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The Guardian Weekend 02 December 2017

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So Mary,
how
do we win?
w
02 ee
.12 ke
.17 n
d
The
conversation
special
with
Hillary Clinton
Mary Beard
Reni Eddo-Lodge
Nish Kumar
Geena Davis
Paul Feig
Nick Clegg
Richard Thaler
Siddhartha Mukherjee
Henry Marsh
St
Co a r t e r
nte s
nts
THIS PRODUCT IS MADE FROM SUSTAINABLY MANAGED
FOREST AND CONTROLLED SOURCES. PRINTED BY ROTO
SMEETS GROUP BV, DEVENTER, NETHERLANDS
5 Hadley Freeman
6 Tim Dowling Plus Bim
Adewunmi?s First take
10 Your view Plus
Stephen Collins
12 Q&A Rachel
Whiteread, artist
15 Experience I was
born without a tongue
Features
16 Hillary Clinton and
Mary Beard Politician
and classicist discuss
winners and losers
27 Reni Eddo-Lodge and
Nish Kumar Writer and
comedian tackle race
and staying positive
34 Geena Davis and Paul
Feig Actor and director
on gender in showbiz
44 Nick Clegg and
Richard Thaler Former
deputy PM and Nobel
prize winner on Brexit,
business and Trump
52 Henry Marsh and
Siddhartha Mukherjee
Do the doctors agree
on treating cancer?
62 The novelist next door
Lionel Shriver, Jon
McGregor and others
pay a visit to their
neighbours
67 Ticked o? Everything
you need to know
about WhatsApp
70 ?Who is the queen of
England?? How to get
talking to strangers
75 The persuaders Words
that can make people
change their minds
Fashion
79 Blind date When
Lara met Tom
80 Shine on Christmas
celebration wear sorted
84 All ages Jumpers
that are just the job
87 Jess Cartner-Morley
Low-heel party shoes
89 Beauty Sali Hughes
tries Trinny Woodall?s
makeup range
Food and drink
92 Yotam Ottolenghi
Hot爏auces. Plus white
wines for Christmas
97 Thomasina Miers
Peppery roast chicken
99 The new vegan
Meera Sodha?s
butternut squash and
black bean mole
101 Restaurants Felicity
Cloake takes the plunge
at Wreckfish, Liverpool
Berger & Wyse
Space
105 Alys Fowler Winter
window boxes
106 Let?s move to Whitby,
North Yorkshire. Plus All
the places I?ll never live
Body and mind
107 System upgrade
Zoe燱illiams and the
sobriety coach. Plus My
life in sex: the woman
trying for a baby
BERGERANDWYSE.COM
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LANE, REBECCA MARSHALL, DAVID LEVENE, BARRY J HOLMES, ANTONIO OLMOS, ALYSSA SCHUKAR
Starters
Back
108 Howard Jacobson
Plus Crossword, Quiz
110 That?s me in
the picture
The Guardian Weekend | 2 December 2017 3
Hadley
Freeman
Is Hollywood a changed place? Mel Gibson?s bulletproof career would suggest not
his is the story of two actors, one
female and one male, both hugely
successful in the 80s and 90s, and
both blighted with what Wikipedia
would euphemistically call ?legal controversies?.
These largely happened in the early years of this
century, when the woman was caught shoplifting
in 2001 while under the influence of prescription
drugs; and the man, while being arrested for
drunk-driving in 2006, ranted antisemitic garbage
at the arresting officer.
But where she had to wait 15 years to be
given another starring role, and even then it
was as a kitsch 80s novelty in Stranger Things,
he was out of work for only five years after the
DUI incident, and not for a minute after he was
recorded shouting racist and threatening abuse
at his then girlfriend in 2010; he also pleaded no
contest to a misdemeanour charge of battering
her that same year. Instead, he was blessed with
an Oscar nomination this year and has starred in
big-budget comedies. In other words, his career
continued exactly as it always would have done
whereas hers was blighted for ever.
The careers of Winona Ryder and Mel Gibson,
both of whom are currently back on our screens
(Ryder in Stranger Things 2 and Gibson in
Daddy?s Home 2), serve as an excellent retort to
some concerns voiced with increasing urgency
today. Seemingly every day, another celebrity
or politician is accused of sexual harassment, or
worse, and a common response is, ?Yes, but is
it really worth destroying the man?s career over
this?? To which I point to Gibson yukking it up
on Graham Norton?s sofa last week, and insisting
in another interview that he, actually, was the
victim of ?an unscrupulous police officer? who
recorded him ?illegally?, and I say: I don?t think
we have to worry about that, guys. Because if
Gibson can run around shouting ?the Jews are
responsible for all the wars in the world?, tell his
girlfriend that she deserves to be raped, insist he
was the wronged party in all this and still get the
star treatment, then I think we can rest assured
that it takes an awful lot to destroy a high-profile
straight white man?s career. Start saving up for
Louis CK?s comeback tour now!
Alcohol and drugs are seen by many, still, as
incriminatory in a woman but exculpatory in
a爉an: a woman who was drunk can?t be trusted
if she says she was raped; but a man on the lash
SUKI DHANDA FOR THE GUARDIAN
T
can?t possibly be held responsible for his actions.
This partly explains the bizarre double standards
Ryder has endured in her career. She admitted that
she was on painkillers at the time of her arrest,
prescribed by a doctor who later lost his medical
licence. This confirmed her in the eyes of the
public and her industry as an unstable flake; other
film-makers later said they wanted to cast her in
movies, but couldn?t get the insurance. Meanwhile,
Ryder?s ex-boyfriend, Johnny Depp, whose careerlong fondness for booze and destroying hotel
rooms were depicted as part of his sexy machismo,
has carried on working since his ex-wife, Amber
Heard, accused him last year of abuse, which he
denied. He has since turned up looking completely
sloshed at everything from movie premieres to the
Graham Norton Show last month, where he, too,
took his seat on the sofa of absolution.
If Harvey Weinstein?s career really is dunzo,
then that, at long last, answers the question
of what a successful man in Hollywood has to
do to put himself out of work: be accused of
raping women for the past 30 years (which he
has denied). By contrast, the African-American
director, Nate Parker, saw his career end just as it
was beginning, when it emerged last year that he
was acquitted of a rape charge in 2001. By way of
further contrast, Casey Affleck, who was accused
of sexual harassment as recently as 2010, won the
2016 best actor Oscar.
For this reason, I爏uspect Kevin Spacey?s career
is probably finished while producer Brett Ratner?s
might not be: both have been accused of multiple
sexual assaults, but whereas Ratner allegedly
preyed on young women, Spacey allegedly went
after young men, and it is in no way a defence of
Spacey to say that there has been a distinct air of
homophobia around his hasty banishment. After
all, just ask yourselves if Roman Polanski would
still be getting lifetime achievement awards if he?d
sexually assaulted a�-year-old boy instead of a girl.
It takes a hell of a lot for a straight white man
to destroy his own career. And to be honest, it
somewhat undermines all the promises I?ve read
about the new no-tolerance attitude towards
assault, claiming that men have ?learned
their lesson?, when Gibson is there, grinning
unapologetically from my local multiplex. When
it comes to protecting its most prized assets,
it?s爏till business as usual in Hollywood.
@HadleyFreeman
Tim
Dowling
Second
life
n Thursday, the men arrive with the
pieces of my new office shed. I spend
the morning working in the kitchen,
with a pad and a pen, so I can watch
them put it together through the window. I am
reliably mesmerised by the industry of others.
By sunset, the walls are up, the roof is on and
there are already wires hanging from the light
fittings inside.
?What have we done?? my wife asks, looking
out at the box sitting in燼 shallow crater at the
end爋f the爂arden.
?It looks big, doesn?t it?? I say.
The next day, I am too busy to sit in the
kitchen.燭he men occasionally shout up to the
attic bedroom where my desk is presently
wedged, and I爃ave to come downstairs to
answer爍uestions about the positioning of an
electrical socket or a downspout. My answers are
vague and noncommittal; my mind is elsewhere.
By the time I?ve finished work, the men have
packed up and gone.
?They said don?t go out there yet,? my wife
says. ?The last thing they did before they left
was爌aint the step, and it?s still wet.?
?Oh,? I say, ?OK.? I stare out of the window.
A爓eek ago, I was excited about my shed. Now,
I燼m filled with foreboding.
That night, my wife and I have clashing
schedules. I go to a fun party without her, and
she爄s correspondingly unsympathetic regarding
my state of mind the next morning.
?It?s time to move you into your shed!? she
shouts, waking me up.
?It can?t be,? I say.
?I?ve already made a start!? she says. ?Come
and help me carry the sofa!?
The sofa has been sitting in a cardboard box
in爋ur living room for three weeks. By the time
I燼m dressed and downstairs, my wife has rent
O
At 6pm, I ?nd myself
sitting alone at my
desk in a bare-walled
box, darkness pressing
against the windows
6 2 December 2017 | The Guardian Weekend
the box into strips. It is clear from the sofa?s shape
that some assembly will be required.
?I need coffee,? I say.
?You need shoes!? my wife says.
We carry the main portion of the爑nassembled
sofa through the mud. When we reach the shed,
I爊otice it?s already got quite a bit of stuff piled
in爄t.
?What?s all this?? I say, flipping through some
frames stacked against the wall.
?Your pictures,? my wife says.
?They?re not my pictures,? I say. ?They?re
pictures of me. I can?t fill my office with pictures
of myself. I?m not a monster.?
?They?re not going in the house,? she says.
?Well, they?re not staying here, either,? I say.
?I don?t know why you?re being like this,? my
wife says, suddenly on the verge of tears.
?This is supposed to be my office,? I say. ?And
you?re using it as a skip!?
My wife storms off, leaving me with four sofa
legs, 16 screws and a爈ittle hexagonal tool in
a爌lastic bag.
It takes me about an hour to put the sofa
together, in between bouts of sitting cross-legged
on the floor with my head in my hands. The shed
was supposed to be a refuge, I爐hink, but it feels
like an exile. Also, you picked the wrong morning
to claim not to be a monster.
Once I have finished, I go back to the house to
apologise to my wife for making her cry. She
agrees to put the incident behind us on the
condition that I immediately haul my desk down
the stairs and out to the shed.
I wake up my sons to come and help me, and
in燿oing so accept their boundless resentment as
my punishment.
At 6pm, I find myself sitting alone at my
desk爄n燼 bare-walled box, darkness pressing
against the windows, space heater on full against
the evening chill. It doesn?t quite feel like a
writer?s study. It feels more like one of those
offices you sometimes find at one corner of
a爓indswept car park. Occasionally, people might
come and knock on my window, and I would
inform them that a爈ost ticket means you pay the
full day rate ? no exceptions.
I look across the garden towards the kitchen,
wondering how one goes about getting into that
sort of game.
@IAmTimDowling
First take
Bim Adewunmi
?I have always relied on the
kindness of strangers,? breathed
Vivien Leigh in the most famous
adaptation of A Streetcar Named
Desire. Her delivery is that of
a爓oman to whom life has thrown
a few curveballs. At the risk of
overidentifying with fictional
characters, after a recent experience
at Heathrow, I felt Blanche and I had
a couple of things in common. We
were both just fate?s playthings.
I travelled to Nigeria last month,
to attend a literary festival. To get to
the ancient city of Abeokuta, I爃ad
to go from New York to London and
then on to Lagos. I was in the air
for more than 12 hours, and I felt
each one in my back. (Side note:
I miss when I爈ived in Europe and
everything felt no more than five
hours away.) I glided through JFK
but hit a爏peedbump in London:
I was over-liquided, the man at
security told me. I?d have to chuck
some of my 100ml bottles of
lotions and potions. Look, I have
dry skin ? I爊eed these, I told the
man with the gloves. Puppy-dog
eyes meant nothing to him, nor did
muted爂rumbles.
Deflated, I prepared to kill some
darlings when? A Man. ?Can
I爃elp?? a voice said. In hindsight,
I爁eel that a celestial choir heralded
his arrival, but I may be wrong. He
asked if he could take the bag on my
behalf. The gloved official asked
some questions and acquiesced.
Here?s the thing: I was braced for
some kind
ki of inappropriateness
thereafter. I felt myself preparing
ther
ccasual but pointed references
to my boyfriend, but no
need. A pure good deed!
In爐he terrible year of 2017!
Reader, I married him.
(I燿idn?t. But what a爉eetcute it would have燽een.)
@bimadew
RONALD GRANT
?It?s time to move you into your shed!? my wife shouts
Starters
Your
view
39% You?re lucky: I?d like to
Small data
Last week, Candida
Crewe wrote about why
she wishes she liked
alcohol more. You said:
drink less
34% You shouldn?t need to
drink to have fun
27% It?s cathartic to have
the odd drink
Letters, emails, comments
ALAMY
not燽e as rosy as Perticucci asserts.
Liz Meerabeau
New Malden, Surrey
Roy Perticucci, Amazon?s European
vice-president for customer
fulfilment, cheerily asserts that
agricultural workers displaced by
machinery in the early 19th century
increased their life expectancy (So
What Time Do We Clock Off ?, 25
November). But Edwin Chadwick?s
data gathered for the reform of the
Poor Law showed that life
expectancy reduced as people
moved into towns in search of work.
The future of employment may
The most interesting points raised in
Dorian Lynskey?s article are how we
source information, make decisions
and post-rationalise those choices
(Regrets, We?ve Had A燜ew?, 25
November). If we wish to爏ee a more
considered approach to policymaking, we need a new style of
politics: leaders who admit mistakes,
and a media that considers all sides
of an argument. Above all, we, the
voters, must learn how to recognise
the dopamine rush of confirmation
bias and actively seek alternatives.
Tony Nicholls
Wilmslow, Cheshire
Thank you for the reminder that we
in the US are not the only ones who
sometimes lose our minds.
David Holcomb
Winslow, Arkansas, US
After reading Enter Stage Left (25
Stephen Collins
10 2 December 2017 | The Guardian Weekend
November), my dislike of Emily
Thornberry changed unequivocally
to admiration. I do not subscribe to
her politics, but I do identify with the
diversity of her life and admire her
lack of victimhood. I shall listen to
her without rancour, now that I know
the woman behind the politics.
Heather Smith
Buxton, Derbyshire
As foreign secretary, Thornberry
might just pull back some of the
respect for the UK that the likes of
Boris Johnson have so squandered.
John R Houghton
Billingstad, Norway
I have been able to give up sugar,
smoking, a bigoted husband but,
despite a yearning to quit, not my
booze habit. Now in my late�s, the
hangovers and shame continue.
Candida Crewe should treasure her
alcohol-free life (Make Mine A
Cranberry Juice, 25 November) and
stop yearning to join us drunks.
Name and address supplied
Dan Stevens? excellent joke has
gone爏ome way to making up for
him ruining Christmas in 2012
(Q&A,� November).
Charlotte Oliver
Scarborough
My husband and I were amused to
find that, as grandparents in our
mid-60s, we are confirmed as
?big爇ids? ? because we爃ave just
bought爋urselves a Nintendo
Switch燼s a joint Christmas present
to entertain ourselves both at
home燼nd in our motor home (Gift
Guide, 25 November). We may, of
course, also challenge the
grandchildren occasionally.
Anni Gell
Nottingham
Email weekend@theguardian.com or
comment at theguardian.com by noon
on Monday for inclusion. Submissions
are subject to our terms and conditions:
see http://gu.com/letters.terms
Starters
Q&A
Rachel Whiteread, artist
orn in Essex, Whitread,
54, studied painting at
Brighton Polytechnic.
She went on to do an MA
in sculpture at the Slade. In 1993,
House, her life-size cast of the
interior of a terrace house, was the
first work by a woman to win the
Turner prize. Her major public
projects include the Holocaust
Memorial (1995) in Vienna,
Monument (2001) in Trafalgar
Square and Cabin (2016) in New
York. A retrospective of her work is
at Tate Britain, London, until
21燡anuary. She has two sons with
the artist Marcus Taylor.
LINDA NYLIND FOR THE GUARDIAN
B
When were you happiest?
When my children arrived.
Which living person do you most
admire, and why?
People inspiring the new generation
of politically active youngsters.
What is the trait you most deplore
in yourself?
Impatience.
What is the trait you most deplore
in others?
Selfishness.
Aside from a property, what?s the
most expensive thing
you?ve燽ought?
A car, which is used like a van;
I爏hould have just bought the van.
What would your super power be?
Wings, and bionic knees.
What do you most dislike about
your appearance?
As long as I don?t look in the mirror,
not much.
Who would play you in the film of
your life?
Glenda Jackson.
What is your most unappealing
habit?
Finishing my husband?s sentences.
What did you want to be when you
were growing up?
First something medical, then,
without any doubt, an artist.
What is your favourite smell?
It used to be my children but, now
that they are teenagers, roses.
What is your favourite word?
Plinth.
Which book changed your life?
To Kill A Mockingbird ? it?s a great
book for teaching children about
compassion, fear and injustice.
What is the worst thing anyone?s
said to you?
I was teased a lot for having ginger
hair and freckles as a child.
What does love feel like?
A warm, frayed, soft blanket.
What was the best kiss of your life?
It?s got to be from my husband
Marcus (though I loved snogging
when I was a teenager).
Which words or phrases do you
most overuse?
I like to swear.
What is the worst job you?ve done?
Serving tea in an insurance office to
people who seemed to despise me at
the age of 16 was pretty unpleasant.
What has been your biggest
disappointment?
Losing my parents when they were
relatively young. My dad was 59 and
my mum died at 72, 14 years ago.
If you could edit your past,
what爓ould you change?
I would have thought more about
exercise and a healthy lifestyle in
my 20s, 30s and 40s.
How often do you have sex?
Not enough.
What keeps you awake at night?
As I get older, sleeping gets harder.
I exercise, I do mindfulness, I take
drugs occasionally.
What is the most important lesson
life has taught you?
The more you put in, the more you
get out.
Tell us a joke
What did the cheese say when it
looked at itself in the mirror?
Halloumi.
Rosanna Greenstreet
12 2 December 2017 | The Guardian Weekend
My best kiss?
My husband
(though I loved
snogging when
I was a teenager)
Starters
Experience
here are only 11
documented cases of
congenital aglossia in
the world, so I?m in a
pretty exclusive club. Despite being
born without a tongue, I can speak
and swallow and taste just like
anyone else. I have the base of the
tongue and the muscle on the floor
of my mouth, which I can move
up and down, but other than that,
there?s nothing there at all.
Not all people with this condition
are lucky enough to be able to talk.
The base of the tongue燿oesn?t reach
the roof of my mouth, but I use the
inside of my cheeks, my lips, my
teeth and the floor of my mouth.
Nobody ever sat爉e down and told
me how to make the爏ound B or
D; I爐hought everyone talked the
way I do. A爈ot爋f it has to do with
not爉issing爓hat you never had.
I was born in 1969, in the days
T
before ultrasound scans. It was
a爊ormal pregnancy, and there
was nothing to suggest that I?d be
different. But when I was born,
Mum could tell, by looking in my
mouth, there was something wrong.
The doctor saw the base of my
tongue and told her, ?Oh, she just
has a small tongue. She?ll be fine.?
I爓as lucky, because I didn?t have
any issues with my airway and was
able to swallow. It was difficult
at first, but爐hey used an adapted
bottle to feed me.
Later, doctors told my parents
I爓ouldn?t be able to talk or that
my speech would be very limited.
I?m sure that was hard for them to
hear. But they were only 22 and I?m
not sure how seriously they took
it. I was their first and only child,
and the best thing they ever did
was treat me as if爐here was nothing
wrong. Mum told me when I was
older that she came home from a
doctor?s appointment and cried,
because she worried I wouldn?t
have a normal life or be happy. But
when I was growing up, I knew I had
parents and a family who loved me
to death.
I did become self-conscious about
it. It was the little things. My cousins
would stick out their tongues and
I爓ould think, ?Why can?t I do that??
And I couldn?t blow bubbles with
gum. Adults would ask my name
and I?d have to repeat it a few times,
and I?d wonder why they couldn?t
understand me. My name is Kelly,
and the hard C sound is one of the
most difficult for me to make.
I also have a small jaw. It?s related,
because there is no tongue to fill
out爐he space. People are able to
see爐hat, rather than the fact that
I燿on?t have a tongue.
When I started pre-school, I was
teased. One girl used to come up
to me every day and tell me I had
a燾rooked mouth. I was like, ?What
does that mean?? I remember
thinking, ?Don?t you know I?m
awesome?? Then, one day, I just
replied, ?I爇now! Do you want to
play?? We became friends and it
never came up again.
I went to see a plastic surgeon
when I was 10, who suggested
making燼 false tongue. I just
thought, ?Why would you do that??
I was more interested in having
my chin and jaw filled out. But
when I爓as 18 the surgeon said he
wasn?t comfortable doing anything
surgical爄n case it hindered my
speech. I爐hought, ?I don?t care,
I爅ust want to be pretty,? but it was
the right decision.
My tastebuds are perfectly
normal. I?m told they?re on the base
of my tongue and the inside of my
cheeks. I?m able to taste the full
range of flavours. I?d wondered if
I爓as doing it by smell or texture.
I燾an eat everything, even icecream燾ones; I just use my lips.
The爋nly thing that?s difficult is
biting into an apple, but that?s due
to my jaw alignment.
What?s kissing like without a
tongue? Well, I like to kiss and
I?ve been told I?m a good kisser;
I?m爏ure it?s different, but I?ve had
no complaints.
I?ve never had any anger about
being born this way. I occasionally
wondered how I would have
looked爋r sounded if I?d been born
with a tongue. Over the years,
I?ve learned to embrace it, which
hasn?t always been easy. I?d love
to爐hink I爋ffer hope to others in
this爏ituation, to parents or children
born like me.
Kelly Rogers
Do you have an experience to share?
Email experience@theguardian.com
The Guardian Weekend | 2 December 2017 15
AS TOLD TO SOPHIE HAYDOCK
PHILIP CHEUNG FOR THE GUARDIAN
I was born without a tongue
I would love
to have
told Trump:
?Back o? ,
you creep?
Hillary Clinton
and Mary Beard
The presidential
candidate
and the
classicist
Portraits by David Levene
Bori Johnson
Boris
and Trump�
have branded
themselves
the
around ga?es.
arou
extra ga?e
One e
doesn?t matter
does
DC10 OAK CHAIRS BY MIYAZAKI CHAIR FACTORY AT ARAM.CO.UK
Hillary Clinton is sequestered in a hotel room,
giving a big television interview, when Mary Beard
arrives at Claridge?s. While she waits outside
on爐he爏ofa, though, it quickly becomes clear
that爐he star of this conversation is the classicist.
One by one, members of Clinton?s staff approach
in reverent tones to declare her their heroine.
Even a passing cameraman stops to pay court
and爏ay: ?I love you!? Does this happen to Beard
all the time? ?Yes,? she laughs, ?funnily enough,
it does.?
Since the Cambridge professor began presenting
TV programmes on the Romans nearly a decade
ago, she has become world famous, as well as
wildly popular for her robust refusal to stand for
misogynistic online abuse. Trolls are publicly
challenged; one was memorably shamed into
taking Beard to lunch to燼pologise for calling her
?a filthy old slut?. Her latest book,燱omen &
Power: A Manifesto, brings an爄lluminating
historical perspective to the contemporary abuse
of powerful women. (Our meeting takes place in
mid-October, before the #metoo revelations had
begun to gather pace.)
Clinton is in London to talk about What
Happened, her rivetingly candid if shell-shocked
account of her defeat to Donald Trump in last
year?s US presidential election. As soon as she
appears, it becomes very hard to believe she
lost燽ecause voters found her cold. She greets
Beard with a whoop of delight, exclaims, ?This
is爁un!? does a very, very funny impersonation
of燭rump?s voice and, over the course of an
hour,爈aughs a lot.
Once seated, the physical contrast between the
two women is arresting. Clinton folds her hands
carefully before her and confines her爉ovements
to slow nods of the head, while Beard gesticulates
energetically as she talks, her whole upper body
pitching and swaying. But the chemistry between
them crackles, and Clinton conveys the
impression of someone keen to see爓hat she can
learn from the academic.
The pair met briefly four years ago when
both爎eceived honorary degrees at the
University爋f St Andrews. Beard had been
advocating a爉ore combative strategy towards
trolls than Michelle Obama?s famous injunction
to ?go high... when they go low?. The latter
having failed to爓ork for Clinton, she and Beard
fall at once to燿iscussing how women in public life
can deal爓ith misogyny?
Decca Aitkenhead
Mary Beard What I remember us talking about
when we met was the sense that it was extremely
important to say: ?Hang on a minute, mate, you
are not right.? Or: ?Please take this tweet down.?
Hillary Clinton Learning about the ongoing grief
you took over standing up for women?s rights and
accurate history was quite enlightening to me.
MB It?s gone on, too, actually.
HC Well, as you rightly point out, it has only
continued, and in some ways gotten worse. The
ability of people in public life or in the media to
say the most outrageous falsehoods and not be
held accountable has really altered the balance
in爋ur public discourse, in a way that I think is
endangering democracy.
MB To me, what?s really interesting is that,
although爐hey look as if they?re going for what
we爏aid, what they?re really going for is the fact
that we dared to say anything, almost. It?s not
about having an argument about, say, migration.
It?s about telling you to shut up.
HC That?s right. I know that very well, and so
do爕ou, and we have perhaps thicker skin than
a爈ot of other people. But it is still distressing to
be爐old, either explicitly or implicitly: ?Go away.
You have nothing to say.?
MB The friendly advice when it happens to you
is燼lways: ?Don?t pay attention. Don?t give them
oxygen and publicity. Block them and just move
on, dear.? And you think, sorry, that is what
women have been told to do for centuries. If
somebody accuses you of having a smelly vagina
that stinks of cabbage, you?re supposed to say:
?Just block him.? Actually, no. Somehow, even
among the people who are trying to support you,
it?s basically saying: ?Shut up.?
HC It?s interesting you say that, because, in
my燽ook, I try to talk about the dilemma that
a爓oman faces between ?be calm and carry on??
MB You?re quite good at that!
HC Yes, I?ve had a lot of practice. You know,
when燭rump was stalking me [in the 2016
televised presidential debates] and leering and,
oh, just generally trying to dominate me on this
little stage, my mind was like: OK, I practised
being calm and composed, you know, because
that?s what a president should be. But, boy, would
I love to turn around and say: ?Back off, you
creep.? But I didn?t, because I thought then his
side will say: ?See, she can?t take it. If she can?t
take Donald standing there like the alpha male
that he is, then how?s she going to stand up to
Putin?? A ridiculous argument, but nevertheless
one that might get traction. And, as you say, even
your friends are like: ?Oh, come on, don?t take
the燽ait. Don?t take the bait.?
MB Being an academic gives you a bit of freedom
to play around with things, because in爐he end
what people think about me doesn?t matter all
that much. But I remember when I first did telly,
a燾lever, nasty but well-respected TV critic here
said, basically: ?You look like the back end of a燽us.
How dare you come into our living room with
those teeth? If you?re going to inflict yourself爋n us,
please will you smarten up.? After the first shock,
I thought, look, sunshine, if you line up a load of
women between 55 and 65, they?ll mostly look
like me. So, I wrote a piece pointing out that he
was not abusing me only, he爓as abusing every
woman who looked a bit like me. ?
Learning
about the
k
grief you took
over standing up
for women?ss
rights was
g
enlightening
to me
The Guardian Weekend | 2 December 2017 19
HC I think you touched a chord when you said:
?OK, this is what a woman looks like.? When you
run for office, however, what a president looks
like is not any kind of woman. So therefore how
you feel about this particular woman is
influenced by how you feel about women in really
powerful positions. It?s that tightrope, that
balance that we keep trying to figure out how
to爏trike.
MB When I looked back to the ancient
world燼bout this, Romans in particular were
always saying that women, in some way, are fake.
The problem about a woman is that she?s always
made up, she?s never what she seems. Reading
your book, what was so interesting was that
women in public life ? and I?m happily removed
from that ? you?ve got to look the part and you?ve
got to be authentic. And that?s impossible.
HC Well, that is the core dilemma. Like, today,
I爃ave makeup on. You don?t. But that is just part
of the uniform that one wears in public life and
politics, at least in my experience.
MB If I started to wear makeup now, I would get
so abused on Twitter. I?m actually as trapped as
you are, Hillary! [Laughter.]
HC Men can get a haircut; it doesn?t change their
authenticity. They can grow a beard; they are still
who they are. Whereas we are constantly held to
that good old double standard, which is so
complex and deep and charged with historical
and mythological and cultural totems.
MB Your book has turned me yet more against
presidential debates. I mean, what did I learn
from the debates? I learned absolutely nothing
that I didn?t think I knew already. I knew that
Trump was ghastly. I knew I?d vote for Hillary
if營爃ad a vote. So to say: ?I don?t think we?ll have
a debate this year,? seems antidemocratic. But
democracy has to think a bit harder about the
dissemination of knowledge.
HC Yes, I agree with that.
MB You have to say, what?s the effort:reward
ratio爓ith these debates?
HC You know what?s interesting? I?ve watched
presidential debates my entire adult life and
I爐hink it?s gotten more so, that you don?t learn
much. Part of the reason I prepared [for them],
and part of the reason I had such an extensive,
substantive policy portfolio, is that there have
been, in the past, moments of爎eckoning, where a
smart moderator will really pin you down: ?OK,
you爏ay you want to do this on taxes ? what will
be the impact on economic growth?? I mean,
something that?s a little more sophisticated and
really does require you to be on your toes.
But爐hat didn?t happen this time at all.
MB It sure didn?t. I think we have started to
equate燿emocracy with some symbols of it that
don?t really get to the issues, whether that?s in
the爎eferendum vote on Brexit or whatever. And
the Greeks would have seen this. Democracy
requires information. Plato knew that informed
decision-making requires knowledge.
