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Lean On Me: My friend dropped me until she wanted a favour. Should I let her go?

A woman sticks her tongue out at her friend
Although I made a big effort to stay in touch, we drifted apart (Picture: Ella Byworth for Metro.co.uk)

Dear Kate,

I made a big effort to stay in touch with my friend after university but recently we’ve drifted.

Numerous times we have made plans to meet up and she has bailed at the last minute and not bothered to rearrange.

Recently, she said she needed to call me urgently. I thought something terrible had happened. It turns out she wanted me to apply for a job at her boyfriend’s company, so he could get a bonus.

While I am unhappy in my current job it wasn’t the right role for me. She kept pushing it, and questioned my decision, before emailing me the application.

I tried to express my feelings but she accused me of being mean. She said she would try and be more considerate in future, but I don’t think she understood how angry and upset I was.

I’m not sure I can invest more emotional energy in someone who doesn’t seem to value me or my time – she makes me feel completely disposable. What should I do?

Eleanor, 27

Woman sitting curled up on a bed
It sounds to me like you’re already starting to grieve the end of this friendship (Picture: Irene Palacio for Metro.co.uk)

Hi Eleanor,

It sounds to me like you’re already starting to grieve the end of this friendship. Do you need me to give you permission to call the end of it? If that’s what you need from me, please, have it.

You’re allowed to let go of friendships that are no longer good for you. You’re entitled to protect yourself. You’re in control of who you allow into your life and who you surround yourself with – be discerning.

Please, hear it from me: sometimes friendships end and that’s OK. My greatest advice to you, dear Eleanor, is to give this woman the distance she seems to want.

Stop waiting for her to organise getting together, to turn up on time, or to give a proper explanation when she bails on you. Stop waiting for her to be a better friend – as far as I can tell, she’s already shown you she’s not in a position to do that right now.

You treasure your friendships, and that’s a wonderful thing, but do not spend your time and energy cherishing someone who doesn’t deserve it.

This friend of yours is not there for you anymore, not in the ways you need her to be. She’s also behaved quite bizarrely, pressuring you to do something you clearly don’t want to do so that her boyfriend can benefit financially. She’s not listening to you, she’s not looking out for you and she’s not making space for you in her life.

We so often forget to ask ourselves whether certain people belong in our lives, holding onto them out of complacency or the fear of being alone.

This is quite typical: a lot of people neglect their friends when they get into relationships. We lose an average of two friends every time we get serious with a romantic partner, and I suspect you might be one of her losses. And it is her loss, E. You need to take a step back, cut off her supply of support and love, tend to yourself for a while and see if she notices your absence.

She may well realise what a delight you are and try to win back your friendship, in which case you may decide if she deserves it. Or perhaps she won’t – in which case this is simply the end of your friendship. A painful thing, sure, but something you can recover from, I promise.

We so often forget to ask ourselves whether certain people belong in our lives, holding onto them out of complacency or the fear of being alone. You will not be alone if you let this friendship go.

You have other friends; friends who give you something in return for the love you give them. Nurture those friendships now. Pick up the phone, text someone you haven’t seen properly in a while, actively surround yourself with lovely people who do listen to you and do care for you and do put the time in.

Remind yourself what good friendship feels like. Get brunch, go for walks, have long chats. Revel in all that gorgeousness for a bit and forget about this woman.

It’ll hurt – the ends of friendships always do – so take time to mourn and then try to move on. We’re all busy, we’ve all got things going on; ain’t nobody got time for people who do not show up for us in life. Let this one go, Eleanor, and see if she works to get you back. In the meantime, you do you.

About Lean On Me

Kate Leaver is the author of The Friendship Cure and she will be answering your friendship woes in her weekly Metro.co.uk column.

If you’d like to submit a question or problem, email LeanOnMe@metro.co.uk with ‘Lean on me’ in the subject line.

Submissions are anonymous and you can follow the discussion on Twitter #LeanOnMe.

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My Label and Me: I’ve been called a Tory and a Communist but I’m really a champagne socialist


‘You are the worst kind of person. You are the kind of person who is responsible for what’s happening in Venezuela.’

I was standing in the Stewards’ Enclosure at Henley Royal Regatta, sipping champagne, being subjected to a tirade of abuse from an ex, Rupert*.

My crime? Admitting I voted for Jeremy Corbyn in the first round of the Labour party leadership elections back in 2015.

In Rupert’s eyes that made me a champagne socialist, the kind of person who wants to deny everyone the kind of luxury I’ve enjoyed from my childhood onwards.

Poverty for all, rather than Prosecco.

It wasn’t the first time I’ve been called that and it won’t be the last. And all because I believe it’s time to address the ever-increasing gulf between rich and poor – yes, despite having gone to public school.

Lebby at her house with Boat Race oars hanging on the wall
At university I was known as the Latin-studying, Boat Race rower who also voted Labour (Picture: Susannah Ireland/Metro.co.uk)

As a proud north Londoner living first in Camden and then in Islington, I grew up surrounded by people with left-wing views.

My brother’s best friend painted his room bright red in honour of the Labour party and I’d listen to them playing ska and punk music, absorbing the right-on anti-fascist sentiments of The Specials and The Clash.

However, at my elite girls’ school in Edgware, I developed a rather more right-wing stance, fed up with hearing about the evils of ‘the system.’

I still had lingering memories of the rubbish piled up during the Winter of Discontent and candlelit homework sessions, and retained some admiration for ‘Milk Snatcher’ Margaret Thatcher for taking away that disgusting mid-morning drink.

But two years at posh public school Marlborough College destroyed any lingering Tory sentiment I might have had.

I rubbed shoulders with the likes of supermodel Stella Tennant, Samantha Cameron and other children of the aristocracy, gradually becoming more and more disillusioned with how unquestioning my fellow pupils were of their privilege.

At a lavish wedding one summer, a horrified guest I’d ranted at during dinner took my father aside and said, ‘Did you know your daughter is a Communist?’

Lebby in her house
My brother’s best friend painted his room bright red in honour of the Labour party (Picture: Susannah Ireland/Metro.co.uk)

It was the first time I’d been labelled by a member of the upper classes. Outraged there was a Red in their midst, she’d felt the need to shop me for breaking some kind of social code – but I was pleased I’d managed to rattle her cage.

At Oxford, with my love of drinking bubbly and throwing dinner parties, I was quickly given the label of the ‘champagne socialist’ by my group of friends.

The Latin-studying, Boat Race rower who – hilariously, in their opinion – not only voted Labour but who was (then) a card-carrying member of the Party.

The implication behind the label has always been that my privilege discounts me from holding left-wing views and even makes me a figure of fun.

On the one hand I’m too posh to understand the struggles of the working class and on the other, I’m hopelessly naive in not grasping that trickle-down economics is the only true way of empowering the workers.

Except for that brief moment in 1997, when Tony Blair’s rise to power was toasted in upper middle class sitting-rooms as well as working men’s clubs across the land, us champagne socialists have been universally reviled – by both sides of the political divide.

Lebby in her house
I’m stuck with claims of ideological betrayal from both sides (Picture: Susannah Ireland/Metro.co.uk)

We’re not just responsible for spending all the money on ridiculous things like childcare provision and upgrading schools, it’s also our fault Brexit is happening, because as members of the out-of-touch metropolitan elite, we don’t understand what day to day life is really like for ordinary people.

The irony is, because of my background, I’m regarded as something of an outsider in my Islington street. Members of my book group secretly suspect I am a right-wing mole.

