Arts and society


Why young Londoners are moving to houseboats

Many Londoners would be envious of the postcodes Matthew Winters has lived in: the likes of Broadway Market, Angel, Camden, and Little Venice are amongst the city’s most hip and expensive. Many more would covet his electricity bill: £600 ($754) for the next 15 years. How, then, is he only 24 and a resident of London for just two years? Winters, an actor, is part of a booming trend for houseboat living among young Londoners. And specifically for what’s known as a ‘continuous cruising’ (or ‘CC-in

Banksy, Gormley or Hirst: is public art good for the nation's wellbeing?

It pops up in local parks and town squares; looms over motorway lanes and lurks in hospital car parks. Public art. It's everywhere. But what impact does it have, if any? And could it even have an effect on our health and wellbeing? Perhaps the most famous modern example in the UK is Anthony Gormley's Angel of the North. Before it was erected in 1998, vociferous objection from local opposition councillors and residents almost succeeded in stopping it. Indeed objections to a previous Gormley des

Could wooden buildings be a solution to climate change?

I’m standing in a seemingly ordinary construction site of an unremarkable office block in east London. The seven-storey building is about two-thirds complete – the basic structure and staircases are in place, with plastering and wiring just beginning. But as I walk around, something different slowly reveals itself. The construction site is quiet and clean – it even smells good. And there’s an awful lot of wood...

At Work with the FT: Joanna Jensen, founder and CEO, Childs Farm

Joanna Jensen is having to sell her stables. The former horse breeder who left a career in investment banking says her children’s toiletries business “has just taken over my life — I don’t have time to ride”. Her two daughters Mimi, 10, and Bella, seven, are more into athletics than horses, she sighs. She does, however, have her daughters to thank for the new venture — Childs Farm — which began as a homemade recipe to soothe their sensitive skin in 2010. It is now a fully fledged business with a £2.1m turnover in 2015.

How shorter workweeks could save Earth

We like to blame climate change on industry and big business. But the way we live, work and consume is actually the primary source of emissions. A multi-national study by the Norwegian University of Science and Technology of the environmental impact of consumers found that the stuff we buy is responsible for more than 60% of the world’s greenhouse gas emissions, and up to 80% of global water use. And yet, growing that consumption still further is what economies are built upon...

Public speaking fear is limiting your career

Glen Savage is about to go on stage wearing wings and a halo. He’s terrified. The year is 1961 and the five-year old Savage is playing the Archangel Gabriel in the nativity play at St James School in Brisbane, Australia. He has just one line: “Come here baby angels”. Little did he know then, but the fear and anxiety of that moment would go on to shape his entire career. “I just remember thinking that I can’t do it. I can’t speak in front of all those people”, Savage recalls. “I was absolutely

The bank boss with an environmentalist bent

Despite becoming the UK’s managing director of Triodos bank this spring, Bevis Watts maintains that he is “first and foremost an environmentalist”. Triodos’s mission is to lend money only to those who promote “positive social, environmental and cultural change”. The Dutch bank, which has €12bn of assets under management, is part of a booming trend. In 2015, the responsible lending market in the UK grew 45 per cent, according to a report by the Community Development Finance Association and PwC. Mr Watts’s CV does not read like that of the average bank executive...

Film Review: The Imposter

If your youngest son disappeared at the age of 13, you'd do anything to get him back. And if he re-appeared four years later on the other side of the world, mentally scarred after a horrific tale of sexual abuse, you'd pick him up no questions asked. But if his eye colour had changed, his skin was darker, he appeared older than 16 and spoke with an indelible foreign accent... could you pick out the truth from your desire to believe? This is the story that unfolds in director Bart Layton's incredible (and rarely has that word been more aptly used) documentary about the disappearance of 13-year-old Texan Patrick Barclay in 1994. A large family bereft by the loss of their blond-haired, blue-eyed boy, were only too willing to believe the news that someone claiming to be Patrick had appeared in Spain. His older sister – who had never left the US before, let alone able to find Spain on a map – promptly got on a plane to pick him up. Finding him much changed and very scared, she recognised some of his facial features and even the home-made tattoos he had on his hands and arms. He, she felt sure, was Patrick. And so she brought him home to a family who welcomed him back with open arms, a school that re-enrolled him and a local media who treated him as their darling.

