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Articles (76)

How rickshaws claimed London’s roads as their own

How rickshaws claimed London’s roads as their own

It’s 6.13pm on a muggy summer Thursday. I’m sitting in the back of an LED-spangled rickshaw, blaring ‘TiK ToK’ by Kesha from a Bluetooth speaker as we trundle along the A3211. If you’ve ever been out in central London, you’ll have noticed the strange, fur-covered cargo bikes roaming the streets. Faster than walking, slower than cycling, they can usually carry two to three passengers and offer a flimsy hooded shelter – but no seatbelts.  Outside Covent Garden tube station, there’s a cluster of four: one is wrapped in luminous pink and purple stripes, another is plastered with dodgy Camden punk stickers. One is hairy with strings of silver tinsel, while the last is loaded with flickering fairy lights. It looks like a cross between ‘Mad Max’ and ‘Ru Paul’s Drag Race’. Photograph: Jess Hand Cabbies hate them, tipsy tourists love them then hate them and the general public just puts up with them. Always lurking, they’ll wait outside city festivals and lure you in with the headliner’s greatest hits, or conveniently materialise when your third Uber of the night cancels.  Rickshaws are the after-hours keepers of London’s darkest, drunkest secrets. Recently, there has been a flurry of headlines about rickshaw drivers charging massively inflated fares and causing chaos with their trashy tunes. Now, finally, it’s been confirmed that there will be an official crackdown on the unregulated industry. But are rickshaws really the problem? The beginning Rickshaws first appeared in the sevent

Edinburgh Fringe and International Festival Reviews 2022

Edinburgh Fringe and International Festival Reviews 2022

Roll up, roll up: the Edinburgh festival is back. The 75th annual Fringe is bringing 49,827 performers and 3,171 shows to more than 250 venues in the Scottish capital, where theatre, comedy, art, music and dance will fill every nook and cranny. There’s big-hitters, like Ian McKellen starring as Hamlet and Alan Cumming’s one-man show exploring the life of Robert Burns. There’s up-and-coming comedy stars, like Rosie Holt and Leo Reich. There’s theatrical walking tours, international showcases, and so many street performers you really won’t know where to look. With so much to choose from, what’s actually worth your time? The Time Out team have been out and about reviewing shows across the Edinburgh Fringe and Edinburgh International Festival – get stuck in, have a read, and add a few more shows to your ‘must-see’ list. We’ll be updating this page with more reviews throughout August.  RECOMMENDED:  Your ultimate guide to the Edinburgh Festival Fringe10 of the best comedy shows at the Edinburgh Festival Fringe 202211 of the best jokes and one-liners ever told at the Edinburgh Festival Fringe

How three British workers have really found the four-day working week trial

How three British workers have really found the four-day working week trial

Wouldn’t it be nice to receive all your pay, all your holiday and all the perks that come with a full-time job – but work one day less per week? That’s what thousands of people in the UK have been doing since June 6, with the world’s largest trial of the four-day working week now well under way.  The trial, organised by the 4 Day Week Campaign, involves more than 3,300 workers across a range of different industries, with researchers from Oxford and Cambridge universities, Boston College and the Autonomy thinktank following their progress over six months.  The four-day week is based on a working model that offers 100 percent of the pay for 80 percent of the time and a commitment to 100 percent productivity. Sure, it might sound radical, but the concept has been growing in popularity for the last decade, with trials by companies operating in Iceland, New Zealand and Japan all showing promising results.  Studies have shown that reduced working hours can actually lead to higher productivity, meaning increased company profits and better wellbeing for workers. It could also help to reduce carbon emissions, improve gender equality in the workplace, help tackle unemployment and lead to a better work-life balance. Seems like a pretty sweet deal, right?  There’s also a hell of a lot of support for it. Research surveying 2,000 workers by NerdWallet revealed that 72 per cent of the 1,310 respondents who currently work five or more days per week were in favour of a four-day working week.

Forget the beach, here’s why boulders are really worth travelling for

Forget the beach, here’s why boulders are really worth travelling for

Rocks, rocks, rocks. Sure, they might not be what initially springs to mind when planning a trip away. But for a growing community of people around the UK, boulders are absolutely worth travelling for. From the dramatic crags of the Peak District to the lakeside slopes of Snowdonia, keen climbers are clambering to new heights all over the country. Since the sport made its debut in the 2020 Tokyo Olympics – offering competitive lead climbing, speed climbing and bouldering – climbing has found renewed interest, with more and more indoor centres opening up around the UK. New climbing facilities in Wokingham and Great Yarmouth have been announced in the last week alone.  ‘Indoor climbing centres and bouldering gyms are a nice gate-way for people to get the physical skills they need to then climb outside,’ says Mimi White, a student from Bristol, who started climbing four years ago. White is part of a generation of climbers who were forced to swap indoor climbs for the great outdoors, thanks to the nationwide lockdowns of the past two years. She’s not looked back. Photograph: Mimi White ‘As soon as you go outside, you get the enjoyment of the sport but in a really beautiful environment,’ White says. ‘When you’re climbing outside, you’re in pursuit of random pieces of rock, so it takes you to completely odd places in different corners of the UK. It’s a form of tourism: as climbing grows, more and more people are visiting these obscure places.’ Popular bouldering destinations inc

What the f*** is spicy fashion?

What the f*** is spicy fashion?

