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Will Young: ‘If I were to do this concert now, I’d probably wear a skirt’

Life and style | The Guardian

The singer on the beauty of wearing white and anything that pushes the boundaries of gender norms

I wore this Burberry shirt and Alexander McQueen suit for the Concert for Diana memorial, 10 years after her death. It was a big event and I wanted to make it as brilliant as possible, right down to my white shoes. People might think you should go for a big splash of colour to stand out when lots of acts are performing on one stage, but white is the best and simplest option.

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May 22nd 2019, 7:15 am

How to get a good night's sleep – and why it's thanks to the space programme

Life and style | The Guardian

When you can’t sleep, the night ahead can feel like a long and difficult journey. For sleep expert Kate Faithfull-Williams, the secret lay in a mattress developed by space scientists

The formula for peaceful sleep is so closely guarded that only 20 people in the world know it. This groundbreaking development was pioneered by Nasa in the 1970s, as space scientists developed a viscoelastic foam to support and cushion astronauts during enormous G-forces at lift off. Designed to respond to every individual’s body, this remarkable foam distributes weight and pressure evenly for complete comfort. Which is no mean feat when gravity is forcing every sinew of your body earthbound. So how has technology from the space programme found its way into our bedrooms?

That giant foam step for mankind led to the creation of a mattress – involving 10 years of research and development – that makes you feel almost weightless.

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May 22nd 2019, 6:31 am

Not just for anoraks: model railways are a joyful escape from the pressures of masculinity

Life and style | The Guardian

Rod Stewart has donated £10,000 to a model railway club whose exhibition was destroyed by vandals. We enthusiasts know how much the hobby can help mental health

The singer and model railway enthusiast Rod Stewart was “absolutely devastated” after vandals trashed years of work by the Market Deeping Model Railway Club in an apocalypse of stations, locomotives and scenery. Stewart, who has said that appearing in model railway magazines means more to him than the cover of Rolling Stone, has donated £10,000 towards a fund to replace the damaged items.

The reaction to the incident has seen a strange outpouring of collective male emotion, no doubt connected to other, hidden, sensations of loss.

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May 22nd 2019, 3:12 am

Could you give up flying? Meet the no-plane pioneers

Life and style | The Guardian

Growing numbers of travellers are abandoning air travel to help save the planet – even if it means spending 14 days on a train

It has taken Roger Tyers four days to reach Moscow by train from Kiev. His destination is Beijing: a trip that will take 14 days, with a couple of overnight stops along the way. Tyers, an environmental sociologist at the University of Southampton, is on his way to China to research attitudes to the environment, the climate emergency and personal responsibility. “Given that, I thought it would be somewhat hypocritical of me to fly,” he says over Skype from his hostel room.

It has been months in the planning – he had to convince his bosses to give him a month off to travel to and from China. Has it been a pain? “It definitely has. It’s a matter of getting your train schedule in line with your visa requirements. I didn’t realise I needed a visa to travel through Mongolia, even though I’m not stopping there. There have been moments when I’ve been close to giving up and either cancelling the whole trip or just booking a flight.” But he is glad he has stuck with it, he says. “I have to prove it is possible.”

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May 22nd 2019, 3:12 am

Politeness costs nothing, but it may stop people understanding you

Life and style | The Guardian

Researchers looking at a Q&A website found well-mannered questions were popular, but didn’t always receive the best answers

Does it always pay to be polite? Dear reader, the answer very much depends. Academics in the US have analysed hundreds of thousands of answers on the Q&A website Stack Exchange, where users ask such vital questions as: “What is to the west of Westeros?” and “Are there any German nonsense poems?” They discovered that polite answers are more highly rated by the asker, something that determines how prominently they are displayed. But they may not actually be the most clear, authoritative or helpful.

The measure the researchers used was a simple one: the frequency of the first-person pronouns “I” and “we” versus the second person “you”. This may not seem like an obvious proxy for politeness, but it works. According to linguistic theory, being addressed directly, while it improves clarity, is often perceived as a “face-threatening act” – something that imposes on the addressee and may feel too much like a barked order. You (forgive me) can see this in the many strategies used by languages around the world to avoid directness. In Farsi, for example, a polite alternative to “you” (shoma) is the rather more indirect “your presence” (hozuretan). In Japanese, the bare pronoun is usually avoided, and a person’s name or title plus an honorific suffix is used instead.

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May 22nd 2019, 3:12 am

Arthur’s gay wedding: why can’t a cartoon couple tie the knot in Alabama?

Life and style | The Guardian

According to state TV, it would be ‘a violation of trust’ to show the lovable aardvark watch his teacher marrying his boyfriend

Name: The Arthur gay wedding.

Age: It happened on 13 May.

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May 22nd 2019, 3:12 am

Hair raising! The return of the perm

Life and style | The Guardian

The trend responsible for some of the 80s’ most ‘memorable’ barnets is back. But fear not – the modern look is less Deirdre Barlow, more a tumble of soft waves

It is a truth universally acknowledged that everybody wants the opposite of the hair they have. Those with bountiful curls are wont to straighten them to a crisp, while the rest of us crimp and twist, chasing waves via diffusers, tongs, curl creams and, lately, perms.

That’s right, the trend responsible for some of the 80s most memorable ’dos is making a return – to the terror of many who are still scarred by their own perm-disasters. But fear not: the perm, which for many still conjures images of Neighbours-era Kylie Minogue, or Coronation Street’s Deirdre Barlow, has had an update. Long gone are the tight, brittle waves, as seen on peak-perm Barbra Streisand; the modern perm – or the new-wave perm, as it has been dubbed – is an altogether gentler look.

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May 21st 2019, 12:35 pm

Rihanna's Fenty label aims to rip up fashion industry rules

Life and style | The Guardian

Singer’s new clothing line, on sale this week, has ditched traditions such as catwalk shows

A corseted Japanese denim minidress ($810), a cotton canvas blazer belted with a coordinating bumbag ($1,100), oversized sunglasses ($460) and a brass-and-crystal earcuff ($420) will go on sale at a pop-up boutique in the Marais district of Paris on Wednesday evening, when Rihanna launches her luxury fashion house, Fenty.

Rihanna’s arrival in the luxury fashion space is a defining moment. Until now, celebrities who have tried their hand at design have faced the judgment of an industry that has held the power to endorse success or condemn a label to failure.

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May 21st 2019, 11:32 am

LV carry-on luggage? No thanks, we're going normcore, say stars

Life and style | The Guardian

Affordable luggage brands such as Away and Tumi are now favoured by the Instagram glitterati

As the warm weather approaches and bite-size travel breaks are reported to be on the rise, airport fashion is given as much consideration as what to wear to the beach. This summer, however, it’s all about accessories, specifically, the status suitcase.

For decades, Louis Vuitton have been the go-to for upmarket “it” cases, trailed by everyone from David Beckham to Catherine Deneuve. However, a new breed of more affordable, less showy luggage that will fit in overhead lockers is coming to the fore. Brands including Rimowa, Tumi and Away have been gaining traction – with the latter now valued at $1.4bn, (£1.1bn) up from a $700m venture-capital valuation last year. The company reached $150m in sales in 2018 – a number that is reported to double in 2019.

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May 21st 2019, 5:16 am

Why Bella Hadid and Lil Miquela’s kiss is a terrifying glimpse of the future

Life and style | The Guardian

An advert featuring the human and virtual models is late-capitalist hell, ‘queerbait’ and digisexuality all at once

Bella Hadid, a human supermodel, has been accused of “queerbaiting” after making out with Lil Miquela, a computer-generated influencer, in order to sell designer underwear. I know, I know, there’s a lot going on in that sentence. Please take a deep breath: we will unpack this late-capitalist hell together.

Miquela Sousa, also known as Lil Miquela, is a fictional character created by a Los Angeles startup called Brud. Miquela has 1.5m followers on Instagram, where she shares pictures of her imaginary life and proclaims her support for LGBT rights and Black Lives Matter. In the past few years, the virtual model has become a veritable celebrity: starring in Ugg ads, interviewing artists at Coachella and collaborating with Prada. In her latest project, a video for Calvin Klein, she kisses a half-naked (and heterosexual) Hadid as a voiceover proclaims some marketing nonsense about dreams and doors.

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May 21st 2019, 5:16 am

Should you ban your wedding guests from watching the Champions League final?

Life and style | The Guardian

The unfortunate clash of life-changing events has one Liverpool-based nuptial facing disgruntled guests or mass exodus

Liverpool taking on Tottenham Hotspur in the Champions League final on 1 June is a reason to rejoice for both sets of supporters, but a source of stress for at least one soon-to-be-married couple. Yes, that’s right, their wedding is on the same day. According to a post on the Mumsnet discussion board over the weekend, guests have been asked “to please respect that this day is about them”.

The match in Madrid will not be screened at the venue, and a poor view will be taken of anyone who leaves the wedding to watch it, or who screens it on their phones. This may prove unpopular given that most of the more than 200 invited guests are from Liverpool and the surrounding areas.

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May 20th 2019, 1:08 pm

Why the Spice Girls inviting Theresa May to their reunion show is not girl power

Life and style | The Guardian

The Spice Girls say it’s all about ‘people power’ now. But their endorsement of the prime minister suggests they have really, really, really forgotten their original message

Back in the 90s, we had girl power. In 2019, according to Emma Bunton, we have “people power”. So she told The Sun earlier this year, when the Spice Girls announced their long-anticipated reunion tour: “We’re about equality and bringing everyone together.” In the same interview, Geri Horner heaped praise on Theresa May, insisting: “We don’t have to agree on politics … You can just support a woman doing the best she can.” This week, Horner doubled down on her support of the PM by personally inviting her to the Spice Girls’ London shows. Downing Street says May is “considering” the offer.

If you’re feeling deja vu, it might be because the first “the Spice Girls are Tories!” scandal was more than 20 years ago. When the Spectator interviewed the group in 1996, Victoria Beckham came out as a Eurosceptic, saying: “The Euro bureaucrats are destroying every bit of national identity” (opinions she has since denounced), while Horner, most notoriously, declared Margaret Thatcher “the original Spice Girl”. Earlier this year, in the Sunday Times, Horner bestowed that mantle on a different figure: Winston Churchill.

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May 20th 2019, 11:36 am

Milkshakes: a delicious drink, or the new symbol of the resistance?

Life and style | The Guardian

You may think that flavoured milk is just a tasty beverage – but flavour is not the only thing pushing sales

Name: Milkshakes.

Age: First described in the 1880s.

