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The Guardian G2 - April 17, 2018

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Dream ticket
How sleep became
a billion-dollar
industry
Tuesday 17/04/18
Suzanne Moore
The People’s Vote? Let’s
fix democracy instead
page 3
Two tribes
Lessons of the real-life
Lord of the Flies
page 4
Aubrey Plaza
Legion’s oddball star
page 10
•
Pass notes
№ 3,792
Shortcuts
All the president’s nicknames …
Donald Trump has branded the former FBI director
James Comey a “slimeball” during another
Twitter tirade. The tweets were a reaction
to excerpts released in advance of Comey’s
book, A Higher Loyalty, in which Comey likens
the president to a mob boss and dismisses “the
forest fire that is the Trump presidency”. After
Trump’s tweets, Merriam-Webster dictionary
reported a 60,000% spike in searches for the
definition of “slimeball” – “a morally repulsive
or odious person”, in case you’re wondering.
Just like the mob, Trump likes to dole out
nicknames, especially to his opponents. It’s a
trick he may have learned from professional
wrestling and World Wrestling Entertainment,
which inducted him into its Hall of Fame in
2013. Its wrestlers go by names such as “Stone
Cold Steve Austin” or “The Undertaker” –
distinguishing for its predominantly young
audience the heroes from the villains.
So who else has Trump rebranded?
Daniel Lavelle
Captain JeanLuc Picard
Birthday: 13 July 2305.
Appearance: An absolute bloody remoaner.
Can I be the first to point out the massive
discrepancy in logic here? Which is, what,
that Picard won’t even be born for another 300
years and yet he has still managed to find a
way to side with the liberal elite who refuse to
acknowledge this country’s sovereignty?
Well, no, it’s more that he doesn’t exist. He’s
a fictional character from Star Trek: The Nextt
Generation. I know. We’re not even safe from
pretend spacemen from the future.
Can we track back a bit here? Fine. If you
want to be properly specific, then Jean-Luc
k
Picard isn’t a remoaner at all. However, Patrick
k,
Stewart, who played the character on Star Trek,
is. And he has said without hesitation that
Picard would have also voted against Brexit.
Oh God. I know. It’s like when JK Rowling
goes on Twitter to retroactively announce
that Hogwarts was definitely and canonically
opposed to tuition fees. But this is a million
times worse, because it’s about Brexit.
What made Stewart say that in the first
place? It’s because – along with Anna Soubry
and Chuka Umunna – he’s the figurehead of a
campaign to call for a second Brexit referendum.
What did he say, exactly? He said that Picard
– along with his X-Men character Professor
Xavier – were “excellent, admirable individuals
… intellectuals but also compassionate and
concerned for the wellbeing of everyone. They
would have voted remain.”
And would they? Picard definitely would. He’s
the very definition of the metropolitan elite.
He drinks earl grey, likes fencing and one of his
prized possessions is a flute. And he’s French.
OK, all jokes aside, why did Stewart think
this was a good idea? Because he desperately
wants to overturn the decision. And if that
means reminding people that a fictional space
pilot from a TV show that stopped being made
a quarter of a century ago would have tutted at
the idea of Brexit, then so be it.
If Picard would have voted remain, do we
know which characters would have voted for
Brexit? There was actually a YouGov survey
about this in 2016. It revealed that Basil Fawlty,
Cruella De Vil and Captain Birds Eye would
have all been staunch leavers.
That’s hardly a dream team, is it? Listen, you
started this. God I’m so sick of Brexit.
Do say: “These are the voyages of the Starship
Enterprise. Its mission: to explore strange new
worlds, to seek out new life and new civilisations,
to boldly go where no man has gone before …”
Don’t say: “… using a blue passport.”
2
The Guardian
Tuesday 17 April 2018
ooked
‘Cr‘Crooked
Hillary’
Hillary’
Throughout the 2016 election
campaign Trump would often refer
to Clinton as “Crooked Hillary”,
pr
usually in regard to her use of a private
email server during her time
as secretary of state in the Obama
White House.
zy
‘Cra‘‘Crazy
Crran
zyie’
e
BBernie’
Bernie’
Bernie Sanders joined the list of
nicknames when Trump rounded on
the senator during the Democrats’
presidential race. Sanders was doing
well against Clinton at the time, when
Trump tweeted: “I don’t want to hit Crazy
Bernie Sanders too hard yet because I
love watching what he is doing to Crooked
Hillary. His time will come!”
‘Rocket
‘‘Rocket
Ro
cn
ke’t
a
M
m
an’
man’
Trump nicknamed North
Korea leader Kim Jong-un a
“maniac” and a “whack job”
before settling on “rocket
man” at the 2017 United
Nations General Assembly.
ittle
‘L‘Little
Marco’
Marco’
Marco Rubio earned his
moniker after poking fun
at Trump’s “small hands”
during the 2016 Republican
presidential campaign.
‘Sloppy
‘‘Sloppy
SS
lotpe
pv
y e’
S
teve’
Steve’
After Michael Wolff ’s book
Fire and Fury: Inside the
Trump White House was
published, Trump slammed
the former White House
strategist Steve Bannon in
another early-morning rant
on Twitter – and “Sloppy
Steve” was born.
‘Al
Frankenstien’
After Senator Al Franken was
accused of sexually harassing
Los Angeles radio host Leeann
Tweeden in 2006, Trump –
who doesn’t seem terribly
concerned about appearing
hypocritical – lambasted the
senator and compared him to
Frankenstein, only he spelled
it wrong.
Towel down:
is the beach
holiday over?
Could the beach holiday be losing
its appeal? According to travel
company Responsible Travel,
bookings for more adventurous
trips are up by several hundred per
cent. The company says it has seen
a 700% increase in the number of
people booking to swim with orcas
in Norway, and a 300% increase in
people wanting to go on a survival
course on a desert island, which is
kind of like a beach holiday, only
with machetes and fire-making.
However, the idea that we’re
ditching two weeks on a sun lounger
is not really something that is borne
out by the statistics. According to
the Association of British Travel
Agents travel report for 2017, 41%
of holidays were the beach version,
with activity holidays comprising
just 7%. The beach holiday was
slightly up on the year before (38%),
while activity holidays had fallen
from 9%.
The “wellness” trend is a big part
of the popularity of active holidays.
The beach break has traditionally
been a time to collapse for a week
or two, but according to Francesca
Muston, head of City by City travel
guides for the trend forecasting
service WGSN, “the millennial
generation in particular are making
wellness part of their everyday lives.
They’re having that opportunity to
relax and recuperate year-round.”
So a more energetic, adventurous
holiday is a more appealing
prospect. “I think beach holidays are
still popular,” says Nadejda Popova,
travel project manager at market
research company Euromonitor.
But there has been “a fundamental
shift in consumer values towards
experiences. We’re seeing that
travellers are looking for more
adventure prospects.”
This will not be news to those of
us who know the truth about beach
holidays – that they’re hot, boring,
uncomfortable, crowded and you
only go into the sea when you need
a wee. A ski marathon in the Swiss
Alps or sea kayaking in Antarctica
may be billed as intrepid and
challenging, but anyone who has
struggled with sand in one’s crevices
may suspect it’s a far less strenuous
way to spend the week.
Emine Saner
•
Suzanne
Moore
A democracy cannot function
until it represents the people
Is this a
glorious new
swearing era?
Say
what?
PHOTOGRAPHS: GETTY
COVER: PRIYA MISTRY AT WEAREGOODNESS.COM
Weddings now
cost an average
of £1,015 – and
that’s just
to attend
as a guest.
Consumer
finance
company
Provident
surveyed
attendees to
arrive at the
eye-popping
figure, which
takes in money
spent on hen
and stag dos,
engagement
parties, outfits,
hair and beauty,
food and drink,
childcare,
gifts, travel and
places to stay.
All societies are censorious in
various degrees and on various
topics. Two years ago, Sarah Phelps
adapted Agatha Christie’s And Then
There Were None for TV. It’s the
third title the thriller had: when
it first came out in 1939 it was Ten
Little (supply your own N-word). It
was the US that objected and had it
retitled as Ten Little Indians. That,
too, with the passing of time (call it
progress), brought a sour taste to the
American mouth. Hence And Then
There Were None.
Phelps’s adaptation of Ordeal By
Innocence, just concluded, required
no title change. But, nonetheless,
a Twitter storm has whipped up
against its foul-mouthedness.
For the loyal Christie reader, it
runs against the grain of her fiction.
Can one imagine Miss Marple saying:
“It’s the effing vicar whodunnit”?
There is a belief that censorship –
whether self-, state- or communityimposed – can raise art. Kingsley
Amis once asked whether Pride and
Prejudice would have been a better
novel if Elizabeth Bennett had been
able to tell Darcy to eff off – as Crystal
Clarke’s Tina Argyll did to a group of
men in the Christie adaptation.
Perhaps it would. Men, when
“unbuttoned”, have always talked
like that. When, around the same
time as Pride and Prejudice, one of
Byron’s lovers wrote a revenge novel
about him, he dismissed it, in his
lordly way, as so much “fuck and tell”.
If Phelps’s uncorking of the
swear bottle frees up some looser
flights of language on TV, it would
be most welcome. IMDB’s Parents’
Guide to Downton Abbey notes
that the programme “contains
very infrequent use of mild coarse
language (ie ‘bitch’), in reference
to contemptuous women”. Do, of
course, protect the children but,
dramatically speaking, the series
would be more realistic with bad
language both above and below stairs.
And why – despite producer Kate
Oates pulling the programme into
9pm territory – are the characters in
Coronation Street limited to the gorblimey lexicon of bad language? Free
the street with the language of the
street, say I.
John Sutherland
A polling card drops through the door for the local elections. I catch myself
feeling slightly weary. No need to lecture me on those who died for my right
to vote. I know. Indeed there is still something moving about that little pencil
in the polling booth, the hurried cross, the secrecy, the idea that this matters.
Voting – yes, that’s good, so let’s have more of it, except when it isn’t. In
which case, the answer is more voting …
I am confused, for instance, about the People’s Vote campaign, which says
it is not really trying to get a second referendum about Brexit. One of the key
remain arguments is that people did not understand what they were voting for
the first time. Somehow, next time they will. Perhaps it is true that voting got
us into this mess and voting will get us
out. Yet I sense no appetite for another
vote. Clarity is indeed welcome, but
isn’t “the people’s vote” as slippery
a term as “the will of the people”?
