Articles on this Page
- 10/08/19--06:03: _Premier Inn is usin...
- 10/08/19--06:55: _Little girl caught ...
- 10/08/19--07:01: _Seven great reasons...
- 10/08/19--07:57: _Can’t remove your f...
- 10/08/19--22:10: _George the cat beco...
- 10/08/19--22:12: _Little girl has to ...
- 10/08/19--22:25: _Marmite wants to hy...
- 10/08/19--22:42: _Wetherspoon’s adds ...
- 10/09/19--00:00: _Losing a baby is ha...
- 10/09/19--00:30: _Mixed Up: ‘Don’t te...
- 10/09/19--00:33: _Mum draws hug butto...
- 10/09/19--01:55: _Roller derby and it...
- 10/09/19--02:19: _What time does Yom ...
- 10/09/19--03:31: _Victoria’s Secret u...
- 10/09/19--03:41: _Woman who’s had bum...
- 10/09/19--04:17: _How to celebrate Di...
- 10/09/19--04:31: _An iconic rainbow 9...
- 10/09/19--05:40: _We can stop multipl...
- 10/09/19--05:43: _Will sex work ever ...
- 10/09/19--05:47: _People can’t get en...
- Valletta – the jewel in Malta’s crown
- 300 days of sunshine EVERY year
- Food glorious food
- Cycle routes with a sea view
- The locals are incredibly friendly
- You can island hop to Comino and Gozo
- Malta is packed with winter festival fun
- 10/08/19--07:57: Can’t remove your fake tan? There’s a bath bomb for that
- 10/08/19--22:25: Marmite wants to hypnotise you into liking it
- How much do you hate Marmite?
- Have you ever been a volunteer for a stage hypnosis show? Yes/No
- If yes, did you have a good experience?
- 10/08/19--22:42: Wetherspoon’s adds first plant-based fake meat burger to the menu
- 10/09/19--00:00: Losing a baby is hard for dads too
- 10/09/19--04:17: How to celebrate Dia de los Muertos without culturally appropriating
- 10/09/19--04:31: An iconic rainbow 90s brand just threw up all over this hotel suite
- 10/09/19--05:40: We can stop multiple sclerosis, and this is how
- 10/09/19--05:43: Will sex work ever be fully legal?
- 10/09/19--05:47: People can’t get enough of this Avengers-themed TikTok video
If you grew up on classic Hollywood kids movies, chances are there were a few recurring scenes that made you think: ‘This would dead-set never happen in real life.’
Smooth-talking adolescents made plans with no fixed location, ‘I’ll pick you up at 8’ was enough to secure plans with a total stranger whose address apparently didn’t matter.
And then there’s one of the most visually memorable Hollywood tropes: pillow fights. A time when a sleepover would shift from truth or dare and Cheetos snacking to a feather-filled free for all.
While you might still miss out on the first two tropes, you now have the opportunity to indulge in a real-life pillow fight.
Premier Inn has just launched their Pillow Fight Club, with events popping up in London, Edinburgh, Cardiff and Bristol. And it’s not just for the kids.
‘Pillow Fight Club is all about encouraging families across the UK to have some good old fashioned fun,’ Sarah Simpson, Head of Product at Premier Inn told Metro.co.uk.
The UK’s largest hotel chain is retiring up to 400,000 of their well-loved pillows to upgrade to their new ‘best ever pillow’. Before these retired sleep-givers are recycled, like an aged Stallone in Rocky Balboa they’ll be put to battle one final time.
As the new pillows are rolled out across 800 Premier Inn hotels, the still-fluffy retirees will be available for Brits to use for their own pillow fights.
Premier Inn explains the rules in their adorable take on the film Fight Club, which happens to have its 20th anniversary next month. While that tidbit might make you feel hella old, being able to partake in the pillow fight might just make you feel young and spritely again.
The first Pillow Fight Club pop-up takes place in Soho, London this Sunday between 1-6pm. So bring your mates, bring the fam, bring the kids.
Contenders will first be taught the rules, showed proper pillow fighting technique and will then be all set to battle to the top of the leaderboard.
If you’re more of a lover than a fighter, rest-assured there’s a giant pillow wall just for you to take selfies at. Oh, and all attendees will be gifted Premier Inn’s new ‘best ever pillow’.
For those outside of London, you can still get a piece of the feathery pie.
‘For pillow fighters in Edinburgh (Royal Mile), Cardiff (City Centre) and Bristol (Finzels Reach), head to your local Premier Inn to pick up a free pair of new pillows and Pillow Fight Club rules, and start your own club,’ Sarah Simpson told Metro.co.uk.
Register to attend the London event for free through Eventbrite.
A young couple sitting in bed, playfighting with pillows.
Though we should never encourage children to say bad words, it is always a little funny when they have an accidental slip-ups – like one little girl, who accidentally said the word ‘f***’ instead of ‘fork’.
Of course, her mum, Victoria, caught it on camera.
Victoria, 36, managed to catch her four-year-old daughter Alexandra, known as Lexi, saying the swear word as she was eating tagliatelle with her older sister Jessica, six.
The video shows Lexi twirling pasta around on her fork before saying: ‘Look, this is how we f*** it up’. Brilliant.
Of course, Victoria was surprised, and asked her daughter: ‘This is how we do what, Lexi?’
To which Lexi replied: ‘F*** it up’.
Victoria, from Kent, said she had to stop herself from laughing or making a big deal out of her daughter accidentally swearing.
She said: ‘I really had to try not to laugh or make a bigger deal of her saying that word.
‘Lexi and Jessica were having tagliatelle for the first time, and I was showing them how to twirl up pasta using a fork.
‘I said to them both – “this is how we fork it up”.
‘Instead, Lexi said – “look, this is how we f**k it up”.
‘I had to correct her by emphasising the word “fork” without giving it away.’
She added: ‘Jessica is more laid-back, but Lexi is definitely the handful.
‘If she’d caught on to what she was really saying, she’d still be using that word.’
SPAGHETTI WHOOPS - A little girl eating pasta misheard 'fork' and told her astonished mum: "This is how we f**k it up"
Basking in sunshine for 3,000 hours every year, Malta is the perfect short-haul winter break to escape the mercury falling.
Located in the middle of the Mediterranean Sea, the island merges 7,000 years of fascinating historic sights with alfresco restaurants, buzzing nightlife and glorious food.
What’s more, it’s just three hours and 20 minutes from Gatwick Airport with British Airways – and its incredibly friendly locals are all fluent in English.
From colourful festivals and scenic cycle trails, to vibrant Valletta and island hopping to Comino and Gozo, you won’t be short of things to do!
Here are seven great reasons why Malta is winter’s hottest destination…
Malta’s crown jewel may be Europe’s smallest capital, but Valletta is an ancient gem immersed in 7,000 years of history, culture and Baroque architecture – with plenty to explore.
Step back in time along the honey-coloured cobbled streets and admire more than 320 historical monuments – they’ll be quieter in winter.
Marvel at Girolamo Cassar’s masterpiece and visit the Grand Harbour’s stunning waterfront of this stunning fortress city.
Wander inside a glittering box of historical treasure at the jaw-dropping St John’s Co-Cathedral and swing by Barrakka Gardens for a spectacular winter sunset.
Then take time to relax and enjoy a unique dining experience – there are many choices, from fine-dining to casual cafes, but the food is all first-class, so it’s impossible to go wrong.
With warm weather all-year-round, Malta’s climate makes it the perfect short-haul winter escape.
Land in this magical island and be greeted by idyllic blue skies and none of the hectic summer crowds.
The guaranteed 300 days of sunshine per year mean you can enjoy an authentic Maltese experience all year round.
Make the most of the spring-like weather and visit Golden Bay, Ghajn Tuffieha or Qawra coastline for sandy strolls and travel with ease on the discounted buses
Malta bursts into life with fantastic colours throughout the low season, so pack a pair of walking shoes to explore on foot.
Malta offers some of the finest Mediterranean cuisine with a rustic twist and a sprinkling of North African seasoning.
Seafood lovers will be in heaven at Marsaxlokk Fishing Village’s Sunday market, where you can tuck into a lunch of just-caught fresh fish.
Adventurous foodies will love the cultural richness of Malta’s warming national dish – rabbit stew, served in many of the local restaurants.
There is nothing better to accompany Maltese dishes than a glass of wine produced on the Islands. The oldest wine maker in Malta, Delicata, welcomes visitors from November to May.
