MonthMay 2018

Does ‘peak prosecco’ spell the end of bubbly slogan tees and fizzy crisps?

Prosecco sales are slowing – let’s hope the ridiculous merchandise is on the wane, too. No one needs wine-themed doormats, clocks or lip balm Though I speak, as both my friends will attest, as an unparalleled fan of the stuff, I find myself crumpling with relief at the news that we appear to be hitting peak prosecco. Although nearly 36m gallons were sold in the past 12 months of the cheaper, pretty-much-as-tasty and certainly-as-effective alternative to champagne that has come to dominate parties, supermarket aisles and the luxury wine market over the past decade, this represents a much smaller increase in sales than any year since 2011; just 5%, when producers have been used to bubbly double-digit growth. Continue reading… [hmp_player]

Yoko Ono is back in Liverpool, a city she never forgot

She was labelled a witch and a band wrecker. Now, 38 years after the murder of her husband John Lennon, Yoko Ono has returned to his home town to tell their story “Your life is being conducted in front of the world, like a play,” Yoko Ono tweeted recently. “Know that it is, therefore, a play to people who watch it.” That Ono is on Twitter makes utter sense: her aphorisms were almost like tweets before the thing was invented. She has always been ahead of her time. People seem to have hated her in so many ways that I assume she must see herself as a character in a story in order just to live, just to continue being her own woman. She is here now in front of me, a tiny woman in her shades and her hat tending to the final details of her exhibition in Liverpool, Double Fantasy. I see apples on Perspex plinths, to replicate the apple that an apparently rude John Lennon took a bite of when he met her at the Indica gallery in London. Ono, who for so long was ageless, is now 85 and needs a bit of help. I am told she is feeling emotional. She doesn’t do jetlag, apparently. The next day she will visit the house Lennon grew up in and sit in his bedroom, feeling him close. Continue reading… [hmp_player]

My husband has become angry and we argue about everything

I enjoy his company generally, but now even a simple question turns into a fight. I worry there is something underlying it My husband of nine years and I end up arguing about everything. He recently took over a business. It has been challenging, but the business is growing and I’ve been supportive – financially and otherwise. But now a simple question turns into a fight. After a male former colleague said hello when we were at an event with our two kids, he went on about it for two days. I worry there is something underlying it all. I have a new job and was recognised for an accomplishment in my field. Nothing major, but nice. I worry that this might be making him feel emasculated. I don’t want to avoid speaking to him for fear of an argument. I enjoy his company generally, but I’m scared of him being defensive and angry. • When leaving a message on this page, please be sensitive to the fact that you are responding to a real person in the grip of a real-life dilemma, who wrote to Private Lives asking for help, and may well view your comments here. Please consider especially how your words or the tone of your message could be perceived by someone in this situation, and be aware that comments that appear to be disruptive or disrespectful to the individual concerned will be removed. Continue reading… [hmp_player]

Bobby Robson: More Than a Manager review – portrait of an England icon

José Mourinho leads the tributes in this uncompromising and elegant doc about a man who rose above football’s ruthlessness A slickly produced – but heartfelt and passionate – profile of Bobby Robson, the avuncular football manager who in 1990 came this close to getting England to the World Cup final for the first time since 1966. More Than a Manager is a cut above the usual sports biog: by kicking off with a gruesome account of Robson’s operation for a life-threatening nasal melanoma shortly before landing his job at Barcelona, it introduces grace notes of mortality and suffering into the usual mix of archive clips and talking heads. Robson, all agree, was an absolute gentleman who took his eventual humiliation at Barcelona’s hands with fortitude, as well as managing to swallow his rage over Diego Maradona’s notorious “hand of God” goal in 1986. Happier times were found at Ipswich in the 1970s and early 80s (the same proving ground as Alf Ramsey, the only England manager who can lay claim to a superior achievement), as well as a late spell at his home-town club, Newcastle United – though again he was forced to take football’s remorseless corporate brutality with magnanimity. Continue reading… [hmp_player]

Lump: Lump review – Laura Marling’s melodic side-project lingers in the mind

(Dead Oceans) On paper, Lump sounds like a particularly eye-roll-inducing side project. Conceived by Laura Marling and Mike Lindsay of folk group Tunng, the venture was christened by Marling’s five-year-old goddaughter and is described by the pair as a fully autonomous being that takes the form of a dancing yeti (see video below). But however littered with in-jokes Lump may be, the songs that make up the duo’s debut album are never alienating. Instead, the record – which is underpinned by Lindsay’s ambient sound cycle – rings with an unusual but uncomplicated beauty. With its piping flutes and stilted acoustic guitar, opener Late to the Flight is reminiscent of an old children’s TV theme tune; later songs are characterised by twinkling synths, twanging guitars and undercurrents of odd rattling. Over this backdrop, Marling sings about lucid dreaming, smiley-face T-shirts, yoga poses and all manner of psychedelic tropes without ever seeming hackneyed or overblown, her voice shifting between choral sweetness, sibilant sprechgesang and a throaty drawl. Whereas her solo work has veered toward Americana, here Marling sounds satisfyingly British both in delivery and lyricism – on Late to the Flight she calls someone a “tart”; May I Be the Light centres around a ditty about making beds that recalls Pam Ayres poems and the limericks of Edward Lear. Continue reading… [hmp_player]