The will of the people is fastmoving and changeable. It is the
way we reduce complexity by
denying it. The will of the people
may be ambivalent, uncertain,
a product of anxiety – and yet this
relentless quest for certainty, for
unimpeachable rightness, remains
the fantasy of public life.
The older I get, the more I envy it. All those people who, without having
been there, know exactly what should be done in Syria; who know exactly
which way Brexit is heading because they once saw something on YouTube.
It is considered a weakness, a failure, to be able to hold two positions in your
mind at once. I voted remain, but am still quite Brexity. I think something
should be done in Syria, but also that it is all too late and that all we can do
now is take in refugees.
So I am weak-minded, you may say, or a “don’t know”, which may be a
peculiar thing to say in this job, but in fact is commonplace. When we don’t
know, though, we want other people to know for us.
More votes now, is the cry – in parliament, on the Brexit deal or military
action. Big decisions cannot be made without consulting us. This is what led
to distrust of the EU: a feeling that democratic control was being bypassed.
Add to this the implications of the Cambridge Analytica scandal and there is a
further feeling that we have been duped, or at least others have. We feel both
that voting is all we have got, but also that voting is somehow not enough.
It all makes for a disquieting mood. The public is not sure about military
action in Syria. Many are resigned to Brexit, not because they love it, but
because it is done. Referendums, we all realise, are not good for complex
issues. Again, what is?
A cabinet that decides to bomb without consulting the House of Commons
may still win a vote if it can whip MPs. In other words, the systems by which
the will of the people is expressed are compromised. How might we make
better ones? Talking of proportional representation, or even the idea that
democracy might be representative of its people in terms of class, gender and
race, feels like a niche interest. But it isn’t. For the reality is that a lot of the
time the “don’t knows” have it. Which politician wants to acknowledge this?
Meghan Markle could
be the saviour of the
Windsor clan
Having already failed Mission:
Impossible – to not know anything
about Meghan Markle – I now find
myself alarmed at the bits and pieces
I pick up as if by osmosis. Does she
know what she is doing, I wonder, in
a completely patronising way? I must
accept that she does, and that she
is happy to be part of a sumptuous
rebranding for the Windsors.
Far be it from me to disagree with
Germaine Greer, but I very much
doubt Markle will “bolt” from her
marriage. What a strange thing to
say about another woman – but then
saying strange things about other
women is part of the Greer brand.
What Markle represents is some
kind of potential. The arrival of Kate
Middleton – presented as somehow
lucky as a commoner to be marrying
into this dysfunctional family –
symbolised this era’s conservative
view of femininity. The parading of
Middleton and Samantha Cameron
as ideals showed that, in terms
of women’s roles, we were going
backwards. Their job was to look
glossy, say little, be rocks for their
men, and to wear beige high heels.
They were to be groomed to
glossy perfection but also allowed
occasionally to do something that
represented rebellious modernity.
A tattoo? Topless swimming? In fact,
Middleton made the generation of
Fergie and Diana look like Greenham
Common feminists. Markle,
exoticised for her ethnicity and also
for having been divorced, is being
allowed some opinions. A voice,
even. There will be a concerted
effort to rein her in, accompanied by
intense scrutiny of her appearance.
What I know already is that any
challenge to the monarchy – and
when Charles eventually takes over,
there will be rumbles – may well
be seen off by this woman. In the
end, they all know that. She has got
the power.
The gay rights fight is not over yet
The outing of someone for being HIV positive is disgusting. So as
not to be blackmailed by an ex, Thomas Neuwirth – who portrays
draq queen Conchita Wurst – has spoken about his own status.
Conchita brought joy into the world by winning the Eurovision
song contest. As Neuwirth says, his HIV status should be
“irrelevant to the public”. Indeed it should, and it is awful for it to be
revealed – a reminder that though we are told gay rights have been
won and that Conchita’s win symbolised how wonderfully liberal
we all are, in fact they haven’t, and we aren’t. The days of being
blackmailed over one’s sexuality are not long gone. They are now.
The Guardian
Tuesday 17 April 2018
3
Boys at Robbers
Cave; (below)
Muzafer Sherif
In the early 1950s, a psychologist
brought together a group of boys
at a US summer camp – and
tried to make them fight. Why is
his work suddenly so relevant?
The real-life
Lord of the Flies
➺ Words David Shariatmadari
J
uly 1953: late one evening
in the woods outside
Middle Grove, New
York state, three men
are having a furious
argument. One of them,
drunk, draws back his fist, ready to
smash it into his opponent’s face.
Seeing what is about to happen, the
third grabs a block of wood from
a nearby pile. “Dr Sherif! If you do it,
I’m gonna hit you,” he shouts.
The man with the raised fist isn’t
just anybody. He is one of the world’s
foremost social psychologists,
Muzafer Sherif. The two others are
his research assistants. Sherif is
angry because the experiment he
has spent months preparing for has
just fallen apart.
Born in 1905 and raised in İzmir
province, Turkey, during the dying
days of the Ottoman empire, Sherif
won a place at Harvard to study
psychology. He became obsessed by
group dynamics: how individuals
band together to form cohesive
units and how these units can find
themselves at each other’s throats.
In the aftermath of the second
world war, he wasn’t the only one
interested in this idea. Early in
1953, the Rockefeller Foundation
gave Sherif $38,000 – $350,000
(£245,000) in today’s money – to
carry out what he hoped would be
a career-defining piece of research.
Instead of lab rats, the subjects were
11-year-olds.
This is the scene Gina Perry sets
at the beginning of The Lost Boys,
her new book about Sherif. It’s her
second foray into social psychology:
Behind the Shock Machine (2013)
looked at the notorious Milgram
experiments of the early 60s,
which studied the extent to which
people are prepared to follow
orders. Stanley Milgram made
subjects think they were delivering
potentially fatal electric shocks to
participants in another room. Twothirds went along with it, despite the
terrifying noises.
Sherif’s cover story was that
he was running a summer camp
in Middle Grove. His plan was to
bring a group of boys together,
4
The Guardian
Tuesday 17 April 2018
allow them to make friends, then
separate them into two factions to
compete for a prize. At this point,
he believed, they would forget their
friendships and start demonising
one another. The pièce de
résistance was to come at the end:
Sherif planned to set a forest fire
in the vicinity of the camp. Facing
a shared threat, they would be
forced to work as one team again.
This was a year before the
publication of Lord of the Flies.
But whereas William Golding
sought to show that boys were,
by their nature, little devils,
Sherif believed that context was
everything. Competition over
scarce resources could drive
people to enmity; place a common
obstacle in their way, and they
cooperate. During his youth,
Perry writes, Sherif witnessed
interethnic violence between
Turks, Greeks and Armenians
that claimed tens of thousands
of lives. She believes his desire
to understand the causes of that
catastrophe – and to show the
world a way to prevent another like
it – was what drove him.
His work seems particularly
relevant in an age of resurgent
tribalism. During the 2016 US
election, psychologists Yarrow
Dunham and David Rand invoked
Sherif in a discussion of the
apparently unbridgeable divide
between Hillary Clinton and Bernie
Sanders supporters. They cited
his recognition of the “human
tendency to forge alliances as the
context demands”, writing that
“for Democrats, the context is now
the threat of a President Trump”.
This, they believed, was grounds
for optimism. Unfortunately, even
a united Democratic party wasn’t
enough to see off a tribe that
recruited from Michigan, Ohio and
Pennsylvania, and stormed the
White House.
In 50s Middle Grove, things didn’t
go according to plan either, though
the surprise was of a different
nature. Despite his pretence of
leaving the 11-year-olds to their own
devices, Sherif and his research staff,
posing as camp counsellors and
caretakers, interfered to engineer
the result they wanted. He believed
he could make the two groups,
called the Pythons and the Panthers,
sworn enemies via a series of welltimed “frustration exercises”. These
included his assistants stealing items
of clothing from the boys’ tents and
cutting the rope that held up the
Panthers’ homemade flag, in the
hope they would blame the Pythons.
One of the researchers crushed the
Panthers’ tent, flung their suitcases
into the bushes and broke a boy’s
beloved ukulele. To Sherif’s dismay,
however, the children just couldn’t
be persuaded to hate each other.
Instead of turning on each other,
they helped put the tent back up and
eyed their “camp counsellors” with
suspicion. “Maybe you just wanted
to see what our reactions would be,”
one of them said.
The robustness of the boy’s
“civilised” values came as a blow to
Sherif, making him angry enough
to want to punch one of his young
academic helpers. It turned out
that the strong bonds forged at the
beginning of the camp weren’t easily
broken. Thankfully, he never did
start the forest fire.
But the Rockefeller Foundation
had given Sherif $38,000. In his
mind, perhaps, if he came back
empty-handed, he would face not
just their anger but the ruin of his
reputation. So, within a year, he had
recruited boys for a second camp,
this time in Robbers Cave state park
in Oklahoma. He was determined
not to repeat the mistakes of
Middle Grove. There was no mixing
at the beginning – neither of the
two groups, the Rattlers and the
Eagles, were aware of the other’s
existence until the second day. But,
perhaps more importantly, Sherif
relinquished his role as puppet
master; a condition laid down by
his research associate, OJ Harvey,
who knew how volatile Sherif
could be and insisted on taking
control himself.
At Robbers Cave, things went
more to plan. After a tug-of-war
in which they were defeated,
the Eagles burned the Rattler’s
flag. Then all hell broke loose,
with raids on cabins, vandalism
and food fights. Each moment of
confrontation, however, was subtly
manipulated by the research team.
They egged the boys on, providing
them with the means to provoke
one another.
Having got them fighting, the
next stage was the all-important
reconciliation – and the vindication
of Sherif’s theory. One morning, the
boys found that their water supply
had been cut off. They would have
to locate the water tank high on
the mountain and work together to
remove the rocks Harvey and Sherif
had placed over the valve, so they
could open it again. “Slowly,” Perry
writes, “with the sun beating down
and their water canteens emptying,
the boundaries between the groups
began to blur.” First, she says, they
“took turns lifting and carrying the
rocks away. But, realising there was
a better and faster way of getting the
job done, they soon formed a chain,
PHOTOGRAPHS: UNIVERSITY OF AKRON
•
•
Reply all
Some of the
participants at
the Robbers Cave
experiment
Notes & queries
The weekly series where readers answer other
readers’ questions on subjects ranging from trivial
flights of fancy to profound scientific concepts
Why do cows grazing in a field all face
in the same direction?
Why is it that when driving past a
field in which cows are grazing they
are invariably all facing in the same
direction?
