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Actors and influencers are coping with attention withdrawal symptoms by combining nudity with strategically placed bedding. That, and handstands

Name: #PillowChallenge.

Age: A couple of weeks, tops.

Appearance: In most cases, oddly flattering.

Whats the challenge? Its just something that influencers, celebrities, members of the public and a few pets are doing to pass the time during lockdown.

Are they making their own pillows or something? Its rather less challenging than that.

What do you do? You take a picture of yourself wearing nothing except a pillow lashed to your front with a belt.

You mean otherwise naked? Some people accessorise with handbags, high heels or sunglasses, but yes basically naked.

Then what? Then you post the result on Instagram with the accompanying hashtag #pillowchallenge, or #quarantinepillowchallenge, or some lesser variant in which the word challenge is misspelled.

And you say celebrities are getting involved? Yes Halle Berry has posed with a pillow, as has Loose Womens Nadia Sawalha and Gordon Ramsays daughter Holly.

Why? Honestly, I have no idea. I guess its just a way to stop yourself going crazy in isolation.

It doesnt sound as if its working. And its by no means the only thing celebrities are doing to occupy themselves while in quarantine. There is also the handstand challenge.

The what now? Originally, as demonstrated by Jake Gyllenhall and Tom Holland, among others, the challenge involved putting on a shirt while in a handstand with your toes against the wall.

Sounds difficult enough. But the game was raised significantly when the gymnast Simone Biles took her tracksuit bottoms offwhile doing a handstand no wall involved.

What else are they doing? Lizzo has posted a couple of half-hour meditations featuring incense, crystals and flute-playing. Steve Martin is playing the banjo. The actor Stephen Graham filmed himself getting his head shaved by his son.

So celebrities are still managing to make the global pandemic all about them? It may have felt that way at the beginning, with Madonna lecturing us from her bathtub, but now it seems more akin to an outreach programme.

Like a public service, you mean? Almost. Laura Marling is offering guitar tutorials. Stanley Tucci gave a masterclass in creating the perfect negroni. Its all rather soothing.

And you get to see inside their kitchens. There is that.

Do say: Try again, mate I dont think the pillow is supposed to be on the back.

Dont say: I strapped the pillow on while doing a handstand after a couple of negronis, and that is why Im now naked in A&E.

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How do you adapt to working from home, keep fit, maintain a social life – and maybe even cut your hair?

How to keep your hair in check Sali Hughes

Social media is awash with professional colourists pleading with absent clients not to reach for the box dye while theyre closed for business. This is partly because, like every service profession, hairdressing will take a financial beating during this crisis.

But professionals are also genuinely worried about their clients hair, and tell me theyre bracing themselves for a plethora of complex colour correction appointments when they finally reopen. Colour correction can be a long, drawn-out and expensive process, warns Luke Hersheson, my own stylist and creative director of Hershesons in London. Until we know when salons might reopen, its much safer to use a temporary fix, like a root touch-up spray or powder that shampoos out, he says.

He believes many women can buy a few more weeks by just changing where they part their hair. Theres usually more grey at the temples, so a centre parting is a good stopgap.

Top salon colourist Josh Wood isnt against box dyes he even sells them under the Josh Wood Colour brand in Boots. However, the secret to a successful home dye job, he says, is in knowing your limitations. Now is not the time to transform the colour of your hair, or for tricky techniques like balayage, ombre or bleaching, he says.

Try a root disguiser to touch up your hair colour, Sali Hughes suggests. Photograph: Rui Faria/The Guardian

Retouching roots or toning existing colour should be the extent of your ambition as an amateur. Wood suggests applying a moisturising hair mask a couple of days before colouring, and always choosing dye in one shade lighter than you think you need from the picture, as too dark is impossible to correct. Follow the box instructions to the letter, Wood says, starting at the greyest point usually the front and cover roots for twice the length of time as the lengths. He suggests enlisting your spouse or teen to do the back.

In any case, you must always, always do a skin test in advance, according to instructions, to minimise the risk of potentially serious allergic reaction. It can be a lifesaver.

Hersheson (whose team, like Woods, is offering video consultations during the crisis) points out that its worth considering whether social isolation might be a good opportunity to push through the pain barrier of transitioning to grey. Its also a good time to grow out an unwanted fringe you can clip it back and not worry about how that looks, and not have the stress of trimming it yourself, he says.

Hersheson counsels against trimming your fringe, unless youre very adept. But I have trimmed dozens of fringes in extremis, and if you think youre up to the job, heres my own technique:

  • Always start with clean, but dry hair never, ever cut when wet or even damp. Clip back the rest of your hair, leaving the dry fringe isolated and loose.

  • Comb through, and with the comb, gather the entire fringe into a single, flat, one-inch section at the very centre of your forehead.

  • Clamp it between two flat fingers at the bottom of the section, approximately 1cm from the hair tips (use a plastic freezer bag clip instead, if you prefer).

  • Take the sharpest scissors you own and cut up into the one-inch section of tips, naturally stopping at the fingers. Do not cut across, only upwards. When youve snipped the entire inch-wide section, release your fingers and comb through to assess the length, snipping away any single hairs you may have missed.

  • If its still too long (always preferable to too short), repeat the process, nudging fingers up only half a centimetre at a time, before combing through and checking.

How to socialise online Elle Hunt

Not only is it eminently possible to maintain your friendships under lockdown, talking to people other than those you live and work with is highly advisable if you are to emerge with your sanity intact. Our social lives pivot to video just means a bit more planning.

If its a large group you are trying to meet with, you can gauge everyones availability using the easy web scheduling tool Doodle.