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May 20th 2019, 11:08 am

It’s not just about the bees – earthworms need love, too

Life and style | The Guardian

They may not be cute, but the work they do for our soil keeps humans in business. But their numbers are in steep decline

If earthworms had feathers, wings or fur, or eyes that looked mournful – or eyes at all – perhaps they would fare better in the public’s affections. This is a clutch of species facing as much pressure as any other from the ecological abuse of their habitats as any other – yet unlike, say, bees (which have their own UN day of celebration today), the decline of worms rarely makes the news. This is a shame. We need to talk more about worms. The health of our earth may depend on it.

Earthworms are not doing very well at the moment. This year, a scientific study found that 42% of fields surveyed by farmers were seriously deficient in earthworms; in some fields they were missing altogether. Particularly hard-hit were deep-burrowing worms, which are valuable in helping soil collect and store rainwater, but were absent from 16% of fields in the study.

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May 20th 2019, 11:08 am

How we met: I was lying there thinking, ‘She’s drugged me!’

Life and style | The Guardian

Paul Challen, 56, a park ranger, and Christine Kershaw, 55, who works for a winery, live in Tasmania. They met in 1993 while travelling

After his first night sharing a room with Christine, Paul was relieved to wake up and find she had not drugged and robbed him. “That first evening was when Christine …” He pauses, turns to her and says: “Well, you say it.”

“I purchased a whole lot of hash,” says Christine, matter-of-factly. “I rolled a joint for Paul, who hadn’t smoked for a little while. And it affected him. I had no idea what he was going through.”

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May 20th 2019, 11:08 am

When survival is a popularity contest: the heartbreak of crowdfunding healthcare

Life and style | The Guardian

A growing number of Britons are turning to online fundraising for essential treatment in a desperate, ‘Dickensian’ attempt to get around NHS shortfalls. But does it work?

Heather Bellamy’s March appointment at the Queen Elizabeth hospital in King’s Lynn didn’t go well. She had been diagnosed with acute myeloid leukemia five years before, in December 2014; now, her doctor explained gently, she had run out of options on the NHS. Bellamy, 48, would be starting a chemotherapy drug called azacitidine that could extend her life expectancy from two months to six. Her doctor asked if she had a bucket list. “I felt crushed,” she remembers.

Speaking one month on, Bellamy – a senior practice nurse and a mother of four from Downham Market in Norfolk – isn’t chasing her dreams of bungee jumping or swimming with dolphins. Instead, she is fundraising online for an experimental cancer drug, enasidenib, which has been approved by the US authorities but is not available on the NHS.

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May 20th 2019, 11:08 am

The way I masturbate means I don’t enjoy sex. How will I ever find a partner?

Life and style | The Guardian

Because I masturbate while prone, coitus is not pleasurable. I worry that I will never like it, which is making me depressed

I am a 25-year-old woman who has always masturbated in the prone position. Sex with another person, even oral sex, brings me no pleasure. When I had a boyfriend, I pretended to enjoy sex, fearing he would leave me if I was honest. We broke up for other reasons, but now I am single and petrified of never finding another partner or enjoying sex. It is making me depressed.

Every person’s sexual journey is one of trial, error and experimentation. Learning to have satisfying sex with a partner takes time. Try not to catastrophise. You are far from the only person who has developed a masturbation style that does not easily segue to sex with a partner. The good news is that you understand your sexual-response triggers and style. If you can share your needs with a partner (which is the essence of satisfying sex), there are many ways to bridge this.

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May 20th 2019, 11:08 am

The rise of the conscious consumer: how to shop responsibly

Life and style | The Guardian

The way we shop is changing for the better, helped by a new breed of independent brands and carefully curated retail destinations, such as Coal Drops Yard, providing a thoughtful, ethical approach to consumption

When it comes to shopping, sustainability has never been more front and centre in our minds – from Adidas committing to using only recycled plastic by 2024 to Elle magazine dedicating last year’s September issue to sustainable fashion, and the Guardian’s associate fashion editor Jess Cartner-Morley stating: “I’m going to change what I wear and what I write about”. Garment production has doubled in the past 15 years, with £140m worth of clothes a year ending up in landfill – and it’s a situation shoppers are very mindful of.

But there is a solution. Alongside vegan sneakers, eco-ware coffee cups and products that pay it forward in new and creative ways, the rise of conscious consumerism means there have never been so many ways to put our money where our morals are. A recent Nielsen study found that 66% of global consumers are willing to pay more for sustainable goods, a figure that jumps to 73% for millennials. A generation raised on fast fashion, 20- and 30-somethings are now leading the charge for craftsmanship, quality and (often handmade) products designed to last.

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May 20th 2019, 7:20 am

Five ways to care for your scalp

Life and style | The Guardian

From shampooing to the brush you use, experts pass on their advice for good scalp health

“The scalp is simply skin: it sweats, secretes sebum (oil) and sheds dead skin cells,” says Anabel Kingsley, a trichologist at Philip Kingsley. Eleanore Richardson, a trichologist at the Fulham Scalp and Hair Clinic in London, says shampoo is the first step to keeping the scalp healthy. She suggests shampooing more often if you use lots of hair products or have been sweating. Kingsley says: “Don’t leave more than three days between shampoos. Doing so is likely to cause itching and flaking, and a flaky scalp can cause hair loss.”

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May 20th 2019, 5:16 am

Why Monica from Friends is this summer’s unlikely style icon

Life and style | The Guardian

We were all too busy admiring Rachel’s hair and Chandler’s jokes first time around to notice Monica Geller’s love of mom jeans and hair barrettes. But the world has finally caught up with the poster girl for 90s normcore

Towards the end of 2018, Netflix paid $100m (£78m) to extend its right to air Friends for one more year. Netflix doesn’t release viewing figures, but this confirmed what we already knew: a whole new generation is hooked on Ross, Rachel, Joey, Phoebe, Chandler and Monica.

But especially Monica. It is here that the generation gap comes in. Because if you tuned into Channel 4 every Friday night when Friends ran the first time around, from 1994, your favourite Friends character was Joey (the adorable one), Rachel (the sexy one), Chandler (the funny one) or Phoebe (the eccentric one). The Geller siblings, Monica and Ross, were the straight guys. They functioned to make the funny ones look funny. But in the second coming of Friends, since all 236 episodes arrived on Netflix in January of last year, Monica has unexpectedly found a breakout role as a style icon.

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May 20th 2019, 5:16 am

How to protect your hearing

Life and style | The Guardian

Listening to loud music, going to the cinema and even travelling on public transport can harm your hearing. An audiology specialist advises on how to avoid damage

The biggest risk to hearing is noise. Over time, listening to loud music through headphones and going to gigs and clubs can damage your hearing. On public transport or a plane, it can be noisy and people often turn up their music to compensate. Many new devices display the safe sound level and warn if you go above that. Keep an eye on the display – it is there for a reason. Some good-quality noise-cancelling headphones will help you to listen while keeping the volume down.

Over time, being exposed to loud noise can damage the tiny hair cells in the inner ear. Often it is quite subtle to begin with. Tinnitus is one warning sign. If you go to a gig, you might experience a ringing in your ears. Your hearing should return to normal in a few days, but it is a sign you have put those hair cells under stress. If you keep doing it, they will die down and the hearing loss and tinnitus will be permanent.

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May 20th 2019, 5:16 am

How becoming a Samaritan helped me beat middle-aged angst

Life and style | The Guardian

Listening to people in need has enabled me to process my own emotions and appreciate the complexity of life

A ghostly, grey rubbery screen bulges with indistinct, yet recognisably human, shapes: a hand here, a face there. An unsettling hum underlies eerie, dislocated sounds. An icy voice half sings: “Is there anybody out there?” There is a harrowing howl, then a moment of respite: the word “yes” appears, followed by: “The Samaritans”.

These 55 seconds of existential desperation followed by five seconds of hope were shown on ITV in 1986, when I was seven. This advert had an effect on me. It was as if I had suddenly become aware of the extent to which humans could suffer. I had no idea what the Samaritans did, just that they were there.

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May 20th 2019, 5:16 am

Ornamentally barking up the right tree | James Wong

Life and style | The Guardian

Flowers get all the attention, but don’t overlook the dramatic effect that decorative bark brings to a garden

When it comes to picking out trees for small gardens, there are several attributes that jostle for top place on people’s wish lists: spring blossom, autumn colour and winter wildlife value to name just three. However, there is one spectacular feature guaranteed to delight the senses all year round that somehow rarely gets a mention, the dazzling colour and reach-out-and-grab-it texture of ornamental bark. With smart species choice and the right design technique, I believe bark can rival any other botanical feature for real wow factor, so here’s a beginner’s guide to doing just that.

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May 19th 2019, 8:39 am

The baby boy’s speech has suddenly exploded. But what is he saying?

Life and style | The Guardian

All of a sudden, he’s gone far beyond mere ‘bababababa’ and ‘plpplpplpplp’

After 10 months of patient silence, this week saw an explosion in my son’s vocabulary, as his wayward mash of vowels and consonants gave way to a torrent of altogether more defined syllables. This will come as no surprise to anyone familiar with his earlier work. Few who heard his first releases, babababababa or plpplpplpplpplpplp could doubt he was one to watch, and his dadadada earned golden opinions from those who heard within it the freshness of German new wave troubadours Trio, only with the arch and knowing delivery of a young Alan Bennett.

Since he was slow to crawl, and still has no teeth, we’ve taken the fact that he’s babbling a little earlier than his playmates as a sign that he is destined for a life of the mind. ‘What use is a full head of teeth anyway?’ we ask ourselves. Let lesser children pursue a career in competitive eating, a life of Crunchie bars. By the time he’s six our son may still be toothless, but he’ll also be doing speaking tours for his second biography of Lord Liverpool, and presenting one of those moderately dumbed down history programmes on BBC2 – the kind that only get made if the presenter agrees to do at least one or two interstitial segments dressed in period costume.

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May 19th 2019, 6:49 am

Pennies from heaven: what’s it like to suddenly become rich?

Life and style | The Guardian

We’ve all daydreamed about an unexpected windfall that would change our luck. But what’s it really like to suddenly come into money? Michael Segalov meets five people who did

Our routine was always the same. Wayne, my husband, would pop into the post office on his way to work to get our lottery tickets, and he’d get up early the morning after the draw and check the numbers. He’d forgotten to check the Tuesday night Euromillions till the Thursday.

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May 19th 2019, 6:49 am

It’s time to talk about the menopause… and freedom at last | Eva Wiseman

Life and style | The Guardian

An equalling out of sex hormones, a woman’s chance to explore her person-ness, the falling away of vanity… Eva detects a gleaming glamour

The menopause comes,” says Kristin Scott Thomas’s character in Fleabag, “and it is the most wonderful fucking thing in the world.” Despite a “crumbling” pelvic floor and a number of other horrors, she continues, “You’re free, no longer a slave, no longer a machine with parts. You’re just a person.” A moment here, to imagine anything better? Than being just a person? In the world? Bloodless and free?

