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Dad's big day: My little angels; BEST PRESENT EVER FOR CHANGING ROOMS STAR.

WHEN Changing Rooms expert Laurence Llewelyn-Bowen is woken bleary- eyed at 5.30am on Sunday by his two giggling daughters, he will know he already has the best Father's Day gift ever.

The interior designer's dark, flowing locks, flamboyant clothes and controversial decor styles have turned him into a pin-up on the BBC DIY show.

But he's brought back down to earth by his two demanding girls Cecile, nearly four, and Hermione, 11 months. And Father's Day at their South East London home will be no exception.

"When I am woken up at some awful hour on Sunday, I'll be thrilled to see these two healthy, happy faces smiling at me."

Laurence and his family have grown much closer since his wife Jackie suffered a miscarriage.

He reveals that the recent loss made him appreciate the importance of being a dad: "When Jackie miscarried at 11 weeks, it was devastating. But I also felt someone had given me a sharp rap across the knuckles to tell me not to forget what I already had.

"It's very easy to be swept away by the glamorous things in life. I was given a salutary lesson which made me realise how important the children are to me."

But Laurence admits: "I doubt if I'll get an easier ride on Sunday just because it's a special day."

Cecile has still not forgiven him for the time he convinced her that her favourite doll was called Barbara and not Barbie.

"She loves anything that is pink and sparkly with a mawkish American accent," says Laurence.

"Convincing her for three weeks that Barbie's name was Barbara made me feel a bit better about the whole tacky thing.

"But when she found out, she came home like a little tornado, screaming: `Daddy, you've teased me. It's not Barbara, it's Barbie. How could you'?"

But Cecile knows how to get her own back, especially when Daddy's hung over. Laurence, 33, says: "She grabs me by the ears, shakes my head and yells: `Daddy, you smell of drink'!"

Dark-haired Hermione is much more laid-back: "She's just a big, smiling blob of complete acceptance. Unfortunately, she has fallen in love with a Furby which is driving us nuts. You walk past this thing and suddenly it goes: `Yumm!' in this weird, rasping voice.

"When we were at Jackie's parents a few days ago, the Furby had to come, too. Jackie's father walked past it when it suddenly yelled `Yumm!' at him. We nearly lost him to death by Furby."

Hectic

Laurence, who studied fine arts at Camberwell met Jackie 15 years ago when she was was taking French at Manchester University. They married ten years ago.

He is now filming a big-budget spin-off series Fantasy Rooms, which goes out on BBC2 later this year Despite his hectic lifestyle and nights away from home, Laurence makes sure he rings his girls at least twice a day.

He says: "I get my fixes through the day by ringing home. I don't always get the result I am looking for, though. Reaction can range from `Oh Daddy, I miss you' to `Yes, hello Dad. I want to play with my Skydancer now. Bye'."

Although it would be easy for him to spoil his girls when he's home, Laurence is wary of falling into the guilt trap: "I don't want them to think they can use my absence against me, so that I mustn't tell them off or upset them."

The family relishes dining out and Laurence would not dream of excluding the girls from even the stuffiest of restaurants - despite the debris they leave behind.

He says: "They are well behaved but so messy. When we leave a table, it's like a relief map of the Alps underneath.

"Once, at the restaurant in Fortnum's, staff brought out a vacuum cleaner between courses.

"The perfect Father's Day for me would be a leisurely breakfast, lunch with loved ones and the girls clubbing together to buy me a Picasso.

"I know I'll get two out of those three, so it won't be a bad day at all."

by the glamorous things in life. I was given a salutary lesson which made me realise how important the children are to me.

But Laurence admits: "I doubt if I'll get an easier ride on Sunday just because it's a special day."

Cecile has still not forgiven him for the time he convinced her that her favourite doll was called Barbara and not Barbie.

"She loves anything that is pink and sparkly with a mawkish American accent," says Laurence.

"Convincing her for three weeks that Barbie's name was Barbara made me feel a bit better about the whole tacky thing.

"But when she found out, she came home like a little tornado, screaming: `Daddy, you've teased me. It's not Barbara, it's Barbie. How could you'?"

But Cecile knows how to get her own back, especially when Daddy's hung over. Laurence, 33, says: "She grabs me by the ears, shakes my head and yells: `Daddy, you smell of drink'!"

Dark-haired Hermione is much more laid-back: "She's just a big, smiling blob of complete acceptance. Unfortunately, she has fallen in love with a Furby which is driving us nuts. You walk past this thing and suddenly it goes: `Yumm!' in this weird, rasping voice.

"When we were at Jackie's parents a few days ago, the Furby had to come, too. Jackie's father walked past it when it suddenly yelled `Yumm!' at him. We nearly lost him to death by Furby."

Laurence, who studied fine arts at Camberwell met Jackie 15 years ago when she was was taking French at Manchester University. They married ten years ago.

He is now filming a big-budget spin-off series Fantasy Rooms, which goes out on BBC2 later this year Despite his hectic lifestyle and nights away from home, Laurence makes sure he rings his girls at least twice a day.

He says: "I get my fixes through the day by ringing home. I don't always get the result I am looking for, though. Reaction can range from `Oh Daddy, I miss you' to `Yes, hello Dad. I want to play with my Skydancer now. Bye'."

Although it would be easy for him to spoil his girls when he's home, Laurence is wary of falling into the guilt trap: "I don't want them to think they can use my absence against me, so that I mustn't tell them off or upset them."

The family relishes dining out and Laurence would not dream of excluding the girls from even the stuffiest of restaurants - despite the debris they leave behind.

He says: "They are well behaved but so messy. When we leave a table, it's like a relief map of the Alps underneath.

"Once, at the restaurant in Fortnum's, staff brought out a vacuum cleaner between courses.

"The perfect Father's Day for me would be a leisurely breakfast, lunch with loved ones and the girls clubbing together to buy me a Picasso.

"I know I'll get two out of those three, so it won't be a bad day at all."
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Article Details
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Title Annotation:Features
Author:Sayid, Ruki
Publication:The Mirror (London, England)
Date:Jun 18, 1999
Words:1182
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