The best platform to use is probably the one the majority of people already have an account with. If everyone is using an iPhone or Apple computer, use FaceTime. WhatsApp permits video calls with up to four participants but, without calling on WhatsApp Web, ties you to your phone.

For many, Skype is a tried and trusted classic that supports up to 50 participants though rarely seamlessly. Otherwise, most people have a Google account, making Hangouts a straightforward choice.

The video conferencing platform Zoom, which has seen its shares spike since the coronavirus outbreak, limits free group calls to 40 minutes but you can always call back.

No matter the platform , some lagging audio and frozen faces are inevitable, especially for large groups. Adding some structure such as a book club, quiz or a table-top role-playing game such as Dungeons & Dragons can be helpful in adjusting to an unfamiliar medium and minimising people talking over each other.

The Houseparty app a conversation with eight people. Photograph: houseparty

The Houseparty app might be geared more towards younger groups, having been a fad among kids a few years ago. But now it seems to be a royal platform of choice. Its amazing, I just press a button and all my family pop up, the Duchess of Cornwall reportedly told a friend. The app can alert you when your friends are online, allowing you to effectively drop in on them. It also has in-built games, for up to eight players at a time.

Some people have ramped up, or perhaps rediscovered, their love of gaming as a means of socialising at a distance, with popular games such as Minecraft, Fortnite and Call of Duty all allowing some in-play communication. It is also possible to play board games online, such as at Board Game Arena and for the more hardcore Tabletop Simulator.

For a more relaxed interaction and one that does not demand that you broadcast your face Netflix Party is a Google Chrome extension that permits you to sync your streaming with friends, like a remote movie night.

How to work from home Elle Hunt

Every longtime freelancer knows the secret to effective working from home: put your shoes on. Its really effective in cueing the mindset shift from home is where the couch is to productivity ninja.

The goal is to create a distinction, even one that is mostly symbolic, between work mode and home mode, especially now that you cannot go anywhere else. Setting up a home office, if only a dedicated corner of your kitchen table, that you can arrive at and leave at the days end will help (do make sure you leave).

Your new colleagues may also take some adjusting-to. Novelist Julie Cohen shared on Twitter her top tip for working around family, care of her marriage counsellor: a literal work hat. Train everyone (and yourself) that when youre wearing The Work Hat, they should leave you alone. (And when youre wearing it, you should only work), she tweeted. It will be a talking point on all those video-conferencing calls, too.

Be aware that whatever is visible behind you on your webcam will be under close scrutiny from your colleagues, and inform their judgments of your home, taste and private life. Style accordingly.

Can you recreate the coffee-shop ambience when working at home? The secret may be in the soundtrack. Photograph: Alamy Stock Photo

Those more used to finding their focus in the informal-formality of a cafe or library are now seeking to replicate the effect at home. Gretchen McCulloch, linguist and author of Because The Internet, tweeted that her current strategy was mellow cafe songs playlist With coffee and sitting in a different part of my apartment than usual, recommending an additional background of an eight-hour YouTube stream of Magical Tearoom ASMR Ambience. With the sound of teaspoons tinkling on saucers and hissing espresso machines over gentle indie music, you wont believe its not Starbucks.

You can even fudge together your own overly sweet frappuccino concoction. On the video platform Tik Tok, enterprising teenagers have been filming themselves making dalgona coffee to replicate cafe coffee at home. It is easy to make, if high in caffeine and wasteful of milk: mix equal parts instant coffee, boiling water and sugar about two tbsp per person and whisk. Add more sugar to taste. Once the mixture is stiff and glossy, pour over milk and ice, stir and serve. And whisk it by hand, even if you have an electric maker. It takes ages; the morning will fly by.

How to keep fit in your home Zoe Williams

There is no shortage of material online about how to stay fit at home if anything, the proliferation is the problem. Choice is deadly to motivation, so start by trying to whittle down your options.

What do you want to do each day, and how long do you want to do it for? 15 minutes is reasonable, 30 shows a bit more backbone. Its more habit-forming to do some every day than an hour twice a week.

Joe Wicks, a phenomenally popular YouTube fitness coach, shows you how to keep fit at home. Photograph: The Body Coach via Getty Images

There are whole-week programmes, such as the book Be Para Fit, or Canadian Air Force Exercises, available on YouTube, that build in your rest days. You can also follow a particular person; Joe Wicks is the obvious one, Adrienne for yoga, and theyll do a daily workout which will make your decisions for you.

If youre of a more independent bent, do a timetable more like a classic cardio/resistance workout for two days, yoga on the third day, cardio/resistance the fourth, something fun like a dance routine on the fifth, resistance on its own for the sixth, yoga on the seventh.

If you used to do regular classes, check to see if theyve gone online; a live-streamed pilates class, at a fixed time, is much more conducive to discipline than roaming freely round WikiHow, trying to find some illustrations that look a bit like your instructor. If you already have some equipment in the house resistance bands, a skipping rope, a mat, a multi-function Fitt Cube you can build your own workouts around those. I would really recommend buying a mat, which youll need for all floor work.

Find the online instructor who irritates you least: over time, itll be a love-hate pendulum, but if you find their voice grating at the start, thats never going to work. If youre feeling nostalgic, almost all the classic workouts Cindy Crawford, Mr Motivator, Rosemary Conley are on YouTube.

Derrick Evans, aka Mr Motivator. Photograph: Sam Stephenson/Alamy Stock Photo

If you find all people basically annoying, there are some brilliant illustrated resources like DAREBEE Workouts. If you find it hard to watch and move at the same time, choose one workout and repeat it: after a week, youll be doing it from memory, which is good for morale. Swap it over after a fortnight, though, as theres evidence that you build fitness faster when you do things youre inept at.