Cycling across Malta is a great way to explore the Island’s treasures in the cooler months.
Embark on the Valletta fortification route to take in the capital’s imposing walled cities, citadels, forts and towers.
Or enjoy a scenic winter ride along the Coast Road’s bike lane – with Instagram-worth views of the sea.
For an adventurous cycle, take on the Dwejra bike route – a mountainous ride alongside Gozo’s oldest chapels.
Maltese locals are renowned for their friendliness and easy-going nature – with holidaymakers complimenting them as the most gracious hosts in the Mediterranean. They are incredibly welcoming
The island has pledged its commitment to LGBTQ rights and same sex marriage, and has featured on the ILGA-Europe Rainbow Europe Index for four years in a row.
What’s more, the locals are fluent in English. You’ll end up falling in love with the island just like so many others before you – that’s why there’s also a high-expat culture.
To fully immerse in the dazzling trio of islands, visit Comino and Gozo.
In former pirate hideout Comino, you’ll find the sheltered Blue Lagoon – one of the most beautiful places in the Maltese Islands, with water so blue, even in real life, it looks as though it’s been Photoshopped. Winter is the perfect time to escape the crowds.
At historic Saint Mary’s Tower, built in 1618, you can climb the look-out post for spectacular winter views.
Meanwhile, a walk along Malta’s Dingli Cliffs offers blazing sunset views in winter months and you can discover hidden coves, sweeping bays, clifftop lookouts and colourful fishing villages
Explore the historic Cittadella in Gozo’s Victoria to admire magnificent grounds and jaw-dropping island views.
From celebrating some of the finest Baroque music in the world at Valletta International Baroque Festival in January to enjoying the Feast of Immaculate Conception in December, Malta’s festival calendar is packed throughout the low season.
Add a splash of colour to winter at Mardi Gras in February; join thousands to watch the island transform with extravagant floats and delicious local delicacies.
November brings the month-long Festival Mediterranea to Gozo; celebrating 7,000 years of history with exhibitions, traditional dishes and opera performances
Make sure to seek out the winter feasts – three-day foodie events organised by local communities; they certainly know how to throw a party!
Fancy a complimentary three-night stay for two in sunny Malta? Visit our competition page today for your chance to win!
Book your amazing holiday to Malta now with British Airways. To find out more visit ba.com/malta
Azure window in sunset, Malta
If you could send one item hurtling back through time and universes to Friends episode; ‘The One with Ross’s Tan’, it would be this one.
Lusso Tan, a Belfast-based company selling organic, cruelty-free tanning products, has developed a bath bomb that’s meant to remove even the most stubborn fake tan.
The product was developed by sisters Lynsey Bennett, Leah White and Sarah White. Talk about squad goals.
While most sisters struggle to agree on whether their parents have a favourite child, or where to spend their next family holiday, these three have been working together for years.
They’ve got more than 15 years experience in the tanning industry, meaning they know how to get their glow on and strip it right off.
The bath bomb, which contains avocado oil, lemon essential oil, and witch hazel, helps to remove tan and also moisturise skin.
The innovative beauty product came about after therapists at their spa business spotted a gap in the market.
‘The bomb came about after our therapists at The Secret Day, who are obsessed with bath bombs, asked us could we create a bomb that melts tan away at the same time looks after your skin,’ Lynsey told Metro.co.uk.
To use, simply hop in the bath, pop in the bath bomb and let the water melt the tan away. Lynsey also recommends drinking gin while you do it, of course.
10 minutes is the sweet spot when the tan soaks off. Users can assist the process by exfoliating away dead skin cells with a mit or brush.
The Lusso Tan Bath Bomb is available for £8.50 each.
New bath bomb removes fake tan. (Picture: Lusso Tan)
We’ve fallen in love with George, a seven-year-old tabby cat who’s become famous on Facebook for documenting his adventures – which include attempting to hitch free rides around Scotland.
George regularly sneaks on public transport travelling miles from his home in Helensburgh, Argyll and Bute.
He’s been spotted getting on trains, buses and even jumping into cars with people.
His escapades have led owners Elizabeth and Dennis Royal to set up a dedicated Facebook page to the cat’s daily wanders, so people can report sightings of their pet.
George recently caused widespread panic among his Facebook followers after his owners launched an appeal to find him when he didn’t come home for four days.
But the cat ended up being found near Loch Lomond, 14 miles from home, after hitching a lift on a local bus.
And he was the talk of the town when he tried to join a school trip to Blair Drummond Safari and Adventure Park in Stirling – almost 40 miles from home.
His owners said their pet leads a secret life, travelling to Edinburgh on the train, hanging around the local shops waiting to catch a ride, popping into houses and even attending the local nursery.
Elizabeth, 82, said: ‘He went out at teatime on Tuesday two weeks ago and he never returned.
‘He normally goes away for around three hours and comes back.
‘I looked outside the window after 9pm and I didn’t see him, but the weather was bad so I thought he had found shelter somewhere.
‘He loves an adventure and I have no idea what has made him turn out like that.
‘When he had not returned by Friday I thought something was wrong. He often gets into cars, vans, buses and trains. So I thought something like that happened.
‘I soon told my daughter Jackie and she put a post out on social media.
‘We started getting messages from people saying they had seen him.
‘A couple from Helensburgh saw him and brought him back to us.
‘Since he has been back he keeps trying to go back out.
‘But he is in detention and I won’t let him out until he calms down a bit.’
Elizabeth and husband Dennis, 90, rescued George five years ago.
The gran-of-two said the cat has offered great comfort to Dennis who suffers from dementia.
She said: ‘George lies on his knee and they fall asleep together.
‘George goes out every day. He goes on pavements and visits his pals.
‘He is such a friendly animal and that’s his biggest problem.
‘He loves to be stroked and picked up by people.
‘He’s such a funny character.
‘People seem to love him, he certainly has a lot of followers.’
Daughter Jackie, 50, helped her parents set up George’s Facebook page, which now has 800 followers, three months ago.
The mum-of-two said: ‘When George is at home he doesn’t want attention from anyone apart from my dad.
‘But when he is out he has a secret life.
‘The local primary school had a trip to the safari park. I am not sure how but George managed to sneak into the bus and fortunately the bus stopped and chucked him out before arriving there.
‘He has got into a few local buses a few times too.
‘He has also got into a train going to Edinburgh and a ScotRail staff member messaged me to say they had to put him out.
‘He is certainly a cat that enjoys travelling. I have no idea how often he does this.
‘You never know where he is going, we just find out once he has been caught.
‘I set up a Facebook page for him about three months ago and that’s how I started finding out about his weird adventures.
‘He goes to a nursery up the road.
‘He gets in and out of people’s houses.
‘He goes to the local Tesco store and he tries to get into people’s cars at the carpark.
‘He goes to local garages and he is not afraid to stand up to dogs.
‘I’ve also been told that he has been behind a bar which is unbelievable.
‘Everyone knows him.’
A three-year-old decided to cut his little sister’s hair with a pair of scissors – and let’s just say, he probably isn’t destined to be a barber.
Parents Breana and Michael Naylor were horrified when they found their son Colt had cut off his two-year-old sister Kimber’s hair.
The pair had been playing upstairs when Breana and Michael noticed they had gone quiet.
They went upstairs and found Kimber surrounded by blonde hair and with a short, wonky hair cut.
They found Colt stood with a pair of scissors.
Horrified, Breana sent an emergency text to their hairdresser Jen, begging for help.
Luckily, Jen managed to give Kimber a lovely short hairstyle – which Breana actually loves.
Breana said: ‘When I saw them I was shocked, but I thought it was funny. I started laughing.
‘My husband came in and he was a little angry at first – until he found the humour in it too.
‘He was upset at first that his little girl’s hair was now all scattered over the floor.
‘Colt had definitely had a good hack away at her hair, but Jen came to the rescue. I think the hair definitely suits her more now.
‘My son was holding the scissors up to Kimber’s head and she was sitting very still and being patient with him while he cut her hair.
‘She was completely calm and still and was just letting him do it.
‘We explained that we don’t play with scissors and you could tell Colt felt bad. We had him vacuum up the hair that he’d cut off.
‘I think he’s learned his lesson – he won’t be doing it again.’
Breana later found that her dresses also had big rips in them, so not only had Colt been cutting Kimber’s hair, but his mum’s dresses, too.
But although she’s not happy about the dresses, at least she likes her daughter’s new hairstyle.
