Budget Spring 2021: Cost of pandemic will be paid back by 'many governments over many decades'

Mr Sunak said that the Government has borrowed a record £355billion this year - which at 17 per cent of UK national income is the highest level since World War Two.
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Solskjaer responds to rumours Bailly is refusing to sign new Man Utd deal
Eric Bailly's current contract with Manchester United is due to expire in 2022 and Ole Gunnar Solskjaer has spoken about the defender's future at the club
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Queen will say private farewell to Prince Philip in last moment before funeral
The Queen, 94, will get one last moment alone to say farewell to her beloved Prince Philip after more than 70 years of marriage
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Cameron’s ‘insurgents’ under scrutiny amid row over lobbyist influence
At least four senior civil servants were allowed to keep second jobs in private sector between 2010-15Among experienced civil servants, they were jokingly referred to as “the insurgents” – a group of executives lured from the private sector by David Cameron’s government to shake up Whitehall.But now that same group is under intense scrutiny amid a growing row about the influence of lobbyists and business on senior Cabinet Office officials once held up as impartial and untouchable. Continue reading...
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White People Keep Apologising To Me And It’s Exhausting
You’re probably aware that the Asian community has been experiencing a surge in horrific hate crimes. In this environment, a lot of well-meaning white folks are thinking about what they can do to help. As a result, many are taking to their phones and “checking in” on their Asian “friends.”The week of the shootings in Atlanta, my phone lit up with a Facebook messenger notification. I opened the app, which was probably last updated in 2016, and saw a name I didn’t recognise. There wasn’t a profile picture either. “Definitely a bot,” I thought. I was about to swipe the message into the trash can when I stopped. With a furrowed brow, I read:“Hey Julie, just wanted to let you know I’m holding space for you. Sorry the world is garbage. Let me know if you want to talk.”I had no idea who this was for 20 minutes. Eventually it dawned on me that it was somebody I went to college with many moons ago. We had only one class together, yet she thought that meant she was close enough to me to call me “Ling Ling,” a stereotypical Asian name she selected randomly.She was also insufferable whenever I happened to sit by a specific guy in our class, making jokes suggesting that I was in love with him (because he also happened to be Asian). She never seemed to say anything when I sat by one of the other 50 students in our lecture hall though.Yes, people are terrible in college and they’re capable of change, but I think she needed to acknowledge her treatment toward me before offering to “hold space” for me. And even then, that would have been putting the cart before the horse. I would have preferred that she led with, “I don’t know if you remember me, but we went to school together.”It was jarring that she messaged me out of the blue, but acted like we were buddies, or that I would instantly know who she was ― sans profile picture and all. It felt like the same entitled attitude with which she used to call me “Ling Ling.” I decided I didn’t want to give her my time in the year 2021, so I put my phone away.Later, it lit up with another notification. This time from Instagram. Without opening it, I saw a little preview of a direct message.“I want to apologise for playing ‘Asian or Old Person’ in the car all those times. I know it made you uncomfortable, but that was never my intention. I’d love to know how you’re doing in all this.”Just in case you didn’t know, “Asian or Old Person” is a game that awful white people play in the car. When they see a bad driver, they try to guess if it’s an Asian person or an old person. Double points if it’s both. So that was a former roommate of mine.She never seemed to ask herself, “Hmm, should I be playing ‘Asian or Old Person’ in the car with my Asian roommate who has told me to stop playing that before?” I didn’t bother opening her DM. I thought it could wait.I did screenshot the notification (because it was truly an insane opening line) and send it to my cousin. She called me immediately and we discussed the sudden flurry of “check-ins” and “apologies” we’d been getting.She described how her company had sent out one of those “We stand in solidarity with the Asian community” emails, but otherwise just went about its business as usual, interrupting all the women of color in meetings.Some of her white colleagues did reach out and say that if she needed anything, to let them know. “What, like give me a ride to the airport?! I don’t get it!” she told me in disbelief. “What I need from them is to stop dismissing me like I’m new and don’t know what I’m doing. If that’s too much to ask for, maybe they could just learn to spell my last name correctly.”After much needed catharsis, I hung up my phone and looked down at the screen. There was an Instagram notification from an hour ago.“This message is no longer available because it was unsent by the sender.”My brows furrowed so hard I got a migraine. “She did WHAT?!” I shouted. My former roommate quite literally took back her apology. She must have thought I hadn’t seen it. But I had the receipts! “Do I really wanna go there?” I asked myself.“Yes.”I sent them to her and asked if she wanted to clarify why she unsent it.Crickets.Maybe she changed her mind and thought it was better not to open old wounds. Maybe she took it back because I didn’t respond right away and she decided she had nothing to apologise for anymore. Maybe she was embarrassed. I’ll never understand! Or maybe this backpedaling and silence kind of already tells me everything I need to know.One thing I know for sure is that being checked in on or apologised to is new for me. I am much more used to being ignored and dismissed, but now suddenly I feel responsible for telling white people, “Don’t worry, I know you’re not one of those white people.” I don’t know how I am supposed to respond honestly to all of this without sounding rude (I, too, wish not to upset people) and it is exhausting.It’s not enough to just say you’re an ally. Your actions have to match your words too. If someone says “I’m here for you” after the same meeting where they didn’t value our input, we’re going to be very confused and suspicious. If someone acknowledges that their racist games made us uncomfortable, wants to apologise for it, but then takes back the apology ... of course we will think they are that white person!White people must examine their apologies. They need to ask themselves if they’re really sorry and want to do better, or if they just need a person of color to exonerate them for