Just because theres no professional asking you whether you have any injuries does not mean you can ignore your injuries. Look up first what to avoid with an gammy knee or similar, rather than typing routines for one rubbish knee into Google.

The single most important thing is: dont wait until you feel like it wait long enough, and youll never feel like it. In the words of the prophet Joe Wicks, the bit where you feel good is at the end of the workout, not the beginning.

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The humble eight-holed work boot has won over everyone from postal workers to punks, teens to todays celebrities and influencers. How did it stride to world dominance?

Tony Benn wore them. So did Agyness Deyn. Suggs loved them, also Kathleen Hanna and Joe Strummer. And Jordan Catalano. Hailey Baldwin, Rihanna and Bella Hadid still do. Once you start looking, Dr Martens are everywhere. Sixty years after launching the eight-hole 1460 boot on, as the name suggests, the 1 April 1960 it is an undisputed classic, one of those rare-as-hens-teeth designs that is as likely to be spotted in a museum as it is (until recently, of course) on the streets outside. It is up there with Levis 501s, the Fred Perry polo shirt, the Converse All Star and the Harrington jacket.

And, like these other items, the 1460 is enjoying a fashion moment beyond its classic status. Perhaps because the past decade has been so turbulent even before we had a global pandemic to contend with fashion has returned to the dependable. The Hadids, Baldwin and Kaia Gerber are all endorsing Dr Martens. In other words, as Vogue declared in October, they have become model off-duty staple. While the vegan range and patterned designs have been credited with a 70% rise in profit for the brand in 2019, the 1460 remains the bestseller and it is this history that is likely to have attracted rumours in March of a potential 300m sale to a US private equity firm.

Dr Martens, and the 1460, began with a collaboration. If most modern alliances are between two brands (JW Anderson x Uniqlo, Adidas and Raf Simons), this one was a bit less hypebeast-friendly. A small shoe factory in Northamptonshire partnered with two doctors in Munich. Dr Klaus Mrtens had developed an air-cushioned chunky sole in 1947, after a foot operation following a skiing accident in 1945, and had begun making it with his friend Dr Herbert Funk to sell these comfortable shoes to older women. In Britain, the shoemaking Griggs family saw an ad for Martens soles in 1959. After acquiring the licence, Bill Griggs designed the 1460, the eight-hole boot with the now familiar yellow stitching and chunky Mrtens sole, although when marketing the design for postwar Britain, the umlaut in Martens name was removed at launch.

The Griggs familys Cobbs Lane factory in Northamptonshire, 1930s. Photograph: Courtesy of Dr Martens

Initially, the 1460s took the lead from Mrtens designs, which were worn by those who prioritised comfort and durability. Marketed as a work boot and sold for about 2 (roughly 38 in todays money), postmen, factory workers and policemen wore them, and they became part of the uniform for London Underground workers. However, as with army jackets, jeans, even trench coats, the Dr Martens boot secured its place as a staple in our wardrobes after becoming a uniform for a series of subcultures. Its almost easier to list which subcultures havent adopted Dr Martens over the past six decades, says Andrew Groves, a professor of fashion design at the University of Westminster and the curator of Invisible Men, last years exhibition about mens working wardrobes. The list of those style tribes that took the DM to their hearts includes punks, skinheads, northern soulers, scooterists, as well as (later on) teenagers into grunge, two-tone, and Britpop.

As a symbol of working-class culture, it was the original skinheads before the term equated to the far right who first picked up on the 1460s. When the Whos Pete Townshend wore them on stage in 1967, he put them on the radar of the bands growing fanbase in the proto-skinhead scene. In his classic book Subculture: The Meaning of Style, Dick Hebdige sees the take-up of Dr Martens as the rejection of the explicitly aesthetics-based mod culture of the early 60s. Instead, this look was aggressively proletarian, puritanical and chauvinist.

(L-r) Dr Martens Vegan 1460 boot; the chunky-soled Jadon; and Bapes camo-print boot. Composite: Guardian Design Team

Groves also points out the inherent rebellion of wearing something practical for its aesthetic value even if that value is about fetishising working-class culture rather than just wanting to look sharp. At their heart, all youth subcultures love nothing better than annoying their parents, he says. What better way to do that than adopting the boots your dad wears for his respectable job and subverting them into the latest youth craze?

During the 70s and early 80s, the 1460s became part of a uniform worn with skinny bleached jeans, braces and, quite often, a bit of a snarl. Images of skinheads either in Gavin Watsons classic photography book Skins, or Shane Meadows This Is England trilogy often feature DMs, and they continued to be associated with the subculture, even as, as Meadows documented, it became darker, as the far right infiltrated it.

Although this association is still there, its now a whisper thanks to Groves litany of other, less controversial, subcultures that also took up the DM. By the time i-D magazines A Decade of i-Deas was published at the end of the 80s, the style magazine had declared them the fashion accessory of the past five years. I remember blisters covering the back of my heels for weeks when I got my first pair in the 90s. Groves says he wore them when I was a mod, a skinhead and a casual Ive worn them polished up with Sta-Prest trousers and scuffed-up with jeans. Ive probably got at least three or four pairs at the moment.