HC That?s exactly right. When you think about
the necessity for information ? not just any
information, but information that has at least
some passing relationship to facts and
evidence�營 saw this up close throughout the
campaign. There is a deliberate, very
well-organised, sophisticated assault on facts
and爎eason and evidence. In our country, it?s
driven originally by a cabal of billionaires and
religious fundamentalists, and their view is that
it燿oesn?t matter what they say. If they say it often
enough and they put enough money behind it,
they?ll convince a significant number of people.
MB It is not dissimilar here, when you can get
politicians saying: ?You don?t want to believe
experts.? And you want to turn around and say:
?I?m terribly sorry, but I?ve got the evidence.?
But爕ou?re in a double bind, as a historian or
a爌olitician or any job where expertise is
required.燳ou don?t want to say: ?Only
politicians燼re allowed to talk about foreign
policy.? You want to share and debate with people
who?ve got different opinions, of course you do ?
but actually you sometimes need to have read
something about it.
HC That?s right. An informed opinion.
MB Ranting is not debating ? and yet, when
you爏tart to say that, you don?t half look like
a爌rissy燼cademic.
HC Yes, or are accused of being ?establishment?.
MB We?ve confused ensuring a level playing field
for different sorts of arguments with respect for
the facts.
HC You face it in the classroom. I faced it in
a爊ational election.
MB On the BBC, you know, people now
joke爐hat,爄f we were in the 1930s, when the
BBC爀ver interviewed somebody who was
antifascist, they would have been forced to have
a爈ittle comment from Goebbels to make sure
everything was balanced. But if ignorance is one
side of the balance, then we are not helped.
I爐hink that, in some ways, the job of a classicist
is爐o be optimistic, because I think that, overall,
people are becoming more aware. But the thing
about Twitter and other forms of social media is
not that people are saying what they didn?t used
to say. I?m sure they used to say it all the time. But
now you can actually see it.
HC I think technology has unleashed thoughts
and feelings that have always been there. They?ve
been, thankfully, somewhat behind the scenes,
under the radar. In our case, in this election, you
had white supremacist, neo-Nazi websites that
might have gotten 100 followers, but then, when
someone running for president, in this case
Donald Trump, retweets something from this
outlier site, it goes mainstream.
The other part about social media, which we
are finding out now, is that it can be gamed. So,
what the Russians did in our election ? and it?s ?
I have
makeup on.
You don?t.
That is just part
of the uniform
of politics
If I started
to wear
et
makeup, I?d get
so abused.
d
I?m as trapped
y!
as you, Hillary!
The Guardian Weekend | 2 December 2017 21
something we?re all going to have to pay more
attention to ? was to flood social爉edia with
thousands of robotic accounts that were
programmed to troll, pretending to be燗mericans.
MB I mean, what would you do about that?
I爏uppose I have a slightly optimistic, gradualist
perspective that, actually, people will get savvy,
you know? In the end, with a [fake news story such
as]: ?Hilary Clinton running a child prostitution
ring from the basement of a pizzeria?, they?re just
going to think, come on, sunshine: no.
HC I think it goes back to your point about the
false balance, you know. There is a level of
responsibility that the media has to assume. They
can?t just report these things and leave it at that.
There has to be more to it. And I think there?s no
magic answer.
But I wanted to ask you about that memorable
debate you had with Boris Johnson over Greece
versus Rome. He is a reality TV kind of character
from my observation, don?t you think?
MB Yes!
HC And he knows it and he knows how to play it.
It?s very deliberate. The same with Trump.
I爉ean, it?s a persona that they have assumed,
which really works for them, even the same kind
of hair. The hair is part of the whole deal.
MB And it is so contrived, and it is contrived
to爈ook so spontaneous, it makes you sick.
HC It?s interesting, because men?s roles in public
I was made
fun of for preparing
sidential
for the presidential
debates. How did
you win against
hnson?
Boris Johnson?
22 2 December 2017 | The Guardian Weekend
life are somewhat evolving. It used to be: you go
for the sober character on the right or the left,
who爕ou think represents your views and whose
platform you support. They could come in
different sizes and shapes, but there was an
assumption they were serious people, even if
they had a good sense of humour, right?
Now, because of what I爐hink is the pressure
of爌erformance, which is more important than
substance by a long shot, it爄s the performance
that matters most. We?re going to see more of
this爐ype. And I think then it?s particularly hard
to爌in down and make the argument about
position and facts versus performance
and爎hetoric.
MB When I debated with Boris about Greece
versus Rome, it was a fun charity gig, but it
revealed precisely that. Boris is very funny.
He燾an work an audience. I admire it. I爇new
the爋nly way I was going to have a chance of
winning was by being fantastically prepared.
HC That sounds very familiar. [Laughter.]
MB I sat and I looked at any video I could find of
Boris. I noted the mistakes and I thought, he?s so
busy, he?s going to use the same examples ? and
I爇now they?re wrong. I must have put about
a爓eek of studying Boris videos and reading
everything Boris had written wrongly about the
ancient world. That is fine for a one-off gig, but
you can?t write a long-term debate like that.
HC Or a campaign, in my experience. That?s right.
So, I was made fun of for preparing and, at one
point in one of the debates, Trump actually said:
?Oh, well, she?s prepared.? I said: ?Yes, you know
what else I prepared for? To be president.? Then
he gets elected and he goes: ?It?s so much harder
than I thought.?
MB It?s back to the old version that was
prevalent燼t university when I was an
undergraduate ? you know, that it was the women
who were in on the Saturday nights doing the
work, and they were very diligent, but they
didn?t爎eally have that?
HC They didn?t have the creative?
MB The flair. So, they were awfully reliable ?
and燽y awfully reliable, you mean very boring.
Whereas, somehow, what both Boris and
Trump爃ave done is they?ve branded themselves
around gaffes, so that it no longer makes
a燿ifference. One extra gaffe doesn?t matter,
because that?s the燽rand.
HC Women are going to have to learn how to pull
off that trick. I think it?s difficult, but it has to be
possible, because there?s no alternative.
MB It?s relatively easy for me. It?s great fun
being燼n academic, because you have a
certain爈icence to be a bit of a joker. But
I燾ouldn?t燿o this style in any form of politics.
What燿o you think Chelsea?s going to do when
she comes one day and says: ?I爐hink I?m going
to爎un for Congress??
HC Well, it hasn?t happened yet. But part of what
I?m trying to do now is not let my loss discourage
young women from taking public positions, even
running for office themselves. So I?m supporting
organisations that are out recruiting women,
training women, helping women run. And part
of爐he lessons are how you grow a thick skin
without losing your sense of humour, without
becoming too grim and too serious.
MB I think, when I was 25, nobody in the world
knew who I was. But if I?d got the sort of tweets
then that I get now?
HC You would have been crushed. You would
have gone to bed.
MB I would have gone to bed. I wouldn?t have
even gone out.
HC That?s the problem, but you have set a good
example of how you overcome it. I am really
envious of the kind of freedom that you have.
But爕ou?ve taken that freedom and your
expertise, and used it to enhance the public
debate. Mary, what do you think the moment was
when you won the debate with Johnson?
MB It was when I said: ?Boris has been
claiming爐hat Roman literature really wasn?t
worth reading. But a leading politician said of
Book IV of燰irgil?s Aeneid, on the death of his
lover Dido, that it was: ?The best book of the best
poem of the燽est poet.? Who do you think that
was?? And Boris had to say: ?I think that might
have been me.? [Laughter.]
HC Preparation!
MB It paid off ?
SEE THE FULL COLLECTION AVAILABLE FROM �9 TO �,250 IN STORE OR ONLINE
I?m not a
funny person.
But is good comedy
always about
punching up?
I?m having
an existential
crisis about
how I approach
comedy
Nish Kumar and
Reni Eddo-Lodge
The comedian
and the
writer
Portraits by Antonio Olmos and Rebecca Marshall
Nish Kumar and Reni Eddo-Lodge have distinct
laughs: his loud and staccato, hers somewhere
between a dry chuckle and a sweet hiccup. They
might seem an odd pairing, a comedian and host
of BBC show The Mash Report, who sometimes
uses race as a punchline, and the author of this
year?s Why I?m No Longer Talking to White People
About Race, but their chemistry is fascinating.
The pair first met after contributing to 2016?s
anthology The Good Immigrant, in which Kumar
wrote an essay on his misidentification as
a�confused Muslim?, and Eddo-Lodge on black
identity. Both are unashamedly ?woke? (although
I doubt they would use that word) and willing
to explore the intersectional narratives around
topics such as race, gender and privilege that
have been brewing on the internet for years ? now
even more so, as what happens on social media
bleeds into our political and personal lives.
At 32, Kumar scrapes into the millennial
bracket, while Eddo-Lodge, at 28, is firmly of that
generation. Conveying the energy and humour
of their conversation is difficult in plain text, but
imagine the boom of Kumar?s laughter and the
dry delivery of Eddo-Lodge?s jokes, and you?ll
be most of the way there. The pair discussed
everything from Kumar?s gassy stomach to the
importance of optimism in a world that can feel
borderline dystopian. Charlie Brinkhurst-Cuff
Nish Kumar We met at the book launch, then
went for a nice brunch, a bunch of us.
Reni Eddo-Lodge I don?t remember you that
much, I must say.
NK I was out of my comfort zone, so I sort of hid
at the back.
REL Why out of your comfort zone?
NK I?d never been to a book launch before. I felt
like a visitor from the world of low culture.
REL Actually, I came to see you on tour in
2015, when I was a nobody.
NK I didn?t know that! That would have
been in the Soho theatre. That show has just
appeared on Netflix, through a clerical
error. I watched a bit of it and was like,
oh, you naive fool. Because in that
show I?m like, ?Don?t worry, guys, it?s
going to be OK, the left of politics is going
to be fine.? I even took a second to openly
praise the comedy of Louis CK! So it has not
aged well.
REL Oh dear, sorry to hear that. I enjoyed it!
I remember saying to my partner, ?I think
it?s good, but quite safe. There?s a lot of
white people in the audience he could have
riled up if he wanted to.? I remember my
partner was like, ?No, Reni, you don?t
understand. You?re the anomaly! You are
far left, don?t you understand?? It was
a爉oment of realisation, so much so that
it actually made a Facebook status.
NK Just a couple of occasions, people
got燼 bit riled up. But watching it now is
like watching a guy complaining about the lunch
service on the Titanic. In the background the
iceberg is looming and he?s got no idea.
REL A lot has changed over the last couple of
years. You weren?t to know.
NK The one good thing about being a comedian
over the past few years has been getting to travel
around the country. You can see some of the roots
of the dissatisfaction. But I?m still recovering
from the shock of the last 18 months. Did you
think we were going to leave [the EU]?
REL When the vote came through, I wasn?t
surprised. The same with Donald Trump?s election.
NK With Trump, I was expecting it. I have been
surprised by quite how quickly it?s gone badly.
I thought somehow the infrastructure around
him would keep the thing afloat for a couple of
months, but it felt like immediately he was hiring
absolute buffoons.
REL Since the vote, I?ve received at least one
invitation [to America] I declined on the basis
that a bunch of people I know can?t get in. What
right do I have to be going? Though my book?s
just come out there, so it?s looking likely ? now
that the Muslim ban doesn?t exist in the way they
attempted it in early 2017 ? that I爉ight visit. Or
maybe the Trump administration won?t let me in,
I don?t know. [Laughs.]
I have a question! Why me, why did you choose
me for this conversation?
NK Because your book has been on my mind,
a爈ot. I thought I?d have a conversation with you
in an attempt to get some reasons for optimism
going forward.
REL You?ve got the wrong person! [Laughs.]
NK My feeling is, if Reni can find some reasons
to be optimistic, then anyone can. It felt like you
had constructive solutions, and it was inspiring
me to get up and do stuff and be positive, and
try and fight these problems. It took me on a real
emotional journey of sadness, anger, frustration.
Self-hatred, because I feel like I?ve overlooked
a爈ot of the problems the book talks about in the
spirit of just moving through it. So I?ve come to
you, for reasons to be cheerful. Go!
REL I guess I wrote it with a sense of urgency.
Reasons to be cheerful are: the fact that the book
got published in the first place. That suggests
that things are really changing. I watched the first
episode of The Mash Report and you made a joke
about being a brown man on TV and I was like,
that?s a reason to be cheerful. That you?re in the
position to make that joke.
NK I?m glad you?ve engaged with my work so
much, it makes me feel slightly less embarrassed
by how much of a fan I am of your book. [Laughs.]
REL I didn?t know how it was going to work.
It?s燽een interesting to receive feedback
from爌eople on how they?re using it as a tool. ?
Your book has
been on my mind,
so I?ve come
to you for reasons
to be cheerful.
Go!
The Guardian Weekend | 2 December 2017 29
I爊ever want to be too prescriptive because, God,
I don?t know everyone?s spheres of influence,
networks, skills.
It?s amazing to hear what people are doing.
I爃ad this teenage boy come up to me after
a talk once and say, ?I did the maths and
worked out the爐op sets in my year were
disproportionately white and the bottom sets
were disproportionately people of colour.?
He燿elivered a presentation at assembly.
NK (Laughs.] Did doing that maths get him into
the爐op set?
I爐ook Why I?m No Longer Talking To White
People About Race on to A Good Read, a燫adio�book show. The host and the guest both
really loved the book, but they started from
a perspective of, ?When I saw the title I felt
very attacked.? But everyone in my age group
downwards, all of the white people I爇now who
read the book, didn?t feel attacked. The younger
generation of white people feel less precious
about having those tough conversations.
REL Writing the book has challenged my own
prejudices and put me into contact with people
from all walks of life, who are doing incredible
and amazing work. I feel like it?s less about age
and more to do with ideology and whether you?re
willing to challenge yourself.
You said you?ve been thinking a lot about the
book. Has it changed your practice as a comedian?
NK I am freer to be angrier on stage, I think. Last
year, on the night of Brexit, a guy told me to ?go
home? while I was on stage, and that was, for
want of a better term, a Falling Down moment
for me where I thought, fuck this. The end of that
show became quite anger-driven.
I?m in the middle of an existential crisis
in爃ow營燼pproach comedy about these big
issues.營 sometimes find, when I get drawn on
the爏ubject of race, it?s too close to home for
me and I can?t articulate what I?m trying to get
across. The emotions are so raw. Now, instead
of shouting and screaming, I?m going to carry
around a copy of your book and say, ?Let me refer
you to page 35.?
REL That?s it! I wrote the book so I would never
have to have these conversations again. Then
I爎ealised, I?m going to have to go around talking
about this for ever.
If someone tries to back me into a corner, I?m
just gone. I was looking through my very old
Facebook messages the other day and there?s this
point in 2012 where people were messaging me:
?Why did you delete me, Reni?? [laughs] and
I爐hought, wow, I?ve always been like this. When
I didn?t quite have the language, I didn?t want to
argue, so I just gathered myself and left.
NK [Laughs.] Sometimes the pile-ons [on social
media] become a little intense. But the reality is
that social media, for a lot of people of colour,
is the only way to get the counterargument
across. Russell Howard?s recent sketch [where
he was shocked that there is a booklet telling
white people how to behave towards ?ethnic
30 2 December 2017 | The Guardian Weekend
minorities? in the workplace] just made me think
that he should get some more friends who aren?t
white. Don?t you remember that Solange song,
Don?t Touch My Hair?
REL All he needed to do was go and speak to
two爋r three black women: ?Has anyone touched
your hair at work?? That?s it. The sketch shows
to me that he didn?t. It literally happened to
me while I was on my book tour, discussing
a燽ook about race. Our political spheres are still
overwhelmingly white.
NK I say it again, the Solange song! It was a really
big song!
REL I did tweet him. I don?t know how it went
down. I have this rule now where I don?t check up
on things, I just say stuff and leave.
NK You?re like someone who turns up and farts at
a house party, then immediately leaves. [Laughs.]
REL That?s me, yeah.
NK I confused two footballers on The Premier
League Show which, let me tell you, is
a爐housand爐imes worse than saying anything
racist. The pile-on from that! I also identified
[American footballer] Colin Kaepernick?s
mother燼s a woman of colour when she?s white.
On both occasions someone on Twitter pointed
them out to me and I was grateful. I like having
my mistakes corrected, but I wonder if it?s
because you?re forced to have a certain humility
if爕ou?re not an affluent white man. Sometimes
the level of entitlement from that group is,
?I燾an?t be wrong. I?m a complete legend. How
is爐his possible.?
REL The worst response is doubling down. But
what we understand as ?call-out culture? will
probably diminish once we have a more diverse
cultural sphere anyway. There?ll be a little bit
more of a cultural exchange.
What?s weird, in the past year, is that people
have given me a lot more credence as an author.
My background as a freelance journalist means
that for years I was being rejected over and over
again, so, you know [laughs], I?m not used to
people being like, ?Yeah, yeah, sure, whatever
you want.? In the wake of the Harvey Weinstein
revelations, I?ve been reflecting on it. At book
signings people come up to you and cry. I find
it燿eeply weird. I wield an uncomfortable ?
If I?m in
a position
of power,
I get heartburn
and feel
gassy and
unwell
I need a wig
and contact
lenses,
and then
everything
will be ?ne
amount爋f power. I?m not technically
a爂atekeeper, at all, but you can see how
gatekeepers can abuse their power. I?m sorry
to爐ake the conversation to a dark place.
NK [Laughs.] Yes, let?s go back to racism
when爄t爓as fun.
The positive thing is that you?ve got into that
position and you?ve felt uncomfortable in it.
I爐hink that?s the impulse that will stop you
from爋ne day masturbating into a flowerpot. I爁eel
like whenever I?m in that position, in a爏mall
vague way, I feel very uncomfortable. I爂et
heartburn and I feel gassy and unwell. I think
that爄s the best way to be. I think the problem is
when you get into that position and you think,
?Oh yes.? The person you want in power is
someone who feels reluctant about it.
REL I actually considered buying a wig.
Somebody spotted me in Topshop and I was
like, ?I?m just looking for jeans! Please leave me
alone!? I need to purchase a wig and contact
lenses, and then it will be fine.
Why do people get into comedy, Nish?
NK I燿idn?t realise we were going to pull at all of
my threads. I don?t buy into that whole damaged
clown mentality, but I think there must be
a燿efect in your personality that makes you think,
?Oh, everyone should be quiet and listen to me
because I?m so funny, hand over your money.?
I think it comes from either your parents not
paying you enough attention or, in my case,
my爌arents paying me too much attention:
?Well,爉y parents seem to think I?m delightful,
so I don?t see any reason why this shouldn?t
translate into the wider world, and indeed the
paying public.?
All comedy shows make me feel better about
everything. The week of the Louis CK thing
was jarring for me. He was one of my heroes.
It?s a horrible thing to realise you?ve invested in
someone who is so? You know, these weren?t
minor personality defects.
REL I think you?re funny, I think you?re delightful
? I just want to reiterate that.
Is it about speaking truth to power? I?m not
a爁unny person, but I always thought good
comedy is about punching up, y?know?
NK The root of laughter has got to be sticking it
to someone. Even when you?re a kid, the first
time that something makes you laugh is when the
authority of your parents is undermined, or your
teachers?. I think that?s why rightwing people
have struggled to really nail comedy.
REL Why are all comedians lefties? Well, nobody
wants to watch somebody bully and punch down
for an hour.
NK Even if you go centre-right, nobody wants
to watch someone on stage go, ?Have you ever
noticed how the status quo is great and should
be爉aintained??
What comedy do you enjoy?
REL I?m not a very funny person.
NK But I think you are funny! There are couple of
legit jokes in your book.
32 2 December 2017 | The Guardian Weekend
REL I didn?t realise they were jokes [laughs] until
I fought to read my own audiobook. I got the part,
because I had to audition, for myself, and I read
it out over two days. I came away from reading it
out like, ?Wooow, that was kinda shady.?
NK It would have really underlined your point if
you?d lost the part of reading your own audiobook
to a white person, that?s all I?m saying, Reni.
I remember when Goodness Gracious Me came
out and there were some sketches where you?re
like, ?How does anyone understand this outside
of the Asian community, and is that a good
thing?? But the reason Goodness Gracious Me
always got away with it was that they had enough
jokes about white people in there as well.
I often find it quite troubling when comedians
of colour come out and their comedy is all about,
?Isn?t it funny when we do this, and we do that??
and it feels like we?re perpetuating negative
stereotypes. But I liked Goodness Gracious Me
because it made fun of when white people try to
be Indian.
REL Going for an English!
NK Yes! It still holds up!
I wanted to ask you how you are? When I saw
the cover of the book, my initial response was,
?I爃ope she?s OK through this? because I know
that whenever I express any sort of opinion on
race, I get blowback. My Twitter mentions after
Have I Got News For You are spicy as fuck. The
problem with that is even if I don?t read it, my
mum will, and phone me up to tell me about it.
REL I feel quite overwhelmed. A lot of people
are excited for the next book and I?m like, ?Guys,
what? Please!? [Laughs.] Please let me recover.
I爐hink the aggressive, racist trolling people
expect me to be on the end of ? it hasn?t bothered
me. And I haven?t gone looking for it.
NK Maybe my mother will search for it on Twitter
and phone you up and tell you about it, Reni!
My final question for you? Are we going to be
all right? [Booming laughter.]
REL Yes. It?s going to be fine. We?re in really
difficult times at the moment, undoubtedly, but
progress doesn?t go smoothly. This is so trite, to
quote Martin Luther King Jnr, but I am going to
do it?
NK There?s no shame in it. The guy could turn
a爌hrase.
REL He said something along the lines of, the arc
towards justice being really slow and really long.
And I feel that one. I no longer feel like I did when
I was 19: ?I need change to happen now!? I feel
confident. There?s absolutely no way that this
awakening can be quashed now. So many people
are feeling it.
NK This is exactly what I was after, Reni. This has
given me some hope ?
My mother will
search my
Twitter mentions,
and phone
me to tell me
about it
Whenever
never anyone
o pitch, it?s always,
comes in to
?It?s about a guy.?
My ? rst thing is always:
could it be a woman?
Portraits by Barry J Holmes
Think of all the
incredible older
women - hello! - who
could be having
fabulous roles
Geena Dav
Davis
and Paul Fe
Feig
The actor
and the director
HAIR: RICHARD MARIN FOR CLOUTIER REMIX USING ORIBE. MAKEUP: COLLIER STRONG
Geena Davis enters the boardroom of Paul Feig?s
Burbank-based production office with a sense of
purpose and a handful of wet paper towels. She
wipes down the glass table around which she and
Feig are soon to commune, refusing all offers of
help until the surface is acceptably shiny.
For爐he past decade, Davis has been applying
similar rigour to cleaning Hollywood of gender
bias, with her non-profit organisation the Geena
Davis Institute On Gender In Media. The Oscarwinning star of The Accidental Tourist, Thelma
& Louise and Tootsie still acts ? most recently in
Marjorie Prime, with John Hamm ? but for the
most part has been on a mission to make studios
and networks aware of their portrayal of women
in scripts and on screen, even down to the gender
make-up of background extras.
Feig?s filmography, meanwhile, is testament
to his devotion to telling predominantly
female-themed stories, particularly the
strength of female friendships. The director of
Bridesmaids, Spy, The Heat and the polarising
2016 Ghostbusters remake greets Davis with燼n
effusive, ?I?m FaceTiming my wife by accident!
Say hello to her!? Davis waves hello to Feig?s
spouse, Laurie, who then demands he shut off
the iPhone.
Unlike most in the directing fraternity, who
are proud to slouch around in the uniform of
baseball cap and T-shirt, Feig is dapper. Even
when emerging from a day in the editing suite,
assembling his latest film A Simple Favour,
Feig is爎esplendent in an immaculately pressed
purple-checked houndstooth suit with matching
pocket square.
Mid-afternoon on a Monday in late November,
with Los Angeles enjoying a temperature
of 25C, Davis and Feig gathered at the shiny
boardroom table to discuss their shared interest
in making Hollywood a more gender-aware
town. Inevitably, talk also turned to the subject
of sexual harassment. But, before that, there was
the matter of Feig?s continued commitment to
sartorial elegance in every situation.
Jonathan Bernstein
many times out of the security line and taken to
the area where they do the extra search, because
nobody dresses up to fly any more. So, for some
reason, they think I?m up to no good. It?s what
I call the tyranny of the casual in our country
these days. If you don?t go in sweatpants, there?s
something terribly wrong with you. But I爓ill
always do it.
GD We first met at a panel together. Was it about
women in Hollywood?
PF Right. I?d been a huge admirer of yours, first
as an actor and with the foundation and all the
work you?ve been doing, because it?s obviously
an important subject matter to me. But to have
the resources you had and access to information
I燿idn?t even know about?
GD This started for me looking at kids? TV
and movies, and what I found was that it was
universally completely unconscious. Nobody had
any idea until they saw the numbers that they
were doing this, and they were horrified. Why
would we put things out that said boys are more
important than girls? But they didn?t know they
were doing it. I have an easy haul in that category,
but it seems like it?s not going to be the same
magic bullet in other aspects.
PF We?re just trying to change the default
settings爄n the business from, ?Oh we?re going
to爃ire so and so? to, ?Actually, could a woman
do爐his? Could someone diverse do that??
GD That?s exactly what I?m trying to do. Before
you do anything, just go through it and say, ?Who
can become female here?? I get the feeling that
characters are written female when they have to
be, and all the other characters are male, and it
doesn?t occur to somebody that the lawyer, the
best friend, the landlord, whoever, can be female.
I also have figures that can now explain why
older female actors are not getting as much work.
Because they?re not having sex with somebody!
Think of all the incredible female actors ? hello!
[points to self] ? who could be having fabulous
parts if people just realised.
PF I?ve noticed over the years, whenever
anyone燾omes in to pitch us something, it?s
always, ?It?s about a guy.? My first thing is
always,�Could it燽e燼 woman?? I?m more
interested in telling those爏tories, anyway, but
also, why is it important it?s a guy? Hollywood?s
a爈iberal town. They?re definitely not behind the
scenes going, ?We?re not going to hire these
women, that?ll show them.? It?s just this default; ?
I had a
director who
was a
horrible bully.
He said, ?You won
an Oscar so
I was worried
you?d give
me trouble?
Geena Davis You look fabulous. You always do.
I爈ove that about you.
Paul Feig I do it as a show of respect for the
people I work with. I had a producer once
who爓as very upset with me for dressing up.
He爓as like, ?You?re just trying to take the
spotlight away from the actors you?re working
with.? When I showed up for the first camera test,
he was really mad. Then all the actors got to the
set and said, ?We love that you dress up.? It was
never an issue again.
GD Dressing up used to be more of a thing.
My燿ad wore a suit always. Now you think,
why燽other?
PF I love those pictures of people flying in the
40s and 50s, dressed up with ties everywhere.
But now, when I do it, it?s the most suspicious
thing you can do at an airport. I get pulled over so
The
T
he Guardian Weekend | 2 December 2017 37
they don?t think beyond what they normally do.
Plus, there?s old prejudices you read about, like
men can handle being directors more than
women can. That?s what kept the pool of male
directors so huge, because once they get to do it,
then they?re verified by the studio as being legit.
GD Everybody knows there are far fewer female
directors. They might not know it?s only 4%.
Some people say film school is where this bias
starts. Professors have bias and they?re less
encouraging to the women students.
PF All the work you?re doing, and we?re trying to
do, is all about flipping that switch.
GD We did a big study on occupations of female
characters, which was fascinating, and the most
interesting thing was, when you?re looking at
professions and leadership positions, however
abysmal the numbers are in real life, it?s much
worse on screen. In fiction, where you make it up,
it?s worse than real life.
PF That mantra that you have, if you can see it,
you can be it, that?s like the golden rule. The thing
that makes me the happiest about Ghostbusters is
that so many women wrote me and said, ?If I爃ad
this movie when I爓as in college, I would have
been an engineer or a爏cientist by now? and it just
guts me to hear that. You did that study about
forensics, right?
GD We didn?t coin the term, but it?s called
the燙SI爀ffect. When women saw so many
forensic scientists on TV, they said, I want to
be爐hat, and now something like 75% of people
going into that field are female, just because they
saw it on TV.
PF How great would that be, if it could be all these
other professions, too?
GD I?m sure that Hidden Figures had a big impact.
PF Weird sidenote, I?m a big Lego fanatic?
GD Oh God, me, too!
PF Now they?ve done the second kit of
famous爓omen scientists, that?s just the
greatest爐hing, where kids can see it and it can
seem attainable.
GD Did you ever see that advert for Lego in the
70s with the little red-haired girl saying, ?I can
build that?? How did we get away from that?
PF The bigger question is, how did we get away
from three-dimensional female characters? I爈ove
movies of the 30s and 40s, where they were
equals. Katharine Hepburn, Rosalind Russell.
I爐hink it was the advent of the blockbuster,
where they started realising 15-year-old boys are
our target audience. They?re the ones that come
to see sci-fi, superheroes and all that. From the
70s, all movies started catering to what 15-yearold boys would react to and keeping out things
that would make them go, ?Eww, gross!? And
that would be girls. If there?s a girl, she?s got to
be super-hot, or else she?s got be a drag and she?s
in your way. And then, obviously, there?s guys
behind the scenes who are writing this down and
all of us aren?t exactly the most mature people
in the world, to do what we do. I was a爏tandup
comic for years.
GD You were? I bet you were great.
PF Eh, I was OK. But one of the things that
drove me out of standup was, the whole thing in
comedy is to become a headliner, be out on the
road making money in the different clubs. While
you do that every week, you?re living with two
other comedians, the opener, the middle and
the headliner. Usually, the clubs had a燾ondo
and they put you all in your own separate room
in this big condo. So it was such a crapshoot,
because some weeks you?d be with these two
guys ? it was hardly ever women ? and they were
great, you had tons of fun. And the next week,
you?re with two guys who are just on the prowl,
flirting aimlessly with waitresses, looking to bring
women back. It was a nightmare.