Something has started to happen as my body hurls itself towards the end of its 30s – older women are talking to me about the menopause. I love these moments, when small torches are passed down, relay-like. I remember being in my earliest 20s, working in a shop with women who gleefully told me about the glory of turning 30, its secrets and relief. And then, when I was pregnant, older mothers would tell me about the complicated pleasures to come with eyes dry and wide. This is a similar thrill – it’s happened three times so far, complaints wrapped in reveries, about what you become when you become menopausal. An opinion piece by Lisa Selin Davis in the New York Times suggested that, much like the talk a parent gives their child about sex, “We need to have The Talk, but for 45-year-olds… We perimenopausal women need to talk to one another, and the rest of the world, about what’s happening.”

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May 19th 2019, 6:03 am

What my queer journey taught me about love

Life and style | The Guardian

After a painful split, Amelia Abraham set off around the world, meeting sex workers, trans activists and a nonbinary family to see how LGBTQ+ culture has changed the way we can live together

On an easyJet flight in November 2016, I wondered whether it was possible to die of heartbreak. It felt like I was cracking down the middle, a gorge opening up. I’d met my girlfriend on Tinder and instantly fallen in love. She was in the UK for a holiday from the small Icelandic town where she lived, so we embarked on a long distance relationship, until we decided we should be together properly. I dropped everything. I quit my job, moved out of my flat and moved to Iceland. Ten days later I was single – and crying on the plane home.

We had fallen very hard and fast in the beginning, mutually convinced – for six months at least – that we would marry one another and have adorable Icelandic gaybies. When the relationship ended, I wasn’t just experiencing the hurt or the embarrassment, but mourning the grand narrative of a life together: marriage, kids, old age. But the pain was made greater because this was a narrative that, as an LGBTQ+ person, I had not, until now, ever believed to be available to me.

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May 19th 2019, 6:03 am

'Instant calm to the soul': the magic of Cape Clear, Ireland

Life and style | The Guardian

Whether in search of peace, or adventure, this tiny County Cork island is a haven for escapists

Cape Clear, Ireland’s most southerly island, has been my getaway for almost 30 years. It is the place where I forget which day of the week it is. It’s where I go to imagine a world without Brexit and Trump. The island has a spirit that brings instant calm to the soul. I once had the good fortune to live there for four months. It was then that I first began to write, finding the serenity to hone the craft that would eventually lead to my first novel.

Related: Hot tubs, saunas and seaweed soaks on Ireland’s west coast

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May 19th 2019, 6:03 am

Jarvis Cocker: ‘I’ve lived in my head for most of my life’

Life and style | The Guardian

He’s never been one to stick to the script. Asked about his new music, the singer talked instead about raves and caves, fatbergs and fatherhood, badgers and Brexit…

When I walk into the private room in a members’ club in Soho where I’m supposed to interview Jarvis Cocker, a man in a suit with greying hair is standing with his back to me, writing something on a flip chart. My heart sinks; the room has obviously been double-booked for someone else’s business meeting. Except he then turns around slowly, grinning as enigmatically as a new teacher at Hogwarts, and it is Jarvis Cocker, and he has written WELCOME TO THE INTERVIEW in orange marker pen.

Art is about teaching you how to think in a creative way, how to look at the world and use it as raw material

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May 19th 2019, 6:03 am

Citroën C5 Aircross: ‘An SUV that’s determined to smooth out your drive’ | Martin Love

Life and style | The Guardian

A uniquely effective suspension means this easy-going family car will cope with all of life’s little bumps

Citroën C5 Aircross
Price
£23,830
0-62mph 10.5 seconds
Top speed 117mph
MPG 44.2
CO2 118g/km

In these bruisingly divisive times, there is one thing, at least, that we can agree on: potholes. “Craters”, as the tabloids call them, are a source of neverending dismay for drivers and cyclists. According to the Asphalt Industry Alliance, almost 1.7m potholes were filled in England and Wales last year – an astonishing one every 19 seconds. Sadly, the gaping cavern I have to swerve round each morning has so far evaded their attentions. And with all this rain, it’s now become a water feature. Green Flag estimates that dropping into potholes causes our cars an average of £230 per year on repairs – mostly to tyres and suspension.

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May 19th 2019, 1:32 am

Coconut Tree, Cheltenham: ‘laid-back and on point’ – restaurant review

Life and style | The Guardian

Cheap and full of charm, the Coconut Tree captures the vivid flavour of Sri Lanka

The Coconut Tree, 59 St Paul’s Road, Cheltenham GL50 4JA (01242 465 758). Also in Bristol and Oxford. Dishes £2.50-£8; wines from £17

Eating well is an expression of normality. When we’re not in crisis, we eat well. When we’re not at war, we eat well. It’s also a way of reclaiming normality: of refusing to let the darkness win. It’s why I went to the Coconut Tree in Cheltenham, the original outpost of a small group of places serving what they describe as Sri Lankan street food. A few weeks ago, the island made headlines for the most terrible of reasons: a grim narrative of suicide bombs and body counts. Countries are not defined by atrocity, but by the good things. Great cooking is always one of the good things. A restaurant review cannot defeat terror but, at the very least, talking about the country’s vivid food – its way with coconut, turmeric, cardamom and chilies – is so very much better than talking about all the other stuff we’ve heard from Sri Lanka recently.

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May 19th 2019, 1:32 am

Red ahead: the lip colour for everyone

Life and style | The Guardian

Red lipstick will suit you, if you find the right one. Plus, skincare for pigmentation problems, and body treatments to make you glow

I accept – as sacrilegious as it is – that some women simply don’t like red lipstick. What I won’t accept is that it doesn’t suit you. They come in a plethora of undertones (orange, pink, blue, wine) and textures (matte, velvet, satin, glossy) and somewhere, there, trust me lurks your ultimate red lip. I could do a “how to choose” – a bluey-red will make your teeth look whiter, a pencil stops the colour from bleeding – but ultimately, like relationships, you may have to try a few to find the right one.

1. Givenchy Le Couture Edition No 304 Mandarine Bolero £32, debenhams.com
2. UOMA Beauty Badass Icon Matte Lipstick in Sade £21.50, selfridges.com
3. Mac Lip Pencil in Ruby Woo £14, maccosmetics.co.uk
4. Christian Louboutin Velvet Matte in Altressa £70, net-a-porter.com
5. Laura Mercier Rouge Essentiel Crème Lipstick £26, spacenk.com

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May 19th 2019, 1:32 am

I’m 70, but I can’t stop my new partner from talking to other people | Dear Mariella

Life and style | The Guardian

If age teaches us anything, it’s that you can’t change other people, says Mariella. You may be wrong for each other, or you may need to adapt your behaviour

The dilemma I am in my early 70s and met a wonderful man three years ago. He is a Spanish national and we have been away together on winter holidays, which have been marvellous. He is very outgoing and strikes up conversations with passers-by, fellow customers in a restaurant – anyone around when we are out. In Spain, although my Spanish is improving and I understand most of what is being said, I cannot make much of a contribution. These conversations can last up to 10 or 15 minutes and happen three of four times during any outing.

He says I am “wrong” to have a problem with this and it is my British background that makes me reserved. I often feel these exchanges are more fascinating to him than any conversation the two of us have. Besides feeling left out, I cringe when he interrupts people. He accuses me of being jealous and says I have a “psychological problem” if I cannot embrace this part of his character. He has no inhibitions, for instance, asking people how much they paid for their holiday accommodation so he can compare our deal. Most disturbing, he will not even consider that these conversations can be annoying, boring or embarrassing to me. I’m an outgoing person, but I’m more interested in connecting with my partner than with strangers.

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May 19th 2019, 1:32 am

Nigel Slater’s vegetable stock and soup recipes

Life and style | The Guardian

A flavoursome broth to lift both soup and spirits

I have been in need of a good vegetable stock for some time. Not one of the delicate, vegetal liquids the colour of hay but something altogether deeper, richer and more ballsy. In other words, more like a brown meat stock. Such a broth would be immensely useful in my kitchen as a base for the heartier non-meat recipes that form the backbone of my daily eating, but also as something restoring to drink as you might a cup of miso. My gran would have had Bovril. The colour must be dark and glossy, the flavour deeply, mysteriously herbal with a hint of mushroom and there should be a roasted backnote, the sort you find in a long-simmered meat stock.

And so the kitchen slowly filled with the smell of onions, celery and carrots, which we roasted with miso then removed from the oven and simmered for a good hour with thyme, bay and shitake. We slipped in a sheet of kombu for an extra layer of depth.

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May 19th 2019, 1:32 am

Lucy Worsley: ‘Johnny Depp stood me up at Hampton Court'

Life and style | The Guardian

The historian and joint chief curator at Historic Royal Palaces on having to wear a bib on the set of her TV shows and the peril of exploding prosecco

Henry VIII’s kitchens at Hampton Court had 200 staff in 55 rooms. Nowadays, when Henry’s kitchen spit is turned and the meat is roasted – properly – for our visitors to see, it’s very resource-intensive. But so worth it, done well. It’s meltingly delicious.

My own office life at Hampton Court is somewhat challenging food-wise. It’s miles from anywhere, off the Chapel Court, deep inside the palace, up a spiral staircase of 51 steps. You can’t just nip out for a sandwich. If we do go out it’s down and then right across to the canteen, which is more mainstream, if you like, than at Kensington Palace, but has a really good salad bar.

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May 18th 2019, 12:23 pm

I wanted to order my breakfast from a waiter not an iPad

Life and style | The Guardian

Eating is a social pleasure – touchscreens just serve to make it more solitary

Last month, in New York, I saw the future, and I didn’t like it. Let me first set the scene. Booked on an eye-scorchingly early flight, I arrived at Newark airport before dawn, feeling fiercely alone, as I often do when I travel for work: a bagatelle ball, pinging around, unseen by those I love and who love me back. The airport was quiet and I passed through security quickly. On the other side, I sent a couple of emails and bought a newspaper, and then it hit me: I was ravenous; hungry like a wolf. I wanted some breakfast. I needed some breakfast. And so I set off to find some breakfast.

Hunger in these situations isn’t straightforward. My stomach was empty, it’s true. But I also had time to kill and spare dollars in my pocket. The potential for boredom flickered away in the glare of the artificial light. I didn’t want to make conversation with anyone, but I did want to receive that particular form of ersatz kindness a waiter may offer to a person travelling on their own. “Coming right up,” they tell you in America, as if you were their best ever customer, and an order of coffee the most original and daring request ever made. In the right mood – or perhaps I mean the wrong mood – this line has the potential to reduce me to tears.