Skinheads in Docs in This Is England, 2007. Photograph: Collection Christophel/Alamy Stock Photo

The breaking-in that the 1460 requires has now been a rite of passage for young people for more than 50 years. The current generation who would have seen them worn by Kings Road punks, kids in archive rave footage, Damon Albarn in the 90s, as part of queer culture from the 80s onwards, and emo in the 00s have a whole archive of #inspo to explore. Theres a democracy and an everyboot quality to them that appeals the Hadids might have a very different life from a 90s schoolgirl, but they, too, would have had to go through the blisters stage. Sophie Rhind, the senior footwear buyer at Asos, argues the democracy of the style is its strength. The diversity of celebrities and influencers who are wearing DMs further hammers home the point that the brand can be worn by everyone and can be styled any which way possible, she says. On the site, its the Jadon a version of the 1460 with an uber-chunky sole that is the most popular, with 20,000 pairs sold last year. Dr Martens is also producing a remastered series of 1460 collaborations this year the Japanese brand A Bathing Ape and Raf Simons have featured so far.

While tweaks to the boot are OK (camo print from Bape, ring decoration from Simons, the Jadon chunky sole), the recognisable design has to remain. In times of crisis such as we are experiencing now, perhaps putting on a boot that is tough, familiar, classic and (eventually) comfortable is what we need. While we wont be venturing far, they are the choice for your daily walk: Bella Hadid was photographed in Los Angeles this week on the way back from Target, wearing her DMs. The Dr Marten is such an archetypal object that they can be worn in both an understated manner or used to underplay a full-on fashion look, says Groves. Its hard to imagine anything else being worn by your postie and Gigi Hadid, and both looking equally good in it.

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The singer on pouting like Lauren Bacall, DIY hairdos, gardening in nightwear and discovering the joys of colour

This was taken in 1981 or 1982, right at the beginning of my career. All my clothes at that time were secondhand a hangover from being at art college. The top that I wore in the Kids in America video was from Oxfam, and so was this. These are the same boots that I wore in that video, too.

I was a big fan of Lauren Bacall I really loved that she didnt smile for the camera. When I first started having my photograph taken, lots of male photographers would say: Come on Kim, give us a smile! and it used to drive me insane. So I would just think about Bacall and pout furiously, as I am doing in this photograph. I looked thoroughly miserable most of the time, whereas I was having the time of my life.

I was a bit of a tomboy as a teenager, so my style was an extension of that. The hair was my own doing, all out of a [Clairol] Born Blonde packet, and I cut it myself. I wasnt overly interested in fashion, it didnt flick a big switch for me, but I was always in control of what I wore. Sometimes I got it fantastically right, but there were times when I got it horribly wrong.

Aside from music, I also love gardening. If I get up on a sunny morning, I have to stop myself going out in the garden, because I know I will still be there two hours later with my nightie on and a pair of gardening gloves. I also wear clogs, which makes it sound like quite a romantic image!

I have always enjoyed mixing fabrics such as satin and silk and leather, but mostly in black. I wore a lot of black jeans, oversized mens jackets and stripy tops. I am sartorially lazy; I like anything that is easy to get in and out of. As I have got older, I have found an injection of colour goes a long way to brightening up my day. On my Here Come the Aliens tour in 2018 [inspired by Wildes apparent encounter with a UFO in 2009], I thoroughly embraced extraterrestrial fashion. I looked like something out of Barbarella, like I was about to lift off and go exploring.

The UK leg of Kim Wildes Greatest Hits tour begins in September

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The singer is known for her honesty in life and her music. Shes been talking about solitude, sobriety and how Quentin Tarantino convinced her to give up cocaine

Its been eight years since Fiona Apple last graced the world with a studio album, but an illuminating profile in the latest issue of the New Yorker, filled with a fair number of wild anecdotes involving her celebrity cohorts, serves to remind us of her brilliance. Here are six reasons why Apple is just the performer we need in this mixed-up, locked-down world.

She doesnt shy away from the difficult topics
Apple has said that her new album, Fetch the Bolt Cutters, is about women and not being afraid to speak. Throughout her career she has spoken, in her songs and in the press, about her issues with depression, self-harm, OCD, PTSD, and the fact that, when she was 12, she was raped by a stranger.

In so doing, she paved the way for other women to speak about their experiences, from Kesha to Lady Gaga, and on to the #MeToo movement.

She has the best story about giving up cocaine
Every addict should just get locked in a private movie theatre with QT [Quentin Tarantino] and PTA [Paul Thomas Anderson] on coke, she jokingly told the New Yorker magazine. And theyll never want to do it again.

She can teach us a thing or two about self-isolation
Apple doesnt venture out much these days, save to walk her dog along the beach near her home in Venice Beach, California.

She has learned how to live a little more wisely
Once a bottle-of-vodka-a-day level drinker, Apple is now sober and has been vegan for many years.

She knows her political onions
Last summer, Apple pledged two years worth of earnings from her song Criminal to the While They Wait fund, which finances legal support and necessities for immigrants seeking asylum. In 2017, she released Tiny Hands for the Womens March on Washington. She has said that one of her latest tracks, For Her, was written in a cloud of rage after the nomination of Brett Kavanaugh to Supreme Court Justice.

She has her priorities straight
In late 2012, Apple postponed the South American leg of her tour due to the ill-health of her dog, Janet.

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It can feel daunting to think about the weeks ahead. But many people have not only lived but thrived in similar circumstances. A polar scientist, a monk, a solo sailor and more offer tips

Marion Dierickx, polar scientist

Dierickx is a postdoctoral fellow in experimental cosmology at Harvard, andspends two to three months a year at the Amundsen-Scott station at the south pole carrying out maintenance on her departments telescopes.

Marion Dierickx. Photograph: Provided by Marion Dierickx

Its a very unchanging environment and you cant really go outside, Dierickx says, so a lot of the psychological implications are similar to what we are experiencing now. I found that in my time there I would try to control my environment more. For example, we have lab space there and I would obsessively clean it, and I am doing the same thing now, stuck in my apartment.

