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Meet the artist contributing to Liam Hodges' Flintstones-style vision

Life and style | The Guardian

For his SS20 collection, emerging London menswear designer Liam Hodges called upon the talents of artist Alfie Kungu to help him capture the primitive futurism of his menswear designs

From the menswear designer who brought us prints of Mr Blobby and a British interpretation of Las Vegas Americana came a much lauded take on The Flintstones at London fashion week men’s last month. It was the latest chapter in London-based designer Liam Hodge’s phenomenal success tale that has seen him work his way up the ranks for the last six years to become a key player on the LFWM schedule. Yet the takeaway print this time was born out of a collaboration with a fellow creative.

The brains behind the artwork was British artist Alfie Kungu, a rising star in his own right since he graduated with a degree in Fine Art at the UWE Bristol in 2016, later becoming part of Saatchi’s Best of the Year collection in 2017.

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July 17th 2019, 6:38 am

How the wig got big

Life and style | The Guardian

They are loved by celebrities from Katy Perry to Cardi B, are all over the catwalks and selling out fast on the high street. Is this the summer’s most hair-raising trend?

Outside of the the black community, wig-wearing in popular culture has traditionally fallen into two camps: fancy dress or hair-loss solution. Occasionally, celebrities have flirted with wigs to define their look – Tina Turner or Cher – but whispers of “it’s a wig” are not often positive. That, however, is beginning to change.

Last month, Paris Hilton revealed she has a collection of more than 800 wigs, albeit some of which she uses for going “undercover”. During this month’s Wireless festival, Cardi B removed her wig and threw it into the crowd, before requesting its return on Instagram. Katy Perry took to Instagram to remove a bouncy blond wig, revealing longer, blonder hair beneath (also thought to be a wig). Kylie Jenner, who, like the rest of the Kardashian clan, is best known for sporting long, dark locks, opted for a short, blond wig with a fringe on a highly publicised night out. And it’s not long, of course, since Jenner wore a lengthy, purple, mermaid-esque wig that matched her dress to this year’s Met Gala (three years after she claimed to have started the wig trend, to much derision). The first trailer for the forthcoming Charlie’s Angels film was so wig-filled that, in less than 24 hours, New York magazine’s style pages ran a wigtastic roundup.

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July 17th 2019, 6:38 am

Gym, eat, repeat: the shocking rise of muscle dysmorphia

Life and style | The Guardian

The idealised male body has become bigger, bulkier and harder to achieve. So what drives a generation of young men to the all-consuming, often dangerous pursuit of perfection?

It is difficult for Miles to pinpoint the moment his muscle dysmorphia started. It was just always there, a background hum. “As far back as I can remember, I wanted a better-looking body,” says the 35-year-old US soldier, now stationed in Mons, Belgium. When he was 13, Miles spent a summer cutting grass to save up for a secondhand Soloflex exercise machine. The machine cost $1,000 (£800), but as Miles was too young to join a gym, it was worth the expense. With the help of the Soloflex, Miles started weight training and never looked back.

When he returned from a posting to Afghanistan at 24, things spiralled. He began obsessively working out and regimenting his meals. “I went all in ... it was full, hardcore dedication to the lifestyle.” Miles set his watch to beep every three hours, to remind him to eat. If it beeped when he was driving, he would pull over. Slowly, he whittled his body into shape. His muscles became striated, every fibre visible. Not big enough. At 95kg (210lbs) and 1.8 metres (6ft 2in), Miles wanted to be more muscular; leaner. He lost 22kg and started competing in amateur bodybuilding competitions. There was virtually no fat on him. “You pinch your skin and it just stays pinched.” His girlfriend left him. “She began to realise that my body dysmorphia was like dating another person.” The pursuit of muscularity took over his life. “I just thought, I am so lean, and shredded, and veiny, and masculine – I don’t ever want to go back to how I was before.”

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July 17th 2019, 3:36 am

Emily Atack: ‘I’m a bit of a scruff, so wearing a uniform was really fun’

Life and style | The Guardian

The actor found that donning khaki for a role in the Dad’s Army film wasn’t flattering but was gratifyingly warm

I never usually get to wear anything like this. I was playing an ATS (Auxiliary Territorial Service) girl in the 2016 film adaptation of Dad’s Army and wearing their classic uniform with a nice blonde wig – it was really fun. With a film like that, there’s always so much pressure on the costume designers to get it right and be respectful. The work that goes into it is unbelievable. There was this pair of khaki trousers with a light-green shirt tucked in, covered by a khaki jacket that matched the trousers. I had to have the particular socks that they wore, and these massive big, blokey boots. You couldn’t wear the hat any old way; it had to be at a certain tilt.

I am so used to wearing skimpy little skirts and being dressed up like a doll, so it was actually really nice to dress in something so comfortable. It might be a little bit less flattering, but it was nice and warm – and I was quite grateful for it because it was freezing on set.

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July 16th 2019, 10:57 am

Why Kate Winslet is happy to be descended from poor immigrants

Life and style | The Guardian

The actor has delved into her past for the BBC’s Who Do You Think You Are? and discovered there is nothing at all posh about her background

Name: Kate Winslet.

Age: 43.

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July 16th 2019, 10:57 am

I knew people found me uncanny and strange – then came the diagnosis that explained it all

Life and style | The Guardian

The writer Joanne Limburg always knew other people found her somehow unsettling – so much so, she felt she identified with Stephen King’s Carrie. But it was only in her 30s, while reading about autism, that she understood why

Recently, I taught a course that had Stephen King’s On Writing as a set text. The book opens with a section called “CV”, in which he describes the experiences that formed him as a writer. Exploring the genesis of his novel Carrie, he explains that its title character – the teenage outcast who enacts a horrific, telekinetic revenge on her tormentors – emerged from uneasy memories of two girls he knew during his own high school years. These girls looked wrong, sounded wrong. They dressed in the wrong clothes. Both came from unusual homes, but what made them – in King’s words – the “two loneliest and most reviled” of the girls in his class was something less tangible than background. Returning to the subject in his introduction to my edition of Carrie, he suggests that this was a something “that broadcast STRANGE! NOT LIKE US! KEEP AWAY!”

King speculates that this broadcast occupied a “wavelength only other kids can pick up”, but I’m not so sure people ever grow out of that receptiveness. They may learn to respond to it less unkindly, but they still sense it. There is even a word for the experience of sensing unplaceable difference: “uncanny”.

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July 16th 2019, 10:57 am

Do our pets ever really love us – or do they just stick around for the food?

Life and style | The Guardian

We dote on our cats and dogs, but is it a one-way relationship? Here’s what science tells us about how to decode their emotions, whether they are avoiding us or getting a little too amorous with our legs

It is almost a year to the day since Dustin, our milky-eyed nervebag of a cat, died and we still miss him a great deal, although he was not a great giver of emotion. We miss his refusing to look our way immensely. And his not wanting to be stroked there, there or there. But it wasn’t Dustin’s fault he was like this. Unknown trauma in kittenhood (he was left in a shoebox at the front door of a vet’s surgery) meant that he lived his entire 11 years in terror of being mauled to death by some unseen enemy. Understandably, this constant fear made Dustin very, very nervous.

Through many years of care and affection, we almost managed to rescue him from this anxiety until – almost as if to prove a point – Dustin was mauled to death by two pet dogs off the lead. When we pulled his frozen body out of the freezer before his funeral, Dustin had a withering expression – “I told you so” it seemed to say. This was the only time we really got to stroke him properly. Frozen solid.

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July 16th 2019, 10:57 am

Why are we like this? The psychology of procrastination

Life and style | The Guardian

From deleting social media apps to setting limits on your screen time – here’s how to deal with the existential malaise of putting off the important things

You know that thing you’ve been putting off doing? Yes, that. What’s taking you so long?

Perhaps you need to reply to an important-but-not-urgent work email, or pay an overdue utility bill. These tasks are straightforward enough, so why does alphabetising your books seem preferable instead?

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July 16th 2019, 7:25 am

Tangram Smart Rope – why mess with the zen-like emptiness of skipping?

Life and style | The Guardian

After 15 seconds, my legs are aching and my stomach is complaining. Does this flashy update really improve a six-year-old’s toy?

There exists no purer evocation of childhood than the skipping rope. A rope, two handles, hours of fun. Of course, adults have a way of taking the same ingredients and making them far less innocent. Which possibly explains the Tangram Smart Rope (£79.95, apple.com/uk): an “LED-embedded jump rope that displays your fitness data in mid-air”. Why? Does anyone really need an electronic skipping rope that has its own app? Surely this is the definition of flashiness for the sake of it?

I put on my special shorts and get swinging, to see if such monstrosity can be defended. There is a good chance it can. While totally unnecessary, the image of a virtual counter racking up rope turns in mid-air is striking. And, as we know, coolness is infuriatingly self-justifying.

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July 16th 2019, 6:06 am

I had sex for the first time and now I feel disgusted and ashamed

Life and style | The Guardian

I pretended to enjoy it, but it was uncomfortable. I feel sick at the thought of ever having sex again

I am a 23-year-old woman and just had sex for the first time. I pretended to enjoy it but it was uncomfortable – I just wanted it to be over, and was relieved that it didn’t go on too long. I now feel disgusted and ashamed. I don’t want to try it again, but I don’t know how to tell the guy this. We haven’t been dating long, so I feel like it would be best to break it off. I feel sick at the thought of ever having sex again. Is it normal to feel like this?

It is not unusual to have an uncomfortable “first time”. But even some relatively experienced people tell themselves they “should” be having sex and enjoying it when actually they are not ready or are flat-out uninterested. Sometimes this pressure is exerted on them by friends, cultural beliefs or perhaps what they see on the internet. Please try to let go of the idea that you have to behave in a certain way – including putting up with “disgusting” experiences – just to feel “normal”. Clearly you do not want to be sexual right now; in fact you could happily not even date. Take your time to decide what you really want – or don’t want – and in the meantime do not bow to pressure from peers or would-be partners. Sex can be far better than the way you experienced it, although – as part of one’s erotic trial and error – it may not always be enjoyable. Listen to your intuition and, for now, avoid situations that could lead to feeling that you should comply with others’ expectations. Consider revisiting the possibility of sex only when you feel a sense of safety as well as strong, genuine erotic desire for someone. Say to this man you have been dating that, at this point, you are not interested in a rerun; his response will tell you a lot about him.

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July 16th 2019, 4:06 am

Why do so many men think they could win a point off Serena Williams?

Life and style | The Guardian

One in eight British men believe they could take a point off Serena Williams in a tennis match. Are they all delusional?

