Five Minute Therapist

It’s fair to say that not everyone gets chance to access their own personal facialist, but yes, we’re pretty good to you here at RIH. Anti-ageing queries or acne concerns? Puffy eyes or fine lines? Each month, we give you the chance to put your questions to super facialist and skincare expert Antonia Burrell…

skincare routine

I’m late to the party with adopting a skincare routine, but now cleanse, tone and moisturise twice a day. I find the whole serum thing really confusing though – do I honestly need one? How are they different to moisturisers and what do they actually do? When should I use one? They seem to be pretty expensive but I don’t want to have to spend loads. I’m 28 and have combination skin with dry patches from time to time.

Serums are very targeted treatments designed to meet a whole host of skin needs – this might be anti-ageing, pigmentation or fine lines, for example. The use of serums really depends on your individual skincare needs; they are very different to moisturisers in that they don’t moisturise the skin as such, they just treat any concerns you have. Serums are usually a little pricier as they have a much higher concentration of ingredients, making them very potent but highly effective!

serums

For dry/combination skin I recommend using a balancing serum to gently bring the skin back to its natural equilibrium. Plant-based formulations that are rich in vitamins and anti-oxidants are a great place to start, and always look for products that contain vitamins A, C & E. Over 90% of the signs of ageing are caused by free radical damage, so it’s important to incorporate as many topical anti-oxidants into your body (inside and out) as possible. Start thinking about your anti-ageing regime now and your skin will thank you for it later!

Particular ingredients I would recommend for dry/combination skin include Wild Carrot Root as it’s rich in vitamin A which helps to heal dry skin whilst stimulating collagen renewal. Cedarwood is also great for combination skin as it is a natural astringent for oily skin conditions. Palma Rosa oil is also a natural oil balancer which also works to hydrate and calm. I also love Sea Buckthorn as it’s a very rich source of vitamins A and E, carotenes and flavonoids and is second only to Rosehips when it comes to vitamin C content. It is also rich in several vitamins and minerals. Sea-buckthorn oil promotes skin repair and is one of the most beneficial oils for ageing skin.

Many people who suffer with oily skin tend to steer clear of using natural oils in skincare for fear of making it worse, when in fact it’s what the skin needs. The truth about oil lies within the most basic principle of chemistry – like dissolves like. Oil dissolves oil so by using the right oils you can cleanse your pores of dirt and bacteria naturally, gently and effectively. What’s more, beneficial oils extracted from natural botanicals, vegetables and fruit can replace dirty oil build-up leaving skin healed, nourished and protected and you with clear, glowing skin that is free of imperfections.

I don’t recommend using a serum all the time, and only use sparingly underneath your moisturiser to address any specific concerns you have. If you do suffer with severe dry patches I recommend focusing more on finding a good hydrating moisturiser rather than a serum.

beackstage skincare serums

Have a question you’d like to put to Antonia? Pop your details below and if you’re lucky, you’ll get the answer to your query in a future edition of Five Minute Therapist! What are you waiting for – not everyone gets access to an A-List facialist just like that!

Don’t Interrupt!

I’m a stickler for good table manners. I can’t bear it when people don’t pick up their feet. And finger drumming really gets my goat. I have, I am aware, multiple bêtes noires; but by far the most unpleasant “bad habit” in my book is interrupting. As bad behaviour goes, it’s one of the most common and also the most damaging to interpersonal relationships, but luckily, it’s also one that’s relatively easy to correct.

etiquette

Interrupting during a conversation takes two main forms: cutting someone off to make one’s own point and finishing someone’s sentence for them. Both drive me mad. The former simply shows a lack of respect for the other person, their right to express themselves, and what they have to communicate. It says, “What I want to say is more important and/or interesting than what you are already in the middle of saying, and frankly, I don’t much care about what you’re trying to tell me”. The latter annoys me because I want to be allowed to express my opinions in my own specifically chosen words. When someone cuts me off and finishes my sentence for me, they almost never say exactly what I was going to say, so I feel like my point is misrepresented and I’m not being fully “heard”. I regularly want to shout “I’m not running out of steam and I don’t need help to make my point; am I just not speaking quickly enough for your liking?” but of course, I’m British, so I just seethe silently instead…