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May 18th 2019, 12:23 pm

The artist’s mews: small and perfect in Devon

Life and style | The Guardian

A considered layout and bold use of colour elevate this studio apartment in Devon above its humble proportions. Rachel Ward gets the grand tour

As an artist and interior designer, Gemma Dudgeon is used to transforming spaces on behalf of clients up and down the country. This studio apartment, however, proved a different challenge – one that involved designing for herself, and from scratch. “My work is very client-led,” she says. “Deciding for myself was much harder. I had a blank canvas, which was a privilege, but also quite daunting, as I understood the sheer magnitude of choice and looks I could go for.”

Dudgeon moved to south Devon with her husband Alastair, a chef, in pursuit of a better quality of life. “I wanted my kids to grow up climbing trees and playing on the beach – to be in touch with the environment in which they live,” she says. In 2017, they bought a house in the market town of Totnes, which they share with their two young daughters, Olive and Frances, and their whippet, Skye. At the same time, the couple also purchased Mount Plym mews, an 1830s coach house located 100 yards away, for far more prosaic reasons: parking. “It’s a real issue in Totnes,” says Dudgeon.

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May 18th 2019, 11:52 am

How cleaning helped me rebuild what alcohol had ruined

Life and style | The Guardian

They say cleaning is detoxing – it’s not, but it was part of my recovery from addiction

If you’ve ever done a real detox off drugs and alcohol to get clean, the whole notion of cleaning your flat as a way to some sort of psychological Nirvana seems suspect. Yet this is exactly what the new cleaning gurus, like Marie Kondo, Mrs Hinch (2.4m Instagram fans and counting) and Lynsey “Queen of Clean” Crombie, would have us believe.

They say that chucking everything out and sterilising what is left is a way to put order back into our messy lives. An abundance of videos featuring confessional cleaning tutorials show bright-eyed and often beautiful young women extolling the virtues of cleaning in the reverent terms usually reserved for religious conversions, spiritual awakenings or the moment you receive your yoga name in India. Eat, Pray, Clean. They have seen the light – and it smells like Ecover.

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May 18th 2019, 11:52 am

A letter to the man who shushed my daughter

Life and style | The Guardian

‘You don’t realise the courage it took to approach your table’: the letter you always wanted to write

I could tell you were getting edgy as you sat with your friends, drinking coffee and watching the crumbs from my eight-year-old daughter’s biscuit fall messily all over her school uniform. Your face gave away your disgust immediately.

I was at the next table, helping her open the new toy we had just bought. Yet I had my eye on you, already feeling uncomfortable. I had a sense of what was to come, as I have become an expert at picking up the signs of intolerance.

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May 18th 2019, 5:03 am

Hitting the new exercise bike every day is a nightmare | Romesh Ranganathan

Life and style | The Guardian

I am sweating at a marriage-threateningly unattractive rate

When I was filming in the US a couple of years ago, I saw an advert for a spin bike with a screen on it that meant you could log in and do classes at home. I watched the ad for 30 seconds and was immediately convinced that the only reason I wasn’t absolutely ripped was because this piece of equipment was absent from my life.

This is something I have done with a lot of exercise equipment. I am a marketeer’s dream. I bought about four iterations of that roller thing for abs that everyone was using years ago, because I was so taken in by the various “advancements” that were promised. It seems ludicrous now: I was eating whatever I wanted while genuinely believing that 10 minutes of gentle rocking would effectively counteract everything else.

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May 18th 2019, 5:03 am

Tim Dowling: two Alexas have moved in, and they’re terrifying

Life and style | The Guardian

My youngest son is having nightmares about surveillance. The dog is barking. This is the future

In the course of my work, I am sometimes sent free stuff that I don’t know what to do with. When given the opportunity to review things, I usually turn down such offers, because I find it hard to write nice things about a product I never wanted in the first place. But sometimes the stuff just comes.

In the case of the free Alexa, though, I have already accepted the assignment without quite knowing what it will entail. I’m still awaiting clarification when the box arrives late on Friday afternoon.

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May 18th 2019, 5:03 am

Women without children: ‘I don’t want to be pitied – I’m really happy'

Life and style | The Guardian

Some have chosen not to have a baby, others can’t, or have lost them: five women talk frankly about being childfree

I grew up in a single-parent family: my mother raised four girls on her own. I watched her struggle and from an early age I knew I didn’t want to do that. I’ve faced hostility for not having children – I’ve been called a barren freak and even had people tell me that I’ll never understand what love is until I have a child.

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May 18th 2019, 5:03 am

My boyfriend drinks too much and gets angry

Life and style | The Guardian

His problems are not your responsibility – don’t think you can save him, says Annalisa Barbieri

I’m an 18-year-old girl about to start my final exams at school. I feel as if my life is going remarkably well; I’m happy, I’m getting along well with my parents, I have great friends, and except for the stress of impending exams, I’m doing well at school. However, my boyfriend of just under a year causes me quite a bit of worry, related specifically to his drinking.

About four months ago he got into a row in a pub and we had to drag him away. He got very angry with me and my girlfriends when we tried to help. This was particularly scary, as I wasn’t sure whether his anger could turn physical. Thankfully it didn’t. The following morning, he couldn’t remember what had happened but when I told him he apologised profusely and was in tears for having upset me.

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May 18th 2019, 4:34 am

Experience: I manage the last Blockbuster in the world

Life and style | The Guardian

It was just us and a store in Perth, Australia. They called the night they closed to wish us all the best

I remember watching my first rental movie when I was six years old. My aunt owned a video store here in Oregon and we borrowed a VHS copy of Poltergeist. I was sitting on my dad’s lap, and was so terrified I threw my pizza straight up in the air. We had low ceilings, and that pizza left an unholy stain. Every time I saw it I thought of Poltergeist.

In 2004, I was 33 years old, living in the small city of Bend and looking for a part-time job to help support our young family. My best friend suggested I might like working with her at Blockbuster, and I’ve been here ever since. Back then, there were five Blockbusters in Bend alone. The movie-rental business was at its peak: we were still stocking VHS tapes but DVDs were also coming in, and both were doing well.

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May 18th 2019, 4:34 am

Even with sandy spines and smudged type, reading on the beach is a pleasure | Hannah Jane Parkinson

Life and style | The Guardian

It’s harder here for real life to intrude

I am writing this column from a beach in Cuba. My fringe has been slicked back by the sea. One half of my face is already the colour of cheap rosé. I am lying under a palm tree to save the other half from a similar fate. And I am reading.

Reading is glorious on any holiday. Reading is glorious full stop. But reading on a beach is something special – though I can’t speak for those who live on beaches, or close to them, as to whether or not this is a pleasure dulled by familiarity. Once you’ve lived in Oxford for years, you sometimes don’t see the magnificent limestone building, just the Pizza Express within.

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May 18th 2019, 4:34 am

My life in sex: the man who goes to cuddle parties

Life and style | The Guardian

Who cuddles whom flows organically, and it’s not just in pairs

As a 56-year-old man living in a conservative area of Texas, I would never have predicted the amazing personal growth I have experienced since being introduced to cuddle parties three years ago. These parties are entirely non-sexual events, where participants gather in each other’s homes to cuddle. They’re great because they are intimate, but carry none of the baggage associated with romantic relationships.

Everyone brings “fluff” (such as duvets, pillows and sleeping bags) to pad the floor. Then we hold a 45-minute workshop about boundaries and consent, which includes rules such as, “You are encouraged to change your mind.” I’ve taken these lessons into my sexual life, and they have freed me up to love without expectation. I am no longer afraid to ask for what I want – because I don’t feel rejection when a woman chooses to say no (in fact, at parties, we’re encouraged to respond with, “Thank you for taking care of yourself”).

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May 18th 2019, 4:34 am

I don’t want to be stuck in my sexless marriage and am tempted to have an affair

Life and style | The Guardian

After being happily married for 10 years I still have a sex drive but my wife doesn’t and I can’t resign myself to a celibate life

My wife and I have been happily married for 10 years but our sex life is a relic of the past. My sex drive is higher than hers, and this means I am living with an unmet need, which affects how I behave, particularly around other women. I know I should discuss this with her but if I tell her I am tempted to have an affair because I’m not getting sex at home, this feels like blackmail. On the other hand, I am not prepared to resign myself to a sexless marriage. Is it time to separate?

When leaving a message on this page, please be sensitive to the fact that you are responding to a real person in the grip of a real-life dilemma, who wrote to Private Lives asking for help, and may well view your comments here. Please consider especially how your words or the tone of your message could be perceived by someone in this situation, and be aware that comments that appear to be disruptive or disrespectful to the individual concerned will be removed.

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May 17th 2019, 8:50 am

You want a dark Mel Gibson comedy about rich Jewish people? You got it!

Life and style | The Guardian

Rothchild, a new film starring the ‘polarising’ star is being touted around Cannes. If you don’t get the gag, well, join the club …

Let me tell you something about the god that Mel Gibson worships up there in his private $42m, 17-acre church compound in Malibu’s Agoura Hills (congregation: 70). He – and it will be a he – is the one true god, who doesn’t just forgive and forget, even if you don’t meaningfully repent. He goes the extra 1,000 miles to ensure that at the Cannes film festival in the year 2019, the Hollywood trade press will be able to type the words: “This is shaping up to be ‘Mel’s market’ with a host of Gibson projects on sale.”

As I say, all other gods are false. They simply do not enable this level of … chutzpah, would you perhaps call it?… in a client.

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May 17th 2019, 8:50 am

‘I want to tilt the lens’ – Sinéad Burke's fight to make fashion more diverse

Life and style | The Guardian

She has accosted Anna Wintour, been hired by Vogue and has a custom Burberry wardrobe made especially for her small stature. Meet the woman who insists design should be for everyone

One of the rumours that swirls around the disabled activist, advocate, educator, Vogue contributing editor and lifelong fashion-obsessive Sinéad Burke is that she has a complete Burberry wardrobe. Not a collection tailor-made for her, but clothes personally selected off the rack by Burke and then customised for her 3ft 5in (1.04 metre) frame. It turns out that the truth is even better than the gossip. “I’m very fortunate to have a wardrobe full of beautiful, well-made clothes,” she says. “Not just from Burberry, but Gucci, Prada, Ferragamo, Christopher Kane … As a teenager I’m not sure I could even have visualised it.”

As the eldest of five children, she grew up “envious of my sisters, who were average height. They had access to what I saw as the entirety of the fashion industry, even though they had far less interest than I did.” And now? “They look at my wardrobe and are like: ‘Would that fit me?’” She laughs.

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May 16th 2019, 5:59 am

‘It was like meeting the Pope’: how Peppa Pig became a £1bn global phenomenon

Life and style | The Guardian

Fifteen years ago, a strange pink farm animal arrived on our TV screens. Today, Peppa Pig has her own theme parks and devoted fans around the world. What is the secret of her success?