Dierickx, 29, also becomes very attentive to change. Things like plants that grow noticeably or changing the decor of your room. Its a good way to channel energy, she says. Nurturing our environment can only help our psychological balance.

Sleeping at the station is not easy when it is the polar summer it is light 24 hours a day. Sleep is terrible, not just because of the light, but because its high altitude. Youre at 3,000 metres altitude, theres only 70% oxygen. People will routinely have nosebleeds every morning. The combination of those things makes getting rest very challenging, and that makes everything else more challenging. She says the key is to force yourself to sleep at set times. She also recommends board games and escapist books. Avoid War and Peace, and stick to thrillers.

How does she find living in such close proximity to a small group of people? That is one of the main challenges, she says. Especially if there is someone you dont get along with. Ive found that I have to proactively use my good side, try to repair relationships and work on my generosity. I confront people with kindness.

Ryan Ramsey, submarine captain

Ramsey captained the nuclear-powered submarine HMS Turbulent from 2008-11.

Ryan Ramsey. Photograph: Brad Wakefield

Submariners are trained to deal with isolation, whereas the public arent, he says. For the general public, its a wicked problem that theyre trying to tame. The first thing to do is get into a routine. It needs discipline. Do the same things in the same order every day. Make the weekends different. You have to differentiate time.

Ramsey suggests limiting your exposure to TV news. The constant news is such a dynamic change at the moment and its all negative, he says. Picking it up once a day will give you time to do other stuff. He also stresses the importance of exercise. If you are healthy physically, you will be healthy mentally. I used to exercise with dumbbells in my cabin, which was tiny. And keep mentally fit as well. Its about reading books and doing something different. This is an ideal opportunity to learn something new.

He describes a submarine as a steel tube with 130 people in it and admits there can be friction on a long deployment. De-conflict early, he says. Have a chat; find out what the issues are.

His final piece of advice is to enjoy whats there. Focus on what you have got rather than what you are being denied. Try to stay off the topic of what happens next, he says. You can only control what you can control.

Christopher Jamison, monk

Jamison is president of the English Benedictine Congregation and author of Finding Happiness: Monastic Steps for a Fulfilling Life.Drawing on almost 50 years experience as a monk, he has helped set up a website,, which addresses loneliness and self-sufficiency raised by the current crisis.

Christopher Jamison. Photograph: Toby Lloyd

The whole country is going through waves of different feelings, Jamison says. One that came up most in the early stages was anger. People were angry with people in supermarkets; angry with people who were stockpiling; angry with people who didnt stay at home. There is also a lot of fear around and, later, people will feel lonely and bored.

How does the monastic tradition help counter such feelings? If you just leave the day undifferentiated, it can get on top of you. But if you create your own rhythm, youll find that the day is more sustainable, bearable and enjoyable.

Jamison draws a distinction between boredom and lethargy. Boredom is when there is absolutely nothing to do. Lethargy is when there are things to do that you cant be bothered doing. Most people suffer the latter, but they call it the former because it lets them off the hook. In the monastery, people are always ringing bells telling you what to do next, so you dont have time to be bored.

Positivity is the key. Do not begin the day by rehearsing your grievances. Begin by remembering youre alive and there are good things still. You may have to do tough things later, but take it one step at a time. Begin with gratitude; then ask for the grace to face the day and its difficulties. Then go and address the difficulties. Doesnt all that presuppose a belief in God? You can, Jamison insists, be grateful without believing in God.

Sir Robin Knox-Johnston, round-the-world sailor

In 1969, Knox-Johnston became the first person to make a nonstop single-handed circumnavigation of the globe when he was the only competitor in a round-the-world yacht race to make it home. He was in his late 20s, and sailing a 32ft yacht; the journey took 312 days.

Robin Knox-Johnston. Photograph: Matt Cardy/Getty Images

Ten weeks into the voyage, Knox-Johnstons radio broke down. It was very frustrating, he says. I could hear people calling me, but I couldnt respond. For four and a half months, nothing was heard of him. The Times prepared an obituary.

How did he keep himself together mentally? That worried me, he admits. I took to learning poetry. I had a lovely anthology by Field Marshal Wavell called Other Mens Flowers. I committed all these wonderful poems to memory. Id sit there steering while reciting to myself.

I tried to keep to a regular schedule. Sleep during the night, although obviously at times you couldnt because you had to be on deck. Id make myself dinner, check everything was all right, then go and have some sleep, wake three or four hours later, check things, go back to bed again. Then, as the sun rose, Id get up, have a cup of coffee, make breakfast, check the boat and take my sights to work out where I was.

Robin Knox-Johnston. Photograph: Tony McGrath/The Observer

Food was fairly basic, but he had taken 12 bottles of whisky, 12 of brandy and 120 cans of beer, and he enjoyed a whisky or brandy with a cigarette before dinner. Did he ever get drunk? Youre on your own, he says emphatically. That would be pretty stupid.

Did he miss company? Oh God, yes, he says, just as emphatically. Going past Australia with my receiver working and picking up dance music on a Saturday night. You thought: What the hell am I doing out here on my own? But then you think: Im still in this. Im not giving this up for anything. And sex? You have to put it out of your mind, he says. You need all your energy for the boat.

Christa Byrne, Scottish islander

Byrne has lived with her husband on the island of Colonsay (population 135) in the Inner Hebrides for more than 40 years, first running a hotel and now a bookshop. It is one of the most isolated communities in the UK.

Christa Byrne in her bookshop on Colonsay. Photograph: Provided by Christa Byrne

For Byrne self-sufficiency is a way of life. Other people are used to shopping every day for what theyre going to eat, she says. We shop for a month. Its a completely different mindset.