‘All the boys
I spoke to had an
uneasy feeling
about this
experience. It has
troubled people’
passing the rocks down the line and
working as a single team.”
Sherif was elated. And, with the
publication of his findings that same
year, his status as world-class scholar
was confirmed. The “Robbers Cave
experiment” is considered seminal
by social psychologists, still one
of the best-known examples of
“realistic conflict theory”. It is often
cited in modern research. But was
it scientifically rigorous? And why
were the results of the Middle Grove
experiment suppressed? “Sherif was
clearly driven by a kind of a passion,”
Perry says. “That shaped his view
and it also shaped the methods
he used. He really did come from
that tradition in the 30s of using
experiments as demonstrations – as
a confirmation, not to try to find
something new.”
Perry has called her book The
Lost Boys because she traced several
of Sherif’s subjects, now men in
their 70s, to ask them how they
felt about having been guinea pigs.
Astonishingly, none of them were
aware that the rather unusual camps
they had attended were fake.
“I’m not traumatised by the
experiment, but I don’t like lakes,
camps, cabins or tents,” Doug Griset
tells Perry, wryly undermining his
own point. He was sent home from
Middle Grove after succumbing to
a bout of homesickness that Sherif
One of the
Eagles’ banners
during the
experiment
worried would become contagious.
Griset marvels at a letter sent to
his parents more than 50 years ago
to recruit him for the experiment.
Those letters, writes Perry, “are
a lesson in the art of skilful deception
and subtle persuasion”. In them,
Sherif explains that “camp directors
are interested in finding out what
things can be done to give the boys …
a wholesome cooperative living
experience which will prepare the
youngsters for better citizenship and
to be leaders in their communities”.
Subterfuge of this kind was to
become unacceptable to academic
psychologists after Milgram’s
experiments, which provoked an
outcry. Sherif’s ethical blunders
seem milder, but they still had
lasting effects. Having expected to
act as inquisitor, Perry found herself
treated more like an interviewee.
“Really, I felt I had to answer their
questions: ‘Who was this guy? Why
was I involved? How did my parents
agree to me going away? What did
I do during the experiment?’ All
the boys I spoke to had an uneasy
feeling about this experience. It has
troubled people,” she says.
“I think people are aware now that
there are real ethical problems with
Sherif’s research,” she adds, “but
probably much less aware of the
backstage [manipulation] that I’ve
found. And that’s understandable
because the way a scientist writes
about their research is accepted at
face value.” The published report of
Robbers Cave uses studiedly neutral
language. “It’s not until you are able
to compare the published version
with the archival material that you
can see how that story is shaped
and edited.”
If Middle Grove and Robbers Cave
aren’t scientifically rigorous, does
that mean they’re of no value? Perry
doesn’t think so. “There was a kind
of breadth of vision about Robbers
Cave. He was trying to tackle
big issues.”
And, from today’s perspective,
perhaps there is some reassurance
to be gleaned from boys’ behaviour
at Middle Grove. Despite attempts
to influence them that a Russian
troll farm would be proud of, they
remained independent-minded and
did what they thought was best.
“I do think it is a kind of optimistic
view,” says Perry. “It makes you
smile, doesn’t it? The fact that they
mutinied against these guys, really,
and refused to be drawn into it.”
Adrian Burns
Cows, along with other herding prey
animals, graze in the same direction
so that should a predator arrive
the group will take off in the same
direction en masse. The very reason
that herding is beneficial is probably
to be anonymous. Running off
individually would bring you to the
predator’s attention.
Galen Walters
They are walking in a type of
formation as they eat. They will
all follow each other in the same
trail from the front to the back of a
pasture and rut it out in one single
line. But when they are grazing, they
will all move in unison.
woodworm20
As prey animals, cattle group
together while grazing for obvious
reasons. They tend to face the same
way to avoid conflict within the
herd. It was only fairly recently
The Lost Boys:
Inside Muzafer
Sherif’s
Robbers Cave
Experiment
(£14.99) by
Gina Perry is
published by
Scribe on 26
April. To order a
copy for £12.74,
go to bookshop.
theguardian.
com or call 0330
333 6846. Free
UK p&p over
£10, online
orders only.
confirmed that they also tend to
graze along a north-south axis,
when a German academic studying
the effect of the Earth’s magnetic
field on African mole rats widened
her studies into other creatures.
A study of grazing patterns using
Google Earth confirmed this
behaviour.
dartmoorlady
They stand with their rear ends
facing the wind. By observing a herd
of cows you can tell which way the
wind is blowing.
John Preston, Birmingham
The cows will all face into the wind.
Sheep do the same.
David Jones Spalding
When there is no wind, they don’t
all face the same way. They seem to
prefer the wind behind them, which
could mean either that they don’t
like wind in their faces, or that they
do like a breeze at the other end. If
only they could tell us ...
ID0622805
It’s only when you drive past. Try
walking and you will see them facing
all directions.
Any
answers?
Why hasn’t
any car
manufacturer
ever produced
a solid browncoloured car
since the Austin
Allegro back in
the 60s? What is
so wrong with
brown? It’s not
as if it’s going to
show the dirt,
is it?
Peter Hanson,
Whitestone,
Exeter
If the Victorians
had used plastic
to the extent we
do, what state
would the planet
be in now?
Didy Ward,
Bungay, Suffolk
The perils of pinching abandoned
cakes in the tearoom
In a tearoom recently, a couple left
an untouched selection of lovely
cakes on their table. I was tempted
to take one, but my wife stayed my
hand. If the buyers have abandoned
their cakes, who do they belong to?
Rachel191
I once pinched what I thought were
abandoned cakes, in The Dorchester.
And then the guy returned …
Luckily, he laughed.
Jay Dee
No, don’t do that, it is pathetic.
Buy your own food and stop
embarrassing your wife. To
everyone else: a cafe will wrap food
for you to take home for later, if you
ask. You paid for it, take it with you.
Or better still, don’t order something
in the first place if you can’t eat it.
BabylonianSheDevil03
It may have been a cunning plan,
involving a hidden camera nearby. As
you grab the cakes and scoff them, a
presenter of a popular TV show jumps
out and says, “Ha, this will play live
on primetime TV, you are famous!”
For that reason I wouldn’t risk it.
IveSeenItBefore
The cakes are yours: the couple left
them for you.
Is there really money for old rope?
Glimps_Holme
“Picking okum” involved pulling
old rope apart to make okum, a fibre
that was best made from old hemp/
jute rope as it was stretched and
pulled into immense strength; new
fibre was soft and would shrink.
Okum with tar was used to caulk
sailing ships’ planks to keep them
waterproof. This work was terribly
unpleasant and paid minimal
wages, but it made the difference
between poverty and starvation –
which would be coming when the
last of your strength finally failed.
Picking okum was the end, it was
the bottom, yet still it was survival:
money for old rope.
ColinSBC
Boringly, there was – among other
things, as a paper-making material in
the days when there were a lot of old
ropes made from hemp (unlike the
synthetic ropes of today).
kumano
As I understand it, the origin of
the phrase comes from the days of
public executions, when one of the
hangman’s perks was to keep the
fatal rope and then sell portions of it
to souvenir hunters.
mikedow
“I admire him, I frankly confess it;
and when his time is come I shall buy
a piece of the rope as a keepsake” –
Mark Twain, on Cecil Rhodes.
The Guardian
Tuesday 17 April 2018
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5
•
Women
Cool for cats:
why millennials
are embracing
their inner cat lady
Why does the stereotype of women with cats being
lonely, sexless and eccentric endure? Lucy Jones on
the ailurophiles reclaiming the purr-jorative
D
id you hear the
story about the old
woman from Ohio
who was arrested
for training her 65
cats to steal her
neighbour’s stuff ? The Columbus
police department found thousands
of dollars’ worth of jewellery in
the 83-year-old lady’s house and
discovered she taught the cats to
bring back “anything that shined”.
The news story went viral at the
end of last year. How do you picture
her? Unkempt hair, dressing gown
and slippers, living alone, rarely
leaving the house? The “crazy
cat lady”, in other words. In fact,
the story was fiction on a satirical
website, but people bought it and
shared the story thinking it was real.
The crazy cat lady is a common,
recognisable trope in contemporary
culture: think of Eleanor Abernathy
in The Simpsons. After a promising
career in medicine and law, she
experiences burnout, starts
drinking and gets a cat. Next
minute, she’s talking gibberish,
looking dishevelled and throwing
her army of felines around. Then
there’s Robert De Niro’s predictably
bonkers elderly Christmas cat lady
Audrey Hepburn
and ‘Cat’ in
Breakfast at
Tiffany’s
in a 2004 Saturday Night Live skit:
she “had dreams and then she was
kicked by a horse and now she
has cats. The end!”
The younger version of the
stereotype is usually associated with
being single, kooky and weird; after
one of her relationships comes to a
head, 30 Rock’s Liz Lemon acquires
a cat. “I can fit Emily Dickinson’s
whole head in my mouth,” she
tells a concerned Jack Donaghy.
You can even buy a Crazy Cat Lady
action figure online, complete with
deranged, staring eyes.
To understand why this trope
exists – and why it may be on its last
legs – let’s scoot back to the middle
ages and the earliest perceptions
of women and their cats. Even
before witch-hunts, cats had a bad
rep in the western world – with
associations with heretical sects and
the devil. Medieval types conflated
feline sex lives with lustful, sinful,
female sexuality: cats were seen as
“lecherous animals that actively
wheedled the males on to sexual
congress”, according to the historian
James Serpell. Although, in recent
pop culture, cat lady has evolved
into shorthand for a lonely, sad,
sexless woman. Too sexy, not sexy
enough: can’t please ’em.
The earliest cat ladies in the
west were, of course, witches. In
Malleus Maleficarum, the landmark
medieval treatise on witchcraft, a
13th-century folk story is recounted,
whereby three witches turned
themselves into cats, attacked a
man on the street and accused him
of assault in court, showing the
marks on their bodies. From then
on, witches were believed to have
cats as familiars, or to change into
felines at night.
Why would cats get such a satanic
rep? We can only guess. Cats are
mysterious. They come and go.
‘The CCL concept
has long been
used to transfer
shame on women
who challenge
traditional roles ’
6
The Guardian
Tuesday 17 April 2018
Unlike dogs, they refuse to obey
and be domesticated. They’re
nocturnal. The Ancient Egyptians
worshipped Bastet, a woman with
a head of a cat. Although the Bible
does not specifically mention cats,
early Christian pilgrims were highly
suspicious of other religions, and
they deemed the black cat to be so
demonic that being seen with one
could be punishable by death.