If the story of the Peppa Pig franchise were a Peppa Pig episode, it would start with the doodles of three dejected daddy pigs who are about to quit animation. But then, in a heart-warming twist, the trio would make some nice new friends and we would leave them, rolling in mud – and enormous piles of money – at their modest central London studio. The title of the episode? Global Domination.

“I think I’m still in denial,” Neville Astley says at the “Elf Factory”, where he and co-creator and director Mark Baker lead a team of 16, alongside Phil Davies, Peppa Pig’s producer. The nickname for their studio was a joke. “But people now imagine we have gold-plated offices and command thousands of animators,” Davies says. He prefers to describe Astley Baker Davies, their production company, as “the little solicitors’ firm we formed”.

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May 16th 2019, 4:14 am

Hake news: read all about the fish they’re calling the new cod

Life and style | The Guardian

It’s cheap, delicious and certified as sustainable. So what if it won’t win any beauty contests?

‘My dad had two boats built in the 80s, especially for hake. The day they launched, the government put restrictions on the quota because they thought it was overfished.” I regard Sean Perkes, who is a fish merchant in the south Devon port of Brixham, home to the busiest and most diverse fishing market in the UK, with mild, historical sympathy. A terrible story. Did his dad go bust? Not so much, says Perkes’s face. This family have been fishing since the 1500s. It would take more than a quota change to make them go out of business. And in any case, hake stocks have since rebounded, to the point where some people are calling it the new cod.

Measuring fish sustainability is a dark and fascinating art: clearly, you can’t tell whether it is ethical to eat a fish by simply looking at it, nor necessarily by knowing how it’s caught, or even where. Farmed bass, for instance, can be sustainable, but sea-caught bass is not. Sudden spikes in demand, hundreds of miles away, can threaten a species overnight. The Marine Conservation Society (from whom the Guardian takes its lead) and the Marine Stewardship Council don’t always agree, but on hake they’re aligned, and it has been certified sustainable for four years.

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May 16th 2019, 4:14 am

Dressing for the dock: the psychology of courtroom style

Life and style | The Guardian

Anna Sorokin’s demure designer wardrobe, Felicity Huffman’s sensible cardigan, Harvey Weinstein’s loose button – it is impossible to separate clothing from court optics

“Scammer’, “con artist”, “grifter”. All words used to describe Anna Sorokin, the fake heiress sentenced to four to 12 years’ imprisonment for swindling more than $200,000, although “style icon” is the label that has endured, at least in fashion circles.

Since attending trial at Manhattan state court wearing her oversized Celine spectacles, black choker, and a roll call of womenswear by Saint Laurent, Victoria Beckham, Michael Kors and Chloe, Sorokin’s demure wardrobe has been more talked about than her crimes. This was intentional. Sorokin’s lawyer raised “concerns” over the Rikers prison-issued uniform and enlisted the help of Anastasia Walker – Courtney Love’s stylist, no less – to help her guide the jury’s eyes and minds.

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May 16th 2019, 4:14 am

Trying it on: retailers fight back against repeat returners

Life and style | The Guardian

Stores are tightening their policies and even blacklisting shoppers who make a mockery of their returns policies. But will it change what we buy online?

I have always been a serial returner: I order clothes, try them on and send them back. I am not alone. Now stores, which have attracted consumers with generous pledges of free delivery and returns, have begun to tighten their policies.

According to research for Barclaycard, 20% of retailers surveyed have implemented stricter returns policies over the past year. A further 19% plan to do so in the next year. Almost a third said that customers are returning items they have worn. (Incidentally, I always return mine unworn.) This is not so much shopping as a free loan for Instagram’s #outfitoftheday. The trade term for this is “wardrobing”.

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May 15th 2019, 1:19 pm

Is having sex six times in six days the secret to work-life balance?

Life and style | The Guardian

Ali Baba’s founder Jack Ma has come up with a timetable for his married employees. It sounds exhausting

Name: 669.

Age: Brand new.

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May 15th 2019, 1:03 pm

Gucci owner pledges to stop using underage models

Life and style | The Guardian

The luxury fashion group Kering, which also owns Balenciaga and Alexander McQueen, makes commitments on model welfare and the environment at the Copenhagen fashion summit

Gucci, Balenciaga and Alexander McQueen are among the fashion houses that will no longer employ models under the age of 18 for adult catwalk shows or in advertising campaigns. The new age restriction, which will be enforced in early 2020, was announced by Francois-Henri Pinault, the chairman and CEO of the Kering group, on day one of the Copenhagen fashion summit (CFS) on Wednesday.

“As a global luxury group, we are conscious of the influence exerted on younger generations in particular by the images produced by our houses,” said Pinault, who also presides over brands including Saint Laurent and Bottega Veneta. “We believe that we have a responsibility to put forward the best possible practices in the luxury sector and we hope to create a movement that will encourage others to follow suit.”

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May 15th 2019, 11:03 am

From smoky squid to juicy jackfruit: chefs’ tips for better barbecues

Life and style | The Guardian

Tired of dried-out chicken and blackened bangers? The pros can help you to raise your game, with everything from marinades and rubs to cooking with sieves

From London’s Berenjak to Gateshead’s Träkol, Britain’s hottest restaurants are fascinated by live-fire cookery. “Precision is out, flames are in,” declared Restaurant magazine recently, as our best chefs swap water-baths for charcoal grills and wood-fired ovens. Ahead of National BBQ week (27 May to 2 June), we asked a selection of these bright sparks for tips on how we might transform our own barbecue cooking this summer, from vegan “ribs” and whole-fish cookery to smoking desserts.

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May 15th 2019, 10:48 am

Kim-Joy’s recipe for choux hedgehogs

Life and style | The Guardian

These fun pastries are guaranteed to please even the most prickly of customers

Choux pastry is a lot easier than you might think, and very satisfying when you add the flour and it all forms a smooth ball within seconds.

Prep time: 20 mins
Baking time: 30 mins
Decorating time: 15 mins
Makes: 24-30

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May 15th 2019, 10:48 am

The pinstripe suit used to be all about power. It’s time to reclaim it

Life and style | The Guardian

Notorious devotees include Nigel Farage and Gordon Gekko-style bankers, but the fabric is finding a new life as part of the fashionable man’s wardrobe

Nigel Farage, who is now threatening to make an eighth bid to become an MP, was pictured this week in Pontefract, West Yorkshire, in his usual pinstripe suit. And he’s not the only one – the stripe is making a fashion comeback, but with a twist this time. Traditionally a sartorial by-word for power, the pinstripe has its origins in the banking world, worn as a way of distinguishing workers at different Victorian banks based on the distance between the thin white lines on their suits.

“The pinstripe is a very smart look, one really appropriate for business,” says Peter Smith, of the Savile Row tailors Richard Anderson. So, in wearing it, Farage is attempting to say that he means business.

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May 15th 2019, 7:33 am

Goal! The football league that helped me lose five stone

Life and style | The Guardian

Sick of being overweight and worried about his health, Andy Welch knew it was time for drastic action. Then he stumbled across Man v Fat

I have always been overweight. I was 10lb (4.5kg) when I was born and it kind of went from there. I was 10 stone (64kg) by the age of 10, 13st (83kg) at 13 and 16st (102kg) by 16. My age and weight matching was a worry – and lasted until I was 21.

There were diets along the way. When I was younger, my parents tried various approaches to get me to lose weight – gentle persuasion, desperate pleas, even financial bribes. I was referred to a hospital dietitian who had a go, too. When I was a bit older, I joined a gym, and throughout my teens and at university I tried whatever fad was going: SlimFast, the Atkins, the GI diet and its closely related Low GL version. I went through a phase of drinking grapefruit juice after every meal because I had read it stopped any fat eaten being absorbed, and I once spent a hungry fortnight eating nothing but Rice Krispies after vaguely recalling the Olympic sprinter John Regis explaining how he had managed his weight by eating only cereal. Unsurprisingly, it did not work.

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May 15th 2019, 5:46 am

Clickbait fashion! You won’t believe what brands are doing now

Life and style | The Guardian

From see-through jeans to denim knickers, extreme trends might sound ridiculous but they are also selling fast

Earlier this month, the US fashion brand Fashion Nova posted a picture on its Instagram account of a model wearing a pair of pink jeans with extreme rips. The image has had almost 20,000 likes and lots of comments – and not all of them the fire emoji. One follower wrote: “Do you have these in a ‘no thank you’”, while another compared the rips to “another DREADFUL bear attack”.

This isn’t just Instagram banter. Not long after the brand posted the image, the Sun picked up on the jeans, bringing them to the attention of a demographic that gets its news from more traditional sources than Instagram. Forget trends such as gingham or pastel gently trickling down from the catwalk on to the high street, the fashion pieces now most likely to make the news are the work of brands attempting to outdo one another with more and more attention-grabbing garments. Welcome to the world of clickbait fashion.

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May 15th 2019, 5:46 am

Step by step: how to become a good parent – to someone else’s child

Life and style | The Guardian

Dakota Johnson is reportedly taking $400 lessons on how to be stepmother to Chris Martin’s daughter. Here’s some cheaper, but no less effective, advice

It was news to me that the actor Dakota Johnson was even going out with Coldplay frontman Chris Martin, but it’s already at the nth degree: Johnson was spotted on a coffee run with Apple Martin (his daughter with Gwyneth Paltrow, for the uninitiated). To cope with these new developments, Johnson has apparently enlisted the $400-an-hour help of Alison Task, a “stepmom coach”. Fine, fine, in the Keynesian sense. If one person has a lot of money and another person is willing to charge them a fortune for something, at least it keeps cash circulating. But there are ways to learn this without paying $400 an hour, so long as you accept that the learning is lifelong.

My stepdaughter is 11. I’ve known her since she was eight. Shortly before we all moved in together, I read a brilliant book, Helping Children Cope With Divorce by Edward Teyber, that said it is two years before a child will accept a step-parent’s authority. So I very rigorously didn’t assert any authority for two years, by which time everyone was old enough (my son is the same age, my daughter two years younger) to point out that my authority was like a vuvuzela at a football match, ambiently loud and incredibly inconsequential.

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May 14th 2019, 12:49 pm

Is it possible to work 22-hour days? Danielle Steel says it is the secret of her success

Life and style | The Guardian

The prolific romance novelist has described her ‘brutal, exhausting’ process. Can she really work such long hours – and does it make her a role model?

It says something about the author Danielle Steel’s work ethic that her desk, built to resemble a stack of her own books, is less remarkable than the hours she puts in at it. The 71-year-old romance novelist is notoriously prolific, having published 179 books at a rate of up to seven a year. But a passing reference in a recent profile by Glamour magazine to her 20- to 22-hour workdays – not to mention the 24-hour session “a few times a month, when she feels the crunch” – prompted an outpouring of awestruck admiration online.