The word ‘spicy’ is usually associated with things like curry, chicken wings and fajitas. But such is the wonder of language that these days, you might just as well describe a car as spicy – or even the clothes someone is wearing. So much so, spicy fashion has become a whole style and ethos unto itself. The signature look of bold prints, clashing colours and risky cuts is everywhere (you know it when you see it), and you can’t move for all the sartorial pep and zing at festivals and nightclubs right now. But spicy fashion has come a long way over the years. If you live in Scotland, you probably already know what we’re talking about. When used to describe clothes, ‘spicy’ probably originates from ‘spice boy’: a term that came into popular usage in the early 2010s when ‘Geordie Shore’ was at its peak. The reality TV show brought with it a generation of young men and teenagers obsessed with fake tan, dramatically whitened teeth and short-back-and-side haircuts. The spice-boy character, all flashy masc streetwear and heavily manicured appearances, was born. But don’t take our word for it. We asked Scots how they would define a ‘spice boy’: ‘Someone who loves buying bottles in the club, wears pristine white Air Max and drives a Volkswagen Golf GTI.’  ‘Loves a cheeky Nando’s and Stone Island.’ ‘Hairless: clean shaven face and chest, sometimes even arms and legs, with sunbed tans.’ Photograph: Jess Hand They’re usually straight, white, cis males, and they’re extremely well kept. T

‘It’s a phenomenon’: 75 years of the Edinburgh Fringe

‘It’s a phenomenon’: 75 years of the Edinburgh Fringe

49,827 performers. 3,171 shows. More than 250 venues. It sounds like a lot to take on for a modest-sized city built around an extinct volcano. But for Edinburgh, it’s back to business, and a palpable sense of excitement hangs in the air in the run-up to the 75th Fringe festival. By August 5, the city will have swelled in size, as millions of performers, press, punters and workers make the yearly pilgrimage to the world’s largest arts festival. Technicolour street performers will line the Royal Mile, flyers will litter the streets and the Cowgate will be buzzing until sunrise with boozed-up revellers. But by August 30, the race to dismantle pop-up venues will be well under way, leaving only peeling posters and barren grass as souvenirs. Photograph: Edinburghcitymom / Shutterstock.comThe Royal Mile during the Fringe, August 2019 The last few years have been a bumpy ride. The pandemic stripped the Fringe bare, leaving venues, artists and organisers bereft of funding – revealing just how fragile its unique infrastructure is. Issues like the lack of affordable accommodation are increasingly worrying, and recently, 1,500 people signed an open letter to the Fringe Society, raising concerns over the running of the festival. Locals want their city back and performers are questioning just how viable its future is going to be. However you feel about the Fringe, there’s no denying it’s a sensational feat: a sprawling, breathing, colossal puzzle of art. But with the shadow of the past t

The 12 best wellbeing breaks and yoga retreats in the UK

The 12 best wellbeing breaks and yoga retreats in the UK

Sometimes it all gets a bit too much, and that’s why it’s alright to ‘treat yo self’ every once in a while. Taking care of your body and mind will help you find balance in the chaos of everyday life – so what better way to reset than indulging in a dedicated wellbeing break or yoga retreat?  From digital detoxes and seasonal cleanses to mindfulness classes and attentive yoga workshops, the sheer range of wellness options across the UK is pretty impressive. But if you’re finding that choice a bit overwhelming, please don’t stress: we’ve done the work for you and have handpicked a selection of the absolute best yoga and wellness retreats in the country. Whatever wellness means to you, all you have to do now is book your trip, pack your bags... and relax.  RECOMMENDED:💕 The best romantic weekend getaways in the UK☕ Tiny, cosy cottages you can book in the UK🌳 11 incredible treehouses you can book in the UK🪂 The best extreme outdoor activity breaks in the UK🏞️ The most beautiful national parks in the UK

12 beautiful UK lavender fields you need to visit this summer

12 beautiful UK lavender fields you need to visit this summer

It’s hard to beat the surprise splashes of purple that litter the landscape when lavender season arrives. The fragrant, bee-friendly flower is usually at its best from early June to late August across the UK – meaning you have a nice long window to plan a visit to one of the stunning lavender fields gracing the countryside.  While being known for its various shades of purple – from pale violet and bright azure to deep, dusky indigo – don’t forget that this flower is not only a pretty face. Lavender fields burst with that distinct soothing perfume we all know and love, offering up a sensory feast of colour and smells when fields are in full bloom. Many lavender farms are open to visitors throughout summer in England, Scotland and Wales, providing an Insta-worthy photo opp for anyone who fancies a frolic among their fields. What’s more, the plants are harvested for their oils and used in everything from soap and aromatherapy to food products, and many farms will sell a selection of sweet-smelling souvenirs for you to take home and enjoy.  With bluebell season and wisteria season been and gone, it’s time to get ready for another splash of blue. Don’t miss out: we’ve put together 12 lush lavendar fields in the UK for you to enjoy. Just watch out for the bees!  RECOMMENDED:🍂 The best places to see autumn leaves🌸 Where to see wisteria in the UK💙 The UK’s top spots for bluebells✨ The underrated wonders of the UK📸 The most Instagrammed villages in the UK

The 12 best places to visit in the UK in 2022

The 12 best places to visit in the UK in 2022

The last few years have been difficult for holidaymakers, to say the least. A relentless cocktail of lockdowns, travel restrictions and airport chaos has added a new layer of stress to trips abroad – as if it wasn’t bad enough already. As a result, more and more people have found themselves holidaying closer to home, getting to know the UK in a way that they never previously considered. Sure, the UK might be small, but when it comes to amazing landscapes, world-class attractions and a good old-fashioned pub, this place takes some beating. With that in mind, where are the best places to travel in the UK in 2022? Good question, one we’re more than happy to take a stab at answering. British staycations have never been more appealing, but one doesn’t need excuses for visiting the national parks, enchanting cities and remote islands that this country has to offer. This is the best of the UK for 2022 – prepare to fall in love all over again. RECOMMENDED:🧙 Magical and mystical places in the UK🏰 The 13 best castles in the UK🏛️ Incredible UK buildings where you can stay the night 🏞️ The most beautiful national parks in the UK🌼 The best places to see wildflowers in the UK