Although the 18th century saw
people beginning to question
superstitions – such as the belief that
a woman’s wart was a teat suckled
by Satan – negative connotations of
the relationship between cats and
women remained. The Victorians
switched witches for old-maid
stereotypes – for single women
without children: “Old maids and
cats have long been proverbially
associated together, and, rightly or
wrongly, these creatures have been
looked upon with a certain degree
of suspicion and aversion by a large
proportion of the human race,”
wrote a journalist in the Dundee
Courier in 1880. The Old Maid card
game was often illustrated with
a dour woman and her cat, the
“friend of the friendless”, as it was
described at the time. In the 1900s,
anti-suffragette propaganda used
images of cats to portray women as
silly, useless, catty and ridiculous in
their attempt to enter political life.
The inception of the “crazy”
moniker is harder to pin down, but
its connotations of hysteria are an
old gender stereotype. Added to
this, the extreme end of the modern
“crazy cat lady” stereotype has more
than a few cats, which is unusual.
Eleanor Abernathy, for example,
has cats dripping off her: she is,
•
Dripping cats
… Eleanor
Abernathy in
The Simpsons
PHOTOGRAPHS: SKY; ALLSTAR; REX; GETTY IMAGES
Vintage
illustration of
a witch and
her black cat
on a broom at
Halloween
essentially, portrayed as a mentally
ill, alcoholic, compulsive hoarder.
There may be some truth in the
idea that animal hoarding is more
common in women. A study in
Brazil found that, while generalised
hoarding disorder affects men
and women equally, nearly threequarters of animal hoarders were
women. Since 2013, the Diagnostic
and Statistical Manual of Mental
Disorders classifies compulsive
hoarding as a psychiatric disorder,
with animal hoarding as a subtype.
Another recent theory is to do
with a parasite called toxoplasma
gondii. This tiny critter infects
rats and mice and changes their
behaviour by, scientists believe,
creating an attraction to cat urine,
so it can wind up in the stomach of
a cat, where it reproduces. It also
infects between 30% and 60% cent
of people. Scientists are exploring
evidence that toxoplasmosis could
create behavioural changes in
people, leading to lots of excited
articles wondering if the parasite is a
clue to explaining the phenomenon
of “crazy cat lady”. The parasite
contains an enzyme that creates
dopamine, which is associated with
risky and impulsive behaviour,
among other things, but so far the
data is inconclusive.
But, really, the concept of the
crazy cat lady tells us more about
societal perceptions of women
than anything else. It has long
been a pejorative term and a
device for transferring shame and
judgment on women who challenged
traditional roles, or were hard to
domesticate and keep in line. Here
is the co-creator of Batman, Bob
Kane, explaining his creation of Cat
Woman: “I felt that women were
feline creatures and men were more
like dogs. While dogs are faithful
and friendly, cats are cool, detached
and unreliable … cats are as hard to
understand as women are,” he said.
“You always need to keep women
at arm’s length. We don’t want
anyone taking over our souls, and
women have a habit of doing that.”
But millennial ailurophiles
have had enough. Over the last few
years, there have been multivalent
efforts to debunk the crazy cat
lady stereotype and project a
positive view of women and their
cats. Pussy is striking back.
Katy Perry
in the 2012
documentary
film Katy Perry:
Part of Me
From glossy fashion magazines
celebrating the feline-human
relationship – Cat People, Puss
Puss – to Taylor Swift and Katy
Perry’s unashamed adoration
of their feline pets, the stereotype
is being recalibrated. CatCon
Worldwide, a new conference
celebrating cat culture, has,
as its core value, the desire to
“change the negative perception
of the crazy cat lady and prove
that it is possible to be hip,
stylish, and have a cat”.
The book Cat Lady Chic (2012)
offered elegant images of cat-owners
Audrey Hepburn, Georgia O’Keeffe,
Diana Ross and Zelda Fitzgerald
as an antidote to the Eleanor
Abernathy archetype. And Girls
& Their Cats, a sophisticated
series of photographs of women
and their feline companions, was
created by Brooklyn-based fashion
photographer BriAnne Wills to help
dismantle the stereotype.“It just
wasn’t representative of any of the
cat ladies I personally knew, who are
all independent, cool, career-driven
women who really love their cats,”
she said. “Also, there are more
than a million cats euthanised
each year so if women (and men)
are afraid to adopt because of
negative stereotypes it definitely
hurts cats in the long run.”
I
Taylor Swift with
her cat in New York.
Below: Robert de Niro
on Saturday Night Live
‘Over the past few
years, there have
been many efforts
to debunk the
stereotypes’
n the memorable short
story Cat Person (2017),
Kristen Roupenian
inverts the cat lady
trope by giving her male
protagonist, Robert, a
couple of pet cats. She employs the
presence of Robert’s felines as a
symbol that Margot uses to construct
her image of him. “We decide
that it means something that a
person likes cats instead of dogs,”
said Roupenian in an interview.
But there is something sinister
going on. Margot never sees the
cats, and wonders if Robert has
lied about them. So what is it
about pretending to have cats
that might endear Margot to him
in a sexual setting? Is he using
his cats to lure her in?
But perhaps the moment
the crazy cat lady motif truly
jumped the shark was with the
song Buttload of Cats on an
episode of the television series
Crazy Ex-Girlfriend earlier this
year. Rebecca Bunch walks
herself down to the Lonely
Lady Cat Store. “The smell is
overwhelming inside / This is the
future smell of my house / It’s
the smell of my dreams that have
died,” she sings. “When you’re
a permanent bachelorette / It’s
mandatory that you go out and get /
A buttload of cats / Oh, yeah!” The song made a mockery of the
hysteria projected on women
who own cats. So is the notion
of the crazy cat lady over? Wills
believes there is still work to be
done to change perceptions, but
she hopes that her photography
project will help. “It is 2018,”
she says, “and women are tired
of defending themselves.”
And their love for their cats.
Wide awoke
Chitra
Ramaswamy
‘Janelle Monáe’s
vagina pants
make me cheer‘
Vaginas don’t get the best press. They
are either being grabbed by future US
presidents, trolled on social media,
en route to a labiaplasty, mistrusted
for their monthly capacity to shed
blood or weaponised in the endless
debates over gender-neutral toilets.
So when Janelle Monáe, a black,
queer, working-class star, shows up
in her latest music video sporting
a giant pair of juicy vagina pants, it’s
joyous and uplifting.
Pynk, Monáe’s new single,
its video directed by Emma
Westernberg and featuring the
equally bonkers Grimes, is a queer,
arch and deliciously sexy ode to the
vagina. Those pants are essentially
chaps reconfigured as hot-pink
labia – and it doesn’t get gayer than
that. In the video, Monáe and her
gang of women romp around the
desert, drive pink convertibles and
wear knickers bearing slogans such
as “I grab back” on them. We really
need to come up with a female
equivalent of “phallic” to do all this
justice. Vulvic?
So this is what pussy power
reclaimed by black women in the 21st
century looks like: fun and inclusive.
The whole thing is, happily, about
as subtle as a sledgehammer; at one
point Monáe’s rumoured girlfriend,
the actor Tessa Thompson, pops her
head out from between her billowing
vagina legs with a saucy grin. But the
point is serious. Not all the women
are wearing vagina pants because,
well, not all women have vaginas.
Or as Monáe put it on Twitter, “No
matter if you have a vagina or not.”
Thompson’s response to being
thanked for “giving black girls
their own Vagina Monologues”
was: “to all the black girls that
need a monologue that don’t have
Vaginas, I’m listening”. Here’s the
thing: vaginas can be enjoyed and
celebrated by anyone, but everyone
should respect them.
It wasn’t that long ago that
Whitney Houston’s skin was
allegedly being lightened by her
label in publicity shots and black
artists were routinely expected to
“cross over”. To be more white, in
other words, if they wanted success.
Monáe’s video is an unashamed
celebration of black female
sexuality. Frankly, whether you
have a vagina or not, this is progress
worth celebrating.
The Guardian
Tuesday 17 April 2018
7
•
Soothe yourself
to sleep with a
Buddhist robot
Sleep sells: how
rest became our
greatest luxury
Tiredness is the new norm and firms are selling us
spooning robots and cuddle blankets. But is this really the
route to a good night’s sleep, asks Ellie Violet Bramley
R
ockwell Shah
speaks with almost
evangelical zeal
about sleep. He is
the CEO of Pzizz, an
app that “designs
dynamic audio” to get you to “sleep
at the push of a button”; for him,
bedtime is a “sleep experience”.
Does he use his own app? “Oh
my God! All the time.” As a sleep
entrepreneur, what is his bedtime
routine like – does he swear by
camomile tea or special pyjamas?
“I have a Purple mattress. I love the
darn thing; it’s not like anything
you’ve ever experienced with a
mattress before, you basically
float on top of it.” He does not, he
clarifies, have any affiliation to
the company. He is just truly that
excited about shuteye.
Who can blame him? A good
night’s sleep helps our memory,
learning and mood. So it is no
wonder that an industry of brighteyed sleep entrepreneurs has
awoken around our quest for
better, deeper, longer sleep. They
are offering everything from sleep
trackers to white noise machines
and hi-tech pyjamas that claim to
create “an advanced sleep system
for better rest and recovery”, made
from bioceramic material that
“absorbs the body’s natural heat
8
The Guardian
Tuesday 17 April 2018
and reflects that energy back into
the skin”. Then there is a new robot,
versed in “thousands of years of
Buddhist breathing techniques”, that
promises to soothe you to sleep, if
only you spoon it. Yours to order for
€539 (£466).
In the world of sleep, business
is booming: according to a 2017
McKinsey report, the sleephealth industry – anything from
bedding and sound control to sleep
consultants and prescription sleep
aids – “is collectively estimated to
be worth between $30bn and $40bn
and has historically grown by more
than 8% a year, with few signs of
slowing down”.
At a time when our innate ability to
sleep is being kiboshed by work, life
and disruptive partners – one recent
study found that 30% of Americans
wanted a “sleep divorce” – capitalism
is, for better or worse, finding a way
to sell it back to us.
Just look at the mattress market. In
recent years, mattresses have become
a highly desirable commodity, sold
by companies that increasingly
behave like tech startups, putting
growth at their core and accessing
venture capital markets more usually
associated with Silicon Valley. The
New York-based online mattress
retailer Casper reached $100m
in sales in 2015, the year after it
launched; British company Simba
expects sales of £100m by next
year, having launched in 2016.