She said: ‘It turned out great. I love the new hair cut – I’m a little jealous and wish I got to rock something that rad looking.
‘Kimber is very happy and so am I. Even my husband loves it now – he thinks it’s adorable.
‘She didn’t realise what they were doing was wrong, and I think she enjoyed all the attention of getting her hair cut.
‘She’s very independent and she knows what she wants. As a mum, I have the most difficult time with her, but she is teaching me a lot.
‘She knows what she wants and she knows how to get it.
‘I’m not sure if Colt is destined to be a barber. Every time I get the buzzer and scissors out to cut my husband’s hair, he’s always begging me to let him try it.’
On receiving the emergency text and restyling Kimber’s hair, hairdresser Jen added: ‘I said “okay, we’re going to make this cute. I’m gonna figure out what I’m going to do with those hard lines and we’re gone make lemonade out of this”.’
‘Once I went over there and looked at it, it seemed like the only way we could embrace this with “lemonade” was if we embraced the lines, straightened them out, and added a few more.
‘I wasn’t sure if Breana would be on board with it, so I nervously asked, but they were completely on board and completely joyed that this disaster could actually [end in] a fun little result!
‘It sure seemed that the entire energy about the situation was completely elevated at that moment.
‘I got the clippers out, had fun with that right side, created a cute shape to her full cut – and rest was history!’
Toddler hacks off his two-year-old sister?s hair with scissors ? but their parents say they love her new look
Most countries have a signature food that tends to be polarising among locals and visitors alike. The States has Spam, China has the century egg, France has escargot and the UK has its historical jar of tar-looking yeast spread.
Marmite is a brand that has carved out a niche by being divisive, with its age-old slogan being: ‘Love it or hate it.’
And they’re still playing on this feature.
Perhaps you can’t resist a bit of Marmite melted with butter on toast, or perhaps you think the paste is simply sin in a jar, no matter how much vitamin B-12 it packs. Well, Marmite happens to be recruiting those who fit in the latter camp.
The brand has put the call out for the UK’s biggest Marmite hater to reveal themselves.
Their new campaign, Marmite Mind Control, is set to involve a professional hypnotherapist using techniques to turn Marmite haters into Marmite lovers.
There will be five winners who will get to partake in the experiment, and only one will be titled Marmite’s Biggest Hate’.
On top of despising the stuff, applicants will be older than 18, and will have to answer the following questions:
If successful, haters will travel to London for the conversion experiment. *shudders*
Entries are now open. Be sure to get them in by 12pm GMT on October 31, 2019.
To enter, visit marmite.co.uk.
This isn’t the first time Marmite have tried something a little bonkers. In April this year, the brand released a Marmite Peanut Butter, blending the classic savoury taste of Marmite with a dollop of smooth PB.
For Christmas last year, Iceland paired an unpopular veg with the sometimes-unpopular spread and launched Marmite brussels sprouts.
When you’re after some vegan grub, Wetherspoon’s likely isn’t the first place you think to go.
For pints, sure. But plant-based meals?
That could be set to change with the pub brand’s newest addition to the menu.
JD Wetherspoon has teamed up with startup The Meatless Farm – the UK rival to those Impossible and Beyond Meat burgers you’ve heard about – to create a vegan burger with the taste and texture of meat.
The burgers first landed on the menu early this year. Now, after a successful six-month trial in 40 Wetherspoon’s pubs, it’ll be available at all 880 Wetherspoon’s branches.
You may have sampled The Meatless Farm’s offering before – they sell their plant-based mince, burgers, and sausages in loads of major supermarkets.
Made of pea, soy and rice protein, chicory root, and carrot fibre, the burger is designed to have that meaty feel that will convert even the staunchest carnivores to give it a go.
While Wetherspoons already does a vegetarian burger, this will be the first ever vegan patty the pub has sold.
It’s served with a side of chips and onion rings for around £6 (prices vary depending on which Wetherspoon you head to).
Wetherspoon’s head of catering, Jameson Robinson, said: ‘We are keen to offer vegetarian and vegan pub-goers an excellent choice of meals to enjoy at Wetherspoon.
‘The plant-based burger is a great addition to the menu and we are confident that it will prove popular with vegetarians and vegans as well as those who eat meat.’
I would burst into tears driving home from the hospital, convinced that I would never be a father.
Could it really be true? I always wanted kids. Even when I was a kid, I wanted kids.
We had our first miscarriage in 2003 and lost a second baby at 12 weeks in 2007. It was now 2011 and a doctor had just told me we were about to lose the twins my wife was carrying.
We got there in the end. Fourth time lucky. I feel desperately sad for those whose dream never comes true. After losing I know the feeling and I feel blessed. I don’t take anything for granted.
My partner had her first miscarriage quite early in our marriage but it wasn’t even clear what had happened because the foetus was so small and had to be confirmed as a pregnancy in a hospital visit.
The stupid thing on my part, which was quite inconsiderate to my partner, was that I was like: ‘My boys can swim!’
Not that I actually said it but I thought then that it would inevitably happen for us, maybe just a few months later. I was wrong. So wrong.
There was a genetic problem which meant that any baby we had would have a 25 per cent chance of suffering a crippling blood disorder. But when my partner next got pregnant a few years later, we were full of optimism.
We had rebuilt a beautiful house, with a lovely garden, which was mostly my work. It was a wonderful place for kids to grow up in.
At that time, the ’25 per cent diagnosis’ could only be done once the pregnancy was three months in. We went along to have a sample taken and saw our child on the scan. My partner and me looked and smiled as we watched it moving in the womb.
A three in four chance of a favourable outcome seemed like pretty good odds.
A few weeks later, I got the phone call at home from the specialist while my partner was at work. It was the worst phone call I’ve ever had. Bitterly, I said to the doctor: ‘You’re probably used to this.’
She insisted it was always hard to deliver such devastating news. I didn’t mean to lash out and be rude, I just didn’t know what else to say. I recall that I told my partner on the phone while she was at work. Maybe that was a mistake but it’s what we had decided to do.
She couldn’t understand because the odds were stacked in our favour. But I explained that someone has to be in the 25 per cent. We had decided to have a termination if we had that diagnosis. The alternative was a short, painful and restrictive life for the child.
I will always have that memory of the scan seared into my mind. A dark cloud always gathers above me when I think about it. More hurt was to come.
My cousin, who is eight years younger than me, came by a few months later with loads of fancy pastries in white boxes…and the scans of his baby. Blood rushed to my head as he pulled them out while we were sitting in our idyllic garden on a blazing hot day.
My partner was plainly distressed, made her excuses and left. I’m sure my cousin didn’t set out to hurt us but he knew our story and he was that much younger than us, with all that entails when it comes to making babies. We should have had the opportunity to absorb his news in our own space.
My marriage was never ideal but losing that second child sort of haunted us. It’s like we could see little ghosts in the garden on a summer’s day. I’d be playing silly games with them. Maybe we’d have a paddling pool and my wife would be preparing our cold lunch outside. Potato salad and cheese sandwiches.
To cut a long story short, things took their toll on me and I had a full-on nervous breakdown. I lost my sense of reality. I wondered whether the baby in the womb had been healthy but…I don’t know, paranoia. My life fell apart as my mental health deteriorated.
In the following years, we had to sell our dream home because I couldn’t work. Eventually, we started to turn things around and got our lives back on track.
The great thing was that science had moved on. Cutting edge IVF procedures meant a one-cell sample from an embryo could determine which ones were in the ’25 per cent’. Two that weren’t were implanted and they both took.
I was truly happy for months on end and I think my partner was as well. We started letting people know after three months that we were expecting twins.
But a few weeks later, our world fell apart, again. One twin was on its way to a miscarriage and the doctors said the other would follow. I couldn’t stop crying whenever I was on my own, especially coming back from the hospital where I was trying to keep it together in front of my partner.
I felt I had so much to offer as a daddy but that it just wasn’t meant to be. I always wanted at least two kids but I solemnly prayed to God: ‘Just give us one.’
The first one did miscarry at 20 weeks and we were told by the doctors that the second one would as well. They offered to give my partner a pill to ‘speed up the process’. Fortunately, she resisted and my daughter was born at 27 weeks, weighing less than a bag of sugar.
A week before the birth, we had met with a specialist who told us about all the problems that a premature baby might have. I was so scared. I thought: ’What if I don’t love my child because it’s blind or deaf or has some other disability?’
