Is it normal for couples to swap sides? How to share a bed and be happy

Where does the dog sleep? Who gets to turn the light off? And what can you eat in there? When the bedroom becomes a battleground, here are some ground rules to help restore tranquility By definition, your bedroom should be the most peaceful place in the house, with bed the apex of that harmony. You should no more use your bed as a battleground than you should think of taking a shower over your PS4. Avoid conflict at any cost, even if that means a moratorium on all conversations that aren’t about sex or bitching about other people. Humans being what they are, however, means we are capable of arguing endlessly about even the core traits of the place where we intend never to argue. Last week, a Twitter user sparked heated debate when he innocently mentioned that he and his partner alternated sides of the bed: “Some nights I like to sleep by the window, some nights the door. It’s not really that unusual, is it?” Let’s establish some ground rules, shall we? Continue reading… [hmp_player]

Panic! at the Disco review – ballads, backflips and big-top emotion

SSE Hydro, GlasgowVelveteen-voiced showman Brendon Urie’s joyful, muscular maximalism is a tonic for our times The stars keep aligning for Brendon Urie. Since Panic! at the Disco’s breakthrough in 2005, the puckish 31-year-old may have sloughed off founding members at an alarming rate but over six albums he has reshaped his band from acrid, angsty emo outsiders into a galactically theatrical one-man musical troupe. Thanks to his jazz-hands pizazz, the 2019 incarnation of PATD are a Las Vegas act who practically demand a residency in their home town. Imagine the operatic sweep of Rufus Wainwright with a less prickly, more populist touch, or Mika with staying power. In a tailored gold jacket – part baller, part bingo caller – Urie has a gigantic, neon-edged triangular stage pretty much all to himself. He is segregated from his industrious backing band by an invisible perimeter line that occasionally bursts into geysers of flame. If those eruptions are thrilling, they are matched by Urie’s velveteen voice, which sporadically leaps into an impressive but earsplitting rock falsetto that reliably triggers a crashing wave of appreciative screams. Continue reading… [hmp_player]

LSO/Roth review – Lang premiere gave voice to the community

Barbican, LondonLocal choir members are among the 500 singers who debuted David Lang’s new choral work, while François-Xavier Roth led a diaphanous account of Scriabin In 2014, Birmingham Contemporary Music Group mounted the first performance of David Lang’s Crowd Out, a piece for 1,000 voices of all levels of ability. It was a memorable event, touching and only a little chaotic, just like the UK premiere of its sequel, In the Public Domain, which was put on by the London Symphony Orchestra as part of its community programme. Five-hundred voices – members of the London Symphony Chorus, and Community Choir with others who joined up for this occasion – moved in groups around the foyers of the Barbican Centre, mingling with the audience, cued by megaphone, before coming together for the final section under chorus director Simon Halsey. In the Public Domain follows the same process as its predecessor, mining texts from internet search engines and setting them in overlapping sections that are sometimes chanted, sometimes sung, and punctuated by bursts of rhythmic clapping. It is, says Lang, an exploration of “a wide range ideas about what we think we all might share”. Continue reading… [hmp_player]

Extreme loneliness or the perfect balance? How to work from home and stay healthy

More and more people are working where they live, attracted by the promise of flexibility, efficiency and no commute. But does this come at a cost to their wellbeing? When Sean Blanda started working remotely in 2017, the allure of a “digital nomad” lifestyle – working at your laptop on the beach, say – wasn’t lost on him. The ability to work flexibly, be that at home or wherever else life may take you, is the dream for every disgruntled employee who has to fit in school pickups, dentist appointments and long commutes around office hours. But after two years of working from home, Blanda, an editorial director for a tech company based in Philadelphia, knows only too well the many pitfalls of this way of life, with the greatest being isolation. Continue reading… [hmp_player]

Charlotte Church: ‘Spring is here – and every morning I go forest bathing’

Shinrin-yoku, an immersion in nature, is regularly ridiculed. But until you’ve tried it, you cannot know just how powerfully restorative time in the woods can be At this time of year, the sun rises a little after 6am. My alarm goes off half an hour before. Without disturbing my sleeping babies, I smuggle myself downstairs, fix a flask of tea and, booted and scarfed, head out into the dewy darkness for the forest. Through hazel and holly and ash and yew, over a treadless carpet of moss and wild garlic, only a few feet into the forest is enough to be submerged. Deeper into the green, I look for my sit-spot: a three-trunked ash, perfectly shaped to hold me cross-legged, nature-cradled, in that still, dark world. The sun begins to rise through the trees, revealing everything to be sharper, more definite, yet more unreal. It’s the most immersive show in the world and it happens for free every day. I go back home once the sun has fully risen, wake the house and start the day, privately smiling that I have infiltrated a hidden part of the morning that is mine alone. Continue reading… [hmp_player]