Being regularly interrupted makes the “interuptee” feel unheard, frustrated, disrespected – none of which helps build a relationship with another person, which, ironically, is often the point of having a conversation in the first place. I don’t know anyone who enjoys being interrupted… which is odd since we are almost all both victims and perpetrators of this destructive conversational habit.

conversation

So, what happens when you’re the interrupter? In addition to the message you’re sending the person you’re talking to, you’re not doing yourself any favours either. How stressful is it to be responsible for both sides of a conversation – both your own and the end of every sentence your partner tries to get out? How tense do you get when, instead of listening and then responding, you’re formulating your reply to your friend as they’re talking so that you can start making it even before they’ve finished? How often do you finish someone’s sentence only for them to say, “Well, no, that’s not where I was going with that”?

Curbing the urge to interrupt – to butt in with my idea or push people to make their point quicker – is something I’ve been working on for a while now, and I have to say the benefits are both powerful and immediate. When I’m not thinking ahead to my turn to speak, I can fully listen to friends, right to the end of their sentence or story – which lets me relax and makes them feel unrushed and heard – which makes them relax too. Since I’ve heard their full point in their own words, my replies are more pertinent and structured; which makes for a richer conversation.

interrupting

It’s no fun being interrupted, but short of actually calling someone out on their bad habit, there’s not much you can do about it. But in a spirit of being the change you want to see in the world, you can work on your own tendency to interrupt, and it really is win-win. The less you do it, the better your conversations and, as everyone relaxes and gets used to being fully heard, the less likely it is that you yourself will be interrupted. So, next time you’re chatting to friends, mentally note how often you start talking before others have really finished. The first step in changing a habit is to acknowledge it – and when you do start noticing, I bet you’ll shock yourself. And when you start to stop yourself and force yourself to listen patiently, you’ll be amazed at the effect it has on both the people around you and on your own stress levels and enjoyment of the conversation!

Five Minute Therapist

It’s fair to say that not everyone gets chance to access their own personal facialist, but yes, we’re pretty good to you here at RIH. Anti-ageing queries or acne concerns? Puffy eyes or fine lines? Each month, we give you the chance to put your questions to super facialist and skincare expert Antonia Burrell

My skin is generally pretty good but at that time of the month I tend to get the worst breakouts. Hormonal spots seem to be so hard to get rid of – never mind prevent! Have you got any tips for what I can do about these as it’s actually really annoying and distressing.

skincare

Spots and blemishes brought on by our hormones are very difficult to manage, as our menstruation cycle is a natural occurrence within our bodies that we’re unable to change! Although we’re lead to believe that spots appearing during this time are caused our period, these spots are in fact caused by ovulation. The truth is, spots actually develop under our skin for a lot longer than we think, so spots caused by ovulation only actually become visible a couple of weeks later during our period – hence the confusion!

During ovulation our bodies produce hormones including testosterone which stimulates the production of sebum on our skin, blocking pores and promoting the onset of breakouts. An increase in our core temperature also means we are more likely to sweat, so the key here is deep cleansing to remove excess sweat, sebum and build up. A good cleansing routine around the time of ovulation will work wonders – I recommend double cleansing morning and night for good measure.

FACE MASK1

It’s also worth stepping up your exfoliation routine around this time to gently buff away dead skin cells, and following with a deep cleansing mask. Keeping your hands clean is also important to prevent grime and build up spreading to your face, so wash your hands often or use some antibacterial gel or wipes.

Some women can just tell, but if you’re unsure as to when you’re ovulating I recommend using a period tracker app to help you monitor your cycle. You can get some good ones for free on the App Store, such as P Tracker Lite.

ovulation

Have a question you’d like to put to Antonia? Pop your details below and if you’re lucky, you’ll get the answer to your query in a future edition of Five Minute Therapist! What are you waiting for – not everyone gets access to an A-List facialist just like that!