their racism so that they can go about their day guilt-free again. If it’s the latter, sorry but you don’t need to further damage the AAPI community by “checking in” on your Asian “friends.”If they’re the former, and they really believe their apology is genuine and sincere, the hard part will be for them to understand that they are still not entitled to forgiveness.Despite that, they must continue to use their privilege to hold their white friends accountable. If white people really want to help, they’ve got to do that on their own. Marginalised people are not here to take on the burden of getting white people up to speed, nor are they responsible for holding their hands and patting them on the back.These check-ins and apologies are just another way for white people to center themselves in the conversation and make it about their own emotions. Ultimately, they need to take up less space, because this isn’t about them.This article first appeared on HuffPost PersonalHave a compelling personal story you want to tell? Find out what we’re looking for here, and pitch us on ukpersonal@huffpost.comRelated...Antidepressants Didn’t Ruin My Sex Life. They Don’t Have To Ruin Yours EitherHe Cheated On Me. That's When I Realised I Was PolyamorousI’m Cycling From Bristol To Beijing During A Pandemic. Here’s Why
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Study Says Women Use 4 Specific Techniques To Up Their Pleasure During Sex
Enjoying sex so often comes down to good communication, and new research provides specific names — and descriptions — for four techniques women use most often to boost their pleasure during vaginal penetration. The findings, which were drawn from the second “pleasure report” by the instructional website OMGYES, and published in the journal PLOS ONE, come from a survey of more than 3,000 women, ages 18 to 93, from across the United States. Women were asked how they tend to increase their own pleasure during sex. (This particular study focused specifically on vaginal penetration, and the majority of the respondents identified as heterosexual.)When the researchers analysed the women’s answers, four techniques emerged: Angling Nearly 90% of the respondents said they use “angling,” which involves rotating, raising or lowering their pelvis and hips during vaginal penetration in order to adjust where a sex toy or penis rubs in the vagina.ShallowingRoughly 84% of women said they make vaginal penetration more pleasurable by using “shallowing,” or some kind of penetrative touch just inside of the entrance of the vagina. RockingAbout 76% of survey respondents said they increase their own pleasure during vaginal penetration through “rocking,” where the base of a penis, or a sex toy, rubs against the clitoris during penetration by staying completely inside the vagina, rather than thrusting in and out. PairingLastly, roughly 70% said they use “pairing,” which refers to when a woman or her partner reaches down to stimulate the clitoris (with a finger or sex toy) during penetration.While the findings do not necessarily present new or groundbreaking information, the study researchers said they hope that simply giving women clearer language around specific techniques will make it easier for them to recognise and communicate what they want, and empower more women to advocate for their own sexual pleasure. “Holistic approaches to sexual health increasingly emphasise the positive contributions that sexual pleasure — particularly for women — provides to physical, social and emotional well-being across the lifespan,” the study’s authors write. “For example, research has shown that sexual pleasure contributes to women’s reports of greater happiness, and lower levels of depression, stress and anxiety.”In a press release, Julia Robinson, a senior editor with the journal PLOS ONE, also argued that it is critical for scientific journals to publish this kind of research. “It contributes to the base of academic knowledge and explores an under-studied topic that is related to women’s health and well-being,” she said. Outside experts agree, and hope that women find information in the study that will be helpful to them.  “What’s so interesting about this study — and so needed — is the ability of women to read this and feel legitimised in their ability to govern pleasure, and have language for it,” Kate Balestrieri, a psychologist and certified sex therapist, told HuffPost. (She did not work on the study.)“Women are often taught to be receptacles of sex ... when we talk about changing the language about how to tilt hips or move your own body, it’s a gift to ourselves. We are now in control of our own bodies. It’s not a passive experience,” Balestrieri added. “There’s nothing wrong with having a passive experience if that is your ‘jam.’ But for many women, they really would like to take more ownership about what’s happening.”Related...He Cheated On Me. That's When I Realised I Was PolyamorousParkinson’s Changed Our Sex Life Forever. Here’s How We Make It Work11 Empowering Reads, Recommended by Women-Owned Bookshops
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10 best snack boxes to bring variety to your tastebuds
If you’re bored of your current snack selection, our picks will inspire you to try something new
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Pep could give United fresh title hope if he gets his City teams wrong this week
Manchester City manager has got his rotation policy almost perfect until now but this week, starting with Chelsea, is a huge test of resources - four FA Cup semi-final talking points
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Evatt on Delaney understanding his absence from Bolton matchday squad
The defender made a Bolton matchday squad for the first time in 17 League Two games against Salford City
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How Manchester United manager Ole Gunnar Solskjaer transformed Erling Haaland
Ole Gunnar Solskjaer managed Erling Haaland for two years at Molde, a period that spectacularly caught the attention of Man United.
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No face masks or social distancing at FA Cup Semi Final as part of lockdown easing trial
FACE masks and social distancing measures will be suspended at events in April and May as part of a Government trial.
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New Delhi placed under weekend lockdown as Covid wave worsens
The capital has overtaken Mumbai as India’s worst hit city amid surge of cases and fears of ‘double mutant’ variantSee all our coronavirus coverage hereNew Delhi has been placed under a weekend lockdown as India faces a ferocious new coronavirus wave, with more than 200,000 fresh daily cases and families clamouring for drugs and hospital beds.Hopes that South Asian countries might have beaten the pandemic have been dashed with India seeing more than 2m cases this month alone and Bangladesh and Pakistan imposing shutdowns. Continue reading...
