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29 марта, 10:39

Midwife shortage doubles as NHS staff diverted to tend Covid-19 patients

A fifth of midwife-led maternity units are closed while a third stop offering home birthsCoronavirus – latest updatesSee all our coronavirus coverageA shortage of midwives on NHS maternity units has doubled since the start of the coronavirus outbreak, with one in five midwifery posts now unfilled, raising concerns about the safety of pregnant women, new mothers and newborn babies.The Royal College of Midwives is urging NHS leaders to ringfence maternity services as midwives are redeployed to care for people with Covid-19, fall sick themselves or are forced to self-isolate because of illness within their household. Continue reading...

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29 марта, 10:30

In a national crisis, people are desperate to believe in their leaders

Boris Johnson is seeing a boost in his approval ratings. That may have little to do with how his government is performingIn the early stages of the crisis, one of those at the heart of government decision-making told me: “We are all going to get it.” You wouldn’t wish a positive test for the coronavirus on anyone, but there is this to be said for the news that the prime minister, the Prince of Wales, and the health secretary now number among the infected, while the chief medical officer is self-isolating. There couldn’t be a more vivid illustration that this is an equal-opportunity virus that couldn’t care less about your status. A VIP protection squad of police officers is no defence from the invisible terrorist. It can get to you whether you are the leader of the country or the heir to its throne.The penetration of the coronavirus within the high black gates of Downing Street takes us into another situation that is unprecedented. After e-cabinet meetings and virtual news conferences and an online emergency summit of the G20, we have now witnessed the extraordinary first of the prime minister addressing the nation via Twitter video from quarantine. The breezy “hi folks” with which he began was intended to damp down any public fright that might be triggered by the virus reaching the highest levels of government. Continue reading...

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29 марта, 10:30

Exploding the myths behind K-pop

Bright and irresistible, K-pop provides the beat to South Korea’s youth culture. But behind the perfect smiles and dance routines are tales of sexism and abuse As students wait outside an exam room in Seoul’s affluent Gangnam district, the air is tense. A girl in a school uniform rocks a guitar back and forth in her hands next to a boy who stares nervously into his fringe. Another girl sitting on a nearby bench adjusts her crop top. But in a neighbourhood filled with English and maths crammers, this is no normal exam room. Mudoctor Academy is a K-pop training school, where dozens of students between the ages of 12 and 26 line up for their chance to audition for a visiting entertainment scout.Kevin Lee is among this group of hopefuls. At 19, he has already moonlighted as a backup dancer for the phenomenally successful K-pop group BTS. He estimates that he has attended more than 50 K-pop auditions over the past four years. But this hasn’t been enough. Concerned about his age – most entertainment companies recruit school-aged trainees – Lee says he will give up on his dream if he isn’t accepted into a major entertainment company this year. Continue reading...

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29 марта, 10:15

Brought to book: Woody Allen's memoir is the most damning indictment yet

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The film director’s own words reveal him to be a scheming, sexist, creepy adventurerBarely three weeks since Hachette cancelled Woody Allen’s memoir, the book has been published elsewhere, and confirms that Stephen King, among many others, was right to worry about its suppression. The only person who stood to benefit from the silencing of Woody Allen was Woody Allen.How, without this protracted attempt at self-exculpation, could it have been so clearly established that Allen is, as previously alleged, a man from whom girls and women would be well advised – unless they actually enjoy being objectified – to recoil? If we will never know exactly what happened between Allen and his daughter Dylan, whose accusations of abuse he has consistently denied, we can readily convict him, courtesy of this homemade indictment, of learning as little as Donald Trump from campaigners he calls “#MeToo zealots”. Continue reading...

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29 марта, 10:15

If you have to self-isolate… then why not self-propagate, too

Three easy ways to clone your houseplantsFor those of us who have to self-isolate in the coming months, gardening can be a great escape. A growing body of research suggests that being around plants can reduce stress and anxiety, thus gardening can provide not only a welcome distraction from the headlines, but much-needed signs of growth, new life and positivity.The best news is, you don’t even need a garden to get these benefits. The beauty of houseplants is that even people like me, who might otherwise be looking at four walls and Netflix for weeks on end, can benefit from horticultural therapy. So, in that spirit, here are a range of houseplants you can propagate at home right now to lift your spirits. Home propagation is also an excellent way to get new plants for free. Continue reading...

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29 марта, 10:05

'You've bollixed up my book': letter reveals Hemingway's fury at being censored

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The author threatened to ditch his British publisher, and likened him to a vicar, after his ‘Anglo-Saxon’ expressions were cleaned upThe hard-drinking, hot-tempered American writer Ernest Hemingway was furious when he discovered that the language for the English edition of his latest book had been cleaned up, a previously unpublished letter reveals. “I will make my own bloody decisions as to what I write and what I do not write,” he raged to his British publisher, adding that he did not want the book to be “bollixed up”.The fury within the lines of the letter would have left Jonathan Cape in no doubt of Hemingway’s feelings about editorial changes to his 1932 nonfiction book about bull-fighting, Death in the Afternoon. That those changes were made without his knowledge or permission left him all the more outraged. Continue reading...