The Pzizz app launched in
October 2016 and now has more than
half a million downloads across 160
countries. The Duke of York declared
himself a fan, and JK Rowling said it
was the “best I’ve used by a mile”.
Shah spent 10 years working in a
medical software company before
starting the app, fuelled by his own
past struggles to nod off as well as
a “recognition that sleep has been
declared a public health crisis”. He
describes in more detail how Pzizz
works: “dreamscapes engineered
to lull your body into sleep” are
paired with voiceovers “based on
clinical sleep interventions, things
like progressive muscle relaxation,
sleep hypnosis, breathing exercises
and autogenic training”, a technique
that teaches your body to respond
to verbal commands. The scripts are
modular, meaning “literally billions
of variations”, and the voice actors
are chosen for possessing “that
special quality” – they know how to
“speak in a certain way that just …
gets you …” – he slows his voice right
down – “to … relax”.
It certainly sounds relaxing.
But what does the meteoric rise
of this industry say about our
lives – are we in a sleep crisis?
“The simple answer is ‘yes’,” says
Dr Guy Meadows, the co-founder
and clinical director of the Sleep
School, which runs insomnia
clinics in central London, “we are
in a sleeplessness epidemic.” A
perfect storm has settled over our
bedrooms, and it is stopping us from
drifting off. “Tiredness,” he says,
“is the new norm.”
The internet is awash with
concern about sleep, its quality,
length and regularity. Recent articles
warn us that “One bad night’s sleep
may increase levels of Alzheimer’s
protein”; that “Late risers [are] at
increased risk of early death” and
explain “Why going to bed in the
wrong pyjamas could be affecting
your sleep”.
Children around the world
are sleeping less – in the UK, for
instance, hospital attendances
for children under 14 with sleep
disorders have tripled over the past
10 years. The Centers for Disease
Control and Prevention reports that
a third of US adults say they usually
get less than the recommended
amount of sleep. The World Health
‘We’ve invaded
the night and
fitted more into
the day. Sleep is
the first victim’
•
‘Once businesses
paid staff not to
sleep – now they
teach them how to
get better sleep’
Organization recommends between
seven and nine hours a night, but
a 2013 study by the National Sleep
Foundation showed the average
adult in the UK is getting just 6hr
49min each weeknight. People are
falling asleep on New York’s subway
so frequently that Mayor Bill de
Blasio backed a scheme to start
waking them up.
From academics to entrepreneurs, everyone agrees that a large
portion of blame lies with digital
technology. Watching The Good
Place on Netflix with one eye on
Instagram and another on the news
is not, it turns out, a recipe for good
sleep. And it is not just the blue light
of screens that we have all come
to dread, the wavelength of which
affects levels of the sleep-inducing
hormone melatonin. “We are more
connected, and more stimulated –
in a cognitive sense,” says Meadows.
“Our brain is not switching off,
which is affecting its ability to
gradually downshift its gears
into sleep.”
Going back to a much earlier tech
revolution, electricity means we
can choose to stay up until all hours.
“We’ve invaded the night,” says Dr
Russell Foster, the director of the
Sleep and Circadian Neuroscience
Institute at the University of Oxford,
“and we’ve fitted more and more
into the working day. Sleep has been
the first victim.”
Work was once unlikely to be
allowed into the bedroom, but can
now commonly be found there, and
not just in midnight email sessions.
Shah points to the insecurity of the
gig economy: “It has ramifications.
Everybody is worried all the time
about where the next paycheck is
coming from,” he says.
Therein lies what a lot of the
chatter around sleep seems to miss
– that many people can’t afford to
get enough; a good night’s sleep has
become a luxury. Those in richer
countries tend to get more. And the
richer people in those countries tend
to get more than the poor. According
to a University of Chicago study
from 2006, US adults are more likely
to get more sleep, and sleep better,
if they are white, wealthy and –
perhaps surprisingly – women.
O
ur obsession
with sleep has
coincided with,
and in some ways
been consolidated
into, the wellness
industry. Sleep has been given that
most modern of makeovers – it
has been Goop-ified, given the
clean-sleeping treatment, with
Gwyneth Paltrow evangelising
about making sleep a priority and
Sleep aids
camomile tea
and (top right)
the Gravity
Blanket
her 10-hour-a-night ideal. People are
being encouraged to douse vetiverscented wellness oil between their
toes or do a five-minute foam-rolling
session right before heading to bed.
But that doesn’t negate the
fact that all of us, even those with
expensive pillows and oily toes,
could probably use more sleep. Even
if the numbers on sleeplessness
make for grim reading, it is still
good news that our attitudes are
shifting. Foster says: “We’re right
to take sleep seriously. It is 36% of
our biology, and it has been largely
marginalised and ignored.”
When Trump declared, at a
campaign event in Illinois in 2015,
“I have a great temperament for
success. You know, I’m not a big
sleeper, I like three hours, four
hours, I toss, I turn, I beep-debeep,” his sleep bravado sounded
retrograde, a vestige of 1980s Wall
Street, where money never slept
because sleeping was for wimps.
The cult of “manly wakefulness”
(as opposed to female “beauty
sleep”), as Prof Alan Derickson
coined it in his 2013 book
Dangerously Sleepy, has been
superseded – now we see a bit more
shuteye and a bit less beep-de-beep
as no bad thing. It perhaps helps
that Bill Clinton, who was said to
get only four to six hours while in
office, has since admitted: “Most of
the mistakes I made, I made when I
was too tired.” Anyone can sleep for
a meagre few hours a night, but only
a “minute percentage” can do that
and function, says Meadows.
The corporate workshop side
of Meadows’ sleep school has
expanded massively since its launch
in 2008. Now one of the largest parts
of the business is going into banks,
law firms and ad agencies to provide
a programme of sleep education for
employees. Where once businesses
were paying their staff not to sleep,
now they are paying to teach them
how to get better sleep. Little
wonder when 200,000 working
days a year are lost to absenteeism
caused by lack of sleep in the UK,
and sleep-deprived workers cost the
UK economy £40bn a year.
It has been just over a decade
since Arianna Huffington collapsed
from sleep deprivation and arose
to stage her call to arms – and to the
bedroom – putting paid to the idea
that CEOs or indeed anyone can
function on what many of us would
count as a long nap each night. And
many people have tried to heed her
message, if they can afford to (it is
worth noting that Huffington has
“nine or so” assistants).
In recent years, Amazon’s
bestseller list has been topped by a
children’s book called The Rabbit
Who Wants to Fall Asleep. It is
written by a Swedish psychologist
and its focus and structure are
designed to lull children into
slumber. And adults are queueing
up in pyjama’d throngs to be put to
sleep by classical music – from Berlin
to Sydney, Max Richter’s Sleep,
an eight-hour “personal lullaby
for a frenetic world”, has turned a
sleepover into a good night out.
So what led to this change in
mindset? One answer lies in the lab.
“What has fundamentally changed,”
says Foster, is that “serious
neuroscientists have started to
take sleep seriously – it was a bit
of a graveyard of the neuroscience
world.” But not any more – and the
“data emerging is quite spectacular”.
He rattles some off in a torrent so
convincing it will make you want to
head straight to bed: the “beautiful
experiment” published by Jan Born
in 2004 that showed the massive
impact sleep can have on problemsolving. The “nice data” from Eve
Van Cauter’s University of Chicago
lab that found that sleep loss in
healthy young adults increased
their risk of type 2 diabetes. And
the experiment that showed you
are less likely to remember words
with a positive value (think: love or
joy) if you are sleep-deprived – “Our
level of sleep will very much reflect
the way we remember positive and
negative experiences.” Anecdotally,
it stacks up – who isn’t moody when
they have too little sleep?
“If you’re not fully rested,” Foster
continues, “then you tend to be
overly impulsive – jumping that
red light; unreflective of things that
you do; you lack empathy, so your
ability to pick up the social signals of
others is not good. Tired people not
only fail to come up with innovative
solutions to complex problems – to
use this extraordinary brain – but
their ability to function generally,
sense of humour, social interactions
fall apart really quickly.” And that, he
says, is just short-term sleep loss.
“For a long time,” says Meadows,
“insomnia has been thought of as
a symptom of poor mental health.
Now we know that actually it is also a
trigger – sleep is considered an early
warning sign, a canary down the
coalmine for anxiety, depression,
bipolar.” With the science of sleep
proving Virginia Woolf was playing
with fire when she dismissed
shuteye as a “deplorable curtailment
of the joy of life”, it is no wonder
we’re anxious to get enough.
M
any of us turn to
sleep trackers for
help. Trackers
claiming to
measure how
long we are
sleeping, and what kind of sleep we
are getting – light, deep or REM – are
now common bed companions.
Foster is wary: “They have been half
validated and they sort of work for
people who have very stable sleep/
wake patterns, but if you have any
irregularity or fall outside of the
normal range, and that’s most of us,
they fall apart very quickly.” While
“they are great for empowering
you to say: ‘Yeah, there’s a bunch
of stuff I can do to improve my
sleep,’” he says, “I don’t think we’re
there yet with these devices …
[But] everybody’s jumped on the
bandwagon … a lot of people take
these things very seriously.”
Cut to sleep’s very modern, meta
disorder: orthosomnia. Dr Sabra
Abbott, a professor in neurology
and sleep medicine at Northwestern
Memorial hospital, co-coined the
term with her colleague Dr Kelly
Baron in a 2017 paper, Are Some
Patients Taking the Quantified Self
Too Far?. She tells me how they
started seeing patients who “didn’t
necessarily initially have sleep
complaints – their primary concern
was that their tracker was telling
them they weren’t getting the right
amount or right type of sleep. It
seemed,” she says, “that the device
was creating a sleep problem that
may not have otherwise been there.”
Foster likens this interest in
sleep trackers to “when domestic
electrification first came in. A whole
bunch of people started to wire
up houses and a number of them
burned down, because they didn’t
know how to use the equipment.”
Orthosomnia seems to be one
symptom of an industry that grew
rapidly and has left consumers with
more data than we know what to do
with (albeit not always accurate).
It is tempting to draw a parallel
with the world of social media – we
are using a ton of it and we are not
yet sure what impact it is having.
“Every step change encounters
the same thing,” reflects Foster. “It
is a massive interest – things have
pushed forward so fast that there is a
great vacuum behind it.”