The fact I’ve sent my eldest to grammar school and drive home with a boot full of champers from my second home in France every holiday confirms in their minds I’m a traitor to the left-wing cause. Worse still, as a staunch Remainer, I am now no longer a Corbynista.

So I’m stuck with claims of ideological betrayal from both sides.

But I’m proud to be a champagne socialist. It’s not a label I’d want to change, despite accusations of hypocrisy.

We’re not out of touch, like Marie-Antoinette, demanding everyone be allowed to eat cake, or quaff champers. We just want a fairer society and are prepared to pay more tax to make that happen.

Don’t revile posh people for being left-wing – what’s wrong with having principles, after all?

* Not his real name


Labels is an exclusive series that hears from individuals who have been labelled – whether that be by society, a job title, or a diagnosis. Throughout the project, writers will share how having these words ascribed to them shaped their identity  positively or negatively  and what the label means to them.

If you would like to get involved please email jess.austin@metro.co.uk

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Vulva art is taking over penis doodles in bathrooms around London

vulva art takeover in the bathrooms of london
Glorious, right? (Picture: Viva La Vulva Bathroom Takeover)

If you’ve been in a public bathroom, you’ve seen a doodle of a penis.

Same goes for if you went to school in the UK and ever left your notebook lying around. Or if your train has gone past a wall of rubbish graffiti.

There’s something strangely irresistible about drawing genitals the moment you have a pen in your hand and something to vandalise – but why is it that we only see renderings of penises, never vulva?

This week sanitary product brand Bodyform is changing things up.

They’ve teamed up with venues around London to create the Viva La Vulva Bathroom Takeover, in which bathrooms in the Tara Theatre and Queen of Hoxton will be decorated with stunning paintings of vulvae in all their glory.

illustrator Oliwia has painted vulva in all different shapes and sizes
Illustrator Oliwia Bober shows a variety of vulvae to improve people’s body confidence (Picture: Viva La Vulva Bathroom Takeover)
illustrator oliwia poses with her vagina
Oliwia Bober poses with her vulva (Picture: Viva La Vulva Bathroom Takeover)

This isn’t some big statement on gender-specific bathrooms, to be clear (a vagina is not a requirement to be a woman), but a way to break down our collective embarrassment around the appearance of our vulva.

Considering the popularity of labiaplasties for cosmetic reasons, that’s something we urgently need to do.

And with nearly half of all male toilets in the UK having at least one penis doodle present, it seems like time to get vulva representation in our public spaces – especially as exposure to pictures of natural vulvae has been shown to positively affect genital self-image.

Images of vulva as part of the viva la vulva bathroom takeover
(Picture: Viva La Vulva Bathroom Takeover)

Running from today until 1 June at locations around London, the takeover will see illustrator Oliwia Bober plastering a range of vulva art over toilet walls and doors in the Tara Theatre in Earlsfield and the Queen of Hoxton.

Oliwia Bober said: ‘I’m so proud to be involved with the Viva La Vulva campaign with Bodyform and leading the charge for the Bathroom Takeover.

‘Art is one of the most powerful tools for self-expression and the more we can raise awareness of the beautiful female form, the more women will feel empowered to celebrate their vulva and combat feelings of shame and embarrassment.

‘This campaign is a fantastic example of Bodyform’s mission to help break down the taboos that hold women back.’

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How I Save: The 25-year-old writer who earns £23k a year and has £800 saved

How I Save: The 25-year-old writer who earns £23k a year in London and has £800 saved
Like most of us, Bella spends a bit on croissants and coffees (Picture: Getty/Metro.co.uk)

Ever have too much month at the end of the money?

For many of us money is a mystery that feels impossible to solve.

We earn, we try to budget and save, and then somehow all our money just disappears.

It’s not surprising – it’s rare we’re taught about finances at school, and shame around money stops us asking for help when we need it.

We could all do better, and we reckon that starts with having more open, honest conversations around how we spend and save our money. That’s why we launched How I Save, a weekly series that shares how a different person deals with money, with expert advice on how they (and we) could improve their saving habits.

This week we’re looking at the banking habits of Bella (not her real name, as we know people can get nasty when it comes to people’s spending habits), a 25-year-old magazine writer living in west London.

How Bella saves:

I earn £23,000 a year. In my savings account right now I have £800 (and a credit card with £5,000 on it).

I’m saving for… a holiday? A car? I’ve genuinely given up on the idea of buying a house, so it feels like I’m just saving for fun nowadays.

The main way I save is I put all my wages into a saving account and hope that I don’t take all of it back out again by the end of the month. And have soup instead of Pret.

I struggle with saving because as I’ve lost hope in saving for a deposit, there’s not so much impetus to reach a certain target.

Metro illustrations Ella Byworth/ Metro.co.uk
(Picture: Ella Byworth/Metro.co.uk)

How Bella spends:

Monthly expenses:

  • £500 rent
  • £50 phone contract
  • £30 gym
  • £10 Spotify
  • £8 Netflix

A week of spending:

Monday: Oyster top up (£10), coffee and pastry (£5), lunch (£5).

Tuesday: A weekly shop at Tesco for £25.

Wednesday: I buy makeup for £15 and a £5 lunch

Thursday: Social drinks (£15).

Friday: Birthday card for a friend, £4.

Saturday: Brunch (£15), Starbucks (£3), opticians (£60), UberEats (£5).

Sunday: Home to my parents’ for Sunday lunch – free!

Total spent this week: £167

How Bella could save:

We spoke to the experts over at money tracking app Cleo to find out how Bella could save better.

Note: the advice featured is specific to one individual and doesn’t constitute financial advice. Especially on a London budget.

Main vice:

You’re killing me. Your biggest splurge was £60 at the opticians which makes it really hard to roast your spending. You deserve to see, Bella.

You’re on track to spend just half of your after bills income. That’s epic. I’m meant to be picking holes in your budget, but I just literally can’t do it.

Unless we’re talking about that mad Friday night £4 birthday card. Calm down!

Where you’re going wrong:

This isn’t on you, I’m blaming London. Or your parent’s generation. Or the increasing gap between interest rates and house prices.

Get mad about it. This is bleak AF because it just is.

Living a rented lifestyle does have some costs you should probably stack up. Think flat deposits, referral fees, credit scoring, and a financial cushion if a landlord turns you out.

Otherwise, let the rage fuel your savings. Feeling powerless isn’t an option. At £800 you’ve got a head start. Don’t let them think you shouldn’t afford a home.

Action plan:

Safe to save: Monthly £400

Judging by this week’s spending, you could be putting aside a fair amount. Split that into £200 for holidays or big fun spends, and dump the other £200 in a savings account that you don’t touch (for a distant utopia where you can buy a London 2 bed flat for less than £850k)

Safe to spend: £15 Daily / Weekly £100 / Monthly £430

Social events, groceries, vision. All the normal stuff.

Safe to burn: Weekly £25 / Monthly £100

For low energy days, when you need a coffee or take out to get you through the deadlines.

End game: Set a goal. And go get it.

How I Save is a weekly series about how people spend and save, out every Thursday. If you’d like to anonymously share how you spend and save – and get some expert advice on how to sort out your finances – get in touch by emailing ellen.scott@metro.co.uk.

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Your hayfever medication could be making your vagina dry

An illustration with a woman with her hands over her vagina
(Picture: Ella Byworth for Metro.co.uk)

It’s almost summer time and while some of us are thinking about sunshine, ice-cream and lazy days in the park, for others this season means one thing – hayfever.