There are pros and cons to island life. There is no crime, and people look out for each other. On the other hand, people know everyone elses business. Does the isolation ever get her down? No, she says. I am a very easy person. But for some people its almost impossible. Thats why we cant sustain much of a population here. Its heaven on a spring morning, but for weeks and months in the winter its really hard.

Byrne says the years-long feuds that used to characterise island life have lessened. People have their opinions and sometimes it would make your hair curl listening to what people say, but overall we do realise were all in this together. She also says the drinking culture is not what it was. People have woken up to the fact that having at least one car in the ditch every weekend is not a good idea.

Her tips for the newly isolated? Keep busy. Dont slouch around. Get up in the morning, get dressed, have a plan. Its too easy to fritter away your time, and that is very soul-destroying. Does she ever get bored? I dont really, she says. Theres always a good book to read, especially if you own a bookshop.

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From Cheer to Christopher John Rogers, the term has come to define survival in the face of white privilege

In the first episode of Pose the hit drama about the 80s ballroom drag scene that gave birth to vogueing a group from the House of Abundance break into a museum exhibition of Elizabethan-era clothes. They strip the mannequins, stuff the corsets and ruffs into shiny black bin bags, then escape through a smashed window to the ball competition. The category is Bring it like Royalty, says the MC, Billy Porter as the gang walk and pose in their Renaissance era garments. They win the competition, but their victory is about not only looking great whatever the cost, but also about breaking with convention, law and history.

In Cheer, Netflixs docudrama about a competitive cheerleading squad, the breakout stars are Jerry Harris and LaDarius Marshall. Unapologetically exuberant, the black, gay teenagers in Republican-supporting, gun-toting Navarro, Texas, should stick out like sore, if deeply fabulous, thumbs. Yet Cheer becomes a story of how they survived grief (the premature death of Jerrys mum and LaDariuss suicide attempt) and accepted themselves. In both shows, as black and Latino members of the LGBTQI community, these characters are outside mainstream society and so have created their own. In this world being fabulous is not just the defining quality, but acts as a challenge to the status quo and (white, entitled, birthright) privilege.

LaDarius Marshall and Jerry Harris from Cheer. Composite: Jim Spellman/Getty Images

The concept of fabulousness is said to have begun in the drag subculture and with Crystal LaBeija, who is seen as the founder of ballrooms house culture (alternative families for members of the LGBTQI community who have been kicked out of their homes). Pepper LaBeija, from Crystals house, was featured in Jennie Livingstons 1990 documentary Paris Is Burning which brought ballroom culture to a wider audience.

It was in this filmthat many first heard the words that make up the lexicon of fabulousness. Words such as work!, fierce, gagging, yaaaaas, slay and phrases such as giving me life and serving a look. Although TV shows such as Absolutely Fabulous, Sex and the City and Americas Next Top Model brought these phrases and concepts into peoples homes, it was RuPauls Drag Race (now in its 12th season) that truly bought the concept of fabulousness into the mainstream.

Jack Doroshow and Crystal LaBeija in The Queen. Photograph: Everett Collection Inc/Alamy Stock Photo

Jinkx Monsoon, who won the fifth season of Drag Race, says both drag and fabulousness are about creatingyour own destiny. Were born into this world, and told from day one who were supposed to be, she says. Were told at a very early age that were expected to behave, dress, and think certain ways all because of what is between our legs. Drag is casting all of that off, and deciding for yourself who you want to be.

But the concept of fabulousness is also, says Madison Moore, the author of Fabulous: The Rise of the Beautiful Eccentric, a lifeline for people who belong to more than one disempowered or persecuted social group and therefore face intersecting prejudices. Fabulousness is about the risk of stretching out and expanding when you have been told you dont deserve to exist.

In his book, Moore sets out four traits that define fabulousness: firstly, it does not take a lot of money; secondly it requires a high level of creativity; thirdly it is dangerous, political, confrontational, risky and largely (but not exclusively) practised by queer or transgenderpeople of colour and other marginalised groups. Finally it is about making a spectacle of yourself because your body is constantly suppressed and undervalued.

Because of this, fabulousness is not to be confused with being camp because it is inherently political. Susan Sontag in her influential 1964 essay Notes on Camp (the inspiration for the theme of the 2019 Met Gala), defined camp as an aesthetic sensibility devoid of any deeper meaning.

But Moore points out that for marginalised people, theres no such thing as style for styles sake. Fabulous people are taking the risk of embracing spectacle when it may perhaps be easier, though no less toxic, to normalise. This is very different from how camp is typically discussed.

Dominique Jackson in the pilot episode of Pose. Photograph: FX Productions/Kobal/Rex/Shutterstock

In 2020, the concept of fabulousness is everywhere: in Lil Nas Xs mashing up of neon disco colours with cowboy style or each time Poses Billy Porter wears a traditionally non-masculine outfit on the red carpet. Both style statements challenge the white, cis-gendered status quo.

Yet, while mainstream culture has absorbed elements of black culture, such as the adoption of the fabulous lexicon into everyday conversation (yassss kween) the outsider status has not disappeared. Being a black body, a black queer body, a black trans body, a gender nonconforming black body in public space is always vulnerable, says Moore. You cant go shopping while black. You cant go swimming while black. You cant enter your dorm room while black. You cant exist in your own home while black. You cant drive in your car with a white girl while black. You cant buy designer clothes while black. You cant wear a hoodie while black. The list continues.