A brief history of the Baltic Triangle, Liverpool’s beloved nightlife hub

A brief history of the Baltic Triangle, Liverpool’s beloved nightlife hub

A new book about the relationship between UK cities and nightclubs has been released, profiling places that have made significant contributions to club culture – from Manchester and Glasgow to Margate and Todmorden.  ‘Out of Space: How UK Cities Shaped Rave Culture’ is by music writer Jim Ottewill, who came up with the idea after moving around the country and noticing nightlife venues were under threat from property developers everywhere. With more than a quarter of British clubs having closed down since 2015, the project makes a case for the social and cultural value venues like these bring to cities. ‘I was keen to demonstrate how innovative club culture has been in embracing new spaces to sustain itself and survive,’ Ottewill says. ‘The book isn’t meant as a full stop or epitaph.’    Photograph: Philip Brookes / Shutterstock In his work, Ottewill was keen to expand on the narrative of electronic music beyond London to crucial clubs in other parts of the country. ‘Liverpool pulsates with energy after dark,’ he says. ‘You can see it through the various clubs that the city is known for: from Quadrant Park to Cream via Chibuku Shake Shake. But if you scratch the service beyond these headline names, there’s so many interesting events and venues bubbling. Future Yard in Birkenhead is a space across the water on the Wirral which is reclaiming a previously rundown part of Merseyside as a cultural hotspot. It’s exciting to see how it’s evolving.’ The below excerpt about Liverpool

The chewy, twisted history of the Brick Lane bagel shops

The chewy, twisted history of the Brick Lane bagel shops

It’s 9pm on a Wednesday evening. Bleary-eyed punters are taking wolfish bites out of brown paper bags, huddling under a bright white sign that declares ‘open 24 hours 7 days’. Mustard dribbles down chins, pint-fuelled slurs are exchanged, and fingers point at the colossal pink hump of salt beef being sliced into thick, flaky slabs in the window. Brick Lane’s Beigel Bake is popping. Inside, two women are hard at work behind the counter: sleeves rolled up, branded aprons smeared with cream cheese and nutella, blasting demands at the kitchen in full-throttle Cockney accents. ‘It could be a night out just coming here and watching people,’ says Kiri, who’s been a regular for 20 years. ‘It’s fully comedic. Just a great vibe.’  Photograph: Jess Hand The word ‘institution’ gets bandied around a lot. But Beigel Bake – one of the two 24-hour bakeries on Brick Lane – is a London institution. It has perennial queues out the door and counts Madonna and certain members of the royal family as clientele. You’ll either have been there, have been there and not remembered it, or will have plans to visit. But just how did this place become so legendary – and what goes into making its sweet, circular deliciousness?  The beginning On the wall behind Beigel Bake’s counter is a framed photograph of a gentle-looking elderly man: Asher Cohen. A carpenter by trade, he came over from Israel in the 1960s to help his brother, Jonny Cohen, who was working in the London baking sector.  Back then, the eas

Adult nights out in London

Adult nights out in London

If you’re looking for adult nights out in London, you won't be disappointed. Whether you're into fetish nights, kink nights, BDSM nights, rubber nights, queer sex parties, or anything in between, the capital has you covered. Here’s our pick of the grown-up London clubs that are fun, friendly and full of surprises. Fasten your seatbelts... it’s going to be a bumpy night.  RECOMMENDED: 🥳 The best festivals in London📌 The best things to do in London this weekend⭐ The 50 best nights out in London🎵 The best London gigs and concerts this month😈 The not-so-secret new wave of London’s sex-positive parties

Listings and reviews (109)

Nina Conti: ‘The Dating Show’ review

Nina Conti: ‘The Dating Show’ review

3 out of 5 stars

Nina Conti and her rude monkey sidekick are back. An unhinged, sweary puppet and the gracious, apologetic puppeteer: they’re a dynamic duo, that’s for sure.  This time, the pair are on a mission to help the audience find love, and they won’t take ‘no’ for an answer. As well as being a ventriloquist – and an extremely skilled multi-tasker — Conti is also a matchmaker. She pulls up audience members and smacks on a caricature-ish new face, transforming them into ridiculous new personalities via a moving mouth mask, before introducing them to other willing lonely hearts. She’ll swap between Scottish, southern, and Italian accents with ease. She takes the piss out of a couple’s meeting story and speed-learns life facts, saving tasty titbits to dish out later. It’s clever improv, and Conti remains impressively aloof: cool, calm and collected, she’s working frantically behind her smile to (literally) pull the strings and make it all work. Laughing at your mate getting laughed at on stage is the oldest trick in the book, and the audience was in bits when I saw it. But once you get over Conti’s impeccable puppetry skills, not all of the sketches really do that much. When Conti pulls a blanket over her head and takes the monkey on a speed date, it’s just chaos. People are brutally chased off, insults are thrown around… but the comments aren’t particularly quick-witted.  Luckily, a swap to her own warm demeanour brings some sense of order back to it all. But the intense ‘dance it out’ f

‘Medea’ review

‘Medea’ review

5 out of 5 stars

In the National Theatre of Scotland’s spectacular staging of Liz Lochhead’s retelling of Euripides’s ‘Medea’, the addition of snarling Scottish dialect works brilliantly, with scatterings of words like ‘greet,’ ‘blether,’ and ‘bairn’ adding extra layers of menace and seduction to the shocking tragedy. They’re also expertly articulated. The actors are masters of their characters: Robert Jack’s Jason is cocky and gruff, while lead Adura Onashile plays Medea with a grace and command that makes her seem otherworldly, spitting her words out like poison. Still, she manages to convince us to feel sympathy for her: Medea betrayed her family for Jason, who abandoned her and their children to marry the King’s daughter, leaving them with no one.  The ancient Greek tragedy is played out at an excitingly fast pace: there’s no time for chit-chat, only lust, jealousy, and fear. It becomes a case of man versus woman and violence versus cunning: tensions are impenetrable and silences are heavy, each interaction and entrance calculated with spectacular attention to detail. When Medea and Jason kiss, it’s with the sharp sting of passion and hate, and it feels grossly intimate to watch.  Taking place in the stunning surroundings of the Hub, the entire production is beautifully lit by designer Colin Grenfell, while shatters of symbols and ringing drums are projected from above the stage by composer James Jones. Performers stride up and down an elevated ‘T’ shape, a narrow runway leading from an