If you are one of the unlucky people with an allergy to pollen, you’ve probably got your stash of antihistamines ready for when the runny nose and red eyes hit.

And although the tablets are great at keeping your symptoms under control, there are some side effects you might not be aware of, particularly the effect on your sex life.

When your body is exposed to something you are allergic to, it triggers a response from your immune system and produces histamines.

Antihistamines – as the name suggests – try to block these to prevent the itching, sneezing and sore eyes.

But by doing that, it drys out the rest of the mucus membranes in your body too, including in your vagina.

Although the vagina is great at cleaning and self-lubricating, when the amount these membranes produce is reduced by something like medication, it can make it pretty dry down there.

An illustration with a woman with her hands over her vagina
(Picture: Ella Byworth for Metro.co.uk)

Vanessa MacKay, Consultant Obstetrician and Gynaecologist and Spokesperson for the Royal College of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists explains: ‘Vaginal dryness can be caused by a change to a woman’s hormones and this can occur due to a wide variety of things including medication.

‘There are different types of antihistamine and some women may experience vaginal dryness when taking them.’

If you’ve noticed a lack of lubrication since allergy season kicked off, your medication might be the problem.

There are different types of antihistamine so speak to your doctor to see if another type wont have as much of an impact.

You can also try using other methods such as barrier balms to reduce how many antihistamines you take.

If you are suffering from vaginal dryness, make sure you take steps to manage it and use lube during sex to make it more comfortable.

Dr MacKay adds: ‘Women with any debilitating side effect from their medication should speak to their healthcare professional but vaginal dryness can be managed with vaginal moisturisers and by using water-based lubricants during sex.

‘Women should not use any perfumed soaps, washes or douches in or around their vagina and should also steer clear of moisturisers that aren’t specifically for the vagina.’

If you aren’t taking allergy medication but are suffering from vaginal dryness, there are lots of other causes.

Other medication like contraceptive pills and antidepressants can also make your vagina dry.

If you are going through the menopause, are currently breastfeeding, have had your womb removed, have an underlying condition like diabetes or Sjogren’s syndrome or are currently going through cancer treatments, you are more likely to have it.

Using perfumed soaps, washes or douches around your vagina can also affect how much vaginal discharge you have.

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Where to get the shawl that Meghan and Harry wrapped baby Archie in

Meghan and Harry chose to use the same company used by the queen, Princess Diana, and Kate Middleton
Meghan and Harry chose to use the same company used by the queen, Princess Diana, and Kate Middleton (Picture: G. H. Hurt & Son – EPA)

All eyes were on royal baby Archie as parents Meghan Markle and Prince Harry introduced baby Sussex to the world this week.

We were all squinting to see who the latest royal looks like.

But parents may have been eyeing up the swanky blanket that the newborn was wrapped in.

The Duke and Duchess of Sussex swaddled their new son in a shawl from a brand that’s been a royal favourite throughout the years.

Meghan and Harry opted for the comfortable wrap from G. H. Hurt & Son, the same company that made the stuff for Harry’s parents Prince Charles and Princess Diana when they introduced the princes at the famed Lindo Wing.

The Duke and Duchess of Cambridge, Kate and Will, also used the same Ivory White Leaves and Flowers baby shawl for their children.

But it was the Queen who started it all off in 1948 when she used the company to show off Prince Charles.

If you want the royal replica, you can get your hands on it without breaking the bank.

This is the shawl that Meghan and Harry wrapped baby Archie in
This is the shawl that Meghan and Harry wrapped baby Archie in (Picture: G. H. Hurt & Son)

The G. H. Hurt & Son website offers the same shawl plus options in pink and blue.

Prices range from £50 to £125 for the cashmere ones.

You can get personalised shawls for a heftier price of £295.

But if you wanted the exact same one as Meghan and Harry, go for the Ivory White Leaves and Flowers baby shawl, available for a humble £105.

If it’s good enough for the royals, it’s good enough for us.

Those of you who were more into the new mummy’s look, Meghan wore a double-breasted dress by London-based menswear designer Grace Wales Bonner.

Harry wore a grey suit.

You can shop online for the baby shawl used by the new parents on the G. H. Hurt & Son website.

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Why do we love the smell of chocolate so much?

Midsection Of Smiling Young Woman Eating Chocolate Against Pink Background
Get in our belly (Picture: Getty)

We all know the delicious smell of chocolate: the rich velvety aroma of roasted cocoa beans that makes our mouth water.

While most of us don’t spend as much time sniffing the stuff as we do gobbling it all up, there are chemicals in chocolates that are similar to the ones found in roses.

Much like flowers and essential oils we have in our homes, roasted cocoa beans are rich in beta-ionone which give them their respective smells.

German scientists found that the fragrance (as well as the taste obviously) is what makes dark chocolate so appealing to us all.

Their research not only explains why the smell of chocolate is so alluring but suggests it could also lead to even tastier snacks being custom made in future.

So, now you know, a bouquet of chocolate is a much better choice than roses – not only can you sniff it, you can eat it.

Woman holding large bar of chocolate, eyes closed
Bet she can’t wait to dig in (Picture: Getty)

The findings, published in the Journal of Agricultural and Food Chemistry, may help choccie companies control and improve the flavour of their products.

The German team tested two types of local dark chocolate with distinctive aromas. They then analysed the chemicals within the smell and found that various volatile compounds are directly responsible for the smell.

These are chemicals that transform into gases easily at room temperature and are inhaled along with the air we breathe.

Dr Carolin Seyfried, of the Technical University of Munich, said: ‘Chocolate is one of the most-consumed treats around the world.

‘Flavour is more than just what the tongue tastes – smell also plays a key role, with many compounds working together to create a unique sensory experience.’

That explains why we crave the stuff just by catching a whiff of the fragrance.

If you ever wondered what substances make up roasted cocoa beans – the main ingredient for chocolate, researchers found the answer.

In a previous study, the same scientists from the German Federal Ministry of Economic Affairs and Energy found that the aroma of roasted beans comes from a host of substances.

Individually these smell like potato chips, human sweat, earth,  cooked meat, peaches, raw beef fat, cooked cabbage, cucumber and honey.


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Will we still need to sleep in 50 years?

sleep well
Can scientists ever really remove the need for sleep? And is that what we want? (Picture: Ella Byworth for Metro.co.uk)

The importance humans have attached to sleep has drastically changed over recent times.

While the ancient Greeks valued sleep for its restorative powers, modern industrialised societies have taken a very different view. We often hear statements like ‘Sleep is a waste of time, ‘sleep is for wimps’ and ‘I’ll sleep when I’m dead’. There’s even talk of finding a ‘cure’ for sleep.

In today’s ‘always-on’ society where only productivity seems to matter, sleep appears to be relegated to being viewed an obstacle. Indeed, many people try to shorten their sleep so they can spend more time working.

A price is being paid. Working longer and playing harder than ever before means modern workers are facing ‘burnout’ at an unprecedented rate.

Three out of four people have felt so stressed in the last year that they have felt ‘overwhelmed’ or ‘unable to cope’, according to the Mental Health Foundation.

While sleep is still a mysterious area of science with much left to discover, our 24/7 lifestyles are characterised by disrupted and insufficient sleep, with far-reaching implications for our health and wellbeing.

The harm of sleep deprivation has been well-documented – increased cancer and metabolic syndrome.risk, a slowing of reaction time, it’s been linked to increases in obesity, depression, diabetes, stroke and heart attacks.