“If she gets four hours, she considers it a restful night,” marvelled Business Insider. Elsewhere, the question “why Danielle Steel is more successful than the rest of us” was answered: “Steel does not understand this modern-day mentality of work-life balance”.

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May 14th 2019, 9:00 am

Munroe Bergdorf: ‘At the beginning of my transition I felt the need to look feminine – now I don’t c

Life and style | The Guardian

The transgender model on her ‘going out’ shirt dress – and why she’s finally as happy in an oversized jumper as a sequin gown

Clothes used to hold a lot more significance for me than they do now. In 2011, at the beginning of my transition, I definitely felt the need to look feminine for people in order to validate my gender identity. Now I just don’t care. I am as much a woman if I’m in trackie bottoms and an oversized jumper as I am in a long sequin gown – it has no impact on who I am as a person.

That’s something it has taken me a long time to learn, but it’s also why the conversations surrounding non-binary identities are so important. It is getting rid of gender stereotypes that ultimately oppress everybody. I think that being complacent and not challenging norms is dangerous, because marginalised people don’t benefit from the norm.

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May 14th 2019, 9:00 am

I can't stop fantasising about a dad I see on the school run

Life and style | The Guardian

I am in a near-sexless marriage but this is making me feel like a lovesick teenager. How can I channel these thoughts into something positive?

I am a woman in my early 40s and have been married for almost 20 years. Over the past few years we have rarely had sex. This hasn’t really bothered me – I’d decided I had turned asexual. We had problems conceiving, which was a bit of a passion killer, but did eventually have a baby eight years ago (also a bit of a passion killer!). Our relationship isn’t great in other ways, as we are impatient and irritable with each other. I have long wondered if we will not stay together once our son is older, but so far, so ordinary.

A month ago I started having sexual fantasies about a man I say hello to on the school run. I feel like a lovesick teenager in that I can’t stop thinking about him, to the extent that I can’t sleep at night. It is almost like a switch has been turned back on as I haven’t had such thoughts for years and now I feel consumed by them. I recently initiated sex with my husband but it was perfunctory and unsatisfying. I have no intention of pursuing the school dad – who I barely know – as I assume he is just a representation of desire. But I feel guilty that I am thinking about him, as he is married with young children, and also confused that I am having such thoughts at all. Is it normal to suddenly feel desire again – and for an almost stranger – after so long of being not bothered? I don’t know how to stop the thoughts or channel them into something more positive.

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May 14th 2019, 9:00 am

Royal doody: What Prince Harry can teach us about modern fatherhood

Life and style | The Guardian

It is possible to read a lot into the media’s handling of ‘news’ that the prince has been on nappy duty. But how does he compare to other famous fathers?

Nobody thought it possible, but it has finally happened: a man has changed a nappy. In undeniable proof that the British royal family was chosen and anointed by God, royal sources have confirmed that Prince Harry has attended to the nappies of his young son Archie.

This is big, epoch-defining news, which explains why it made the front page of the Sunday Times and has elsewhere been reported as a “royal REVEAL”. If the breathless media reporting is anything to go by, you would think that it was a scientifically proven fact that men lack the complex motor skills necessary to wipe a baby’s backside and then fasten two pieces of Velcro-style adhesive.

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May 14th 2019, 9:00 am

How we met: 'I left him, then he left me. One-all’

Life and style | The Guardian

Lucia Morawska, 37, a university lecturer, and Krystian Szemiczek, 40, who owns a transport company, live in Leeds. They recently resumed a teenage romance

Krystian Szemiczek and Lucia Morawska have been a couple since last year, but originally got together in 1995. Lucia, who was born in Poland but grew up in the UK, would go to Poland for summer holidays to see her grandmother, and met Krystian through a friend. She was 14; he was 16.

After Lucia came back to the UK, they would write to each other every month and speak on the phone, but the romance didn’t last and a couple of years later, Lucia ended it. Then, a year or so later, when Lucia went back to Poland they met up and got back together. That didn’t last either. Why not? “I don’t know,” she says to Krystian. “You tell me – you left me.”

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May 14th 2019, 9:00 am

Breathpod training – can you really learn how to breathe properly?

Life and style | The Guardian

Breathwork is little understood, but over a 90-minute session I release my anxiety in gulping sobs. It should be called Catharsis R Us

I had a panic attack once in the bathroom of a Wimpy. It is a long story involving a motorway, a vicarage and, oddly enough, a pig – although not in the David Cameron sense. But the relevant portion involved me sitting on the floor of the burger joint’s bathroom, hyperventilating, which felt like I couldn’t breathe, while being aware that too much oxygen was entering my body. It was a horrible, confusing sensation, and I didn’t want fries with that. I try not to think about it as my breathing coach explains that, for the next hour, I will be doing something akin to this, in the interest of therapy.

London-based Breathpod (breathpod.me; £150 for up to two hours) offers group or one-to-one breathing workshops. This sounds about as necessary as going on YouTube to learn the difference between left and right. I feel more intrigued when I meet my coach, Stuart Sandeman, who looks genuinely beatific, a Scottish Zac Efron – perhaps because I have been seeing posters everywhere for Extremely Wicked, Shockingly Evil and Vile, the film in which Efron plays, er, the serial killer Ted Bundy.

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May 14th 2019, 9:00 am

Wish you weren’t here? How to survive your first holiday as a couple

Life and style | The Guardian

A first break can put a new romance under strain, or worse. To improve the chances of returning with the relationship intact, try following these ground rules

I have lost luggage, I have slept on airport floors and in budget backpacker hostels, I have weathered flight cancellations, food poisoning and days of unbroken rain. Yet my worst-ever holiday, a weekend away with my boyfriend, went entirely to plan.

We had been seeing each other for a few months, and this was our first trip together. But removed from our usual contexts (in bed, or watching TV, or watching TV in bed), we realised too late that we had nothing to say to each other. At one point we parked our rental car and just sat there, passing the time until we could go home and eventually break up.

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May 14th 2019, 9:00 am

Don’t be shy about asking for a doggy bag: you deserve a round of applause

Life and style | The Guardian

The government may soon force restaurants to offer takeaway leftovers – a sensible solution for a nation that wastes 10.2m tonnes of food every year

I still remember the fluttering heart and dry mouth the first time I plucked up the courage to ask a waiter for a doggy bag, after 20 fruitless minutes chasing some deliciously spicy boiled peanuts round a plate in a Sichuan restaurant. They looked at me oddly, but the nuts duly appeared in a takeaway box, for me to gleefully hoover up with my fingers on the bus home.

These days, on the odd occasion when I don’t finish everything in sight, I feel no shame at all in asking, or indeed in wrapping stuff in a napkin and shoving it in my bag – which is as it should be, given that we waste 10.2m tonnes of food a year in this country, and every little helps.

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May 14th 2019, 9:00 am

The wide trouser, a fashion not likely to last – archive, 14 May 1925

Life and style | The Guardian

14 May 1925 Trousers which are being made in Oxford this term have an ankle width which varies between 20 and 24 inches

Oxford, Wednesday
Fashions, like rumours, are not easily traced to their source, and there seems to be no certainty as to the origin of the wide, baggy trousers so much in evidence in Oxford at present, which have attracted so much critical attention on all hands.

It is not even definitely established that the designation of the “Oxford” trousers, by which they have come to be generally known, is a strictly accurate one, for the rival University of Cambridge has also, it appears, laid claim to the distinction of having begun the new vogue. However that may be, the wide trousers flaunt themselves very freely in the streets of Oxford in these days. The great majority of undergraduates have succumbed to the prevailing fashion. Some have done so in greater and some in lesser degree, for the law of the baggy trousers is a very flexible one and admits of many interpretations.

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May 14th 2019, 4:27 am

On the scent: how Jo Malone sniffed out an unfaithful man

Life and style | The Guardian

From philanderers to sick dogs to rain predictions, the perfume magnate’s nose is her superpower

Name: Jo Malone’s nose.

Age: 55.

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May 13th 2019, 12:16 pm

Ruby Tandoh: how I was turned into a human cheese

Life and style | The Guardian

Bacteria from my face have been used to make a wheel of stilton. It’s not gross, it’s art – and it is about to go on display at the V&A’s new food exhibition

I am about to be made into a cheese. The designer and engineer Helene Steiner is serene in her lab coat, brandishing a cotton swab and sweetly asking if I would consider letting her probe between my toes for a bacterial culture that will turn fresh milk into a wheel of stilton. She has already shown me the centrifuge, the deep freezer, the little petri dish where she will deposit my bacterial sample and the incubator in which the microbes will grow overnight. It is an unlikely setting for a laboratory or a cheese dairy – a converted shipping container tucked away behind Shepherd’s Bush market in west London. But then there is nothing normal about spending a chilly spring day having your germs harvested for cheese. “I want to be a nice cheese. Please not my feet,” I plead with her. “How about my face instead?”

Selfmade started as a research project combining biotechnology, engineering and art. The brainchild of the synthetic biologist Christina Agapakis and the artist Sissel Tolaas, in conjunction with the University of Edinburgh and Stanford University, these cheeses aren’t beautiful, or even edible; they’re grown from the bits of us we would usually scrub away. While one of the cheesemakers working on the original Selfmade experiments said she would happily sample them, and they may well be safe to eat, they are not offered for consumption. And yet, as anyone who has ever walked past a supermarket cheese counter will have smelled, the bacteria present on human skin, from noses and ears to feet, have much in common with those in the cheese we eat. Microbacterium lactium from an armpit might smell yoghurty, sour and floral. Likewise, as Agapakis charmingly points out: “Limburger cheese offers a remarkably close substitute for the smell of human feet.”

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May 13th 2019, 5:56 am

Insults, projectiles, well-intentioned fat-shaming: the perils of being a plus-size runner

Life and style | The Guardian

It is hard enough to exercise when you are overweight, so why do people feel the need to add their judgment to the workload?

“Well, what is an athlete? It’s somebody that gets up, and does what they need to do. Just because they don’t look or act like an athlete doesn’t mean they should get singled out.”

Elizabeth Ayres has been fielding lots of questions since her Facebook post about her experience at the London Marathon went viral. An official pacer for the event two weeks ago, Ayres was running with the slower “blue start” wave at the back when she saw exactly how people can be treated when they don’t fit the stereotype of a marathon runner.

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May 13th 2019, 3:37 am

How leaving my hometown helped me get my life back

Life and style | The Guardian

I began to feel hemmed in by the city while pregnant with my second child. Now, five years after embracing rural living, it still feels thrillingly new

I was 37 and pregnant with my second child when I started to get an uneasy feeling that I could see down a straight line to old age. I had been working for the same company for 13 years and still lived not far from where I grew up in north-east London.