But what you find out is, so many guys in
comedy and guys in the arts, we?re the nerds
who didn?t get the girls. So either you come
through happy to get success, because it means
more people admire what you do and you can
meet somebody nice. Or you can go at it with
total revenge, like, they fucked me over, now I?m
going to fuck them over. I think a lot of guys have
slightly arrested development. That?s why you
see things like this stuff happening with Louis CK.
GD These poor women. People are being
subjected to sexual predators against their will.
PF Women are going to have to be as vital as they
are now, and more so, and they need men to
back them up. I have friends who are much older
Hollywood, in their 60s, 70s, even 80s, and their
take on this tends to be, ?Oh, for God?s sake, you
know what we put up with? This is ridiculous,
grow up.? I know, but that?s not an excuse. It?s
fighting that mindset and also the [martyred male
executive voice], ?Well, Jesus, I guess I can?t do
anything?? Well, stop doing anything that you
might be worried about.
My wife worked in the law profession and
had experience of this, so it?s across the board.
She gets very passionate about it. It?s men,
but women who enable this have to be held
accountable, too. I?ll be in meetings with
executives, women in charge, who are sometimes
the hardest ones to force into hiring other
women. They?re like, ?We?ve just got to find the
best person.?
GD I saw a panel about getting more women
on燽oards, and there were three men and
one爓oman on the panel, and the three men
said,�We?ve got to do this, it?s so important.? ?
So many
guys in comedy
are the nerds
who didn?t
get the girl.
That?s why you
get stu? like
with Louis CK
The Guardian Weekend | 2 December 2017 39
When they got to her, she said, ?I?m not so sure
this is a magic answer to anything. You?d have to
prove it to me.?
PF I just did a panel for Variety magazine and one
question was, ?How is Hollywood different from
other industries?? And the thing we always say is,
?It?s not: all industries go through this.? But
I爎ealised after that, the rest of the country sends
their most attractive people here. People who are
vulnerable and attractive, so you look to the
people who then have that gatekeeper power. The
Harvey [Weinstein] thing is so reprehensible to
me, and all those other guys. You know exactly the
power you hold over these really beautiful people
when they come in and are completely
inexperienced and ready for anything. That?s
when you?re a predator.
GD There?s a desperation to get parts, but nobody
wants to have to do anything they don?t want to do.
PF Especially being brought to hotel rooms by
assistants or people who, you have to assume,
know some kind of drill.
GD If it?s a woman who?s an assistant and feels
cowed and abused by her male boss, then she
probably knows exactly what?s going on, but feels
powerless. I?m waiting to hear from more of those
I had
an audition
cancelled when
I wouldn?t have
dinner with
the producer
40 2 December 2017 | The Guardian Weekend
people. But then there?s another layer of men in
that company who knew. The assistant has to see
that he opens the door and he?s in a bathrobe.
PF I wonder if it?s almost like desensitisation to
violence, where you just go, ?That?s just
what爃appens, this is just what Harvey does,
these girls, they knew what they were getting
into.? Well, no, they didn?t. They thought they
were going to have a meeting, and this
horrible爐hing happens.
GD I was once up for a part and the male star was
also producing the movie. They were talking
about meeting with him, or having an audition
with him, and then we get the message, ?He
wants to have dinner with you.? I said, ?Is that the
audition, or is it that he just wants to have dinner
with me?? My agent came back and said, ?He says
it?s not just having dinner, but it is having dinner.
It?s not not a date.? I didn?t go, but I said, ?I?m
still happy to audition? and then, as I爓as leaving
the house for the audition, they called and it?s
cancelled. The woman who got cast, he ended
up燿ating.
PF That was the whole thing with [disgraced
Fox燦ews broadcaster] Bill O?Reilly:?Let?s go
out爐o dinner, it?s all business? and then, at
the爀nd, it turns into, ?Come back to my room??
GD It?ll have to be that agents can?t do that any
more. They would now have to say, ?No, I?m not
going to ask her about having dinner. She will
meet you in your office.?
PF I?ll admit, I don?t love auditioning as much
as I like to meet somebody, to get to know their
personality, and I爓ould do that a lot. I would
go, ?Hey, let?s have a drinks meeting.? And then
it was really my wife who went, ?Stop doing
that. They might not be comfortable doing that.
They?re going to meet you because they want
the work, but don?t put them in that position.?
And I was horrified because, to me, it was so
innocent. It was drinks, it?s more casual, we?re
not in an office where everybody?s nervous. But
then you?re like, ?Oh, shit, it is kind of creepy or
weird爋r can be misinterpreted?, so I pulled the
plug on that.
GD Quite a while ago, I had two directors who
just made life a misery for everybody, and in
both cases I was the female lead, but I didn?t
feel comfortable enough to stand up for myself.
Whereas now, if that happened to me, I would
say, ?No, this is not going to happen. You?re not
going to be able to abuse everybody.?
In one case, when I met with the director, he
asked, had I heard of this new massage device
called the Thumper. There were other people at
the meeting! It was in a hotel suite. He was like,
?Do you want to try it?? I said, ?Oh, no.? But he
was so insistent. If he?d kept on, the next thing
I爓ould have had to do was [rage-filled scream],
?I?m not fucking trying it!? I realised later it was
a test to see if I was pliable, and he actually
told me, ?Because you?ve won an Oscar, I was
worried you?d think you were all that and give
me trouble.? He was a horrible bully to everyone
on set, and guys like that surround themselves
with people where they know they?re going to get
away with it.
PF It has been part of the Hollywood lore for so
long: ?That?s his process.? The fish stinks from
the head down, especially in movies, where the
director sets the tone.
I feel like younger people coming in?
Everybody likes to make fun of the self-esteem
they?re teaching in schools. I think there?s a good
side to that, which is, stick up for yourself, don?t
put up with that.
GD You?re working on something now.
PF I just finished my new movie. I watched
the爈atest cut this morning. It?s the first time
I爁eel爂ood about it. It?s kind of a thriller. It?s
more爋f a mystery, cat-and-mouse, Hitchcock
kind of thing. It?s still fun, there?s still a爈ot
of laughs in it, but we take it seriously.
Anna燢endrick, Blake Lively.
GD Wow. Everything you do is so good. Just keep
doing it.
PF We have to work together. And we will.
GD I know! I can?t wait.
PF We?ll have fun! I?ve based my whole career on
wanting people to have fun ?
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Portraits by Alyssa Schukar and Antonio Olmos
With Brexit and
Trump, people
were voting like
Homer Simpson.
They were not
voting like Spock
All it would
take to stop Brexit
is a couple
of dozen brave
Tories
Nick Clegg and
Richard Thaler
The former
deputy PM�
and the
Nobel prize
winner
Richard Thaler was awarded the Nobel prize for
economics in October, for work that has ?built a
bridge between the爀conomic and psychological
analyses of individual decision-making?. While
traditional economics assumes that people are
rational actors, Thaler explores the consequences
of irrationality, bias and error, and proposes ways
that governments, through mechanisms as
simple燼s changing the phrasing on a form, can
encourage, or ?nudge?, smarter decision-making.
Nudge, the 2008 bestseller he wrote with Cass
Sunstein, introduced the influential concept of
?choice architecture?, while his 2015 book
Misbehaving was a personal history of behavioural
economics. As the author Michael Lewis put it, he?s
?the economist who realised how crazy we are?.
Nick Clegg, meanwhile, is adapting to life
outside Westminster. He was leader of the Liberal
Democrats between 2007 and 2015, deputy prime
minister in David Cameron?s coalition government
and MP for Sheffield Hallam for 12 years, before
losing his seat to Labour in the last election. He
has written a memoir of his time in government
and, more recently, a passionate polemic, How To
Stop Brexit (And Make Britain Great Again).
Clegg has long been a fan of Thaler?s work. The
coalition set up the behavioural insights team,
AKA ?the nudge unit?, which applied Thaler?s
theories to policy areas such as tax, the NHS and
charitable giving, with palpable results: one
nudge-influenced scheme has added about
100,000 organ donors to the register every year.
The two men also share a grim fascination with
the psychology behind the upheavals of Brexit
and the election of Donald Trump, and the abiding
consequences of the 2008 financial crisis. Calm
and curious, they are problem-solvers by nature.
The conversation takes place over Skype, when
they are both at home: Thaler in Chicago, where
he teaches at the Booth School of Business; Clegg
in London. Away from frontline politics, Clegg is
strikingly relaxed and good-humoured, dressed
casually to take his sons to play football after
school. A爂eneration older, Thaler speaks with the
languid authority of the distinguished academic.
And there is much to talk about. Dorian Lynskey
no爋ne ? neither Trump nor the laureates.
NC Are there any big thinkers in the Trump
administration? Where is the intellectual ballast
coming from?
RT The White House and the executive office
building are half-full. There are no economists
of爐he standard that both Republican and
Democratic presidents have had in their council
of advisers over the last 30 years. Obama had two
science Nobel laureates on his team. I don?t know
of any scientist who?s been hired by this
administration, and in fact they?re firing them left
and right from the Environmental Protection
Agency. It?s燼爁act-free administration.
NC Can you nudge us all away from Brexit, please?
RT God knows what to do now.
NC Referenda, I take it, are inimical to everything
that behavioural economics believes in, because
it compresses so many things into a crude
yes-or-no moment.
RT I think it?s clear that very few, if any, leave
supporters did anything equivalent to running
a爏preadsheet. It?s what my friend Danny
Kahneman would call a System 1 vote. I was in
the燯K quite a bit right before the referendum,
and it feels very much like Brexit voters and
Trump voters are cousins. They?re angry and it
was an expressive vote. Then what? I think the
game wasn?t lost at that point. It certainly would
have been reasonable to say: ?Let?s go see what
kind of燿eal is on offer and then have a second
referendum.?
I don?t think I would have even triggered article
50 without substantial prior negotiations about
what was on the cards. It?s clear that the UK
cannot possibly expect a friendly deal.
NC You?re right on all counts. The thing that is
starting to worry me more than anything else is:
where does the rage go? Where does the rust belt
rage go in America, when building a wall against
the Mexicans does not lead to jobs being restored?
Where does the legitimate rage among Brexit
voters go when they discover that Brexit does not
deliver paradise? The worry is that we get into
a爏piral where one wave of populism begets the
next, don?t you think?
RT There may be a wake-up call for many of the
voters who switched from Obama to Trump if
this燫epublican tax bill passes, because the
distributional consequences of that bill are
staggering. To give you an example, there?s
a爏ubsidy for private jets, but the bill taxes the
waiver of tuition that graduate students get. Why
on earth would we put that kind of tax on people ?
Obama
had two
laureates on
his team.
Trump?s
is a fact-free
White House
Nick Clegg Well, firstly, congratulations. Having
a燦obel prize is pretty extraordinary and rare
and燼mazing.
Richard Thaler All of the above, but it?s been
such燼 blur.
NC Do your colleagues treat you differently?
RT No. Especially at the University of Chicago,
we爐reat everybody the same. Like shit.
NC Well, I guess there?s a certain equality in that.
What were the ceremonies like?
RT They?re yet to come. It?s nine days in
Stockholm. They get their pound of flesh. There
was a [Nobel] event at the Swedish embassy in
Washington DC, the highlight of which is
normally a爒isit to the White House. It was
scheduled on a燿ay when Trump was on his
way燽ack from Asia燼nd I think it disappointed
The Guardian Weekend | 2 December 2017 47
who are going to be the future of everything?
NC Here, you?ve got a curious thing. Of course,
there was a grassroots eruption of sorts on
23燡une 2016, but so many of the vested interests
that lined up behind Brexit are profoundly elitist.
It?s a燾urious marriage of understandable
widespread discontent with the status quo after
2008, and a爎eally small bunch of people with a
lot of money and a lot of power who intervened
to push the whole debate in a direction that suits
their ideological needs. Is that also something
you feel in the Trump phenomenon?
RT Absolutely. Look, 80% of Republicans still
support Trump, which is kind of astonishing.
NC The pulling apart of the generations
becomes爀ver more acute. Here in the UK,
asset爓ealth is almost entirely in the hands of the
old, and the young don?t have much of a chance
to get their feet on the property ladder. The
polarisation of the generations is having a huge
effect on politics as well. I wonder how we can
nudge folk above a燾ertain age to make decisions
that make sense for the younger generation, too?
Lots of grandparents voted in the Brexit
referendum in a爓ay they knew was not
welcomed by their own grandkids. I don?t
understand that. Do you?
RT Well, no. Like I say, I think that vote was
expressive. Think of Homer Simpson and how he
would vote. There?s a famous Simpsons episode,
which we quote in Nudge, where Homer is angry
about something and wants to go buy a gun to
shoot whoever he?s mad at. He goes to the store
and he?s told there?s a five-day waiting period.
And his reaction is: ?Five days? But I?m mad now!?
NC [Laughs.] Brilliant. My mind is trying to
process a conflation of Boris Johnson, Nigel
Farage and Homer Simpson.
RT Yeah. Mix all of those together and compare
them to Spock. People were not voting like Spock.
And that?s really the message of behavioural
economics. These kinds of decisions are too hard.
NC One thing I?m intrigued by is this increasing
conflict between Silicon Valley and public opinion
? everything from whether they pay enough taxes
to fake news, extremists, monopoly power, you
name it. Are you optimistic or pessimistic about
tech? Because there?s such an appetite at the
moment to think of it as a force for bad.
RT Most technology we just don?t understand,
but we don?t want to give up the phone in our
pocket and all the other things that have changed
our lives so dramatically in the last decade.
Personally, I don?t view Silicon Valley as a爁orce
for evil. Certainly, it?s right to be concerned
about爌rivacy issues. If you combine what your
cellphone provider knows about you with what
Uber and Amazon and Google know about you,
well, I suppose it could be a force for less
misbehaving. [Laughs.] I can understand people
being fearful of that, but I don?t think any of those
people are really interested in spying on us.
They?re certainly interested in knowing that
we?re爓alking down the street and we like hi-tech
espresso and there?s [a coffee shop] coming up in
two blocks. Is that bad? Not necessarily.
Here?s a contrast. One of the problems we face in
the US is we have too many choices in healthcare
providers. Competition is good, but people are
horrible at making complex choices. At the same
time, if you go to Amazon, there are three million
books for sale and you have absolutely no problem
finding the one you want. If you don?t know what
you want, they?ll have 10 recommendations for
you. So, there?s all kinds of potential help in terms
of choice architecture, as we call it. I think there is
lots of room for governments to improve the爓ay
they interact with their citizens and help them
make better choices.
NC In the coalition, we set up the nudge unit,
which you inspired, and the stuff we did on
auto-enrolment in pensions made so much
intuitive sense爐o爉e. Which areas of policy do
you think燼re most susceptible to similarly
transformative interventions?
RT People greatly misunderstand the nudge
agenda, possibly because of the word. It was a
great book title, but possibly not the best name
for燼 movement. When we wrote that book, we
did爊ot expect a movement. People think of it as
bureaucratic nannying. The analogy I like is GPS.
If I?m wandering around without Google Maps,
I爉ight never make it to where it is I intend to go.
But they don?t choose my destination ? if I?m
following my route and see something interesting,
it doesn?t say: ?No, don?t go there.? It recomputes.
Nobody objects to life being easier. We?re all lazy.
I can tell you for sure that Brexit will not make
life easier for Brits, right? We燾an think of 100
ways it will make things worse. One thing we
haven?t talked about is this attitude towards
immigrants. As someone who?s been coming to
London for many years, I燾an爐ell you that
immigrants have made London spectacularly
better in every possible way.
NC The irony, of course, is that, in areas like
London, where immigration is at its highest, the
Brexit vote was lowest, and in some parts of the
country where the foreign-born population is
lowest, the Brexit vote was the highest.
Years ago, before I became an MP, I was
knocking on doors in Chesterfield, Derbyshire ?
this was at爐he height of the controversy about
asylum seekers being dispersed around the
country when Tony Blair was in power. The
tabloid newspapers were going nuts about it
every day. I爎emember speaking to a guy leaning
on the fence outside his house and saying: ?
I am
m trying
to process
?ation
a con?
ation of
Homerr Simpson
gel Farage
and Nigel
The Guardian Weekend | 2 December 2017 49
?Any chance you?ll vote for the Liberal Democrats??
And he said: ?No way.? And I said: ?Why not??
And he said: ?Because of all these asylum
seekers.? And I爇new for a fact that not a single
asylum seeker had been dispersed to Chesterfield.
So I said to him: ?Oh, have you seen these asylum
seekers in爐he supermarket or the GP?s surgery??
And he said something to me that has remained
with me ever since. He said: ?No, I haven?t seen
any of them, but I know they?re everywhere.? You
can?t dismiss the fear, but how on earth are you
supposed to respond to that?
RT Right. And the flipside of that is that once you
get to know the people you?re afraid of, all of a
sudden they become de-villainised. Think about
the changes in attitudes about same-sex marriage
that have happened in the last decade. I think it?s
because, as more gay couples came out of the
closet, people started to realise that many of their
neighbours and co-workers are gay and nothing
to be afraid of, and that changes attitudes.
NC It?s an enduring truth, isn?t it, that if you look
someone in the eye it?s very difficult to hate them.
Look at the behaviour of drivers. When you?re
trying to get into a queue of cars, if the drivers can
look past you, they can cut you right off. The
moment they catch your eye, they let you in.
RT Right. So, Nick, is there any hope for a sensible
resolution of Brexit?
NC Yeah, there is, Richard. Definitely. I?m not
going to pretend that I think it?s the most likely
outcome, but I think it?s a more probable outcome
than I feared some time ago. There is no way out
of this cul-de-sac that does not start with MPs
saying to the government in a year?s time:
?Thanks for all the work you?ve done trying to
cobble a deal together, but this is so far removed
from what our constituents were promised.?
I爐hink there is a growing chance that enough
MPs爓ill pluck up the courage to say, just on
democratic principle, that they should not give
their consent to a deal that is so completely
different from what people were led to expect.
Jeremy Corbyn is famously ambivalent or
antagonistic towards the EU, but the Labour
party爄tself, in terms of its membership, has
become a staunchly pro-European movement.
And if I was a爕oung Conservative MP, I would be
terrified that爐his Brexit obsession is trashing the
Conservatives? long-standing reputation for being
a level-headed, competent party of management.
That?s what the Tory brand has been for
generations. The Conservative party is the most
successful party in the democratic world, precisely
because their reputation is that they don?t go nuts
and become ideologically zealous. So, I?m a little
more optimistic that MPs will have the courage of
their convictions in a year?s time.
RT Yeah, well, it may be too late.
NC I don?t think so.
RT You think if the UK goes back to the EU and
says ?Just kidding??
NC I think if the UK said: ?Look, sorry, we?ve
screwed up and we didn?t really mean it,? there
50 2 December 2017 | The Guardian Weekend
would be a lot of shaking of heads in Brussels,
Paris and Berlin. But I know a lot of the people
involved in these negotiations. They find British
behaviour perplexing and they?ve long found
Britain?s ambivalence towards the EU exasperating.
But they know it doesn?t make sense for a country
as big as the United Kingdom to sail off into the
mid-Atlantic. There might be some hotheads
who爓ill say: ?We?re better off without Britain,
come hell or high water,? but I think most of the
grownups would say: ?If we?ve got a chance to
patch this up, we should grab it.?
RT I completely agree. I think courage is the key
word. I think the same is true for Republican
members of Congress. Some of them are going
to爃ave to stand up for what they know in their
heart is right. They?re afraid of being challenged
in a爌rimary. But all it would take is five senators
to stop everything in its tracks.
NC And all it would take here is a couple of dozen
brave Conservative MPs. I was often criticised ?
rightly, I?m sure ? for being either reckless or naive
about the importance of maintaining your own
political reputation, but some MPs are so worried
about their immediate career prospects and
whether they?re going to be popular with this or
that faction. My God, what is that compared to
charging over the cliff of Brexit? What?s the point
of being an internationalist, progressive MP if
you?re prepared to lock yourself into Brexit?
I爎emember hearing Margaret Beckett in the
debate a year ago about the triggering of article
50. She said: ?I believe this will be catastrophic
for my constituents, but nonetheless I feel
duty-bound to vote for it.? What kind
of爎epresentative democracy is that?
RT I think it?s crazy. So, look, maybe the hope
is爐he model of Mr Macron across the channel.
A爐hird party. Nick! Now?s your time.
NC [Laughs.] It exists, Richard. It?s called the Lib
Dems. But I take your wider point that the old
anchors that tether the way the parties are lined
up make no sense any more. I?m 50. The politics
I爂rew up with were the bosses or the workers,
high tax or low tax, the public sector or the
private sector. The ways people line up now on
the big issues ? globalisation, immigration, Europe
? cuts across party lines completely. So, you have
to assume eventually that will produce new
alignments. I feel like, over the next few years,
there?s a high likelihood of that happening.
RT Well, I hope so ?
Maybe the
hope is a
third party?
It ex
exists.
It?s ca
called
the Lib Dems
I have di?cult
conversations all the
time with my patients.
But when my
father was dying,
the dread I felt was
astonishing
Siddhartha
Mukherjee
and Henry Marsh
The cancer specialist
and the
neurosurgeon
We have to
become detached.
The problem is,
you mustn?t become
too detached
Portraits by Christopher Lane and David Levene
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?nishing touches
Visit your local Dobbies or
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The year he retired from full-time practice, in 2014,
Henry Marsh published Do No Harm, a爈ikable and
arrestingly honest memoir about his 40-year career
as a brain surgeon. Four years earlier, while still a
consultant at St George?s hospital in south London,
he had reviewed the debut work of another
doctor-writer, Siddhartha Mukherjee, an IndianAmerican oncologist who, in The Emperor Of All
Maladies, explored in incredible depth the history
of cancer and its treatment. (Marsh called that book
?exhaustive, and exhausting?. It went on to win the
Guardian First Book award and a Pulitzer prize.)
Mukherjee is now 47 and lives in New York;
Marsh, 67, lives in Oxford. To different extents
both of these doctors still practise in their
respective fields ? Mukherjee at Columbia
University?s cancer centre, Marsh as a visiting
doctor at various hospitals around the world,
including in Kathmandu in Nepal. Both men have
continued to write: Marsh a second volume of
autobiography, called Admissions, published this
year, and Mukherjee a study of genetics called
The Gene: An Intimate History, published last
year. When they sat down to talk to each other
over Skype one Saturday afternoon in November,
they began with a subject on which their two
lifelong disciplines overlap: the爐reatment of
brain cancer. Tom Lamont
Henry Marsh You look as though you live in
some sort of Mies van der Rohe building ? a Philip
Johnson house, or something.
Siddhartha Mukherjee Well, this is our house in
the country. It has no furniture in it.
HM Modernism! Right. Well, I reviewed your
cancer book a couple of years ago. I thought it was
wonderful, really very interesting indeed.
SM I?ve now read both of your books.
HM What I?d like to start talking about is
something that bothers me greatly. I still do one
day a week in my hospital in London, when I?m
not working abroad. I was sitting at a tumour
board meeting ? a difficult case, an elderly
man ? and my oncology colleagues said, ?We?ll
treat him.? I燼sked, ?Isn?t there a case for doing
nothing?? They said, ?No, we?re told if they?ve got
a prognosis of more than six months, you?ve got
to treat them. We can?t be ageist.? I said, ?What if
he was 100 years old?? My question for you, Sid,
as an oncologist, is: when do you stop?
SM Obviously it?s a question we?re grappling
with, not only as physicians but as a country,
a爏ociety. I爐hink, first of all, patients themselves
know when to stop. One good guide is to ask
them. It?s an old idea in medicine, that the first
question you ask, when you?re trying to diagnose
something, is: ?What do you think it is?? And
he or she might not be correct, but they often
have an instinct. This is not to move the onus of
responsibility away from doctors. But usually
when we ask people, ?What do you really want
to do?? and you paint an honest picture of what
it?s likely to be like, I think most people make
decisions that are within the bounds of reason.
HM But do you think most oncologists do that?
Do they paint that honest picture?
SM I think there are pressures?
HM Because I do sympathise. I?ve spent most of
my work conveying risk and probability to people
with brain tumours.
SM I think the crux is the word ?honest?.
HM Exactly.
SM Here?s something that I took from your first
book, and that I believe in: the relationship
between doctors and patients will always be
a爎elationship of unequal power.
HM Yup. Agreed.
SM And it?s not as if you can equalise it. The
patient is the one with the illness, they?re the one
who has come to you for advice and counselling.
So none of this is to say: move the responsibility
of decision-making on to the patient. He or she
doesn?t know. He or she is asking you for advice.
But I think it?s important, particularly in this day
and age, to paint an honest picture for them of
what is most likely to happen.
HM It?s all about probabilities, isn?t it? To sit
down with a head-injury patient and say to the
family, ?Well, actually, your nearest and dearest is
probably better off dead? ? that?s terribly difficult.
One always is worried: I might be wrong. And as
I爂ot older, I think I got better at accepting, well,
I爉ight be wrong. But it?s very unlikely. It?s wrong
to treat everybody with a爃ead injury for the sake
of maybe one good result.
It?s爒ery difficult with younger doctors. They
want to treat. They want to operate. And it?s so
frightening, it?s so difficult, to deprive people of
hope. It?s a long, painful conversation ? often in
the middle of the night.
SM In surgery, you are making a decision that
will either commit or not commit: open a human
being, or don?t. In the case of cancer, where the
decisions can be renegotiated at every stage,
it?s different. You?re not committing yourself to
a燿ecision or decisions that can?t be reversed.
HM I think all of this leads on to a very deep
ethical problem, in terms of training and learning.
Because, as a young surgeon, if you don?t take on
the difficult cases, how is one ever going to get
any better? You have a duty to the patient in front
of you, but also a duty to future patients.
SM Similarly, when we?re asking patients to enrol
in clinical trials, where the chances of it ?
My question
for you, Sid, is:
when do
you stop treating
a patient?
What if he is
100 years old?
The Guardian Weekend | 2 December 2017 55
working are anything from 5% to 50%, we?re
actually asking them to be involved in an
experiment. The word ?experiment? makes it
sound much colder than ?clinical trial?.
Culturally, we?ve got used to the phrase ?clinical
trial?, but these are medical experiments, and
we爇now medical experiments can go horribly
wrong and can yield very little in terms of
working value.
HM You told a story that I was very struck by, in
your cancer book, about bone-marrow treatment
for breast cancer. How it was pushed by a big
publicity campaign, before proper trials, and if
I爎emember correctly, the trials showed it was
a燽ad idea.
SM And in fact we?re still living through the
legacy of that. It created such an aura of hope,
and optimism, and when that was destroyed,
so much was destroyed with it. And one of the
problems there was that people thought they
knew the answer before the answer was there.
And that?s a terrible formula.
HM How old were you when you left India for
the燬tates?
SM I was 18. I went to college at Stanford.
HM Do you think that?s given you a certain
outsider?s detachment, in some ways?
SM I came to the States not only to be technically
trained: I came because I was curious about
another world.
HM I would say that, because I went late into
medicine [in his mid-20s], I?ve never entirely
identified with the medical profession. I have
a燾ertain sense of being an outsider. I think it?s
helped me write in the way that I have done.
I爏uspect the same applies to you.
SM The idea of being curious about a different
world, I think, fundamentally describes my
writing practice.
HM I became a formal writer at a much later age
than you did. But I?ve been writing all my life, and
I?ve always kept a diary, which became a爏ort of
therapy for me, actually. I knew that I爈ived an
interesting life, and that I was seeing extraordinary
things, and that I didn?t want to feel as if this was
sand slipping through my fingers. I燿on?t know
how your writing started, Sid?
SM You know, I write to think. That?s my method
of trying to figure out the world. Why are we here
today? What will happen five, 10, 50 years from
now? The only way to do that, me, has been to
write.
HM As you know, at the end of my second book
I爉ake a passionate plea for doctor-assisted
suicide. Of course, there are several American
states now that have agreed to it. I think the
American physicians? association has agreed to it.
What is your own view, as an oncologist?
SM There are some legal and cultural barriers
which are enormous. In some ways, my
fear燼bout the way it?s moved in the US is that
there were firebrands such as Jack Kevorkian
[an燗merican proponent and practitioner
of燿octor-assisted euthanasia who was
convicted爋f second-degree murder in 1999,
and爓ho died in 2011].
HM He was pretty sick, I think.
SM That?s right. So, in restarting the conversation,
?What does it mean to die, today, in America,
in a爓ay that?s dignified and painless?? ? that
conversation?s been so contaminated by what
happened all those years ago that it?s very
difficult, politically, to come back to it.
HM It?s rather like in Germany, where you can?t
discuss it at all, because of the Nazis? euthanasia
programme in the 1930s.
SM So I think the way forward is to try to start
from relatively basic principles. Which is that,
in the next decade or so, science will invent
medicines that will progressively make pain
a爌rofoundly handleable symptom. We already
have powerful medicines, and we will have more
powerful ones. So the idea of a painful death ? if
we could take the pain part of the equation away,
then you are left with fundamental questions
such as: what is dignified?
HM My father died at 96, 10 years too late. He
had Alzheimer?s, and the man he was when he
was demented was not the man he was before.
It was a relief when he died. But my mother, she
died at the age of 82, from suddenly progressive
metastatic cancer, and it was a wonderful death.
I爉ean, death?s always sad, but she died in full
possession of her faculties. A bit drawn out, but
she was at home. I felt we were very lucky.
SM Some of the toughest decisions, when my own
father died, were about approaching the
conversation about withdrawal of care with my
mother. I dreaded that conversation. I have that
conversation all the time with my patients. And
yet the amount of dread that brought on me,
when it was my turn to have that conversation as
a爏on and not a doctor, was astonishing. There
were things I knew as a doctor that I didn?t know as
a son. There were moments in which I爓as making
decisions as a doctor when I should have been
making decisions as a son. And moments when
I爓as making decisions as a son when I爏hould
have been making decisions as a燿octor. As you
will know,
w, Henry, doctors make terrible patients.