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Liverpool transfer round-up as Reds join Bellingham race but dealt Torres blow
The lack of depth in Jurgen Klopp's squad has been badly exposed this season, with Liverpool's title defence in tatters and Real Madrid this week knocking them out of the Champions League
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Philippine troops kill Egyptian, 2 Filipino militants
Philippine troops have killed a suspected Egyptian would-be suicide bomber and two local Abu Sayyaf militants in what military officials say is a setback that would make it harder for gunmen linked to the Islamic State group to stage suicide attacks
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Indianapolis shooting: FBI questioned killer last year after ‘suicide by cop’ report
Investigators searched the home of teen shooter Brandon Scott Hole, but found no evidence of racially motivated ideologyThe former employee who shot and killed eight people at a FedEx facility in Indianapolis was interviewed by FBI agents last year, after his mother called police to say that her son might commit “suicide by cop”, the bureau has revealed. Coroners released the names of the victims late Friday, a little less than 24 hours after the latest mass shooting to rock the US. Four of them were members of Indianapolis’ Sikh community. The attack was another blow to the Asian American community, a month after six people of Asian descent were killed in a mass shooting in the Atlanta area. Continue reading...
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Chelsea eye Dybala swap and suffer Kounde blow while Werner running out of time
Chelsea look set for another splurge in the transfer market as Thomas Tuchel reshapes his squad with Roman Abramovich's backing as pressure mounts on Timo Werner
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Coronavirus latest news: India's variant could 'scupper' UK's march to freedom, scientist warns
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‘Reckless’ Sturgeon savaged for ‘pushing’ SNP Indy Ref with ‘NO IDEA’ of economic impact
NICOLA STURGEON has been criticised for having "no idea" about the economic implications of an independent Scotland.
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As Biden improves with vets, Afghanistan plan a plus to some
Voters who served in the military have long leaned Republican, but there are signs that Democrat Joe Biden may have cut into that advantage
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Gov. Kemp faces next test from Trump loyalists in Georgia
Georgia Gov. Brian Kemp and former President Donald Trump face key tests Saturday in Georgia as many local Republican committees consider proposals to censure the governor for not reversing President Joe Biden’s November victory over Trump
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UK weather 'calm' as temperatures to reach 16C during Prince Philip's funeral
Met Office forecasters say temperatures in the UK could reach 16C on Saturday and no strong wind or rain is expected
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Indian Covid strain: Mutation detected in UK has 'hallmarks of very dangerous virus'
PUBLIC Health England has confirmed 77 cases of the Indian Covid variant, that experts believe is potentially more dangerous than other forms of the virus.
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After outcry, WH says Biden will lift refugee cap in May
Facing swift blowback from allies and aid groups, the White House says President Joe Biden plans to lift his predecessor’s historically low cap on refugees by next month
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Arsenal transfer round-up as Ukrainian star 'shortlisted' amid Lacazette warning
Mikel Arteta faces a busy summer ahead with uncertainty still surrounding what Arsenal will be able to offer any potential transfer targets to tempt them to the Emirates
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You Can Now Buy Crisp-Flavoured Beers. We Tried Them
Crisps and beer are two staples of the great British pub experience, but what happens if you mix them together? Leeds-based Northern Monk brewery and Bradford-based crisps brand Seabrook have joined forces to create the world’s first crisp-flavoured beers.Taking their inspiration from classic cheese and onion and prawn cocktail flavours, the beers blend beer and crisps in a way that’s “never been done before,” according to the brands. The new creations “symbolise the coming together of people in beer gardens,” apparently. Northern Monk teased of a crisp-based product on April Fool’s day, but has now admitted that was a (somewhat bizarre) double bluff. The beers do indeed exist, and are now available to buy at £3.50 per can online. Dedicated to trying all things weird and wonderful, two members of the HuffPost team – myself and Life editor Amy Packham – gave them a try, with surprisingly different verdicts. Here’s what we thought. Cheese & Onion LagerAmy: “I take a bite of crisp, then have a swig of beer – the logic being, I’m more likely to be able to compare flavours. It just tastes like lager – a light, refreshing one, though. I sniff the beer once again and notice a faint cheesy scent – more mature cheddar, I’d say. But no matter how many times I gulp the beer, and really try to taste cheese, I just can’t. Maybe that’s a good thing – because the beer itself is lovely, and my boyfriend and I drink it all. Later, finishing the last swig of it on the sofa, I suddenly get a hint of cheesiness as I lift it up to my nose. It’s slight, but it’s there. I’d drink it again – but not because of the cheese. It’s a good thing it doesn’t match up to the flavour.”Rachel: “I’m struggling to even taste this beer because I’m completely distracted by the smell. It’s seriously oniony – more like pickled onion, rather than the standard scent of cheese and onion crisps. Like Amy, I barely detect a hint of cheese in either smell or taste. I’m genuinely horrified to hear she finished the can, because my partner and I manage four tentative sips between us, before pouring the rest down the sink. I can’t stand the aftertaste, which is reminiscent of hungover mornings after a big night out (with onion breath following a dodgy kebab). I raid the fridge for something to take the taste away.”Prawn Cocktail GoseAmy: “I have to Google what ‘gose’ is, because despite having tried sour beers before, I didn’t know the name. There’s a sour – and slightly fishy – smell to the beer. As I lift the glass up to my nose and have a sip, I smell the fishiness even more. I take a gulp. It’s the