But that hasn’t stopped researchers from looking at what the future of sleep is and what it could change into.

Will sleep still be a necessary part of our lives in centuries to come?

No-one, at least for now, is trying to delete sleep altogether but researchers for the military are looking at what can be done in high-pressure environments like conflict zones to allow as much alertness as possible to be retained on low sleep.

Some studies have focused on how to prevent the performance degradation associated with a lack of sleep by using stimulants. It’s not a million miles away from drinking a lot of caffeine the night before a deadline.

These sorts of drugs have been shown to have short-term benefit on alertness, at the expense of becoming more irritable and impatient, but couldn’t be used in the long term.

Other studies looked at how to make sleep more efficient – sleeping less but without any performance decrements – by employing new technologies.

Transcranial magnetic stimulation (TMS) is one such example, which could open the door to noninvasively and non-pharmacologically increasing sleep’s restorative value.

In short, the idea is that by mapping the waves most responsible for keeping memories, recharging the nervous system and restoring the body, it is hoped sleep can be optimised and therefore shortened.

While these applications might prove useful, in particular to those working in safety-critical industries and medical settings, results from TMS interventions are mixed, and requires further research.

And even though all this research is taking place in our 24/7 culture, attitudes to sleep are slowly changing back to the more Ancient view.

We’re beginning to wise up and focus on improving our health and wellness.

woman sleeping on desk
Getting enough sleep with a 24/7 lifestyle can be hard(Picture: Ella Byworth)

Growth in the global wellness market supports this, rising 12.8% in the last two years, and the ‘sleep market’ in the US is predicted to grow an average of 4.7% annually over the next five years.

We know that sleep isn’t simply a battery recharge.

It’s not an isolated area of us that sleeps which we could swap out for a fully charged one.

Neither can we do a quick reboot where the brain content is uploaded to the cloud. Instead sleep is necessary for an optimal functioning of the entire body and the brain.

Sleep enables us to restore and recover any changes or losses from the waking day. And while we still don’t fully understand its function(s), we know it is a biological imperative for our physical health, cognitive performance and emotional wellbeing.

For example, sleep facilitates the pruning of synapses and clearance of toxins in the brain.

Without sleep, hormones such as cortisol and insulin get out of kilter increasing the risk of diabetes and other diseases. It can also make you more susceptible to everything from catching a cold to developing cancers.

Sleep deprivation also causes irritability, being cranky and ready to snap at one’s partner, children or local barista for failing to make the coffee just the way you like it and can have a bad effect on your ability to think clearly.

Staying awake for more than 17 hours produces performance impairments equivalent to having a blood alcohol level of 0.05% – almost on the brink of the UK drink-driving limit.

Basically, it’s like being drunk on the job. And it’s easy to see how that relates to loss of productivity. Living out of sync with your body clock further increases health and wellbeing risks.

For now, no scientist has found a way to trick the body into thinking it has slept or found a way around the symptoms but as a society, we also get caught up in the importance of time spent asleep.

When we talk of ‘optimal’ sleep, hours slept is usually the primary consideration. But it’s the quality of our sleep that plays perhaps an even bigger role – and clearly these processes go beyond what a battery pack can do.

How much sleep do we actually need and are we less sleeping too little?

That’s difficult to answer as scientists are still unsure whether our sleep duration has changed from pre-industrial to industrial lifestyles.

We also do not really know what the optimal sleep duration is. The recommendation is seven to nine hours for a healthy adult and acknowledges that people differ in the amount of sleep they need.

The best way to know if you are sleeping less than you need is when you wake up feeling unrefreshed and need to have long lie-ins on free days.

Sleep need is impacted by many factors: biology, the environment and social demands all play a role. Considering current work demands it may well be that sleep need has increased as a result of it.

Data for the UK and US report an increase in sleep duration for many parts of the population.

Other possible factors contributing to the observed findings include improved science communications and sleep awareness campaigns, and more interest in sleep and the benefits it brings.

The future of sleep

Great innovations around sleep are those that advance the measuring and understanding of sleep and we all will benefit from them.

New discoveries will open the door to more effective and personalised treatments for sleep disorders and circadian misalignment – the body clock being out of sync with the external day –  as they allow for better at-home testing involving non-invasive, contactless devices, wearables and smartphone apps that help users learn more about their sleep.

In that way technology grounded in sleep science can help improve sleep.

We haven’t yet reached a point where we can ‘solve the secret’ to not sleeping – if ever.

But the real question is, why do we have to ‘solve’ it? Sleep allows the body and mind to rest, to replenish and recover.

If we spent a life in constant wakefulness that would have serious implications on our mental health and wellbeing, with no time to nourish oneself away from distraction and the necessity to produce or consume.

Is that what we really want?

The priority should be better education and a cultural shift on sleep, to support people in developing their sleep sense – educating them on sleep so that they can sleep naturally.

Using technological innovations can assist what should come naturally but the risk is it becomes another piece of tech they are reliant on.

However, scientists alone cannot get sleep up people’s priority list. Society as a whole has to make changes to lifestyle and working practices. Employees, employers, institutions and governments also have to make sleep a priority.

There is still a long way to go but there are signs that we are living in a culture that is not only work smart but also becoming sleep smart and where work practices are informed by individual sleep needs to promote both health and performance.

Sleep is, yet again, becoming a valued activity.

Dr Katharina Lederle is the founder and director of Somnia, a sleep expert and author

The Future Of Everything

Future Of Everything

This piece is part of Metro.co.uk's series The Future Of Everything.

From OBEs to CEOs, professors to futurologists, economists to social theorists, politicians to multi-award winning academics, we think we've got the future covered, away from the doom mongering or easy Minority Report references.

Every weekday, we're explaining what's likely (or not likely) to happen.

Talk to us using the hashtag #futureofeverything  If you think you can predict the future better than we can or you think there's something we should cover we might have missed, get in touch: hey@metro.co.uk or Alex.Hudson@metro.co.uk

Read every Future Of Everything story so far

Hairdresser explains why she’s decided to charge the same price for men and women

An illustration of a woman having her hair straightened
(Mmuffin for Metro.co.uk)

Charging men less for a haircut is one of those things that has just always been that way.

But why? It’s just another example of the ‘pink tax’, where women are charged more for almost identical products.

One hairdresser wants to change that and end gendered haircuts.

Susannah Richardson, who runs Butchers, in Shoreditch, London, says that sometimes cutting men’s hair takes just as long as cutting women’s and we should stop basing prices on gender.

Susannah and her business partner Katie Knox have decided to start charging a set starting rate of £55 for all haircuts, no matter what the client’s gender is.

They aren’t the first salon to level out pricing – Barberette in Hackney charges for the style, not gender and Chop Chop with branches across London follows a similar model.

Susannah explains that for them, it was a change that they have been thinking about following for a long time.

‘I think we’ve been quite uncomfortable with charging men less for a while. It’s just a historic thing. We’ve always worked places where that was the case.

‘We were trying to compete with barber shops. We’re a small, independent business and we never wanted to scare men away.

‘But morally, we want it to be fair. A lot of our gents are coming for the experience – we look at the head shape, we provide massages. They are getting the same experience as our female clients.’

Susannah adds that now both men and women are more willing to change up the length of their hair – some male clients have long hair and some female clients have shorter hair – and it means the idea that men are charged less because cutting their hair is easier, is outdated.