Don’t Wait

Pearl S. Buck is one of those writers that I keep meaning to read and never quite get around to. My mother raves about East Wind: West Wind, and friends sing her praises but I regularly forget her while browsing Amazon. So, her name remains on my list of books and authors to investigate, which is a sorry state of affairs given that it is one of this great lady’s pearls of wisdom that I consistently invoke when I’m feeling unmotivated and just can’t be bothered.

pearl s buck

The words of the prolific writer, Pulitzer and Nobel prize-winner, and political activist that never fail to get me off the sofa are:

“I don’t wait for moods. You accomplish nothing if you do that.
Your mind must know it has got to get down to work.”

Even as I write this, I have Pearl to thank – I didn’t much feel like writing today, but I heard her words ringing in my head as I put on the kettle this morning and so went to set up my laptop.

latop productivity

The thing is, I love writing. And I’m guessing Pearl did too. But it sounds like she, like me, often found herself not “in the mood” to sit and type. At least not at first – once I’m here and the old Earl Grey is kicking in, I am in “flow” and totally absorbed in what I’m doing; my mood changes. But I know that if I waited for my mood to change in order to start I would wait all day.

The same is true when I look at my to-do list. I don’t much feel like doing any of it: find a place to get watch repaired; complete tax declaration; organise my computer files. Hard to get excited about these tasks when the box set of season 2 of 24 beckons to me from the other side of the sitting room (yes, I know, I’m way behind but I’ve only recently discovered the joys of the show having resisted for years thinking oh-so-wrongly that I wouldn’t like it). But I know that if I wait to be in the mood to look for a good jeweller to fix my watch, I risk turning up late for every appointment I make for the foreseeable future. So, I think of Pearl and get on with the job in hand.

watch

It’s a little like the famous “feel the fear and do it anyway”. Pearl’s nugget of wisdom is “feel no motivation whatsoever and do it anyway”. I like the way she doesn’t even suggest you try to motivate yourself or pretend to be inspired. It’s a gloriously down-to-earth and brutally honest way of accepting that sometimes we just can’t wait to feel ready before we have to get stuck in.

I have found ways to help myself, of course, as I work towards achieving Pearl-esque productivity levels. I operate a rewards scheme: tick three things off the to-do list and you can have a cup of tea and one hour of the long-suffering Jack Bauer; or, return three phone calls and then you can have a piece of cake. I also break tasks down: this morning, I’ll pull out all the necessary documents for the tax declaration, this afternoon I’ll do the calculations, tomorrow morning, I’ll do the online return.

yoga

It also helps to sweeten the deal: get onto the yoga mat for half an hour, but put the radio on while doing so; have an old episode of Sherlock on the TV while clearing out a cupboard. Pearl’s discipline mixed with Mary Poppins’ spoonful of sugar is a force to be reckoned with.

Taking Stock

The benefit of regular clear-outs is a fact universally acknowledged. Or at least it is in my house. My husband was stunned by the joy I felt when they installed massive clothing donation bins at the entrance to the metro nearest our flat; and I challenge anyone not to feel freer, lighter and more in control after taking a bag load of I’ll-never-read-these-again books to Oxfam.

clearouit

But what about moving the stock-take from the back of your closet into your mind and soul? When it comes to having a good sort-out, there are many areas of our lives that would benefit from a little light dusting and polishing, not just the kitchen cupboards. Coaching offers a wealth of great tools to do just that – take stock of your life and see where your figurative house needs to be put in order. While it is always more helpful to do such exercises with a qualified coach, it is also possible to use them on your own and glean some helpful insights.

The Wheel of Life is a simple way to identify the various major “bits” of your life, assess your satisfaction with them, and start coming up with a plan to raise that satisfaction level.