most sour beer I’ve ever tasted. It has that sharp kick, like you get with a prawn cocktail starter. But the taste isn’t for me. I’m afraid to say seafood beer is not the one – I settle for the crisps and don’t drink the rest. Sorry, Seabrook, it’s going down the sink.”Rachel: “Seabrook’s are the fishiest prawn cocktail crisps I’ve ever tasted (not in a good way, fresh seafood should be that tangy), so I’m relieved the beer doesn’t taste like the snack. It’s got a faint pawn odour, but I ignore that and have a few gulps. The taste is seriously sour, but I quite like it, and in my opinion, it’s much better than the onion monstrosity. I can’t manage a full pint though, and the salty end note prevents this from being refreshing. My partner finishes the can, but we agree we wouldn’t buy it again. With both beers, the smells and flavours are too discordant with the visual, which looks like a standard pint. You don’t get what they deliver – and that’s half the problem. These beers are a gimmick, and nothing more.”Well, two different verdicts for two crispy beers – but if gimmicks are your thing, and you want to try them for yourself, head to Northern Monk’s shop.READ MORE:Chausage, Anyone? We Taste Tested The 'Chocolate Sausage'TikTok's Bell Pepper Sandwich Is Not Going Away – Here Are The Best RecipesHow To Make The Latest Bread Trend: Spring Focaccia Gardens
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Sex And The City Reboot And Just Like That...: Where To Watch And Everything Else We Can Tell You
Sex And The City – one of the most iconic TV shows of the 20th century – is set to return to our screens, but not quite as we know it.Rather than a straight-up Sex And The City revival, most of the original cast are about to start work on And Just Like That..., an completely new show featuring characters from the original sitcom.Since the announcement at the beginning of the year, fans have had a lot of questions about how it’s all going to work, and with filming set to begin in a matter of weeks, we felt it was time to round them up...What exactly is this Sex And The City reboot, And Just Like That...?When it was first announced in January 2021, And Just Like That… was billed as a “new chapter” in the Sex And The City story, which originally spanned six series and two spin-off films.The 10-part series will debut on the US streaming service HBO Max, and will follow three of the original four main characters as they “navigate friendship in their 50s”.The news was confirmed in an Instagram post shared by all three members of the main cast: View this post on InstagramA post shared by SJP (@sarahjessicaparker)HBO Max’s head of original content said at the time of the announcement: “I grew up with these characters, and I can’t wait to see how their story has evolved in this new chapter, with the honesty, poignancy, humour and the beloved city that has always defined them.”Filming is set to begin in New York this spring, so we’re probably – as Carrie would say – only a “hop, skip and a few short weeks” away from the first pap shots of SJP and co on set.Wait, did you say “three of the original four”?Yes, it’s been well-documented at this point that while Sarah Jessica Parker, Kristen Davis and Cynthia Nixon will all be reprising their iconic Sex And The City roles, Kim Cattrall will not be joining them as PR whizz and “gal about town”, Samantha Jones.In recent years, Kim has made no secret of her lack of interest in a Sex And The City revival (or her feelings towards co-star Sarah Jessica Parker, for that matter), so the news wasn’t necessarily a surprise, but it was still disappointing for many fans.Someone senior at HBO Max recently suggested that Samantha’s absence will be explained as her having simply drifted from the other three since the events of Sex And The City 2. “Just as in real life, people come into your life and people leave. Friendships fade, and new friendships start,” he explained.“So I think it is all very indicative of the real stages — the actual stages of life.”He added: “They’re trying to tell an honest story about being a woman in her fifties in New York. So, it should all feel somewhat organic, and the friends that you have when you’re 30, you may not have when you’re 50.”SJP insisted on Instagram that she’d never said she disliked Kim, writing: “Samantha isn’t part of this story. But she will always be part of us. No matter where we are or what we do... we will [miss her] too, we loved her so.”So, who will be back for it?As well as the core three, several actors from past series of Sex And The City  have teased they will be back for the reboot.John Corbett has confirmed he’ll be playing Carrie’s ex Aidan Shaw in “quite a few episodes”, while Mr Big himself, Chris Noth, appeared to shoot down reports that he wouldn’t be back for the revival. Meanwhile, David Eigenberg – who plays Miranda’s husband Steve Brady – recently admitted he wasn’t quite sure whether his character will be invited back for the series.Oscar winner Jennifer Hudson played Carrie’s former assistant Louise in the first Sex And The City film, and has hinted that she’d be keen to reprise the role in And Just Like That...All we can say is... bring back the icon that was Susan Sharon!Sadly, one character we won’t be seeing is Miranda’s long-time housekeeper and apparent childminder, Magda, as the actor who portrayed her, Lynn Cohen, died last year, at the age of 86.Will there be new characters too?It certainly sounds that way. While Carrie’s friendship with Charlotte, Miranda, Samantha and Stanford were pivotal in Sex And The City’s first run, she was a popular person, with lesser-seen pals dotted all over the city.SJP recently teased there’d be a new arrival in And Just Like That..., claiming: “It’s very possible that a great actress will join us, and she will have a huge impact and we’ll want to be with her more, the audience will want to see her more.”“I’m just very excited,” she added.Intriguingly, it’s also been reported that Caitlyn Jenner was “in talks” about appearing in the show as a new character.Is And Just Like That… going to mention the Covid-19 pandemic?Those hoping the SATC spin-off would be provide some glossy escapism are out of luck, as it sounds as though the pandemic will be referenced.While admittedly we were hoping for something to take our mind off the real world, it makes sense that the Covid crisis would be mentioned in the show –  they’re planning to film in New York in the spring, at a time when the pandemic is very much at the forefront of everyone’s minds.Sarah Jessica told Vanity Fair earlier this year that “the pandemic would “obviously be part of the storyline, because that’s the city they live in”.The Carrie Bradshaw actor also suggested the show would explore “how has [the pandemic] changed relationships once friends disappear?”