Ania Magliano: ‘Absolutely No Worries If Not’ review

Ania Magliano: ‘Absolutely No Worries If Not’ review

4 out of 5 stars

Sometimes life doesn’t turn out as wild as you think it will, and that’s okay. As Ania Magliano navigates her twenties, she realises that it’s alright to be boring – maybe even funny, in fact. The 24-year-old was the winner of the 2022 Leicester Comedy Festival’s best new show and is a writer for Amelia Dimoldenberg’s ‘Chicken Shop Date’, and this is her long-awaited Fringe debut. Her one-hour stand-up gig, ‘Absolutely No Worries If Not,’ flies by in no time at all: it’s sharp, poised, and deadpan hilarious.  She introduces the show as her coming-out story, but it’s not the one we initially expect. After discussing her parents’ underwhelming reactions to her bisexuality, it launches into a surreal journey of traumatic Jacqueline Wilson plots and a bizarre Timothée Chalamet horse hybrid. Cool, calm, and collected, each story is recounted with irresistible charisma and excellently calculated silences – the audience was in bits.  But Magliano isn’t just whapping out joke after joke like a factory production line. What’s really great is that she welcomes the downs as well as the ups. She taps into some of our greatest insecurities – about our universal want to feel interesting and about unrecipricated love (in her case, for her cat). She dips into more vulnerable territory with the time she went to her first sex party ( ‘a lot of people were wearing harnesses, like Go Ape’), and a slither of self-consciousness shines through. For the audience members that grew up in the UK, Magli

‘Blood and Gold’ review

‘Blood and Gold’ review

4 out of 5 stars

‘Blood and Gold’ is a performance of multiple stories, all threaded together with incredible skill into a single sparkling tapestry. It’s about the complex legacy of colonialism in Scotland and how racism persists in its past and present, drawing on creator Mara Menzies’s shared Scottish and Kenyan heritage. First performed in the Fringe in 2019, its 2022 return has a renewed power after the worldwide resurgence of the Black Lives Matter movement – but its message is crucial and enduring. Menzies’s storytelling is enchanting. Loaded with mythical imagery, it feels fabled but contemporary, as though it has been passed down through generations. She moves like a ballet dancer and speaks like a poet, the whole monologue aching with a magical radiance despite its challenging subject matter. There are moments of joy, when her eyes glitter with innocence. There are breaks of humour, when she opens up the story to the audience and gets them to join her in dance or call out suggestions, weaving us all into the fable. But there’s a darkness that’s constantly lurking. The lights start to dim and a creepy, cracking sound surfaces (brilliant sound design by Dave House). Menzies’s body twists and turns, her eyes suddenly possessed by the ‘shadow man’. A reappearing character who’s watching from afar, he interrupts to cause chaos or whisper insecurities into ears, encouraging characters to strip away their Blackness (‘your hair is a mess, it would be better off straight’) and become invisib

‘9 Circles’ review

‘9 Circles’ review

3 out of 5 stars

This is the European premiere of ‘9 Circles’, by ‘House Of Cards’ writer Bill Cain and ‘The Shark Is Broken’ director Guy Masterson. Intense, inquisitive, and often extremely hard to watch, it’s a brilliantly acted story following a convicted war criminal during the US and Iraq conflict – but at times, it all feels too much. Stubborn 19-year-old Texas soldier Daniel Reeves Joshua Collins) was accused of brutally killing a family in Iraq, before raping and murdering a young girl and setting fire to her body. It’s heavy stuff. Reeves had to get a moral waiver to enrol in the army in the first place, and it becomes clear that he’s aggressive in nature and mentally disturbed. As he awaits his fate, we meet lawyers, a minister, and a war psychiatrist, and another narrative emerges. ‘I don’t think it’s a war, it’s just violence,’ the psychiatrist admits. Who was really responsible for the crime: Reeves, or the politicians who sent him to war? How can men be trained to ruthlessly kill on behalf of their country, but still be expected to retain any degree of morality, or even sanity?  Two red-lit circles frame the stage, trapping the characters in the trauma and echoing the play’s structure, which follows Dante’s nine circles of hell. It’s pretty appropriate imagery: the characters are jarring and the story is deeply disturbing, especially when you learn it’s based on real-life events.  Some of the scenes feel rushed while others seemed to drag on without making any real points. It

‘Still Floating’ review

‘Still Floating’ review

2 out of 5 stars

It’s hard to know where to start with ‘Still Floating,’ a new piece of writing by Welsh performer and producer Shôn Dale-Jones. A surreal piece of storytelling that flips between the present and his award-winning 2006 show, ‘Floating,’ it’s a confusing hour that lacks focus and is frankly uncomfortable to watch.  ‘Floating’ follows the character of Hugh Hughs when his home on the Isle of Anglesey breaks away from mainland Wales. In 2022, it seems to double as a metaphor for Brexit, in which Hughs’s wacky head teacher is a sort of Welsh Farage. In the parallel present plot, Dale-Jones plays himself: he returns to his home island, also Anglesey, after his mum suffered from a nasty fall, and stays there for a month.  It sounds simple enough, and perhaps it could have worked if Dale-Jones had focussed on these two storylines. But there were too many distractions. He kept re-explaining the format of the show (just get on with it!) and surreal sketches kept popping up out of nowhere, interrupting the plots. In one, he mimes swimming in the Atlantic, stripped down to his knickers and wearing a harness made from oranges and a cardboard box on his head. In another, he decides to force the audience to watch him suffer ‘seven minutes of pain’, and gives up after 30 seconds.  To be fair to Dale-Jones, it’s a fully one-man show: he runs around from his laptop to sound pedals to props and back again. But the whole thing is just stressful to watch. The show is described as ‘warm-hearted’, b

Leo Reich: Literally Who Cares?!

Leo Reich: Literally Who Cares?!

