In my mind, the voices from this morning’s car radio linger. Listening to the politicians and journalists talk – loftily, from afar, an Olympian perspective – coronavirus can feel like a mathematical abstraction, an intellectual exercise played out in curves and peaks and troughs and modelling. But here in the hospital, the pandemic is a matter of flesh and blood. It unfolds one human being at a time. And when the statistics threaten to throw me off balance – the unprecedented number of deaths for peacetime – I try to keep things as small as I can. Winston used to work in the local glass factory. His wife died three years ago. He has two sons called Michael and Robert. … [Read more...] about ‘This man knows he’s dying as surely as I do’: a doctor’s dispatches from intensive care
Mind and body books
When I sat down to write my first book I knew that, unless it was a Janet and John (ask Grandma), then it would be about adults doing what they do, and that might include having sex. It would be invidious to say it didn’t cross my mind that some people might pretend to be surprised that a former Blue Peter presenter would know anything about carnal relations, much less write about them. I had reversed my usual instruction and invited the mummies and daddies back into the room, while effectively sending the children out. … [Read more...] about Why I deserve a Blue Peter badge for my description of sex
There's something undeniably wholesome about the Steiner approach. In an age when toddlers are adept at using iPhones, the idea of children building shelters in the woods is profoundly attractive to parents. Access to television is restricted – under the homeschool agreement with parents, children are not meant to watch TV before the age of eight. There is no uniform; the children wear hoodies, sturdy trousers and plimsolls, and the canteen serves mainly vegetarian food. A homely vegetable curry spiced with mustard seeds is dish of the day when I visit. … [Read more...] about A different class: the expansion of Steiner schools
Ladies and gentlemen, a new sex manual has just sauntered into town. Punning title, check, cover image of sliced fruit, check, sexologist author with PhD, check. So far, so standard, but Dr Ian Kerner's She Comes First: The Thinking Man's Guide to Pleasuring a Woman is beginning to have an impact beyond the usual scope of a glossy paperback sex manual. It is rising steadily up the US bestseller lists, having been named a book of 2004 by Amazon.com and the book superstore Borders. The author is getting kudos from the New York Times and Relate, and the book is recommended by both feminist websites and swingers' clubs. Its message is simple: the clitoris is an astonishing piece of anatomy, dedicated to pleasure, and therefore cunnilingus is the best way to please women, and pleased women mean good relationships. Kerner is evangelical about the good practice and "coreplay" of skilled oral sex, which he believes can revolutionise relationships, as "the number-two reason for divorce in the … [Read more...] about The real C-word
What can I do if my airline won't pay out? Do I have to accept vouchers? If you're on an EU flight, which is any flight leaving the UK or any flight with an EU carrier that lands in the UK, you're entitled to a full refund or alternative flight if yours is cancelled. … [Read more...] about More than eight in ten Ryanair passengers still waiting for refunds, says Which?