I had always been a homebody – even when I was at university I came home for the holidays. But now, “living the dream” with a family, a flat and a cat, I felt hemmed in for the first time. While I wouldn’t say I had had postnatal depression, my sense of self had disappeared during early motherhood, along with any aptitude for life-affirming spontaneity. The idea of not disrupting this trajectory made me squirm.

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May 13th 2019, 3:37 am

How to shave and groom male facial hair

Life and style | The Guardian

Always shave in or after a shower, using cream or oil – and don’t be tempted to get laser hair-removal on your face

When you shave, preparation is key. That means having a really hot face cloth and soaking the area, or shaving in or just after a shower. The hot water and steam softens the hair and open the follicles for a closer, easier shave. Always use a shaving cream or oil. Use a shaving brush to create a rich lather to raise the hairs when applying and then let it sit on your face for a minute.

Shave with the grain for less irritation and make sure you don’t use disposable blades, as they can get blunted easily and cut your skin. Likewise, avoid using a cut-throat razor unless you are very experienced, as they can be dangerous and cut easily. After shaving, rinse with warm water and pat dry with a clean towel. Always make sure to finish off with your signature aftershave lotion to replace moisture and soothe the skin.

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May 13th 2019, 3:37 am

Five ways to beat hay fever

Life and style | The Guardian

One in four of us are affected by this seasonal allergy. We asked experts for their advice

Hay fever is increasingly common and now affects about one in four of the population, says Glenis Scadding, a consultant allergist at the Royal National Throat, Nose and Ear hospital. Citing official advice from the NHS, she says over-the-counter antihistamines are fine for those with mild symptoms, but she warns against sedating antihistamines, which can impair driving and cognitive function. Scadding says the treatment of choice for more severe hay fever is usually an intranasal steroid spray, but she recommends seeking medical advice if symptoms are unclear or potentially complicated by other issues.

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May 13th 2019, 3:37 am

Nature is blooming on social media, but not in the wild

Life and style | The Guardian

A stroll through the woods is instantly mirrored by a scroll through social media

It’s bluebell season and the dandelions are full. The woods near my house are dense with the last wild garlic. Tulips in the garden are blousy and drunken, and nature is everywhere. I’ve long identified as someone who casually spurned nature, agreeing it was too green and badly lit, but this year something appears to have shifted. Now I spend evenings coaxing strawberries to grow and weekends at garden centres the size of new towns, nodding knowingly at strangers over their hopeful magnolias.

A stroll on Sunday through the woods is mirrored by a scroll through social media, where blossom and the greenness of plant life is as ubiquitous as a fancy latte, and signifies similar – moments treasured, a spiritual glee, a display of healthful joy. In a recent Atlantic piece about influencers, they explain that the Instagram aesthetic of pink sofas and artful avocado toast has quietly gone out of fashion, to be replaced by more “authentic” feeds – private moments, stories about mental health. So it makes sense that green spaces (as opposed to staged sets) are accruing likes online as spring births summer and bluebell woods stand strong under trampling picnickers. Green spaces, of course, are proven to boost mental health. “Having access to green spaces can reduce health inequalities,” says the World Health Organisation, “improve wellbeing, and aid in treatment of mental illness.”

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May 12th 2019, 4:38 am

‘My son is figuring out personal dynamics, or maybe he’s just a creep’

Life and style | The Guardian

His pitiless eyeballing of fellow diners in the restaurant proves a little hard to digest

It starts off quite nice, lovely even. My wife and I will be enjoying a meal, only to hear adoring laughter, or cooing from the table behind. At this point, we’ll turn to see that my son has been staring at our delighted co-diners. We smile, too, but thinly, the way you might when someone on the tube says you smell nice. We’ve been through this before and know what comes next; a gradual unravelling of that delight as he refuses to stop staring and his subjects succumb to embarrassment, boredom and despair.

After a long time not noticing anyone, my son is now seized with an ungovernable desire to stare. Perhaps he’s figuring out personal dynamics, forging a new fascination with people – or is just an inveterate creep.

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May 12th 2019, 4:38 am

I’m 50 and baffled by the anger in the world, including my own | Dear Mariella

Life and style | The Guardian

Our world of decreasing tolerance won’t be helped by the menopause or living with teenagers, says Mariella Frostrup, who suggests a trip to the GP and an online detox

The dilemma I am trying to understand why the world I live in seems increasingly to be an angry one. Whether it’s drivers in cars, commuters on public transport, employees at utility companies, teachers at my children’s school… Everyone seems to be frazzled and ready to fight. I feel it myself. I have three teenage daughters and all they seem to do is sit on their phones and flounce around the house dropping dirty underwear as they go. If I ask them to get off their phones they treat me like I’m violating their human rights. They also complain about being exhausted all the time when all they have to do is attend school and maintain their social lives. Meanwhile, I am holding down a job, a home, a marriage, caring for my elderly dad and managing a diary for all five of us. Yet I’m never allowed a lie-in or a chance to recharge my batteries. Then, at night, I can’t tear myself away from Facebook. I know it’s natural to become baffled by the world as you get older, but I’m only just 50 and didn’t expect it to happen so soon!

Mariella replies And breathe… I don’t think we’ll need to wait for global warming to finish us off. We’re likely to overheat and self-combust long before then. Thanks for writing. I suspect you’ll have struck a chord, albeit a discordant one, with many. We do indeed live in angry times. Whether it’s the big political picture or domestic details, there seems to be endless opportunity to bicker and battle with colleagues, friends, providers of services and, of course – top of the list – our own families.

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May 12th 2019, 1:52 am

We love... Fashion fixes for the week ahead - in pictures

Life and style | The Guardian

Mr Porter goes Japanese, Margaret Howell collaborates with Fred Perry, and Oliver Cheshire reveals a new resort-wear label

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May 11th 2019, 8:06 pm

Frills, beads and bows: fashion goes child-like

Life and style | The Guardian

Surge in demand for old-fashioned accessories harks back to an age of innocence

Forget expensive beauty products. It seems that those in pursuit of eternal youth are turning to their wardrobes, prompting a surge in demand for child-like items such as padded headbands, prairie dresses and beaded bags.

Prada’s stud-embellished headband was the second most popular women’s product in the first quarter of 2019, according to fashion search engine Lyst, with a 300% increase in searches over two months. But it’s not the only hair accessory to evoke childhood styles: hair bows and ribbons are also experiencing a resurgence, with influential celebrities – including Ashley Graham, Lady Gaga and Chloë Sevigny – all sporting bows over the last couple of weeks.

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May 11th 2019, 10:58 am

Bobby Gillespie: ‘I wanted to change music culture’

Life and style | The Guardian

The Primal Scream frontman, 56, on growing up Glaswegian, loving the spotlight and the threat of Brexit

Working-class Glasgow was a very violent place to grow up. I saw violence on the streets. I saw it at football matches and I saw it at school. I had to be careful as the minute I stepped out on to the street anything could happen. If you walked through certain areas and people didn’t know your face you could be in trouble. It was tribalism. You just stuck to your part of the jungle.

I’m a Glaswegian before I’m a Scot. I’ve always been proud of the city and think the city is proud of us and it’s a city with a long tradition. It’s a radical city. It’s an artistic city. It’s got a lot of soul.

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May 11th 2019, 10:58 am

Ugg: kick in the guts as Aussie maker loses US trademark case

Life and style | The Guardian

Sydney-based Eddie Oygur ordered to pay damages after footwear and apparel company Deckers puts its foot down

The Australian ugg boot maker Eddie Oygur has suffered a $US450,000 ($A643,000) loss in his “David versus Goliath” legal fight with a major US footwear and apparel company.

A jury in Chicago found Oygur’s business, Sydney-based Australian Leather, wilfully infringed a trademark registered to California-based Deckers Outdoor by selling ugg boots online to customers in the US.

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May 11th 2019, 10:58 am

‘She felt like a queen for the day: we all wanted to hear her stories’

Life and style | The Guardian

Oral histories are big business as families hire the professionals to record their parents speaking for posterity

When the writer Anna Davies lost her mother in 2010, she didn’t expect that her most vital emotional connection would become a shopping list. Specifically, a voicemail left by her mother while she was sick in hospital, listing hamburgers, chips, bin bags “and anything else you want”.

After her death, Davies listened to it all the time on her old iPhone 4, which she carried everywhere. “It’s my only recording of her voice,” she wrote. “It’s as if the phone itself is a time machine that allows me to step into the past – if only for the 22 seconds of the recorded message.”

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May 11th 2019, 10:58 am

The age of rage: are we really living in angrier times?

Life and style | The Guardian

In a world in which populists whip up anger that spreads on social media, it’s easy to conclude we have never been more furious

It’s a standard observation that the world is getting angrier – but the truth is that taking the emotional temperature of an entire era is a mug’s game. For one thing, it’s almost impossible to get the necessary historical perspective: road rage, for example, feels like a modern phenomenon, until you learn that in 1817, Lord Byron was reported to the police for delivering a “swinging box on the ear” to “a fellow in a carriage, who was impudent to my horse”. It’s also easy to overlook the ways you’ve changed as an individual: I certainly remember life in the early 80s as less frustrating, but that’s surely just because I lived a child’s life of leisure, all expenses paid.

Still, the best data we have suggests that, overall, we are indeed getting angrier. Last year, 22% of respondents around the world told the Gallup organisation they felt angry, a record since the question was first asked in 2006. And something else, even harder to measure, feels like it’s different as well: it’s as though our anger has curdled, gone rancid. As a society, we seem not to express it and move on, but to stew in it – until, at the extremes, it hardens into violence and hate.

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May 11th 2019, 7:26 am

How women and minorities are claiming their right to rage

Life and style | The Guardian

Why do many think it acceptable for the white judge Brett Kavanaugh to lose his cool in public, but not the black tennis champion Serena Williams?

Anger is typically defined as a strong feeling of displeasure, hostility or aggression. Mainly, we think of it in terms of individual feelings, and we associate those feelings with isolating behaviours that cause discomfort or fear in ourselves or in others.

Anger is, however, also a critically useful and positive emotion – one that is, contrary to being isolating, deeply social and socially constructed. Anger warns us, as humans, that something is wrong and needs to change. Anger is the human response to being threatened with indignity, physical harm, humiliation and unfairness. Anger drives us to demand accountability, a powerful force for political good. As such, it is often what drives us to form creative, joyous and politically vibrant communities.

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May 11th 2019, 7:26 am

How to grow beans | Alys Fowler

Life and style | The Guardian

If you want to make your mark on sustainable eating then growing your own beans is the way to do it

I rattle a glass jar of black beans and take the last handful out to plant again. This has been my routine for some years – saving the last handful of good beans to start the whole process again. If you truly want to make your mark on sustainable eating, then growing your own beans is the way to do it.