But as soon as my daughter was born, it was love at first sight. I vowed to myself to protect her, to love her no matter what. To cherish the blessing of this young life. She spent two months in an incubator but the funny thing is that from the first time I set eyes on her, I was 100 per cent sure that she would make it. I felt it.
That was eight years ago and my little girl is fighting fit. I thought having a child would fix my relationship with my partner but sadly, it didn’t and we split up when my daughter was three. All the pain and the heartbreak of being childless for so long and all the devastating blows took their toll. But also, children don’t fix relationships.
The great thing is that I have a wonderful relationship with my daughter. I love her so much and I like her as a person. I’m co-parenting. One thing I never thought I’d say about my kid is that I have a lot of respect for her. She’s got a lot of character and she’s great company. We’re so offhand with each other and I kinda like it that way, it’s funny.
My closest friend has six kids but I wouldn’t change a thing. I prayed for one and I got one. Thank you, God. The monumental struggles on the path to parenthood have made me appreciate what I have. My daughter has helped me to be a better, more responsible person.
So, despite everything, I do feel so lucky and regularly spare a thought for those who haven’t been as lucky.
But the three we lost are part of who I am. I carry around that pain…and always will.
BABY LOSS AWARENESS WEEK
Baby Loss Awareness Week is held annually from 9 to 15 October. It’s a special opportunity to mark the lives of babies lost in pregnancy or at or soon after birth. Find out more at miscarriageassociation.org.uk
Other charities that can help:
Arc-uk.org (Ante-natal Results and Choices) – a non-judgemental charity that supports families who have terminated or lost their baby after pre-natal testing. They understand that ante-natal testing can lead to difficult decisions that it can be hard to discuss with friends or family. They offer advice, support and a private network of people in similar situations.
Tommy’s – funding research into stillbirth, premature and miscarriage, providing information for parents-to-be and support for parents who have lost a child.
Shakayra’s mum is Jamaican and her dad is Austrian, but that’s not quite the full story.
‘My mother’s father was also Panamanian and my Dad also has a Jewish and Czech family tree,’ she explains.
‘Pretty much everyone was against them getting married,’ says Shakayra. ‘Both of their parents said they were crazy, and my dad’s mother was in shock when he revealed he would be marrying a black woman.’
Her parents met in Mexico, while her dad was on holiday and her mum was studying. They fell in love and somehow Shakayra’s dad persuaded her mum to get married and move to Europe – despite never having been there before.
‘They married against the odds and my mother started a new life in Vienna, knowing not a single soul and thousands of miles away from her family in Jamaica and the States.’
Shakayra says that being mixed-race is complex, yet beautiful. She likes the idea of being a ‘bridge’ between cultures but recognises that being in that position is not without its challenges.
‘It took me a lot of soul searching and trying to fit into both my white Austrian and black Jamaican community to find that I simply do not fit in either. I am bang in the middle,’ she explains.
‘I cannot choose because there is nothing to choose.
‘Whenever I tried to fit into the white, Austrian community I was treated like a fraud – as if I am an imposter with curly hair who just happens to speak fluent German.
‘Then, whenever I used to visit my Grandad in Jamaica I was called “the white girl” and people stared at me as if I was an alien. I explained that I was also Jamaican, again no one believed me.
‘I don’t see the point of trying to fit into a box I simply do not belong in. I am mixed. I am both.
‘Now, as an adult, it makes sense to me why I had to face all that rejection; I was forcing myself to be someone I am not.
‘That being said, the rejection from the black community was never blatant racism like it was from some people I came across in Austria. But still, that sense of belonging was always missing.’
Shakayra says that she has always struggled to fit in, ever since her school days. She attended a private Catholic school in Vienna, picked out by her white grandmother.
‘My mother had no say back then,’ says Shakayra. ‘She just thought that it must be the best option as it was expensive. The truth is, the minute I started school I was made to feel like an outsider.
‘I would get picked on by my classmates almost daily. To them, I was always just the black girl with funny hair.
‘My mother had to take my brother and I out of school to fly us to Jamaica for her dad’s funeral and the principal of the school said to us: “Yes, of course, you can go back to Africa”.
‘I was only 12, but I was very well aware that Jamaica was nowhere near Africa. Why did this supposedly educated man not know where Jamaica was?
‘That was the first time where it dawned on me that a lot of people in Austria could not care less if you were half white. And that was hurtful. Not because I do not want to be black, but because he denied us our identity and did it in so swiftly that we did not even know how to respond.
‘What do you say when someone in authority is racist? My mother just smiled and walked away.’
There was another incident in a P.E class where a teacher refused to believe Shakayra was Austrian, and actually got angry with her when she couldn’t explain where she was from.
‘The teacher looked at me and said; “you cannot possibly be from here, where are you from?” I was 10. I did not understand what she meant so I said; “I am from Vienna.”
‘The teacher looked at me in disbelief and started raising her voice – enraged – and told me that I cannot possibly be Austrian with a name like Shakayra and that I ought to tell her where I am really from.
‘I will never forget the embarrassment I felt in that moment.’
Shakayra has experienced these kinds of incidents from all sides. She feels that it isn’t only her white side that is questioned, people have denied her black heritage too.
‘Recently I was dating an African-American guy and I was shocked at the deep issues about race that are clearly still alive and kicking in some black men.
‘He would tell me on the regular that I had better “step up” and start learning to cook like a “real black girl”, and that the way I act is “way too white.”
‘Whenever I tried to explain I am actually mixed, I was met with a long lecture about how being mixed is just a recent social construction, that it is not real.
‘Your genes mean nothing to ignorant people. They will always pick and choose what they see you as and run with that narrative regardless of the evidence and what you tell them, and that is so tiring sometimes.’
Shakayra was bullied regularly at school. Kids told her that her nose was too wide, that her hair was weird and unpleasant to touch. But the worst of it was the reaction to her childhood crushes.
‘One boy went so far as to humiliate me in front of the whole class. I wrote him a love letter and he laughed loudly in my face in front of everyone.
‘The girls in my class would make fun of me and sometimes even get into physical fights with me. Teachers would typically defend them and ask me what I did to agitate them.’
And the racist hostility that Shakayra faced extended beyond the classroom as well.
‘Once, when I was waiting for my train in Vienna, I was casually called the N-word by a random stranger. This was not a one-off,’ says Shakayra.
‘Many times I would overhear conversations on public transport where other people would say that they are tired of these “n*****s” and would look in my direction. They assumed I did not speak German.
‘I once had tomatoes thrown at me on the street, and another time I had a bucket of water poured over me from a house window while I was walking, minding my own business.’
Shakayra says she will always love her home country and says she feels a deep affiliation to Austria. She even made some solid friendships with more diverse students after moving schools, but the racism she feels there and has felt in the past, will always make her relationship with her birthplace more complicated.
‘It is a toxic place to grow up in as a person of colour,’ she tells us. ‘It does not matter if you are mixed-race. The older generation in particular, and that is including my own grandmother, still have a deeply entrenched hatred towards black people.
‘My white grandmother, up until this day, cannot stand my mother, her only reason is because she is black. She thinks her son brought shame to the family by marrying a black woman.
‘My brother and I were treated as the “golden children” by her. We received love and were shown off by her, but now as an adult, I wonder if that was just because we were lighter than my mother.’
Shakayra knows that not all Austrians feel the same as her grandmother. Case-in-point – her grandfather, her dad’s dad.
‘My grandfather took my mother in as if she had always been his daughter and fought every battle for her you can imagine,’ says Shakayra. ‘From helping her learn German, to putting a good word in when she was looking for work.
‘He showed me the warm, genuine and caring side of older Austria.
‘I just wish our parents and grandparents knew how much immense pressure mixed children deal with and prepared us for it more.
‘It often feels like you’re some type of bargaining tool to keep the peace.
‘Being mixed-race is not a magic card you can flaunt that exempts you from racism.
‘In many cases, you will face difficulties simply due to your skin tone, regardless of how well-spoken you are, or how “pretty” your curls are.’
But Where Are You Really From? Extract
Shakayra has recently published a memoir about being mixed-race. Here’s an extract about navigating the corporate world:
Whenever it came to job applications I was simply ‘the black one’.
Now as a woman I adore that my mother gave me such a unique name but without a doubt every single job interview I would be asked: ‘Where are you from?’ and questioned as to why and how I’m bilingual.
I was always treated as a fraud by default.
The funny thing is that whoever interviewed me would never voice their ignorance upfront; that someone who looks like me, speaks German would be strange to them.