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29 марта, 10:00

A few wise words for my nearly-adult boys

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What on earth should I teach my sons now they’re on the brink of flying away?Eva’s gone to have her baby: I’m emerging at the other end of the process. My boys are nearly 18 and 16, pretty much cooked.It’s a slow then all-at-once thing, this parenting business. The days felt interminable for years (there was a single afternoon in 2004 when they both had chickenpox that definitely took five years off my life; and time seemed to take on a hallucinatory, elastic quality as my elder son examined every knob and twiddly bit of every train in the London Transport Museum every week for a year), now suddenly there’s no time left. Continue reading...

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29 марта, 10:00

Which companies are coming through during the coronavirus crisis?

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Some firms have stepped up to support employees, key workers and the NHS – but others have fallen well shortCoronavirus – latest updatesSee all our coronavirus coverageThe dramatic effect of the coronavirus on the British economy has posed serious challenges for the country’s companies and their employees. Some have been applauded for their actions – making donations to health workers, for instance – while others have quickly fallen foul of politicians, the public and their own workers. Here is a list of those who deserve plaudits and brickbats so far. Continue reading...

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29 марта, 10:00

Matthew Macfadyen: 'We are all living by the seat of our pants'

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The British actor on the triumph of HBO’s Succession - and being cast as the ‘coughing major’ in ITV’s QuizI met Matthew Macfadyen on one of those days in ancient history, a couple of weeks ago, when we were still not quite sure whether to make silly jokes about elbow-touching greetings, or to fear for civilisation’s immediate future. In many ways, Macfadyen is the archetypal actor for this kind of moment, a master of shifting and ambiguous tone, whose frequent bursts of laughter often threaten to turn hollow. One of the many joys of his portrayal of the bullied and bullying son-in-law Tom Wambsgans in the HBO show Succession – arguably the defining contribution to the defining TV drama of our times – is his winning ability to switch from empathy to psychopathy in a heartbeat.Next month, Macfadyen will bring all of that gift for nuance to the three-part ITV drama Quiz, in which he plays Major Charles Ingram, the “coughing major” who was convicted of cheating his way to the top prize on Who Wants to Be a Millionaire? in 2001. The show, an adaptation of the West End play by James Graham, has been directed for television by Stephen Frears. Macfadyen’s major takes the hot seat across from Michael Sheen, who adds Chris Tarrant to his repertoire of uncanny impersonations. Continue reading...

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29 марта, 10:00

Vivarium review – home is where the hell is

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Jesse Eisenberg and Imogen Poots are plunged into a suburban nightmare in this unsettling satire on consumerismIn one of the creepiest episodes of the vintage American TV series The Twilight Zone, residents of the apparently idyllic Peaksville find themselves cut off from the rest of the world, terrorised by the petulant yet godlike mind of a small child. Adapted from a story by Jerome Bixby, the episode (ironically entitled It’s a Good Life) struck a chilling chord with audiences in 1961, watching from behind their picket fences, mesmerised by its darkly comic vision of a world in which failing to think happy thoughts was punishable by death, or worse.You can see a trace of It’s a Good Life (which has continued to resonate through popular culture) in Vivarium, the second feature from director Lorcan Finnegan and writer Garret Shanley, a paranoid fable in which the aspiration of acquiring a dream home turns into an increasingly surreal nightmare of imprisonment. Jesse Eisenberg and Imogen Poots (who recently co-starred in Riley Stearns’s The Art of Self Defense) are Tom and Gemma, the young couple searching for a place of their own. She’s a teacher, he’s a tree surgeon; together, they have been urged to get on the property ladder. But finding the perfect place is proving tricky. Continue reading...

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29 марта, 10:00

You know change is in the air when the likes of Ashley and Martin back down

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The pandemic has exposed business to such scrutiny that even Britain’s high street mavericks are cowedStrange things happen in a crisis. For one, it can dawn on Mike Ashley that pretending that a sports shop is an essential public service is absurd. Friday’s apology from the Sports Direct founder seemed to be more about communication – “ill-judged and poorly timed” emails to overworked government ministers – than his original ludicrous attempt to keep his shops open, but it was still an uncharacteristic climbdown.Even JD Wetherspoon’s Tim Martin, who has never previously appeared to give a damn what anyone thinks, paused to consider he may have made a mistake. Having announced staff would only be paid until the moment the pubs were shut, he then said they would get their wages at the next payroll date provided the government agreed a reimbursement scheme in time. Continue reading...

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29 марта, 10:00

Remaking One Nation: The Future of Conservatism by Nick Timothy – review

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Theresa May’s former svengali offers a thought-provoking challenge to conventional rightwing thinkingWhat Dominic Cummings, the teacosy-wearing consigliere of Boris Johnson, is to the current regime at No 10, Nick Timothy was to Theresa May. He even had a svengalian beard.During that brief, and now largely forgotten, period when May appeared to be wildly popular, Timothy was her domineering co-chief of staff. In so much as there was anything you might call Mayism, he was the author of it. Then she fought her disastrous 2017 election campaign, in part at his urging and with a manifesto he co-authored, and the Tories lost their majority. “My phone rang. It was Theresa ... I could hear the disappointment and hurt and anger in her voice. There was terror, too. I had seen or heard her cry before, but this was different. She was sobbing. I remember thinking she sounded like a child who wanted to be told everything was just fine.” Continue reading...