5 out of 5 stars

Leo Reich’s ego fills up the room, smothering every single member of the audience. He’s self-obsessed but always self-aware, clever but always cool, and he embodies Gen-Z main-character energy to an absolute tee. After supporting Simon Amstell on his UK tour, his Fringe debut, ‘Literally Who Cares?!’ is a tear-jerking hour of straight-up truths. If you see just one show at the Fringe, you must make it this.  Dripping with irony and an alluring narcissism, Reich leads us through his coming out story, his toxic ex and his first forward roll. ‘Like’ is littered after every other word, he casually ‘apologises’ after saying anything mildly offensive (because you can’t be a Gen Z without being scared of getting cancelled), and he breaks out into epic pop songs about ‘being valid’ ‘gaslighting’ and ‘gatekeeping’. Delivered with a delicious campness, he speaks in the language of a generation: it’s so clever, so terrifyingly relatable, and so bloody good.  His digs at straight people (‘I find het anal sex to be performative’) and dark metaphors about reality TV (‘After Love Island, it’s death or sponsorship with Pretty Little Thing’) are roaringly funny: I literally had tears in my eyes. But it’s not all about the main-character energy. There’s an anxious edge that runs through the show, an unspoken anxiety in knowing that, actually, we might all be fucked. But Reich shrugs off the dooming uncertainty about the future with a cute giggle, because our only choice is to bloody get on wit

Britney: ‘Friends and Nothing More’ review

Britney: ‘Friends and Nothing More’ review

3 out of 5 stars

Charly Clive and Ellen Robertson are intimidatingly good friends. They’re the type of pals who can speak to each other in personal jokes and the conversation would sound like a completely different language to whoever was listening in. But, luckily for us, we’re allowed in on the jokes too. There’s Clive, who was in the top maths set and had nits, and Robertson, who was popular and was fingered early on in her teens. An unlikely friendship develops, and 15 years later, they have a BBC Three pilot and are back at the Edinburgh Fringe with a new show, ‘Friends and Nothing More’, performed together as ‘Britney’. It’s a sweet, giggly journey through school talent shows, learning to heely as an adult, and finding love. We’re taken through various sketches, from a new dating app to a spin on Beauty and the Beast. The Stephen King sketch is brilliant, as is the wild west interpretation of Facebook. There are bad puns and there’s a lot of mischievous banter, all performed with a childish cheekiness that is both annoying and infectious. We have the beautiful privilege of being welcomed into their invincible friendship, something that makes the whole thing feel incredibly effortless.  Some of the jokes feel a bit stale. I’m not sure if that’s because they’re immature (and not in a good way) or if they were just a bit obvious – almost like some of their observations were already said on Twitter back in, like, 2020. There’s definitely an intimacy about the show, and the whole thing is v

Sophie Duker: ‘Hag’ review

Sophie Duker: ‘Hag’ review

3 out of 5 stars

Sophie Duker roars onto the stage in her Lidl logo socks and growling voice, making it clear she’ll be taking no shit this evening. The comic is no longer a newbie to the Fringe: her show ‘Venus’ debuted here in 2019 and show was shortlisted for best newcomer in Dave’s Edinburgh Comedy Awards. Now, she’s back after some telly triumph, with recent wins of both ‘Taskmaster’ and ‘Celebrity Mastermind’ under her belt.  Her new show, ‘Hag’, is a gleefully chaotic journey through magic, sex, race, and queerness. The show is peppered with Tory prods and words of wisdom for her elders and juniors (‘a threesome will mend your relationship,’ in case you’re wondering). Even though she’s made a name for herself as a small screen star, it definitely hasn’t hindered her ability to dish out brutally clever digs. The actual meat of the show, though, is much more ridiculous. Duker talks about horoscopes (they’re fake, by the way), before delving into her outrageous disgust at misinterpreting the Chinese zodiac. So far, so very funny. Then she tells us about the time as a child when she was sent to live with her bad bitch grandmother in Ghana. Just as we wrap our heads around that, it takes a turn to chat about ‘het sex’ and going on a ‘lesbian cruise’ with 700 women. Then, we’re talking about crystal witches. It’s all gloriously weird and entertaining, but the structure feels fragmented and just doesn’t seem to flow. The show ends with a sort-of-conclusion where Duker finds solace in learning

Lara Ricote: ‘GRL/LATNX/DEF’

Lara Ricote: ‘GRL/LATNX/DEF’

4 out of 5 stars

‘Being a minority is very in right now – we’re all doing it,’ says Lara Ricote in her debut Fringe show, ‘GRL/LATNX/DEF’. At first glance, Ricote ticks a lot of the privilege boxes: she’s young, good-looking, and appears white and able-bodied. But, as we soon find out, that’s not entirely the truth. Her solo show is a thrilling one-hour intro to her identity as a Latin American deaf woman, a position she takes full, rare, advantage of in delivering ‘minority jokes for majority crowds’. She acknowledges that her voice ‘sounds like Bart Simpson’ and brands herself ‘disabled lite’. It’s dark, but it’s also hilariously on-point. With an irresistible goofiness, Ricote says what a lot of people are thinking, but would never, ever, dare to say. Ricote won the Funny Women 2021 Stage Award and was awarded London’s 99 Club bursary – and to be honest, it wouldn’t be surprising if she comes away with a few more recognitions this year. She’s an absolute rocket. Opening up her show with some necessary family history – her older, hotter sister is also deaf, her younger sister is ‘stupid’, and her cargo-shorts-loving father is a ‘granola anti-vaxxer’– it soon becomes clear that she’s a natural storyteller. Her characters are vivid: living, breathing, and laughing in the sticky-floored room of Hive nightclub with the rest of us. While the show leans on her being disabled and a person of colour, it also blossoms in other areas. Her anecdotes about being a late-bloomer sexually, and about contr

Lew Fitz: ‘Soft Lad’ review

Lew Fitz: ‘Soft Lad’ review

3 out of 5 stars

There’s something arresting about newcomer Lew Fitz, the northern comic who’s brought his debut one-man show, ‘Soft Lad’, to the Fringe. Maybe it’s his blunt honesty. Maybe it’s his boyish demeanour. Maybe it’s the semi-oblivious way he bounds around the stage, so caught up in his jokes that he tangles himself in the mic cable. Or maybe it’s the cut-to-the-chase camaraderie that he swiftly builds with the audience – something that becomes all the more seductive in the intimacy of Gilded Baloon’s Teviot House turret. Fitz is an Amused Moose New Comic winner and was nominated for the BBC New Comedy Award, as well as being the youngest ever finalist in Florida’s Funniest Comedian competition way back in 2015. ‘Soft Lad’ follows him growing up in a Moss Side council estate near Manchester and running away to live in the US. He returns home almost ten years later to find out that actually, time hasn’t stood still waiting for him to show his face. Some of the jokes fall a bit flat, such as the bizarre nursery rhyme about a pig and a train driver. There are some awkward transitions and probably a little too much reliance on poking fun at American stereotypes. But for the most part, punchlines are delivered very well. It’s his self-deprecating comments and sharp awareness of the intricacies of class in modern Britain that really tickle the crowd, though. The London elite, mortgages, the train network, drinking games and the wind – none of it is groundbreakingly clever, but it has a b