. Why is the Sex And The City revival called And Just Like That…?The title And Just Like That... refers to one of the many catchphrases Carrie used to include in her columns in the original Sex And The City. How were things left when we last caught up with the Sex And The City gang?We generally prefer to think that the second Sex And The City film didn’t happen, but as the new show will be picking up a few years later, it’s probably a good idea to jog our memory a bit.Sex And The City 2 saw Carrie flying out to Abu Dhabi with the girls, after growing a little bored of the routine in her marriage to Mr Big. While there, she was surprised to bump into her ex-boyfriend Aidan, who she kissed during a night out, only to run off as only Carrie can truly pull off.Back in New York, Big forgave Carrie for her indiscretion, but only if she vowed not to kiss any more of her ex-boyfriends (which wasn’t really asking too much, to be fair).Miranda’s storyline saw her growing tired of being disrespected at work, packing the whole thing in and discovering her more fun side in Abu Dhabi (which included forcing her mates into doing karaoke with her and shouting “Abu Dhabi do” out of a car window in a scene that still sends a shiver down our spine, to be honest).When the holiday was over, it was revealed that Miranda had found herself a new job where she was treated with the respect that the character truly deserved.As for Charlotte, she was struggling as a mum of two, and at the end of the film, it was revealed she’d taken to using Carrie’s old apartment when she needed an hour or two to herself.And, of course, who could forget that Sex And The City 2 opened with Stanford and Anthony tying the knot in a ceremony officiated by Liza Minnelli (“whenever there’s this much gay energy in a room, Liza manifests”), who rounded off the ceremony with a fever dream-esque rendition of Single Ladies Most importantly, when and where can we watch And Just Like That...?Exact start dates are yet to be revealed, but we know that And Just Like That... starts filming in “late spring” and will be exclusive to the streaming service HBO Max in the US.Here in the UK, HBO originals tend to make their way onto Sky Atlantic and NOW (where all six series of Sex And The City are currently available to stream), although it’s yet to be confirmed whether this will be the case for And Just Like That...READ MORE:Reboot, Repeat? 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Helen Fielding Interview: ‘It Is Extraordinary To Me That Bridget Jones Is Still Being Discussed’
“It is extraordinary to me that Bridget Jones, which I started writing so casually as an anonymous newspaper column to make ends meet, is still being discussed 25 years later,” reflects Helen Fielding, author of the four Bridget Jones novels.Twenty years after the cinematic release of Bridget Jones’ Diary, the pull of one of modern literature’s most unlikely heroines feels as if it has barely waned: such is the universality of Bridget’s story. Excitingly, there’s buzz about a new film, but how will she fare in a more socially-conscious era?When Hugh Grant, Colin Firth and Renée Zellweger strode youthfully through Leicester Square for the film’s world premiere in 2001, their smiles beamed in from a pre 9/11, pre Me Too, pre social media age. But a more modern outing was birthed in 2016 with Bridget Jones’ Baby, which gleaned good reviews, demonstrating the character’s relatability fifteen years on from the initial movie. “When I was writing the novel of Mad About the Boy I always envisaged it as a movie,” says Helen of translating the fourth novel for the screen.There are no confirmed details about the production as yet, or which stars would return to the series, although Bridget actor Renee Zelwegger has hinted that she’d be keen.Reflecting on her 2013 bestselling novel, Helen believes “there are some definite movie-like set pieces, rather in the tradition of the old fashioned British rom-com.”Yet the author believes the past year has left “a lot of uncertainty” around the type of films audiences want to watch. “I feel like many people are looking for escapism, romance and comedy,” she says of how the pandemic has left us in need of a light-hearted fix.In Mad About The Boy, there is the potential for generous servings of all three. By now, Bridget is into her middle age, and has been widowed with a young child. Helen seems excited by the prospect of representing older women on screen as she has done in the book.“There are still some terrible depictions of single older women in sitcoms and movies,” she says. She remembers a storyline from Mad About The Boy which reflects her commitment to better represent older female characters. “It was particularly enjoyable to write a scene where Bridget turns up amongst these people at a party with her gorgeous younger boyfriend, who ends up ripping off his shirt and diving into a pool to save a drowning dog.”″’Goodness! Is that your nephew?” to which Bridget replies, ‘No, that would be a very odd relationship.’”Born in Morley in West Yorkshire in 1958, Helen went on to study English Literature at Oxford University alongside Richard Curtis, the Mr Bean, Vicar Of Dibley and Four Weddings writer, who she briefly dated. After graduating in 1979, Helen worked as a journalist, including for The Independent, where she conceived the idea for Bridget Jones, writing under the pseudonym in a column for the paper in 1995. The first Bridget novel, Bridget Jones’ Diary, was published in 1996.Now aged 63, these are experiences straight out of Helen’s life. “My actual experience with the women around me is that they are staying pretty much the same,” she realises. “Still finding the same things funny - and still sexual. I think there’s a big adjustment needed.”Too often, she says, women are “presented as sad or irrelevant or annoying or delusional and non-sexually viable.”“And on this last front there’s an outrageous imbalance with straight men,” she adds.How about for thirty-somethings of today? “When I first wrote Bridget the fictional representation of a single girl in her 30s had not caught up with reality,” says Helen. “Things are better on that front now,” she believes - but there’s still much work to do. How about gender equality in the workplace these days? “Honestly – I think it’s better but it’s all still lurking.” Helen recently reprised Bridget for a couple of lockdown columns published in The Times, in which she wrote that Bridget’s colleague Mr Fitzherbert would lose his job “no question” after ogling Bridget’s breasts so overtly. But have behaviours really changed so fundamentally?