It was always sentences like: ‘So where did you learn German?’ ‘How come you don’t have an accent?’
I remember once working on an ad-hoc German project and a guy from East Germany having an argument with me whether I have an accent when I speak German.
I explained to him several times that this was my mother tongue and I couldn’t possibly have an accent because that’s where I was born and raised and spent my first 18 years of life. He never said it but all he saw was a black girl pretending to speak German.
It made me angry to defend something that was crystal clear to me yet so alien to him.
But Where Are You Really From? Shakayra Stern
Shakayra says that the microaggressions she now faces since moving to London are a minefield to navigate.
‘I work in corporate environments a lot and people would ask: “So, where did you learn German?” To which I always reply; “I am Austrian, there is no need to learn your mother tongue.” Then comes the blank stare.
‘To a stranger, this may seem like a normal question, but would you ever ask a Caucasian woman with blonde hair why she speaks French with no accent? No.
‘What is so mind-boggling is that we would never do the same to others but we are always on the receiving end of the questions. Curiosity is not always the reason.
‘Stereotypes about mixed-race and black women are often embedded in the black community too.’
Shakayra says this is most apparent when she politely rebuffs ‘romantic’ advances.
‘It happens sometimes with black guys; if I don’t want to give them my number they tell me I must think I am “too nice”, or they say I am a typical light-skin girl; stuck up and arrogant. It can be mentally exhausting.’
Shakayra loves celebrating her Caribbean heritage and takes part in Carnival every year. She says it helps her piece together who she is.
‘Carnival has given me a missing piece to my ever-evolving identity puzzle,’ says Shakayra.
‘Being in the middle of two or multiple heritages teaches you to not judge a book by its cover, and it broadens your horizons from birth as you see the world from two or more different cultural lenses.’
Shakayra wants it to be easier for people to identify as mixed-race without people making assumptions or snap judgments about their deeper intentions.
‘Declaring that we are mixed-race does not mean we are segregating ourselves from anyone, it simply means we are embracing who we really are.
‘We do enjoy privileges as we are seen as more “palatable”, but we still face discrimination and stereotypes like our darker-skinned brothers and sisters.
‘It would be great if society started to understand that fetishizing us does more harm than good and that it can create insecurities within us which we may never heal from.’
Mixed Up is our weekly series that gets to the heart of what it means to be mixed-race in the UK today.
Going beyond discussions of divided identity, this series takes a look at the unique joys, privileges and complexities that come with being mixed-race - across of variety of different contexts.
The mixed-race population is the UK's fastest-growing ethnic group, and yet there is still so much more to understand about the varied lived experiences of individuals within this hugely heterogenous group.
Each week we speak to the people who know exactly how it feels to navigate this inbetween space.
A mum who’s had trouble saying bye to her daughter with separation anxiety has come up with a way to stop the youngster’s tears at the school gates.
Melissa Conlon from Norfolk dreaded doing the school run because it usually involved her six-year-old Ellie getting very upset.
To stop the waterworks, Melissa, 40, started drawing a ‘hug button’ on the little girl’s hand.
Spotting the trick online, Melissa drew a small heart on Ellie’s hand and herself, telling the youngster that she could get a magic hug every time she pressed it.
Since adding the tiny drawing every morning, Melissa noticed that Ellie is doing much better and doesn’t get as upset being dropped off.
The separation anxiety had gotten pretty bad prior to the neat trick, as Ellie would often wake up in the morning in tears.
But now she runs into her classes with ‘no tears, just a kiss and a smile’.
So Melissa decided to share the effectiveness of the hug button on Facebook where many other parents also praised the move.
Melissa wrote on the post: ‘Elsie has always suffered with a bit of separation anxiety when going to school and it’s always worse after a holiday.
‘This morning she was fretting about going to school so I thought what have I got to lose. I drew this on my hand and one on hers.
‘We walked to school holding hands to charge them up and all the way she asked: “Is it charged yet?”
‘When we reached her class I told her they were fully charged and to press it whenever she missed me and it would give her a magic hug from me and vice versa.
‘Hey presto!!! She went in with no tears, just a kiss and a smile. She asked me when she came out how many times I pressed my magic button today and I said 10 times!!! She smiled and said “same as me”.’
The post racked up more than 15,000 comments and 44,000 shares with other parents vowing to start a hug button too.
One parent wrote: ”I love this idea! Thank you for sharing! I have a 10-year-old intellectually disabled daughter who has always struggled with separation anxiety and I will absolutely be trying this with her!’
Ellie isn’t the only child to love the hug button, a four-year-old and her mum also draw love hearts and send each other magic hugs.
If you’re a parent and wondering what separation anxiety is – it is when babies or children fear that they can’t be with their parents or guardian.
They may cry and protest or complain about feeling sick in order to stay close to parents.
You can handle the issue by practising separation, developing quick goodbye rituals, reassuring them and trying not to give in to them.
From its conception, roller derby has been all about breaking boundaries of gender expectations.
The sport has a real sense of empowerment, tenacity and endurance and is also without a doubt one of the most inclusive sports in the world.
So when a journalist wrote last week about how roller derby has been ruined and is ‘no longer an exclusively female sport’, it’s no surprise the roller derby community wasn’t having any of it, hitting back in full support of trans and intersex people.
Everyone is welcome, regardless of their background, which has fostered an environment where queer, gender-non conforming and trans athletes actually feel comfortable and can enjoy sport without judgement.
I used to play sports to a very serious degree when I was younger, and have about 30 different medals from long-distance running, sprint running, long-jumping and other related areas. I also trained with a football team, and played basketball and volleyball in my free time.
As I transitioned I removed myself from sport altogether, out of fear that I wouldn’t be welcome anywhere, and so I lost out on the social and physical advantages sports can give you.
Anyone who’s ever played sports can testify to the benefits and joy of it; the rush of setting off as the sprint starts, the adrenaline kick of scoring a goal or the competitive atmosphere. To suddenly lose out on all of these things can be very difficult, which is why it’s so important for all sport to be inclusive.
While I don’t play roller derby myself, I have many friends, both trans and not trans, who do.
For many, it’s been a place where they can practice sport without fear of discrimination or exclusion. It’s been a life-changer for them. Roller derby allows disenfranchised people to nurture their athletic abilities, something that has incredible effects on people’s mental and physical well-being.
While the topic of sport in the UK in terms of trans and intersex inclusion continues to be a contentious one, the roller derby community is a great example to how to do things right and not get stuck in poorly based arguments around alleged ‘competitive advantages’.
Gender segregation is often used as a blanket excuse to exclude trans and intersex women, based on normative and often western ideas about women’s bodies, much like we’ve seen with Caster Semenya and her ongoing battle to continue competing as the woman she is.
Others sports have a lot to learn from roller derby – both the Women’s Flat Track Derby Association (WFTDA) and the UK Roller Derby Association (UKRDA) are fully inclusive of trans and intersex athletes, and allow them to compete in the categories that most closely correspond with their identity, regardless of their assigned gender.
These organisations’ commitment to creating a safe environment for queer athletes to compete is commendable, and has certainly not ruined ‘an exclusively female’ sport or caused trans and intersex women to dominate the sport.
On the contrary, it’s enriched the community, making it one of the most beautiful representations of sport where outdated, fundamentalist and normative ideas about gender and bodies are scrapped, and the spirit of the sport is celebrated above all else.
And if you don’t like that, you can keep your hands off roller derby.
Roller Derby World Cup 2018
Yom Kippur, the holiest day of the Jewish year, has ushered in a 25-hour period during which Jews worldwide atone for sins and reflect on the year that has passed.
More people go to synagogue today than on any other day of the year, attending as part of a period of fasting that reflects the sense of renewal and new beginnings associated with Yom Kippur.
The holy day is the latest in a busy time of year for Jews, arriving only a week after Rosh Hashanah – the start of the new Hebrew year of 5780.
When does Yom Kippur end and what should you say to someone observing the Day of Atonement? Here’s what you need to know…
What time does Yom Kippur end today?
The fast began in the UK at 6.08pm on Tuesday evening, and ends on Wednesday night at 7.07pm.
The blowing of the shofar – a curved musical horn, usually made from a ram’s horn – signals the end of the fast when it is sounded in ceremonial fashion in synagogues.
Juice, crackers, fruit and other easily-prepared foods are then usually made available to congregations, although some synagogues will offer larger meals.