During New York fashion week, the collection from the Anna Wintour-anointed African American designer Christopher John Rogers displayed a level of extreme fabulousness. His show featured largely non-white models sporting outfits in shocking shiny disco colours (fuchsia, emerald green and orange) and cut to massive proportions in geometric shapes that looked straight out of the Teletubbies. As Robin Givhan said, the shows aesthetic appeared as if it were stylistically influenced by: [the Diana Ross film]Mahogany, Ebony Fashion Fair (which ran from 1958 to 2009), drag balls and Instagram selfie filters.

Fabulous backstage at the AW20 Christopher John Rogers show. Photograph: Sophie Sahara/WWD/Rex/Shutterstock

The models stopped dramatically at the end of the runway pausing for the endless clicks of photographers. They strutted in a knowing parody of fashion cliches. Our shows are filled with a ton of emotion and energy so we encourage the models to feel themselves and the fantasy when they get on the runway, Rogers tells me after the show. Its really about their personal attitudes and moods coming through.

For the designer, his shows are an expression of encouraging people to take up space and be the most themselves. Does he think it is important to express fabulousness in the current climate of political divisiveness? Absolutely, he says Theres so much vitriol and pessimism in the air towards individuals who dont fit certain moulds, so its nice to combat that with true expressions of self, in whatever form that takes. The most effective, in some instances, is radical, boisterous personal style.

Pat Boguslawski, the movement coach who choreographed the model Leon Dames strutting, angular walk, which went viral at the SS20 Maison Margiela show, says he was inspired to bring individuality back to the runway. A fashion show is not just about mannequins and watching the clothes, its about creating a show. So we hire dancers, have amazing lighting and great music. I think a fashion show should be a show. For him, Dames walk was an expression of his individuality. As a movement director Im creating something based on (a persons) character, on who they are.

Being who they are is a key narrative element of Pose. Angelica Ross, who played the spiky Candy, says the show is important on multiple levels. To quote (Pose producer and trans activist) Janet Mock: We have to say these things cause no one else will. Pose told a story that no one else wanted to tell as evident by the many nos that (creator) Steven Canals received when initially pitching the project. Its not only important that Pose told our stories, but told them right by including folks from the (LGBTQI) community at all levels of production.

Fabulousness is a much needed state of mind in the current climate. As Ross says: Being fabulous means feeling free to be yourself. Its not fabulous if its fake.

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Rapper says anger over his views reminds him of racial assumptions he once faced: Youre black, so youre a Democrat

Kanye West has reaffirmed his support for Donald Trump, whom he has previously called his brother, in a new interview with the Wall Street Journal.

West says people make assumptions about his political views because of his race, automatically assuming he would disagree with Trumps views.

West also compares the pushback he faces for publicly wearing his Make America Great Again hat to racial profiling and discrimination. It reminded me of how I felt as a black guy before I was famous, when I would walk in a restaurant and people would look at you like you were going to steal something, the musician says. This is your place, Ye, dont talk about apparel. This is your place, Ye, youre black, so youre a Democrat.

Wests praise of Trump comes as medical experts, health officials, and growing numbers of unemployed workers criticize the presidents response to the growing coronavirus pandemic.

The rapper was previously known for publicly attacking the inadequate federal response to a national crisis. In 2005, he delivered the memorable line George Bush doesnt care about black people during the immediate aftermath of Hurricane Katrina, when a ravaged New Orleans had yet to receive substantial federal assistance.

The past few days have been turbulent for West and his reality-star wife, Kim Kardashian West. Over the weekend, the internet entered a frenzy over new leaked footage of a controversial phone call between West and Taylor Swift. To some, the extended clip, recorded around 2015, provided proof that West had lied about asking Swift for permission to call her a bitch in a song lyric and intentionally set out to disparage her public image. Kardashian West spoke out against the renewed accusations, writing that Swift was actually lying.

In the interview, West also reveals that he worked closely with Trump and the White House adviser Jared Kushner to help free the rapper A$AP Rocky, who was detained by the Swedish government for aggravated assault charges last summer.

Trump tweeted about the case following discussions with West, suggesting the rapper had a major influence on his diplomatic decision. Just spoke to @KanyeWest about his friend A$AP Rockys incarceration. I will be calling the very talented Prime Minister of Sweden to see what we can do about helping A$AP Rocky, Trump said at the time.

West has previously faced blowback for praising Candace Owens, a conservative black activist, and suggesting slavery was a choice. (West later apologized for the slavery comments.)

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Gustavo, 31, nurse practitioner, meets Bryan, 34, head of sales

Gustavo on Bryan

What were you hoping for?
At worst, a funny date story and a free dinner. At best, a good time with someone I might not have otherwise met, and a free dinner.

First impressions?
Handsome and punctual.

What did you talk about?
Travel, families, our jobs, hobbies, past relationships, music, food.

Any awkward moments?
Nothing springs to mind.

Good table manners?
Yes, although we had a laugh at this question before we even started eating.

Best thing about Bryan?
Hes relaxed, which makes him easy to talk to; the conversation flowed really well all night.

Would you introduce him to your friends?
I would: I think theyd get on well.

Describe Bryan in three words
Funny, charming, interesting.

What do you think he made of you?
I have no idea. Probably that I talk a lot, which is true.

Did you go on somewhere?
We went to a pub near the restaurant, and had a couple of drinks before getting the tube home.

And… did you kiss?
A gentleman never tells.

If you could change one thing about the evening, what would it be?
That Id planned better and didnt have to panic-buy date clothes because I didnt have time to go to the flat and get dressed.

Marks out of 10?
9, I had a really nice time.

Would you meet again?
We swapped numbers (and Twitter handles). Id be up for seeing him again, definitely.


Want to be in Blind date?

