree in ecology and a PhD in climate simulation — is set to return to Nasa Goddard to resume his science pursuits.
When I met him and the Atlantis crew at the US embassy in London, touring the world in 2004 to talk up the Nasa programme following the Columbia shuttle disaster, the most startling thing he said was that space had a unique smell of its own: “Like burning steel.” The most shocking aspect of this observation is how the smell is transmitted. Smells comprise minute particles of material, which stimulate the sensory receptors in the nose. They could be as small as molecules, or ions, but to notice them at all space-walking astronauts must inevitably have brought them inside the shuttle from the exterior working environment of space. You hesitate to mention the word “alien”, but surely these particles have the potential to infect us earthlings with, er, whatever?
Each of the crew seemed to have been handpicked for their social skills, so during the party I questioned them all on the nature of this smell. Unprompted, every astronaut provided roughly similar descriptions of the smell of space — a mixture of sharp, smoky, acrid, burned metallic odours that permeate their Orlan space suits.
When I asked mission commander Jeffrey Ashby about the risks of contamination, he said that in the early days of space flight, astronauts were always quarantined on returning to Earth and kept under observation for many days. With the passing of the years, and a marked absence of spiny creatures bursting out of people’s chests, quarantine was simply abandoned. The reasoning is that the extreme temperatures in the vacuum of space (+270 degrees C to –270 degrees C) would have exterminated any viral threats — especially the searing heat that had created the smell of space by burning the shuttle’s steel exterior, similar to that from an arc-welding torch used to repair heavy equipment. Yes, but, I hear you say: What about the cockroach?