Why I won’t back Jamie Oliver’s sugary drinks tax

Jamie_Oliver_cooking (1)Jamie Oliver’s got a new cause – and about time too. It’s been ten years since his revolutionary movement to improve school meals, and since then we’ve seen Gordon Ramsay do something similar in prisons, James Martin going into hospitals and more recently the likes of Deliciously Ella and Hemsley + Hemsley flying the flag for “clean eating” and convincing us that ditching carbs in favour of spiralisers will save our bodies and souls.

Not to be out-done, everyone’s favourite naked chef recently released Everyday Super Food, yet another beautifully photograhed cookery book that kind of fails to deliver on its premise and requires a ridiculous number of obscure ingredients and expensive, bulky appliances. And he’s got a new nemesis: sugar. (more…)

When will male comedians realise that misogyny is neither funny nor acceptable

We_Can_Do_It!Last month, whilst on a little city-break to Dublin (which, by the way, is an awesome city) I found myself in the dream situation for a cash-strapped creative type in one of the most anecdotally expensive cities in Europe: I was standing before a sign advertising free comedy.

The venue in question is the basement of a pub called The Stag’s Head in the bustling Temple Bar area. They host Comedy Crunch every Sunday, Monday and Tuesday – it’s always free and they even give you a complimentary ice cream, which is great. But even a truck load of Lyle’s syrup wouldn’t have been sweet enough to assuage the sour taste left in my mouth after enduring 20 minutes of misogynistic bile spouted by the headlining so-called “comedian”. (more…)

Just one example of why we need to make better journalism

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“The internet is killing real journalism!”

I hear this phrase in some iteration at least once a week. Over wine talking to fellow journalists, on Twitter from disgruntled reporters, during my favourite media podcasts over and over again, and surprisingly often from interested bystanders who have no involvement in the industry. The fact that BuzzFeed is poaching the Guardian’s staff at lightening speed is either proof for or against, depending on your argument.

I’ll tell you what isn’t killing journalism though: the fact that anyone with something to say can find an audience. The fact that blogs set up in someone’s living room can gain worldwide attention, giving huge platforms to people like Jack Monroe, Laurie Penny or Jessica Valenti: people who don’t necessarily fit into the “middle aged, middle class white male” that used to be the face of 99% of the media. (more…)

Ashley Madison hack reactions show we have massive issues with casual sex and non-monogamy

ashleymadisonA reported 37 million “cheating dirtbags” understandably panicked this week, as news emerged that leading “married dating website” Ashley Madison was hacked by a group threatening to release the information of its users.

The rhetoric has been as predictable as it is disheartening: ‘It’s outrageous that people use such services, they shouldn’t do so without expecting some sort of karmic comeuppance, the site itself is damaging to society and should just close down.’

As a progressive society we’re willing to speak out against prejudices on the grounds of race, gender, age and sexuality; we’ve accepted non-binary gender identities and call out the victim-shamers when it comes to rape and sexual assault, yet non-monogamy and the embracing of NSA (no strings attached) sex is still considered blanketly immoral. (more…)

My admiration for Nigella Lawson, why you should buy her new book, and what I’d ask her at my dream dinner party

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I adore food in all its forms. I spend hours reading about it – from obscure recipes and historical cuisines to analyses of trends within the industry and personal essays about the pleasures of cooking and eating. There is nothing that fills me with a greater sense of calm purpose combined with a giddy thrill than preparing a new dish for the first time, and bar a byline in The New Yorker, I can think of few things that would give me more pride than serving a dish of sensory ecstasy to my guests.

When the latest cover of Nigella Lawson’s upcoming cookery book was unveiled last week, I was ready to be excited, yet conversely found myself disappointed by its simplicity. I felt that the restrained yet decadent, bright and subtly nuanced aspects of the author’s food (and, I suspect, her personality) were ill-reflected in the book that I was already looking forward to reading. (more…)

Blame TfL’s grossly unfair working conditions for the tube strike, not the Unions

boris johnson#Unsurprisingly, London is in meltdown. There’s a tube strike for a whole day and a half and all you read, see and hear are outraged comments about the incredible disruption this will cause to every Tom, Dick and Harry’s commute.

It’s hard to blame people for taking out their anger on the workers. The media coverage of TfL industrial action is so incredibly unbalanced and biased against unions that it could make Margaret Thatcher cackle in her grave, and the sad thing is that we lap it up. (more…)

Review: Killing Monica by Candace Bushnell (spoiler – amusing but problematic)

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As a disclaimer I should say I’ve never read any other Candace Bushnell books. I have no issue with the “chick-lit” genre (beyond its vomit-inducing nomenclature and wildly outdated reputation). My holiday luggage will often include a Marian Keyes or India Knight novel and I’ll savour them for their immersive writing and hilarious wit, regretting the fact that their label will discourage so many potential readers.

I picked up Killing Monica with a similarly open mind and curious about the plot, long-rumoured to be based on Bushnell’s tumultuous relationship with Sarah Jessica Parker, with a shocking twist in its final pages. The protagonist, Pandy, is sort of a Carrie Bradshaw 2.0: a writer with a penchant for fashion, cocktails and ill-advised romantic endeavours. Pandy has achieved success thanks to the notorious Monica, the fictional star of her novels which have been turned into Hollywood blockbusters, launching actress SondraBeth Schnauzer into astronomical fame and fandom. (more…)

Reasons to go and see The Overnight. ASAP.

The Patrick Brice sex comedy came to British cinemas on Friday. It’s super funny, smart, has great acting, an excellent script and it actually makes you think. At 70 minutes you leave wanting more, yet knowing you’ve had just enough. Here’s why you should make it your cinema treat this month, even though it is 30 degrees outside.

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Five podcasts to listen to if you’re obsessed by all things internet

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“A show about the internet”, it focuses on a particular topic for its weekly 30 minute show, which is inevitably a fascinating tiny niche of internet culture which you never knew how desperately you wanted to know about, from who invented email to the Ecuadorian president’s Twitter presence.

There’s also a fantastic segment in which they unpack a weird tweet layered with ironic online cultural references that you’ll feel simultaneously relieved and embarrassed you didn’t understand.

Bonus points: For being produced by the awesome Gimlet Media, who do the best native advertising in the podcasting space.

Best episode: My personal favourite and the one I’ve pushed upon anyone who will listen is called We know what you did, and it’s about the man who did a terrible thing in the 90s, the consequences of which we’re still dealing with today…

Hosted by: the painfully charming Alex Blumberg and PJ Vogt (more…)

Judy Blume has just released her latest novel, and it’s making grown women squeal

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Last year I had the great pleasure of meeting the woman who created some of my best childhood friends: the author Judy Blume, best known for her young adult fiction, who at the age of 77 has just published her fourth novel for adults In The Unlikely Event.

I remember the first time I read a Judy Blume book – I somehow acquired a copy of Forever at age 8 and ploughed through it, simultaneously enthralled by the teenage love story and baffled by the concept of the enlarging penis called Ralph. I quickly moved on to her more age-appropriate novels, some of which I read and re-read so many times that the pages had to be taped back together.

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