Interview: Fiona Dawson, global president, Mars foods

At the Mars Foods testing centre in rural Leicestershire, Fiona Dawson greets the FT having just tasted new recipes. “We had salad with wholegrain, new dipping sauces, lasagne and stir-fry,” she says. Does she like the taste of Dolmio and Uncle Ben’s sauces? “Thankfully, I’m a big fan! I don’t think you could do a job like mine without loving your products.” As global president of Mars food, drinks, and multisales, one of about a dozen senior executives who report to Grant F Reid, the company president, Ms Dawson’s office is at headquarters in Brussels...

At Work with the FT: James Thornton, ClientEarth

At ClientEarth’s offices in east London, glass walls overlook leafy London Fields. James Thornton, 62, founder and chief executive, is an avid ornithologist, so bird feeders hang outside. The 60 or so lawyers occupied by fossil fuel, fisheries and air pollution law, enjoy fittingly green offices. Mr Thornton, who started the firm from a desk in a one-bedroom flat 10 years ago, greets the FT with warmth, before locking eyes in the manner of a Zen priest — which, incidentally, he also happens to be.

Kevin Cahill of Comic Relief: 'There is still public trust in us as an organisation'

Kevin Cahill admits that when he joined Comic Relief in 1990 they were still making it up as they went along. He arrived from the National Theatre, where as head of education he persuaded stars such as Anthony Hopkins to speak to groups of school children about the theatre world. Glad-handing stars and entertaining the public proved a useful training ground. He joined a team of 20, licking envelopes alongside the founder Richard Curtis, and riding the wave of goodwill for celebrities trying to c

Swings, slides and iPads: the gaming companies targeting kids' outdoor play

Three-quarters of UK children now spend less time outside than prison inmates, according to a new survey, with the lure of digital technology partly to blame. But, in a world where gaming and screen time are an everyday reality, could the right technology actually get more kids to play outdoors? Hybrid Play is a Spanish start-up which uses augmented reality (AR) – patching computer imagery on to real life – to transform playgrounds into video games. A wireless sensor resembling an over-sized cl

Children's TV pretends disability doesn't exist

Fireman Sam and How to Train Your Dragon feature the only disabled characters currently on long-running children’s television franchises. Other characters crop up here and there – the Disney Channel introduced double-amputee Aussie explorer, Wildlife Will to its Doc McStuffins show, and it featured wheelchair user Johnny McBride (voiced by Shia LaBeouf) in The Proud Family – but both appeared for one episode only. The BBC has a history of disabled characters, from Grange Hill’s Rachel Burns wi

Ageing villages of northern Finland where ancient way of life is dying out

In the village of Juujärvi, just inside the Arctic circle, northern Finland, the weather is not usually this forgiving. The day I visit it is a balmy -5, when typically one can expect -15. A deep crust of snow covers everything for seven months of the year. Cousins Irja and Seppo Juujärvi, who have lived here all their lives, share coffee and blueberry cake with me in a cosy converted cow shed. “There used to be 200 people living here,” Irja says of her home village, 90km from the nearest town,

DVD Box-set review: Paul Morrissey

Andy Warhol evokes a few iconic images - The Factory, silver-foiled walls, orgies, drugs – but the only Morrissey I was aware of was the lead singer of The Smiths, and Dallesandro meant even less. Flesh marked the beginning of my stroll of discovery into this arena of cinema that, although far from forgotten or untapped, has been given that most modern of rebirths: the DVD boxset. Andy Warhol had no direct involvement in this film, but indirectly, of course, he allowed and inspired young directors such as Paul Morrissey to make these types of films. The film opened at Warhol's Garrick Theater in New York, recouping its $1,500 costs in the first week, and ran for seven months before finding worldwide distribution. Its biggest success was in Germany, where it became one of the highest grossing films of 1970. For Dallessandro it meant instant cult and mainstream fame, depending on which country's perspective you look from. Nineteen when Flesh was filmed, he seemed to embody many of the intangible ideas of the late sixties – a new sex, a masculine androgyny, a drugged-up Renaissance figure.

DVD review: Il Boom (1963)

Coming from one of the master directors of Italian Neo-Realism, Il Boom (1963) is something of a surprise. Having pioneered a new type of realist film-making casting non-actors in tragic tales of post-war poverty, Vittorio De Sica along with screenwriter Cesare Zavattini, produced arguably Neo-Realism's best known works: Bicycle Thieves (1948) and Umberto D (1952). Both feature central male characters traipsing the streets of Rome struggling Sisyphus-like against their lot, only for their efforts to roll them further down in the mire. So for De Sica and Zavattini to collaborate again on Il Boom – a swinging '60s comedy starring one of Italy's most famous comic sons, Alberto Sordi – is quite a contrast.
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