Bagels are also a favourite, particularly as cooking is one of the activities that is prohibited on Yom Kippur.
Is there a Yom Kippur greeting? What are some Yom Kippur quotes and sayings?
There are several traditional Hebrew sayings applicable on Yom Kippur, including ‘Chag Sameach’ – CHAG sah-may-ach, in case you’re wondering how to say that – which is a saying used on all Jewish holidays, meaning ‘happy holiday’.
‘Shana Tova’ is also relevant at this time of year, as it means ‘good year’, which Jews are wishing each other at the start of 5780.
You might also hear ‘good Yom Tov’ being murmured around synagogues, because ‘Yom Tov’ means ‘festival day’, when work and other activities are foregone in favour of relaxing and concentrating on festivities.
Victoria’s Secret might not come to mind straight away when you think of inclusive brands.
But with competition from other diverse companies such as Rihanna’s Savage X Fenty lingerie line hotting up, the company has had no choice but to change it up.
Hoping to address years of backlash over the size of its models, Victoria’s Secret has finally started addressing peoples’ concerns.
Ali Tate Cutler is the first size 14 model to be involved in a VS lingerie campaign.
The move comes after the American retailer joined forces with London-based lingerie brand Bluebella which employs plus size women.
The partnership was announced last week but Ali recently announced that she has become the first person of her size to model for VS.
She took to Instagram to say she’s not the first plus-size model for the brand but is the first size 14 – the average for American women.
Ali was pictured at the launch of the partnership at Victoria’s Secret’s flagship store in New York City where she advertised a black laced number.
While Ali is a part of the Blubella for Victoria’s Secret partnership, she hasn’t been officially hired by the latter to model for them.
The collaboration is just for this lingerie campaign. But Ali is thankful for the opportunity.
She told E! News: ‘Size 14 is actually the average size of women in America and I do think that we need to see more of it in media and fashion because most women are that size. So, we need to be accurately represented in brands and media,’ she said.
‘For Victoria’s Secret I am so excited that they decided to put a size 14 women like me on the wall,’ she added. ‘I feel like they are headed in the right direction and they are listening to their audience who have requested to see more women of diverse shapes and sizes.
‘I think if they continue to head in that direction they will be on to a jackpot because that is reflective of what the average woman is in America.’
In the past models such as Barbara Palvin and Lorena Duran have been hailed VS’s first ‘plus-models’ though they are both relatively average.
They have referred to themselves as curvy instead.
Bluebella for Victoria’s Secret line includes lingerie, sleepwear, and hosiery featuring luxe details, including velvet, satin, and embroidered lace.
At the moment the line is available at select Victoria’s Secret stores in the US where it opened last week.
But worry not, it will be available at stores in the UK starting on 11 October.
Victoria's Secret first size 14 model
Barbie has clearly made a major cultural impact since Mattel launched her 60 years ago.
In the last 20 years, we’ve seen a number of women so committed to the looks of the iconic blonde doll that they’ve had extensive surgery to look like her.
But one woman who idolises the fictional character wants to do it without plastic surgery.
Real estate investor Marcela Iglesias has had non-surgical bum lifts and lip filler injections but is scared to go under the knife to achieve her dream look.
The Los Angeles-based mum-of-one has long been obsessed with the idea of transforming herself into a human Barbie and before she hit puberty, she would stuff her bra and bum to create the curves.
She has since grown natural curves and uses wigs, contacts and fake lashes to try to resemble her idol.
Her hourglass figure has prompted comments from strangers who have accused her of being ‘plastic’ and ‘fake’.
But Marcela insists that despite having had a Spider Webb bum lift, Botox and lip fillers, she has not had plastic surgery.
Marcela, originally from Argentina, dresses meticulously to look like Barbie using Barbie-inspired outfits, accessories and makeup which take her 40 minutes to put together.
She thinks her obsession grew as her mother would not allow her to have a Barbie doll as a youngster.
She said: ‘I remember seeing all my friends and neighbours playing with the dolls and having lots of fun dressing them up in new outfits, playing house with them.
‘As time passed by, I became more obsessed with the aesthetics of the doll because every single one of the Barbies look perfect to me.
‘I started to stuff my boobs and the butt to resemble the doll more but when my body developed into a curvier shape, it looked very voluptuous all of a sudden.
‘It was then when I started thinking of becoming a ‘Human doll’ as I now have the curves of the doll and I’m not a child anymore.
‘I started to buy more clothes to change my style and I started wearing my mum’s very high heels. I also did my first highlights at the age of fourteen to appear blonder.’
She then grew into her body and moved to the States where she met her husband. Living in Hollywood also made it more accessible to buy items and procedures that would help her achieve her desired look.
‘I always thought of the possibility of breast implants but for some reason after over 20 consultations I still have hesitations about them. So, I put that idea aside.
‘Living in Hollywood helps a lot because there’s a lot of stuff that I can buy to look more like a Barbie doll.
‘Lots of people accuse me of looking fake but if you know me in person, you’ll totally see that my beauty is natural. Yes, I usually create the look with makeup but that doesn’t mean that I am a plastic person.’
Her husband Steven loves her look and has been part of her transformation.
Over the course of three years, he has undergone procedures such as a platysma plasty, chin implant, Botox, fillers and PDO threads to tighten sagging skin.
Marcela added: ‘I admire what the doll represents more than how she looks. I am very respectful of the image of the Barbie doll as I want to encourage all men and women around the world to pursue their dreams and to achieve the look they want.
‘But I always say that surgery should be considered the last choice. I want to be perceived as a very strong woman that knows what she wants rather than a “bimbo”.
‘Barbie is an inspiration to be whatever you want to be. You control your own destiny.’
Halloween is a notorious minefield for cultural appropriation screw-ups.
From Mexicans in sombreros and moustaches to Native Americans in Pochahontas-style get-ups – dressing as a lazy cultural stereotype is never OK. It’s offensive and can perpetuate damaging preconceptions about marginalised groups.
And, for the record, dressing in blackface for Halloween is straight-up racist. So just don’t do it.
In recent years – probably since that iconic parade scene in Spectre in 2015 – Halloween costumes inspired by the Mexican celebration Dia de los Muertos have become really popular.
The cultural holiday, also known as Day of the Dead, is a traditional celebration in Mexico where people honour the lives of loved ones who have died.
It has meaning and cultural significance, so to dress up in sugar skull makeup without understanding any of the history is disrespectful and pretty insulting.
But there is a way to get involved with this celebration and appreciate the culture – without appropriating. It just involves making some more thoughtful decisions.
First of all – find a celebration that’s actually run by Mexican people. Mexican Londoner Paola Feregrino is involved in organising a night at The Book Club in Shoreditch and she has some tips to avoid offending anyone.
‘Dia de los Muertos is different from Halloween – it celebrates the dead rather than being afraid of the dead,’ says Paola.
‘Most people think of death as something grim, depressing and simply, something we don’t really talk about.
‘For us Mexicans it’s different: of course, we get sad when a loved one passes away but we love remembering them at their best, after all, that’s what they would’ve wanted.
‘So on Day of the Dead, we honour those loved ones that passed away, could be your granny, your mother or even your favourite singer who is no longer with us.’
Paola says that on Dia de los Muertos, it is traditional to call to the souls of deceased loved ones with a ‘shrine’.
‘We celebrate them with their favourite music, food, drink, flowers and objects. We dance, we paint our faces to connect to them and be with them for the day. As long as they are remembered, they are still with us.’
Paola says that in order to celebrate and enjoy the day without appropriating the culture, it is important to have a real understanding of the history behind the holiday and engage on a more than superficial level.
‘Join the festivities by visiting museums, watching documentaries, or attending local parades and events,’ suggests Paola.
‘Take this as an opportunity to learn and engage with Latin culture.
‘If you want to go to a party, firstly find out if the event is curated by a Mexican, they will be on hand proudly inviting you to remember, to see, to listen, and to connect with those in your heart that have passed.
‘Remember, do be happy, as at Dia de los Muertos we remember the best moments we spent with those on the other side, that is why they are welcome to party too.
‘Write some poetry! In Mexico, traditionally, people write small funny poems of those loved who are no longer with us. You can put out that poem with a photo and candles at home for your own little shrine.’
And don’t forget, there are plenty of costume options that don’t reference anybody else’s culture – so maybe stick to the classic toilet roll mummy if you really want to avoid any potential cultural faux pas.
The Book Club’s Day of the Dead Party is on Saturday 26 October.