The Wheel of Life aka Not so Trivial Pursuits

Draw a circle on a piece of paper and divide it into wedges like the pies in a game of Trivial Pursuits (number of wedges is your choice – starting with six is pretty manageable). Assign a theme to each wedge. Themes are areas of your life that you wish to take a look at – or indeed, they can just be areas that spring to mind. In this exercise, your subconscious is a good guide.

taking stock

A few examples: one wedge might be “family”, which for some might mean “me, my partner and our kids” but for other people might mean “parents, grandparents, siblings” – and those people might choose to put “partner/love” and “children” into separate wedges on their own. What you mean by each of your themes is your business, as long as you are clear about how you load the word you choose. Other wedges might be “money”, “leisure”, “health”, “career”, “spirit”… it’s a very personal choice.

On your marks…

Once you have your themes, take some time to consider each one and to rate your satisfaction with this part of your life from 1 to 10 – draw lines in each wedge so that 1 is a line near the interior of the circle, and 10 is the further edge. Like so:

wheel of life

You’ll probably end up with a very bumpy wheel!

Get set…

The next step within a coaching session would be to discuss each area and the mark attributed to it, and to choose one or two to work on. On your own, you can take your time to look at each one and think about what makes your health an 8 but your love life a 4 – talking to a friend can also help. Then, taking each one in turn, think about what it would take to turn that 4 into 5. Consider specifics: spending more time with your other half? Eating dinner at the table rather than in front of the TV? A monthly date night? A daily lunchtime phone call? More cuddling? What would it take to bump it up to a 6? And then a 7…

kuiss

The idea isn’t to go from a 2 to a 10 in two weeks flat, but to identify areas for change and improvement that will eventually harmonise the levels of satisfaction across all your wedges. A wheel with lumps and bumps cannot roll. But the challenge of trying to turn a career “3” into a 10 can simply be paralysing. Concentrate on the areas that naturally attract your attention and list small, actionable changes.

And Go!

Once you have some action ideas, consider which you can actually put in place, and, crucially, which you want to put in place. It’s no good choosing “go for a weekly run” if you have absolutely no desire to go running. Yes, it might bump your “body image” score up to a 7, but your “time for fun” score might take a hit. I advise kicking off just one action per week and taking a moment at the end of each week to see what’s working for you.

fitness

Take your time. Your Wheel of Life is ever-changing. Even if you managed to take all your wedges up to a perfect 10, at some point you might decide to buy a house, move abroad or have a baby, and new wedges will appear for you to work on. The idea isn’t to strive for a perfect circle, but to use the exercise to see where your pain points are, and what you can do about them.

One last thing…

Don’t forget to take a moment to celebrate in the wedges that are looking pretty damn good. If your “friendship” wedge is a healthy 9, why not make a list of all you’re grateful for in your relationships? If your “work” wedge is flying high, why not acknowledge that by taking in some Friday afternoon pastries for your charming colleagues? Work on the low numbers, enjoy the success of the high ones.

Stick It To Winter

Stickers have always fascinated me. As a child, I remember the little rolls of stickers only available in shops which held oh-so-exotic stationery. Stickers of everything you could ever imagine; stars, hearts, cats, circus performers, safari animals, sailing boats, flowers, coniferous trees, butterflies, footballers, farm equipment – you name your fancy and it was available as a sticker family. You could you buy a strip for around 75p to decorate and delight. Gold Stars were awarded for successes, little photographic cats adorned exercise books and puffy cartoon characters that smelt like My Little Ponies adhered to your pencil tin forever.

stickers

Then as I got older it became all about Panini and I worked through a Garfield album then on to the Premier League as my interests changed towards the teenage. I remember feeling protective of my stickers and not wanting to commit to sticking them on to anything for fear that they would be ruined. I kept them pristine on their shiny sheets wrapped in a clear envelope in a drawer at home for fear of loss, taken out only to contemplate a more permanent home before they were safely stowed away once more.

anya hindmarch stickers

Esteemed accessory designer Anya Hindmarch has been having no such sticker commitment problem. Last season she launched her Sticker Shop: a cacophony of stickered delights in collaboration with Charlotte Stockdale of CHAOS.