‘Cutting a man’s hair can take just as long and sometimes even require more skill or technique. We’ve just been judging it on gender. Some women just have their ends cut off and a quick blow dry, which takes no time at all,’ she says.

The interior of Butchers salon, where they are ending gendered haircuts
Butchers salon are ending gendered haircuts (Picture: Butchers)

The new policy will be in place at Butchers from Monday. Men’s haircuts will rise to start from £45 to £55 in line with the current prices for women.

Since announcing the idea, Susannah said that the reaction from their clients has been positive.

‘I think lots of them felt embarrassed that this was the case. Some of them have commented on it in the past and actually, I’m surprised it has taken us this long to address,’ she adds.

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Mum asks ring-shaming group for help choosing a breastfeeding ring

Engagement ring made using breastmilk
The mum wanted to commemorate breastfeeding her child (Picture: That’s it I’m Ring Shaming)

A mum from Kentucky, US, took to a ring-shaming group on Facebook to ask which ring would be best for storing breastmilk as a keepsake.

Nicole Scott, an American nurse, posted images of three different rings asking folks on Facebook page That’s It, I’m Ring Shaming which one looked the best.

Though she simply wanted opinions on the best halo ring to go for, the chat turned to the general concept of breastfeeding jewellery.

Nicole was met with a plethora of comments about the process of putting the liquid into a jewel and was questioned why she’d want to do such a thing.

To solidify the liquid, breast milk is made into a resin mix before dehydrating it. It is then inserted into the ring’s crevice and decorated on the outside.

The concept of breastmilk jewellery isn’t new and some of the group posters weren’t hating on the idea, just the options.

Plus, she’d asked for an opinion on a ring-shaming group – of course the members were going to roast the rings.

Mum breastfeeding
She’s not the first mum to want to turn breastmilk into jewellery (Picture: Getty)

Nicole posted on the group, saying: ‘I want to get a breast milk ring made. I found a great website as suggested by other mums in a different group. Which one is best, if any? There are more options but these three are my favourites.

‘I don’t want opinions on the fact that it’s made with breast milk, I’m only looking for opinions on ring style.

‘I do not want opinions regarding breast milk or breastfeeding…but to shame only the ring styles, as this is a ring shaming group!’

People were confused by the message and continued to slate the choice.

‘Oh sweet summer child. This group hates breast milk rings. This group actually hates all rings,’ reminded one user. ‘There’s a group called That’s It, I’m Asking for Ring Advice for this very thing. If you don’t want to hear negative feedback on breastmilk rings (or any ring) this is the worst possible place you could come to.

‘Anyway, I’m gonna give my opinion regardless because that’s what this group is for – gross.’

In a similar vein, someone else wrote: ‘Might as well get a gallstone ring while you’re at it’.

Another said: ‘That’s the worst idea ever, even rings with teeth are better, and you hardly find anything worse than them.’

‘Just because you can doesn’t mean you should,’ quipped one member.

Nicole isn’t the first mum to commemorate breastfeeding her child through accessories.

First-time parent Erin Parnell also made jewellery out of breast milk to have a reminder of that special time.

To each their own.

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Bride asks maid of honour to delay her boob job because she wants to be the ‘hottest one in her wedding party’

A bride and her bridesmaids looking at dresses
The conversation caused tension between the bride and her maid of honour (Picture: Getty)

We all know the rule if someone is getting married – don’t upstage the bride.

It is her big day and it’s important to respect that.

But one bride might have taken that idea too far, by asking her maid of honour to delay her boob job because she wants ‘to be the hottest one in the bridal party’.

The maid of honour says she has been planning and saving for the operation for a long time and now seems like the perfect time.

The surgery is set for the end of this month, with the wedding falling in September, giving her lots of time to recover.

But it’s the idea that her new boobs might ‘overshadow’ the bride on her big day that her friend is worried about.

In a post on Reddit, the maid of honour explained: ‘I’ve dreamed of it for a long time and I finally got a chance and money to do it.

‘Apparently, my best friend isn’t very happy about it.

‘So far everything has been going good, but yesterday she asked me whether I would consider doing it after her wedding.

‘I was surprised, because she knows it’s perfect timing for me and there are many reasons behind it. I was curious why she asked that.

‘She said she wants to be the hottest one in her wedding party and I may overshadow her with my new boobs.

Two women holding hands
The bride said she didn’t want the maid of honour to have the operation (Picture: Getty Images)

‘I said if it bothers her so much, I will wear something not revealing and will not flash my boobs in front of everyone. She looked hurt and heartbroken, said a cold goodbye and left.’

The maid of honour said the whole conversation had left her confused about what to do.

She added: ‘I don’t want to and can’t change my date, but I feel upset about the whole situation. Some things start making sense.

‘She didn’t include our other best friend who is hellishly hot in her wedding party and we both were shocked about it, but didn’t question it much. Her wedding, her decisions.

‘Instead, she picked her future sister-in-laws as bridesmaids, who are twins and quite chubby. They are very sweet ladies but the bride called them land whales behind their back once and I told her it’s not very nice.

‘So, she picked people she thinks are less sexy than her and somehow I ended up on this list. She doesn’t want me to get hotter either. I don’t know how to feel.’

Most people agreed that the bride was in the wrong here.

One said: ‘I would feel… Tempted to tell her to find another maid of honor. If she’s that f*cking shallow and indifferent to your life she’s not worth your time.’

Another added: ‘Are you sure this girl is your friend? I mean, she doesn’t want you to do something that will make you happy, and on top of that, she clearly thinks you are not pretty enough.’

The maid of honour said that they have been friends since kindergarten and they’ve been through a lot together but added that she was hurt by the comments and has decided she’s going through with the surgery no matter what her friend says.

MORE: Mum asks ring-shaming group for help choosing a breastfeeding ring

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I’m a Grammy award winning musician and I’m deaf

Evelyn Glennie playing the marimba with no shoes on as it helps her feel and hear the sounds.
I was eight when I started to lose my hearing (Picture: James Wilson)

It might sound counter-intuitive but losing my hearing has made me a better listener and musician – so much so that it has taken me all over the world.

Listening is about more than the sounds we take in through our ears.

It’s often thought that deaf people sit in a world of silence and all experience the loss of hearing in the same way. That’s simply not true and is a perception I’m always trying to change.

I was eight when I started to lose my hearing, and 12 when I was diagnosed as profoundly deaf. Around that time, I didn’t realise how serious the changes were.

I was determined to stick to mainstream education and started playing the piano, then moved onto percussion.

To start with, my teacher gave me a snare drum. He said, ‘take it home and I’ll see you next week’.

I didn’t have a clue what to do with it, but I’d grown up around hymns and traditional Scottish songs, and I was very aware of music’s power and the effect it could have on people.

After a while, I put the drum on my bed and struck it with my hand. And then I flicked it, pinged it, scrapped it, scratched it. I realised when I put the drum on different surfaces – my bed, the kitchen table, the lawn, a bale of straw, the gravel, it resonated quite differently.

Evelyn Glennie posing with the maracas.
I create my own sound, from my own experience and from who I am (Picture: Philipp Rathmer)

Sometimes like a choking sound, sometimes open and echoing, sometimes quite thin, sometimes quite fat. I felt these subtle changes in sound through my body when I hit the drum.

Thanks to my teacher’s inspired decision not to let preconceptions about a young, deaf girl affect how he taught music, I learnt to listen to sounds through my body, in place of hearing them through my ears.