She has a serve that once topped 128mph, has won 23 grand slam singles titles and is regarded by many to be the best female athlete of all time, but 12% of British men would still fancy their chances of taking a point off Serena Williams. “Good luck with that,” tweeted Judy Murray. The sports broadcaster Catherine Whitaker tweeted: “If you’re one of the 12% you should be required to declare it on online dating profiles. Like a CRB check but for delusional morons.”

According to a YouGov poll, one in eight men – in the general population, that is, not necessarily people who enjoy playing tennis – said they thought they could win a point against Williams (one in 33 women thought the same). Could they? It depends who you are asking, says David Sammel, the head coach at Team Bath Tennis. “If you get a good club player, I’m sure they’d take a point off her. If you get a beginner, the only way they’ll take a point is if she serves a double fault. If you’ve never played tennis, then absolutely not.”

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July 16th 2019, 4:06 am

Buteyko: the dangerous truth about the new celebrity breathing sensation

Life and style | The Guardian

An Indonesian singer has posted pictures of herself and her family with tape over their mouths, in the cause of better breathing. The medical establishment is distinctly unimpressed

Name: Buteyko.

Age: Seventy-ish.

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July 16th 2019, 4:06 am

The big fashion fight: can we remove all the toxic, invisible plastic from our clothes?

Life and style | The Guardian

More than half of all textiles produced each year include plastic. Now the urgent search is on for a more sustainable way to clothe the world

It was probably the only time a 93-year-old has stolen the show at Glastonbury’s Pyramid stage. Sir David Attenborough had important things to say when he warmed up for Kylie Minogue last month. After showing scenes from Blue Planet 2, the wildlife series credited with inspiring a sea change in attitudes towards plastics pollution, the broadcaster thanked festival goers and organisers for banning single-use water bottles. “This great festival has gone plastic-free,” he said to cheers. “Thank you! Thank you!”

Kylie’s crowd was right to feel virtuous – single-use plastic is an oil-derived menace to marine life – but how many paused to look down at the elastic in their waistbands, the polyester in their T-shirts and the nylon in their shoes? Plastic in what we wear may be less visible than it is in bottles or straws, but it is no less toxic. Yet somehow we have woven it so tightly into our throwaway society that we barely notice it, even when it is on our own backs. Now there are moves – at the top and bottom of a complex global supply chain – to do something about it.

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July 16th 2019, 4:06 am

My breast reduction: why I had the surgery that helped Simona Halep win at Wimbledon

Life and style | The Guardian

The operation freed me from chronic headaches, and back and neck pain. But nothing about the process was easy

Three days before Christmas 2015, when I was 19, I had my breasts reduced in size. Sitting alone in my flat after the operation at Ross Hall hospital in Glasgow, I confronted my scars for the first time, and I cried.

It was not the first time that I had cried over my body, but these were not the tears of a miserable, frustrated teenager. I felt as if I had been through a battle and had emerged victorious. Holding those stitched-up breasts, a manageable 32E down from a 34GG, I was finally, gloriously me.

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July 16th 2019, 4:06 am

After an eating disorder and obsessive exercise, swimming with friends taught me plumpness is power

Life and style | The Guardian

I was used to strict fitness regimes, but lazy, pleasure-driven swims helped me to feel more comfortable in my own skin

It was last September, while on a hen weekend in north Wales, that I realised how important swimming had become to me.

There was a temporary break in the organised fun and a clutch of attendees I vaguely knew from university asked if I would join them for a dip at the nearby beach. The conditions were hardly dreamy: it was raining; I hadn’t bought a bathing suit; the only towel I could use was the child-sized one provided by the Airbnb. But I took them up on it all the same. “I’ll be with you in five minutes,” I said, grinning.

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July 15th 2019, 6:46 am

Five ways to reduce plastic in the bathroom

Life and style | The Guardian

From bamboo toothbrushes to using refill options or your own containers, it’s not hard to change your ways

“A bamboo toothbrush is the first swap I always suggest,” says Beth Noy, who founded the online shop Plastic Freedom in frustration at the lack of easily available alternatives to everyday plastic items. She also suggests swapping disposable razors for a safety razor, using bars of soap and shampoo instead of bottles, switching from cottonwool pads to resuable cleansing pads and tampons to menstrual cups, and seeking out mouthwash tablets. Jen Chillingsworth, author of Live Green: 52 Steps for a More Sustainable Life, suggests using a mesh “soap-saver” bag. “Put the soap bar in the bag, wet the bag and use it as an exfoliating scrub. Any broken bits of soap are contained and nothing is wasted.” She also recommends a konjac sponge for cleansing because the naturally derived and gently exfoliating sponges are biodegradable and compostable. Plastic-free earbuds are also available.

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July 15th 2019, 5:02 am

Mid-year burnout: does it exist or are we all just permanently tired?

Life and style | The Guardian

Halfway through 2019, Guardian readers report feeling more exhausted than previous summers. What’s behind the malaise?

Louise set herself two New Year’s resolutions for 2019: to start yoga, and to keep a journal. She did better than most people, sticking to both for five months. About six weeks ago, however, she recognised something was off. “During May, I noticed all I kept writing was how lethargic, below average or ill I was feeling.”

Writing in her journal in the first week of June, the 30-year-old from Nottinghamshire wondered if hitting the six-month mark and “the downwards slope to winter” was taking its toll. “I was ready to brush it off as irrational,” she said, “until I saw this.”

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July 15th 2019, 5:02 am

How to chew your food properly

Life and style | The Guardian

Digestion starts in the mouth so, to avoid overburdening your stomach, it is important to chew food well. A nutritionist gives some helpful advice

You should chew your food until it is small enough to swallow easily, so your stomach does not have to work too hard. Digestion starts in the mouth.

Saliva contains amylase, the enzyme that helps to chemically break down food. There is also mechanical digestion, the physical action of breaking down food. If food does not stay in the mouth long enough, it is not exposed to amylase to break down the carbohydrates – there is very little carbohydrate digestion in the stomach, and if food gets there without being properly digested, the stomach has to work harder. There are also some things the stomach cannot digest. If bits of food enter the top of your small intestine still quite whole, it can lead to bloating and discomfort.

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July 15th 2019, 5:02 am

‘Walkers are middle aged, hikers are cool’

Life and style | The Guardian

No longer just an activity for older people with sticks, rambling in the countryside is catching on with a new generation

Deep in the English countryside on a golden midsummer evening, 16 young people have gathered to plot the night’s entertainment. Partially organised by word of mouth, partially through WhatsApp, we have arrived ready at the meeting point – the bottom of a windmill famous for featuring in Chitty Chitty Bang Bang.

It’s a friendly, chatty, hotchpotch crowd. If I squint, I think this might just be how the halcyon days of rave first came about. It might – except that I’m here with the Berkshire Young Ramblers and we’re going on a five-mile hike. Walking, I mumble unconvincingly, is the new raving ... isn’t it?

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July 14th 2019, 6:10 am

When will I be famous? Oscar the whippet’s bid for Instagram fame

Life and style | The Guardian

Petfluencers rule the internet. Can Emma Beddington transform her gloomy pet into a social media sensation?

Grumpy Cat, the internet’s favourite seemingly furious feline, died in May, to a global outpouring of sadness, an emotion she would presumably have appreciated. The demise of the creature whose peevish underbite launched a thousand merchandising and sponsorship deals, from cereal and soft toys to video games (not to mention a surprising number of tattoos), has doubtless left a gap in her owners the Bundesens’ hearts, but it has also opened up an opportunity in the petfluencer (sorry, it’s a thing) market.

Oscar does not like cuddles, fun, me, or other dogs

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July 14th 2019, 6:10 am

Is this the end of wellness?

Life and style | The Guardian

After a trend of magical thinking and quick fixes, science-based solutions may not be so dull

Like a worm cut in half, its head regenerating into a new, even angrier worm, the “wellness” trend is one that refuses to die. But this week, its wiggle appeared to wane. A certain weariness had set in. Is this the end of wellness?

The evidence: “I was a huge fan of Gwyneth,” one attendee of Goop’s recent “wellness summit” in London told website Page Six, “Now I feel like I have lost my faith in God.” “GP [Paltrow],” said another, “is a fucking extortionist.” These were people who had spent up to £4,500 on weekend tickets, getting off the tube in Hammersmith as if landing in Lourdes, expecting to leave healed. What do they need healing from, you ask? Well, what have you got? Creepy energy, deep thirst, smell of cardboard, troubled pits, babyish sleeping, bad vagina – the beauty of the term “wellness” is that it encompasses almost everything, and can cost almost anything. Which is why I was excited to see the attendees rebel – a tipping point has been reached. Somewhere among the self-care stations and lavender lattes, a healthless revolution.

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July 14th 2019, 6:10 am

When we’re on holiday, do our gardens miss us | Allan Jenkins

Life and style | The Guardian

Everything has gone wild and some serious effort is needed to restore garden and gardener’s happiness

The best-planted plans... This is a return to the allotment after near three weeks away. I had put in the work. I had weeded and fed, I had sowed new rows and organised watering cover (thank you, Lene). Howard had promised to pop in.

The salads were all up before I went, the peas and beans were adolescent, there was coriander, and fresh leaves and early potatoes: the bright, light tastes of summer. So why do I feel so guilty as I walk towards the plot on my first early mid-June morning after being away?

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July 14th 2019, 1:36 am

I finally have a nice, stable boyfriend, so why am I so unhappy? | Dear Mariella

Life and style | The Guardian

Past relationships are still affecting you, says Mariella Frostrup, and you need professional support, as well as friends, to come to terms with your trauma, and counter negative thinking

The dilemma I’m 27 and have been in a relationship for 18 months. My boyfriend and I met four months after I left my abusive ex-partner, who I’d met after the death of my father. My boyfriend is kind, funny, has a zest for life, loves to include me and never shies away from talking about the future. He moved in six months ago. We went through a rough patch – I made life particularly difficult by avoiding spending time at home and picking fights. We are finally stable. However, I feel desperately sad and disconnected, even though I feel I ought to be relieved. I struggle to deal with my free time and though I see friends I feel restless in their company. Unless the flat is spotless, I can’t relax. In the back of my mind, a malicious voice is telling me that my boyfriend’s affection is tantamount to pity. I fear I’ll lose this lovely man to my demons. But I’m afraid that my trauma has led me to seek out a “Band-Aid relationship” that I cannot relate to. The thought of leaving fills me with dread, but I feel myself retreating further.