But the sleep industry is not all
gadgetry. At the pleasingly lo-tech
end you will find the weighted
Gravity Blanket, available in three
gradations of heaviness: seven,
nine or 11kg. According to the
company’s CEO Mike Grillo, it
“mimics the feeling of being hugged
or embraced”. This “releases
serotonin”, he says, “stimulates
melatonin, helps decrease cortisol
levels, which is linked to stress and
anxiety, and that is what induces the
calming and grounded effect”. Not
bad for a heavy blanket.
When it comes to the evidence
behind it, “there is still a lot of
science to be done”, Grillo concedes
– according to the New Yorker,
Gravity early on deleted a section
from its Kickstarter page claiming
it “can be used to treat a variety of
ailments”, including insomnia, posttraumatic stress disorder, obessivecompulsive disorder and attention
deficit hyperactivity disorder.
But it obviously struck a chord:
it has raised just shy of $5m on
Kickstarter to date. Its original
fundraising goal had been $21,500.
It is tempting to slot it into the
tumultuous present – what had
been “used in more niche patient
populations for some time”, says
Grillo, began to have wider appeal
after the 2016 election of Donald
Trump “and the Brexit vote”.
In a recent article about Gravity
in the New Yorker, the writer Jia
Tolentino describes how it “enacts
a fantasy of immobilisation that
is especially seductive in a world
of ever-expanding obligations – to
work, to monetise, to take action,
to perform”.
An industry for an anxious age,
then, where screens and work have
invaded our bedrooms and world
leaders sit up into the small hours
beep-de-beep-ing. Now, where’s
that breathing robot? I might need
to spoon it.
The Guardian
Tuesday 17 April 2018
9
•
Arts
The call of
the weird
Need someone to play a gender-fluid psychotic figment
of a mutant’s imagination? Then send for Aubrey
Plaza. Rachel Aroesti meets the defiantly eccentric
star of the superhero psychodrama Legion
A
ubrey Plaza finds
it hard to describe
her character in TV
superhero drama
Legion. Is she alive
or dead? Good or
evil? Human or mutant? Real or a
figment of the lead character, mutant
David Haller’s imagination? “That’s
a really, really good question,” says
Plaza, before adding that Lenny
Busker began as a human woman,
then became trapped in a dimension
of Haller’s mind, and has now been
stranded by the evil Shadow King
on the “astral plane”. It’s “a total
mindfuck”, says Plaza. “It’s mentally
and physically exhausting to not exist
as a human. At the end of the day I
would just feel like nothing, just this
rag doll that’s been thrown around.”
Legion’s strangeness might be
stifling, but the 33-year-old has long
specialised in disconcerting kooks.
She is best known for playing April
Ludgate in Parks and Recreation,
a sardonic and contrarian member
of the low-level local government
department who spends her days
spouting morbid soundbites and
making people feel uncomfortable.
It was a part written especially for
her after a casting director told the
show’s co-creator Michael Schur that
she had met “the weirdest girl” and
he should work her into the sitcom.
Soon it would become obvious to
everyone that Plaza’s strangeness
wasn’t confined to the screen. In
2013, for reasons she would later
refuse to explain, she stormed the
stage at the MTV Movie awards
and attempted to wrestle Will
Ferrell’s award from his hands. On
YouTube, people began making
compilations of her eye-wateringly
awkward chatshow appearances,
characterised by eerily deadpan
jokes and a thousand-yard stare.
Plaza’s oddball shtick has been
convincing enough to earn her
some high-profile gigs: over the past
decade she’s brought her singular
sensibility to a swath of comedies,
from Judd Apatow’s Funny People to
People have
made YouTube
compilations of
her eye-wateringly
awkward chatshow
appearances
10
the frankly alarming Robert De Niro
vehicle Dirty Grandpa.
Last year, however, Plaza took her
eccentric persona to new dramatic
heights in the comedy-drama Ingrid
Goes West, which she also produced.
As Ingrid, a lost and lonely young
woman who obsesses over and
eventually infiltrates the life of an
Instagram influencer, Plaza was both
peculiarly amusing and hauntingly
sad.
Ingrid Goes West is a brilliant
distillation of the compulsion and
deceit hardwired into platforms
like Instagram; for Plaza, it was a
message that really hit home. “In
Ingrid, you have someone who
already has enough trouble having
normal healthy relationships, then
you give them a device that lets them
play out their most toxic impulses,”
she says, over the phone from her
home in Los Angeles. “And I think
on a smaller scale that’s what’s
happening with everyone on social
media.”
Plaza briefly deleted her Twitter
account in 2016, signing off with the
message: “Dear Twitter it’s been
fun but I’ve realised you are wrong
for me and maybe the world.” She
explains that she has “such a hard
time” with social media. “Most of
the time it just makes me feel bad. I
know the feeling of being scared not
to engage with social media because
you feel like ‘I’m going to lose these
connections and lose this awareness
of myself’, but it’s all bullshit. I
haven’t been on Facebook in over
10 years. It’s changed nothing in my
life, I don’t think about it at all.”
Though it’s adapted from a Marvel
comic, Legion, which returns for its
second series this week, certainly
isn’t your average superhero fare.
nner Noah
With Fargo showrunner
m, it’s set in a retroHawley at the helm,
erse, and spends
futurist 1960s universe,
ning fight scenes
less time on deafening
and more on goofy dance routines.
at differentiates
Another thing that
Legion from the restt of the Marvel
tion of mental
universe is its depiction
ed by Downton
illness. Haller, played
Abbey’s Dan Stevenss, and Plaza’s
ginally meet in
character Lenny originally
atric hospital,
Clockworks psychiatric
as received a
where the former has
nosis as a
schizophrenia diagnosis
” he is
result of the “voices”
aller is
able to hear. Once Haller
rescued, however, he is told
e not
that those voices are
pathic
symptoms but telepathic
powers. In a world where
om
television shows from
The Guardian
Tuesday 17 April 2018
‘I have some friends
who can’t watch me’
… Aubrey Plaza;
below, as April in
Parks and Recreation
with Nick Offerman
Mr Robot to Crazy Ex-Girlfriend are
tackling mental
m
health with increasing
sensitivit
sensitivity, Legion’s equation of
mental illness
ill
and superheroism has
divided critics,
c
with some praising
Legion’s detailed
d
depiction of the
condition
condition, and others criticising the
show for u
using schizophrenia as a
flimsy way
w to court thrills.
Bus
Busker begins (and, in some
sens
senses,
ends) her life in a
psy
psychiatric
ward, so I’m
int
interested
to hear Plaza’s
ta
take on the issue. Yet while
sh acknowledges her
she
ch
character
had “addiction
p
problems”,
Plaza sounds
u
unclear
about Lenny’s
p
precise
ailment, claiming
“i
“it wasn’t something that
w ever labelled”. For that
was
re
reason,
she says, she didn’t
do much research into the subject
of mental illness in preparation for
the role. Instead, she stresses the
way the show mines horror from
the disorientating nature of mental
distress. “What is real, what is not
real – it’s the overall question,”
says Plaza. “Going mad is one of
the scariest ideas for me. To not
trust your own mind is a really
frightening idea.”
Legion is indeed frightening.
A sense of nameless horror pervades
every scene, as the grotesque
monsters that plague Haller’s
memories shift in and out of focus
(“I have some friends who can’t
watch it because they’re so disturbed
by it,” says Plaza). Lenny was initially
written to be played by a middleaged man, with Plaza insisting all the
original dialogue remained intact,
•
How we made
Jesus Jones Right Here, Right Now
‘We suddenly started
getting calls telling us
Bill Clinton was using
it as his campaign
song. Then Hillary
used it as hers. I think
it got stuck in their car
stereo and was the
only song they knew’
Trapped …
Plaza seated as
the dimensionstraddling Lenny
in Legion, with
Dan Stevens and
Rachel Keller
Jesus Jones,
with Edwards
front and Baker
second right
meaning Lenny ends up both crass
and subtly androgynous.
It’s something that becomes
especially apparent when Lenny is
viewed in the context of the show’s
other major female character Syd,
a wide-eyed, girlish mutant who
begins a romantic relationship with
Haller. I ask Plaza how it feels to play
a character whose gender seems
so ambiguous. “I love it,” she says.
“There’s a fluidity to Lenny and I just
think it’s more interesting playing a
character that’s not so identifiable.
It’s really fun to decide how someone
like that moves and looks – it’s
allowed me to do whatever I want.”
Sporting a curly bob and a
selection of suits and dungarees,
Plaza spends most of Legion
physically unrecognisable –
swaggering and manspreading, as
well as cajoling and threatening
Haller with a blokey air. But as
time goes on and the Shadow King
becomes more desperate, Lenny
uses intimidation tactics that feel
sexually loaded and sinister. “I think
it’s really interesting when you have
a character like that pitted against
someone like David Haller,” says
Plaza. “That dynamic was always
really interesting to me because I
feel like Lenny has a sexual energy
to her, but it’s not always a feminine
energy, it’s more kind of masculine.”
Despite being possessed by the
embodiment of evil, throughout all
of this Lenny also remains Haller’s
close pal from the psychiatric
hospital, and Plaza interprets the
original characters’ relationship
as sexual too. “At times it feels like
they’re just friends and at times
it feels like there’s some kind of
attraction there,” she says.
Mike Edwards
Songwriter, singer
She describes
her next film as ‘a
quadrangle love
story between four
freaks’. It is already
disturbing critics
Plaza’s next project is unsettling
in a different sense. She stars in An
Evening With Beverly Luff Linn, a
film by Jim Hoskings, whose grossout debut The Greasy Strangler
proved to be one of the more curious
films of 2016. Plaza describes it as
a “quadrangle love story between
four freaks”, and the film, which also
features her Legion co-star Jemaine
Clement, has already disturbed
critics on the festival circuit (the
Hollywood Reporter called it
“strenuously weird”). It’s another
eccentric addition to her CV, but
Plaza still feels as if she doesn’t get
enough odd scripts.
“I like them strange,” she says.
“I want more of them. I’ve always
been drawn to weird movies. I loved
John Waters and Christopher
Guest growing up, and I’m always
looking for stories you just can’t
believe someone would think up.”
Considering a dimension-hopping,
mutant-baiting creature wasn’t
enough to sate Plaza’s appetite
for strange stories, you suspect
that where weirdness is concerned,
the astral plane’s not quite the
limit.
Legion season two starts tonight
at 9pm on Fox.