It was in this space that I grew confident enough to remove my hearing aids, and this gave music so much more clarity; it was a world of sound that was all new to me.

If I concentrated on what I was feeling physically, I could understand the structure, dynamics, and even the texture of the notes. Once I experimented with that it was a revelation; a complete and utter eureka moment.

From that moment on I knew I had to create my own sound, from my own experiences and from who I am.

Now when I perform, I pick up vibrations from standing barefoot on the stage. I am an international solo percussionist, I’ve won Grammy awards, and I’ve worked tirelessly with talented composers and concert promoters to build a body of work that makes ‘solo percussionist’ an exciting career for others to pursue too.

Evelyn Glennie, a Grammy award-winning solo percussionist.
Evelyn often plays barefoot to pick up vibrations (Picture: Caroline Purday)

I think that sometimes, people just want to put you in a box. But through my experiences as a musician, who also happens to be deaf, I’ve been able to challenge this.

I’ve learnt that inclusion is so important, and we shouldn’t assume that different people with the same label will have the same experience. Someone shouldn’t need to have a sensory loss to make us think about how we communicate with them.

Each day presents an opportunity for us to practice our skills and to really listen to each other.

Learning to really listen to the sounds of my musical instruments keeps me curious. Even now I like to remind myself of that first lesson, and find new things I can explore with that instrument.

It’s never a tiresome activity, it’s full of wonder, it keeps me fresh as a musician even to this day.

Dame Evelyn Glennie is supporting Great Ormond Street Hospital’s new Sight & Sound Centre, supported by Premier Inn. It will be the first dedicated medical facility for children with sight and hearing loss in the UK.

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Mum who doesn’t believe in God wants to join a church for free daycare

Mum taking child to school
The mum-to-be wants her future child to go to the best daycare (Picture: Getty)

A mum-to-be who wants the best preschool for her child has been having a tough time finding the right one.

The first time mum said she and her husband were conflicted what to do as all the daycare centres in their area are so competitive.

The coveted institutions nearby are all run by churches but that’s a bit of a problem as she doesn’t believe in God.

Despite being an atheist, she asked whether it would be wrong for her to join a specific church in order to increase her child’s chances of getting into the affiliated program.

Her husband thinks it’s wrong on all levels to use a religious community for the sake of their child.

But, she pointed out, her husband allowed his religious parents to organise for their child to be baptised, despite the parents-to-be being atheist.

So she asked whether it was okay to pick and choose when you wanted to be religious if it was for a greater good, such as setting her child up for a good school.

A multi-ethnic group of children are indoors in a church. They are having Sunday school. They are wearing casual clothing. They are praying with their eyes closed along with their teacher.
Her husband felt it was disrespectful to use a religious community (Picture: Getty)

The expectant mum explained that she’s not opposed to religion and doesn’t mind her in-laws setting up the baptism.

But the church she’s picked for the baby is not the part of the religion that her in-laws follow and her husband isn’t on board either.

‘I want to increase our chances of getting into one of these coveted programs any way I can,’ she wrote to advice coloum Care and Feeding.

‘In an effort to dramatically increase our chances of getting into a good daycare, I want to join the church of my number one pick. My husband thinks we should just hope for the best and let the chips fall where they may.

‘Is it ethical for me to join a church because I want the daycare, given that I like the community aspects but don’t currently believe in God?

‘My husband thinks this is a horrific abuse since I am directly benefiting from a community I don’t belong in and would not be a part of without the daycare.’

People had mixed feelings. Some said that churches run daycares for this purpose, to provide care for children despite background, for a fee and as long as they were getting paid, it shouldn’t be an issue.

‘I’m sure they’d be happy to accept atheist money if you respect and not appropriate their religion,’ wrote one person in the comments.

Some pointed out that there are non-believing members and attendees to many churches.

Other people felt that it was disrespectful. ‘Are you going to be that couple complaining when your kid comes home singing Jesus songs and wanting you to do the actions that go with.

‘If so, best to find somewhere else. Your kid and the other kids and the other parents are best served if you’re not actively undermining a core part of the daily routine.’

What are your thoughts?

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Argos is selling a firepit BBQ like Aldi’s but it’s £5 cheaper

The firepit being used as a fire and on the right, the firepit being used to cook food
It can be uses as a firpit or a BBQ (Picture: Argos)

With BBQ season approaching, there’s lots of offers around.

Last month Aldi advertised a bargain £49.99 fire pit that could also be used to cook food.

It was a sell-out item but don’t worry if you missed out – Argos have a similar one and it’s even cheaper.

Their version has foldable legs to make it portable too so perfect for going camping or for taking to the beach.

The Bar-Be-Quick Dual Firepit Barbecue costs £45 and comes complete with the grill, a mesh cover to keep the fire enclosed and a carrybag.

At 3.5kg, it’s significantly lighter than Aldi’s 15kg fire pit, which is shaped like to look like a stone, so if you want something more versatile, this one might be the better option.

The firepit being used to cook food
It’s £5 cheaper than the Aldi version (Picture: Argos)

The description on the website says it ‘is ideal for summer evenings, providing warmth and light as well as an attractive focal point at any outdoor gathering.’

The firepit already has an overall rating of 4.5, with people who have used it praising the way it looks and how easy it is to put together.

One person said: ‘The fire pit is a great bit of kit awesome for camping cooking and as a camp fire.’

Another added: ‘Easy to put together. Compact to take away for camping or just to use in the garden. Folding legs makes it easy to pack away when not in use or to take with you if travelling on holiday.’

If you want something a little bigger just to keep your garden warm, Aldi also launched an outdoor log burner earlier this month.

We can’t wait for those long summer nights.

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You can now have aardvark on your pizza

The spicy pizza topping is probably a first in the UK (Picture: SWNS/Getty)
The spicy pizza topping is probably a first in the UK (Picture: SWNS/Getty)

First the world was outraged by pineapple on pizza.

And now you can have aardvark, as one Scottish restaurant is taking pizza toppings to a whole new level.

The restaurant behind the creation, called Indian Accent, could be the first to add the long-snouted creature as a pizza topping.

Aardvarks are nocturnal mammals native to Africa and their closest relatives are elephant shrews.

According to the menu, the ‘Spicy Aardvark’ is accompanied by green chillies, lamb mince and spicy chicken – not for the faint-hearted it would seem.

A Scottish restaurant wanted to offer something 'unique' (Picture: SWNS)
A Scottish restaurant wanted to offer something ‘unique’ (Picture: SWNS)
By adding the African animal to their pizza menu (Picture: Getty)
By adding the African animal to their pizza menu (Picture: Getty)
Customers can try it for as little as £6.50 (Picture: SWNS)
Customers can try it for as little as £6.50 (Picture: SWNS)

Diners of the Kilmarnock restaurant can try the unusual pizza for between £6.50 and £11.50.

Head chef Anser Anton, 43, told the Daily Record he wanted to add the rare ingredient because he wanted to show local residents something different.

He told the news site: ‘I wanted to bring unique flavours to the people of Kilmarnock and bring out the different flavours.

‘We could be the first in Scotland with an aardvark pizza, I’m not sure. It’s certainly pretty rare.’

Residents in Kilmarnock can try it at Indian Accent (Picture: SWNS)
Residents in Kilmarnock can try it at Indian Accent (Picture: SWNS)
Some thought it was 'immoral' (Picture: Getty)
Some thought it was ‘immoral’ (Picture: Getty)

The exectutive chef was born in India and comes from a family of chefs and bakers and developed his cooking style in Dubai.