Mariella replies You need help, but probably not from me. Experiencing the trauma of abuse isn’t something you can simply “move on from”, especially when it occurs at such a vulnerable time following the loss of the primary male figure in your life. It’s an emotionally combustible combination and can prompt patterns of behaviour that you don’t want dictating the course of your future. You don’t mention having sought professional help, but I urge you to do so as an imperative and constructive way to avoid sinking further into depression and negative thinking. Your letter indicates that you are suffering from both – and that you don’t think you deserve the relationship you’re in, an entirely different question to whether or not it’s the right one for you!

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July 14th 2019, 1:36 am

Grow your own ingredients – even on a windowsill | James Wong

Life and style | The Guardian

You don’t need a garden to get in on the summer harvest – herbs make some of the best houseplants

At the peak of the growing season allotmenteers’ crops are now coming in thick and fast, but you don’t have to have access to masses of space to try your hand at producing homegrown harvests. In fact, even if all you have is a sunny kitchen windowsill there is a large range of edibles that you can get growing right now that will produce enough to transform all sorts of dishes. So here’s a run through of my (mostly) favourite indoor edibles that I am growing right now.

While we don’t tend to think about edible species when it comes to houseplants, loads of the fresh spices we use hail from the tropics and despite being impossible to grow outdoors in the UK, are super-easy to grow in pots indoors. A classic example is the curry plant Murraya koenigii from south-east Asia, whose leaves taste like ready-made curry powder. Tracking down the fresh leaves can be incredibly tricky in supermarkets, and even when you do they tend to have lost much of their flavour, so growing your own is really worth the effort. Plants can be treated just like their relatives the citrus, given a bright, warm spot and well-drained soil. And they take pruning really well, so you don’t have to be trepidatious when it comes to harvest time.

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July 14th 2019, 1:36 am

Cannondale Topstone preview: 'It'll cope with anything'

Life and style | The Guardian

One of the new ’gravel’ bikes from the States, it’s a fast low-profile road bike, but rugged enough to take off-road, too

Cannondale Topstone
Price £2,100, evanscycles.com
Frame carbon
Gears 22-speed Shimano 105
Brakes hydraulic disc

The term ‘gravel’ bike is a recent import from America. I think ‘trail’ would be more accurate, but it doesn’t sound so of-the-moment. We used to call them cross-bikes or even x-bikes. But, essentially, they are all the same thing. They are road bikes with off-road capabilities. Wheels are bigger, frames are more durable, brakes are beefed up and some have suspension. The upshot of all this is that you get a go-anywhere bike that lets you ride fast on smooth tarmac before heading confidently into terrain that most bikes would soon be rattled to pieces on. Cannondale has come a long way since it first got down to business in 1971 in Connecticut in a loft above an old pickle factory. Its initial product was a bike trailer known as the ‘Bugger’. The first bike, a touring model, wasn’t produced until 1983, but since then it’s gone on to create bikes that have won the world’s greatest races – including the Giro and Vuelta. The new Topstone features a lightweight suspension system that lets you ride harder when the riding gets hard. It’s strong, comfortable and will cope with anything.

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July 14th 2019, 1:36 am

Ian Wright: ‘My most unappealing habit? Clearing my throat on live television’

Life and style | The Guardian

The football pundit on the 1990 FA Cup final, being in prison and biscuits

Born in London, Wright, 55, worked as a plasterer. At 21, he signed his first contract with Crystal Palace before joining Arsenal in 1991 and becoming the club’s top scorer for six successive seasons. He retired in 2000 with 33 England caps. A football pundit, he is the subject of Gillette’s #MyRoleModel campaign. He is married, has eight children and lives in London.

When were you happiest?
1990 FA Cup final, playing for Crystal Palace.

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July 13th 2019, 6:43 am

Fit in my 40s: does Cindy Crawford’s 90s fitness video stand the test of time? | Zoe Williams

Life and style | The Guardian

If you don’t get a huge amount from big hair and beach shots, this will feel a bit kitsch. But much of it still works

• Fitness tips: three of the best celebrity fitness workout apps

The first Cindy Crawford fitness video, Shape Your Body, came out in 1992, and last month I decided to dig it out of the archive for a roadtest. Has she stood the test of time?

You should watch all the way through before you start trying to follow, she says, so you’re not craning at the TV while you’re trying to exercise. This is ridiculous advice: you’d be craning anyway unless you watched it 500 times before you started, and each time takes you deeper into the peculiar era that was the 1990s. All the visuals are one part female-empowerment-hear-her-roar, two parts shampoo-ad hair flicking. The warm-up section – languid head rolls as seen in no modern aerobics class ever, arm scissoring that looks like the choreography for some Disney Mousketeers – seems mainly there for the aesthetic.

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July 13th 2019, 3:22 am

Romesh Ranganathan: even the loveliest people get road rage – my mum included

Life and style | The Guardian

The van driver suggested we both pull over and sort this out physically

I find it baffling how much of a war zone the road is. In life, we mostly manage to walk around interacting with each other fairly politely. But as soon as we get into our cars, we morph into something out of Mad Max. We drive around waiting to be slighted by another driver, so we can scream in outrage and pound our horns at the injustice of somebody failing to see we were waiting for that parking space, actually.

Even my mum, a lovely woman everywhere but behind the wheel, recently asked me how to properly do the wanker hand gesture, as she “needed it for driving”. She asked as though it were part of the Highway Code.

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July 13th 2019, 3:22 am

A letter to… a very special au pair

Life and style | The Guardian

‘Dark brown eyes and brown-black hair… you stole a little nine-year-old boy’s heart’: the letter you always wanted to write

There were many au pairs through my pre-teen life – but then you arrived. Dark brown eyes. Brown‑black hair, naturally wavy. A skin colour I hadn’t seen up close before: delicately tanned, even though it was winter. You wore stone-washed slim jeans, and you stole a little nine-year-old boy’s heart.

Mum would work night shifts as a nurse; Dad would be out convincing people to buy his wares. We remained with you in the evenings. I remember watching you in the kitchen. You wore brightly coloured gloves when washing-up: something Mum never did. I was happy to watch and be near you. Then I would go to my room, put on my Transformers pyjamas, and wait for you. You attended my younger brother first and my older brother last, so I knew that every moment of our time together was precious.

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July 13th 2019, 2:07 am

My life in sex: 'It was clear my labia had been completely removed'

Life and style | The Guardian

The woman who regrets her labiaplasty

I am 24, and have always been self-conscious of how I looked “down there”. Not enough to put me off having sex and I never had complaints, but it was always in the back of my mind that my labia were on the larger side. I’d previously had cosmetic surgery on my ears, which went well, and figured that labiaplasty could also boost my confidence.

So, two months ago, I underwent surgery, telling only one friend. I travelled to and from the hospital on my own and told my boss that I was on holiday. Straight away, I knew something wasn’t right. Instead of a reduction, it was clear that my labia had been completely removed. That first week was the worst of my life. I cried several times a day, and even considered suicide. The enormity of my decision sunk in – I could hardly walk and even sitting down was a struggle. I couldn’t face telling my friend: acknowledging what had happened out loud just felt too much.

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July 13th 2019, 1:37 am

Blind date: ‘I told her I wouldn’t call myself straight’

Life and style | The Guardian

Summer, 26, art publisher, meets Mark, 32, technical delivery manager

What were you hoping for?
I was told he was a cyclist, so nice legs.

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July 13th 2019, 1:37 am

Our mum’s hoarding and debt problems are out of control

Life and style | The Guardian

Unless you work on the causes, says Annalisa Barbieri, simply clearing out someone’s house doesn’t work – they will just start hoarding again

We are a group of adult siblings, worried about our mum. During our childhood, and since, our mum has had a problem with hoarding and debt. This got worse after our abusive father left and after they divorced.

Mum is now retired and has a comfortable income, though she is not wealthy. In the last 25 years she has received two sizeable lump sums which have melted away with nothing to show for them.

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July 13th 2019, 1:37 am

‘There was blood on the walls’: what to do when teen parties go wrong

Life and style | The Guardian

When my son threw a Facebook bash for 25 friends, it spiralled out of control. So why did I encourage him to have more?

We were enjoying a final barbecue with our two younger children on the last night of a holiday in Cornwall. Earlier we had dropped Jake, our 16-year-old, at the station so he could go home for a party. What we didn’t know, as we watched another dazzling sunset, was that the party was at our house. Jake was the host. And it had been flagged on social media for more than a week.

Skip to the next day. We were driving home when we received an ominous phone call from Jake: “I’m really sorry,” he said, “but Josh broke the overhead light in the kitchen skateboarding round the table.”

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July 13th 2019, 1:37 am

Falling in love is the world’s best natural high | Hannah Jane Parkinson

Life and style | The Guardian

Romantic love is a hormonal rush that screws you up. It is basically awful and yet also the best experience there is

If you search online for “falling in love”, the first result returned is: “What are the symptoms of falling in love?” Symptoms. Because what is falling in love if not our brains and bodies riddled with all-encompassing, uncontrollable sensations? Can love be diagnosed? Yes, pretty much, according to Freud. And there is a genuine condition known as broken-heart syndrome, if things head west.

Falling in love and being in love are different things. It’s falling in love that really screws you up. It is falling in love that leads one to play songs on repeat – platitudinous, cloying numbers, that would never otherwise be countenanced.

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July 13th 2019, 1:37 am

Experience: I tunnelled under the Berlin Wall

Life and style | The Guardian

My real fear was the border guards and Stasi, who were listening for movement beneath the ground and digging their own tunnels to intercept ours

In 1961, I was 21 and studying civil engineering in East Germany. I was desperate to escape to the west; the Berlin Wall, which started going up in August 1961, was becoming more impregnable every week. By winter, scores of people had been killed there or while trying to swim across the River Spree. It felt as if we were penned in, with no future at all.

I was lucky. I managed to cross into West Berlin using a smuggled Swiss passport. I had to leave my girlfriend, Christa, and family behind, thinking I would never see them again. I’d told my parents of my plan, but not Christa: I thought our relationship would be over. When I arrived in West Berlin, I had nothing but the clothes I was wearing. I got some state support as a refugee, and enrolled at another university, but I missed Christa and my family.

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July 13th 2019, 1:37 am

What did ousted M&S clothing boss change at the embattled retailer?

Life and style | The Guardian

Jill McDonald’s tenure reacted to customer demands but its delivery came unstuck

Taking on the top fashion job at M&S was never going to be an easy one. The brand’s trajectory from high-street kingpin to a retailer struggling to keep up has been regrettably documented, as has its numerous changes in strategy.

During Jill McDonald’s tenure, it seemed to have a reactive stance which responded to wider industry calls for consistent looks that generate brand loyalty and contribute towards a more sustainable approach to buying clothes.