anya hindmarch

Known for her instantly smile-inducing designs, Hindmarch has excelled herself with British foibles of late, and is giving them to us in a self-adhesive form in order to transform your own tired leather. Adorn your accessories with Smileys, rainbows, plasters, on-trend hashtags or even a fried egg to lift them out of their wintry slump. For Autumn/Winter ’15 she has drawn on daily traveller headache-inducing roadwork signs to adorn her fancies, using the somewhat unlikely M25 as inspiration. As this circular car park around London gives me daily grind, at least now I can pretend like I am in FROW at her fashion show as I sit there for hours on end, foot slipping off the clutch.

anya hindmarch motorway stickers

Hindmarch chose this season to launch her first ready-to-wear collection, although she is not touting it as thus, saying ‘it’s more of an extension of the accessories.’ Meaning that her tongue in cheek wit is at least now not only resigned to your handbags.

Olympia Le Tan’s ‘We Don’t Need No Education’ collection for Spring/Summer ’15 features the most fantastic Composition Book clutch realised beautifully in her trademark applique and embroidery. The pink price tag sticker secures her brilliantness in exploiting details in her work, who hasn’t seen that actual exercise book for sale? The allure of the sticker strikes once more.

compositions satchel olympia le tan

As the economy slowly recovers the trend for spending on quality increases. Special pieces that stand out and stand alone, personal pieces to bring you a smile every time you wear them. Pieces that remind us of a time when things weren’t so hard; school days finally do become good memories and a want for the rush of nostalgia takes hold.

ebury

I recently invested in a grown up navy Hindmarch Ebury Tote, however in keeping with this nostalgia notion it is resplendent with a Smiley and ‘Have A Nice Day’ punch out, and boasts striped fluro rope handles that take me right back to weekends sailing with my Papa and summers crushing on my windsurfing instructor at Willen Lake. I have a selection of stickers ready to go, so all I have to do now is get over my fear of removing the stickers from the packets and adhere to a commitment.

The Voice of Worry

I have of late – but wherefore I know not – lost all my mirth. Well, not quite; I’m certainly nowhere near Hamlet’s level of sadness and introspection, but I have found myself somewhat on the grumpy side recently. You know, that state where everything seems like a big deal, nothing strikes you as terribly funny, and life just feels like hard work.

worry

The makings of such a mood can come from any quarter; professional setbacks, disappointments in friendships, money problems. For me, it has been due to feelings of bog-standard overwhelm. I am coming up to the sixth month of my first pregnancy, and my husband and I are currently looking to buy a house and move just outside of Paris. Not bad when it comes to life-changing decisions, huh? Add to that our full-time jobs, families, friends, my writing and coaching, and it all seems like a mountain from which even the fearless Bear Grylls would run screaming.

The inconvenient truth

And the thing is, there’s not really much to be done about overwhelm. You can roll your sleeves up, make a plan, start a list, make a Plan B, and discuss options with your partner ad nauseam, and those actions are practical and wise. But they’re not always enough to quiet the nagging little voice that pipes up at 2am and whispers some variant on, “It won’t all be ok; you won’t get through this; you can’t manage”.

GAG thyself

It is my firm belief that the only thing to do in those situations is to GAG oneself. No, we’re not getting into 50 Shades territory here; GAG stands for “Get A Grip”. It’s an old expression that sounds rather shocking nowadays, doesn’t it? In an age that favours self-examination even to the point of self-torture over the old “buck up” attitude, exhorting someone to simply “get a grip” seems callous. But I maintain that sometimes it’s the only way.

to do listing

It’s like a mental self-slap. A reminder that we really are dealing with first-world issues, here. My husband is fond of asking me to imagine how I would feel if the things overwhelming me weren’t happening – if I weren’t able to have children, if we couldn’t envisage getting a bigger home, if I didn’t have employment, friends that want my time, family who need me… The simple answer is: I’d feel pretty rubbish (he can be infuriatingly right at times)!