“These things run deep,” says Helen of systemic prejudice against women. “Change takes a long time and we have to stand alert.”How about the scourgeof social media, which pervades our lives in a much wider sense than the workplace? Has it made women more lonely than Bridget was in the 1990s or 2000s? “No, not lonely,” believes Helen. “Paranoid perhaps, insecure, filled with FOMO, obsessed with presentation, burdened by expectation, crippled by inadequacy... but not lonely.”Helen deleted her own social media accounts recently. “It’s enough to actually live life without presenting a running commentary on it,” she says - but there is one saving grace that has derived from social media: she believes memes have kept many of us sane over the past year. “They have provided bonding through shared human frailty, struggle or despair and humour,” she says of the shareable joke images banded around online.  “That’s real humanity and support.”“One of my favourites is the clip of the mother gushing about how marvellous it’s been having the children, then when a voice says, “mummy!” She yells, “Fuck off!” These days, when not sharing memes with her friends on WhatsApp, Helen’s been helping with the Covid effort in hospitals. “I became a total bore about immunology,” she says. She confesses to “a giant crush on Anthony Fauci,” but stops short of saying whether she’s with anyone herself. “I think the fact that I originally wrote Bridget under a pseudonym and anonymously because I wouldn’t want people to think she was me, allows me to continue to claim that I never drink and I am a virgin,” she jokes. “I would never keep churning them out just for the sake of it. That would be too creepy. It feels like comedy is an essential part of Helen’s outlook - inside and outside of the world of her fiction. During our interview, she inserts gags throughout.She puts much weight on the value of her comedy writing, including convincing Hugh Grant to come back to the series.“Write something really funny,” she quips, hinting at potential future novels.How about more Bridget literature? “I would never keep churning them out just for the sake of it. That would be too creepy. It would have to be because I just started writing something anyway which turned into Bridget and because I had something I really wanted to say.”Given how surprised Helen has been by the ongoing success of Bridget over all these years, has she thought much about a legacy for the character? What might become of Bridget in, say, 100 years? Would she mind a remake?How could she, when Bridget Jones’ Diary itself was inspired by Jane Austen’s Pride and Prejudice? Colin Firth’s Mark Darcy character is borrowed straight from the novel.“It will be a bit like me stealing the plot of Pride and Prejudice to write Bridget Jones’ Diary,” she jokes. “I told myself, ‘I don’t think Jane Austen would mind. And anyway, she’s dead.’”READ MOREHugh Grant And Colin Firth Had Company From An Unlikely Star During Bridget Jones Fight SceneHugh Grant Shares The Unique Thing That Sets Renée Zellweger Apart From Other Former Co-StarsHugh Grant Admits Being Unimpressed By Renée Zellweger's Accent During Early Days Of Bridget Jones
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Eating Disorders Have 'Thrived' During The Pandemic. This Is Why
People with eating disorders have faced a hellish time during the pandemic, socially isolated and facing reduced services, just when changes in routine have put them at their most vulnerable. The heartbreaking death of former Big Brother contestant Nikki Grahame at the age of 38 has only brought to the fore how many others have been silently suffering.  Grahame had struggled with anorexia nervosa since childhood. Just a week before her death, her mum Sue Grahame spoke of how lockdown restrictions had impacted her daughter’s mental health – from the social isolation to the closure of gyms.“Last year really put the cap on it,” she told This Morning. “The isolation... it’s been really hard for her. Really hard. She felt very cut off and spending too much time on her own with not enough to think about other than food and that took a grip as well.”In March, when her illness had worsened, Grahame checked into a private hospital after a group of friends crowdfunded money to pay for her care.Tragically, she passed away on April 9.There are an estimated 1.6m people in the UK suffering from an eating disorder – however this figure is likely to be higher, as some may not seek help. While the pandemic has been stressful for many people with poor mental health, those with eating disorders have faced a range of triggering factors, including gym closures, food shortages and a massive disruption to everyday routines. A spokesperson for eating disorders charity Beat confirmed to HuffPost UK that they’ve seen a 302% rise in demand for helpline services since the first lockdown in March 2020.Beat’s director of external affairs, Tom Quinn, says: “We know the pandemic has been particularly difficult for people affected by eating disorders ... It is not surprising, as those affected and their families have had to cope with extreme changes to their daily routines, support networks and care plans, all while also dealing with the additional stress the pandemic has brought.  “It is now more essential than ever that anyone struggling gets the help they need without delay. We would urge anyone worried about their health to contact their GP at the earliest opportunity.” But help isn’t always available, as Jemma Meeson, founder and clinical director of mental health practice The Family Treatment Service, points out.“Public sector eating disorder services are so overburdened and underfunded,” she says. “They have seen increases in referrals of up to 75% and it is just not possible to give people the care they deserve, or that the clinicians would like to deliver.”Eating disorders have the highest mortality rates among psychiatric disorders, and anorexia nervosa has the highest mortality rate of any psychiatric disorder in adolescence – partly explained by the severe physical complications arising from the issue, but also the rate of suicide.It is a difficult illness to treat as young people and adults may not reach out until they are very unwell. Meeson notes they then have to wait a long time for proper help, or receive a minimal amount of treatment, which results in the illness becoming more serious and recovery more difficult.