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July 12th 2019, 4:34 am

The best linen pieces for all ages – in pictures

Life and style | The Guardian

Linen has had a modern overhaul. Dresses and skirts are fitted, a jumpsuit is cool and relaxed, and a cropped bandeau top looks stylish paired with a blazer

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July 12th 2019, 4:34 am

‘Deafness – it’s part of who you are’: one man’s journey to inspire

Life and style | The Guardian

Ed Rex has enjoyed some memorable travel experiences over the years. He tells Lucy Jolin about how he started his travel blogging business and the tech that helps him

Travel blogger Ed Rex has had plenty of memorable moments in his career to date, from snorkelling in Fiji to marvelling at the Iguazu Falls on the border of Brazil and Argentina. But one of the most memorable was when he accidentally signed up for a job at a nudist resort in Australia.

“The plan was to work at resorts in return for bed and breakfast,” he says with a grin. “The resort sent me a nice email saying they were looking forward to me coming and would pick me up – and by the way, we’re nudists: is that OK with you? And I had to be nude as well. That was a challenge! I’ve certainly never done naked gardening in the UK ...”

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July 11th 2019, 6:51 am

Who needs cookbooks? Top chefs’ favourite ultra-simple recipes

Life and style | The Guardian

You don’t need pages of ingredients and instructions to make something delicious. Here are 18 quick and easy stunners, from Middle Eastern dips to Indian street snacks

Over the past 50 years, the chef Alice Waters, owner and chief ideologue at Chez Panisse in Berkeley, California, has played a pivotal role in the popularisation of local, seasonal cooking. In her 2017 memoir, Coming to My Senses, Waters boiled her rationale down to its essence, almost literally. Her favourite recipe, she wrote, is: “Go cut some mint from the garden, boil water, pour it over the mint. Wait. And then drink.”

Can exceptional flavours really be that simple? To find out, G2 asked a selection of top chefs for their favourite simple recipes, where a minimum of cooking transforms a few ingredients into a killer dish.

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July 11th 2019, 5:48 am

Can we talk in confidence? The death of candour in the age of surveillance

Life and style | The Guardian

The Kim Darroch leaks highlight how hard it is to keep any communication private. How can we regain our privacy?

“Dance like no one is watching,” the American journalist Olivia Nuzzi wrote in 2014. “Email like it may one day be read aloud in a deposition.”

Nuzzi’s advice could have saved Kim Darroch an awful lot of trouble. The UK ambassador to the US has just been forced to resign after describing Donald Trump and his administration as “inept” and “uniquely dysfunctional” in diplomatic memos that were subsequently leaked to the Mail on Sunday.

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July 11th 2019, 5:48 am

Don’t ask your waiter what to order – and other ways to be a perfect diner

Life and style | The Guardian

It’s not just rudeness that upsets restaurant staff. Too much deference can be almost as bad

I had my first waitressing job in Chancery Lane, a very lawyer-heavy corner of London, in 1991. I had been hired specifically to flog dessert wine at the end of the meal, and I learned the following: if people want dessert wine, they ask for it. Getting a person who doesn’t already want it to drink tokay is like getting a baby to take an antibiotic – you would basically have to squirt it into their mouths with a syringe. I also learned every single way in which a lawyer can be rude to a waiter: the cross-examination (“Why on earth would I want dessert wine?”); the stonewall; the sneering grandeur (“We’re actually in the middle of a conversation”). What is wrong with these people, I always thought. They can surely see that I’m not doing this on my own account.

After that, I had a couple of waiting jobs that were OK – corporate events in museums, where everyone was wild with excitement because they were going to snog someone from HR, and you couldn’t put a foot wrong – but realised quite quickly that if you wanted to be treated like an equal, you had to work in a pub. Indeed, drinkers treat you like an equal at the beginning of the night, and by the end, they are treating you like some kind of angel. Diners, gone bad, are the opposite: you’re staff at the beginning and a serf at the end.

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July 11th 2019, 5:48 am

Fast fashion: Britons to buy 50m 'throwaway outfits' this summer

Life and style | The Guardian

Survey finds holiday clothing is biggest extravagance, with consumers set to spend £700m

Britons will spend £2.7bn this summer on more than 50m summer outfits that will be worn only once, a poll reveals.

By far the biggest extravagance is new clothing for holidays, where consumers splash out more than £700m on 11m items bought for the trip which will never be worn again, according to research carried out by Censuswide for the charity Barnardo’s.

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July 11th 2019, 5:48 am

Leaving home? These are the life lessons you really need

Life and style | The Guardian

The government is launching a new course to teach sixth-formers how to cook, clean and manage money. But what about how not to freak out at the state of a communal sink?

The government has announced a course designed to help teenagers prepare for leaving home. The Leapskills programme will teach sixth-formers how to cook from scratch, how to manage their money and how to clean. Hopefully the curriculum will also cover the following …

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July 11th 2019, 5:48 am

How period tracking can give all female athletes an edge

Life and style | The Guardian

The adviser to the US’ women’s World Cup winners shows them how to train with their menstrual cycle, not against it – and there are lessons for the rest of us

Until relatively recently, sports scientists simply applied the research they had done with male athletes to female ones. In fact, according to research scientist Georgie Bruinvels, it is only since the 1990s that it has been “appreciated that women are different”. There is still a long way to go. In 2014, researchers looked at sports studies published between 2011 and 2013; where performance was concerned, once they removed one study that heavily skewed the result, they found that just 3% of participants were women.

One particular growing area of interest is the impact of menstrual cycle and hormones on female sports performance – and this is where Bruinvels specialises. This week, the Times reported that after, advising the World Cup-winning US women’s football team, she is in talks to work with British female tennis players.

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July 11th 2019, 5:48 am

Superdry turnaround will take up to two years, says co-founder

Life and style | The Guardian

Julian Dunkerton recently returned to UK retailer, which made a pre-tax loss of £85.4m

The returning co-founder of Superdry has said it will take up to two years to fix the struggling British fashion group after it slumped to an £85.4m annual loss.

Julian Dunkerton is now the interim chief executive, as well as the group’s largest shareholder after winning a bitter battle to rejoin the board in April, prompting the resignation of all its directors. He said its performance in the new financial year would “reflect market conditions and the [historical] issues inherited”, with sales likely to fall.

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July 10th 2019, 12:08 pm

Urban haul: the best city dresses – in pictures

Life and style | The Guardian

Dresses need to be versatile to stand up to a day out on the town. Our pick of the best will see you from public transport to office to park

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July 10th 2019, 12:08 pm

Nadiya Hussain is right – we shouldn’t be snobby about spaghetti hoops

Life and style | The Guardian

The Bake Off winner says ‘we need to stop being pretentious’ about tinned food

In a long overdue change to the impossible perfectionism of so much food TV, Nadiya Hussain’s forthcoming BBC show Time to Eat will strike a more realistic note as the Great British Bake Off-winner uses tinned spaghetti hoops and instant noodles to rustle up her no-fuss meals.

“We need to stop being pretentious and think about the fact some people struggle for money,” Hussain told Radio Times, while explaining a time she was faced with either paying her gas bill or boiling potatoes, so reached for the tinned variety instead.

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July 10th 2019, 5:20 am

A greener way to go: what’s the most eco-friendly way to dispose of a body?

Life and style | The Guardian

Burial uses too much land; cremation releases too much CO2. So what about composting our loved ones – or even dissolving them?

In the middle of a cavernous factory floor in Pudsey, Leeds, sits a gleaming steel cylinder. One day, its maker believes, most of us will end up in something similar.

The machine is a Resomator – a pressurised canister in which corpses are submerged in a mixture of 150C water and potassium hydroxide solution for three to four hours until the flesh is dissolved, leaving behind only soft, greyish bones. After drying in an adjacent oven, these are ground down into paper-white powder, while the fluid is sent to a water treatment plant for disposal. The entire process is operated by a touchscreen and a single “start” button, away from the view of mourners. Ashes to ashes no more.

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July 10th 2019, 5:20 am

Crimes against humour: should the police be making jokes on Twitter?

Life and style | The Guardian

Derbyshire police drew criticism this week for tweeting a light hearted picture of a cordoned-off flip-flop. But a little banter can relieve the grim business of solving crime.

It’s almost 100 years since the music-hall artist Charles Penrose wrote and performed the still-popular The Laughing Policeman: “He’s too kind for a policeman/ He’s never known to frown/ And everybody says/ He’s the happiest man in town.” But the idea that the constabulary may not take their duties seriously enough still seems to be an issue today.

This week, Derbyshire police tweeted a jokey picture of a cordoned-off flip-flop belonging to an alleged criminal who had legged it after his car was stopped by the police. Cue inevitable outraged response that the police should not be larking about on Twitter when there are serious crimes to be investigated.

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July 10th 2019, 5:20 am

One giant ... lie? Why so many people still think the moon landings were faked

Life and style | The Guardian

It all started with a man called Bill Kaysing and his pamphlet about ‘America’s $30bn swindle’ ...

It took 400,000 Nasa employees and contractors to put Neil Armstrong and Buzz Aldrin on the moon in 1969 – but only one man to spread the idea that it was all a hoax. His name was Bill Kaysing.

It began as “a hunch, an intuition”, before turning into “a true conviction” – that the US lacked the technical prowess to make it to the moon (or, at least, to the moon and back). Kaysing had actually contributed to the US space programme, albeit tenuously: between 1956 and 1963, he was an employee of Rocketdyne, a company that helped to design the Saturn V rocket engines. In 1976, he self-published a pamphlet called We Never Went to the Moon: America’s Thirty Billion Dollar Swindle, which sought evidence for his conviction by means of grainy photocopies and ludicrous theories. Yet somehow he established a few perennials that are kept alive to this day in Hollywood movies and Fox News documentaries, Reddit forums and YouTube channels.

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July 10th 2019, 5:20 am

Queer Eye's Tan France: ‘Men can have fun with fashion, too’

Life and style | The Guardian

The TV star on how the makeover show changed his look – and why he steers clear of a ‘basic’ black tux

This is the Thom Browne suit I wore to the Primetime Emmy awards [where Queer Eye won outstanding structured reality programme] in 2018. I wanted something that was going to read well on stage and Thom Browne does really interesting suiting. He makes everything tight and short, which is meant to look shrunken – but on me, it’s just perfectly tailored.

The Queer Eye guys and I don’t co-ordinate our outfits, we all do our own thing, but it’s weird the number of times we’ve all turned up wearing the same colour story. At the Emmys, we weren’t coordinated at all. No conversations were had about what we were wearing; we all like to surprise each other.