It doesn’t always work. Sometimes a problem really is a problem and needs talking through and solving, but it’s often just a proliferation of activity, obligations and, well, life that puts us in a tail spin. That’s when a self-shake and a firm “For God’s sake, Jo, Get. A. Grip.” works wonders for me.

DO try this at home

GAG-ing seems to work best when performed using a specific accent. I occasionally hear a plummy-voiced Malory Towers– type sports mistress barking at me. You may prefer an American drill sergeant or even an exasperated version of yourself. Sometimes I like to hear my Scottish grandmother’s voice softly burring, “Now, now, dear, you know I love you, but do try to get a grip for goodness sake”. She never said anything of the kind to me, but somehow the vision of this strong, no-nonsense yet kind and loving woman works every time.

get a gri[

GAG-ing is also best achieved when used entirely on its own. No extra pep talk, no list of “examples of times when it has all been ok in the past as so will be this time too”, no reasoning or cajoling. Just a mental “No Entry” sign that brooks no argument. It’s not easy at first, but if you GAG each time you head back down the road of ovewhelm, it eventually comes more quickly and more naturally. Give it a try. I’m interested to know how it works for you!

Choose Your Words Carefully

How you word your resolutions this year could make the difference between giving up come 31 January and making lasting life changes. Make sure your words count. 

To resolve or not to resolve, that is the question. It’s the one we ask ourselves each January as the annual invitation to start over rolls around. In the media, there’s the usual flurry of “How to make resolutions that last”-type articles (the kind of stuff I love to read), along with the expected slew of “Why making resolutions is a waste of time” pieces (not my cup of tea). Personally, I feel resolution-making as an expression of the will to self-improvement is never to be discouraged: the simple act of voicing a desire to change and then attempting to do so is a massive step forward.

new years resolutions

For me, failure to keep a resolution does not indicate that making resolutions is futile; rather it suggests that the resolution was perhaps the wrong one for you, or made for the wrong reasons, or – crucially – it was badly worded. The way in which we word and specify our intentions seems to me crucial to their success. The difference between “I’m going to be healthier in 2015” and “I’m going to jog for 10 minutes twice a week in 2015” is huge. The first is vague and contains no real action, the second is specific and involves a solid commitment. Which is more likely to be kept?

Now, you’d think that, self-improvement info junkie that I am, I’d be able to sidestep these kinds of mental potholes. Think again. This New Year, I caught myself making a whopper of a rookie error as I sat down to set some intentions for 2015. There I was with a nice list of all the things I wanted to find more time for over the year – yoga, new coaching clients, promoting my work as a writer – when I noticed that every item on that list was preceded by the words “I will find more time to…” See the fatal flaw? Answers on a postcard to the woman who’s still looking through her chest of drawers to find where she left that bit of spare time she just knows she put somewhere for safekeeping.

writing

What was I thinking? You don’t find time for anything. I have never once looked at my diary and thought, “Oh goodie, there’s an hour a week I didn’t know about”. Time is not a crumpled fiver you come across down the side of the sofa, nor is it something you discover left over at the end of a long day. Time is finite; no-one gets any more than 24 hours in a day.

The minute I changed the word “find” to “make”, my perspective on my resolutions changed. I am going to have to make time to prospect for clients, clear space in my diary for that extra yoga class, and – whisper it – make the choice between crashing on the sofa like an extra from The Walking Dead and getting out the laptop to write. Finding time is about trying to cram even more into the day, snatching five minutes here and there. Making time is about saying no to activities that aren’t priority, crafting your schedule to work towards your objectives, and making conscious decisions about where you put your energy at any given moment – which sometimes means giving up things that aren’t useful and that don’t serve you.

yoga class

It all comes down to a feeling of agency, really. Making time puts me firmly in the driver’s seat of my life, relying on myself to make the decisions that get me where I want to be. Finding time – just like finding a forgotten banknote – relies to a large extent on luck and good fortune. And my goals are a little too important to me to leave them in the lap of the gods. Aren’t yours?