HM Yup..
SM It?s because they
the
ey ? we ? cannot do unto ?
I can?t stand the
idea of the patientas-consumer:
it makes stupid a
relationship that is
extraordinarily
complex
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ourselves what we can do unto others. That?s
been a historical failing.
HM I think it?s all about the way we have to
develop this split personality, and be emotionally
detached from patients; it makes being
a�medical relative? incredibly hard. I?m a great
admirer of Atul Gawande?s books, especially
Being Mortal. But I was very puzzled at the end of
that book when he described his father?s death.
His father had astrocytoma [a type of cancer of
the brain]. There?s no effective treatment for
it. And yet they go down the route of surgery,
radiation, chemotherapy.
SM I?m also a big admirer of Atul. WQe?ve become
friends and we?ve had multiple conversations
around these topics. I think, again, that one of the
failings of oncologists is that they don?t present to
patients a爈andscape of what might happen.
HM Rather than saying, ?If you?re lucky, it could
all be great.? I read a book recently called The
Violet Hour by Katie Roiphe, about famous
writers? last few months of life, and one of the
subjects was Susan Sontag. [Sontag died in
2004, from complications of myelodysplastic
syndrome, which had evolved into a form of
leukaemia.] As far as I could tell, she kind of
tortured herself to death, offered more and
more heavy experimental chemotherapy. It was
presented [in Roiphe?s book] as a sort of brave
struggle, but I thought it was groteseque, slightly
crazy almost.
SM I?ll tell you what I do in my own practice. I tell
stories, actual stories, about actual cases. This
allows people to understand where they might
really fit. They don?t have to think of themselves
in terms of numbers.
HM Oh, numbers are hopeless. It?s a bit different
in America from England, because in England,
being a socialised healthcare system, basically
you?re stuck with the doctor you go to. In
America, patients are more like consumers
and爏hop around a lot more.
SM I can?t stand that, the patient-as-consumer.
It爉akes stupid a relationship that is
extraordinarily complicated and can be
extraordinarily hard to negotiate. And it demeans
the relationship you have with the patient.
HM It sounds condescending, but the fact of
the爉atter is that patients do not know what?s
best for爐hem.
SM I think the cases that are most successfully
treated ? and I don?t mean just survival?
HM Death can be a good outcome,
sometimes,爏adly.
SM Quite. So those cases where the families
or patient has the most closure, those cases
are typically ones in which there?s been
a爈ongitudinal relationship built with one doctor.
And this goes back to the shamanic quality of
medicine. We inherit that culturally, we inherit
that anthropologically, we inherit that as human
beings, and that?s not going to change.
HM I?ve always felt the dissection we do as
medical students is of more value in terms of an
initiation rite, rather than in terms of teaching
us anatomy. I was amazed to read recently that,
at one medical school in America, they were
anxious to make their medical students more
empathic, by making sure the students met the
living families of the dead bodies they were
going to dissect. It struck me as a completely
crazy idea, in that it was undoing the very value
of dissection. Which is to燽ecome detached. The
problem is, you mustn?t become too detached.
SM I was struck, recently, by an article written
by Zeke Emanuel, in which he wrote about his
decision to phase out medical care past a certain
age. The article inspired a way of thinking.
?Look, the way I爓ant to run my medical care is
as follows. At� years old, I want to discontinue
the following procedures on myself. At�, I爓ant
to discontinue yet another few. At 90, I爓ant
to discontinue yet another few. And only allow
a爁ew remaining ones.? It is a kind of phase-out, of
things we will allow and won?t allow. And what?s
thoughtful about the phase-out, to me, is that it
takes what seems like an all-or-nothing decision
and allows you basically to say: ?My life is closing
down. These are my options. I?m going to turn
things off one by one.?
HM But this guy?s a doctor, so he?s a very
informed customer? Bad word, customer! But
you know what I mean.
SM The idea is to have some reason about
treatment when you?re 80.
HM Yes: to think a bit about the future as you get
older. Under the NHS, everybody over the age
of 60 has their blood pressure taken regularly
by their GP, and various other tests. I?d like to
see a爏ystem where everyone over the age of 65
or 70, the GP gets them in and says, ?Look, can
we discuss your future healthcare? What do you
want or not want?? But when I?m dying myself,
how will I feel? I?m sure I?ll be as frightened and
anxious as the next person.
SM Absolutely. Yes ?
In the end,
I?ll be as�
frightened
xious
and anxious
as the next
s on
person
Love
thy
neighbour
What do you know about the people who live next door? We asked ?ve novelists to knock on a stranger?s door
Lionel Shriver ?Jim shows me his wedding photo.
He cut a dashing ?gure in 1969?
I first met our neighbour opposite after he had
watched my husband and me struggle on to a
roofer?s scaffold, to repaint our trim. Taking pity,
he lent us his ladder. Since then, when off to the
shops, I?ve often wanted to wave to him, smoking
on his step, but the ladder loan wasn?t a formal
introduction and I?ve felt too shy.
But, at my approach, our neighbour
unhesitatingly invites me into his immaculate
home. Classy new kitchen, all black and white.
A燽ucolic patio out the back includes a fish pond
stocked with goldfish and carp.
We live in Bermondsey, south London. Dublinborn Jim has barely been back to Ireland since
1971, yet he still speaks with a brogue. He?s trim,
with short, grey hair, a long face, smoker?s teeth.
Until a year ago, he did painting, renovation and
home maintenance.
At 68, he would still be working if it weren?t
for爃is hands. Two fingers of one and all four of
the other curl involuntarily towards the palms
62 2 December 2017 | The Guardian Weekend
(I爈ook it up: ?Dupuytren?s contracture?). After
an爋peration on one hand, the fingers curled
right燽ack. Offered the same operation on the
other, he爏aid no, thanks.
Yet he can hold a paintbrush or hammer, just.
He does jobs for longstanding elderly customers
at no charge. Recently, he replaced a 98-year-old?s
vertically striped wallpaper with more fashionable
horizontal stripes. Jim is amazed she gave a toss
about such fashions, at her age.
Long self-employed, Jim is a renegade.
When爃e arrived in Britain in 1968, he signed
up爁or nine爕ears in the army (a deadly place
for燼爎enegade). After 10 months, he requested
permission to get married and his NCO said no.
Then 19, he deserted and got married anyway.
He爓as picked up, sentenced to 31 days and
given燼 dishonourable discharge.
He shows me his wedding pic. He cut a dashing
figure in 1969, with a Beatles-style haircut. His
wife was a looker, too. They met when he was 15,
she 14. They had eight kids, and are still together.
Jim hates retirement. Still waking at 6am from
habit, he has nothing to get up for. The only
television he?ll watch is football and boxing. He
doesn?t have a computer and has never been on
the internet (?That?s where all the rows start!?).
He mostly maintains the house; when out of
tasks, he ?talks to the fish?. Cutting back vices
leaves only more time on his hands: a dozen
daily燾ans of Guinness down to four, 20 rollies
down to 12 (he saves the butts to keep count).
If爐his sounds gloomy, he?s still spirited company.
He thrives on keeping busy.
Jim is not the holiday type (surprise). He
has爂one on one in his life, this year, to M醠aga.
He wanted to go home the moment they arrived.
No English beer! And nothing to do. In all the
snaps, he?s clutching a pint, looking sullen. The
pool, he despairs, was smaller than his fishpond.
He has lived in this house for 36 years,
nearby爁or two more. This area used to be a real
community, he says. Everyone knew one
another燽y name and did each other favours.
When you headed to the shops, you left the door
open. Everyone kept a house key on a string ?
Illustration by Anna Parini
The Guardian Weekend | 2 December 2017 63
As my daughter brushes her teeth that evening, I look out the bedroom
window at Peter?s home. It feels good to have a sense of who lives behind doors
we?ve been staring at for eight years ? and to know that when we
see a light on late at night, it?s Peter, working on a commission in his studio
reachable through the letterbox, which
is燼stonishing.
Now the neighbourhood has ?gone to hell?.
Poundland, pawnshops. Heavily council-owned,
although single-family dwellings are steadily sold
off to gentrifiers and plenty of immigrants (I?m
one of them). The better-off newcomers around
here are friendly, but mostly with each other. As
for the poorer long-time residents and immigrants,
Jim is right: there?s precious little mixing.
When we part, he remembers my house?s annual
wood deliveries. We have a wood stove, I explain.
For carrying 90 bags of logs from the front to the
far back garden, I?m in training all year.
This爌hysical exertion he has observed has made
a much more considerable impression than my
lolling around writing novels.
Next time I see Jim on his step, I?ll say hello.
Maybe if I knocked on a few more doors, I would
live in爐he companionable neighbourhood I?ve
always爓anted.
Lionel Shriver is the author of 11 novels, including
We燦eed To Talk About Kevin.
Chigozie Obioma ?How much did
he think his燾ollection was worth?
It was clear it ran into the millions?
Eighteen months ago, when I moved to Lincoln,
Nebraska, from Michigan, I was attracted to
a爃ouse with a sun room on the south side of
town. I knew at once it was the place I wanted to
rent. The room, constructed with minimal walling,
so the sun glares from every side, provides a爎ich
view of the vicinity. Our part of the street is爍uiet
and one hardly sees one?s neighbours. There are
no kids for a few blocks and the building beside
mine ? divided by a gravel drive ? is empty.
But behind this one is a white fenced house,
where one can see a garden and sculptures.
An爑ninviting facade crouches beneath a welter
of plants, and in the backyard one sometimes
sees a middle-aged man, a shock of grey hair
lining the sides of his head, surveying the garden
or working through the grass with a爈awnmower.
It was into this man?s house that I爓alked one
Saturday evening. (I asked him that morning;
he爏aid to come back later.)
Dominique Ch閑nne has two houses: one in
Lincoln, the other in Chicago, where until recently
he was a professor of sound and acoustics. His
office is a little museum of musical instruments
and acoustic equipment. As a boy growing up in
the south of France, he told me, he found a爎adio
set in the trash. More than 40 years later, he still
remembers that transformative moment: ?It was
64 2 December 2017 | The Guardian Weekend
quite new and red. It wasn?t merely a爐ransistor,
as爓as prevalent in those days, but a爎eal radio.?
Dominique set to work, repaired it and that was the
beginning of a lifelong career in sound systems.
In his office, hidden from the street by trees,
there are more than 100 gadgets ? tape decks,
amplifiers, reel-to-reel recorders ? many of爓hich
he has repaired. He works across the US燼nd
overseas, building soundproof walls for churches,
clubs and offices, fixing sound systems in
airports. That rescue of a radio gave him his
career and a PhD; it was also how he met his wife.
While a student of electronics in France,
Dominique was contracted to build a sound
system for a new nightclub, in return for paid
work at the bar. There he met Julia, a striking
American from Iowa. He followed her to the US
in�72 and on to Lincoln, where her parents had
recently moved to work as Christian ministers.
This is where they made their home.
We had been talking for an hour when
Dominique mentioned my novel, The Fishermen.
His wife, who teaches part-time at the same
university as me, had raved about it, but
Dominique admitted he did not connect to it on
a爁irst read. But, a few weeks before, he had tried
again and liked it. We talked about books, his
fondness for the works of John Le Carr� and
Cormac McCarthy, and my own writing.
I asked him, how much did he think his sound
collection might cost? He wouldn?t say, but it
was燾lear it ran into the millions. He became
contemplative again, squeezing his hands together.
Then, as if he had suddenly remembered
something, he raised his head and asked if
I爓anted one of the vinyl players.
Chigozie Obioma?s The Fishermen was shortlisted for
the Guardian first book award and the Man Booker.
Jon McGregor ?John is a software
developer writing code; I?m a novelist,
also working on燾odes?
Despite my community-minded aspirations,
I?ve爊ever been that good at talking to neighbours.
I lived for a few years in a small block of flats with
neighbours who seemed to live alone and almost
always to be out (another possibility: I爊ever
heard them because my kids and I were the noisy
neighbours). It was a燾onvenient place for a time,
but it never felt like it was going to be home,
so營爊ever made much effort.
I moved into a new house in August, with
my爌artner and the many children we have
accumulated between us. Because it feels like
a爌lace where we could stay put (we even have
a爂arden and plans to plant trees, dig ponds and
build tree houses), I?ve been meaning to work
my爓ay along the street and say hello.
I knock on John?s door and, before I?ve even
explained why, we?ve spent several minutes
talking about the sewage pump in his front
garden. Anyway, John, I say, I?m supposed to
knock on a stranger?s door for a chat. He points
out that we?ve met before. Nottingham is a small,
talkative city and social circles have overlapping
points of intersection; ours was a brief and illadvised spell of badminton several years ago.
He invites me in. While the kettle boils, we talk
about his house and mine, the neighbours, the
mixed blessing of working from home; he?s a
software engineer, writing code, and I?m a novelist,
so also working on codes, haha. We are both
feeling a little awkward about the ?chat? part of
this enterprise. Instead, we talk about moving
house ? he and his family have lived here for
three years ? and about how life and work mean
there?s never enough time to unpack.
We wander outside, tea in hand, and talk
about爐he gnarled, old fruit trees their garden
has爄n common with many others in the street.
The light is starting to fade and in the shadows
at爐he爀nd of the garden I think I see a tree house.
I爐ry爐o keep my voice casual while I ask about it.
(A爐ree house!) His parents-in-law built it, he says,
in the garden of their previous house; it was put
together in such a way that it could be dismantled
when they moved. He shows me where they
worked around the tree roots and describes his
father-in-law hanging upside down from the
branches to get all the pieces in place. He was 75
at the time, John adds. He was always very active.
The past tense hangs in the air between us.
The dusk settles among the branches and the
lights start coming on along the street. John tells
me the names of some of the neighbours we can
see drawing their curtains, and the ages of their
children, and what some of them do for a living.
I燽egin to feel a little furtive. We head back inside.
There is talk of getting together again soon and,
as I walk home, the street already feels a little
smaller; a little more familiar.
Jon McGregor is the author of four novels, including
the Costa-nominated Reservoir 13 and If Nobody Speaks
of Remarkable Things.
Simon Van Booy ?When Peter ?rst moved here,
he would leave his car windows
open so爐hey爓ouldn?t get smashed?
I thought this would be easy. My American
wife燼nd daughter, both New Yorkers, disagreed.
(I爂rew up in England, in a small town near
Oxford.) But seriously: how hard could it be?
The爌lan was simple. Pace the block, choose
a燿oor, then knock and wait.
I first lived in Williamsburg, Brooklyn, in 1998,
when you could rent an enormous, shared space
for the same price as a gym membership now. For
years, landlords had wanted people living in their
buildings to stop them from being deliberately
burned down or turned into drug dens. On the
opposite side of the street, a motorcycle gang
had爉ade their headquarters; they sawed off a
row of parking meters, and in the evening would
drag-race up and down the cracked asphalt. But,
last year, even they were forced to move on.
I returned to Williamsburg full-time in 2005.
After living here for almost 12 consecutive years,
it?s worth mentioning an unspoken rule that may
be unique to New York City. You can approach
anybody on the street and, if they?re not in a
hurry, they will probably stop and hear what
you爃ave to say ? not out of a sense of obligation,
like the English, but through genuine curiosity.
However, under no circumstances should a
stranger expect to be invited into a New Yorker?s
home, unless it is for sex or to fix the internet.
My own street is a row of high-rises with
reflective glass and 24-hour doormen. But
I爓anted to meet people who had been living
here燿uring the 20th century; in those multifamily tenements where generations of families
had lived since the 1930s.
Meeting someone the old-fashioned way felt
exciting, almost fetishistic ? except no one was
answering the door. So, the next day, I爀mailed
a爉an named Sean Curneen, a local real estate
broker: perhaps a personal introduction might
work. Sean was having a local open house on
Sunday. I was welcome to meet the owner, Peter.
When I showed up, Peter and Sean were sitting
on lawn chairs between the two properties Peter
owns: a two-family town house, which is on the
market for $2.5m; and a large converted factory
where Peter, a woodworker, lives with his wife, a
sculptor, and their two children. He tells me they
wouldn?t be able to live in the neighbourhood if
they hadn?t bought this place 17 years ago.
When Peter moved here in 1987, he would
leave爃is car windows open so they wouldn?t get
smashed. ?Once,? he says, ?I was followed home
by a pack of wild dogs, and there was a car on
fire爋n my block, but that was normal.?
He tells me this street was heavily Italian,
with爉any residents related to one another,
most爃ailing from the town of Teggiano, in
Campania. Across from where they are sitting,
plastic, bulb-lit icons of 12th-century Saint Conus
wave from front windows. The area once had
a爃eavy mob presence, he says.
Peter still feels this is a real neighbourhood,
with a close-knit community. ?People in their
20s燼nd 30s are moving in and starting families,?
he says. ?And they?re very nice people who care,
and that builds a neighbourhood.?
Two houses up, a fire in December 2015 killed
two neighbours he knew well. Faulty wiring
resulted in a blaze that had 200 firefighters
battling to contain it. Soon after, a fundraiser
was爃eld at a nearby restaurant to collect money
for the surviving tenants. ?What doesn?t build
a爊eighbourhood is the lack of planning by
developers and low standards of construction,?
Peter says. He laments the bulldozing of local
buildings of historical significance.
Then the impossible happens: Peter asks if
I爓ould like to come in ? not to his home, but to
his woodworking shop. When I gasp at its size, he
admits the rent would allow him to retire.
?But爐hen what would I do??
He leads me over to a heavy beam of greying,
damaged wood, one of dozens he has purchased
as salvage from local factories as they are converted
into modern premises; the empty factory space
on Bedford Avenue is the neighbourhood?s first
Apple shop. Peter shows me another beam from
a爐ree that was 267 years old when it was cut
down; it was alive at the same time as Shakespeare.
Later that evening, as my daughter brushes her
teeth, I look out of her bedroom window on to
Peter?s properties. It feels good to have a sense of
who lives behind doors we?ve been staring at for
eight years, and to know that when we see a light
on late at night, it?s Peter in his studio, working on
a commission, or standing at his lathe, marvelling
at the beauty and history of what?s so easily
discarded in the name of progress and quick profit.
Simon Van Booy is the author of seven works
of爁iction, including Father?s Day and The Illusion
of燬eparateness.
Rowan Hisayo Buchanan ?Local rumour
has it that 14 kids were once crammed
into the house at the end of our street?
I practise my greeting under my breath. I?m quite
shy and worried that my mouth will gum up after
hello. I ring the doorbell. Nothing. The lights are
off. I straighten my back and stride one door down.
I look for the fat orange cat that often sits at the
window, but he?s absent. I knock. Nothing.
Miraculously, a door a little farther along the
street opens. A man with the sort of moustache
I燼ssociate with BBC period dramas sticks his
head out, then informs me he doesn?t live here.
He?s helping his daughter move out.
From the safety of my kitchen, I compose
a爈etter asking my immediate neighbours if they
are free. A few hours later, Marek appears, waving
my note. Marek is a tall man and he fills the
doorway, holding my anxious scribble in his big
hand. He has a genial aura. I?ve seen him once
before, helping his wife unload shopping from
the car in the twilight; we have exchanged nods.
We sit at the kitchen table to chat. I tell him
I爉oved in two months ago, so I am just getting to
know the area. Marek fills in the gaps. He tells me
the name of the fat orange cat: Garfield. Marek
has been helping her owner, Pearl, with errands.
He and his wife are also cat owners, and cat
owners naturally become friends.
He has lived in his house for 29 years, after
falling in love with the area as a geography student
at the local polytechnic. He was studying the
crafts business in Hackney, east London, at the
places that used to make veneer. These days,
Marek works in public housing.
In almost three decades, the neighbourhood
has燾hanged a bit, he says. In the 80s, there was
a燾hip shop around the corner. ?People were still
interested in chip shops then.? Next to it, there was
a convenience shop called the Dairy, run by two
old ladies. ?There were tins on the shelf and you?d
say: ?I?d like one of those, please.? They?d have to
stand on something, get the tin and give it to you.?
Marek?s voice becomes animated as we drift
deeper into the past. Local rumour has it that 14
kids were once crammed into the house at the
end of the street. ?When they were all being fed,
they used to sit one on each stair. It was the only
place they could all be fed at one time.?
He asks if I knew that our street lost three boys
in the first world war? The British Library had an
exhibition, where he found a map of which houses
were blitz-damaged. Part of our street was hit;
Marek can recite the house numbers. I tell him
about an article I wrote on a library bomb shelter.
He tells me燼bout a tragic accident, when two
buses arrived at that same bomb shelter as the
sirens were going. We pause to think of all the
people who have walked through this room.
The light outside has blued and we can hear the
children coming back from school. Marek takes his
leave. That night, as I hurry for the bus, I feel more
at home with the ghosts of this street ?
Rowan Hisayo Buchanan?s debut novel, Harmless Like
You, was shortlisted for the 2017 Desmond Elliott prize.
The Guardian Weekend | 2 December 2017 65
You have 73 new messages...
More than a billion people use
WhatsApp every day. But one false
move, and you could find yourself stuck
in the conversation from hell
10.28am
Justin Myers shares his golden rules
for the eight groups you?re avoiding
12.34pm
right now
t?s funny how quickly apps have
become shorthand for everyday tasks:
we now go on ?Tinder dates?, a
takeaway is ?a Deliveroo?, taxis give
way to ?getting an Uber?. And when it comes to
sharing confidences and keeping in touch, we?re
all WhatsApping. The preposterously named app,
which sounds like an unwelcome thumbs-up
across the dance floor, has become the preferred
method of communication for 1.2 billion of us ?
leaving emails, texts and (obviously) face-to-face
conversation in the dust.
WhatsApp?s main plus ? and quite a big minus,
if you think about it ? is that anyone can use it. It?s
free, and makes chatting in a group really easy ?
almost too easy, in fact, as you spend half your
time being added to random groups and trying
desperately to catch up and decipher their
in-jokes. Leaving is not an option unless you want
to be accused of flouncing. There are unwritten
rules waiting to catch you out.
GETTY IMAGES; SHUTTERSTOCK
I
How to leave a group is the first thing you need
to learn: it?s like checking where all the exits are
when you board a plane. Yes, you can mute the
group (stopping notifications unless you check);
but if you want to cut all ties, seasoned quitters
advise making an exit first thing in a morning,
when everyone?s too燽usy commuting to care or
re-add you, or slipping out during a particularly
busy chat flurry. Or you can be upfront-ish, with
language any WhatsApper would understand: no
data left to chat, taking a break because of work
commitments, jealous partners. A few promises
that they can re-add you soon (they?ll forget) and
you?ll be blissfully out of the loop but still on
everyone?s Christmas燾ard list.
If you?re committed to sticking around, you?ll
need to locate the mute option pretty fast (group
info at top of screen; option is halfway down):
perfectly acceptable if you?ve said all you have to
say, or the last three replies have been gifs from
the same Netflix TV show that you?ve never seen.
You?ll also need to prepare your best excuses for
when you inevitably forget which group you?re in,
and send a message to the wrong people. Pro tip:
never send nudes, and keep swearing cheery and
tame, in case someone?s screenshotting you and
sending it to Mum. And as for anxiety ticks (the
blue checks that tell others when you?ve read
their message), they?re easy to turn off; but then
your friends will set up a private chat about why
you?re so secretive and shady. Plus, you won?t be
able to see their ticks either, so you?ll never know
for sure if they?re ghosting you.
Here?s my guide to negotiating爐he eight groups
you?re most probably avoiding爎ight now.
Family
Flown the nest and feeling nostalgic for Dad?s
after-dinner flatulence and Mum?s constant
questions about the location of the adjustable
spanner? All the ?living at home? conversations
carry on, in broken grammar and misused emoji. ?
The Guardian Weekend | 2 December 2017 67
Just like a family Christmas, everyone
immediately reverts to type in a WhatsApp chat.
Yes, you have a job and a mortgage, but in this
group ? tweely titled Parentals, Mothership or
La燜amille Jones ? you?re a stroppy teenager
again. Eyes roll at your parents? screeds ?
?fgs爅ust爌ress SEND after every sentence,
Dad? ? and molars grind at Mum?s accidental
cry-laughing emoji in response to the death of
a爎elative, or use of ?selfie? to describe any photo
with a face in it. It?s enough to immunise you
permanently against homesickness.
Say ?Mum, please don?t use the aubergine emoji
when talking about your dinner.?
Don?t say ?I?m thinking of spending Christmas
abroad this year. That?s OK, right?? *sends gif of
Mariah in Santa hat*
Arm?s-length friendships
You?ve nothing in common any more, other
than爃aving been at university together, and there?s
enough blackmail material between you爐o爏ink all
your respective careers, so what燽etter way to
maintain the illusion of a爁riendship爐han
WhatsApp? Group chats play out like soap operas ?
houses are bought, babies燼re born, vague promises
of catch-up drinks are made ? without you ever
having to reunite in the flesh. Perfect.
Say ?Need to catch up soooon. I?ll ping over
some燿ates.?
Don?t say ?OK, so I?m free on the 20th, 21st
and爐hen any day the week after that. Any good?
Let?s get it in the diary.?
Secret work groups
Work email is no longer a thing. It?s too? official.
Want to flout HR?s watertight social media policy?
WhatsApp to the rescue! Workmates are going
underground to share outr� opinions, slag off the
tea bags in the ?shared breakout area? (one
clapped-out toaster and a flock-patterned feature
wall) and lightly bully each other ? the kind of
conversations even the office Slack dare not host.
The bubble usually bursts around Christmas time,
when one excitable colleague gets on the
complimentary house red and blurts out a
WhatsApp-only secret. It?s over, shut it down.
And爑pdate your CV.
Say Whatever you like, but don?t forget to give all
bosses codenames.
Don?t say ?Hi, this is Ciaran from HR ? I think you
added me by mistake a couple of weeks ago?? Not
cute, mate. Not. Cute.
Whichever group you?re in,
there?s an offshoot dedicated
to slagging everyone off
18.36pm
The travel organisers
Starting with an ominous ?SO GUYS?? the group?s
self-appointed senior planner ? someone who
likes ?icebreakers? and company away days ? gets
to work. Whether they?re arranging a stag or hen
weekend, a group holiday or, worse, a wedding,
buckle in for repeated deposit requests, ?I?ll be
online from 3am looking for flights?, ?Guys, are
we definitely skipping life drawing? What about
paintballing?? and rumblings about differing
income levels within the group.
Not going and never intended to anyway? Cool,
but it?s not over for you. Leaving the group makes
you a buzzkill, so you?ll have to endure the
endless preamble of, ?I?m on my way! Line me up
a Singapore sling!?, drunken pics of the basics on
tour, and banter-packed, hungover reminiscences
as everyone makes their way home.
Say ?Sounds great. Such a shame I can?t make it.
Have fun.? Then throw your phone into a body
of爓ater.
Don?t say ?Let me know how much and I?ll see
you at the airport.? Again: Phone. Throw. Splash.
Streamlined groups
WhatsApp?s curse? Any group set up for a specific
purpose soon descends into chaos, like ?off-topic
general discussion? internet forums of yore.
Glued to headphones all day, we?re so starved of
ephemeral, inconsequential chitchat that even
the most specialist of groups ? ?Enthusiasts of
correct orientation for text on a PowerPoint slide?
? will soon brim with restaurant
recommendations, reviews of last weekend?s
Strictly and murky political opinion. Oh, and gifs:
there?s always someone who responds to a serious
question with a Real Housewives gif. Does this
mean yes? Or no? This lack of focus necessitates,
eventually, the creation of another group ? ?TEXT
ORIENTATION ONLY PLS? ? which goes brilliantly
until Anwar from the Wakefield office digs out
that gif again.
Say ?Great! Big fan of centred text for headings.?
Don?t say ?Slightly off-topic, but??
Bitchy splinter groups
Daunting fact: whichever WhatsApp group
you?re爄n, there?s an offshoot dedicated to
slagging everyone off. Sometimes you want to
bitch about the bitching. And, yeah, Mark is
really燼nnoying, isn?t he? And screw what Julia
said just now, amiright?!
Flipping between the two requires wily
efficiency燼nd sharp attention to detail, so you
don?t drop a truth bomb in the wrong thread.
What?s that? Your group doesn?t have a toxic
tributary? I have some bad news: the call is
coming from inside the house.
Say ?I just think Phil?s gif of me spilling
tomato爅uice down myself was in poor taste.
He?s燼 bastard. And so is everyone else,
except爑s.?
Don?t say ?I?ve screenshotted EVERY word
and營燼m messaging this to Phil NOW.?
There?s always someone
who爎esponds to
a爏erious question with
a燫eal燞ousewives gif
19.21pm
Housemates
Same old arguments ? unpaid council tax,
washing-up rotas, pleas to stop leaving boxer
shorts on the bathroom floor ? but this time
with爐he added drama of distance and
technology,燽itchy digs sent out into the ether
and met with deafening silence, with nobody
daring to break as the anxiety ticks stack up.
See燼lso the drunken message sent out at closing
time warning you your housemate will be
?bringing a few mates back? or, ?I?ve pulled,
so燽est wear some earplugs.?
Forewarned is forearmed, and WhatsApp is the
perfect set-up for a fiery showdown in the shared
kitchen. One could almost become wistful for a
good old-fashioned passive-aggressive note taped
to the fridge.
Say ?Sorry about last night. How about a big
house dinner to make it up to you guys??
Don?t say ?Dunno who owned that chablis in the
fridge, but it?s given me gut-rot.?
Competitive parents
Now that child-rearing is a vocation, rather than
something people do to fill up their spare
bedrooms, social media is essential for successful,
performative parenting. That NCT or爊ursery
group WhatsApp chat might start off as燼 place to
share useful advice, cute pics or meet-up dates,
but it?s soon a hive of birthsplaining, endless
comparison and thinly veiled poisonous pile-ons.