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July 10th 2019, 3:14 am

All hail Céline Dion – the joyous new queen of fashion

Life and style | The Guardian

From perfectly sculpted to jaw-droppingly daring, the singer has reinvented herself as an avant-garde couture-star – and the fashion world can’t get enough of her

In 2019 we like our fashion heroes flamboyant yet enigmatic. Playful, but at the same time undeniably intimidating. Villanelle with raspberry-pink hair to match her Armani fur coat. Serena Williams at the French Open in a bespoke Virgil Abloh dress with the slogan: “Mother, Champion, Queen, Goddess.” Cardi B at the Met Gala, in a quilted crimson dress so huge she seemed to arrive on her own carnival float. Beyoncé in Homecoming.

Céline Dion is the empress of them all. Right now, fashion is Céline’s world, and the rest of us just live in it. From the moment she stepped out of her car into a freak Parisian heatwave last Monday morning, dressed in a sculpted black gown with long, tight leather gloves, a glossy black headpiece that resembled an electrified bird of prey and open-toed booties, it was clear that Ms Dion had not come to haute couture week to play. She had come to slay. When she made her next entrance not just in full Gucci – peppermint and white puff-sleeved minidress, black bondage collar with silver spikes, lace tights and peep-toe shoes – but riding an electric scooter, the penny began to drop that this haute couture fashion week had in effect been rebranded as an extended pre-show entertainment to warm up the crowd for Dion’s headlining slot in Hyde Park. By the time she made what might, in a hotly contested field, go down in history as her best look of the week, in a grand Richard Quinn bow-topped gown, the cool tones of its electric blue and jade green floral perfectly set off by a pair of weimaraner dogs that Dion held nonchalantly by their diamante collars – the vibe in the front row was very much, print her face on our money already, for she is our queen.

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July 9th 2019, 11:02 am

My adventures in sheet-masking: ‘Once a month will never again be enough’

Life and style | The Guardian

The fast-growing Korean skincare beauty craze offers the chance to look fantastic fast. But some combinations work better than others

In times of need, some reach for a bar of chocolate or take up residence at the bottom of a large vodka tonic. But the beauty-conscious are increasingly turning to face-shaped bits of fabric soaked in “serum” – or, as they are commonly known, sheet masks.

Packed with supernatural-sounding ingredients such as ceramide, glutathione, propolis and hyaluronic acid, these promise to zhoozh you up in minutes, enlivening your tired old face, leaving your skin gleaming, your clogged pores a memory and your fine lines beaten into submission.

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July 9th 2019, 6:47 am

‘It really sucks at times’: the loneliness of the long-distance marriage

Life and style | The Guardian

More and more couples are choosing – or being forced – to live apart. So how do they keep the relationship alive?

We expect married couples to live together, once they have vowed to love one another “till death do us part”. Yet long-distance relationships are on the rise. In the US, the 2017 census found there had been a 44% increase in married couples living apart since 2000, bringing the total to almost 4 million people. So how do these marriages work, especially given that many involve months spent in different time zones?

“I don’t have a choice of who I fall in love with. She’s the perfect person; it just happens that she lives thousands of miles away,” says theatre director Jordan Murphy, 27, about his New York-based wife, dancer Mariel Latourneau. The pair met in 2015 while working on a production of the musical Honk! in upstate New York and, despite both being in other relationships, kept in touch when Murphy returned to the UK. “I fell in love with her very quickly,” says Murphy. Within three months of returning to London, he had broken up with his partner, flown out to spend Christmas with Latourneau, and they had decided to be together.

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July 9th 2019, 3:42 am

The big scoop: what a day with an ice-cream man taught me about modern Britain

Life and style | The Guardian

Tony Roach has been selling ice-cream in Eastbourne for 40 years – as his father did before him. But can he survive the extraordinary decline of the ice-cream van?

You are only allowed to play the ice-cream jingle for a maximum of 12 seconds, when the van is approaching its destination. But Tony Roach flicks off the Popeye tune after only a moment’s airtime. “That wasn’t 12 seconds!” I wail. Roach blinks and looks at me oddly, then promises to play it for longer next time. There’s something about ice-cream vans that brings out the child in all of us.

I’m riding shotgun in a pink-and-cream 2009 Whitby Morrison Millennium, accompanying Roach on the same round of Eastbourne, his hometown, that he has been doing for 40 years. The weather is warm, the sky is cloudless. Humming the Popeye tune under my breath, I help myself to another flake from the box above the fridge. It’s going to be a good day.

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July 9th 2019, 3:42 am

The Gravity Blanket promises a ‘gentle, loving embrace’ - but will it help me sleep?

Life and style | The Guardian

This 6kg weighted blanket is pricey, but feels magically dense. Lying beneath it is deeply comforting

I s there a more soporific feeling than an animal settling in your lap? The warmth; the weight; the fact you can’t move your body, for fear of disturbing Chairman Miaow, or Pugboat 500 (I don’t know what you call your pets). To my mind, this is the best snooze available. The catnap nonpareil. I think it’s something to do with being lightly incapacitated. For this reason, weighted blankets have always fascinated me.

Gravity Blanket (£149, gravityblankets.co.uk) is a handmade, Polish, duvet-like creation that may relieve anxiety, stress and insomnia. They are made to measure, with buyers advised to choose one approximately 10% of their bodyweight. I’m testing a 6kg model and will thank you not to do the maths. As an aside: technically, all blankets are gravity blankets, being subject to the universal constant. We don’t talk about snacking on gravity Quavers, or reading a gravity book, or moving to gravity Canada. (Bad example – for some reason, Quebec has less gravity than the rest of the world.) Still, it’s a cool name. The cover is space grey, in velvet and plush. I hold it aloft and wonder: how does it work? Does it have extra gravity sewn in? Is it stitched with golden thread? Then I put it down because my arms hurt.

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July 9th 2019, 3:42 am

How we met: ‘I ran up to her car window, and she couldn’t remember how to open it’

Life and style | The Guardian

Ian Rickett, 31, a farmer, and Elsa Trueman, 27, who works at the National Holocaust Centre and Museum, live in Nottinghamshire. They met at a Young Farmers’ Club meeting

Elsa and Ian first met at the pre-schoolers’ group their mothers attended, although Elsa, four years younger than Ian, was just a baby. Then they were at the same school, but didn’t know each other. And although Elsa had grown up on a farm just 10 minutes from Ian’s village, where his parents have a smallholding, they never socialised. She had never been particularly interested in joining the Young Farmers’ Club that Ian was involved in.

That changed when Elsa came home after university and wanted to make some new local friends. It was November 2017 and she went to her first Young Farmers’ meeting – the group’s AGM, and Ian’s last night as chairman. “I saw her and that was just it, really. I thought: ‘Oh right, hello,’” he says.

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July 9th 2019, 3:42 am

How secondhand drinking ruins lives: ‘Every family has been touched by this’

Life and style | The Guardian

Passive smoking is treated as a serious hazard. So why have we been so slow to wake up to the dangers alcohol poses to those who live with – or have a devastating encounter with – a heavy drinker?

Helen Witty thought she had taught her children all about the dangers of drinking. She was raised with the knowledge that her great-grandfather’s alcoholism had led him to suicide. “It’s in the family,” her mother warned her. In a classic expression of the ripple effect of harmful drinking, Witty kept her own consumption modest. And she taught her two children to understand and to be careful of the long shadow cast by other people’s drinking.

But what none of the family had prepared for was the day when Helen Marie, Witty’s 16-year-old daughter, stood in the drive of their Florida home wearing her skates; she wanted to destress before a big school play. She flipped around, blew her mother a kiss and said she would be right back.

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July 9th 2019, 3:42 am

Should we take our sex dreams seriously?

Life and style | The Guardian

A recent study found women are having more saucy dreams. But what is the significance of our erotic reveries?

In certain areas of analysis, it has long been thought that dreams are a window into our unconscious desires. Which is troubling if you have just had a saucy dream about someone you really shouldn’t have. And a new study has suggested that women are having more erotic dreams than ever before (although still less than men). In a paper published in the Psychology & Sexuality journal, Michael Schredl, a sleep researcher at the University of Freiburg, Germany, found that the average frequency of erotic dreams for the 2,907 participants was about 18%.

Younger people had more erotic dreams than older people. The researchers raised reasons for all of this – that feminism had made women less likely to be reticent in reporting erotic dreams, and that sex was not as big a part of waking life for older people as it was for younger ones.

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July 9th 2019, 3:42 am

How to beat airline baggage rules, Glasgow style: wear all your clothes at once

Life and style | The Guardian

When John Irvine’s luggage tipped the scales at Nice airport, he wasn’t about to pay the excess fee

Name: John Irvine.

Age: 46.

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July 9th 2019, 3:42 am

Not washing your clothes is fine, Stella – if you’re beautiful | Zoe Williams

Life and style | The Guardian

Stella McCartney’s top cleaning tip is in fact a subtle humblebrag. So here are mine instead

Stella McCartney doesn’t dry-clean her clothes. Nor does she wash her clothes. I’ve really drilled into this to find out what she does when her clothes are dirty. “The rule on a bespoke suit is you do not clean it. You do not touch it. You let the dirt dry and you brush it off. Basically, in life, rule of thumb: if you don’t absolutely have to clean anything, don’t clean it.”

There is, in the intersection of beauty, fashion, feminism and sustainability, a subtle variant to the concept of the humblebrag: ideas that sound woke but which only work if you’re an incredibly beautiful person with incredibly expensive clothes. Don’t wear makeup; don’t throw anything away; throw away all face creams and merely splash yourself in vinegar; don’t go to the dry-cleaner. It reached its apex with a suggestion from Vivienne Westwood that you never had to buy a new T-shirt, you should merely print out a slogan or photograph and affix it with a safety pin to your existing T-shirt. And all these ideas work magnificently well on a model, but miss the point of adornment, which is to distract people from what you actually look like, not bloody draw attention to it.

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July 8th 2019, 1:36 pm

Stormzy's stab-proof vest falls victim to the politics of fashion

Life and style | The Guardian

As fashion brands cash in on the Banksy-designed item, the reasons why the rapper wore it aren’t so black and white

When Stormzy took to Glastonbury’s Pyramid stage last Friday in a stab-proof vest designed by Banksy, it was called the “banner of a divided and frightened nation”.

Lauded for making such a bold and public statement on knife violence and the systems around it, the words “knife crime” appeared lit up behind him during his performance, and there was an excerpt from a speech by David Lammy on the issue. The Labour MP for Tottenham then tweeted about it after the rapper’s set.