PHOTOGRAPHS: DAVE TONGE/GETTY
PHOTOGRAPHS: ROBBY KLEIN/GETTY IMAGES; CHRIS LARGE/FX; NEON; NBC
Compulsion
and deceit…
with Elizabeth
Olsen, left, in
Ingrid Goes West
At the end of 1989, I was listening to Simple
Minds’ cover of Prince’s Sign o’ the Times
[which lamented the concerns of the era – from
Aids to urban poverty and drug addiction]. On
the TV was coverage of the Berlin Wall coming
down, and all these people celebrating. I never
thought that I’d see such a thing in my lifetime,
and I wanted to write a sort of updated but
positive Sign o’ the Times to reflect what was
happening.
For the original instrumental demo version
of Right Here, Right Now, I sampled the Prince
song. I had a two-bar loop from it run all the
way throughout as my drum and bass track,
and I played some guitar chords over it. Then
I made a guitar solo out of lots of Jimi Hendrix
samples mashed together, because I wanted to
be on a record with Hendrix.
Our producer, Martyn Phillips, had just
sampled an opera singer on a track by the
Beloved. Apparently, the singer had walked
into a greengrocer’s and heard herself on
someone else’s record, and Martyn was badly
stung for it financially. As soon as he heard our
Prince and Hendrix samples he said, “You’re
not using those!”, and so we had to rebuild
the track from top to bottom. The lyrics –
“Right here, right now, there is no other place
I want to be / Right here, right now, watching
the world wake up from history” – were just
something to hang the tune on.
Straight after finishing it, we went to play
in Romania. It was just after the fall of the
Ceaușescu regime and his execution, and we
saw bullet holes in all the buildings. It looked
like a place that had been in a war. People there
had this saying, “We couldn’t trust the pillow
we slept on”, because the secret police had
been everywhere. The country was emerging
out of a tunnel, which was exactly what I was
singing about.
The song went to No 31 in the UK. The US
record company insisted they needed a remix
to release there. I sat in as a top producer and
was paid a ridiculous amount to take the track
apart and reconstruct it. At the end, it sounded
identical. But it went to No 2 – only Bryan
Adams’ (Everything I Do) I Do It for You kept us
off the top spot. On the back of the US success,
it was rereleased in the UK and went to No 31
again, but it’s become our best-known hit.
It has a poignancy today because I don’t feel
anything like as optimistic. Again, I feel like
we could be on the brink of Armageddon. But
if things could change very quickly then, they
could just as easily do so now.
Iain Baker
Keyboards
I vividly remember the grotty bedsit in Chapter
Road, near Dollis Hill in London, where Mike
started the song. There was a bed, a chest of
drawers, a coffee table piled high with musical
equipment, a fireplace stacked with cassette
tapes, and a poster for Subway, the Luc Besson
film. It was the last place you’d imagine a
gangly 24-year-old bloke to come up with a
song that played a role in two US elections.
In 1992, we suddenly started getting all
these calls and faxes telling us that Bill Clinton
was using Right Here, Right Now as his
campaign song. Then, in 2007, Hillary started
using it in her campaign as well. Looking back,
it’s brilliant but ridiculous. I remember calling
Mike, and saying to him, “I’m pretty sure their
car stereo is knackered and our CD got stuck in
there, so when they needed a campaign song,
it was the only one they knew.”
The track was originally called Nelson, after
Prince Rogers Nelson. We thought the Simple
Minds version of his Sign o’ the Times was
awful, so went back to his original, but Right
Here, Right Now only really took shape once
we got rid of the Prince samples.
The other big influence was Lou Reed,
especially his New York album. Mike was
aiming for this Lou Reed-y guitar line, but in
the process found something else entirely, so
Right Here, Right Now sounds nothing like
him at all. Back then, we were one of the first
groups mixing rock guitars with samples, and
people said: “That’s not real music.” But I’d
been going to acid-house clubs and hearing
music that was entirely made from samples,
so had enough youthful arrogance to think,
“Don’t be silly, grandad!”
Interviews by Dave Simpson. Jesus Jones’s new
album, Passages, is released by Absolute Label
Services on 20 April. UK tour starts on 21 April.
The Guardian
Tuesday 17 April 2018
11
•
Live reviews
Knowing
ridiculousness …
Andrew WK
Pop
Andrew WK
★★★★☆
O2 Forum Kentish Town, London
PHOTOGRAPHS: BURAK CINGI/REDFERNS; REY TROMBETTA; MYKOOL THOMAS
Touring until Sunday
Theatre
Tell Me
the Truth
About Love
★★★★☆
Sage, Gateshead
T
he chants of “Party!
Party!” are loud
enough they must be
audible from miles
away. It is easy to
imagine that Andrew
WK’s own heartbeat pulses to their
rhythm, so wedded does he seem to
partying, and to the adulation of his
fans. There’s more than a little of the
cartoon character to WK, his arms
like massive hams, his toothy beam
visible from Venus. His band could
easily have sprung from the HannaBarbera drawing board – a Slayer
roadie, a mutton-chopped wrestler,
a beefcake beach-bum, a riot-grrl
fret-melter and so on – performing
with such OTT charisma they’re
like the kids from Fame if they had
formed a metal band.
At their best – the neanderthal
hedonism of I Get Wet, the
hammering, catchy blitz of Party
Til You Puke – WK’s adrenalised,
over-driven rock party anthems are
so “dumb” they’re brilliant. But
while there’s a knowing
ridiculousness to much of his set
tonight, you’d be a fool to mistake
it for anything as cynical as a joke.
For one thing, he’s totally earnest
in his role as party-starter,
pumping his fists and delivering
thumbs-ups and quickly sweating
until his white T-shirt is chewinggum grey, so full-on and energetic
and natural an entertainer that
Queen missed a trick not nabbing
WK as their post-Freddie frontman.
But there’s also a depth beneath
the giddy hedonism, especially on
the tunes from recent album
You’re Not Alone, his first set of
new songs in 12 years. The lyrics
are darker and concern subjects
beyond partying and puking, the
music more complex and ambitious,
wild and dramatic, as if someone
took Jim Steinman slam-dancing.
The album includes passages from
his secondary career as a
T
he room is covered
in confetti. There’s
a huge wedding
cake. Royal Northern
Sinfonia make a
superior wedding
band. Guests mill around in their
finery – and suddenly start to sing
the cabaret song by Britten that
gives the show its title. Described
as a “Tyneside love opera”, Tell Me
the Truth About Love is ostensibly
the story of Tina, a bridesmaid who
has never been in love, played by
accomplished mezzo-soprano Anna
Huntley, but it’s more than that. The
majority of the singers and actors are
from Streetwise Opera, comprised
of people who have experienced or
are at risk of homelessness. They
bring not technical excellence
but rich experience to Up Where
We Belong, a hit in 1982 for Joe
Cocker and Jennifer Warnes;
lines such as “The road is long /
There are mountains in our way”
become newly moving.
With songs ranging from Stevie
Transformative …
mezzo-soprano
Anna Huntley
Wonder’s Isn’t She Lovely to Geordie
standard Blaydon Races, a bawdy
north-east wedding becomes a
vehicle to deliver romantic and
deeper truths. There is wonderful
dialogue by Meriel Sheibani-Clare,
sung and spoken, about outfits
(“And nice knickers, in case you
get hit by a bus”) and guests (“Shorty
next door. Lovely bloke. Has his own
motivational speaker, some of
which he revisits tonight, drilling
his fans to “Stay strong and keep
on going,” sounding like a welltherapised Iggy Pop.
Andrew WK clearly adores his
followers, and the affection is
mutual, with several stagedivers impersonating his uniform
of white-tee-andjeans (another
Andrew
is dressed,
WK revisits
bafflingly,
his second
as Captain
career as a
Birdseye). But
motivational you sense he
speaker,
needs these
drilling
acolytes to stay
his fans to
aloft, that he
imagines he
‘Stay strong’
might not exist
if they weren’t
here to bellow
along to his
titanic choruses. Indeed, his recent
wilderness years, following a
confusing legal dispute, perhaps
explain this vulnerability, and the
passion with which he delivers
Music Is Worth Living For and
the rueful Break the Curse.
Mostly, however, WK doesn’t
dwell on the darkness, and given
our current bleak epoch, his
dedication to the cause of partying
is a blessing. “This song’s about
taking all your fears and throwing
them into the abyss!” he bellows
before Tear It Up. Moments later
he’s leading his throng through
another rousing chorus of
“We wanna get wasted!” And
moments after that, You Will
Remember Tonight achieves the
platonic ideal of gleeful airhead rock
before the song collapses into an
orgy of arch rock’n’roll excess,
a barrage of blast beats and three
guitarists soloing wildly at once,
as WK hammers his piano like a
homicidal Liberace. Microphone
stuffed down his jeans, he hollers:
“Sweat’s just mother nature’s proof
that you’re partying hard!” It’s hard
to argue with him.
Stevie Chick
garage.”) We learn we are 90%
more likely to “meet someone”
at a wedding, there’s a swipe at
“tax-dodging millionaires” and
the bride’s “mam” suddenly
confesses to having a long-lost
lover at the biscuit factory.
Fun and frolics turn into a
powerful wallop about the decline
of the north-east shipyards and
resulting social carnage, and there
is a showstopping performance of
Jimmy Nail’s Big River (“Everything
they tried so hard to kill / We will
rebuild”). It gets more schmaltzy
towards the end as Tina – inevitably
– finds love and the feelgood factor
is ramped up for broad appeal. It is
a tricky balance, but the stars are
Streetwise Opera: the likes of
Santino Tayler-Barrett, a crucifix
tattoo creeping over his
bridegroom’s suit, and Louise
Webster, whose big heart fills the
room as the bride. They and their
talented co-stars are transforming
their own lives and inspiring others.
Dave Simpson
Crowd-pleaser …
Mo Gilligan
Comedy
Mo Gilligan
★★★☆☆
Leicester Square theatre, London
Touring until 13 June
I
t’s been a big year for
south London comic
Mo Gilligan. Twelve
months ago, he was selling
jeans. Now, he’s playing
the Albert Hall, Drake
quotes his catchphrases, and he
has sold out 22 nights at Leicester
Square theatre. It all seems out
of proportion to the cheerful
amateurism of the online sketches
that made his name. But there is
no denying he’s equipped for this
level of success: his show Coupla
Cans is a good-time 90 minutes,
showcasing an act with formidable
character-comedy chops and
a lovely ease and confidence.
The material is cosily familiar,
but he brings it to smooth,
sparkling life, always sharing in
the amusement he generates.