Amused locals took to social media to comment on the bizarre pizza with some calling it ‘disgusting’.

One joked: ‘Aardvark is a staple of the Kilmarnock diet,’ while another said: ‘It’s immoral… why eat aardvark.’

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Company turns pets’ ashes into glass paws owners can keep forever

Davenport Memorial Glass ashes paw
What a sweet memento (Picture: Davenport Memorial Glass)

When your pet passes over the rainbow bridge, it’s hard to say goodbye.

They truly are family members, and the house seems a little more empty without them scampering around.

Davenport Memorial Glass have found a way that you can keep their memory in your home forever, though, and it’s an adorable idea.

The company create the keepsakes using a small amount of your pet’s ashes, and they look like a little paw print.

You can also get paw imprint pendants made of the same material, and have yours mounted to put on your mantelpiece.

Prices start from $99 (£76), and you send around a spoonful of ashes to the company before they start the work.

Davenport Memorial Glass pendants
The glass is made by trained artisans (Picture: Davenport Memorial Glass)
Davenport Memorial Glass pendants
You can also get paw printed pendants (Picture: Davenport Memorial Glass)

You do have to be careful about how you send the ashes, as certain postal services won’t accept them, and it’s preferred to get a tracking number so they don’t get lost. Davenport will return any unused ashes to you the same way.

Colours available are Maple Syrup, Pomegranate, Terps, Sunset Slyme, Green Stardust, Blue Stardust, Purple Lollipop, Pink Lollipop, and NS Yellow.

Custom orders are also available, so you can speak with the makers (based in North Idaho) and work with them to design something as unique as your pet.

Their website states: ‘Our goal is to physically capture a moment, to create a keepsake that brings back a memory. Nothing will compare to the time spent with your loved one, but we hope to aid in treasuring them and remembering the precious time you had together. Thank you for all the trust you have put into what we do. We greatly appreciate you’.

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Poundland launches £2 lunch meal deal with sandwich, crisps, a drink and a chocolate bar

A picture of the Poundland meal deal with a sandwich, drink, crisps and chocolate
The meal deal includes four items (Picture: Poundland)

The meal deal has become a lunch time staple. You can nip into a supermarket and pick up a sandwich, snack and a drink for a bargain price.

Well now there’s a new kid on the block, and it might be the cheapest one yet – the Poundland meal deal.

The deal costs £2, which confusingly doesn’t fit into the everything for £1 ethos but it is still very cheap.

For two of your £1 coins (or a tap of your card these days) you can get a sandwich, a packet of crisps, a drink and a chocolate bar.

That’s even more than the standard one snack deal you get in most places.

Each of the items would cost £1 each individually so you are saving £2 by buying the deal.

A Poundland shop in Glasgow, Scotland, as the campaign ahead of the Scottish independence referendum enters its final days.
The deal costs £4 (PA Archive/PA Images)

You can choose from chicken salad, chicken stuffing, ham and cheese, egg and bacon, tuna and sweetcorn, egg mayo, cheese and onion and BLT for your sandwich.

Crisp flavours include quavers, cheese and onion, salt and vinegar and sea salt and chocolate options are Bounty, Mars, Snickers, Topic and Twix.

There’s a huge range of drinks including 7Up Free, Barr soft drinks, Irn Bru, Old Jamacia Ginger Beer, Pepsi Diet, Max and Max Cherry, R Whites Lemonade, Tango and Vimto.

If you don’t want a soft drink, a bottle of still water is also an option.

The store plans to include more options in the future.

The deal is half the price of the Boots’ meal deal, which normally costs £3.99 and £1 cheaper than Sainsbury’s and Tesco.

One thing to look out for is that the deal includes some items that are smaller than other meal deals – the cans of Pepsi, for example are 250ml but at other supermarkets, you get a 330ml can or a 500ml bottle.

Still, if there’s a Poundland near you, it seems like a good deal.

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H&M launches 80s themed Stranger Things collection ahead of the new series

H&M launches new stranger things collection
H&M has some amazing new Stranger Things clothing (Picture: H&M)

Series three of Stranger Things is coming in under two months. To celebrate, Netflix has collaborated with H&M to bring us an amazing new Stranger Things themed collection.

The collection has an 80s feel to fit in with the era the show is set in and features retro tees, vests, swimsuits and sun visors.

Oh, and Dacre Montgomery – who plays Billy in the show – is modelling the range in the campaign. Amazing.

The new collection will be available in stores and online from 23 May.

Here are a few of our favourite pieces.

This red Stranger Things swimsuit is giving us 80s vibes

The swimsuit from the collection
We love this swimsuit (Picture: H&M)


These shirts are so old-school

The t-shirts in the collection
These shirts are fab (Picture: H&M)


We are LIVING for these Stranger Things sliders

The sliders from the range
YES to the sliders (Picture: H&M)


This sun visor and matching tee is so cute

The sun-viser and matching shirt
This sun viser is cute (Picture: H&M)


We are feeling this Hawkins oversized top

The hawkins top
We’re living for this oversized tee (Picture: H&M)


There’s even a lovely jumpsuit in the collection

The lovely jumpsuit
The jumpsuit is sweet! (Picture: H&M)

In a press release, H&M said: ‘H&M is thrilled to announce a collaboration with Netflix and their smash-hit television series Stranger Things, which heads into their highly anticipated third season later this summer.

The capsule collection centres around the Hawkins Community Pool and features a Stranger Things inspired range of clothing, swimwear and accessories for both women and men.

‘It will be available in H&M stores worldwide, as well as online at hm.com, from 23rd May.’

We can’t wait to get our hands on it all.

Of course, we need to make sure we’re dressed head-to-toe in Stranger Things clothing when we finally get to watch the new series.

MORE: Poundland launches £2 lunch meal deal with sandwich, crisps, a drink and a chocolate bar

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Woman shares empowering bikini photos after being mocked by cruel strangers

Florence has hit back at trolls from the festival
Florence is rocking her bikinis on Instagram (Picture: Florence Grace/Metro.co.uk)

A 23-year-old body positivity advocate has spoken out about why she chooses to flaunt her body and speak out about self-love, after she was mercilessly trolled and taunted for her body while in Malta for the Lost and Found festival.

Florence Grace, from Buckinghamshire, an influencer, writer and blogger, went to the festival last week with her boyfriend.

She decided to wear different swimwear for every day she was there – and brought items from Boohoo, PrettyLittleThing, ASOS and a custom piece from Bandeau Babes along with her.

She says she’d spent months planning each individual look – right down to the makeup and the accessories – and was ‘incredibly excited’ to pull them all off at the pool parties.

Florence told Metro.co.uk: ‘I didn’t start wearing bikinis and skimpy/showy swimwear until last year, the first year where I’d really felt at peace with my body and how I looked.

‘As a result, I’d chosen some pretty daring pieces for the festival, with my favourites being the custom Bandeau Babes two piece that I had specially made and the heart print cut out swimsuit from Boohoo.

Flo looks amazing!
Flo rocking her swimsuit (Picture: Florence Grace/Metro.co.uk)

‘When I was in them I felt so amazing, so confident and like I was finally in a great place with my body and my attitude towards my physical appearance.’

Florence took photos of herself for her Instagram, and updated her Instagram stories as much as she could for her followers. In one, she shared how she had been horribly mocked by people around her for how she looked.

She said: ‘Whilst I was walking to the pool party with my boyfriend, wearing my custom two piece, I was vaguely aware of a gang of boys walking behind us, about five or six of them.