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July 8th 2019, 1:36 pm

After drugs and booze, an ultramarathon taught me how to love the mile I’m in

Life and style | The Guardian

Breaking the cycle of my addictions was tough, but then I found inner strength by pushing myself to complete a 50-mile race

Running has been a big part of my life for many years. It has been a fix, a punishment, a distraction and a focus. In darker times, I would run at a rapid pace through the streets of New York, where I used to live, feeling the burn in my chest from too many cigarettes the night before, the thumping of my heart from too much cocaine and the sweat on my brow from too much booze. I wanted it to hurt. I wanted to hate myself, to teach myself a lesson.

At other times I would run to try to avoid that part of myself in the first place. I clearly remember waking up on my 31st birthday, a week before I finally gave up booze, and running 20 miles so that I wouldn’t have the energy or desire to get hammered again that night. It didn’t work. I had to leave my own birthday party before half of my friends had even arrived because I was throwing up on my shoes. It was still light outside.

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July 8th 2019, 6:44 am

I left prison a virgin after 28 years. Now I am struggling to have sex

Life and style | The Guardian

I have met two women since my release and been unable to perform. I am convinced that years of masturbating has ruined me

I was released from prison last year at the age of 46 after serving 28 years. I was a virgin when I went to prison and I am still a virgin. My whole adult life I have masturbated – sometimes once a week, sometimes seven times a week. I’ve seen plenty of pornography (magazines and movies) and used these things at times when I masturbated. I have never had a problem getting an erection when I masturbate.

Since my release, I have met two women. When it was time for sex with the first, I could not get an erection. She tried using her hand and she tried oral sex. Neither worked; it actually felt weird, I guess because only my hand had ever touched my penis. That relationship ended. The second woman I have been seeing for months. She knows of my time in prison and that I am a virgin. When she told me I could go all the way with her, I couldn’t get it up. She was understanding and said it will happen in time, but that did not console me. I am convinced that almost 35 years of masturbating has ruined me.

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July 8th 2019, 6:44 am

How to wash your hair

Life and style | The Guardian

It’s a myth that washing your locks frequently is bad for your hair. But how often should it be done, and what’s the best way to use conditioner?

The biggest myth is that washing your hair frequently is bad, but there is no real rationale for that. You take your hair everywhere you go; it picks up dirt and pollution, and you’ve got sweat, oil and dead skin cells. You can wash it every day if you want to. You are not stripping the natural oils from your hair, because they do not travel from the scalp down the hair shaft, especially if your hair is damaged or colour-processed. Physiologically, all hair is the same. The difference is in the shape of the strands.

Although there has been a trend for washing only with conditioner, generally you do need to use shampoos. They contain a surfactant, which is designed to hold in dirt and oils that can then be rinsed from the hair.

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July 8th 2019, 6:44 am

Arabella Weir on her aggressively unhappy mother: ‘In my memory, she got rid of me’

Life and style | The Guardian

The actor and comedian has been a fixture on British TV for more than two decades. Now, in her first one-woman show, she unpicks the difficult maternal relationship that shaped her

Even close to the end of her life, Arabella Weir’s mother was still concerned about her daughter’s weight. “Literally two days before she died,” says Weir, with a grim laugh. “I said: ‘You’re dying and you’re worried about how fat I am?’ She went: ‘Oh God, look at you, though.’ And I said: ‘We’re not doing this shit now.’ And she didn’t back down, nor did she apologise.” Ten years on, there is revenge of sorts – or catharsis, or a kind of exorcism, or merely some giddy laughter that comes from the triumph of surviving such a dysfunctional childhood. Weir is now going to Edinburgh with her one-woman show, in which she unpicks – or rather picks at – her childhood and her relationship with her mother.

The show is called Does My Mum Loom Big in This?, which fans of the 90s BBC comedy sketch series The Fast Show will recognise as a play on one of her character’s catchphrases, “Does my bum look big in this?” That also became the title of her bestselling book. It seems as if Weir has been a fixture in British comedy for decades – she was also in the spoof cookery show Posh Nosh, which she co-wrote – and she has worked steadily in dramas and sitcoms, including the BBC Two series Two Doors Down. But this is her first one-woman show, co-written with the novelist Jon Canter, and the first time she has performed at the Edinburgh fringe; she will be taking it on tour next year. It feels like the right time, she says. Both of her children are at university. “There’s a been a sort of: ‘Oh right, so it’s just me now. So what am I going to do?’” says Weir, who is 61. “I don’t want to be watching Judge Judy all day, which I could very easily do.”

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July 8th 2019, 6:44 am

Jean Paul Gaultier, challenging those who churn out fast fashion | Rebecca Nicholson

Life and style | The Guardian

Instead of urging people to buy fewer, dearer clothes, he highlighted the industry’s role in creating waste

Jean Paul Gaultier, a man of many notable achievements, including the perfect and most welcome corruption of the minds of kids who furtively watched late-night Channel 4 during the 1990s, has spoken about the responsibility of big fashion brands when it comes to waste. “Big groups are doing more collections, new collections… with a big amount of clothes. It’s absolutely ridiculous,” he told BBC News. “It’s not a question of thinking about what people need. It’s thinking about being bigger. It’s only a question of power and politics.”

We hear over and over again that our addiction to consumption is causing environmental devastation, that the incessant need for more, quicker, bigger is hastening our demise as a planet, and that’s just the kind of upbeat conversation that I have in the pub when trying to lift the mood after England’s semi-final defeat to USA. (*Sips tea, cries.*)

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July 8th 2019, 5:31 am

Five ways to feel closer to nature – even if you live in the city

Life and style | The Guardian

From stopping to notice the trees and the clouds to putting bird boxes near your windows, spending more time with nature can boost your health and wellbeing

Two hours a week spent in nature – even if split into short bursts – has been found to give health and wellbeing a significant boost, according to research by the University of Exeter Medical School. Dr Mathew White, who led the study, suggested that a sense of tranquility could be key. Starting your day with a coffee in the garden, or even near an open window, is a simple way to inspire calm. Going outside during your lunch break or spending a few minutes looking at the night sky before bed are other ideas.

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July 7th 2019, 11:48 am

The rise of Big Sperm: does the tech world have the answer to our semen crisis?

Life and style | The Guardian

Sperm counts in western men are falling, and nobody is sure why. But relax – because help is here, with everything from home-testing kits to sperm-freezing

Lads, lads, lads, hate to interrupt, but how’s your ejaculate? Would you struggle to fill half a teaspoon? And your concentration, please: are we talking 20m-plus little swimmers a millilitre? And how’s that motility? Are your spermatozoa wagging their flagella as if they can’t wait to get to that ovum – or listlessly floating around like dead tadpoles in a poorly executed classroom experiment? It’s not that embarrassing, surely?

If you are hoping to fertilise a human egg someday and haven’t given much thought to these matters … well, Big Sperm reckons it is time you did. A wave of tech startups, such as ExSeed, Yo, Trak and Legacy, are offering next-generation home sperm-testing technology and – in some cases – sperm-freezing services. And even if British men aren’t quite ready to start comparing their fertility concerns yet, these are clearly lurking at the back of many minds.

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July 7th 2019, 9:46 am

Are you really the ‘real’ you?

Life and style | The Guardian

What makes some people change their lives entirely, and how can we best become our true selves?

Alex was a bouncer when he changed his mind about who he was. Or maybe he wasn’t a bouncer. Maybe he was only pretending.

In the year 2000, “reality TV” still sounded to most people like an oxymoron, a bizarre new genre that was half entertainment and half psychological warfare, where neither audience nor participants were quite sure which of them were the combatants.

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July 7th 2019, 9:46 am

Hate weeding? An easy solution | James Wong

Life and style | The Guardian

These fast-growing flowers beat the weeds at their own game

If you’re a regular reader, it will probably come as little surprise that I am a passionate believer in the therapeutic power of horticulture. I love witnessing the miracle of life unfold by sowing seeds, the satisfaction when a tree first bears fruit, the fresh scent of a mown lawn. However, there is one job I really can’t hack, especially at this time of year of peak plant growth, and that’s weeding. The hours of back-breaking work rooting out weeds between cracks in paving and in gravel drives, only to have to repeat the whole process a week later is (even to me) just too much like outdoor tidying up.

Fortunately, there is a simple trick you can deploy to beat nature at its own game. You can harness the power of tough, low-growing ornamentals to out-compete weeds for space, water and nutrients in these nooks and crannies. Not only will this dramatically reduce the amount of time you’ll need to spend weeding, but it will also turn a desert of paving and gravel into a colourful, living surface that will withstand any amount of trampling. Here are some of my favourite, hard-working candidates to fill cracks and crevices and get down to the business of fighting weeds.

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July 7th 2019, 7:15 am

War and peas: meet the chefs working together across the divide

Life and style | The Guardian

Six cooks from different sides of long-running conflicts share how they came to work side by side

Jalil Dabit At the age of 12 I started my mornings with a strong coffee at my father’s restaurant. It was decided that if I was old enough to open the place up at 5am, I was old enough to drink with him. And so I did.

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July 7th 2019, 7:15 am

The key to avoiding sexual shame online: reveal it all first

Life and style | The Guardian

Foil sextortion scams, deepfakes and revenge porn by simply posting your own nude shots

A little while ago I got an email saying my computer camera had been hacked, they’d taped me watching “interesting” porn, and unless I transferred cash immediately, they’d send the video to all my contacts. Which porn, I wondered idly. Was it the late-night scrolls of modernist houses splayed across Californian hills, the sensual greenery of Instagram plantfluencers, or the staccato clicks through embroidered folk art on eBay, quickly minimised when my boyfriend entered the room? The email dropped into hundreds of colleagues’ inboxes at the same time and it was possible to gauge their viewing habits and the membranous walls of their kinks by the speed at which they called the IT department.

Spam emails inviting us to take receipt of £1m have been replaced by sextortion scams

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July 7th 2019, 7:15 am

Stella McCartney: ‘It’s not like I’m here for an easy life’

Life and style | The Guardian

The fashion designer talks about her latest collection, the creative frustrations of eco sequins – and why she’s not a fan of washing her bra

I am standing in the Old Bond Street headquarters of Stella McCartney’s fashion empire, waiting to interview the designer and wondering why there are massive wet rocks surrounded by moss on the shopfloor. I ask the publicity assistant and it is surely a coincidence that the fictional character Bubble from Absolutely Fabulous pops into my mind after she replies, in a voice imbued with significance and reverence: “Nature.”

‘I was like, Dad, this is weird… but can I have some rocks?’