The set pieces are usually role plays
(the family wedding; the girls’
night out; the school classroom),
with Gilligan inhabiting many of
the characters who populate his
online work. (Different Type of
Grime MCs; Types of Girls in a Club,
etc.) The social rituals of young
black Britons are laid bare as couples
dance to bashment music. Another
section finds schoolboy Mo ineptly
stealing “ice poles” from under
his authoritarian mum’s nose.
The geezer character who
gives the show its title appears
in a football skit, and we get
Gilligan’s rasta dad reworking
nursery rhymes. The spirit of
Lee Evans (of whom Gilligan is
a fan) haunts a skit about mums
miming song lyrics – one of
several observational routines
that strain for consensuality.
“Every group of guys has the ugly
guy,” he’ll say, or, “All aunties do
that fake auntie smile.” Do they?
There’s no need for that overreach;
there is plenty for us all to
recognise and enjoy in this
crowd-pleasing set by
a newfound star.
Brian Logan
The Guardian
Tuesday 17 April 2018
13
•
TV and radio
Watch this
David
Attenborough
talks trees with
the Queen
Stephen: The Murder
That Changed a Nation
9pm, BBC One
Review
Duwayne Brooks (above), who was with Stephen
Lawrence on the night of 22 April 1993, is now
middle-aged. Stephen is frozen at 18, his life
stolen by racist thugs. Asif Kapadia and James
Gay-Rees’s damning three-part documentary,
stripped across this week, tracks the (at best)
hopeless police investigation, the undermining
of Brooks and the disintegration of the Lawrence
family. It tells an immigrant story that feels
buried in the past, but also grimly relevant.
The Queen’s Green Planet ITV
Sam Wollaston
David Attenborough joins Her
Majesty to plug a right royal
conservation effort
★★★☆☆
T
he Queen has invited David Attenborough
over. To walk around her garden and talk
about trees “and whatever else takes our
fancy”, says Attenborough, tantalisingly.
Oh go on, ask her if she has been watching
The Crown.
She has always loved trees, we learn. To prove it,
there is some footage of her a long time ago with a tree.
Now she has put her name to a splendid project, the
Queen’s Commonwealth Canopy, to create a global
network of protected forest.
Two fine plane trees in the garden at Buckingham
Palace were planted by her great-great-grandparents,
Victoria and Albert. Sometimes they get crows nesting in
them, she tells Attenborough. “We have to get people to
remove them, because it’s not nice to have them outside
your window,” she says. Oh. Couldn’t you get earplugs?
Are you allowed to remove crows’ nests? I guess you are
if you are the Queen.
There are family trees planted for her children,
although they have problems establishing which is
whose. Is that one Edward’s or Andrew’s? They are all
oaks. It would have been more fun if they had planted
trees to match their characters. Maybe a weeping ash
for Charles – not just weeping, but all fuddled and tied
in knots. Anne? Holly – cold and spiky … That said, if
they did it when the children were born, I guess they
wouldn’t have known how they were going to turn out.
Speaking of spiky, the Queen’s dogs don’t like the
prickles on the horse chestnut husks, she says. Perhaps
they get people to remove them, too. Wasn’t it ridiculous
when someone tried to ban children playing conkers,
they agree, health and safety gone mad. “Seems to me
quite a harmless sort of battle thing,” says the Queen.
You can do your own William I gags.
James I planted mulberry trees as food for silkworms,
but he got the wrong kind of mulberry and the silkworms
didn’t make any silk, she says, giggling. Bloody idiot.
It is nice, a tiny split in her own slightly prickly husk
for a glimpse of the conker within. There is more
evidence of humour. “It sounds like President Trump,”
she says, when a helicopter disturbs their chat. “Or
Obama,” she adds, quickly, remembering diplomacy.
14
The Guardian
Tuesday 17 April 2018
Attenborough, deferential to his fellow nonagenarian
in person, is ever so slightly arch in his narration. “A sort
of royal I-was-here,” he calls her tree-planting sprees.
“There’s something life-affirming about it. One, two,
three shovels and people clap.”
“It’s what our family does,” says Prince Harry. “We
travel the world planting trees.” Yes, the grandchildren
are on board with the QCC project. Here, the roles do
appear to have been matched to their personalities.
William is in Canada, making a worthy speech in the
rain. Harry, meanwhile, is in the
Caribbean, playing with kids,
drumming and shaking his booty
with the locals, before planting his
tree. No sign of Meghan, but I think
she is responsible for all this – not
the tree project (that was Labour
MP Frank Field), but the fact that
There are
you can’t keep the new, less prickly
family trees
Windsors off the telly at the moment.
planted for
Namibia doesn’t have many trees
each of the
left. Angelina Jolie is there with all her
Queen’s
children (not all of whom look happy
about it), trying to do something
children
about it. She has opened a nursery –
the tree kind, not the children kind.
I suppose Jolie is royalty of some
kind; that is why she is involved.
Back in London, now inside the palace, the Queen
is having a reception, presenting certificates to the
high commissioners of the countries that have signed
up, gently encouraging those who have yet to do so.
Exercising soft power, Attenborough calls it.
Boris Johnson is here. He is also a tree enthusiast,
apparently. “I, in an almost sort of Teutonic way, rejoice
when I get into a glade or a bosky nook of one kind or
another,” he says. “I won’t say that in a Teutonic way
I disrobe …”
Eurgh, horrid image. Enough of your piffle, Johnson,
this isn’t about you. It is about more important things:
conservation, creating a network to safeguard the
forests of the world and two famous old people walking
around a London garden admiring even older trees.
Phil Harrison
Top of the Shop With
Tom Kerridge
8pm, BBC Two
And
another
thing
Another
hilarious
episode of Plebs
(ITV2). The
charity sector
gets a glorious
splattering
– satirically
and with poo.
Plus, there is
roots reggae
A kind of MasterChef
for kitchen startup
businesses. Tonight, the
strangely flirtatious Tom
Kerridge oversees a group
of picklers and preservers
touting their wares in a
Yorkshire farm shop. Pam
and Emily’s runner bean
chutney seems as if it
might be a goer – but it is
not just about the product.
John Robinson
Paradise Hunters
9pm, Channel 4
“I’ve quit my job. I’ve left
my flat behind,” says Katie,
who works in central
London, commuting
three hours a day. “I
guess it is a gamble.” In
this new series, Katie and
Charlie swap their desks
for careers in the great
outdoors (Mexico and
Scotland, respectively),
hoping to exchange
mundanity for paradise.
Candice Carty-Williams
Tate Britain’s
Great Art Walks
9pm, Sky Arts
Gus Casely-Hayford sets
out on a new series of
artistic odysseys. Tonight,
he explores the influences
of Stanley Spencer, whose
eye for the majesty in
life’s minutiae led to
much celebrated work.
Joining Casely-Hayford
is Billy Connolly, whose
fascination with the
mundane attracted
him to Spencer’s work.
Mark Gibbings-Jones
Legion
9pm, Fox
The psychedelic X-Men
spinoff returns for a
second season of visual
fireworks and opaque
plotting as mutant misfit
David (Dan Stevens)
resumes his search for
body-hopping baddie
the Shadow King. This
opener includes some
unexpected Jon Hamm
narration, a creepy
animated parable and
a pouty dance-off.
Graeme Virtue
Supernatural
10pm, E4
The demon-hunting
Winchester brothers
return for the 13th
season of the glossy –
but frequently gruesome –
fantasy. Sam and Dean are
only just getting over what
happened to their mum
when Lucifer’s son is born,
which will cause them yet
more hassle. Meanwhile,
Mary is having to learn
how to deal with the devil.
Hannah Verdier
•
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(4/4) 5.0 Arrested
Development (4/4) 5.30
Love in Recovery (4/6)
The Guardian
Tuesday 17 April 2018
15
•
no 14,958
Yesterday’s
solutions
Quick crossword
Wordsearch
Across
1 Modest (6)
4 Grieves (6)
8 Evil spirit (5)
9 Kitchen utensil (7)
10 Picks (7)
11 Stressful (5)
12 Achiever (4-5)
17 Brown in front of a fire (5)
19 Greenery (7)
21 Small strongly-flavoured food
fish (7)
22 Scandinavian — vegetable (5)
23 Everything one owns (6)
24 Robber (6)
1
Solution no 14,957
Down
1 Work out (6)
2 Gigantic — extinct animal (7)
3 Encircles (5)
5 Obviously (7)
6 French sculptor of The Kiss, d.
1917 (5)
7 Water ice (6)
9 In a shy and timid manner (9)
13 Clear off ! (3,4)
14 Run into another vehicle from
behind (4-3)
15 Relaxed (2,4)
16 Discover (6)
18 Racecourse near Windsor (5)
20 Bewildered (2,3)
E
Y
A
O
H
A
P
E
R
P
E
T
R
A
T
O
R
S
L O S E T O U C H
A
P
A B O
D S
I N I T I A L
S
R
L Q D
NO T I C
C U R T
I
T
S
I
H
E N T
S T A T U E
G G R O S
T
C A T A P U L T
M S
G
S
A
WE R S
G U L A G
S
E
L
Y
E
T A R D L Y
3
8
4
5
6
7
9
10
11
12
13
14
15
17
A
N
T
H
O
L
O
G
I
S
E
D
2
16
18
19
20
21
22
23
24
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Sudoku no 4,035
Sudoku
no 4,036
Medium. Fill the grid so that each row, column and
3x3 box contains the numbers 1-9. Printable version at
theguardian.com/sudoku
Word wheel
WRESTLING
Word wheel
Suguru
Wordsearch
Find as many words as
possible using the letters
in the wheel. Each must
use the central letter and
at least two others. Letters
may be used only once. You
may not use plurals, foreign
words or proper nouns.
There is at least one nineletter word to be found.
TARGET: Excellent-82.
Good-75. Average-67.
Fill the grid so that each square
in an outlined block contains a
digit. A block of 2 squares contains
the digits 1 and 2, a block of three
squares contains the digits 1, 2 and
3, and so on. No same digit appears
in neighbouring squares, not even
diagonally.
Can you find 12 signs in the grid?
Words can run forwards, backwards,
vertically or diagonally, but always in
a straight, unbroken line.
Suguru
Steve Bell
If…
Pet
corner
Which Walking
Dead actor has a
cat called Eye In
The Dark?
a. Norman Reedus
b. Lauren Cohan
c. Danai Gurira
d. Andrew Lincoln
Answer top right
16
The Guardian
Tuesday 17 April 2018
TODAY’S PET CORNER ANSWER NORMAN REEDUS
Puzzles
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