Members lacking, perhaps, regular adult
conversation and all sense of nuance means even
the most innocent tips or pointers are dismissed
with acidic jokes, boasting, gaslighting and
derisive contradictions starting, ?Well, actually??
until it?s all-out war.
Say ?Proud mummy!? ?Just gorgeous! Well done!?
?What would we do without your tips,
Stephanie??
Don?t say ?Actually I?m FINE with my Hugo?s
vocabulary and BTW, Stephanie, your Lola looks
like John燘ercow.? ?
The Guardian Weekend | 2 December 2017 69
The kindness
of strangers
Jessica Pan is an introvert, and fears she?s
missing out. Would a month spent talking to strangers
bring a world of life-changing experiences?
Photographs by Bohdan Cap
sit down next to a man at a train
station. He?s staring at his phone and
doesn?t notice me taking the seat next
to him on the platform. I take a燿eep
breath. ?Hi,? I say to him. He recoils in surprise.
He clutches his bag slightly closer. This has
happened a lot in the past month.
A few years ago, I found a box of badges at my
local cafe in London. I爌icked one up. It read: ?I
Talk To Strangers.? I chucked it back immediately,
afraid someone had seen me holding it. It might
as well have said: ?I Eat Spiders.?
For me, talking to strangers is something you
do as a last resort: lost in an unfamiliar
neighbourhood, dead phone, broken leg, typhoon
? and only if these things happen all at once.
I know I?m not the only one who feels this way.
During rush hour, we all stand squashed on
public transport, essentially spooning, in total
silence. Sure, I?ll shove my face into your armpit,
but talk to you? It?s just not done.
Intrigued, I actually kept one of those I Talk
To燬trangers badges, though. It had occurred to
me that ?chatty tourist? would be a great
Halloween costume with which to frighten
Londoners. Then I forgot about it for years, until I
read an article citing surprising research;
apparently, when people are forced to talk to
strangers, it makes them爃appier.
Around that time, on a flight from燦ew York, I
found myself in a爐hree-person row with two
men. I爄mmediately put on my headphones and
stared straight ahead.燚on?t talk to me, I?m not
here. And it seemed to work, because they turned
to each other instead. Pretty soon, they were
exchanging barbecue recipes, then pouring out
their souls and showing each other pictures on
their phones. By the time we touched down at
Heathrow, one had invited the other to his
birthday party that Friday.
This was baffling to me. If that?s what had come
of a six-hour flight, how much was I missing by
ignoring the dozens, if not hundreds, of strangers
I saw every day? Was I missing out on lifechanging recipes, birthday parties and
sympathetic shoulders to cry on?
I decided to talk to as many strangers as I could
for a month. Would I be happier?
I
On day one, I walk purposefully up to a woman at
the bus stop at 8am. She turns away. I take a seat
on the upper deck with the other morning
commuters. I keep turning my head towards the
woman next to me, who is immersed in her
phone, playing Candy Crush. No one else is
talking. I practise various opening lines about
candy, but then the woman notices me staring at
her phone and I feel as if she just caught me
looking down her shirt. I abort the bus mission.
Deflated, I decide to go for some low-hanging
fruit. I walk up to an unfamiliar barista at a local
cafe. ?You?re new!? I say, confident that he has to
reply because it?s part of his job.
?I?ve worked here for three years,? he replies.
72 2 December 2017 | The Guardian Weekend
?Do you think
it?ll snow?? I ask.
No one knows.
I pat dogs,
and interrupt
a child and
her grandmother
on the bus
It is then that I grasp the main hurdle: my fear
of爏trangers.
I call Stefan G Hofmann, director of the
psychotherapy and emotion research laboratory
at Boston University, who regularly coaches
people through their fear of interacting with
other people, among other phobias. He explains
that my hesitation to make contact with a
stranger is perfectly normal: ?Social anxiety is a
completely normal experience,? he tells me. ?We
are social animals. We want to be accepted by our
peer groups and we do not want to be rejected. If
people do not have any social anxiety, something
is seriously wrong with them.?
His clinic has found that an effective treatment
for social anxiety is to put people in their worstcase scenario, where they are guaranteed to be
repeatedly rejected. They might be instructed to
stand on the side of the road and sing really
loudly, or ask 100 strangers on the subway
for�$400. But, ?No one is going to fire you or
divorce you or arrest you if you do these things,?
Hofmann explains. He compares himself to a
neurotic movie director who helps script very
specific scenarios for patients, getting straight to
the core of their greatest social fear. The
treatment is dramatically effective: an 80%
response rate.
?What would you prescribe me?? I ask.
An impromptu therapy session ensues during
which, after probing, I confess that I?m most scared
that a爏tranger will think I?m weird and stupid.
?Then it would be best if we constructed
a燾onversation where you go up to a stranger and
actually say something completely stupid,?
Hofmann suggests. ?I would have you ask
a爏tranger, ?Excuse me, I just forgot. Does England
have a queen and, if so, what?s her name??
You爓ould have to say these exact words and
nothing else.? It feels like the worst homework
assignment ever.
?Then we would evaluate what you would
expect to happen,? Hofmann adds. ?What do you
think the consequences would be if you did this??
I tell him I think the stranger would think I was
lying, playing a prank or suffering from amnesia.
?Yes, and then what would happen? Picture
your nightmare scenario.?
?They would roll their eyes and walk away.
Or,爄f it?s on the tube, everybody will look at me
and think I?m stupid and weird.?
?Excellent. Excellent,? Hofmann says. ?What
you?re describing is a realistic scenario we could
all live with: you ask someone, they roll their eyes
and they walk away. So the person thinks you?re
stupid and that?s the end. Life goes on.?
Luckily, I?m not Hofmann?s patient and I don?t
have to listen to him. However after the call, the
sheer relief of not actually being forced to ask
strangers if there is a queen of England suddenly
empowers me. This is not the intended effect, but
it does seem to work.
The next day, I?m eating alone at a爏ushi bar.
Just as I take a bite of spicy tuna, I sneeze
violently and spray sushi all over my black
jeans.燗t that moment, I hear a man?s voice over
my shoulder.
?Do you mind if I sit here??
My mouth full of food, my nose running, rice
bits everywhere, and a businessman in a suit
looking expectantly at me. Oh, wait, no.
Actually,爐his was my worst-case scenario.
I爂esture to the chair, nod and say lamely behind
a napkin, ?I sneezed. I?m sorry.?
He takes a seat. The worst has already
happened: it?s only up from here. When he finally
looks up from his phone, I pounce.
?Where are you from?? I ask.
I had detected an accent. He?s French. He
smiles, then seems to gesture as if to say he?s
going to get back to his lunch, but I will not be
defeated this easily. ?But where in France? Are
you? offended by Brexit?? It?s not my best work,
but the conversation rolls along nicely enough.
And, yes, he does feel offended by Brexit.
The mild success of the encounter gives me the
courage to keep going. I start speaking to lots of
people, but find it hard to get beyond the small
talk. For爄nstance:
I discuss the sudden cold weather seven times.
?Do you think we?ll get爏now this year?? I ask
strangers. No one knows. ?I need coffee,? I say in
the queue at Pret to a woman in her 50s. ?Yes,?
she says. ?Coffee is good.? Everyone in earshot
wants to die as well.
I pet many dogs and pretend it?s an excuse to
talk to their owners. I strike up a conversation
with the woman next to me at a storytelling event
and we bond over a fear of public speaking. On
the bus, I sit behind a燾hild and her grandmother
playing 20 questions. I suddenly interject: ?Is it a
fox?? They stare at me bewildered, but gradually
accept my participation (close: it was a raccoon).
I feel like a kindly village idiot wandering the
city. Try as I might, I燾an?t get past the mundane.
To find out how, I call Nicholas Epley, a
professor of behavioural science at the Chicago
Booth School of Business. He?s the psychologist
who found that when people talk to strangers
during their commutes, it makes them happier.
I爐ell him how odd this sounds to me.
?Really? Because that seems like the easiest
place to me,? he says. ?Other places are spots
where people are doing other things already. On
the tube or on the bus, they?re just sitting there,
doing nothing.?
In his research, Epley found that often when we
ignore each other during our commutes, it?s
because we think other people don?t want to talk
to us. So he tested this. Subjects consistently
thought they were more interested in talking to
their neighbour than their neighbour was in
talking to them.
?Then we asked them: what percentage of
people do you think would be willing to talk
to爕ou if you talked to them first? People on
trains爀stimated 42% would and 43% would on
the buses.? They were wrong. The actual
percentage of people who would be willing to
engage with you in conversation is almost 100%.
?Obviously, there are people who don?t talk
back,? Epley says, ?but that wasn?t a common
experience.?
I bring up the problem I?ve been having: I can?t
seem to get past small talk. I?m not having any of
those amazing connections: it?s just the weather,
or what?s your dog?s name, or what do you do.
?Just the weather?? Epley sounds
disappointed.�You could do better. You need to
self-disclose more.?
As Epley coaches me through meaningful
conversation topics ? what do you like about your
job, tell me about your family, where?s the most
interesting place you?ve been to this year ?營 realise
I?m a grown woman having a爈esson爋n爃ow to
have a conversation. I燼lso realise that I燿id not
know how to have a燾onversation.
Later that week, as I?m walking through my
neighbourhood, I see a爉an painting on the street.
I stop to talk to him ? we chitchat about the area,
then he invites me to a private art show at
someone?s house the following week. And that?s
how, a few days later, I end up at a private art show
in an enormous house: three storeys tall, high
ceilings, Picasso prints on the walls; my entire flat
would fit in the kitchen. I make a vow to myself:
I爓ill get past small talk. Tonight, I will learn from
these people. Tonight, perhaps I will self-disclose.
I walk with purpose through the halls and see
a爐all man in his 60s, alone. I jump out of the
corner at him like a nightmare. ?Hi, I?m Jess,?
I爏ay. ?Where do you live??
It turns out that Malcolm lives on a beautiful
quiet square that I run by most days.
Disclose something about yourself, I hear
Nick?s爒oice in my ear. Ask him what you really
want to know.
?I peek into the windows of those houses
nearly every day,? I say. ?With the massive
kitchens that extend into courtyards and the
amazing gardens at the back. I pretend to live
there sometimes. I?ve always wanted to know, is
that the best place to live in the entire world??
the art department at my school when I was
a爐eenager.?
Bingo. In my past life, I would have walked
straight past this man. Now, here I am at the
fanciest party I?ve ever been to discovering his
past felonies, and all because I stopped to say
hello. And the research is right: it brings me joy.
That stranger I sat next to at the train
station?燞e turns out to be a friendly Finnish
man爓ho is often mistaken as Irish and who
loves爐he TV show 30 Rock. Talking to him on
a燿reary rainy night was much better than sitting
in stony silence.
?It is,? he says. He walks away and I am left
stung, but also satisfied that my burning question
finally has an answer.
I scour the house for my next victim, and meet
a 50-year-old named Dave who has been
reinventing himself as a standup comedian. We
trade tips on fighting writer?s block, which he tells
me is cured by drinking red wine and listening to
Bob Seger. So far, so good.
I keep circulating, and near the end of the night
end up in a conversation with the artist, Roger,
who invited me. He steers the conversation
towards his paintings.
?Art is the only thing that makes sense to me,?
he says. ?It?s light, texture and??
No. No no no. I do not want to talk about the
virtues of art at this art show. I think: what do
I爎eally want to know about this gentle, softspoken man?
?Roger, what?s the worst thing you?ve ever
done?? I ask.
He thinks for a moment. ?Well, I燽urned down
I am at the
fanciest party
I have ever been
to, and the artist
who invited
me is disclosing
his past felonies:
this brings me joy
At the end of the month, I know that it?s time to
take my mission to the next level. I?m so nervous
that I爐hink I might get arrested.
A man walks towards me on an underground
platform. I flag him down. ?Excuse me, I forgot??
I say, trailing off. He looks at me expectantly.
?Uh, is there a queen of England? And, if so,
what?s her name?? I splutter.
?The queen of England?? he repeats,
disbelieving, eyebrows raised.
?Yes. Is there one? Who is she?? I燼sk.
?It?s Victoria,? he says.
Of all the scenarios I had imagined, this wasn?t
one of them.
?Victoria?? I ask.
?Yep.?
?So you?re saying the queen of England is called
Victoria?? I ask. Now I?m the disbelieving one.
?Yes,? he says, and hops on to the train. I?m so
confused, I immediately flag down the next
person I see: another man, this one at least 6ft tall
dressed in a tracksuit and carrying a gym bag.
I燼sk him the question quickly and he stares at me
with bemused contempt.
?It?s Victoria,? he says and walks off.
Social experiment aside ? does no one know
who the queen of England is? Do I? I stop four
women in a row and each of them tells me,
?Elizabeth.? Some laugh in shock, some pause
fearfully and all look at me as if I am very slow.
None of them calls the police.
Some people say there is no such thing as
a爏tupid question, but by asking the stupidest of
all the questions, I had finally faced my fear of
talking to random strangers.
So here?s what I learned. Don?t be afraid to ask
what you want to ask. Self-disclose. Smile more.
Find someone with a boring job: they?re much
more likely to go off-piste with you. Compliments
always work, although some people will presume
you?re hitting on them. People almost always
want to talk about themselves. They want to talk
to you, too.
But I?m still trying to figure out what was going
on with those men, subjects of Queen Victoria.
Were they time travellers or just ignorant? I?ll
have to talk to more strangers to find out ?
Jessica Pan is writing a book about燼n introvert?s
efforts to become an爀xtrovert.
The Guardian Weekend | 2 December 2017 73
Space
Champagne
Black
74 2 December 2017 | The Guardian Weekend
Indigo
Navy
Cream
Would
you
willing?
be
It seems like...
Can we speak?
What?s the secret to getting
someone to change their
mind, or see you in
a new light? Rosie Ifould
rounds up the words to
use ? and the ones to avoid
It?s not what you say, it?s how you say it ? isn?t it?
According to language analysts, we may have
this爓rong. ??We are pushed and pulled around
by爈anguage far more than we realise,? says
Elizabeth Stokoe, professor of social interaction at
Loughborough University. Stokoe and her
colleagues have analysed thousands of hours
of爎ecorded calls, from customer services to
mediation hotlines and police emergency calls.
They discovered that certain words or爌hrases have
the power to change the course of a燾onversation.
Some of these words are surprising, and
go燼gainst what we?ve been taught to believe.
(For爀xample, in a study of conversations
between doctors and patients, evidence showed
that doctors who listed ?options? rather than
recommended ?best-interest? solutions, got
a燽etter response, despite the suggestion from
hospital guidelines to talk about the best interests
of the patient.) But, from conversation analysts
such as Stokoe to FBI negotiators and
communication coaches, we?re learning which
words are likely to placate or persuade us. Here
are some of the biggest dos and don?ts.
Do use: willing
One of the first words Stokoe came across that
seemed to have a magical effect on people was
?willing?. ?It started with looking at mediation
telephone calls,? she explains ? that is, calls to
or爁rom a mediation centre, where the aim was
to爌ersuade people to attend a mediation session.
?When they?re in a dispute, people usually want
a爈awyer or the police. They don?t really want
mediation, so they?re quite resistant.?
Stokoe found that people who had already
responded negatively when asked if they would
like to attend mediation seemed to change their ?
The Guardian Weekend | 2 December 2017 75
minds when the mediator used the phrase,
?Would you be willing to come for a meeting??
?As soon as the word ?willing? was uttered,
people爓ould say: ?Oh, yes, definitely? ? they
would actually interrupt the sentence to agree.?
Stokoe found it had the same effect in different
settings: with business-to-business cold callers;
with doctors trying to persuade people to go to
a爓eight-loss class. She also looked at phrases
such as ?Would you like to? and ?Would you
be爄nterested in?. ?Sometimes they worked,
but�willing? was the one that got people to agree
more rapidly and with more enthusiasm.?
What to say Deploy it when you?ve already been
met with some resistance: ?I know it?s not your
first choice, but would you be willing to meet
on燜riday??
Don?t use: just
In 2015, Ellen Leanse, a former Google executive,
wrote a LinkedIn blog about the way men and
women use the word ?just??. In the blog, which
went viral, she claimed that women use it far
more often than men. ?It hit me that there was
something about the word I didn?t like. It was
a�permission? word ? a warm-up to a request,
an燼pology for interrupting, a shy knock on the
door燽efore asking: ?Can I get something I need
from you???
Leanse asked her co-workers to have a
moratorium on the word ?just?, banning it from
their communication. She claimed the difference
in how confident people felt was noticeable after
a few weeks. Her evidence wasn?t scientific, but,
even so, ?just? is one of those words that has
a爃abit of creeping into our emails and spoken
conversations. Fine if you?re trying to be
placatory, but if you want to have more
authority, 爈ose the ?just?.
What to say Try your own experiment over the
next week. Read your emails back before you
send them and count the number of times that
?I爅ust wanted to? or ?Could I just? appear. Edit
them out and see the difference in tone.
Do use: speak (instead of talk)
The word ?talk? seems to make a lot of people
resistant to conversation. ?We observed this when
looking at interactions between police negotiators
and suicidal persons in crisis,? Stokoe says.
Negotiators who used phrases such as, ?I?m here
to talk? met with more resistance. ?Persons in
crisis would often respond with something like:
?I燿on?t want to talk, what?s the point in talking???
When the verb was ?speak?, however, callers
were far more likely to open up the conversation
or offer new information.
Why the difference? Stokoe suspects it?s because
the cultural idioms associated with ?talk? cast
a爊egative shadow. ??You?re all talk; talk is cheap;
you talk the talk, but don?t walk the walk?: we
seem to think that people who want to talk don?t
place much value on what we?re saying.?
There was a similar difference in the
effectiveness of the word ?sort?, as opposed
to�help?. ?Let?s sort it? feels much more
direct燼nd燼ctive. ?There?s no point in trying to
fake a softly-softly relationship with someone in
crisis. Better to be practical and direct.?
What to say If you really want someone to engage
with you, use, ?Can I speak to you about this??,
rather than ?Can we talk??
Don?t use: How are you?
Stokoe uses her research to work with groups on
improving their communication, including groups
of business-to-business cold callers. ?One of the
main messages of that work was to tell people to
stop building rapport,? she says. ?Sales people are
trained to do small talk at the beginning of calls,
but we were able to show with our research that
it燿oesn?t work.
?Not only is there no evidence of reciprocal
rapport-building, but also you?re more likely to
irritate the other person and extend the length
of爐hat call.?
It?s not so much that the ?How are you?? is
rude, but rather that it?s false. In real life, no one
asks ?How are you today?? in that cold-call way,
if爐hey know the person and genuinely want an
answer to the question. We would rather they got
to the point.
What to say The next time you have to speak to
someone you don?t know, don?t be overly friendly.
Stick to being polite.
Do use: some (instead of any)
?Anything else I can do for you?? Sounds like
a爌erfectly reasonable question, doesn?t it? But
John Heritage and Jeffrey Robinson, conversation
analysts at the University of California, Los
Angeles, looked at how doctors use the words
?any? and ?some? in their final interactions with
patients. They found that ?Is there something
else I can do for you today?? elicited a燽etter
response than ?Is there anything else??
?Any? tends to meet with negative responses.
Think about meetings you?ve been in ? what?s the
usual response to ?Any questions?? A燽arrage of
engaging ideas or awkward silence? It?s too openended; too many possibilities abound. Of course,
if you don?t want people to ask you anything,
then stick to ?Any questions??
What to say Try not to use ?any? if you genuinely
want feedback or to open up debate. ?What do
you think about X?? might be a more specific
way爋f encouraging someone to talk.
Don?t use: Yes, but
If you?re stuck in a circular argument and
you?re燾onvinced that you?re the reasonable
one,爐ry listening out for how often
you燽oth爑se爐he phrase ?Yes, but?.
?We all know the phrase ?Yes, but? really means
?No, and here?s why you?re wrong?,? says Rob
Kendall, author of Workstorming. A conversation
expert, Kendall sits in on爋ther people?s meetings
as an observer. The phrase ?Yes, but? is one of the
classic warning signs that you?re in an
unwinnable conversation, he says. ?If you hear it
three or more times in one discussion, it?s a sign
that you?re going nowhere.?
What to say Kendall advises shifting the
conversation by asking the other person ?What?s
needed here?? or, even better, ?What do
you爊eed?? ?It takes you from what I call
?blamestorming? to a solution-focused outcome.?
Do use: It seems like
Rapport-building may be of little value in cold
calls, but it can be essential if you?re trying to
bring someone round to your point of view or
end燼 conflict. As former FBI negotiator Chris
Voss writes in Never Split The Difference, his
manual of persuasive techniques, there are five
stages in what?s known as the ?behavioural
change stairway model? that take anyone from
?listening to influencing behaviour?. The first
stage is active listening ? namely, being able to
show the other person that you have taken in
what they?ve said and, more importantly, have a
sense of what it means to them.
Rather than focusing on what you want to say,
listen to what the other person is telling you, then
try to repeat it back to them. Start with, ?It seems
like what you?re saying is? or ?Can I just check, it
sounds like what you?re saying is?. If that feels
too contrived, it often works simply to repeat the
last sentence or thought someone has expressed
(known in counselling practice as ?reflecting?).
What to say Try, ?It seems like you?re feeling
frustrated with this situation ? is that right??
Always give the other person the opportunity
to燾omment on or correct your assessment.
Do use: Hello
??Hello? is a really important word that can change
the course of a conversation,? Stokoe says. ?It?s
about how you respond to people who are what
we call ?first movers? ? people who say something
really critical, apropos of nothing.? It might be the
work colleague who steams up to your desk with
a complaint or the neighbour who launches into
a爎ant about parking as you?re putting out the bins.
?What do you do with that person? Rather than
respond in the same manner, saying something
nice, such as a very bright ?Hello!?, derails and
socialises that other person a little bit.?
What to say Use it when you want to resist getting
into a confrontation. ?You have to be careful not
to sound too passive-aggressive,? Stokoe says,
?but just one friendly word in a bright tone can
delete the challenge of the conversation.? ?
The Guardian Weekend | 2 December 2017 77
Weekending
fashion beauty
food mind
space gardens
puzzles
KATHERINE ANNE ROSE, JILL MEAD, BOTH FOR THE GUARDIAN
Blind date Tom, 32, emergency ambulance crew, and Lara, 26, events o?cer
Tom on Lara
Lara on Tom
What were you hoping for?
Deep conversation with
a爎omantic spark. Failing
that, a drinking buddy.
First impressions?
Pretty, smart, good-natured.
What did you talk about?
The joy of Harry Potter
books, family politics, why
Americans are crazy,
existential angst and could
you eat animal testicles?
Any awkward moments?
A few pauses at the start but
we soon got warmed up.
Good table manners?
Far better than mine. I tried
to coax her into finger food.
Best thing about Lara?
Down-to-earth, and values
family and friends dearly.
Would you introduce her
to爕our friends?
Probably not: I don?t think
she?d be up for playing spoof
for sambuca shots.
Describe Lara in three words
Grounded, organised, (a bit
of a) homebody.
What do you think she made
of you?
A bit of a drifter, who
possibly drinks too much
and asks prying questions.
Did you go on somewhere?
No, I just walked her back to
the tube as it was late.
And? did you kiss?
No.
If you could change one
thing about the evening,
what would it be?
Should have gone with the
finger food ? cutlery makes
it爁eel too formal.
Marks out of 10?
6.
Would you meet again?
I think it?s unlikely: we had
very little common ground.
What were you hoping for?
A fun evening.
First impressions?
He seemed like a friendly,
chatty guy.
What did you talk about?
Past jobs, holidays, family,
hobbies, Peaky Blinders.
Any awkward moments?
There was a table mix-up,
so爓e ended up bumping into
each other in the foyer.
Good table manners?
Very good ? he didn?t get his
phone out once.
Best thing about Tom?
He was easy to talk to.
Would you introduce him
to爕our friends?
I don?t see why not.
Describe Tom in three words
Friendly, outdoorsy, genuine.
What do you think he made
of爕ou?
I?m not too sure, because we
had really different interests.
Did you go on somewhere?
He walked me to my station.
And? did you kiss?
No.
If you could change one thing
about the evening, what
would it be?
Nothing, we just didn?t click.
Marks out of 10?
7.
Would you meet again?
Not romantically.
He didn?t
get his
phone out
once
I tried to
coax her into
?nger food
Tom and Lara ate at the
Trading House, London EC2,
thetradinghouse.uk.com.
Fancy a blind date? Email
blind.date@theguardian.com.
If you?re looking to meet
someone like-minded, visit
soulmates.theguardian.com
The Guardian Weekend | 2 December 2017 79
Dress this way
80 2 December 2017 | The Guardian Weekend
It?s party time ?
and all that glitters is
good. Photographs
by Elliott Morgan.
Styling by
Melanie Wilkinson
Fashion
The
Th
T
he Guardian
Gua
Gu
arrd
ard
rdia
iian
an
a
n Weekend
We
W
eeke
ek
e
ken
ke
nd
d|2D
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December
ecce
ec
cem
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e
mber
be
b
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20
2017
017
17 81
81
185篶
232篶
Bright eyes
Velvet dress (previous
pages, left), �5, by Tibi,
from matchesfashion.
com. Earrings, �0,
alighieri.co.uk.
Sunglasses, from a
selection, by Gucci, from
net-a-porter.com.
Sitting pretty
Shirt (previous pages,
right), �, cosstores.
com. Sequin dress, �8,
jcrew.com. Boots, �9,
kurtgeiger.com.
Hair: Shukeel at Frank
Agency using Hair by
Sam McKnight. Makeup:
Martina Lattanzi at
One Represents using
Nars Cosmetics. Model:
Annelies at Storm.
Shot爋n location at
Sketch, London W1.
Glow on
Ruffle dress (below),
�5, by Paula Knorr,
from matchesfashion.
com. Boots and tights,
stylist?s own.
Sleek peek
Dress (right), �.99,
mango.com. Platforms,
�9, essentiel-antwerp.
com. Tights, stylist?s own.
Twinkle, twinkle
Lurex dress (below
right), �, finerylondon.
com. Choker and boots,
both from a爏election,
both爀llery.com.
Knit
picks
No other winter
w nter purchase
wi
e will get
e as
much
jumper,
m
mu
ch wear as your humble jumpe
p r, so
why not take the
th
he time
e to find something
you can style up for
o an evening out.
Sylviane?ss stripe and leopard knit looks
k
dressy teamed with long boots, or
something sparkly will tick the same
box ? see India?s po
polo
p
lo neck. Wear sorbetcoloured knits with graphicc stripes
(see Lucy) for a st
look,
sstriking
riking daytime loo
o k,
or team a printed
printe
t d jumper with
witth checks
(Elee). If all else
s fails, opt for a classic
autumnal-coloured
autumnal-colloure
ed knit (Joi
(JJoi) ? the
th
he ideal
id
dea
e l
weekend look. Melanie
Melan
a ie Wilkinson
Wil
ilkiinson
on
Photograph
Stylist:
Photographss:
s: David
Davi
Da
vid
d Newby.
Newb
wby. S
tyliist
st:
Melanie Wilkinson.
Stylist?s
assistant:
Wiilkinso
son. S
tylistt?ss ass
ssistant
nt:
Bemi
Hair
B mi Shaw. H
Be
airr:: Shukeel
ai
S uk
Sh
ukee
e l Mu
Murtaza at
Frank Agency
Kevin
Murphy,
y using
usi
sing K
evin
in M
urph
phy, and
d
Lou
Management
using
Redken.
L u Box at S M
Lo
anag
gem
emen
nt usin
i g Re
edk
ken.
Makeup: Lisa Sto
Stokes
oke
es using
usin
i g Clarins.
Clar
Cl
a ins.
s
Lucy
Models
Sylviane,
Models:: L
ucy at M
odel
od
els 1,, S
ylvian
yl
ane,
e India
Robinson,
att Milk.
and Elee
e at Mrs R
o inson,
ob
n Joi a
1
Elee
JJumper
umperr,, ��0,
120
0, sunc
suncoon ooparis.com.
p
pa
riis.com.
m Dress,
Dress,
�.95,
Boots,
�.
�9.95
9 , zara.com
zarra.co
c m. Bo
Boot
ots,
��,
85, topshop.com
tops
to
p ho
ps
hop.
p co
com.
2
Lucy
JJumper
umpe
um
er, �,
�,
nerylondon.com.
Skirt
fine
fi
n
rylo
ry
lond
ndon
o .c
on
.com
om.. S
Ski
kirt
rt,
�,
� 6,
�6 topshop.com.
top
opsh
shop
op.c
.com
om..
Shoes,
Shoe
Sh
es, �.99,
�
7.9
.99,
9, newlook.
newl
ne
wloo
ook.
k.
com
c m. Earrings
co
Ear
a ri
ring
ngss, �,
�,
aldoshoes.com.
a dosh
al
hoe
oes.
s.co
com.
m.
84 2 D
December
ecembe
ece
mbe
mber
ber 2017
20
017
7 | The
T Gu
Guardian
uard
rd
dian
i We
W
Weekend
e n
eke
nd
d
Fash
A l l a ion
ges
3
Sylviane
Jum
Jumper
mper, �, and dress,
�,
�
�2, topshop.com.
Boots
Boo
oots, �9, by Carvela,
from kurtgeiger.com.
4
Joi
Jumper, �.50,
marksandspencer.com.
ma
Jacket, �, topshop.
com. Trousers, �9,
swedishhasbeens.com.
Boots
Boo
ots, �9, jigsawonline.com.
5
India
Jumper, �, asos.com.
aso
os.
s co
om.
m.
Trousers, �, topshop.
topsho
hop.
ho
p
com. Shoes, �0,
senso.com.au.