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July 7th 2019, 3:11 am

A tour of Dominica in search of Creole cooking and the spirit of Jean Rhys

Life and style | The Guardian

On the taste and scent trail of the Caribbean island immortalised by the Celtic-Creole novelist

There’s a Caribbean paradise that we all know about: coconut palms; sand soft as white silk; blue seas veiling a coral underworld. And then there’s Dominica. It’s one of the slender necklace of green and mountainous islands – Guadeloupe, Martinique, St Lucia – that bewitched the young travel writer Patrick Leigh Fermor when he visited them in the 1950s. Named by Columbus because it was on a Sunday that the Portuguese mariner spotted the tiny island’s rearing cliffs, Dominica’s enchantment lies in a combination of unspoilt beauty – hikers adore its hidden lakes, cascading rivers and almost impenetrable forest trails – and a sense of having stepped back in time.

I came to Dominica in search of Jean Rhys, the celebrated Celtic-Creole novelist who was born here in 1890. I fell in love with her childhood Eden from the moment the local aeroplane from Antigua – no major companies yet fly there direct – touched down in the majestic shadow of Morne Diablotins. Awaiting me was the island’s most erudite tour guide. Affectionately known as “the Oracle”, Dr Lennox Honychurch had volunteered to show me the Dominica immortalised in Rhys’s novels.

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July 7th 2019, 2:40 am

Pork ribs and cherry-pistachio tart | Nigel Slater

Life and style | The Guardian

A succulent rack of sticky pork ribs and a cherry-pistachio tart are best enjoyed alfresco

There’s a rack of ribs in the oven. Glistening with date and pomegranate syrup, one sweet, the other sour, they are slowly browning to a mirror glaze. The ribs are on a wire rack resting over a roasting tin that I have lined with foil so that any drips of syrup don’t burn on the tin. It’s a bugger to scrape off.

There have been so many ribs in this oven over the years: ribs with molasses, ribs with chilli paste, ribs with aniseed and honey, and ribs with maple syrup and mustard. I steam them first, in the piece to keep them juicy, the whole length of bone, flesh and fat covered with foil and left in a slow oven for a good couple of hours. The meat cooks in its own steam and becomes so tender you can pull the ribs apart with two forks.

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July 7th 2019, 1:52 am

Bold and brave: design in a rental house

Life and style | The Guardian

With creative use of colour and lots of art, living in a rental property was no barrier to creating an inspiring, individual home for this designer

One of the first things you notice as you enter Swiss-born interior designer Ana Engelhorn’s elegant London period home is the original wooden staircase painted dark green. It’s set against the cheery brightness of the hallway, painted in Papers and Paints’ Soane Yellow – an homage to Ana’s mother. She told her: “When you open a door you want to be happy to go inside.”

There are flashes of colour everywhere in the stucco-fronted Belgravia rental property she and her husband Carlos moved into last year, with their two young children, their nanny and Persian cat Duke. Not able to change anything structurally, Ana’s solution was to give the house a makeover with colour and reinvent the space.

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July 7th 2019, 1:52 am

VanMoof X2 ebike: ‘Bad news for bike thieves’

Life and style | The Guardian

Its stealth lock is just one of many innovations in this smartest of smart new ebikes

Price £2,598 vanmoof.com
Weight 19kg
Gears 2-speed, auto
Range 40 miles, full power
Charge 4 hours
Top speed 15.5mph

“That’s one of those bikes that looks like it’s made of scaffolding poles,” scoffs my friend Richard. With its straight lines, strong tube work and uncompromising angles, I can see what he means. But I’m sure the design team at VanMoof, and the 11,000 customers who have bought the bike since reservations went live last June, would not agree. Anyway, setting itself apart from the crowd with its Marmite looks is just the half of it: VanMoof is determined to turn everything on its head, from safety to security.

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July 7th 2019, 1:52 am

My partner is boring and I’ve fallen for an older, married guy at work | Dear Mariella

Life and style | The Guardian

Don’t let yourself be a diversion for an ageing, unhappily married man – or waste your time with an unexciting boyfriend, says Mariella Frostrup

The dilemma I’m 21 and have been with my partner for three years. We moved in together last summer, but since then I’ve been having doubts about our relationship. We both work full-time, and sometimes it’s a struggle to make ends meet – particularly for my partner. I’m having to overcompensate financially, which is making it harder to save money, go out with my friends or go on holidays.

We don’t do much together, which isn’t necessarily down to limited money. We spend our weekends watching TV and I’m tired of suggesting things to do and being met with an unenthusiastic response. I don’t feel like a normal 21-year-old and feel I should be having more fun. I’m not sure if I love him any more, but I’m afraid to break up with him in case it’s a mistake. I also don’t know if he’ll be OK without me. He says he loves me and wants to get married later in life, but I’m not sure if he truly does. At the same time, I recently met a man at work. He’s 40 and unhappily (I think) married with a wife and young child. We kissed at a work event and since then, he’s been giving me lots of attention. I know this is wrong for both parties, but I crave his next message. I haven’t felt excited like this with my partner in a long time. I’ve got no idea what to do.

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July 7th 2019, 1:52 am

Bugis Street Brasserie, London | Jay Rayner

Life and style | The Guardian

A London hotel where Singapore Airlines’ crew go for a taste of home is worth checking out

Bugis Street Brasserie, Millennium Gloucester Hotel, London SW7 4LH (020 7331 6211). Soups and starters £5.50-£9; mains £8.50-£17; desserts £6; wines from £18

Good things can come from bad. The bad thing in this case was the hopeful but inevitably hopeless trip I made a couple of weeks ago to the Holiday Inn on London’s Cromwell Road. I went for dinner, a word I’d put inside quotation marks to indicate irony, if the whole damn thing hadn’t traumatised the wryness out of me. To recap, I was invited by the executive chef and thought it would be rude to decline; as it turned out, it would have been nowhere near as rude as the boiled egg they served as part of a caesar salad, which had a Shrek-green ring around the yolk through overboiling.

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July 7th 2019, 1:52 am

The edit... Swim shorts

Life and style | The Guardian

Stand out on the beach this summer in bold patterns and strong colours

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July 6th 2019, 7:09 pm

How a simple blood test got me thinking about our behaviour and choices

Life and style | The Guardian

I was nervous about inheriting a family condition – which helped me understand our brains and the direction lives take

One stifling day at the beginning of the long, hot summer of 2018, I sat in the waiting room at my GP’s surgery. Outside it was dazzlingly bright, but inside the fluorescent lights were still humming. A buoyant doctor strode out and called my name. I took hold of my two-year-old son’s hand and we followed her down the corridor into a small room where she took a sample of my blood. The vial contained thousands of white blood cells. Hidden inside each one was my DNA, the 3.2bn-lettered code unique to every human being that is the blueprint for life.

My son and I were at hospital because my father had been diagnosed with haemochromatosis, an inherited condition in which iron levels slowly build up in the body. Eventually the excess iron begins to damage internal organs and, if left untreated, it can lead to heart disease, diabetes and cirrhosis of the liver. Thankfully, in my father’s case, the organ damage was not too far advanced, but because the condition had gone undiagnosed for decades he now has to undergo weekly bloodlettings. This treatment, while intrusive, means he is otherwise in good health. A happy outcome for him and those of us who love him.

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July 6th 2019, 10:29 am

How to grow your own medicine cabinet | Alys Fowler

Life and style | The Guardian

Sore throat? Hungover? Anxious? Don’t reach for the tablets; you could find the cure in your own garden or local park

I recently walked into a tree. I didn’t mean to, but I was, as usual, looking at what was growing around my feet and not where I was going. The result was a messy scrape of torn skin, but nearby was also the solution: I plucked a few leaves of herb robert and a number of ribwort plantain leaves, mashed them between my fingers till their juices flowed, and pressed the mash into my cut. Within an hour it was knitting back together; a week later you could barely tell it had happened.

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July 6th 2019, 9:59 am

Andy Murray: ‘I went from world No 1 to not being able to walk’

Life and style | The Guardian

The tennis player on injury, being too hard on himself and sitting in silence with his wife

Born in Glasgow, Andy Murray, 32, turned professional in 2005. In 2012 he took gold at the London Olympics and won the US Open. The following summer he won Wimbledon. In 2016 he took the title again and also triumphed at the Rio Olympics. This January he had hip surgery, but June saw a return to form, when he won the Queen’s Club doubles with Feliciano Lopez. Murray is hosting a game at the American Express Fan Experience at Wimbledon this year. He is married with two children and lives in Surrey.

What is your greatest fear?
It freaks me out when I can’t move my body. It started when I scored a goal in football and everybody jumped on top of me to celebrate. It also happened when I got rolled up in a gym mat and couldn’t move my arms or my legs.

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July 6th 2019, 9:59 am

Gloria Gaynor: ‘The Holy Spirit grabbed me by the collar in 1985’

Life and style | The Guardian

The singer, 69, on hating parties, being saved by God, and why I Will Survive survives

There was always music in my childhood home, but only my brothers sang in public. Being a girl, I wasn’t invited. Then one day, aged 13, I was singing to myself in the hallway of our building. A neighbour came down the stairs and said, “My goodness, Gloria, was that you? I thought it was the radio.” I decided then and there I would perform.

We never had much money so there was nothing to fight over. I think that’s why we were so happy. Children belonged to the neighbourhood. Our corner of Newark in New Jersey was a happy bubble detached from the outside world.

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July 6th 2019, 9:59 am

Coming up daisies: why floral prints are the hottest trend this summer

Life and style | The Guardian

The flower associated with youth and innocence is in full bloom on the high street

Summer florals are nothing new in fashion, but this year one particular flower is taking over: the daisy. As the weather hots up, traditional black, white and orange daisy designs are flourishing, while more colourful interpretations are also in bloom.

The new trend featured prominently on the spring/summer 2019 catwalks, with a patterned cardigan at Molly Goddard, daisies covering colourful cut-offs at Marni menswear and embroidered on wicker bags at Loewe. Celebrities have also been getting in on the act: last month Alexa Chung wore a monochrome daisy-print dress for the launch party of her Barbour by Alexa Chung collection. Actor Hilary Duff was also recently seen wearing a maxi dress bedecked with the flowers in LA while, in London, model Daisy Lowe did justice to her name in a floral navy midi dress and boots.

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July 6th 2019, 8:46 am

I failed my driving test six times in 2005 alone. Exactly why have I bought a car? | Grace Dent

Life and style | The Guardian

Being in control of a car feels gravely serious, an almost improbable task for a human being

Channelling what I believe the kids call “Big Dick Energy”, I wandered into a car showroom last Saturday and casually bought a car. I can’t drive. Not legally, anyhow. I failed many times in the 90s. Then a few more times in 2005. I want to say six, it could be seven. Each time got more shameful, more hazy. “I’ll have that one,” I said, regardless, to the man in the Volkswagen dealership, pointing at a zippy black thing. And with that I was a car owner. It’s the kind of thing a woman can do when she does not have children – no looming university fees or guilt about squandering an inheritance. My estate will be divided between whichever nieces can bother to show face at the retirement home and, as my plan is to be a terrifically fractious pensioner, I may as well spend now.