‘She/Her’ review

‘She/Her’ review

2 out of 5 stars

Billed as Nicole Ansari-Cox’s first full-length play, ‘She/Her’ comprises seven stories from real women, interspersing their monologues with live music and video art. The show was first performed in New York last year, and it adapts for wherever it’s being shown (so cue one-liners about Arthur’s Seat).  Part of ‘She/Her’s sell is that it was produced by the writer’s husband, Brian Cox, who we all know as the notorious Logan Roy from ‘Succession’. With this in mind, there’s been inevitable chat branding the show as ‘Brian Cox’s wife’s passion project’ – something that’s unfair, for two reasons. First of all, Ansari-Cox should be able to hold her own as a director, without the association to her husband. Second of all, the show lacks any substantial amount of ‘passion’: ‘project’ on its own would suffice.  Most of ‘She/Her’ felt disjointed and lack-lustre, and the opportunity to explore some uniquely female issues was sorely missed. Sexism? Nah. Motherhood? Not really. Female empowerment? Hardly! None of the stories were particularly poignant, but some did stand better than others. Callie Rose Petal’s musical performance grew into a captivating climax, her voice aching as she shared her painful struggle being a trans woman. Antoinette Cooper’s tale about growing up as a Black woman was full of personality and zing, as she brushed off her heart-breaking experiences of violence and brutality with finding hope in her relationship with her mother.  But it’s a shame the harder-hitt

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Everything you need to know about the August rail strikes

Everything you need to know about the August rail strikes

Do you have plans for a nice staycation this August? Maybe a trip up north to see the folks, or a hill climbing getaway in Wales? You might want to rethink your transport plans, because three more days of UK-wide rail strikes are coming up this month. The news follows the mass rail strikes that took place at the end of June, as well as industrial action in July and the additional rail disruption from the British train network being unable to cope with the heat. Thought things would have settled down by now? The summer of strikes is still far from over, and unions are preparing for more industrial action which will cause travel chaos up and down the country.  We don’t know exactly how long the strikes are going to last and it has been advised for people to plan out journeys well in advance. If you need to travel on or on days immediately after the planned strike dates, you should find alternative transport options and only travel by train if ‘absolutely necessary’.  RMT Union Leader Mick Lynch has said ‘that this dispute will not simply vanish’, and transport secretary Grant Shapps has made it clear of his stance. In a statement in July, Shapps accused the RMT of being ‘hellbent on causing further misery for people across the country’. Ouch. It’s all got pretty fiery. The unions don’t look like they’re about to back down anytime soon, so we’d recommend you grab a pen and paper and take note of all the intricacies of the upcoming industrial action. Here’s everything we know ab

How and where to get the monkeypox vaccine in the UK

How and where to get the monkeypox vaccine in the UK

Last month, the World Health Organisation declared the monkeypox outbreak to be a global health emergency. As of August 1, there have been 2,672 confirmed cases in the country and the UK government has cranked up its vaccination programme, acquiring 100,000 doses to curb the spread of the virus. Since monkeypox is caused by a virus similar to smallpox, it is expected that the smallpox vaccine (AKA the Modified Vaccinia Ankara vaccination) will prevent or reduce the severity of the infection. The MVA is currently being offered by the NHS to people most at risk from monkeypox – and while this is undoubtedly good news, there’s still only a limited supply of the vaccine around. It’s a two-dose treatment, so for now, one dose is being offered to those at highest risk.  Can I get the monkeypox vaccination? While anyone can get monkeypox, the majority of virus cases have been found in gay, bisexual and other men who have sex with men. The UK Health Security Agency is currently recommending that the MVA is offered to three different priority groups: • Gay, bisexual and other men who have sex with men, whose doctor or nurse will advise a vaccination if they’re considered to be high risk. Some sexual health services will also contact men that are likely to be at high risk, such as those who have had a recent sexually transmitted infection. Transgender women who have sex with bisexual men, or men who have sex with men, are also eligible for the vaccine. • Healthcare workers who are cari

This small northern city has just been named the most beautiful in the world

This small northern city has just been named the most beautiful in the world

You’d think that the most beautiful city in the world would be Paris, Kyoto or Florence, right? A random city in north-west England with one Aldi, four Greggs and around 79,645 people probably wouldn’t spring to mind. But according to good old science, the most beautiful city in the world is actually Chester, thanks to it having the highest percentage of buildings that align with the ‘golden ratio’ – the mathematical ratio of proportions that’s said to be a barometer of beauty. Researchers from Online Mortgage Advisor ranked the most eye-catching cities by scanning Google Street View for front-facing photos of hundreds of streets and more than 2,400 buildings from cities across the globe. They plotted points at the corners of each building to calculate the proportion between its longest and shortest sides, before comparing it to the golden ratio. Chester scored 83.7 percent, beating Venice to the top spot (with 83.3 percent). London came third with 83 percent, Belfast came fourth with 82.9 percent and Rome scooped up fifth with 82 percent.  The golden ratio is believed to reflect natural aesthetic perfection, and can be found in Le Corbusier’s buildings and Leonardo da Vinci’s art, as well as in flowers, pinecones, shells and hurricanes.  You can find out more about the study here.  ICYMI: this UK city has just been named the ugliest in the world. Plus: you can buy this entire Scottish island for less than the average London flat.

