Gary Barlow opens up about his weight issues and daughter’s death

Singer reveals how he became ‘unrecognisable’ after putting on weight when Take That split

Gary Barlow did not leave his house for about six months in the years after Take That broke up and his weight rose to 109kg (17st 2lbs).

The singer spoke emotionally at the Cheltenham literature festival of how good it was that the tide was turning and men could now openly discuss their problems. He also spoke movingly about the death of his daughter, in 2012, in the hope it would help others.

Continue reading...

Gary Barlow opens up about his weight issues and daughter’s death

Singer reveals how he became ‘unrecognisable’ after putting on weight when Take That split

Gary Barlow did not leave his house for about six months in the years after Take That broke up and his weight rose to 109kg (17st 2lbs).

The singer spoke emotionally at the Cheltenham literature festival of how good it was that the tide was turning and men could now openly discuss their problems. He also spoke movingly about the death of his daughter, in 2012, in the hope it would help others.

Continue reading...

Putin more dangerous weak​​ than strong, says top UK military figure

Russian president would be greater risk to world peace ‘if faced with existential threat’

A weak Vladimir Putin would be a bigger threat to world peace than the strongman he is, according to one of the UK’s most senior military figures.

Gen Sir Adrian Bradshaw a former director of the SAS and until last year Nato’s deputy supreme allied commander in Europe, made the comments at the Hay literary festival in Wales, where was talking about defence and security challenges.

Continue reading...

Don’t call people ‘old’ until death is near, says gerontologist

Sarah Harper, director of Oxford Institute of Ageing, suggests people in their 70s and 80s should be considered active adults People should not be called old until they are seriously frail, dependent and approaching death, one of the UK’s leading social scientists has told Hay festival.
Sarah Harper, a gerontologist who is director of the Oxford Institute of Ageing, proposed a different approach to the language we use about ageing, suggesting that people in their 60s and possibly 70s and 80s should still be considered active adults. Continue reading...

Ed Balls on truth behind Gordon Brown’s ‘what is polenta?’ outburst

Politician turned Strictly star tells Hay festival audience about restaurant meeting between Brown and Tony Blair in 1994 It has been said Peter Mandelson once mistook mushy peas for guacamole. Now it has emerged Gordon Brown had a similar food challenge, when he asked in horror: “What is polenta?”
The politician turned Strictly Come Dancing star Ed Balls witnessed the outburst during the meeting between Brown and Tony Blair at the Granita restaurant in Islington in 1994. Continue reading...

Bad memories: Colm Tóibín urges authors to lose the flashbacks

Speaking at the Hay literary festival, the Irish novelist said modern writers should emulate Jane Austen and stop overdoing the backstory Colm Tóibín has issued a rallying call against what he sees as the scourge of modern literature: flashbacks. The Irish novelist said the narrative device was infuriating, with too many writers skipping back and forward in time to fill in all the gaps in a story.
Continue reading...

Not as good as P&P: Jane Austen mother’s verdict on Mansfield Park

British Library to put on display Austen’s notes of what friends, family and correspondents thought of her third novel Many novelists studiously avoid hearing opinions about their writing, but Jane Austen not only encouraged it, she meticulously compiled them in thorough, sometimes hilarious notes.
Next month the British Library will put on display Austen’s handwritten notes of what friends, family and correspondents thought of her third novel, Mansfield Park. Continue reading...

CIA ex-boss: secretive spooks tolerated in UK more than in US

Michael Hayden talks at Hay festival about Edward Snowden and how Facebook, not government, is new privacy battleground British people are not demanding more transparency from the intelligence services as loudly as Americans, the former director of the US National Security Agency (NSA) and CIA has said. Michael Hayden played a pivotal, leading role in American intelligence until he was replaced as director of the CIA shortly into the presidency of Barack Obama. Continue reading...

Chilcot won’t accuse Blair of lying, says former PM’s biographer

John Chilcot will avoid heaping blame on Tony Blair for the Iraq war and its aftermath, says Tom Bower at the Hay festival The Chilcot inquiry is likely to criticise easy targets and not put the blame on Tony Blair, the author Tom Bower has said. Bower is the author of a scathing biography of the former prime minister, published earlier this year, which portrays him as a man with few policies and no ideology. Continue reading...

Andrew Davies: my Les Misérables will be nothing like ‘shoddy farrago’ musical

Speaking at Hay festival, veteran writer, who adapted War & Peace for the BBC, said Victor Hugo’s novel needs a champion Andrew Davies’s next historical novel adaptation for the BBC will be Victor Hugo’s Les Misérables – but nothing like the “shoddy farrago” of the musical. The adapter of Pride and Prejudice, Middlemarch and most recently War & Peace gave his frank opinion of the stage and film musical to an audience at the second day of the Hay Festival. Continue reading...

Bletchley Park was rife with sex and romance, says historian

Sinclair McKay tells Hay festival audience that a free-wheeling, free-thinking atmosphere was encouraged at the codebreaking centre Bletchley Park evokes an image of serious pipe-smoking young men in Fair Isle sweaters working alongside equally serious young women, often from aristocratic backgrounds. But, Hay festival heard on Friday, the wartime codebreaking HQ was also teeming with sex and romance tolerated by the authorities. Continue reading...

Poetry Society top prize explores familial discord

Eric Berlin wins prestigious award with poem Night Errand, while David Morley takes Ted Hughes prize

A poem exploring the fleeting flashes of anger we direct at our family, and the shame that it brings, has been chosen from more than 12,000 entries for one of the UK’s most prestigious poetry prizes.

Eric Berlin’s poem Night Errand was named winner of the Poetry Society’s 38th national poetry competition, a prize which each year rewards unpublished single poems from a colossal number of entries.

Continue reading...









British Library will lend world’s oldest bible to British Museum

British Museum exhibition, Egypt after the pharaohs, will feature the Codex Sinaiticus, one of the most important books in the world

The British Library is to lend one of its greatest treasures, the world’s oldest bible, to the British Museum for an ambitious and groundbreaking exhibition exploring 1,200 years of Christian, Islamic and Jewish faith in Egypt after the pharaohs.

The Codex Sinaiticus is one of the most important books in the world and has only been lent once, in 1990 – also to the British Museum – when both collections shared the same building.

Continue reading...









Agatha Christie exhibition shows queen of crime as roller-skater and surfer

Family photographs of Poirot’s creator a world away from how most people picture her included in show to mark 125th anniversary of her birth

They include photographs of her surfing on to an idyllic Muizenberg beach in South Africa, hanging out in Honolulu wearing her favourite emerald-green knitted bathing suit and roller-skating in an ankle-length skirt down Torquay pier.

The images are of Agatha Christie and are a world away from how most people picture the crime writer – often as a friendly older woman at work on a battered Remington typewriter.

Continue reading...









Unpublished Bod books portray even more absurd character and stories

The cult sketches, which became a BBC TV series in 1975, were created by Michael and Joanne Cole, whose daughter Alison has unearthed unseen works

He still looks like a weird elderly bald boy, or girl, in a yellow dress, or smock, but life for Bod is far more complicated in these unseen extracts - in one story he’s even bankrupted by his Aunt Flo, forced to wash dishes and wait tables to pay an extortionate hotel bill.

Bod became known to a generation of a certain age because of a 1975 BBC TV series which featured simple stories, jaunty music and the reassuring narration of John Le Mesurier.

Continue reading...