Blind date is Guardian Weekend magazines dating column: every week, two strangers are paired up for dinner and drinks, and then spill the beans to us, answering a set of questions. This runs, with a photograph we take of each dater before the date, in Guardian Weekend magazine (in the UK) and online attheguardian.comevery Saturday. Its been running since 2009 you can read all about how we put it together here.

What questions will I be asked?
We ask about age, location, occupation, hobbies, interests and the type of person you are looking to meet. If you do not think these questions cover everything you would like to know, tell us whats on your mind.

Can I choose who I match with?
No, its a blind date! But we do ask you a bit about your interests, preferences, etc the more you tell us, the better the match is likely to be.

Can I pick the photograph?
No, but don’t worry: we’ll choose the nicest ones.

What personal details will appear?
Your first name, job and age.

How should I answer?
Honestly but respectfully. Be mindful of how it will read to your date, and that Blind date reaches a large audience, in print and online.

Will I see the other persons answers?
No. We may edit yours and theirs for a range of reasons, including length, and we may ask you for more details.

Will you find me The One?
Well try! Marriage! Babies!

Can I do it in my home town?
Only if its in the UK. Many of our applicants live in London, but we would love to hear from people living elsewhere.

How to apply

Bryan on Gustavo

What were you hoping for?
A fun chat with a funny, clever guy who doesnt take himself (or me) too seriously.

First impressions?
Very handsome and immediately engaged, conscientious, and clearly very intelligent. Great jumper, too.

What did you talk about?
Growing up gay in a small town (cue Bronski Beat), our strange families and their niche faiths, genetic testing kits, what it means to be an LGBTQ+ ally, sports, musicals.

Any awkward moments?
Nothing I noticed.

Good table manners?
His were perfect.

Best thing about Gustavo?
Hes completely present in conversation.

Would you introduce him to your friends?
Sure, but heaven knows what hed make of those heathens.

Describe Gustavo in three words?
Attentive, ambitious, accomplished.

What do you think he made of you?
A tall, scatterbrained geek who has a hard time shutting up.

Did you go on somewhere?
We went to a nearby pub for some beers and whisky.

And… did you kiss?
No just two big hugs on the Victoria line. I misheard which stop was his, and clumsily went in for the hug early. Ah well.

If you could change one thing about the evening, what would it be?
Nothing. I had a great night.

Marks out of 10?

Would you meet again?
As friends, 100%. I dont think there was a romantic spark for either of us.

Gustavo and Bryan ate at Granary Square Brasserie, London N1.

Fancy a blind date? Email

If youre looking to meet someone likeminded, visit

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Kate Christensen, 57, a novelist, met her husband, Brendan Fitzgerald, 37, a screenwriter, in New York. They live in Maine with their two rescue dogs

When Kate walked into a New York bar in October 2008, she wasnt in the mood for a night out. Id left my husband two weeks before and was feeling very low, she says. I had a sprained ankle and was on crutches, but a friend of mine was in town and wanted me to meet her partner. I went to be supportive. It turns out it wasnt the only meeting her friend had in mind. She told me I was about to meet a beautiful man and that I should give him a chance, despite his age.

She was introduced to Brendan and sparks flew immediately. I had no idea there was a 20-year age difference when we started talking, he says. But Id dated older women before, so it wasnt something I would have noticed. Overwhelmed by the chemistry between them, Kate took a step back. I wasnt ready to start anything new and he was so much younger than me.

Brendan watched her hobble away. Our mutual friend said I should chase her and I joked that it wouldnt be hard to catch her.

For the next few months, they continued with their lives. Kate was based in Brooklyn and working as a writer of literary fiction, while Brendan spent the winter alone in a farmhouse in New Hampshire, writing poetry and planning his next career steps. When he returned a few months later, he asked Kate for dinner. Our friend had told me that shed talked about me lots, he says.

Thats totally true, Kate laughs. But I still didnt feel ready. I pretended to be under the weather. Luckily, he didnt give up; the pair met up on his next visit to New York, in March 2009. However, Kate still wasnt prepared to take him seriously, due to the age gap. I was wary of words like cougar being thrown around if we dated. I thought it would just be a one-night stand, so I picked out a sexy outfit. But over dinner they discovered how much they had in common. We come from similar families and we were read the same books when we were little. We both sang medieval renaissance choral music, of all things, says Kate. There was no awkwardness at all during the amazing and unexpected evening.

It was like discovering someone youd always known, says Brendan. We talked about poetry, music and the time just disappeared. The pair became a couple that night and have been inseparable since.

For the first few years of their relationship, they travelled extensively, spending time in New York and New Hampshire. We also went to Europe and New Zealand for writers residencies, says Kate. We would set up our desks together and write next to each other. In 2011, they bought a home in Portland, Maine. We put all our money into the house after that, says Brendan. The couple married in September 2016, after Kates divorce came through. It took a long time, she says. We joke that we met two weeks after I split with my ex and married two weeks after the papers were signed.

Kate loves her husbands intelligence and sense of humour. Even when I think hes dead wrong, he turns out to be right, she says. I love everything about him. It doesnt hurt that hes so handsome, too. Brendan says they are able to be themselves around each other. When you fall in love, its like being on drugs for a few years. The drugs wore off and I found myself even more in love. With a wife who is so brilliant and inspiring, he has never worried about the age gap. I knew I didnt want children, he says. I wanted a marriage where we could focus entirely on our relationship.

The couple split their time between Maine and Los Angeles, where Brendan works as a screenwriter. They live with their two rescue dogs.

Before they met, Kate had always been lonely, she says. When we found each other, I think we were both a little lost. But hes my soulmate and I have never been lonely again since the night we got together.

Want to share your story? Tell us a little about you, your partner and how you got together by filling in the form here.

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