You can buy this entire Scottish island for less than the average London flat

You can buy this entire Scottish island for less than the average London flat

Happen to have £350,000 lying around? You could treat yourself to your very own Scottish island – complete with a lighthouse, five-bedroom house, 28 acres of land, walled garden, helipad and bothy.  Pladda Isles, just south of Arran on Scotland’s Atlantic Coast, is now on the market for less than the price of the average London flat (that currently sits at around £428,181). The idyllic spot has views across the Ayreshire coast and towards the neighbouring Ailsa Craig island, and you can even spot Northern Ireland if it’s a clear day. Plus, the island is apparently home to some 100 species of bird. Photograph: Knight Frank Perhaps unsurprisingly given the price, the island itself will require a bit of TLC before moving in. The main property – a five-bedroom former lighthouse keeper’s house – has fallen into disrepair after being empty for many years, and needs to be brought back into a liveable state. Epic Grand Designs project, anyone?  You’ll also get your own bothy with a double bedroom and kitchen area, a helipad, a boathouse and a stone jetty in a small bay for boats to arrive and depart from. That’s right: there’s no need to worry about Uber surge here, folks.  Photograph: Knight Frank Fancy getting on the property ladder? It could be the ideal buy for anyone itching to escape the city grind and take up a slower pace of life, offering more bang for your buck and a unique chance to bask in some spectacular natural beauty. Oh, and annoying neighbours? Seagulls will be

Are shark sightings on the rise in the UK?

Are shark sightings on the rise in the UK?

Last Thursday, a woman was bitten on the leg by a blue shark while snorkelling near Penzance, off the coast of Cornwall, in what was apparently the first unprovoked attack on a human in British waters since 1847. The HM Coastguard was called out and the woman was taken to hospital where she has since recovered. It’s not the only shark sighting in the UK this year. In early July, a 12-foot-long basking shark was spotted off the coast of Pembrokeshire, Wales. And back in February, the UK’s ‘first great white shark’ was pictured off the south coast in West Sussex. Could shark sightings be on the rise in the UK? Dr Georgia Jones, a conservation biologist and shark expert, is the founder of Shark Stuff, a charity researching sharks around the country. ‘Sightings in and of themselves are definitely on the rise,’ Jones said. ‘That’s partly because more people are looking and because we have better technology, like in-water cameras and drones. It’s also because some shark species are starting to recover from commercial fishing.’ However, it’s pretty unlikely that you’ll actually come across one of these fine-finned creatures – unless you purposely go looking. If you’re enjoying your holidays and fancy a sea swim, Jones has said that you should ‘absolutely not be worried’. ‘All of our larger species, like the blue sharks involved in this [Cornwall] incident, generally like deep water, away from the coasts, unless they’re very poorly,’ she said. ‘Unless they’re sick or lost, blue shar

The NHS is running super low on blood: here’s why you should donate now

The NHS is running super low on blood: here’s why you should donate now

Look, we all know that we should give blood. Maybe you’re slightly afraid of needles, or worry that you’ll be turned away because your blood isn’t healthy enough. Maybe you’re thinking ‘I’ll donate when my calendar is less busy’ or ‘enough people are donating already, I’ll do it next year’. It’s easy enough to make an excuse not to bother. But if you need an excuse to bother, this could be one of the best you’ll get. The National Health Service is currently running worryingly low on blood stocks, and donors are being encouraged to book an appointment to give blood as soon as possible.  There are serious concerns about the coming weeks: the NHS aims to hold six days of overall blood stocks, but levels currently stand at just 3.7 days.  Betty Njuguna, the chief nurse at NHS Blood and Transport, said: ‘Stocks are low but we are continuing to supply hospitals with all the blood they need. We are doing everything we can to increase stocks including getting more staff to the front line, working with hospitals to manage demand and encouraging more donors to come forward.’ Njuguna said that the NHS especially needs more donors of Black heritage to help patients with sickle cell disease who need closely matched blood. Mary Adet, a 29-year-old from London, was born with the disease: a condition affecting red blood cells causing sickle cell crises and hospitalisation, as well as infections, strokes and other symptoms. Six years ago, Adet was put on a blood exchange transfusion programm

Your energy bills could reach £500 a month (a month!) in January

Your energy bills could reach £500 a month (a month!) in January

After the scorching hot weather of last week, you’d think central heating wouldn’t really be a huge concern right now. But with the cost-of-living crisis at the forefront of everyone’s minds, the fear that it’s going to be a long, hard winter isn’t going away anytime soon. In fact, things could be even worse than we thought. Energy bills in the UK have been predicted to hit £500 in January alone – with wholesale gas prices being pushed up after Vladimir Putin halved Russia’s supply of gas to Europe via the Nord Stream 1 pipeline. UK households are already shelling out an average of £1,971 per year for energy after the cap was raised in April. The cap on energy charges is predicted to rise to £3,420 in October and potentially rise again in January to £3,850 a year. That’s a lot more than the original forecast of £2,800 forecast that energy regulator Ofgem made in May. Gemma Berwick, of utilities consultancy BFY Group, told The Financial Times that while many households can spread their higher winter bills throughout the year, prepayment households are looking at charges of ‘at least £434 in December and more than £500 in January’. It’s a truly eye-watering jump. Data published by British Gas estimates that the current average cost for electricity and gas is between £113.69 and £227.97 per month, depending on household size. ‘It’s down to the government to do something as these figures are shocking, we’re going to see vast swathes of households fall into energy poverty,’ Ber

How long will the UK rail strikes go on for? Here’s what we know

How long will the UK rail strikes go on for? Here’s what we know

Here we go again. More nationwide train strikes are planned to take place this summer, with tens of thousands of rail workers set to walk out. Travel chaos will continue across the country, with major events including the Birmingham Commonwealth Games opening ceremony on July 28 and the women’s Euro semi-final in Milton Keynes on July 27 facing serious disruption.  Workers are striking over pay and job security, calling for a pay increase in line with the cost of living and raising concerns about working conditions. While extensive talks have taken place in the last month, the dispute is at a standstill – meaning more rail strikes have been planned to take place on July 27 and 30 and August 18 and 20, as well as a London Underground strike on August 19. On July 27, members of the Rail, Maritime and Transport (RMT) union at the Network Rail Network will strike, as well as TSSA union members at Avanti West Coast. That means all UK train operators are likely to be affected, with more than 40,000 workers across Network Rail set to walk out as well as the London Overground network and Elizabeth, Bakerloo and District line London Underground trains. On July 30, the ASLEF union will strike, affecting the London Overground, Chiltern Railways, Greater Anglia, Great Western, Hull Trains, LNER, Southeastern and West Midlands Trains. On August 18 and 20, the RMT union will strike again, with all UK train operators likely to be affected. Additionally, a London Underground strike has been

Eurovision 2023 will be held in the UK – but which city will host the contest?

