CHRISTMAS CHARITY APPEAL: The Ultimate Auction: From Lunch at the Ivy to an Expert Makeover, from a Day in Paris to Immortality in a Novel. Get Your Bids in Now ; the Independent Launches a Unique Charity Auction Today. There Are 30 Lots to Be Won, Each Linked to the Work of the Paper, Its Staff and Its Columnists. Whatever Your Interest, There Is a Memorable and Special Prize ... So Get Bidding, Have Some Fun, Be the Envy of Your Friends - and Do Your Bit to Help Africa at the Same Time. Words by John Walsh (Full Details on How to Bid at the Bottom of the Page)

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HOPE FOR AFRICA

LOT 1: THE FRONT PAGE. Ever wondered how a daily national newspaper works? Spend a day at The Independent's offices, from morning conference to nail-biting deadline, meet the staff and marvel at their display of cool professionalism, calm judgement, creative genius and weeping hysterics.

LOT 2: IN THE LOOP. Enjoy a power lunch with Simon Kelner, Editor- in-Chief of The Independent, at The Ivy, London's trendiest media restaurant. Have a glass of champagne, start with the legendary Bang Bang Chicken and see if you can spot Jude Law or Kate Moss.

LOT 3: THE FIRST NIGHT. Dig out your fanciest threads, your top hat and cane, sharpen your critical talons and attend the opening press night of a new play in the West End of London, accompanied by our celebrated Media and Culture Editor, David Lister.

LOT 4: TORA! TORA! TAMORA! Get in touch with your inner boy- racer. Test- drive the sleek and whizzy new TVR Tamora sports car under the experienced (and safe) tutelage of our Motoring Correspondent, John Simister.

LOT 5: CORRIDORS OF POWER. Sit where Gladstone, Peel, Churchill and Thatcher once passed the salt and chewed the fat. Let our distinguished Political Editor, Andrew Grice, take you to lunch at the House of Commons and the best floorshow in London, Prime Minister's questions.

LOT 6: NEW YEAR, NEW YOU. Slough off that tired old 2002 look (so five minutes ago, darling) and get yourself a fashion, hair and beauty makeover from Beth Dadswell, our ace style consultant. And to prove you really did look that good, we'll get a leading photographer to take your portrait.

LOT 7: LA VIE PARISIENNE. You love Paris in the spring - and the autumn and the winter. So visit the world's most romantic city with our Travel supremo (and TV star) Simon Calder. Fly out early, check out Montmartre, the Louvre and Galeries Lafayette, lunch in the Rue de Rivoli and fly home weighed down with cadeaux.

LOT 8: GET YOUR KIX WITH HIX. Amaze your friends - enjoy a meal for six cooked in your kitchen by Mark Hix, the top man at The Ivy and The Independent's food writer. Bask in gourmet luxury - and forget the washing up, which will be done by our Food Editor, Caroline Stacey. (Offer available only within M25.)

LOT 9: ANYONE IN TONIGHT FROM HAMPSTEAD? Transform your home into the Comedy Store. Mark Steel - stand-up comedian, Radio Four lecturer and Independent columnist - will come round to your home and perform a routine for your thunderstruck neighbours and guests.

LOT 10: NEW GRUB STREET. Enjoy an evening swanning around Literary London, taking in a fashionable book launch followed by dinner a deux at the Groucho Club, with our indefatigably loquacious and spasmodically charming columnist, John Walsh.

LOT 11: HOWZAT? Stop brooding about our wretched performance in the Ashes. Wouldn't your cricket club or your child's school benefit from a special talk on the future of English cricket by Angus Fraser, the Independent columnist and former England Test star?

LOT 12: UP AND UNDER. What could be more glamorous than to hang out, with a friend, in a hospitality box at Twickenham? Drink and hobnob through the afternoon at one of the games in the Six Nations championship.

LOT 13: CELLULOID DREAMS. Don't be stuck in the crowd at Leicester Square. Hit the red carpet and wave to the paparazzi. Attend the next available film premiere with our film editor, critic and columnist Charlotte O'Sullivan.

LOT 14: CURRYING FAVOUR. Combine politics and gastronomy in a rich melange as our fiery columnist Yasmin Alibhai-Brown cooks an Indian meal for six at your home and talks about the culture of food on the subcontinent. Just try arguing with her choice of spices ...

LOT 15: THE WRITE STUFF. Where's the best imaginative writing found today? What's happened to the Condition-of-England novel? …