Organised by Mexican-London group Axolotl, the night will feature DJ sets with Mexican and Latinx vibes to get you dancing the night away plus an immersive storytelling experience.
Day of the Dead comp
Fed up with beige-washed minimalist interiors that look like they’ve been plucked right off a Pinterest board? Well, Hotels.com is now offering the antithesis to neutral tones.
The accommodation site has joined forces with 90s brand Lisa Frank to create a nostalgic room of rainbow.
A penthouse suite at Barsala in Los Angeles has been kitted out with custom Lisa Frank merch.
Some highlights include the oh-so-extra canopy bed plus desk equipped with your younger self’s stationery dream of rainbow pencils, stickers and notebooks.
We think we love it … even if the entire suite does look like it’s been attacked with a pack of highlighters.
The bathroom is where it gets wet and wild, with the splash palace resembling the tie-dyed aquarium from your dreams … or nightmares.
If the 90s was more of a grungy time for you, here’s the low down on Lisa Frank. The concept is rainbow. Rainbow everywhere.
The American brand freakin’ owned the realm of 90s school supplies and stickers, creating a range of multi-coloured, psychedelic products to carve out your trippy little identity with.
‘Over the past four decades, Lisa Frank fans have grown up enjoying our art in many forms,’ said the Lisa Frank team.
‘Many of them now book hotel rooms for themselves and their families, and we are excited to partner with Hotels.com to be able to offer this immersive Lisa Frank experience.’
Speaking of immersive, the mini-bar is hella loaded with classic American 90s junk food including Fun Dip, Air Heads, Pixy Stix, Gushers and Cheez Balls.
You can even keep a piece of your vibrant stay. You’re welcome to cart off the limited edition Lisa Frank plush robes, eye masks and slippers.
Yes, you’ll have all the makings of a slumber party you can host for your pals who missed out on the penthouse.
A stay will set you back $199 (£163) a night.
If you’d like to call dibs on this pad, you’re going to need to pop your hair in a scrunchie, feed that Tamagotchi, then trot over to Hotels.com when reservations open on Friday, 11 October.
Twenty-five years ago there were no treatments for multiple sclerosis (MS) – a neurological condition that affects more than 100,000 people living in the UK.
Today the picture is very different. There have been major advances in treatment and, following a series of more recent discoveries, we believe we can stop MS.
We’ve reached a point where we know what’s causing the disease to progress.
In people with MS, a protective substance that surrounds your nerves – called myelin – becomes damaged, which makes it harder for messages to get received, causing problems with how a person walks, moves, eats and thinks. Without this protective coating nerve cells become vulnerable, and once a nerve cell is lost, this causes disability.
Finding treatments that can regenerate myelin has eluded scientists for decades – it has been the major missing piece of the MS treatment puzzle.
The UK is a world leader in this kind of research and we now know that it is possible to repair it. We have teams of researchers focused on understanding why the repair process breaks down and finding ways to kick-start it again.
Just last week, new research in Cell Stem Cell revealed a new route through which we may be able to enhance myelin repair with a common diabetes drug. Years of hard work and research from dedicated scientists have gone in to making this possible, and this outcome shows what a significant time we’re living in.
Finding treatments that protect nerves is the second missing piece of our jigsaw and clinical trials of potential treatments are already underway.
Finding these new treatments to protect nerves and repair the coating that surrounds them will help us slow or stop MS progressing, and will mean people don’t have to worry about one day relying on a wheelchair, or losing their independence.
Researchers are using their increasing knowledge of nerves to design new ways to keep them alive and healthy. These include clearing up ‘debris’ left over from myelin attacks, energising nerves, and improving transport of important molecules in the nerves.
Although research has brought us to a critical point, and we believe we can stop MS, funding research and clinical trials is very expensive – and there’s lots more work to do before we get to where we need to be.
I have the privilege of leading the Scientific Steering Committee of the International Progressive MS Alliance, which brings together MS charities, scientists and people affected by MS to drive forward research like the above, and ultimately accelerate the development of new treatments in progressive MS.
I’ve also been personally involved in exploring the mechanisms underpinning progression, using imaging to determine what happens to people with progressive MS.
The shape of treatment has changed dramatically over my career. However, there are still so many people with MS who don’t have any treatment because those that do exist only work on damage caused by the immune system. They don’t stop the slow burn of MS progression, which ultimately causes disability.
Finding these new treatments to protect nerves and repair the coating that surrounds them will help us slow or stop MS progressing, and will mean people don’t have to worry about one day relying on a wheelchair, or losing their independence. I can now say confidentially that the future will look very different for people living with this condition.
For the first time, the international research community is aligned on what needs to be done and, with a dramatic increase in investment, we could genuinely change people’s lives.
That’s what we’re working on now, and it’s never been a more exciting time.
The MS Society’s Stop MS Appeal needs to raise £100 million to find treatments for everyone living with MS. To donate to the Stop MS Appeal or for more information visit mssociety.org.uk/stop. Or text FUTURE6 to 70800 to donate £5.
The world’s oldest profession has always lived in limbo.
Sex work has been around for as long as humans have but for nearly 1,000 years, there has been a combination of condoning and condemnation of people making a living from one of our most primal needs.
Why are we still so bashful about it and, in some cases, adamant that it should be stopped? And what does the future hold for sex work in the digital age?
In the UK, the odd limbo of sex work has existed since 1161, when Henry II introduced legislation giving royal recognition for the Bishop Of Winchester to licence brothels and prostitutes in Southwark on the banks of the Thames in London.
This combination of taboo and begrudging acceptance while turning a blind eye has existed ever since.
Opponents of sex work say it’s exploitative of people of all genders and sexualities alongside politicians trying to collate it with people trafficking.
A vast majority of those involved in sex work are there consensually and, though a serious issue, sex trafficking and sex work are two different things and, according to charity Stop The Traffik, often wrongly confused.
In 2019, more people than ever are making money from sex work.
Over 10% of men in Britain have paid for sex and nearly 73,000 people work as sex workers in the UK.
Like any other profession, sex work has remote workers. These are people who offer subscriptions to sexual Snapchat accounts, OnlyFans websites or webcam streams of them performing sex acts.
Three of the biggest 11 websites in the world are dedicated to pornography and adult entertainment.
As a guide, Amazon is 14th on the list, Netflix is 20th.
Yet as a society, we turn our face away from the realities of sex work, which advocates say puts those involved in the industry at risk.
What’s going on?
Millions worldwide pay for sex every day, either online or in real-life and our advertising and television are full of sexualised images, yet we’re loath to validate sex workers’ existence by legitimising their profession.
We’re squeamish about sex and the laws reflect that:
‘We’ve got lots of laws that criminalise things on the street,’ says Teela Sanders, a researcher at the University of Leicester’s criminology department.
‘This is both from the seller and the purchaser’s side, brothel-keeping being the main obstructive law,’
It’s an uneasy solution dating back to the 1957 Wolfenden report, which was concerned about the impact of prostitution as a public nuisance.
Sir John Wolfenden, the author of the report, set the tone for politicians’ approach to sex work for the next six decades: as long as it was out of sight, it was out of mind.
It was deemed that it was ‘not the law’s business’ whether somebody wanted to pay for sex, also recommending that homosexual acts between two consenting adults should by be decriminalised.
One recommendation has moved a lot further than the other.
‘Ultimately the paying and the selling and buying between consenting adults is still perfectly legal,’ says Sanders.
But police forces differ vastly in their approach to sex work depending on the whims of frontline officers and their commanders.
A BBC Three documentary about Leeds was highly critical of the scheme, focusing on drug use, but was condemned by sex workers.
‘It’s a complete mish-mash and mismatch between the reality of what’s going on and the organisation of sex work with these 1950s laws,’ Sanders says.
Britain is far from the only society to have this odd approach to sex work.
‘You see that all around the world,’ Kate Lister, a lecturer at Leeds Trinity University and the author of A Curious History of Sex, tells Metro.co.uk.
‘There is no law that’s consistent. There are always loopholes people get around – this bit is criminalised, that bit isn’t.
‘I think it’s probably to do with the subject of sex, and that’s not something we’re very comfortable with, and it’s difficult to figure out how you legislate it.’
That’s seen on the frontline of sex work.
Nici Evans works with the NHS, local government and police in South Wales, which has its own local quirks but it reflects the national issue around sex work.
‘It’s not been recognised politically, there is no policy from the Welsh government, therefore there’s no political steer or direction,’ she says.