Squalor, glamour, wealth and cruelty: the Britain Van Gogh saw and loved

He painted prisoners, devoured Dickens and worshipped the London News … ahead of a major show, our writer reveals how Britain changed Van Gogh – and how he transformed its art Vincent van Gogh was the most European of artists. His brief, intense life, before he killed himself aged 37, saw him moving between his native Netherlands, Belgium, England and France. He spent two years in London from 1873 to 1875, employed by an art dealer; in 1876, for shorter periods, he worked as a teacher in Ramsgate and Isleworth. Later, when he was living in Paris, Van Gogh wrote to his brother Theo about seeing a painting that depicted London from Victoria Embankment, by Giuseppe De Nittis. “When I saw this painting,” he wrote, “I felt how much I love London.” The city provided a deep immersion into the bewildering, heady life of a fully industrialised metropolis. This was Dickens’s London, with its squalor, its teeming masses, its glamour, its wealth, its cruelty – and, importantly for his formation, its art galleries. After his death, the love, at first fitfully, flowed in the opposite direction. When his work was shown at Roger Fry’s famous post-impressionist exhibition in 1910, it changed the course of British art. In 1947, bombed-out, austerity London was given a blast of the golds and scarlets and greens and azure blues of Provence, and Van Gogh’s paintings, by then sanctified into mass popularity, astounded the public once more. The Manchester Guardian’s critic, Eric Newton, wrote of that exhibition, held at what is now Tate Britain: “When he painted with reckless courage from a full heart … the results are astonishing. What is more, they will always be astonishing. That kind of genius cannot go out of fashion.” This month, Van Gogh will be returning to the building, as a major new exhibition examines his relationship with Britain – what he drew from it and what he bequeathed to it. Van Gogh and Britain opens at Tate Britain, London, on 27 March. Crisis support services can be reached 24 hours a day. In the UK and Irish Republic, contact Samaritans on 116 123. In the US, the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline is 1-800-273-8255. In Australia, Lifeline is 13 11 14. Other international helplines can be found at Continue reading… [hmp_player]

‘The Tories are institutionally Islamophobic’: Miqdaad Versi takes on MPs and the media

Miqdaad Versi monitors Islamophobia in the British media. He talks about the coverage of the Christchurch massacre, anti-Muslim prejudice – and why he is an optimist Miqdaad Versi is the UK’s one-man Islamophobia media monitor. And he has never had more monitoring to do than over the past week. We meet six days after the Christchurch terror attack, in which 50 Muslims at prayer were murdered by a gunman. Although the massacre happened on the other side of the world, its repercussions have been felt everywhere – not least in the UK, where the killer called for the death of London mayor Sadiq Khan in his “manifesto”. Versi has been concerned by the tone of much of the reporting in the UK. Last Wednesday, the country’s counter-terrorism chief Neil Basu said that far-right terrorists were being radicalised by mainstream newspaper coverage, criticising outlets such as Mail Online for uploading the “manifesto” of the Christchurch gunman, and sites including the Sun and the Mirror for showing his footage of the attack. The following night five mosques were attacked in Birmingham. On Friday, it was revealed that the number of anti-Muslim hate crimes reported across Britain increased by 593% (95 incidents, according to the charity Tell Mama) in the week following the New Zealand massacre. Yesterday, Sadiq Khan challenged the Conservatives to adopt a new definition of Islamophobia, already accepted by Labour and the Lib Dems, that has been drawn up by the all-party parliamentary group for British Muslims. Barely an hour seems to pass without Versi being called upon to cast his well-trained eye on another inaccurate or inflammatory statement about Islam. Continue reading… [hmp_player]

How I overcame my heroin addiction – and started to live

Deciding to give up the drugs was easy. But Narcotics Anonymous meetings got me through the really hard bit – staying off them for good It was one of the easier decisions I have made. So easy that I must have made it hundreds of times over the best part of 10 years. The first time, I was in my early 20s and had woken to find I had cramps, sweats and felt wretchedly sick. That was when I knew what I had fondly imagined was recreational drug use had slipped into full-on heroin addiction. This has got to stop now, I told myself. A couple of days of cold turkey and then get back on with my life – a decision that lasted as long as it took to get up and go to score. So it went on. There can’t have been a day after that when I didn’t tell myself I had to stop using heroin. Sometimes it was no more than a passing thought as I drifted in and out of consciousness; on other occasions there was rather more deliberation. Sometimes, I would even stockpile methadone and sleeping pills for that moment – always a week or more in the future – when I’d be ready to give up smack. I still have dreams in which I am using heroin and it leaves me feeling off balance for a couple of hours Continue reading… [hmp_player]