“We all know that early intervention results in the best possible recovery outcome,” she says. “Not providing children and young people with the resources to recover means that their illness may not be cured and that they go into adulthood with enduring anorexia nervosa.”While the UK Addiction Treatment (UKAT) Group, a private clinic, has noticed a drop in admissions for eating disorders during the pandemic, it attributes this in part to the ‘stay at home’ messaging, rather than a drop in cases. In 2019, the clinic received 121 admissions, which more than halved in 2020 to 56. It’s a pattern that continues: in 2021 so far, it has had just nine admissions. Admissions numbers could also reflect a lack of means to pay for private care during what has been a very difficult period financially for a lot of families.Nikki Grahame’s friends were able to raise almost £69,000 for private treatment after she’d “exhausted every avenue possible” on the NHS. But not everyone is able to stump up such huge amounts in such short timeframes.“It was so deeply saddening to hear of Nikki Grahame’s passing,” says Dimitra Theofili, eating disorder specialist at the clinic.“We already know that the NHS is backlogged with children and young adults requiring treatment for eating disorders; a backlog that has been created because of the Covid crisis. But this is an illness that worsens over time, and if a person asks for help, they must be given it immediately and continuously.”For those who had a tumultuous relationship with food prior to the pandemic, the past year “could have hit them very hard and worsened their disorder”, Theofili explains. This is because routine is key to being in control of an eating disorder – and multiple lockdowns, no food on the shelves during the height of the crisis, gyms being closed, and face to face support networks being stopped will all have been incredibly difficult hurdles to face.“Unfortunately, for many, an eating disorder is for life,” says Theofili. “Treatment provides the person with the tools they need to manage their disorder every day. The pandemic threw normality out of the window and forced people into a life of restriction and isolation; scenarios that an eating disorder thrive on.”In a study into the impact of the pandemic on eating disorders, 83.1% or participants reported a worsening of symptoms. The findings indicated that difficult emotions (such as fear and uncertainty), changes to routine, and unhelpful social messages were all triggers. While some participants described employing positive coping strategies (such as limiting their time on social media), many reported disordered eating and alcohol became their go-tos.Food shortages during the first lockdown will not have helped matters, says the specialist. “Society was possessed with a need to stock up on food, and for someone in recovery from bulimia or binge eating disorders, this time of uncertainty, fear and vulnerability could have meant they went against what is encouraged in treatment to avoid stockpiling.”Some people have further restricted what they have eaten to compensate for not being able to exercise enough, Theofili notes, while those who binge-eat tend to do so to control feelings of depression and anxiety – “emotions that ran sky-high throughout the last year”.As she sees it, “2020 was a year where people didn’t understand or appreciate that other illnesses ran in parallel with the coronavirus pandemic. Illnesses like cancer, dementia and eating disorders cannot be paused, they are progressive illnesses that worsen over time if left untreated and unsupported.”Meanwhile, mental health services are ever more stretched. In January 2021, the head of the Royal College of Psychiatrists warned that NHS mental health beds were so full that patients were going without treatment or having to be sent outside of their local area for help. In February, psychiatrists reported a “tsunami” of eating disorder patients in England. Dr Agnes Ayton, chair of the Eating Disorder Faculty at the Royal College of Psychiatrists, said conditions such as anorexia had been thriving in lockdown and added that in Oxford, where she works, around 20% of people admitted were usually urgent referrals, but this had risen to 80%.The issue has been compounded by a lack of beds, which were already in short supply – infection control issues, like the need to socially distance, have limited them even more. This has pushed up waiting times and is further delaying treatment for those who desperately need it. “During the pandemic, we cannot run to the same level of capacity in hospitals but this means our list of people waiting for a bed has grown,” Dr Ayton told PA News in March. “The number of people referred for admission with severe eating disorders is a small proportion… but you’re talking about people who are at really high risk of dying or at potential risk of dying.”Despite these serious challenges to services, anyone who is struggling with disordered eating during lockdown is urged to reach out as soon as possible – whether to friends and family or to health professionals. “Everyone should be entitled to the help they need, for free, locally to them,” says Meeson, from The Family Treatment Service.“If you are finding this difficult to access then the Beat website has great information on overturning a bad decision by your GP if they decide not to refer you to specialist services.”She adds: “Let’s hope that this awful loss of life to an illness that can be treated isn’t in vain and that at least public awareness is raised, both of the dangerousness of anorexia, and of the importance of getting help.How to help someone with an eating disorderIt can be hard to know where to begin when supporting someone with an eating disorder.Dr Christian Buckland, psychotherapist and spokesperson at the UK Council for Psychotherapy (UKCP), offers some tips on how to start that conversation, because listening and being there for them is the most helpful thing you can do.1. Don’t put off talking to them about your concerns. Research shows that early intervention is key to a safer recovery. Eating disorders are not a phase that people grow out of, but a sign of emotional distress, so it is important that you open up a discussion.2. Encourage them to discuss their feelings in general, not just food. Talk to them about your concerns in a calm, safe space. Encourage them to talk about their feelings in general. Don’t focus solely on their relationship with food. Telling them to eat better or healthier is probably going to close down the conversation, so listening is the most helpful thing you can do.3. Don’t take rejection personally. Don’t feel