Eurovision 2023 will be held in the UK – but which city will host the contest?

It’s official: Eurovision is coming home. The European Broadcasting Union (EBU) and the BBC have confirmed that next year’s Eurovision Song Contest will be hosted in the UK, on behalf of the 2022 winners Ukraine. The BBC was invited by the EBU to be the host broadcaster for the 67th Eurovision Song Contest due to the ongoing war in Ukraine (and because the UK was the runner-up in the 2022 contest). Ukraine will automatically qualify for the final along with the ‘Big 5’, who are the competition’s biggest financial backers: France, Germany, Italy, Spain and the UK. The BBC has said it is committed to making the event a true reflection of Ukrainian culture. But where in the UK will it take place? Representatives from several British cities have already expressed an intention to bid, including Aberdeen, Belfast, Birmingham, Brighton, Bristol, Cardiff, Edinburgh, Glasgow, Manchester, Leeds, Liverpool, London, Newcastle, Nottingham, Sheffield, Swindon and Wolverhampton. It’s pretty unlikely that the competition will be held in London (although the Mayor of London has announced that the capital is ready to bid and step in), and what with Glasgow hosting COP26 and Birmingham hosting the 2022 Commonwealth Games (as well as hosting the last UK Eurovision in 1998), it would only be fair for another city to get their moment in the spotlight. Brighton staged the competition in 1974 and Harrogate hosted in 1982, so there’s no ruling out smaller places either. However, the EBU’s Host City c

What will British weather actually be like in 2050? We asked an expert

What will British weather actually be like in 2050? We asked an expert

UK temperatures are forecast to soar to ferocious new heights on Tuesday, and everyone is in a serious sweat trying to keep cool. London and parts of southern England have been forecast to hit a record of 40C, while a rare amber weather warning has been issued in Scotland, where some places could reach more than 30C. Recently, an image went viral comparing the extreme temperature forecasts this week to a hypothetical weather forecast made by the Met Office two years ago, which forecast 23 July 2050 based on UK climate projections. It predicted London would reach 40C, Scotland would reach 30C, and Manchester would reach 39C. Now, no less than 28 years earlier, it seems like we’ve already made it. Tomorrow’s forecast and 2050’s look shockingly similar:   In 2020, the @metoffice produced a hypothetical weather forecast for 23 July 2050 based on UK climate projections.Today, the forecast for Tuesday is shockingly almost identical for large parts of the country. pic.twitter.com/U5hQhZwoTi — Dr Simon Lee (@SimonLeeWx) July 15, 2022 If things are already getting this extreme, what will British weather really be like in 2050? To find out more, we spoke to Professor Joanna D. Haigh, the former co-director of the Institute of Climate Change at Imperial College London and emeritus professor of Atmospheric Physics. What could UK temperatures really be like in July 2050? According to Haigh, we shouldn’t really be surprised about the 40C heat this week. ‘The possibility of 40 degrees is

Why is everyone on TikTok going wild for bikepacking?

Why is everyone on TikTok going wild for bikepacking?

There’s a hot new way to explore the UK – and it’s not for the faint-hearted. Bikepacking, a combination of cycling and backpacking, offers the freedom to explore long stretches of landscape, get a hell of a lot of exercise and travel sustainably at the same time. The trend has been taking off on TikTok and Instagram, with bikepackers sharing routes, tips and experiences along the way.  Luke Butler, aged 31 from London, got into bikepacking recently after falling in love with the outdoors during lockdown. ‘I think it was this sense of adventure that people were craving after being locked inside that made bikepacking gain popularity,’ he says. ‘I can just plan a trip, book a campsite in Kent and be rolling the next morning. I don’t need a car, I don’t need to spend any money, I just go. That’s the appeal for me.’ But it’s not always an easy ride. If you’re a complete beginner, you’ll need to plan ahead and be prepared for all sorts – from flat tyres to shitty weather. You’ll need to carry all of your kit on your bike, which means bringing only the bare essentials: no air mattresses or luxury tents this time, folks. So if you’re curious about the trend but don’t know how to get started? Here’s our basic guide. So… what exactly is bikepacking? Bikepacking is a mix of lightweight backpacking and cycling. Rather than carrying a rucksack, all of your camping gear, food and other supplies are strapped onto your bike. You load it up, pick a route and ride into the countryside to slee

There’s going to be *another* UK rail strike this month

There’s going to be *another* UK rail strike this month

It’s been dubbed the summer of strikes for a reason. Following the three-day strike by the National Union of Rail, Maritime and Transport Workers (RMT) earlier this month, it’s been announced that UK rail workers will strike again on July 27.  The industrial action is in response to an ongoing dispute over pay, jobs and working conditions. Network Rail recently offered a pay rise of four percent to rail workers for 2022 (as well as the possibility of an additional four percent next year), if workers agreed to accept new working conditions – but union leaders rejected the offer. RMT general secretary Mick Lynch said: ‘The offer from Network Rail represents a real terms pay cut for our members and the paltry sum is conditional on RMT members agreeing to drastic changes in their working lives. ‘We have made progress on compulsory redundancies. But Network Rail are still seeking to make our members poorer when we have won in some cases double what they are offering, with other rail operators. ‘The train operating companies remain stubborn and are refusing to make any new offer which deals with job security and pay. ‘Strike action is the only course open to us to make both the rail industry and government understand that this dispute will continue for as long as it takes, until we get a negotiated settlement.’ Members of the RMT at train companies and Network Rail will walk out for 24 hours on July 27.  The union remains open for further talks and The Guardian reported that a