The Guardian Weekend | 2 December 2017 85
Space
86 2 December 2017 | The Guardian Weekend
Fashion
What I wore
this week
Jess Cartner-Morley ?nally gets low-heeled party shoes
Y
Going Up
Princess Margaret She went to
parties without a hat. She wore
fabulous Dior-y dresses. Her
personal life was relatable, making
her a fitting breakout star of the
second series of燭he Crown.
Getting crafty Skint? Same. No
matter. It?s Make Smthng week, so
it?s virtually law to sew something.
We plan to go for broke at Sew Over
It and Etsy before Christmas kicks in.
Statement earrings Postmismatched earrings, we?re taking it
down a notch. Take your cue from
Van Cleef & Arpels and Dior, and
wear the same earrings in different
colours. Doable.
Broccoli The vegetable ad infinitum,
but also the new female-run
magazine that looks at weed in art,
culture and fashion. Personal
favourite = weed ikebana arranging
for beginners.
Going down
1
2
3
4
Jess?s four best
1 Furry mules, �.99, zara.com
2 Gold, �5, lkbennett.com
3 Burgundy sandals, �, stories.com
4 Black with gold heels, �0, boden.co.uk
Jess wears silk top, �, and trousers, �, both
topshop.com. Heels, �, office.co.uk (Chair, �5,
grahamandgreen.co.uk)
Micro bags Kate Moss has the
Balenciaga one, which is cool, but
wholly impractical, given it only fits
three bank cards. Cheaper alternative?
Your pocket! You?re welcome.
Gin Mother?s ruin officially makes
you sad, says Public Health Wales.
There goes our cocktail-in-a-can plan.
Christmas-ad-themed merch The
urge to get your hands on the latest
toy creature is directly proportionate
to the lack of爄nterest come 1 January,
when Christmas is so last year.
Perfect place-setting promotion
Shout out to Ivanka, who singlehandedly killed table decorations
by爌resenting a giant flowery clam
for Thanksgiving. Paper plate, tinsel
and a red cup for us.
The Guardian Weekend | 2 December 2017 87
GETTY (5); NETFLIX
ou know those features where writers
reveal the advice they wish they could
give their younger selves? And they
are always really erudite and wistful,
poignant and touching? Well, this is sort of one of
those. Sort of. OK, without the erudite, wistful,
poignant or touching parts. But still important.
I am talking about high heels. Specifically,
how爉uch I wish I could give my younger self
a爐alking to about not spending insane amounts
on shoes I燾ouldn?t walk in. As heart-swelling,
motivational speeches go, this is not, admittedly,
up there with Robin Williams imploring us to
carpe diem in Dead Poets Society. But I really
wish I had known then what seems obvious now.
Which is that good-time shoes that you can?t have
a good time in because your feet hurt are a total
waste of money.
As my 20-years-ago self would have said: like,
duh. But I?m not the only one with a blind spot
for heels. Walk into a shoe department at this
time of year and you?ll find an average heel height
of around 10cm. But walk into a party and you?ll
see women in proper heels outnumbered by
sensible ones in smart, low-heeled and flat shoes,
and less sensible ones barefoot with their shoes
discarded in a corner. There?s a燿isconnect
between the shoes we buy for nights out and the
shoes we actually wear on nights out, which
suggests I?m not the only one whose shoe-buying
cortex required rewiring. I have finally graduated
from being the barefoot woman who has kicked
off her expensive new heels to the one in the
sensible jewelled flats.
The trouble with high heels is that they are such
gorgeous objects to look at. The slender curves of
a dagger heel, the thrill of a precipitous angle, are
irresistible. But we are not buying sculpture, we
are buying footwear. And while it is seductive to
identify with the high-maintenance attitude of
a爃igh heel, unless your credit card stretches to
a燾hauffeur service, it is a waste of money.
The need to winch yourself up on a stiletto to
look glamorous is fading with the advent of the
low-heel party shoe. The renaissance of the kitten
heel has been followed by a new generation of
block heel shoes that give you a tangible boost
that doesn?t spiral into agony. It is time to break
free of heel dependency. Carpe diem, two and
a爃alf inches at a爐ime. We can do this.
@JessC_M
PHOTOGRAPH: DAVID NEWBY FOR THE GUARDIAN. STYLING: MELANIE WILKINSON. HAIR AND MAKEUP: LAURENCE CLOSE AT CAROL HAYES MANAGEMENT
The Measure
Beauty
Sali
Hughes
I?m a convert: Trinny Woodall?s range is quick and easy
o one would have anticipated that one
of 2017?s most talked about beauty
launches would come from makeover
presenter Trinny Woodall ? including,
I imagine, Woodall herself. And yet I?m currently
fielding daily reader requests for my verdict on
her new capsule makeup line.
While Woodall has cannily reinvented herself
as a beauty enthusiast in recent months, I?ll admit
I was instinctively sceptical about her products,
the main selling point of which is packaging.
All but the tinted moisturiser are housed in
individual screw-top pots that snap into a stack,
allowing you to swap out colour combinations,
reducing or increasing your cargo according to
occasion and handbag. But, having worn Trinny
London for a week, I gladly concede there?s
a爂reat deal more to recommend it.
Cheekbones Contour Creams (�) ? in Kate (for
white/olive skin) and Sophia (for brown/black) ?
are damned near perfect, with each sufficiently
cool-toned to mimic shadow in recesses of the
face. They blend like a dream without brushes
or any real skill. Just A Touch (�; and matched
perfectly to my skin tone via the tool on the
brand?s cleverly designed website) is a silky balm
PORTRAIT: ALEX LAKE FOR THE GUARDIAN. MAKEUP: LAUREN OAKEY. HAIR: ELLA BASHFORD AT BADU
N
1
2
3
Try these
1 Lip Luxe, �
2 Eye2Eye Cream Eyeshadow, �
3 Just A Touch, �, all trinnylondon.com
that thins nicely to a sheer foundation, then
pats on as a light coverage concealer. There are
better individual products for each job, but the
concentrated dose and multifunctionality make
this extremely useful for travellers.
By ironic contrast, the pots of Lip Luxe (�),
while saturated with rich, creamy colour, are
much more fiddly than sweeping on traditional
lipstick. The Eye2Eye Cream Eyeshadows (�)
cope better with the packaging, applying neatly
and easily with fingertips. I find myself wearing
Chariot, a flattering blackened gold, frequently
for evening. Unusually, there are no duds here,
only the occasional ?meh? (Star, while perfectly
nice, would be hard to pick from a lineup).
A full six-stack, while expensive, does arrive
impressively packaged in luxury silver, making it
a perfect Christmas present for women who want
their beauty quick, easy and natural-looking. My
issue with Trinny London?s stacking revolution is
that, just as I wouldn?t wear one clothing designer
from head to toe, I?d always prefer to cherrypick
my makeup according to which brands excel in
each area. But if the concept appeals and your
budget allows, I doubt you?ll be disappointed.
@salihughes
The beauty roadtest
The
beauty roadtest
Examples
Toners
Leah Alexxanderr-Caine, 19,
All燗ges model
On every shoot, different products
are applied to my face, so I have no
way of tracking what?s going on to
my skin. I always use toner to make
sure everything is removed from
my face at the end of the day ? and
although I?ve been using the same
two toners for a year, I爓as excited
to try something new.
The Body Shop?s Seaweed
Oil-Balancing Toner (�50,
thebodyshop.com) has a refreshing
smell and is created for people, like
me, with oily/combination skin.
It?s alcohol-free, so doesn?t remove
too much of the natural oils. It?s a
pretty standard toner and good for
the price.
Liz Earle Instant Boost Skin
Tonic (�, lizearle.com) has a floral,
slightly citrus scent that is amazing.
After removing my makeup, I爈ike
to爑se a爐oner to cool my skin down
as it gets quite sensitive. This
one爈eft my skin feeling super clean
and soft.
I swear by Pixi Glow Tonic (�,
libertylondon.com). It makes
a燿ifference almost overnight.
The first time I used it, about five
months ago, I saw an immediate
change ? it sweeps away all dead
skin cells. It?s not too harsh and
definitely makes you glow.
Fresh?s Black Tea Age-Delay
Instant Infusion (�, harrods.com)
is moisturising, and very gentle on
skin. But as the most expensive
toner I tried, it was probably my
least favourite ? it just wasn?t as
spectacular as I thought it would
be. It has a luxurious smell, but
Pixi?s Glow Tonic is the one I would
recommend. It does everything it
says on the bottle ? and more.
Next week: All ages model Marc
Goldfinger on pore cleansers
The Guar
Guardian Weekend | 2 December 2017 89
Play with fire
A bottle of hot sauce takes
a dish to a higher level.
Photographs by Louise Hagger
Food
92 2 D
92
Dec
December
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ece
ec
em
mb
mbe
be
ber 2
2017
0117
017
0
17 | Th
Th
The
he
e Guard
Gu
G
Guardian
ua
arrrd
ard
diia
ian
an
a
n Weeke
We
W
Weekend
eek
ek
eke
ke
en
nd
d
with a half-teaspoon of salt and lots
of pepper, then add the tofu and toss
in the flour. Heat the oil in a large
saute pan on a medium-high flame.
Once hot, fry the tofu for three to
four minutes, turning the cubes every
minute or so, until golden brown all
over. Transfer to a wire rack lined
with kitchen paper, sprinkle with
salt, and wipe the pan clean.
Heat the sauce in the pan for a
minute, stirring, until bubbling, then
add the beans, stir for a爉inute more,
until hot, then take off the heat.
Gently stir in the tofu and herbs,
divide between four shallow bowls
and serve with lime wedges.�
I
Tofu and french beans with
chraimeh sauce
The sauce keeps in the fridge for
a爉onth, so make more than you
need for this: it?s fab with chicken
and fish, or even just for dipping
bread into as燼 snack. Serves four.
450g trimmed french beans
Salt and black pepper
50g plain flour
350g firm silken-style tofu, cut into
2-3cm cubes
3 tbsp sunflower oil
5g dill, roughly chopped
10g coriander, roughly chopped
For the sauce
6 garlic cloves, peeled and crushed
2 tsp sweet paprika
1 tbsp caraway seeds
1� tsp ground cumin
Spicy prawn and celeriac pasties
with hot sauce
A take on the Brazilian pastel. To take
down the spice levels, serve with
lemon. Makes about 15 small pasties.
Yotam Ottolenghi
?爐sp ground cinnamon
1 green chilli, deseeded
3 tbsp sunflower oil
3 tbsp tomato paste
2 tsp caster sugar
3 limes ? 2 juiced, to get 1� tbsp,
the爋ther cut into 4 wedges, to serve
For the sauce, put the garlic, spices,
chilli and two tablespoons of oil in the
small bowl of a爁ood processor, and
blitz to a thick paste. (You may need
a touch more oil to bring it together.)
Heat the remaining tablespoon
of爋il in a medium frying pan on
a爉edium-high flame. Stir-fry爐he
spice mix for 30 seconds, then add
the tomato paste and 250ml water,
and bring to a燽oil. Stir in the sugar,
lime juice, half a teaspoon of salt and
some pepper, then take off the heat.
Bring a medium saucepan halffilled with salted water to a boil,
then boil the beans for five to six
minutes, until cooked but still with
a slight bite. Drain and set aside.
Mix the flour in a medium bowl
For the dough
Fo
250g plain flour, plus extra for dusting
25
Salt
Sa
2 ttbsp olive oil
2 ttbsp white-wine vinegar
100 ml warm water
10
egg, beaten
1e
About 800ml vegetable oil, for frying
Ab
For the filling
Fo
2 tbsp olive oil
1 onion, peeled and finely diced
1 garlic clove, peeled and crushed
50g celeriac, peeled and roughly grated
1 green pepper, finely diced
200g peeled raw king prawns, half
roughly blitzed, the rest roughly chopped
� tsp sweet smoked paprika
� tsp onion powder
1 green chilli, finely chopped (deseeded,
if you don?t like too much heat)
1 tsp coriander seeds, toasted and
lightly crushed
Finely grated zest of 2 lemons
Salt
1 tsp Tabasco (or other good hot sauce),
plus extra to serve �
flame, then saute the onion, garlic
and celeriac for six minutes, until
soft and golden. Add the chopped
pepper, cook for four minutes, still
stirring, then tip into a爈arge bowl.
Add the other filling ingredients and
half a teaspoon of salt, and mix well.
Take the pastry out of the fridge 15
minutes before you?re ready to roll.
On a lightly floured worktop, roll out
the dough to 2-3mm thick. Using
a�cm-wide cookie cutter, cut out
circles of pastry: you should get
about 10 at the first go, but after
gathering together the trimmings,
re-rolling and cutting again, you
should end up with 15. Spoon just
over a tablespoon of filling into the
centre of each pastry circle, then
brush around the edges with the egg
wash. Fold over the pastry to make
half-moons, then press together the
edges with the back of a fork, to seal.
Half-fill a medium pot with the
vegetable oil (depending on the size
of your pot, you may end up with
more or less than 800ml). Gently
heat up the oil on a medium flame
until very hot, then lower in the
pasties five at a time (they should
sizzle if the oil?s hot enough). Fry
for爐wo minutes on each side, until
crisp and golden, then scoop out
with a slotted spoon and put on a tray
lined with kitchen paper. Serve hot
with extra Tabasco on the side.
Chicken wings St Claude
Start with the dough. In a large bowl,
mix the flour with a爐easpoon of salt.
Make a well in the centre and pour in
the oil. Mix the vinegar and water in
a small bowl, pour into the well, then
stir until you have a soft, smooth but
not wet dough. Tip out on to a lightly
floured worktop and knead for a few
minutes, until smooth and silky, then
wrap in clingfilm and refrigerate for
at least two hours (and up to 12).
For the filling, heat the oil in a large
nonstick pan on a medium-high
This dish is inspired by one I had at
Upperline in New Orleans: deep-fried
oysters with St Claude sauce. The
oysters were sublime, but the punchy
sauce ? an ingenious combination of
sweet, sour, savoury and spice ? stood
out even more. Even then, I had a
hunch it would work brilliantly with
crisp chicken wings. Serves four.
1.2kg chicken wings
75ml olive oil
Salt and black pepper ?
The Guardian Weekend | 2 December 2017 93
FOOD STYLING: EMILY KYDD. PROP STYLING: JENNIFER KAY
was tickled by a recent
interview with Wole
Soyinka, in which the
Nobel laureate revealed
that he never travels without his own
hot chilli sauce. The interview took
place over lunch in the UK, and
Soyinka had left his sauce in Russia,
where he?d just been, so when his
spaghetti vongole arrived, he pulled
out a substitute from his pocket:
a爌lump green chilli. ?This one I got
when I燼rrived in London,? he
explained, ?because I forgot my
paste in the fridge in Sochi.?�
I had a similar experience last
year, when a famous chef sat next to
me at a party cooked for by another
respected member of our profession
and attended by many others. When
dinner was served, this chef pulled
out a nifty case loaded with little
bottles of chilli oil and proceeded
ceremoniously, and not at all
discreetly, to apply different oils to
the various components on his
plate. ?You need to match the right
oil to each food,? he boomed. (Luckily,
our cook for the night was in the
kitchen while this was going on.)
Professional pride aside, I kind
of爏ee the famous chef?s point. Hot
sauces are a fast-track way to inject
savoury complexity and heat into
a燿ish; for those such as Soyinka and
my chef colleague, who travel a lot
and eat out all the time, they also
offer a safety net for flavour. Still, I?m
not sure I?d爓ant to be around if
either of them ever walks into one
of爉y restaurants. Would the fresh
chilli or燽ottle of oil emerge?
a爉edium, nonstick saute pan on
a爉edium-high flame, then cook half
the sauce for five minutes, stirring
often, until it thickens and reduces
by nearly half. (You want it to keep its
colour, so if it starts to turn brown,
take off the heat.) Set aside to cool.
Once the wings are cooked, put
them in a large bowl with any oil
from the tray. (You?ll use the lined
tray again, so don?t throw away the
paper just yet.) Pour the remaining
non-thickened sauce over the wings
and mix with a spatula until they?re
well coated. Return the wings to the
tray, again spaced apart, and roast
for 15 minutes more.
Once the reduced sauce has cooled,
add it to the soured cream in stages,
less than a tablespoon at a time, and
taste after each addition, to make
sure it?s not too hot for you. Put the
wings on a platter and serve hot with
a bowl of the sauce for dipping ?
10g parsley leaves
3 tbsp paprika
75ml hot sauce (I like Encona Hot
Pepper Sauce)
3 tbsp Worcestershire sauce
20 cloves garlic, peeled
1 lemon ? zested to get 1 tsp, then
juiced to get 2� tbsp
1� tsp maple syrup
90g soured cream, to serve
Heat the oven to 200C/390F/gas
mark 6. In a large bowl, toss the
chicken wings with 60ml oil, half
a爐easpoon of salt and a good grind
of pepper, then put on a 40cm
x�cm oven tray lined with baking
paper, making sure they?re spaced
apart. Roast for 40-45 minutes, until
crisp and golden brown.
Meanwhile, make the sauce. Put
the parsley, paprika, hot sauce,
Worcestershire sauce, garlic, lemon
zest, lemon juice and maple syrup in
the small bowl of a food processor,
and blitz to a smooth sauce the
consistency of passata. Heat the
remaining tablespoon of oil in
@ottolenghi
Yotam Ottolenghi is chef/patron of
Ottolenghi and Nopi in London.
Wine Fiona Beckett picks her top whites for the Christmas feast
3 Smoked salmon
Serve with
2 Scallops
DAN MATTHEWS FOR THE GUARDIAN
I
opulent Chassagne-Montrachet 2013
(13% abv, 2) makes you realise why
white burgundy is so sought after.
That?s �.49 from Waitrose Cellar
and �.20 from Lay & Wheeler,
while Jeroboams has it at �5 for
an爑nsplit case (ie, �.50 a bottle).
There is also, of course, chablis,
which is chardonnay in its leanest,
steeliest incarnation and which may
make it unnecessary to have any
other white at all (though it may be
a燽it sharp for those whose palates
are used to richer, more generous
wines). Sainsbury?s has worked with
the Brocard family for years and
their Chablis Sainte Celine 2015 (�;
1 Roast turkey
k
n an attempt to make life
a bit easier over the
festive season, last week
I suggested focusing on
a single type of red. But is there
a爍uintessential Christmas white?
I?m not sure there is, but there are
a couple of strong candidates. One
is燾hardonnay ? yes, chardonnay ?
which will go with the turkey and
other richly sauced dishes; the other
is sauvignon blanc. (We?re talking
wines that will keep the maximum
number of people happy, not
necessarily ones to impress any
oenophiles of your acquaintance.)
Chardonnay, in the form of white
burgundy, is my personal go-to with
roast turkey, and it doesn?t have to be
one of the fancier appellations, either
? a basic Bourgogne chardonnay such
as Domaine Thibert 2015 (�.99
Majestic, or �.99 on the mix-six
deal; 13% abv) would do the job
admirably, while the Wine Society?s
luscious, creamy Exhibition SaintAubin Blanc 2015 (13.5% abv, 1) is
a燽it of a steal (for burgundy) at �.
But if you wanted to splash out,
the爃ighly rated Jean-Marc Pillot?s
12.5% abv) is beautifully pristine ?
impeccable, as the French say. Good
now, but worth stashing some away
for next Christmas, when it will
almost certainly be more expensive.
Sauvignon will do the job with any
shellfish you might be thinking of
serving up, though I find pouillyfum� from the Loire better value
than the better-known sancerre.
Morrisons The Best Pouilly-Fum�
2016 costs � and is beautifully
crisp, clean and bright; Sainsbury?s
Taste The Difference Pouilly Fum�
(12.5% abv, 3) is good, too, at �.50.
Being fresh and zesty, sauvignon
also makes a good party wine,
a爎efreshing counterpoint to rich
food and hot rooms. Try Domaine
de L?Arjolle Sauvignon Blanc
Viognier (�50 Booths; 12% abv),
a燿elicious incarnation from the
Languedoc that just knocks off
sauvignon?s sharper edges. Or, for
a爎eal bargain, grab a爁ew bottles of
Morrisons The Best Rueda 2016
(12.5% abv), made in northern Spain
with the sauvignon-like verdejo, for
only � Can?t complain about that.
@winematcher
The good mixer
Lickety split
Picon is a French orange bitters that?s
great in beer. This makes enough
syrup for 10 drinks. Serves one.
2 sprigs rosemary, washed, picked and
chopped (this releases the oils)
125g honey
35ml hot water
15ml fresh lemon juice
15ml rosemary honey syrup
25ml Picon
35ml Kentucky bourbon (eg, Four Roses)
Red wine, to float (nothing too fancy)
For the syrup, infuse the rosemary
in the honey for 24 hours, strain, stir
in the hot water, leave to cool, then
jar. It?ll keep in the fridge for a week.
Fill a shaker with ice, add lemon,
syrup, Picon and bourbon, and shake
hard. Strain into a chilled highball
and add cracked ice to fill. Carefully
pour on the wine to float, and serve.
Behind This Wall, London E8
CHRISTMAS DESERVES LURPAK
�
The quick dish
Thomasina
Miers
Make black pepper the star of the show
was at the Good Life
Experience in north
Wales this autumn when
an old friend from school
thrust a mysterious package into my
hands. Intrigued, I opened it to find
a treasure trove in the shape of small
packets of black, red and white
peppercorns. But this was no
ordinary pepper: Kampot pepper,
from Cambodia, was awarded
protected geographical status in
2010, and is so floral and fruity in
flavour, it was once known as the
?king of pepper?. In the dark days
of爐he Khmer Rouge, this pepper all
but died out, but a small group of
producers have since worked
tirelessly to reintroduce it to the
world. The result is Kadode Kampot
pepper, which claims to be able to
trace each peppercorn right back to
the Cambodian farmer who grew it.
I slung a bundle of these
peppercorns in a mortar and rubbed
them all over my roast chicken the
other weekend, with fantastically
aromatic results. The proof, as ever,
is in the eating.
Roast chicken with black pepper,
oregano, bitter leaves and
jerusalem artichokes
The leaves collapse into the chicken
juices and provide a lovely, bitter
counterpoint to the sweet roast
artichokes. Serves six.
2 tsp black peppercorns
1 chicken (about 1.6kg)
Salt
1 large handful oregano (or thyme)
branches
8 garlic cloves, 3 peeled, the rest not
1 lemon, zested, halved, one half juiced
8 tbsp extra-virgin olive oil
750g jerusalem artichokes
150ml full-bodied dry white wine
1 large head trevise lettuce, cut into
eighths through the stem (or 2 heads
chicory, quartered lengthways)
LOUISE HAGGER FOR THE GUARDIAN. FOOD STYLING: EMILY KYDD. PROP STYLING: JENNIFER KAY
I
Heat the oven to its highest setting.
Smash the peppercorns to a powder
in a mortar and rub about a third of
the result all over the chicken with
half a爐easpoon of salt. Leave the
chicken out of the fridge while you
get on with everything else.
Strip the oregano leaves from
their stalks and roughly chop. Put
in爐he mortar with the three peeled
garlic cloves and a teaspoon of salt,
then grind to a rough paste. Pound
the lemon juice and all the zest into
the mix with half the olive oil. Stuff
the chicken with the other lemon
half and a third of the herb mix,
then rub two tablespoons of oil all
over the bird?s skin. Push another
third of the herb mix into the gap
between the chicken?s skin and the
flesh around the breast and thighs,
then set aside while you prep the veg.
Scrub clean the artichokes under
cold water (use a stiff brush or wire
wool), then cut in half lengthways
and put on an oven tray on which
they?ll fit comfortably in one layer.
Add the unpeeled garlic cloves to
the tray, then toss in the rest of the
herb mixture and the remaining two
tablespoons of olive oil, then add an
extra slug for luck. Put the chicken
in a roasting tin and add the wine.
Put both trays in the oven and
immediately turn down the heat to
190C/375F/gas mark 5. The chicken
needs 30 minutes a kilo (plus 15
minutes extra), the artichokes 45-50
minutes. The bird is cooked when
the juices from the thickest part of
the thigh run clear when pierced
with the tip of a small, sharp knife.
Twenty minutes before the end
of爐he cooking time, take the
chicken tin out of the oven and add
the trevise wedges, tossing them
gently in the pan juices. Return the
tin to the oven to finish cooking.
When the chicken has done its
time, remove from the oven, wrap
with tin foil and leave to rest for 10
minutes. If at this stage the
artichokes need more cooking ? they
should be caramelised, soft and
sticky ? keep them in the oven.
Carve the chicken and serve with
the roast artichokes, garlic and
trevise. I like this with Dijon
mustard and a crisp, green salad.
And for the rest of the week?
Leftover chicken goes very well with
any extra bitter leaves you may have
to hand. Toss with a sharp sherry
vinegar dressing and finely sliced
shallots, and serve with croutons
and homemade lemon mayo on the
side. And if you suffer from the, er,
side-effects of jerusalem artichokes,
try tossing them in a few pinches of
asafoetida: it?s said to work wonders.
@thomasinamiers
The Guardian Weekend | 2 December 2017 97
Space
98 2 December 2017 | The Guardian Weekend
The new
vegan
Meera
Sodha
once had a flatmate who
loved good food and
cooking, but had no
patience or time, so
everything she cooked was awful.
Tinned tomatoes were left watery
and raw, never to reach their full
rich and sweet potential, while her
pasta took al dente to a toothshattering extreme.
These days, we are too busy to
cook, so 15-minute dinners, ready
meals and recipe boxes have sprung
up to fit in around our fast lives.
Dinner has been made to squeeze in,
shuffle up and be a good team
player. But as often as I need cooking
to be quick, I also need it to be a slow
and selfish act, like a bath, a book or
a long walk, and to enjoy the process
as much as the end result.
When I have that time, it?s time
for mole, the dish that is the
cornerstone of Mexican cuisine and
famously complex. Typically, it can
take days to prepare: individually to
toast and grind the nuts, seeds,
fruits, spices and chillies, and then
to create a deep and flavourful sauce
using, among other things, one of
the original treasures of the Aztec
world: chocolate.
My recipe won?t take you days,
but it is one to make at the weekend.
Moles differ from village to village
and person to person, so use this as
a flexible template. Add more
ingredients to vary it as you wish:
nuts to make it creamy, fruit for
sweetness and chilli for heat. Just
don?t skimp on time.
I
Solutions
Quiz 1 Ruth Prawer Jhabvala.
2 Venice.
3 Skull.
4 Charles Taylor (former
Butternut
squash and black
bean mole with limepickled onions
In my mole, I use Mexican ancho
chillies, which are big, dried and
wonderfully smoky. You can buy
them in large supermarkets and
online at the likes of souschef.co.uk.
If you have pickled onions left over,
they?ll keep in an airtight tub in
the爁ridge for a few days. You?ll
need燼 blender to make the sauce.
Serves four.
2 red onions
4 tbsp lime juice (from 2 limes)
Salt
president爋f Liberia).
5 Nando?s.
6 Curling.
7 Canada (Quebec).
8 Dinosaur fossil.
9 GB flag bearer at Summer Olympics.
10 Artworks by Gillian Wearing.
11 Musical posts of Simon Rattle.
1 medium
butternut squash,
deseeded, cut in half
lengthways and cut into 1cm
semi-circles
Rapeseed oil
2 dried ancho chillies, roughly chopped
2 red chillies, roughly chopped
2 cloves garlic, peeled and roughly
chopped
2 tbsp raisins
3 tbsp raw unsalted peanuts
� stick cinnamon
1 tsp cumin seeds
400g tin plum tomatoes
400g tin black beans, drained
30g vegan dark chocolate (I use
Montezuma)
12 Purple expressions: p prose; born
in the p; p patch; p, musically.
13 Nicknames of Clint Eastwood?s
Man With No Name in Dollars trilogy.
14 States in Austria.
15 Endlings, last of their species.
Crossword See right.
Heat the oven to 200C/390F/gas
mark 6. Peel one of the onions, cut it
into very thin semi-circles and put
in a bowl with the lime juice and
three-quarters of a teaspoon of salt.
Scrunch the mix with your hands,
until slightly wilted, then set aside.
Put the squash on an oven tray,
scatter over a quarter-teaspoon of salt
and drizzle with three tablespoons of
oil. Toss with your hands, to coat the
squash, then roast for 25 minutes,
until tender.
For the sauce, peel and cut the
second onion into eighths and put
on an oven tray. Scatter over the
chillies, garlic, raisins, peanuts,
cinnamon and cumin, then roast for
six to eight minutes: keep a close
eye on it, to ensure it doesn?t burn.
Tip the roasted ingredients into
a燽lender with the tomatoes and
their juice and three-quarters of
a爐easpoon of salt. Whizz to a paste.
Heat two tablespoons of oil in
a爓ide frying pan on a medium
flame, then add the paste, turn the
heat to a whisper and cook for 15
minutes, feeding it with 150ml water,
a little at a time, adding more only
when the sauce starts to thicken.
Add爐he beans, reserving a handful
to garnish the dish, and heat through.
Take the sauce off the爃eat, grate in
the chocolate and stir through.
Adjust the seasoning to爐aste.
Tip the sauce into a serving dish,
put the squash on top, and scatter
with the reserved beans and drained
onions. Serve with soft corn tortillas.
@meerasodha
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A D L I
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F A I T
V
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M E X I
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The Guardian Weekend | 2 December 2017 99
PHOTOGRAPH: LOUISE HAGGER FOR THE GUARDIAN. FOOD STYLING: EMILY KYDD. PROP STYLING: JENNIFER KAY
Sometimes, it?s good to take it slow ? and be rewarded with deep, ?avourful food
Space
100 2 December 2017 | The Guardian Weekend
Restaurants
Felicity
Cloake
?It?s one of those irritating menus where everything appeals, except for the lamb?s tongue?
t may be a dream job, but
this reviewing lark is, I?ve
realised, a爏urprisingly
nerve-racking business:
there?s too much blood, sweat and
cold hard cash invested in燼ny
restaurant simply to enjoy a爂ood
dinner, then dash off the requisite
word count on the bus home. In
Wreckfish?s case, the responsibility
weighs especially heavy: 1,522
people, including a fair few big
culinary cheeses, coughed up to help
Gary Usher open his new place in
Liverpool, making it Kickstarter UK?s
biggest restaurant campaign to date.
