Digested week: When is the summer of dumpy women who can’t wear skirts? | Lucy Mangan


Nice weather is here! The sun is out and the papers and the internet are filling with their annual offers of help. This is my year, at last – I can feel it! The Summer Style Dilemmas Solved are finally going to work for me! I peruse them eagerly, as I have done for the last 30 years and more, hope undimmed in my increasingly mottled and scraggy breast. But no – no, my hopes are quickly dashed. One again, this year, it seems that my Summer Style Dilemmas can only be solved by losing half my body weight and/or going back in time and making sure one of my parents mates with a gazelle instead.

One again there are demands for manicures, pedicures, facials, fake tans, exfoliation, depilation and other -ations I barely understand any more, so long is it since I stepped beyond the bounds of mere basic hygiene. Once again this is not to be the summer of dumpy, hairy women who can’t wear skirts because of chafing or sandals because of hooves. Extraordinary. Maybe next year.


A door dating from 1790, found at the top of a hitherto inaccessible turret of Dover Castle in Kent, has been found to be covered in graffiti by bored militias stationed there while Britain was at war with France after the French Revolution. There are more than 50 images carved into the wood, including a scene of a man in a bicorn hat, the sign of an officer, being hanged – leading to speculation that this is one soldier envisioning Napoleon’s defeat and death.

How much time, I wonder, would it take for my school’s graffiti to become valuable? Mostly on desks, if you want carvings, but if felt tip on melamine survives down the ages, the toilet doors are also going to be a treasure trove for anyone who wants to reconstruct 80s teenage hierarchies (“Slags”, “Bitches”, “Virgins”, “Boffins”) or trace the evolution of Anna-Marie’s menu of sexual practices being offered to – uh – members of the boys’ school round the corner. No great naval heroes or villains recorded, no great moments of history captured, I grant you. But I promise it would exert a fascination all of its own.

‘And this, ladies, is where art should have stopped.’ Photograph: ZacharyCulpin/BNPS


To think that in a few short months the American government could be a raging shitshow again … But for now, not to worry! Everything’s cool, real cool. Cuz US secretary of state, Antony Blinken, pitched up with his plectrum on a Kyiv speakeasy stage during a surprise visit to the suffering capital of the suffering country and practised a little guitar diplomacy by playing them Neil Young’s 1989 hit Rockin’ in the Free World.

I’m glad I’m not the US secretary of state, because I would have thought timely deliveries of arms from Washington to help the beleaguered Ukrainians fight the Russians were more use than dad rock (especially on an, as reported, out of tune guitar). I would have been embarrassed to offer a song instead of, say, missiles or tanks or lots and lots of bullets to a people who have essentially been under siege for two and a half years. Let alone one I had misinterpreted as a patriotic anthem instead of realising that “the free world” is an ironic reference to the US with its rampant gun crime and assorted other failings.

Antony Blinken plays Rockin’ in the Free World in Kyiv bar – video

The important thing is that Blinken got to live out his fantasy and that we all remember that however pathetic, sad or useless things or people appear at the moment, if Trump is re-elected it’s all going to get at least a thousand times worse! And Nigel Farage is going to smirk about it.


I have forbidden myself to leave the house again. I am not safe to travel unescorted anywhere ever again. I have, in keeping with a belated new year resolution to get off my arse more, tried to walk to four different venues this week for various appointments and have got lost during every single one of them. A supposed 20-minute stroll to the optician took an hour. Yes, even using Google Maps. Yes, that’s right, I can’t even follow blue dots. The arrow goes round and confuses me, the screen keeps asking if I want to “re-centre” (I do, don’t I? I mean, don’t we all?) and it tells me to start off by walking “north-west down X Street”. Well, if I knew what north-west was, I would hardly need Google fricking Maps, would I?

My sense of direction was never good but it is now atrophying at terrifying speed. Unless I can get some kind of specially trained dog to help, I am staying home. I will be in my study if anyone needs me. And if I can find it.


You know how a massive fibre-optic “portal” allowing people from one side of the world to see those from the other side of the world, as if on a continuous live video call, was opened last week connecting New York to Dublin to form what the project’s founder called “a bridge that unifies and an invitation to rise above prejudices and disagreements” and due to stay up until autumn? Yeah, it’s been shut down.

Possibly only temporarily, however, say the powers that be. They have just got to work out a way of curtailing “inappropriate behaviour” in front of the portal. God bless their optimistic little hearts. Babes, what connects and unifies people, what enables people to put aside prejudices and disagreements is the universal instinct, when confronted with a camera and an audience of strangers, to behave inappropriately. If you don’t get the urge to flash your bum or your boobs under such circumstances – you are to be admired, but a part of common humanity you are not. A portal that does not understand this, I’m afraid, is a portal that is not fit for purpose.

‘Cor, all this green living is exhausting.’ Photograph: Brian D Anderson/Rex/Shutterstock

First appeared on www.theguardian.com

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