angry or rejected if they don’t want to talk. No matter how well you know them, they may not feel comfortable or ready to open up. Keep in mind, an eating disorder is usually a sign of deep underlying emotional distress. Often those struggling with an eating disorder are not ready to change and will disagree with your concerns, and that’s okay. Just be patient with them.4. Encourage them to seek help from a trained professional. Suggest they meet with a trained professional. This is often easier than talking to friends or family. If they are open to the idea, help them to find an accredited psychotherapist. There are often physical complications associated with an eating disorder, often requiring medical interventions. Therefore, it is important to find a professional who has the experience of working with eating disorders. You can also encourage them to attend an appointment with their GP. Useful websites and helplines:Beat, Adult Helpline: 0808 801 0677 and Youthline: 0808 801 0711 or email help@beateatingdisorders.org.uk (adults) fyp@beateatingdisorders.org.uk (youth support) Samaritans, open 24 hours a day, on 116 123Mind, open Monday to Friday, 9am-6pm on 0300 123 3393 UKAT, for 24/7 confidential information and support on eating disorders, and to request a free callback, visit the UKAT website.Related...Big Brother Star Nikki Grahame Has Died, Aged 387 Things People With Anorexia Want You To Know8 Common Ways The Pandemic Has Affected Our Mental HealthAdults With A Severe Mental Illness Are Being Urged To Get VaccinatedOpinion: No One Has The Right To Judge Your Lockdown Weight Gain7 Things Author Samuel Pollen Wants You To Know About Eating Disorders In Men
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The Ultimate Hangover Breakfast Recipes You Need Right Now
With the first weekend of outdoor drinking and dining upon us, there’s certainly an air of excitement of seeing people for the first time in months. For those feeling a bit sore and sorry for yourself the morning after, we’re here to help. We’ve sourced three recipes to help you beat your hangover – these rejuvenating eats will nurse you back to health in no time and set you up for the weekend ahead.Green Baked Eggs with Peas, Leeks and Feta Seed CrumbleServes: 2-4 | Prep time: 10 mins | Cook time: 10 minsIngredients:30g butter1 tbsp olive oil2 leeks, washed, trimmed and thinly slicedA bunch of spring onions, roughly choppedSea salt flakes & freshly ground black pepper1 tsp cumin seeds150ml vegetable stock200g frozen peasA good handful of baby spinach4 large eggsFor the dressing:4 tbsp Greek yoghurt100g Feta cheese, cubed1 clove garlicMethod:1. Mix the yoghurt with the feta cheese, smashing the cheese with a fork to combine well into a chunky sauce. Cut the garlic clove in half lengthwise and add to the yoghurt mixture. Set aside.2. Heat a large sauté pan over medium heat and add the butter and oil. Once the butter starts to foam add the leeks and spring onion, season with sea salt and black pepper. 3. Fry the vegetables for 2 minutes, stirring until the leeks are soft. Add the cumin seeds and vegetable stock and boil the mixture until the stock has evaporated. Add the peas and spinach and cook for 1 minute until the spinach has wilted, then reduce the heat to a low to medium heat. Make a well and break an egg into space. Repeat with remaining eggs, then season each yolk with salt. Cook the eggs for about 4-5 minutes over low heat, or until the egg whites are cooked and the yolks are runny. 4. Remove the garlic halves from the yoghurt and feta sauce and serve with the baked eggs. Serve with a wedge of lemon.Cheese and Oat Hash Browns  Serves: 4 | Prep time: 5 mins | Cook time: 40 minsIngredients:4 medium-sized baking potatoes, baked and cooled  80g Flahavan’s Organic porridge oats 65g Cheddar cheese, grated 1 tsp fresh thyme 40g butter 300g tomatoes, on the vine 300g portobello mushrooms 8 rashers of streaky bacon Salt and pepper, to taste Glug of olive oil Method: 1. Peel then grate the pre-cooked baked potatoes. Mix the grated, cooked potato with the porridge oats, cheddar cheese, and thyme. Season generously. 2. Heat half the butter and a splash of olive oil in a medium-sized, non-stick frying pan over medium-low heat. Once sizzling, add the oat and potato mixture to the pan. Fry for a couple of minutes, then gently pat the mixture down with the back of a  spoon so it forms a flat round cake. Cook for 10-15 minutes or until golden brown. 3. Carefully place a large plate on top of the frying pan and invert so the hash brown sits cooked-side-up on the plate. Add the remaining half of the butter and another splash of oil to the frying pan, then slide the hash brown back into the pan to cook the other side. Continue cooking for a further 10 minutes until crispy and golden.4. While the hash brown is cooking, pre-heat the grill to medium. Line a baking tray with foil and arrange the tomatoes, mushrooms, and streaky bacon on the tray. Grill for 10-15 minutes until the bacon is crispy. 5. To serve, cut the oaty hash brown into wedges and portion out the streaky bacon, tomatoes, and mushrooms.Spam Eggs Rancheros BreakfastServes: 2-4 | Prep time: 10 mins | Cook time: 25-30 mins Ingredients:1 x 340g can Spam, cut into 2 cm cubes2 tbsp olive oil1 medium onion, finely choppedHalf green pepper, seeded and slicedHalf yellow pepper, seeded and sliced1 red chilli, seeded and finely diced1 tsp dried oregano1 x 400g can chopped tomatoes4 large organic eggsSalt and freshly ground black pepperFresh chives, finely choppedMethod: 1. Pre-heat oven 180°C/350°C fan/gas mark 52. Heat 1 tsp of olive oil in large ovenproof frying pan, stir in cubed Spam and cook for 2-3 minutes remove and drain on absorbing paper3. Heat a further 1 tsp of olive oil. Sauté the onion and pepper, and chilli (reserve some of the chilli for garnish) and fry on medium heat for 4-5 minutes until softened but not coloured, stirring occasionally4. Stir in the oregano and the chopped tomatoes and bring to the boil. Turn down the heat and simmer for 5 minutes until the peppers are tender and the sauce is slightly reduced and thickened. Season to taste5. With a wooden spoon, make 4 holes in the tomato and pepper mixture just large enough to fit the eggs6. Carefully stir in the cubed Spam to the mixture and crack an egg into each hole7. Season the eggs and bake in the preheated oven for 10-12 minutes or until the whites of the eggs are set but the yolks are still runny8. Scatter over chopped chives and the remaining chopped chilli and serve straight from the frying pan to the table. 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