That is because, she says, it sits between violence against women, community safety, public health, substance misuse, in housing and homelessness so no one department takes responsibility.
Evans sees different approaches as she drives along the M4, which stretches across South Wales.
In Cardiff, a progressive chief superintendent is focused on the safety of sex workers, pushing the ‘don’t ask, don’t tell’ notion to its limits.
Just down the road in Swansea, there’s a much more aggressive approach to sex workers, hitting them with criminal justice notices. In Gwent, south east Wales, the police are focused on harm reduction.
In the absence of clear guidance, it’s left to individuals in power to decide on an approach to sex workers.
‘It starts from a place of moral judgment on individuals,’ says Evans.
‘Whoever you speak to about prostitution and sex work will have an opinion about it, either that it’s right or wrong.
‘Fundamentally, all discrimination will come from an individual bias, and we see that day in, day out with the health service in terms of discrimination showed by doctors and nurses to sex workers.’
Criminalising sex work is troublesome, says Angelika Strohmayer of Northumbria University, who has conducted research with sex workers in the UK and Canada.
‘It means they can’t come forward if someone commits violence against them,’ she says.
‘In a decriminalised system, where stigma is reduced and people can go to the police or other service providers without the fear of being criminalised themselves, it encourages the people who listen to believe victims and act on it.’
Laws around brothel keeping (which means anyone working with a colleague is breaking the law) are seen to make problems worse.
‘It means they have to make the decision between working legally – by themselves – or working safely, with others, illegally,’ says Strohmayer.
In London, the brothel raids mentioned above were encouraged by local councillors keen to take a hardline approach to sex work.
There has been plenty of tinkering around the edges of sex work, but there’s a stasis in actual action.
The webcamming sex work revolution is a great example of this – there are nearly no laws for the live broadcast of sex acts despite clients paying for them, even if it is remotely.
With some cam sites believed to be worth nearly $1bn (£820m), it has become big business and a way for many sex workers to make a stable income.
The web allows those offering services to be more empowered, with better vetting and information sharing about their clients, but it is a double-edged sword:
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Digital footsteps leave traces of real-life identities in ways that real-life encounters don’t.
With booking sex work still seen as shameful by society, the risk of being ‘exposed’ as someone who pays for sex could still have repercussions on their family life or job.
The rise of Bitcoin and other cryptocurrencies has been seen as a technological way to ensure privacy and allow more freedom for webcam performers and clients.
And with sex work moving ever closer to augmented and virtual reality, with robots predicted to be a part of our sexual lives by the middle of the 21st century, antiquated laws are likely to be even further out of touch with reality.
But even in the present day, the law is still struggling to keep up.
‘It’s not dealing with the reality of sex work,’ says Sanders.
‘People are having to work under awful working conditions, no control over their work, working together – which is against the law – and these fundamentals are just not being addressed.
‘Because politicians just can’t seem to be grappling with the realities that we have a sex industry that’s not going away.’
And when politicians are minded to act, they’re doing so in ways those who liaise with sex workers say is wrong.
The ‘Nordic model’ of legislation says that paying for sex services – rather than the selling of them – is illegal.
It’s adapted from the law in Sweden, and has highly vocal lobby groups supporting it – who have tried to sway politicians to support its introduction in the UK.
It would criminalise those paying for sex and make the client the criminal rather than the sex worker.
But the hard-line it takes is far from the reality of many people.
‘I just think politicians can’t deal with the complexities,’ says Sanders.
‘Someone may not like to be escorting, but equally, they don’t want to be working in Tesco or in a factory or other parts of the gig economy.’
Instead, those who work day in, day out with sex workers suggest a better alternative: decriminalisation, which is the approach taken in New Zealand and New South Wales, Australia.
Such a move would remove all specific laws that criminalise sex work.
Opponents fear that would result in a free-for-all and the exploitation of people engaged in sex work but that’s not true, says Lister.
‘Sexual abuse and sexual assault are already illegal and would remain illegal,’ she says.
‘But what it would do is reduce the social stigma that exists around selling sex that is so damaging and so hurtful, because it forces it underground.
‘It makes people cast moral assumptions on those people who sell sex.’
A letter, written earlier this year by the Sex Work Research Hub, a collection of researchers, academics, sex workers and policymakers who work with and in the sex industry, advocated decriminalisation and lambasted the Nordic model.
‘People who are well-informed, who know sex workers who worked in the industry, would say the decriminalisation of sex work has got to be the starting point,’ says Evans.
‘With that, we would then be able to do far more effective outreach work,’ she says.
‘People would be far less hesitant to contact support services if they felt they weren’t going to be in trouble. It would have a major impact on developing co-operatives of sex workers, being able to feel safe to work together.’
Decriminalisation is preferred to regulation because people still have negative views of those engaged in sex work.
‘Regulation does little to reduce the stigma,’ says Strohmayer.
But Lister isn’t hopeful that those in power will listen.
‘It’ll be a brave politician that can say decriminalisation is the way forward,’ she says.
‘So many of the narratives and the propaganda around it are so caught up with the idea that if you don’t think sex work should be abolished and heavily criminalised, you’re somehow supporting rape, exploitation and pimping.
‘That’s very untrue and very unfair.’
The web and social media revolution, along with the different types of sex work it has created, has also removed some of the stigma and danger around it.
Technology and apps have allowed sex workers to more easily share advice and warnings around good and bad punters, while the anonymity of social media has allowed sex workers to speak out about the realities of their lives.
‘What it’s done is cut the need for third parties like pimps and madams,’ says Lister.
‘People can manage themselves using apps. It’s allowed screening to take place so that increases safety levels.’
And it’s had another effect, destigmatising the idea that sex workers are somehow subhuman.
‘We’re starting to realise as well that sex work is a really broad experience, from people who sell their underwear online or talk dirty on the phone to full-service providers,’ says Lister.
Sex work involves mothers, fathers, brothers and sisters; students and shop workers; homeless and homeowners. It’s been going on for centuries and will continue to go on.
‘People get exploited in the fishing industry and factory industry,’ says Lister.
‘It’s long past time to have a grown-up conversation about sex work, and to treat it as a job like any other.’
The difficulty here, again, is the grey area of the law.
Google has blocked certain functions of an app launched to help screen potentially dangerous clients. Other apps aimed at providing check-ins for sex workers after appointments have been curtailed.
The goal of those campaigning for recognition and respect for sex workers is that the government will start by decriminialising the world’s oldest profession as a starting point to enabling better advocacy for those involved.
Those trying to ban it outright want to shut it away and run it out of business.
One thing is for certain: whichever path we take, the world’s oldest profession will continue unabated.
The key question is how long we’re going to continue the world’s longest conversation about what to do next.
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Will sex work ever be fully legal?
If you have been scrolling through Twitter or the chaotic fun that is TikTok, you may have come across Avengers-themed pool videos.
Each clip sees members of the Marvel universe (or people pretending to be them) heroicly jumping out of a swimming pool.
The premise is simple – you need a gang, a few props to double as a shield for Captain America and a hammer for Thor, and a pool obviously (or the ocean).
The video consists of each member posing as an iconic Marvel character whether that be Spiderman, Ironman, Black Panther and so on, and then jumping into a pool.
Each person doing the role play might also want to pose as their character such as crouching for Spidey, doing the Wakanda Forever salute as T’Challa or getting your bow ready as Hawkeye.
Then rewind it all, and you’ll have yourself a gravity-defying video with viral potential.
One group of men who completed the challenge were a bunch of professional divers.
Team GB diver Daniel Goodfellow and 2016 gold medal winner, Jack Laugher created a low-budget version of a key scene from the latest of the Marvel franchise, Endgame.
And their spectacular video, created with the help of some other diver friends, soon went viral after it dropped on TikTok.
The diver edition was enjoyed by many, many people, racking up 1.2 million likes on TikTok alone.
On Twiter, it went up to 200,000.
While the divers’ version – perhaps the most clean-cut one – did the rounds on social media, it’s not the first of its kind.
Over on TikTok, people have been jumping into pools and rewinding the stuff since summer.
Families have been taking on the challenge during barbeques, pool parties, or just at home (if they’re fancy enough to own a pool).
Some have even added weird and wonderful props, such as a penguin (yeah us neither), a float, and, more fittingly, an Ironman mask.
One person even assembled by themselves in the pool (it’s possible).
Luckily there’s a handy compilation video to keep you entertained.