Point of View

Once upon a time, or at least up until the 90s, you could have seemed mysterious and high-brow if you said you didn’t watch TV; now you just look like a bit of a killjoy if you choose to opt out. The huge range of channels on offer, not to mention the devices you can watch them on, are undeniably tempting. However niche your interests, you’ll find them covered by the not-so-stupid box. Whether you relax with a dose of structured reality (see ITVBe) or history documentaries (Yesterday), there’s no excuse not to indulge. Yes, you’ll probably spot a few repeats in the listings as you flick channels (ahem, Dave), but you’ll also find new programs to enjoy.

house of cards

Being a TV fan isn’t something to be sneered at now – with streaming services like Netflix delivering sharp box set dramas, such as Orange Is The New Black and House of Cards, many modern shows are designed to be binged on. Want to watch the whole series in one go? Sure. Just don’t apologise for being addicted. Home-grown seris like Sherlock and Broadchurch, or American imports like Breaking Bad and Homeland, have delivered some seriously good watercooler moments over the past few years, with the kind of production values and budgets you’d expect from a blockbuster movie.

TV’s big rival has always been the film industry, luring people to the local multiplex in droves. However, with the ever-increasing cost of cinema trips, an empty wallet can make you retreat home to the TV. But is this entirely a bad thing? Instead of being confined to a crowded cinema with an errant child kicking the back of your seat, you can relax on the sofa and access a whole range of film channels at the touch of a button. Alternatively, ditch a film for a must-watch evening program and tweet or Facebook your response as it unfolds (something you definitely can’t do in the cinema). Even if your night isn’t exactly action-packed, it’s pretty satisfying to make a pointed comment about a bizarre act on Eurovision or a TOWIE scandal, then see your social media street cred soar.

eurovision

Great British soaps are another major talking point and something of an institution for many of us. Love triangles and family tiffs aside, soaps do raise awareness of key issues such as HIV, eating disorders and domestic violence, as a character’s problem hits home with viewers. When a Coronation Street storyline saw Hayley Cropper battling pancreatic cancer, the charity Pancreatic Cancer UK recorded a marked increase in people asking for support. Tons of research goes into shaping these storylines to ensure they reflect reality as much as possible, so don’t go assuming they’re trivial.

If you’re a secret telly addict, now’s the time to embrace your love of the box. Whatever you’re into – bad-ass crime dramas, finely tuned soaps, failsafe entertainment shows and everything in between – it’s not stupid, just truly compulsive viewing.

Cool For Cats

On 13th July 2014, I was followed on Twitter by a cat. Not just any cat, arguably the most pampered and fashionable petit chat on the planet, one Miss Choupette Lagerfeld. Apart from the fact that I just worship her ‘Daddy’ Lagerfeld, I am also obsessed with felines so this was the ultimate social media top trump of follows for me.

choupette  v magazine

Now Choupette’s world can be explored in a new book published by Thames & Hudson, Choupette: The Private Life of a High-Flying Fashion Cat. This charming book includes photographs and sketches, chapters about her diet and beauty regime, as well as her activities as an e-cat on the net. There’s even some of her published work as a model in fashion stories shot by Karl, sharing the limelight with supermodels such as Linda Evangelista and Laetitia Casta.

Choupette

Did you know that Choupette’s blue eyes inspired a colour palette for a recent Chanel collection? Or that she only travels with personalised Goyard luggage? I love these little insights into Karl’s life and workings. His love for this kitty inspires and delights him, and it’s a real treat to feel like you are learning secrets of this incredibly private designer’s life. Plus Choupette really is just a beautifully pretty cat. The book’s final chapter looks at other great artists such as Baudelaire, Gorey and Jean Cocteau and their love for the feline, bringing home just how special these animals really are. Meow – definitely cool for cats…

choupette karl lagerfeld

Published by Thames & Hudson, Patrick Mauriès’ Choupette: The Private Life of a High-Flying Fashion Cat is available to buy online here.