Admittedly, not many of them are
there to keep a beady eye on me爋n
this particular midweek lunchtime.
But if the big communal table in the
centre remains empty, we?re by no
means alone: not only are there the
chefs in爐he open kitchen to keep us
company, but on the next table, as
if爐o hammer home the point that
this is a relaxed bistro, sits a toddler,
merrily working her way through
the adventures of Peppa Pig while her
parents eat. A couple of pensioners
are getting stuck into some juicy
gossip and a bottle of wine over by
the door, through which the
occasional passer-by pops to make
a爎eservation. It?s been open for only
a燾ouple of weeks, but this former
watchmaker?s workshop in the city?s
cobbled merchant quarter already
feels like part of the local furniture.
The genuinely warm and friendly
staff should take much of the credit;
indeed, the waitress who goes to find
out how the kitchen makes a pork
cutlet taste like that ? sorry, Peppa
?爏eems as excited as we are by the
answer (the secret involves brine and
steam, if you?re interested. And you
ought to be). Hospitality is clearly
taken seriously here: the elegant
chairs are, my friend observes,
unusually comfortable, and perfect
for relaxing into with a cold glass of
REBECCA LUPTON FOR THE GUARDIAN (2)
I
rye pale ale from the Liverpool Craft
Beer Co and some vast green olives.
But I can?t appreciate either until
we finish arguing over the menu. It?s
one of those irritating numbers
where almost everything appeals,
with the definite exception,
apparently, of the crispy lamb?s
tongues: ?Sorry, I爅ust can?t.? Of
course, this means I燼bsolutely
must, and I graciously allow her to
play it safe with chicken liver pat�.
She?s right: you can tell a爈ot about a
restaurant by its pat�.
Unfortunately, I like it more than
she does: as pink, rich and smooth
as a slab of prettily blushing butter,
with only the politest suggestion of
offal, it comes paired with an
aggressively oniony pear and apple
chutney, but deserves to be enjoyed
solo: it?s a theory I put into practice
after finishing my own starter, which
arrives in neatly breaded commas,
not in the least like a tongue. The
pleasure lies largely in the contrast
between this crunchy coating and
the plumply yielding flesh within;
the faintly lamby flavour needs the
sharpness of the accompanying
pickled walnuts to carry it, though
I?m not sure the pear puree and
peanuts bring much to the party.
(Obviously, I?m unable to get
a爏econd opinion on this.)
My friend wins the next round
with that pork cutlet: it?s a real
beauty, juicy, soft and emphatically
porky, with snappy green beans and
a puddle of subtle, silky chorizo
sauce. It?s so good it puts my turnip
cakes (one of four vegetarian
options)爁irmly in the shade, which
isn?t as easy as it sounds: lighter
than the Chinese variety, these
have燼 clean, attractive bitterness
that really sings in combination
with爐he punchy pomegranate
Wreck?sh
Food ?????
Atmosphere ????
Value for money ?????
Slater Street, Liverpool, 0151-707 1960.
Open all week 7am-10pm (10.30pm Fri &
Sat). Set lunch, 3 courses for �; dinner
about � a head, plus drinks and service
molasses dressing on the
accompanying beetroot and leaves.
For all her claims to have been
finished off by the pork, the
opposition scores a hat-trick with
a爓arm marmalade sponge, its open,
almost suety crumb drenched in
gloriously bittersweet orange syrup.
It?s a very fine thing indeed, and all
the better for its simplicity. My
matcha tea mousse with salty
granola, sharp apple sorbet and
a爏plash of something dark and
treacley feels more like a cryptic
crossword of ingredients: clever
cooking, but hard work.
The bill, when it comes, reads like
the kind of joke that isn?t that funny
to a Londoner: three interesting,
satisfying courses for � a head.
Prices in the evening are more
familiar, but still good value
considering the location and quality
of the cooking. Wreckfish, according
to its Kickstarter campaign, is named
for ?a fish that lives at the bottom of
the sea?. On the strength of our meal,
it doesn?t seem likely to stay lurking
in the briny deep for long.
@felicitycloake
The Guardian Weekend | 2 December 2017 101
Gardens
Alys
Fowler
Winter window boxes to brighten dark days
What to do this week
GAP PHOTOS; ALAMY
Try this If you?re sick of the
same爋ld offerings of seed
catalogues, join the Heritage Seed
Library instead. Members pick
six packets爋f rare heritage veg,
from ?St George?燾auliflower to
broad bean ?Beryl?. The HSL is
run by the charity燝arden燨rganic
and its annual seed爈ist has just
come out, so爄t?s a great time to
buy membership for爕ourself or
a爂ardening-mad friend. Details
at爂ardenorganic.org.uk/hsl.
ou are a fickle lot: in summer, you
had pots full of annuals and window
boxes dripping with colour, but
when the first frost came along you
and your bedding gave up the ghost. A pot halffull of compost will not lift your soul on a dark
December morning, but something in flower may.
The selection for winter bedding plants is
limited; the obvious choices are violas and
pansies. In the darkest days of December and
January, they don?t flower much, coming back
into play as the days lengthen, so the best
displays will have something else in the pot,
such as erica species heathers that flower from
December to April. The white and cream is the
least offensive and can be incorporated among
ivies and cyclamen to create a restrained look.
I can?t stand the pompom bedding daisies,
Bellis perennis, but I won?t judge you if you go
there; they remain buoyant in bad weather. I?m
fond of winter-flowering cyclamen, C. coum.
I like those stout little flowers, often in pink
or magenta, that appear even in the severest
weather, and even if these halt for a bit they
have pretty, silver-marked leaves. I bought deepcrimson flowering ones from my local garden
centre and potted them up into terracotta pots
an inch or so wider than the pots they came in.
Between these, I planted cut-leaved ivies and
butcher?s parsley, the curly kind, which is hardier
than the flat-leaved sort, again in old terracotta
Y
pots. It?s a cheap, simple and strangely satisfying
combination that will hold through winter.
Cyclamen are tough, but liable to grey mounds,
which can cause the plant to collapse and fuzzy
grey mould to appear. Check the base for signs of
fuzz and steer clear of it; it spreads quickly.
A number of shrubs and perennials can be used
as bedding, such as small pots of dwarf cultivars
of Skimmia japonica. These make dense gloves
of leathery, green leaves and white, green or
pink flower heads that appear in winter, bursting
in early spring with a heady sweet scent. These
shrubs want to grow larger than the pot in which
they are sold, so when they finish flowering put
them in the garden or bigger pots. There will
be pots of winter-flowering hellebores, such
as Helleborus x hybridus and Christmas rose,
H.爊iger, which will flower from late winter. These
plants aren?t going to do much growing and won?t
need feeding, but, as they won?t get their roots
down, they rely on you for watering.
Finally, winter cheer shouldn?t come at a wider
cost ? cheaply produced bedding plants are often
grown in peat and with lots of chemicals. Local
independent garden centres and horticultural
charities are a better bet for homegrown,
pesticide- or peat-free plants. The market will
change through demand and the bees that fly
on warmer winter days need a clean meal just
as爉uch as you need a little cheer.
@AlysFowler
Clean this You may feel virtuous
filling up the bird feeder this
winter, but when was the爈ast
time you gave it a clean? Garden
birds are susceptible to diseases
such as trichomonosis, spread
by poor hygiene around bird
tables and baths, so wash爕ours
in爃ot,爏oapy爓ater or use
Ark-Klens燿isinfectant.
Plant this The silk-tassel bush,
Garrya elliptica ?James Roof?,
makes a fine display from this
month right through to March, its
long, silvery catkins falling from
leathery, evergreen leaves. It needs
a sheltered spot, but doesn?t mind
shade or full sun. It gets big (expect
at least 3m x 3m) but you can train it
as a wall shrub, keeping it in bounds
by pruning after flowering.
Jane Perrone
The Guardian Weekend | 2 December 2017 105
Space
Let?s
move to
GETTY IMAGES
Whitby, North Yorkshire: the best place I?ve ever been
hat?s going for it? You do know, don?t
you, that when I write these columns,
I don?t always want to actually move
to the places? Is that like me pulling
back the curtain on the Wizard of Oz? Whitby is
the real deal. I really want to move to Whitby.
Really really really really. If only there was a
market demand for middle-aged architectural
historians with a love of Kate Bush and Kraftwerk
at the Whitby jobcentre. This town is close to
my heart. Quite possibly the best place I have
ever been, so don?t you lot be mean about it in
the online comments. Why? Behold, my list. Red
pantiles. The best fish and chips (see below).
A爈ighthouse in the shape of a gigantic classical
column! The north-eastishness of it. The fact
that it points towards Norway. Old lanes. Lovely
tackiness. The moors. The most wonderful of
beaches. Oh, crikey, St Mary?s church! I could go
on. Go on then. Dracula, the Goths in autumn,
ooh, and that old sweet shop on...
The case against If I must. It really is quite an
effort to get to, unless you live in Scarborough.
But sometimes the best things require a little
effort. Pricier than its surroundings.
Well connected? Not its forte. Trains: at least
there?s a station, though three hours to York is a
bit of a joke; otherwise, a beautiful journey through
the moors several times a day to Middlesbrough
(90 minutes). Driving: Scarborough 40 minutes;
Middlesbrough an hour; York 90 minutes.
Schools Primaries: West Cliff, Stakesby
Community, Airy Hill Community, St Hilda?s
RC, Ruswarp CofE, East Whitby are ?good?, says
Ofsted. Secondaries: Caedmon College is ?good?.
W
106 2 December 2017 | The Guardian Weekend
Hang out at? Magpie, Magpie, Magpie. Everyone
says Magpie is the best for fish and chips, and it is
good. But everyone else knows Quayside is better.
Where to buy The old town, its terraces clinging to
both sides of the banks of the Esk, is sardined full
of delightful stone cottages and town houses, some
dating back to the 16th century. Up the hill to the
north-west is the more seasidey West Cliff, with
18th- and 19th-century town houses and terraces;
North Promenade along the cliff top. Large
detacheds and town houses, �0,000-�0,000.
Detacheds and smaller town houses, �0,000�0,000. Semis, �0,000-�0,000. Terraces
and cottages, �0,000-�0,000. Flats, �,000�0,000. Rentals: not much ? a one-bed flat,
�0-�0pcm.
Bargain of the week A magnificent four-bed
semi in need of an update. �5,000, with
jacksonspropertyservice.co.uk. Tom Dyckhoff
From the streets
David Vanstone ?Rusty Shears on Silver Street,
the first person in 15 years to make a success of
this courtyard cafe. Homemade food and cakes,
quirky art, and a fascinating range of gins.?
Sheila Cowley ?Wonderful beaches.?
Carol Olivier ?The Fuzzy Dog bakery in
Flowergate: a bakery for dogs.?
Do you live in Lichfield, Staffordshire? Do you have
a爁avourite haunt or pet hate? If so, please email
lets.move@theguardian.com by next Tuesday.
All the places I?ll never live
Coco Khan
I wake at 2am to a call from my
BFF. ?He?s in the kitchen now...
with strangers,? she whispers. She
tells me that earlier the police had
phoned, looking for him (her new
flatmate), saying he needs to report
to a police station immediately.
?He?s coming upstairs,? she says.
?I?d燽etter go and speak to him.?
As I lie in the dark, panic begins
to set in. What do we really know
about this man? If only I had
some燼dvice. I reach for my phone:
?Siri, what to do if your flatmate is
secretly a criminal??
Siri replies: ?OK, I found this
on the web for Michael Jackson?s
Smooth Criminal.?
By now I?m up and pacing around,
my mind tripping over possibilities.
A drug lord, I conclude. He seemed
like a normal bartender, sharing a
post-shift nightcap on the patio with
colleagues, but maybe that?s an act.
?Do you have a panic room?? I text.
?You are very weird,? she replies.
But in the realm of living with
strangers, maybe a panic room isn?t
such a bad idea. Like this four-bed
luxury country house complete
with 2.75 acres. Valued upwards of
�5,000, it?s no wonder it includes
hefty security: electric gates, camera
doorbell and a ?strong room?: perfect
for protecting your most valued
possessions and people, should
your mind get carried away over an
everyday call regarding an unpaid
speeding ticket. Maybe I should cut
back on the TV crime dramas.
@cocobyname
Body
System
upgrade
PHOTOGRAPH: KELLIE FRENCH; ILLUSTRATION: LO COLE, BOTH FOR THE GUARDIAN
Zoe Williams recruits a professional sober person
have been considering ? no promises
? a sober rerun for December. For
this, I need a sobriety coach, which
is a real thing. Dr Bunmi Aboaba is
transitioning out of dentistry into sober coaching/
companionship (thesoberadvantage.com). So
I燿evised four scenarios in which sobriety is not
humanly possible and deposited them before
her. They are all real-life events from this coming
weekend, so you will be able to see my problem.
Scenario 1: people are coming to dinner. Not
drinking would feel like having a pool party
and announcing that I have a verruca. Aboaba
says, ?It?s better to be honest with people and
say, ?I?m爊ot drinking until Christmas, but I?ve
got some non-alcoholic cocktails.?? What, you
mean they can?t drink, either? ?It depends on the
severity of your drink problem.? OK, say I don?t
mind if they drink. ?Just get them to bring their
own alcohol.? I don?t mind buying them alcohol.
?OK,爐he important thing is not that they bring it,
but that爐hey take it away when they leave.?
Scenario 2: very dear friends are celebrating
a燽ig achievement (10th wedding anniversary).
?Say you?re drinking vodka and tonic, when really
it?s just tonic; say you had a big night last night;
say you?re on antibiotics; say you?re driving; say
you?re sobercurious.? Sobercurious I like best,
plainly invented to sound like bicurious and
therefore racy. But I was pregnant-not-drinking
at their wedding and I feel a responsibility to
rouge my knees and roll my stockings down, as
they say in the musicals. ?That begs a question
I
about yourself. Some people drink because their
boundaries are all over the place; they?re trying
to please other people, when other people don?t
care.? My friend Marie, who has just come out of
NOvember (which I believe she made up), says
this is bollocks. Other people hate it when they
don?t drink. I hate it when they don?t drink.
Scenario 3: my mister has been working on
something for two years and finished it, and it is
brilliant, and now he would like to go to the pub.
?Have a virgin mojito.? And pretend it?s real?
?No, it just looks nice in a wine glass.? That?s not
the same. ?Look, relationships can break down.
Sometimes it?s not really a relationship ? you?re
just drinking buddies.? No, I promise, it?s real.
?Maybe invite someone else and they can drink
with him?? It?s a bit Handmaid?s Tale, but OK.
Scenario 4: I?m going to a party which happens
every year, at which, historically, I have been lit
up like the Commonwealth. ?Do not go to this
party.? Seriously? ?You?ll get euphoric recall.
You?re going to drink,? Aboaba says.
Marie says I have to strategise better and not
end up in any of these scenarios. ?You have
to break your routine. Which was easy for us,
because our routine was to go to the pub every
night at the same time.? Aww, it sounds so Gina
Ford. Contented Little Adults.
@zoesqwilliams
This week I learned
There are more teetotallers in Britain in 2017 than
ever before ? 21% of the population.
My life in sex
The woman trying
for a baby
My husband and I had the hottest
sex life when we started dating.
We were in our late 20s and early
30s, but you?d have thought we
were teenagers, doing it every day.
This continued after we moved in
together a year later. I have always
had a ?try anything once? attitude,
and together we were open to
exploring anything that brought us
pleasure. Because I was almost 34,
18 months into our relationship we
decided to stop using birth control
and just ?see what happens?.
From that point on, the sex
became even more passionate and
intense, as we envisioned the life
we were potentially creating. It was
not only hot, but full of excitement
and hope. But after numerous
negative pregnancy tests and
two miscarriages, we reluctantly
moved into the world of assisted
reproduction.
We went from sort of eyeing
the calendar to ensure we had sex
when爓e needed to, to following
strict schedules of sex and
abstinence regulated by nurses
and doctors. Sex was no longer
spontaneous and fun, but rather
something of a chore. We got to the
point where we rarely did it unless
it was prescribed. Our sex life was
pretty much dead.
Now, almost three years later,
we爃ave just completed our second
round of IVF and are anxiously
awaiting the results. So we are
trying to find our sex life again.
We are still working on not seeing
it as a燾hore, rediscovering the
sexual beings we once were and the
pleasure sex brought us, but we?ll
find our new rhythm ? until a baby
disrupts it all over again.
Each week, a reader tells us about
their sex life. Want to share yours?
Email sex@theguardian.com
The Guardian Weekend | 2 December 2017 107
Diary
Howard
Jacobson
?An irritable queue would once have been the clue to a post o?ce?s whereabouts?
he gauge of a healthy
society is how long you
have to queue in a post
office to buy a stamp.
There will be societies in which
people forced to wait more than five
minutes machete their way through
the queue and demand a secondclass stamp at gunpoint. Such, we can
agree, are unhealthy societies. At the
other extreme are Australian post
offices, which make a point of having
more than one person serving, sell
an attractive range of mail boxes,
don?t double as social security
advice centres and aren?t located
in the back room of a convenience
store. Somewhere in between, but
closer to the bottom than the top, is
T
this country ? assuming you can find
a post office to buy a stamp from.
An irritable queue would once
have been the clue to a post office?s
whereabouts, but queues are
universal now. Queues for T-shirts,
skateboards, trainers, sweatshirts,
hoodies, bubblewrap waffles, yoga
mats, even Lego. Word gets out on
social media ? new hoodies just in at
such and such a place ? and within
minutes there?s a craze, a爏hortage
and a queue. But the difference
between a trainer queue and a stamp
queue is the level of anticipation
before and the degree of customer
satisfaction after. No matter how
badly you need a stamp, when
you?ve finally got one, you don?t
hang around outside the post office
swaggering like Billy Connolly in his
incontinence pants, or post a selfie on
Instagram of you licking the back of it.
Fundamental to the smooth
workings of a free society are such
amenities as being able to buy a
train ticket before the train leaves,
receiving welfare before you starve,
seeing a doctor before you die, having
someone fix the problems with your
broadband before you forget your
password. Despotic governments
make people wait ? in line or at
the end of their tether ? in order to
create an atmosphere of shortage
and dejection. This is Phase One in
the demoralisation of the populace.
When you?ve broken your citizens?
spirits, you can do pretty much
whatever you like with them.
Things aren?t quite so bad in our
liberal capitalist democracy unless
we are at the very bottom of the
pecking order. Then you queue for
a燿oorway to sleep in. But even
higher up the scale of desolation, we
are subjected to the daily contumely
of service providers not providing
a service. Maybe it?s revenge: you
keep me waiting for a waffle, I?ll
keep you waiting for a stamp. And so
the baton of grumbling discontent is
passed from hand to hand.
There is an answer to this. Refuse
to join a line. Forget sovereignty over
our country: what about restoring
sovereignty over ourselves?
GETTY IMAGES
Puzzles Crossword by Sy and Thomas Eaton?s quiz. Answers on page 99
Across
7 US retail chain
founded in 1969 (3,3)
8 On The ......
Of 3, seminal
work by Charles
Darwin (6)
9 Another name for
bean curd (4)
10 See 11
11/10 Comedian
whose debut Radio 4
show was named for
22�(7,8)
13 14th-century
Franciscan friar
known爁or
his philosophical
razor�(5)
16 Words spoken
by an燼ctor but not
found爄n the text of
a爌lay (2,3)
17 State in southeastern Germany (7)
19 Old ........, geyser
in燳ellowstone
national park, US (8)
21 The Russian
parliament (4)
23 Country bordered
by the US and
Guatemala (6)
24 Site of a congress
that was held in
1814-1815 to establish
post-Napoleonic
terms of peace in
Europe (6)
Down
1 River that joins
the燤ississippi at
Cairo�(4)
2 Lamb of God in�
Latin (5,3)
3 1995 science fiction
movie starring Natasha
Henstridge (7)
4 Julianne ....., star of
Still Alice (2014) (5)
5 Range of conditions
caused by infection
with HIV (4)
6 Pacific islands state,
108 2 December 2017 | The Guardian Weekend
1
2
3
4
7
6
8
9
11
5
10
12
13
14
15
16
17
18
19
20
23
capital Tarawa (8)
12 Australian tennis
legend (3,5)
14 Raymond ........,
author of the Philip
Marlowe novels (8)
15 Anna ......., Russian
prima ballerina
(1881-1931) (7)
18 Zac ....., star of
21
22
24
the 2017 version of
Baywatch (5)
20 ?Double, double ....
and trouble?, from the
Song of the Witches in
Macbeth (4)
22 Charity once
known as the National
Association for Mental
Health (4)
1 Which writer won
the燘ooker prize and
two Oscars?
2 Which city is
married爐o the sea
each爕ear?
3 Where in the body is
the ethmoid bone?
4 Which former
African爈eader
is an爄nmate of
Frankland爌rison?
5 Barci the cockerel
is the symbol
of爓hat爎estaurant
chain?
6 A burned stone
is燼爃azard in
what爏port?
7 Joual is spoken
where爄n North
America?
8 In 1824, geologist
William Buckland
gave the first
scientific燿escription
of what?
What links:
9 Andy Murray, 2016;
Chris Hoy, 2012;
Mark燜oster, 2008;
Kate Howey, 2004?
10 I?m Desperate;
60 Minutes Silence;
Confess All On Video;
The Garden?
11 CBSO; Berlin
Philharmonic; LSO,
from 2017?
12 Over-elaborate
form爋f writing;
birth into privilege;
run of luck;
Haze or Rain?
13 Joe; Manco;
Blondie?
14 Styria; Vorarlberg;
Carinthia; Burgenland?
15 Martha the
passenger pigeon;
Celia the
Pyrenean ibex;
Benjamin the
Tasmanian tiger?
Space
HANDMADE SOLID
WOOD BEDS
Furniture, Homewares & Gifts
W W W. N AT U R A L B E D C O M PA N Y. C O . U K
DEVONSHIRE POINT, 123-125 FITZWILLIAM ST SHEFFIELD, S1 4JP. 0114 272 1984
The Guardian Weekend | 2 December 2017 109
Back
That?s
me爄n the
picture
Danny Devine plays outside his house, Belfast, 1981
rowing up, I had a lot
of toy guns. This one
is a Ruger, but my M16
rifle was my favourite:
I am only three years old in this
picture, but I knew all their names.
I saw British soldiers holding guns
every day, so I must have copied
them. They would shelter in our
?hallway?, what we called a porch
? we would have to push past them,
saying, ?Excuse me? when we
went out to the shops. Like hearing
gunshots and bombs explode, it
was normal. We were aware of the
war going on around us from a very
young age.
I lived on Beechmount Avenue,
off the Falls Road; it was known
locally as RPG Ave after the rocketpropelled grenade launcher often
fired from there. I?m standing
outside our terraced house. My
mum had me so spick and span ?
you can see my shirt, my hair, and
the creases in my trousers.
1981 was a tragic year in Irish
history at the hands of the
Margaret燭hatcher government,
so爐ensions in our area were high.
We had very negative feelings
towards the army, as you can see
from my expression. On the day
this picture was taken, my father
recollects that there was a hive of
activity with a lot of the windows in
the street smashed by British army
plastic baton rounds. You can see
the state of the streets with glass
and debris everywhere.
We all knew people who had
lost爐heir lives. When I was 15, in
December 1993, a燽oy爁rom my
football team, Brian燚uffy, was shot
dead. It was sad, and we all went to
the funeral. I felt real hatred toward
those who did it ?燽ut爄t felt slightly
normal, too. Life went on.
As a child, I thought it was
inevitable that I would be involved
in the war when I grew up, but
HOMER SYKES
G
?I saw British
soldiers holding
guns every
day, so
I must have
copied them?
110 2 December 2017 | The Guardian Weekend
thankfully, through great parental
guidance, the change in times and
a good education, I managed to
avoid this fate. My parents wanted
something different for me: they
explained everything, never hid the
truth from me. They always said:
?Think for yourself.?
I went to university in Belfast
where, for the first time, I met
people outside my childhood
circle. Then I left home at 19 with
a best friend and went to France,
where I worked in an Irish bar.
I爉et some great English friends,
mostly Mancunians, which changed
my outlook on British people
completely: my only previous
experience of them was the army.
They convinced me to follow them
back to Manchester, where I now
live with my Iranian/English wife
and two children.
When I look at this photograph,
I爁eel proud to have come from that
area, and how much I?ve changed
from that boy. And proud of how
fearless I look, and how welldressed I am. But I?m also taken
aback by my military stance. In
another picture, taken seconds later,
I am screaming into the camera ?
when I first saw it, it broke my heart.
I have a daughter aged three, and
to see me as a boy at her age really
struck a nerve. I can see why my
parents were so keen to steer me
down a different path.
When I show friends and family
where I grew up, and take them to
the flashpoints, they are amazed.
Today, there are memorials on
walls, where each little community
remembers their dead. I?m glad that
time is over, and other kids growing
up in Northern Ireland don?t have to
experience what I did.
Interview: Hannah Booth
Are you in a notable photograph?
Email爐hatsme@theguardian.com
ning to influencing behaviour?. The first
stage is active listening ? namely, being able to
show the other person that you have taken in
what they?ve said and, more importantly, have a
sense of what it means to them.
Rather than focusing on what you want to say,
listen to what the other person is telling you, then
try to repeat it back to them. Start with, ?It seems
like what you?re saying is? or ?Can I just check, it
sounds like what you?re saying is?. If that feels
too contrived, it often works simply to repeat the
last sentence or thought someone has expressed
(known in counselling practice as ?reflecting?).
What to say Try, ?It seems like you?re feeling
frustrated with this situation ? is that right??
Always give the other person the opportunity
to燾omment on or correct your assessment.
Do use: Hello
??Hello? is a really important word that can change
the course of a conversation,? Stokoe says. ?It?s
about how you respond to people who are what
we call ?first movers? ? people who say something
really critical, apropos of nothing.? It might be the
work colleague who steams up to your desk with
a complaint or the neighbour who launches into
a爎ant about parking as you?re putting out the bins.
?What do you do with that person? Rather than
respond in the same manner, saying something
nice, such as a very bright ?Hello!?, derails and
socialises that other person a little bit.?
What to say Use it when you want to resist getting
into a confrontation. ?You have to be careful not
to sound too passive-aggressive,? Stokoe says,
?but just one friendly word in a bright tone can
delete the challenge of the conversation.? ?
The Guardian Weekend | 2 December 2017 77
Weekending
fashion beauty
food mind
space gardens
puzzles
KATHERINE ANNE ROSE, JILL MEAD, BOTH FOR THE GUARDIAN
Blind date Tom, 32, emergency ambulance crew, and Lara, 26, events o?cer
Tom on Lara
Lara on Tom
What were you hoping for?
Deep conversation with
a爎omantic spark. Failing
that, a drinking buddy.
First impressions?
Pretty, smart, good-natured.
What did you talk about?
The joy of Harry Potter
books, family politics, why
Americans are crazy,
existential angst and could
you eat animal testicles?
Any awkward moments?
A few pauses at the start but
we soon got warmed up.
Good table manners?
Far better than mine. I tried
to coax her into finger food.
Best thing about Lara?
Down-to-earth, and values
family and friends dearly.
Would you introduce her
to爕our friends?
Probably not: I don?t think
she?d be up for playing spoof
for sambuca shots.
Describe Lara in three words
Grounded, organised, (a bit
of a) homebody.
What do you think she made
of you?
A bit of a drifter, who
possibly drinks too much
and asks prying questions.
Did you go on somewhere?
No, I just walked her back to
the tube as it was late.
And? did you kiss?
No.
If you could change one
thing about the evening,
what would it be?
Should have gone with the
finger food ? cutlery makes
it爁eel too formal.
Marks out of 10?
6.
Would you meet again?
I think it?s unlikely: we had
very little common ground.
What were you hoping for?
A fun evening.
First impressions?
He seemed like a friendly,
chatty guy.
What did you talk about?
Past jobs, holidays, family,
hobbies, Peaky Blinders.
Any awkward moments?
There was a table mix-up,
so爓e ended up bumping into
each other in the foyer.
Good table manners?
Very good ? he didn?t get his
phone out once.
Best thing about Tom?
He was easy to talk to.
Would you introduce him
to爕our friends?
I don?t see why not.
Describe Tom in three words
Friendly, outdoorsy, genuine.
What do you think he made
of爕ou?
I?m not too sure, because we
had really different interests.
Did you go on somewhere?
He walked me to my station.
And? did you kiss?
No.
If you could change one thing
about the evening, what
would it be?
Nothing, we just didn?t click.
Marks out of 10?
7.
Would you meet again?
Not romantically.
He didn?t
get his
phone out
once
I tried to
coax her into
?nger food
Tom and Lara ate at the
Trading House, London EC2,
thetradinghouse.uk.com.
Fancy a blind date? Email
blind.date@theguardian.com.
If you?re looking to meet
someone like-minded, visit
soulmates.theguardian.com
The Guardian Weekend | 2 December 2017 79
Dress this way
80 2 December 2017 | The Guardian Weekend
It?s party time ?
and all that glitters is
good. Photographs
by Elliott Morgan.
Styling by
Melanie Wilkinson
Fashion
The
Th
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Gua
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17 81
81
185篶
232篶
Bright eyes
Velvet dress (previous
pages, left), �5, by Tibi,
from matchesfashion.
com. Earrings, �0,
alighieri.co.uk.
Sunglasses, from a
selection, by Gucci, from
net-a-porter.com.
Sitting pretty
Shirt (previous pages,
right), �, cosstores.
com. Sequin dress, �8,
jcrew.com. Boots, �9,
kurtgeiger.com.