Packed full of protein, potassium (a single serving offers up the same amount as a serving of cow’s milk), as well as other important micronutrients such as magnesium, folate, iron and zinc, as well as fibre, making them a low GI food, they are very good for you. They’re also good for the environment: their nitrogen-fixing roots leave the soil in good health. And they take up a fraction of the space you may need for other staples, such as pumpkins or potatoes, meaning they are ideal for growing in small areas.

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May 11th 2019, 7:26 am

Tim Dowling: an alien object crashlands into my life – who sent it?

Life and style | The Guardian

‘I’m kind of weirded out by this,’ the youngest one says. ‘Me, too,’ I say

It’s mid-morning, and I’m sitting alone in my office shed. The sun has come out, and the air is a few degrees warmer than the forecast promised. I’ve got the door open, so I can hear the birds as I type.

I’m enjoying a rare moment of concentration, so I don’t notice the buzzing at first. It’s coming from somewhere above me, and it’s getting closer.

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May 11th 2019, 3:37 am

The best under-eye correctors for dark circles | Sali Hughes

Life and style | The Guardian

When concealer alone is not effective, these products will transform skin tone

What if your under-eyes are grey, brown or blue and no amount of sleep and concealer makes any difference, other than to leave your skin caked dry in makeup? I’m asked this so often, I can’t discount that my dying utterance might be “stop piling on concealer… get a corrector”. I can’t stress enough – these are two distinct products doing different jobs (the former matches your skintone, the latter uses colour-wheel cunning to correct it).

While we’d all sooner use one thing, I promise the extra step saves much time and concealer later on. Just think of corrector as your industrial bra and sucky-in tights and concealer as your prettier overclothes. The widest range of correctors comes from Bobbi Brown. Catering for all skintones (typically, white skin requires a sickly to salmony pink corrector, brown needs salmon to peach, black needs peach to orange), it comes in two textures – a solid cream (£19.50) or serum (£30) – and which you choose depends entirely on your usual concealer.

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May 11th 2019, 3:20 am

I’ve taken my son to see the Avengers, but I'm the one who wants to be a superhero | Romesh Ranganat

Life and style | The Guardian

A woman is sitting next to my son, texting, and I’m enraged

I managed to watch the Avengers movie before having any of it spoilered for me, which was impressive mainly because I had promised my eldest son that I would see it with him, and, at nine years old, he has one of the busiest social calendars of anyone I know.

The thing about his calendar is that it is comprised of only one thing: birthdays. I rarely have to attend adult birthday celebrations, and have made my feelings on them very clear in this column . Children’s birthdays are dangerous for the parent who struggles to retain information, and picking up our kids afterwards usually involves my wife covering for me as I call parents the wrong names and ask them about children who aren’t theirs.

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May 11th 2019, 2:20 am

Blind date: ‘I arrived as a red, hot, sweaty mess’

Life and style | The Guardian

Rafael, 39, CEO, meets Chris, 38, senior probation officer

What were you hoping for?
A fun evening, and the opportunity to get to know someone interesting.

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May 11th 2019, 1:07 am

Tent dress: new trend aiming to capitalise on warm weather

Life and style | The Guardian

Many women are finding the new style not just comfortable but empowering, too

This season in fashion, size matters – but not in the way you might think. With temperatures set to reach the 20s in the UK next week, there’s a new larger-than-life dress shape billowing across the horizon aiming to capitalise on the warm weather.

The cut is non-specific, but the tent dress – as it is loosely known – is united by three things: size (very wide), shapelessness (there is no waist), and fabric (natural, such as linen, cotton or calico). Proof can be found on the summer catwalks at Valentino and Molly Goddard, on the high street at Zara and H&M, and even on the red carpet: last week’s Met Gala was a case in point, with Lady Gaga and Gwyneth Paltrow ditching the usual flesh flashing for silhouettes of truly impressive girth.

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May 10th 2019, 1:14 pm

My life in sex: ‘I would get up at 5am and masturbate for hours’

Life and style | The Guardian

The porn addict

As a teenager in the 1960s, I was part of the generation who considered masturbating and pornography a harmless outlet. These days, I see them as anything but.

During my last relationship, I would get up at 5am, head downstairs and masturbate for hours using internet porn. My partner must have figured out what I was doing but didn’t say anything, despite the fact that real sex between us had become an increasingly rare activity. She wanted sex but I couldn’t be aroused by her; I was too preoccupied with the women online. Even as the relationship crumbled, I refused to recognise this as a problem.

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May 10th 2019, 11:13 am

No. Fifty Cheyne, London SW3: ‘A good laugh’ - restaurant review | Grace Dent

Life and style | The Guardian

The perfect storm of very posh yet also pub-like

As we approached No Fifty Cheyne, in the Royal Borough of Kensington and Chelsea, of a Saturday evening, the streets felt quaintly pretty and soothingly silent. This is SW3. No Fifty Cheyne is a neighbourhood restaurant that, relatively speaking, almost nobody needs to frequent over a weekend. If you can afford to have this aesthetically splendid renovation as your local, there’s a strong chance you have other homes to flee to come Friday.

No Fifty Cheyne sits close to the Thames, bathed in the iridescent twinkle of Albert Bridge, and blue plaques on nearby walls speak of rose bushes planted by Elizabeth I. Sally Greene, theatre impresario and owner of Ronnie Scott’s, has taken her former Cheyne Walk Brasserie and transformed it into an elegant, grown-up safe space from life’s beastliness. Downstairs is a 70-seat restaurant serving the likes of snail and black pudding vol-au-vent, chicken liver terrine, a 14oz chateaubriand to share, and native lobster. Upstairs is a claret-coloured, womb-like, windowless cocktail snug and, to the right of this, the sort of panelled, bejewelled, sofa-strewn lounge in which one could imagine Marquise Isabelle from Dangerous Liaisons wearing an enormous bonnet and plotting mischief.

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May 10th 2019, 11:13 am

I’ve made my peace with the office milk thieves | Coco Khan

Life and style | The Guardian

My life has been plagued by teatime conflicts, but now I realise they weren’t about milk at all

A few days ago, I visited a friend’s office. She told me to help myself to a cup of tea, and being the polite, socially indoctrinated animal I am, I knew to ask which bottle of milk was hers. “All the milk is communal,” she said. “The company provides it.”

I have heard of many workplace perks, but company milk is up there with the best: just think how many moments of conflict could be defused by this small investment!

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May 10th 2019, 11:13 am

Anna Jones’ chickpea recipes | The Modern Cook

Life and style | The Guardian

Buy a jar of good-quality chickpeas and surprise yourself with a zesty turmeric stew and a herby halloumi traybake

Not all chickpeas are created equal. Many people I know say they don’t like them, but I’d argue that perhaps they haven’t tried the right ones. Some pre-cooked, tinned chickpeas can be hard as bullets, so I plump for jarred: the pricy Spanish ones if I am feeling flush orthe cheaper, tall jars from my local corner shop. As a rule, I find they are more carefully cooked and expertly seasoned. Or have a go at cooking your own – there are few more affordable meals. Chickpeas are always in my kitchen, and these dishes show off their best side. Go on – give chickpeas a chance.

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May 10th 2019, 11:13 am

From on-screen sisters to green lipstick: this week’s fashion trends

Life and style | The Guardian

What’s hot and what’s not in fashion this week

Coasting Algae, seaweed, samphire – the best skincare can be found at high tide. Salty.

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May 10th 2019, 11:13 am

Experience: I am a naked rollercoaster rider

Life and style | The Guardian

The riders are predominantly men, probably because it’s easier to hide male nakedness upside down on a rollercoaster

My love of rollercoasters started when I was 10. Dad took me on our local one at Great Yarmouth – it’s one of a few surviving scenic railway wooden rollercoasters, needing someone on board to work the brakes. I loved it. I’m 52 now, but I still think you can’t beat the feeling when you’re pulled to the top of the hill and gravity takes over.

Dad was a great riding partner, but stopped when I was about 13 after we went on our first loop-the-loop rollercoaster. He hated it. “OK, son,” he said. “Now you’re on your own.” I’m fearless, and I’ve now ridden more than 1,200 different rollercoasters.

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May 10th 2019, 11:13 am

Why do so many mediocre men rise to the top? | Oliver Burkeman

Life and style | The Guardian

Even if the world is horribly sexist you’d expect competent, rather than incompetent, men to be running it. And yet: look around

Why do so many incompetent men become leaders? This question, which the psychologist Tomas Chamorro-Premuzic uses as the title of his new book, seems designed to provoke (and he’ll definitely get accused of “virtue signalling” because of it). But it’s a subtler matter than you might think. The obvious answer, of course, is sexism. But that can’t be the whole story. Nobody doubts that there are at least some competent men – and presumably a sufficient number of them to lead the world’s corporations and governments. So even if the world is horribly sexist, why aren’t those men running it? In most walks of life, sexism lowers the bar that men must clear in order to succeed. But you’d still expect the talented ones to clear it more easily than the idiots. And yet: look around.

The answer emerging from Chamorro-Premuzic’s work is that there are two things going on here. One is sexism; but the other is a general difficulty in selecting competent leaders, of either sex, over incompetent ones. We habitually interpret traits such as overconfidence and self-absorption as signs of high ability, though in fact they’re negatively correlated with it. They “should be seen as red flags”, but “instead, they prompt us to say, ‘Ah, there’s a charismatic fellow! He’s probably leadership material.’” Men come to dominate the upper echelons because they’re more likely to manifest such traits. Research does also confirm that women are more harshly judged for displaying confidence. But the striking point here is that even a perfectly nonsexist hiring committee, or electorate, would still end up promoting a disproportionate number of mediocre men, provided they continued to take bluster and self-belief as proof of talent. (The book goes on to explore those traits, such as emotional intelligence, calmness, resilience and self-awareness, that actually do indicate an effective leader.)

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May 10th 2019, 11:13 am

How can I help my 76-year-old mother date safely online?

Life and style | The Guardian

Tell your mum not to give out personal details and be wary if the person comes out with a sob story, says Annalisa Barbieri

My father passed away three years ago after being happily married for 50 years to my mum. She has struggled with loneliness and lacks male companionship for support in everyday life. Before my dad died, he asked her to try to find another partner (if she could) so that she could continue sharing her life with someone else.

Mum is 76, still very active, and has joined many different groups (U3A, canasta, ping pong, walking group, local history group, Spanish lessons) but struggles with the thought of being alone. But these activities occur during the week, and I don’t live close to her, so there is considerable isolation during the evenings and at weekends. She has started to mention that she would like to find a partner and has begun exploring solo holidays. Recently she went online to look for “companionship” agencies and websites for older people. Later, I found out that she had registered with a group. I am very concerned that my mother has given her full contact details to an unknown party and someone can now easily identify that she is older, possibly more vulnerable and at home alone.

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May 10th 2019, 11:13 am
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