Digested week: avoid frog-like Farage and buy a heated blanket instead | Lucie Mangan


The child is returning home today after his very first school trip (which is also, because we are useless, at 12 years old his first trip abroad). He was gone for five nights, five times as many nights as he’s ever been away from us before (see uselessness above) and I coped extremely well. Yes, I would periodically be found lying prostrate on the couch or staring at a wall, blank-faced, praying to a god not to let him kidnap, lose or kill while my husband tried in vain to console me with the thought that school trips are useless. not as they were in our time. “Now they chip them and attach them to a teacher at any time. They probably don’t even make the trip. They’re probably just in a room in an industrial estate in Luton with convincing holographs on the walls all week. He’ll be fine.

But otherwise it was great. Once you learn to live with the fear that surrounds us, being childless for the first time in 12 years is… quite a buzz. No truncated working day. No interrupted thoughts. Life administration is reduced by 90%. There is so little depredation on my personal resources that I don’t even have to fight the urge to take a four-hour nap every afternoon. I don’t feel empty or unfulfilled because I find motherhood to be largely a process of discovering vast, previously unknown areas in which to fail rather than a glorious process of exploring new depths of my soul.

And then he comes home, happy, full of new experiences and enthusiasms and above all not dead. I hide in a closet and cry all day with relief. So overall a win.


Aardman Animations, makers of the most famous Wallace and Gromit films, were forced to issue a reassuring statement to fans (and, I don’t know, maybe the cheese and clay pants markets?) after reports suggested they only had enough of their favorite modeling material for one more film, since its makers retired earlier this year. Aardman promises that everything is in place for a smooth transition to a new product and that its filming plans have not been affected. I hope that’s not entirely true. I hope that in addition to all the original plans, there is now at least one short film in the works about a plasticine studio that is almost out of clay and has to embark on all sorts of fanciful but moving adventures to save yourself.

“And you just write ‘Lord Cameron of Chipping Norton’ and ‘Failing Upwards’ here. That’s it.’ Photograph: Andy Bailey/AP


I gathered documents, bank statements, my own calculations based on the numbers provided, gathered my emotional reserves, and looked to my troops. Calling British Gas to state my firm opinion that they have massively overcharged me for fuel over the last few quarters (haven’t gotten around to it for a while because Dad passed away, sorry) shouldn’t require that much of preparation, but the reality is what it is. Consumers are basically at war with all providers of goods and services. I’m no economist, but when the basic cost of everything rises and various companies and industries (including oil and gas) also happily report record profits, even I can see that something is wrong. not. The free hand of the market more often holds us in an unyielding, vice-like grip than anything else.

So, faced with a set of personal numbers coming out of my bank account in a way that I find out of all proportion to common sense or proven usage, I must develop my plan of attack, put the numbers in my bin sand, repeat my tactics and pick up the phone. Wish me luck as you say goodbye.


'Joe?  Joe?  Your country is RIDICULOUS.
‘Joe? Joe? Your country is RIDICULOUS. Photograph: Gagner McNamee/Getty Images

I don’t understand how people can watch I’m a Celebrity… Get Me Out of Here this year, given that Nigel Farage is in it. I’m not talking about any principled moral stand against the attempt to whitewash his reputation and reposition him as just this fun guy who actually makes a lot of good points, or the payment of a rumored 1.5 million pounds for this privilege, or the increased glorification of dead-eyed tyrants on national television – although, you know, those are things. I mean in a more simple, visceral sense of how you can watch a program in which not only are you presented with this strange batracoidal face (thanks, Alan Bennett, for introducing us to this perfect word in the description of the man in your newspaper, his morals and – specifically – his froggy appearance), but there is the possibility at any time to see more. One such moment has already been delivered – a butt kick in the shower that, to put it best, made you marvel at the historically unacknowledged but now clear existence of a phenomenon that can only be called butt batracoidal. Yet while the pursuit of knowledge and the banishment of ignorance is a laudable goal of humanity, I continue to suspect that it is something before which we were all better off.


There are only 10 actual minutes left before Christmas, I’m here to warn you. Cutting out work, childcare, dealing with all the inevitable bullshit of daily life that disregards the season and insists on getting in the way of both goodwill and preparation and yes – 10 minutes tops.

But! I am not here only to warn you but to save you, at least in part. I’ll at least solve your gift problems. Buy everyone you know a heated blanket. That’s it. That’s all. I just acquired one and am officially an evangelist. It is not a simple physical warmth that it provides but, via its soft and enveloping folds, a temporary cocooning in the face of all the sadness in the world. To slip under it is to be comforted on a visceral level. The gentle warmth bypasses your rational mind and delivers what I imagine is an almost religious experience. It’s like a part of you that you didn’t know was missing has been found. It offers profound relief and retreat. It is necessary for anyone who has read more than one title since 2016 and is not constantly in the middle of a hot flash. Spend those 10 minutes on the Lakeland website and Christmas is over. You are welcome.

A Year in Westminster: John Crace and Marina Hyde live in London and online
On Monday 11 December from 8pm – 9.30pm GMT, join John Crace, Marina Hyde and Pippa Crerar for a live discussion about another year of anarchy in British politics. Book tickets here or to legardien.live

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