Hair: Shukeel at Frank
Agency using Hair by
Sam McKnight. Makeup:
Martina Lattanzi at
One Represents using
Nars Cosmetics. Model:
Annelies at Storm.
Shot爋n location at
Sketch, London W1.
Glow on
Ruffle dress (below),
�5, by Paula Knorr,
from matchesfashion.
com. Boots and tights,
stylist?s own.
Sleek peek
Dress (right), �.99,
mango.com. Platforms,
�9, essentiel-antwerp.
com. Tights, stylist?s own.
Twinkle, twinkle
Lurex dress (below
right), �, finerylondon.
com. Choker and boots,
both from a爏election,
both爀llery.com.
Knit
picks
No other winter
w nter purchase
wi
e will get
e as
much
jumper,
m
mu
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p r, so
why not take the
th
he time
e to find something
you can style up for
o an evening out.
Sylviane?ss stripe and leopard knit looks
k
dressy teamed with long boots, or
something sparkly will tick the same
box ? see India?s po
polo
p
lo neck. Wear sorbetcoloured knits with graphicc stripes
(see Lucy) for a st
look,
sstriking
riking daytime loo
o k,
or team a printed
printe
t d jumper with
witth checks
(Elee). If all else
s fails, opt for a classic
autumnal-coloured
autumnal-colloure
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(JJoi) ? the
th
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id
dea
e l
weekend look. Melanie
Melan
a ie Wilkinson
Wil
ilkiinson
on
Photograph
Stylist:
Photographss:
s: David
Davi
Da
vid
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Newb
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tyliist
st:
Melanie Wilkinson.
Stylist?s
assistant:
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Bemi
Hair
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Kevin
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Lucy
Models
Sylviane,
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and Elee
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suncoon ooparis.com.
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Dress,
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Boots,
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JJumper
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nerylondon.com.
Skirt
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Shoes,
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newl
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aldoshoes.com.
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84 2 D
December
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20
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7 | The
T Gu
Guardian
uard
rd
dian
i We
W
Weekend
e n
eke
nd
d
Fash
A l l a ion
ges
3
Sylviane
Jum
Jumper
mper, �, and dress,
�,
�
�2, topshop.com.
Boots
Boo
oots, �9, by Carvela,
from kurtgeiger.com.
4
Joi
Jumper, �.50,
marksandspencer.com.
ma
Jacket, �, topshop.
com. Trousers, �9,
swedishhasbeens.com.
Boots
Boo
ots, �9, jigsawonline.com.
5
India
Jumper, �, asos.com.
aso
os.
s co
om.
m.
Trousers, �, topshop.
topsho
hop.
ho
p
com. Shoes, �0,
senso.com.au.
The Guardian Weekend | 2 December 2017 85
Space
86 2 December 2017 | The Guardian Weekend
Fashion
What I wore
this week
Jess Cartner-Morley ?nally gets low-heeled party shoes
Y
Going Up
Princess Margaret She went to
parties without a hat. She wore
fabulous Dior-y dresses. Her
personal life was relatable, making
her a fitting breakout star of the
second series of燭he Crown.
Getting crafty Skint? Same. No
matter. It?s Make Smthng week, so
it?s virtually law to sew something.
We plan to go for broke at Sew Over
It and Etsy before Christmas kicks in.
Statement earrings Postmismatched earrings, we?re taking it
down a notch. Take your cue from
Van Cleef & Arpels and Dior, and
wear the same earrings in different
colours. Doable.
Broccoli The vegetable ad infinitum,
but also the new female-run
magazine that looks at weed in art,
culture and fashion. Personal
favourite = weed ikebana arranging
for beginners.
Going down
1
2
3
4
Jess?s four best
1 Furry mules, �.99, zara.com
2 Gold, �5, lkbennett.com
3 Burgundy sandals, �, stories.com
4 Black with gold heels, �0, boden.co.uk
Jess wears silk top, �, and trousers, �, both
topshop.com. Heels, �, office.co.uk (Chair, �5,
grahamandgreen.co.uk)
Micro bags Kate Moss has the
Balenciaga one, which is cool, but
wholly impractical, given it only fits
three bank cards. Cheaper alternative?
Your pocket! You?re welcome.
Gin Mother?s ruin officially makes
you sad, says Public Health Wales.
There goes our cocktail-in-a-can plan.
Christmas-ad-themed merch The
urge to get your hands on the latest
toy creature is directly proportionate
to the lack of爄nterest come 1 January,
when Christmas is so last year.
Perfect place-setting promotion
Shout out to Ivanka, who singlehandedly killed table decorations
by爌resenting a giant flowery clam
for Thanksgiving. Paper plate, tinsel
and a red cup for us.
The Guardian Weekend | 2 December 2017 87
GETTY (5); NETFLIX
ou know those features where writers
reveal the advice they wish they could
give their younger selves? And they
are always really erudite and wistful,
poignant and touching? Well, this is sort of one of
those. Sort of. OK, without the erudite, wistful,
poignant or touching parts. But still important.
I am talking about high heels. Specifically,
how爉uch I wish I could give my younger self
a爐alking to about not spending insane amounts
on shoes I燾ouldn?t walk in. As heart-swelling,
motivational speeches go, this is not, admittedly,
up there with Robin Williams imploring us to
carpe diem in Dead Poets Society. But I really
wish I had known then what seems obvious now.
Which is that good-time shoes that you can?t have
a good time in because your feet hurt are a total
waste of money.
As my 20-years-ago self would have said: like,
duh. But I?m not the only one with a blind spot
for heels. Walk into a shoe department at this
time of year and you?ll find an average heel height
of around 10cm. But walk into a party and you?ll
see women in proper heels outnumbered by
sensible ones in smart, low-heeled and flat shoes,
and less sensible ones barefoot with their shoes
discarded in a corner. There?s a燿isconnect
between the shoes we buy for nights out and the
shoes we actually wear on nights out, which
suggests I?m not the only one whose shoe-buying
cortex required rewiring. I have finally graduated
from being the barefoot woman who has kicked
off her expensive new heels to the one in the
sensible jewelled flats.
The trouble with high heels is that they are such
gorgeous objects to look at. The slender curves of
a dagger heel, the thrill of a precipitous angle, are
irresistible. But we are not buying sculpture, we
are buying footwear. And while it is seductive to
identify with the high-maintenance attitude of
a爃igh heel, unless your credit card stretches to
a燾hauffeur service, it is a waste of money.
The need to winch yourself up on a stiletto to
look glamorous is fading with the advent of the
low-heel party shoe. The renaissance of the kitten
heel has been followed by a new generation of
block heel shoes that give you a tangible boost
that doesn?t spiral into agony. It is time to break
free of heel dependency. Carpe diem, two and
a爃alf inches at a爐ime. We can do this.
@JessC_M
PHOTOGRAPH: DAVID NEWBY FOR THE GUARDIAN. STYLING: MELANIE WILKINSON. HAIR AND MAKEUP: LAURENCE CLOSE AT CAROL HAYES MANAGEMENT
The Measure
Beauty
Sali
Hughes
I?m a convert: Trinny Woodall?s range is quick and easy
o one would have anticipated that one
of 2017?s most talked about beauty
launches would come from makeover
presenter Trinny Woodall ? including,
I imagine, Woodall herself. And yet I?m currently
fielding daily reader requests for my verdict on
her new capsule makeup line.
While Woodall has cannily reinvented herself
as a beauty enthusiast in recent months, I?ll admit
I was instinctively sceptical about her products,
the main selling point of which is packaging.
All but the tinted moisturiser are housed in
individual screw-top pots that snap into a stack,
allowing you to swap out colour combinations,
reducing or increasing your cargo according to
occasion and handbag. But, having worn Trinny
London for a week, I gladly concede there?s
a爂reat deal more to recommend it.
Cheekbones Contour Creams (�) ? in Kate (for
white/olive skin) and Sophia (for brown/black) ?
are damned near perfect, with each sufficiently
cool-toned to mimic shadow in recesses of the
face. They blend like a dream without brushes
or any real skill. Just A Touch (�; and matched
perfectly to my skin tone via the tool on the
brand?s cleverly designed website) is a silky balm
PORTRAIT: ALEX LAKE FOR THE GUARDIAN. MAKEUP: LAUREN OAKEY. HAIR: ELLA BASHFORD AT BADU
N
1
2
3
Try these
1 Lip Luxe, �
2 Eye2Eye Cream Eyeshadow, �
3 Just A Touch, �, all trinnylondon.com
that thins nicely to a sheer foundation, then
pats on as a light coverage concealer. There are
better individual products for each job, but the
concentrated dose and multifunctionality make
this extremely useful for travellers.
By ironic contrast, the pots of Lip Luxe (�),
while saturated with rich, creamy colour, are
much more fiddly than sweeping on traditional
lipstick. The Eye2Eye Cream Eyeshadows (�)
cope better with the packaging, applying neatly
and easily with fingertips. I find myself wearing
Chariot, a flattering blackened gold, frequently
for evening. Unusually, there are no duds here,
only the occasional ?meh? (Star, while perfectly
nice, would be hard to pick from a lineup).
A full six-stack, while expensive, does arrive
impressively packaged in luxury silver, making it
a perfect Christmas present for women who want
their beauty quick, easy and natural-looking. My
issue with Trinny London?s stacking revolution is
that, just as I wouldn?t wear one clothing designer
from head to toe, I?d always prefer to cherrypick
my makeup according to which brands excel in
each area. But if the concept appeals and your
budget allows, I doubt you?ll be disappointed.
@salihughes
The beauty roadtest
The
beauty roadtest
Examples
Toners
Leah Alexxanderr-Caine, 19,
All燗ges model
On every shoot, different products
are applied to my face, so I have no
way of tracking what?s going on to
my skin. I always use toner to make
sure everything is removed from
my face at the end of the day ? and
although I?ve been using the same
two toners for a year, I爓as excited
to try something new.
The Body Shop?s Seaweed
Oil-Balancing Toner (�50,
thebodyshop.com) has a refreshing
smell and is created for people, like
me, with oily/combination skin.
It?s alcohol-free, so doesn?t remove
too much of the natural oils. It?s a
pretty standard toner and good for
the price.
Liz Earle Instant Boost Skin
Tonic (�, lizearle.com) has a floral,
slightly citrus scent that is amazing.
After removing my makeup, I爈ike
to爑se a爐oner to cool my skin down
as it gets quite sensitive. This
one爈eft my skin feeling super clean
and soft.
I swear by Pixi Glow Tonic (�,
libertylondon.com). It makes
a燿ifference almost overnight.
The first time I used it, about five
months ago, I saw an immediate
change ? it sweeps away all dead
skin cells. It?s not too harsh and
definitely makes you glow.
Fresh?s Black Tea Age-Delay
Instant Infusion (�, harrods.com)
is moisturising, and very gentle on
skin. But as the most expensive
toner I tried, it was probably my
least favourite ? it just wasn?t as
spectacular as I thought it would
be. It has a luxurious smell, but
Pixi?s Glow Tonic is the one I would
recommend. It does everything it
says on the bottle ? and more.
Next week: All ages model Marc
Goldfinger on pore cleansers
The Guar
Guardian Weekend | 2 December 2017 89
Play with fire
A bottle of hot sauce takes
a dish to a higher level.
Photographs by Louise Hagger
Food
92 2 D
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with a half-teaspoon of salt and lots
of pepper, then add the tofu and toss
in the flour. Heat the oil in a large
saute pan on a medium-high flame.
Once hot, fry the tofu for three to
four minutes, turning the cubes every
minute or so, until golden brown all
over. Transfer to a wire rack lined
with kitchen paper, sprinkle with
salt, and wipe the pan clean.
Heat the sauce in the pan for a
minute, stirring, until bubbling, then
add the beans, stir for a爉inute more,
until hot, then take off the heat.
Gently stir in the tofu and herbs,
divide between four shallow bowls
and serve with lime wedges.�
I
Tofu and french beans with
chraimeh sauce
The sauce keeps in the fridge for
a爉onth, so make more than you
need for this: it?s fab with chicken
and fish, or even just for dipping
bread into as燼 snack. Serves four.
450g trimmed french beans
Salt and black pepper
50g plain flour
350g firm silken-style tofu, cut into
2-3cm cubes
3 tbsp sunflower oil
5g dill, roughly chopped
10g coriander, roughly chopped
For the sauce
6 garlic cloves, peeled and crushed
2 tsp sweet paprika
1 tbsp caraway seeds
1� tsp ground cumin
Spicy prawn and celeriac pasties
with hot sauce
A take on the Brazilian pastel. To take
down the spice levels, serve with
lemon. Makes about 15 small pasties.
Yotam Ottolenghi
?爐sp ground cinnamon
1 green chilli, deseeded
3 tbsp sunflower oil
3 tbsp tomato paste
2 tsp caster sugar
3 limes ? 2 juiced, to get 1� tbsp,
the爋ther cut into 4 wedges, to serve
For the sauce, put the garlic, spices,
chilli and two tablespoons of oil in the
small bowl of a爁ood processor, and
blitz to a thick paste. (You may need
a touch more oil to bring it together.)
Heat the remaining tablespoon
of爋il in a medium frying pan on
a爉edium-high flame. Stir-fry爐he
spice mix for 30 seconds, then add
the tomato paste and 250ml water,
and bring to a燽oil. Stir in the sugar,
lime juice, half a teaspoon of salt and
some pepper, then take off the heat.
Bring a medium saucepan halffilled with salted water to a boil,
then boil the beans for five to six
minutes, until cooked but still with
a slight bite. Drain and set aside.
Mix the flour in a medium bowl
For the dough
Fo
250g plain flour, plus extra for dusting
25
Salt
Sa
2 ttbsp olive oil
2 ttbsp white-wine vinegar
100 ml warm water
10
egg, beaten
1e
About 800ml vegetable oil, for frying
Ab
For the filling
Fo
2 tbsp olive oil
1 onion, peeled and finely diced
1 garlic clove, peeled and crushed
50g celeriac, peeled and roughly grated
1 green pepper, finely diced
200g peeled raw king prawns, half
roughly blitzed, the rest roughly chopped
� tsp sweet smoked paprika
� tsp onion powder
1 green chilli, finely chopped (deseeded,
if you don?t like too much heat)
1 tsp coriander seeds, toasted and
lightly crushed
Finely grated zest of 2 lemons
Salt
1 tsp Tabasco (or other good hot sauce),
plus extra to serve �
flame, then saute the onion, garlic
and celeriac for six minutes, until
soft and golden. Add the chopped
pepper, cook for four minutes, still
stirring, then tip into a爈arge bowl.
Add the other filling ingredients and
half a teaspoon of salt, and mix well.
Take the pastry out of the fridge 15
minutes before you?re ready to roll.
On a lightly floured worktop, roll out
the dough to 2-3mm thick. Using
a�cm-wide cookie cutter, cut out
circles of pastry: you should get
about 10 at the first go, but after
gathering together the trimmings,
re-rolling and cutting again, you
should end up with 15. Spoon just
over a tablespoon of filling into the
centre of each pastry circle, then
brush around the edges with the egg
wash. Fold over the pastry to make
half-moons, then press together the
edges with the back of a fork, to seal.
Half-fill a medium pot with the
vegetable oil (depending on the size
of your pot, you may end up with
more or less than 800ml). Gently
heat up the oil on a medium flame
until very hot, then lower in the
pasties five at a time (they should
sizzle if the oil?s hot enough). Fry
for爐wo minutes on each side, until
crisp and golden, then scoop out
with a slotted spoon and put on a tray
lined with kitchen paper. Serve hot
with extra Tabasco on the side.
Chicken wings St Claude
Start with the dough. In a large bowl,
mix the flour with a爐easpoon of salt.
Make a well in the centre and pour in
the oil. Mix the vinegar and water in
a small bowl, pour into the well, then
stir until you have a soft, smooth but
not wet dough. Tip out on to a lightly
floured worktop and knead for a few
minutes, until smooth and silky, then
wrap in clingfilm and refrigerate for
at least two hours (and up to 12).
For the filling, heat the oil in a large
nonstick pan on a medium-high
This dish is inspired by one I had at
Upperline in New Orleans: deep-fried
oysters with St Claude sauce. The
oysters were sublime, but the punchy
sauce ? an ingenious combination of
sweet, sour, savoury and spice ? stood
out even more. Even then, I had a
hunch it would work brilliantly with
crisp chicken wings. Serves four.
1.2kg chicken wings
75ml olive oil
Salt and black pepper ?
The Guardian Weekend | 2 December 2017 93
FOOD STYLING: EMILY KYDD. PROP STYLING: JENNIFER KAY
was tickled by a recent
interview with Wole
Soyinka, in which the
Nobel laureate revealed
that he never travels without his own
hot chilli sauce. The interview took
place over lunch in the UK, and
Soyinka had left his sauce in Russia,
where he?d just been, so when his
spaghetti vongole arrived, he pulled
out a substitute from his pocket:
a爌lump green chilli. ?This one I got
when I燼rrived in London,? he
explained, ?because I forgot my
paste in the fridge in Sochi.?�
I had a similar experience last
year, when a famous chef sat next to
me at a party cooked for by another
respected member of our profession
and attended by many others. When
dinner was served, this chef pulled
out a nifty case loaded with little
bottles of chilli oil and proceeded
ceremoniously, and not at all
discreetly, to apply different oils to
the various components on his
plate. ?You need to match the right
oil to each food,? he boomed. (Luckily,
our cook for the night was in the
kitchen while this was going on.)
Professional pride aside, I kind
of爏ee the famous chef?s point. Hot
sauces are a fast-track way to inject
savoury complexity and heat into
a燿ish; for those such as Soyinka and
my chef colleague, who travel a lot
and eat out all the time, they also
offer a safety net for flavour. Still, I?m
not sure I?d爓ant to be around if
either of them ever walks into one
of爉y restaurants. Would the fresh
chilli or燽ottle of oil emerge?
a爉edium, nonstick saute pan on
a爉edium-high flame, then cook half
the sauce for five minutes, stirring
often, until it thickens and reduces
by nearly half. (You want it to keep its
colour, so if it starts to turn brown,
take off the heat.) Set aside to cool.
Once the wings are cooked, put
them in a large bowl with any oil
from the tray. (You?ll use the lined
tray again, so don?t throw away the
paper just yet.) Pour the remaining
non-thickened sauce over the wings
and mix with a spatula until they?re
well coated. Return the wings to the
tray, again spaced apart, and roast
for 15 minutes more.
Once the reduced sauce has cooled,
add it to the soured cream in stages,
less than a tablespoon at a time, and
taste after each addition, to make
sure it?s not too hot for you. Put the
wings on a platter and serve hot with
a bowl of the sauce for dipping ?
10g parsley leaves
3 tbsp paprika
75ml hot sauce (I like Encona Hot
Pepper Sauce)
3 tbsp Worcestershire sauce
20 cloves garlic, peeled
1 lemon ? zested to get 1 tsp, then
juiced to get 2� tbsp
1� tsp maple syrup
90g soured cream, to serve
Heat the oven to 200C/390F/gas
mark 6. In a large bowl, toss the
chicken wings with 60ml oil, half
a爐easpoon of salt and a good grind
of pepper, then put on a 40cm
x�cm oven tray lined with baking
paper, making sure they?re spaced
apart. Roast for 40-45 minutes, until
crisp and golden brown.
Meanwhile, make the sauce. Put
the parsley, paprika, hot sauce,
Worcestershire sauce, garlic, lemon
zest, lemon juice and maple syrup in
the small bowl of a food processor,
and blitz to a smooth sauce the
consistency of passata. Heat the
remaining tablespoon of oil in
@ottolenghi
Yotam Ottolenghi is chef/patron of
Ottolenghi and Nopi in London.
Wine Fiona Beckett picks her top whites for the Christmas feast
3 Smoked salmon
Serve with
2 Scallops
DAN MATTHEWS FOR THE GUARDIAN
I
opulent Chassagne-Montrachet 2013
(13% abv, 2) makes you realise why
white burgundy is so sought after.
That?s �.49 from Waitrose Cellar
and �.20 from Lay & Wheeler,
while Jeroboams has it at �5 for
an爑nsplit case (ie, �.50 a bottle).
There is also, of course, chablis,
which is chardonnay in its leanest,
steeliest incarnation and which may
make it unnecessary to have any
other white at all (though it may be
a燽it sharp for those whose palates
are used to richer, more generous
wines). Sainsbury?s has worked with
the Brocard family for years and
their Chablis Sainte Celine 2015 (�;
1 Roast turkey
k
n an attempt to make life
a bit easier over the
festive season, last week
I suggested focusing on
a single type of red. But is there
a爍uintessential Christmas white?
I?m not sure there is, but there are
a couple of strong candidates. One
is燾hardonnay ? yes, chardonnay ?
which will go with the turkey and
other richly sauced dishes; the other
is sauvignon blanc. (We?re talking
wines that will keep the maximum
number of people happy, not
necessarily ones to impress any
oenophiles of your acquaintance.)
Chardonnay, in the form of white
burgundy, is my personal go-to with
roast turkey, and it doesn?t have to be
one of the fancier appellations, either
? a basic Bourgogne chardonnay such
as Domaine Thibert 2015 (�.99
Majestic, or �.99 on the mix-six
deal; 13% abv) would do the job
admirably, while the Wine Society?s
luscious, creamy Exhibition SaintAubin Blanc 2015 (13.5% abv, 1) is
a燽it of a steal (for burgundy) at �.
But if you wanted to splash out,
the爃ighly rated Jean-Marc Pillot?s
12.5% abv) is beautifully pristine ?
impeccable, as the French say. Good
now, but worth stashing some away
for next Christmas, when it will
almost certainly be more expensive.
Sauvignon will do the job with any
shellfish you might be thinking of
serving up, though I find pouillyfum� from the Loire better value
than the better-known sancerre.
Morrisons The Best Pouilly-Fum�
2016 costs � and is beautifully
crisp, clean and bright; Sainsbury?s
Taste The Difference Pouilly Fum�
(12.5% abv, 3) is good, too, at �.50.
Being fresh and zesty, sauvignon
also makes a good party wine,
a爎efreshing counterpoint to rich
food and hot rooms. Try Domaine
de L?Arjolle Sauvignon Blanc
Viognier (�50 Booths; 12% abv),
a燿elicious incarnation from the
Languedoc that just knocks off
sauvignon?s sharper edges. Or, for
a爎eal bargain, grab a爁ew bottles of
Morrisons The Best Rueda 2016
(12.5% abv), made in northern Spain
with the sauvignon-like verdejo, for
only � Can?t complain about that.
@winematcher
The good mixer
Lickety split
Picon is a French orange bitters that?s
great in beer. This makes enough
syrup for 10 drinks. Serves one.
2 sprigs rosemary, washed, picked and
chopped (this releases the oils)
125g honey
35ml hot water
15ml fresh lemon juice
15ml rosemary honey syrup
25ml Picon
35ml Kentucky bourbon (eg, Four Roses)
Red wine, to float (nothing too fancy)
For the syrup, infuse the rosemary
in the honey for 24 hours, strain, stir
in the hot water, leave to cool, then
jar. It?ll keep in the fridge for a week.
Fill a shaker with ice, add lemon,
syrup, Picon and bourbon, and shake
hard. Strain into a chilled highball
and add cracked ice to fill. Carefully
pour on the wine to float, and serve.
Behind This Wall, London E8
CHRISTMAS DESERVES LURPAK
�
The quick dish
Thomasina
Miers
Make black pepper the star of the show
was at the Good Life
Experience in north
Wales this autumn when
an old friend from school
thrust a mysterious package into my
hands. Intrigued, I opened it to find
a treasure trove in the shape of small
packets of black, red and white
peppercorns. But this was no
ordinary pepper: Kampot pepper,
from Cambodia, was awarded
protected geographical status in
2010, and is so floral and fruity in
flavour, it was once known as the
?king of pepper?. In the dark days
of爐he Khmer Rouge, this pepper all
but died out, but a small group of
producers have since worked
tirelessly to reintroduce it to the
world. The result is Kadode Kampot
pepper, which claims to be able to
trace each peppercorn right back to
the Cambodian farmer who grew it.
I slung a bundle of these
peppercorns in a mortar and rubbed
them all over my roast chicken the
other weekend, with fantastically
aromatic results. The proof, as ever,
is in the eating.
Roast chicken with black pepper,
oregano, bitter leaves and
jerusalem artichokes
The leaves collapse into the chicken
juices and provide a lovely, bitter
counterpoint to the sweet roast
artichokes. Serves six.
2 tsp black peppercorns
1 chicken (about 1.6kg)
Salt
1 large handful oregano (or thyme)
branches
8 garlic cloves, 3 peeled, the rest not
1 lemon, zested, halved, one half juiced
8 tbsp extra-virgin olive oil
750g jerusalem artichokes
150ml full-bodied dry white wine
1 large head trevise lettuce, cut into
eighths through the stem (or 2 heads
chicory, quartered lengthways)
LOUISE HAGGER FOR THE GUARDIAN. FOOD STYLING: EMILY KYDD. PROP STYLING: JENNIFER KAY
I
Heat the oven to its highest setting.
Smash the peppercorns to a powder
in a mortar and rub about a third of
the result all over the chicken with
half a爐easpoon of salt. Leave the
chicken out of the fridge while you
get on with everything else.
Strip the oregano leaves from
their stalks and roughly chop. Put
in爐he mortar with the three peeled
garlic cloves and a teaspoon of salt,
then grind to a rough paste. Pound
the lemon juice and all the zest into
the mix with half the olive oil. Stuff
the chicken with the other lemon
half and a third of the herb mix,
then rub two tablespoons of oil all
over the bird?s skin. Push another
third of the herb mix into the gap
between the chicken?s skin and the
flesh around the breast and thighs,
then set aside while you prep the veg.
Scrub clean the artichokes under
cold water (use a stiff brush or wire
wool), then cut in half lengthways
and put on an oven tray on which
they?ll fit comfortably in one layer.
Add the unpeeled garlic cloves to
the tray, then toss in the rest of the
herb mixture and the remaining two
tablespoons of olive oil, then add an
extra slug for luck. Put the chicken
in a roasting tin and add the wine.
Put both trays in the oven and
immediately turn down the heat to
190C/375F/gas mark 5. The chicken
needs 30 minutes a kilo (plus 15
minutes extra), the artichokes 45-50
minutes. The bird is cooked when
the juices from the thickest part of
the thigh run clear when pierced
with the tip of a small, sharp knife.
Twenty minutes before the end
of爐he cooking time, take the
chicken tin out of the oven and add
the trevise wedges, tossing them
gently in the pan juices. Return the
tin to the oven to finish cooking.
When the chicken has done its
time, remove from the oven, wrap
with tin foil and leave to rest for 10
minutes. If at this stage the
artichokes need more cooking ? they
should be caramelised, soft and
sticky ? keep them in the oven.
Carve the chicken and serve with
the roast artichokes, garlic and
trevise. I like this with Dijon
mustard and a crisp, green salad.
And for the rest of the week?
Leftover chicken goes very well with
any extra bitter leaves you may have
to hand. Toss with a sharp sherry
vinegar dressing and finely sliced
shallots, and serve with croutons
and homemade lemon mayo on the
side. And if you suffer from the, er,
side-effects of jerusalem artichokes,
try tossing them in a few pinches of
asafoetida: it?s said to work wonders.
@thomasinamiers
The Guardian Weekend | 2 December 2017 97
Space
98 2 December 2017 | The Guardian Weekend
The new
vegan
Meera
Sodha
once had a flatmate who
loved good food and
cooking, but had no
patience or time, so
everything she cooked was awful.
Tinned tomatoes were left watery
and raw, never to reach their full
rich and sweet potential, while her
pasta took al dente to a toothshattering extreme.
These days, we are too busy to
cook, so 15-minute dinners, ready
meals and recipe boxes have sprung
up to fit in around our fast lives.
Dinner has been made to squeeze in,
shuffle up and be a good team
player. But as often as I need cooking
to be quick, I also need it to be a slow
and selfish act, like a bath, a book or
a long walk, and to enjoy the process
as much as the end result.
When I have that time, it?s time
for mole, the dish that is the
cornerstone of Mexican cuisine and
famously complex. Typically, it can
take days to prepare: individually to
toast and grind the nuts, seeds,
fruits, spices and chillies, and then
to create a deep and flavourful sauce
using, among other things, one of
the original treasures of the Aztec
world: chocolate.
My recipe won?t take you days,
but it is one to make at the weekend.
Moles differ from village to village
and person to person, so use this as
a flexible template. Add more
ingredients to vary it as you wish:
nuts to make it creamy, fruit for
sweetness and chilli for heat. Just
don?t skimp on time.
I
Solutions
Quiz 1 Ruth Prawer Jhabvala.
2 Venice.
3 Skull.
4 Charles Taylor (former
Butternut
squash and black
bean mole with limepickled onions
In my mole, I use Mexican ancho
chillies, which are big, dried and
wonderfully smoky. You can buy
them in large supermarkets and
online at the likes of souschef.co.uk.
If you have pickled onions left over,
they?ll keep in an airtight tub in
the爁ridge for a few days. You?ll
need燼 blender to make the sauce.
Serves four.
2 red onions
4 tbsp lime juice (from 2 limes)
Salt
president爋f Liberia).
5 Nando?s.
6 Curling.
7 Canada (Quebec).
8 Dinosaur fossil.
9 GB flag bearer at Summer Olympics.
10 Artworks by Gillian Wearing.
11 Musical posts of Simon Rattle.
1 medium
butternut squash,
deseeded, cut in half
lengthways and cut into 1cm
semi-circles
Rapeseed oil
2 dried ancho chillies, roughly chopped
2 red chillies, roughly chopped
2 cloves garlic, peeled and roughly
chopped
2 tbsp raisins
3 tbsp raw unsalted peanuts
� stick cinnamon
1 tsp 
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