‘I didn’t pay them much attention because I was chatting to my boyfriend – and then I heard them start making vomiting noises.

‘I thought they were just messing around, being drunken idiots, until one of them said “that is a f***ing eyesore” and then another said “sorry but I can’t walk behind that” and actually changed the route he was walking so he didn’t have to walk behind me.

‘Another said “we should get a photo” – whether or not they did, I don’t know. I was absolutely humiliated.

‘To make matters worse, when we left the festival, the same happened again, only this time with a group of girls.

Annie Mac's support
Annie Mac posted her support (Picture: Florence Grace/Metro.co.uk)

‘They made similar comments about how I looked in my bikini, and one of the girls went “shh, shh, she’ll hear” – so I turned around to smile at them to indicate that yes, I had heard them. At this point one of them went “omg no I feel so bad now”.’

Florence said she felt ‘so low’.

She tells us: ‘I had gone out feeling so confident; I’d been bigged up by my friends and my boyfriend who had told me how great I look – and now I felt disgusting, horrible, an “eyesore”.

‘I told my boyfriend I wasn’t going to attend any of the pool parties and was going to book the next flight home. I just wanted to hide away and never reveal my body to anyone again.’

Florence was all set to go home when something amazing happened.

She posted to Instagram about what had happened to her, sharing a selfie in her two-piece to show people that even though she was on holiday and in a cute outfit, she was having a ‘horrible time’.

But thanks to the festival-related hashtag, Annie Mac picked the post up and shared it on her own Instagram – telling her she was ‘beautiful’ and to ‘f*** those pr*cks’.


Florence said: ‘All of a sudden my Instagram blew up, with the likes of Karen Harding and Clara Amfo liking and commenting telling me I looked great, and several festival goers picked up on my post and sent me love and support. It was so overwhelming, and helped me to regain a bit of my confidence and say a big “f*** you” to the haters.

‘I put on a sassy outfit and headed out to the evening part of the festival, and actually got stopped by several people who had seen Annie’s post about me and wanted to give me cuddles and some words of support and encouragement.

‘It was absolutely amazing and really helped me to feel better about what had happened.’

Though Florence ended up having a great time, she admits the abuse did affect her for the rest of the trip.

Although she continued to go to the pool parties in skimpy swimwear, she did continue to receive points and laughter from other boys.

She said: ‘It left me feeling a little shaky and self-conscious BUT for the most part I felt sassy and wonderful knowing just how much support I had behind me. It was a struggle, but there was no way I was letting the haters get me down and ruin my holiday!

‘Again, the support was overwhelming and I continued to receive lovely messages, and meet people in person, who helped me to feel that bit more confident whenever I was having a little wobble. Some people can be truly lovely!’


When asked how she feels now, Florence told us: ‘Once I’ve had the initial wobble over it (sometimes crying, sometimes just feeling low), I remind myself that people who are truly happy don’t seek to destroy.

‘People who are unhappy with themselves don’t like seeing people who are happy with themselves, and so I try to sympathise with people who feel like they need to be horrible to other people to feel better about themselves.

‘I know that I’m a fantastic person – I have a nice home, a loving family, a good job, an amazing partner. I have to remind myself of this.

‘Also, I remind myself that I don’t need validation from anyone. If I am happy with who I am and how I look, fuck what anyone else thinks!’

Though these experiences haven’t been pleasant for Florence, they have pushed her to continue advocating the hell out of different body sizes.

She’s sick of feeling bad about her body, and now embraces it – and wants the world to know that they can do the same.

She explained: ‘I spent almost all of my teenage years and my early twenties absolutely loathing my body.

Flo looking gorgeous
Flo looking insane (Picture: Florence Grace/Metro.co.uk)

‘I also had a tricky relationship with food, something I still battle with today. One day, something inside me clicked and I realised that I didn’t want to hate myself anymore.

‘I didn’t want to hide my body in oversized tees and menswear because I didn’t look like a Kardashian. I wanted to celebrate my curves, I wanted to be confident. I wanted to be ME.

‘Around this time, I also discovered the likes of Megan Crabbe who taught me the concept of body positivity and self love! It was like I’d had a total reset of my brain as I suddenly realised – and accepted – that there is more to life than losing weight, more to life than trying to be a certain size, and that skinny doesn’t necessarily equal happy!

‘Once I had that knowledge, it changed my life, and so I want to help other women to do the same.

‘I was in a dark place for so long and I know if I can overcome the things I went through, and reach this place where I finally feel at peace with my body and who I am, then so can other people. Even better if I can help them get there!’

She continued: ‘I hope people look at my posts and realise that they don’t have to have the westernised idea of a “perfect” body to be able to wear or do what they want.

‘They can wear bikinis and have rolls, stretchmarks, scars, spots, eczema. They can have saggy boobs or no boobs, big bums or big tums. I want people to look at my posts and know that actually, being who they want to be is okay.

‘That they should embrace who they are and love themselves for it. If I can help just one woman (or man) switch their mindset up, I’ll be happy!’

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81-year-old pensioner gets his first smartphone so he can ‘check the weather’

81-year-old pensioner gets his first smartphone so he can 'check the weather'
Tom, 81, decided it was finally time to get a mobile phone so he could check the weather (Picture: Sue Tate)

When Tom Tate, an 81-year-old pensioner, had a bad fall last year, he broke his shoulder and had to spend some time in hospital.

But to his dismay, the dad, from Cornwall, was unable to play his favourite game Candy Crush at the hospital as there was no WiFi.

So despite his earlier insistence that he didn’t need a phone as he’d survived ‘all these years’ without it, Tom decided that a smartphone could be handy for playing his favourite games and, er…checking the weather.

And so his daughter Sue bought him a Nokia, which Tom quickly took a liking to.

Sue shared the story of her dad and mum, who also has a smartphone, and how they now just chat to each other on the phone despite being in the same room.

She told Metro.co.uk how Tom is now learning to text with his new gadget and has so far managed to type the letter W.

Tom, 81, has got his first smartphone so he uses it to call his wife sitting in the same room as him
Tom has got his first smartphone so he uses it to call his wife sitting in the same room as him (Picture: Tate)

‘My parents upgraded their Sky and he was offered a sim deal,’ Sue explains.

‘Never one to turn down a bargain, he gave in – “because I can get a phone and use the data to check the weather”.

‘We do have windows in Cornwall, which are probably more accurate than the weather app but you know, it was cheap and all that! So he got his sim and informed us that he needed a phone. One that’s easy to use.

‘After deliberating, we got him a Nokia. The same one my daughter had as her first phone, years ago, because we thought if a child could use it, he’d be able to.

‘Days later, I still don’t think he’s got the hang of it. We’ve all had random phone calls where he says nothing, apart from in the background and along the lines of “what’s this bleedin’ button for?”

‘He thinks it’s hilarious to ring the landline and wait until my mother stops what she’s doing to answer it before he hangs up just as she gets there.’

Though Tom using a phone after all these years gives his family some peace of mind when he’s out and about, it means they all get random texts with single letters (probably w).

Sue shared the story of Tom on Twitter where it quickly went viral. Others also shared their own fatherly stories.

One user wrote: ‘My father gave me trouble for always sending him my name. He told me “I hear beep beep and there is your name I know what your name is”. I replied “you have to click on my name and then read the message”.’

Oh, dads.

In related news, we looked into why dads are so bad texting. Yep, there is an answer.

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