I bought a Volkswagen up! by the way, which speedwise is essentially a BaByliss Speed Pro hairdryer attached to a skateboard, but after just seven days together we are deeply in love. (And no I’m not being sponsored by either company).

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July 6th 2019, 6:11 am

Should I tell my children their late father had an affair?

Life and style | The Guardian

The big question you have to ask is, what do you hope to achieve by telling them? There are other people you can talk to, says Annalisa Barbieri

After a long marriage, my husband passed away suddenly some time ago. What my children don’t know is that, when they were growing up, a crisis occurred in our marriage following his disclosure that he was in a long-distance relationship with a woman he had met at a conference. This led to a long, difficult period in our lives as he could not make a decision to leave either relationship, saying that he “cared for and loved two women” and felt he needed both in his life. I could not extricate myself from the situation because I still loved my husband and feared the consequences for our children. A resolution came about some years later when the other relationship came to an end; after that, my husband and I worked on rebuilding things.

Recently, I came across a diary I had written during a particularly painful year, together with some letters from my husband. Reading these opened old wounds, which I am now having to deal with. My dilemma is, should I be open with my now-adult children and tell them about our marital crisis, or protect them, and their feelings for their late father, by destroying the diary and letters and taking my secret to the grave?

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July 6th 2019, 6:11 am

Yotam Ottolenghi’s recipes for a summer al fresco feast

Life and style | The Guardian

Recipes for a pulled pork curry, a zingy slaw and a mango ice-cream you can make ahead for an barbecue or summer party

Now’s the time when we all head outdoors to soak up every last bit of rare sunshine, like a bunch of cold-blooded reptiles. It’s only natural, then, to take food outside with us. Any outdoor meal for a crowd is no easy feat, however, so those you can plan and prepare ahead of time are lifesavers. For my alfresco spread today, the pork can be left pretty much to its own devices, the slaw can be set aside for a good few hours (add the herbs and garnishes at the last minute) and the pudding can be tucked in the freezer the night before. All at the ready for a jolly summer feast.

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July 6th 2019, 6:11 am

Romesh Ranganathan: I’m rubbish at sport – and now I’ve got to do keepy-uppies with Freddie Flintoff

Life and style | The Guardian

On A League Of Their Own, I’m always terrified I’ll get the ball and accidentally kill someone in the audience

I was terrible at sport at school. I was fat, which made things slightly tougher, but it also meant that people were encouraging to the point of patronising. If I managed to complete the 100m race on sports day without asking for a biscuit, the teachers would hug me and say, “See? I knew you could do it!” I once managed to negotiate a two-metre head start with a teacher purely on the grounds of being fat. He agreed, which in itself was fairly damaging, but not as damaging as the fact that I still came last. It was like a greyhound race where the greyhounds overtake the hare instantly, and then the fat hare cries to his parents so they take him to Happy Eater for pancakes.

Far worse than being fat, however, was – and still is – my lack of coordination. I have zero. I can’t catch, I can’t kick, I can’t hit a ball. Every one of my PE school reports said things along the lines of “Manages to deal admirably with being completely and utterly uncoordinated.”

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July 6th 2019, 6:11 am

Men's summer style – in pictures

Life and style | The Guardian

Neutral shades, simple shapes, and you’re all set

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July 6th 2019, 6:11 am

Tim Dowling: I’m American, I can handle a heatwave. Right?

Life and style | The Guardian

By 4pm, even the tortoise has sought refuge indoors, attacking the stub of a lettuce in the shadow of the kitchen table

On Saturday I am woken by what sounds like the hooves of eight tiny reindeer skittering above my head. I know from experience that the noise is being made by a single fat crow hopping along the roof tiles, up over the peak and back again, in a display of manic vigilance.

I open my eyes. Sunlight is streaming through the open window. The crow bounces and skids over my head. It is the most glorious of summer mornings; a day to be seized. I look at the time. It’s 4.20am.

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July 6th 2019, 6:11 am

Blind date: ‘There was little leeway for a two-way conversation’

Life and style | The Guardian

Rachel, 22, client services co-ordinator, and Ty, 27, consultant

What were you hoping for?
To meet the love of my life, obviously.

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July 6th 2019, 6:00 am

Avoid playgrounds and eat the last biscuit: how to keep your sense of self as a parent

Life and style | The Guardian

Remember when life wasn’t all packed lunches and soft play? It’s time to get that person back

I am currently working away from home, abandoning my family to selfishly pursue my own interests – or at least, that’s how I felt the week before I left. During that time, I couldn’t simply look forward to the prospect of some time alone doing the things I love – time being myself. No, instead I was overwhelmed by everything I thought I needed to do, because although I am an author, a Jilly Cooper fan, a collector of vintage china, a nail-biter, a bad applier of fake tan and a country music lover, I am also a parent. And, like so many of us, I sometimes forget all the other parts of who I am and lose sight of me.

So it was that, as I packed, I found myself sobbing hopelessly because the mother part of me tends to take over all the rest, and instead of thinking about the exciting work I would be doing while I was away, what Jilly Coopers to take, if anything could be done about my gnawed nails and bad fake tan, I was focusing on all my failings as a parent. A parent who was abandoning her children to go gallivanting.

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July 6th 2019, 6:00 am

Notes from a Hollywood divorce: 'We had a primal connection. But we hung by a thread for years'

Life and style | The Guardian

I wrote a part for my husband in my first movie. By the time filming was over, so was our marriage

In every city I’ve lived, my sister has been the one to set up the printer, testing it by printing me the lyrics to George Michael’s Freedom! ’90. I am not the only grown woman entwined with their family, as I am not the only British person entwined with George Michael. When, in 2010, he drove his car through the wall of the Hampstead Snappy Snaps, the resulting hole was quickly daubed with the legend “WHAM”, by a local who meant it in a loving way. Walking to the underground, I saw it (as well as the aftermath and the commentary on the aftermath) after breakfast with the last man I dated, before I met my husband.

Because I’d seen his film (Animal Kingdom), and he’d read my memoir (Your Voice In My Head), we had a strong idea of each other before we fell in love. Once we were together, music moved from headphones in walking cities to being blasted from his truck on LA highways. My soon-to-be husband began a rapid career ascendancy, as he endeavoured, simultaneously, to untangle me from my family. As we worked on the wording to our ketubah (Judaism’s sacred prenuptial agreement) I could picture beside “… according to the law of Moses and Israel”, the calligraphed lyrics to Freedom! ’90: I won’t let you down / I will not give you up!

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July 6th 2019, 6:00 am

The best refillable lipsticks | Sali Hughes

Life and style | The Guardian

Finally there are alternatives to single-use plastic lippy containers – albeit mainly at the pricey end of the market

It doesn’t seem much to ask that, when I finish yet another lipstick, I can simply pop in a new bullet of colour rather than chuck the empty tube into recycling, or to landfill, where an estimated one billion lipstick containers end up each year. Finally, the growing demand for refillables is seeing some supply, albeit mostly at the pricey end of the market.

Newest, and right up my strasse, is Charlotte Tilbury’s Hot Lips 2 collection. These lipsticks (the same formula as Tilbury’s others, but named after her famous clients) come in characteristically overstated, decadent packaging – panthers, leopard print, deco stripes and glittery stars (all £28, including lipstick) – only this time, they’re for keeps. Made from satisfyingly weighty metal, the lids can be mixed between tubes for a cheering maximalist clash, and the refills (£19) simply click in and out. My favourites are Glowing Jen, a flattering tawny rose in tribute to Jennifer Aniston, and Red Hot Susan, an unusually muted orangey red that I’ll just have to forget is named after one political campaigner, Ms Sarandon, who unwittingly but idiotically helped Trump into the White House. More usefully, Tilbury has pledged to donate an impressive £1m from the sales of Hot Lips to the Women For Women charity, that helps women survivors of war and terrorism to rebuild their lives.

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July 6th 2019, 3:28 am

From Frankenstein-print shirts to sunset orange: this week’s fashion trends

Life and style | The Guardian

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

Whip-smart ’dos Alexander Wang’s spring 2020 show featured ‘bull whip’ ponytails and pigtails bound in leather. Crikey.

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July 5th 2019, 7:28 am

Meet the murfers: laid-back mums or busy brand-builders?

Life and style | The Guardian

A coterie of Australian influencers are taking a particular corner of Instagram by storm, one expensive oven at a time

Name: Murfers.

Age: Varies.

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July 5th 2019, 5:15 am

Why TV T-shirts have become the new band tees

Life and style | The Guardian

While our chests once showed the logos of our favourite musicians, we’re now more likely to display a Stranger Things graphic or Sheldon’s catchphrase. What is behind the shift?

Graphics such as the Rolling Stone’s tongue and lips logo and Guns N’ Roses’ revolver motif are some of the most recognisable band T-shirt’s to date. But, with the popularisation of streaming services such as Netflix and Prime Video, TV shows have become the unlikely competitor, offering an acceptable and fashionable display of telly fandom.

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July 4th 2019, 6:42 am

The problem with Pimm’s: my search for the perfect summer cocktail

Life and style | The Guardian

When it comes to boozing in the sun, avoid anything too strong, too colourful or deceptively fruity – and look to the past for inspiration

In Casino Royale, the novel in which Ian Fleming introduced James Bond to the world, the hero ruminates at length about the perfect outdoor cocktail, by which he means summer cocktail. I’ll paraphrase wildly, adding injunctions of my own, since so much of Bond’s alcohol preference is related to his masculinity. Worrying about the size of your dick while you’re deciding on cocktails is the surest way to end up drunk.

So, it’s summer: nothing too strong because you’ll be dehydrated; nothing too wussy or fruity because they go down too easily; nothing too boring because this will likely be your main taste experience of the evening; nothing too unnatural in colour, because these are always too sweet; and no Pimm’s, for reasons. Bond settles on an Americano: Campari, sweet vermouth and club soda. In that bitters market, I would prefer a Campari and soda: cleaner and fresher without vermouth, and with zero chance that someone will accidentally fetch you a cup of coffee. Let me quickly take down Pimm’s: the problem is not merely that it doesn’t taste like alcohol. It tastes so unlike alcohol that it edges towards the most childish zone of the soft drinks arena, and if you are happy to drink cream soda with bits in all evening, why not do that? Proving, perhaps, that a lot of drunkenness depends on taste, you don’t even feel drunk while you’re drinking it. The first you get to hear about its alcohol content is when you fall over.

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July 4th 2019, 6:11 am
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