Category Archives: Blog

Sunday Times: A recipe for child neglect

Morbidly obese children are being taken into care. But are their parents really to blame? Katie Glass meets the loving mums and dads desperate to help their children lose weight.

Marcus Dolton was born on the small side. He weighed 5lb 6oz. “He wasn’t always hungry as a baby,” his mother, Amanda, recalls, showing me a photograph of him as a blond-haired, blue-eyed, round-cheeked seven-month-old. When Marcus was three he was just “chubby”, Amanda says, showing me another picture, taken on his first day at nursery school dressed in a baggy new uniform. She finds one of Marcus at six. He has noticeably put on weight. Taken at his school sports day, he is wearing kit that’s a little too tight. By the time Marcus was eight, he was wearing 13-year-old’s clothes.

Marcus sits in the room next door on the computer. He is 12 years old and 13st. Three years ago Amanda went with Marcus to a paediatrician, who told her “because of his weight it was neglect”. Then social services became involved.

The World Health Organisation considers obesity one of the most serious public-health challenges of the 21st century. Obesity exposes individuals to a greater risk of heart disease, asthma, type-2 diabetes, cancer and strokes. It costs the NHS an estimated £4.2bn a year. In the UK, according to the latest figures, a third of 10- to 11-year-olds and more than a fifth of four- to five-year-olds are overweight or obese. By 2050, obesity is predicted to affect 25% of children.

So who, or what, is responsible for children’s weight issues? And what should be done?

In 2006, Sir Liam Donaldson, then chief medical officer, warned that social services may consider removing children with weight issues from their families. The first reported case came the following year: an eight-year-old girl from Cumbria was taken into care weighing 10st. There are no official figures on how many children have since been taken into care because of their weight. I sent freedom of information requests to 156 councils across the UK asking how many times, in the past three years, social services had taken a child into care or “intervened in some shape or form” because of the child’s weight. The majority of councils rejected the request, claiming it would take too long to establish. But eight councils identified up to 31 cases where they had intervened. In Redcar, one child placed on a care order to receive compulsory services at home was 19½ stone.

Amanda, a slim woman, sits in her kitchen in Selby cutting out and taping cardboard buses for her second son, Trey, who is 11. Four other children play somewhere in the house, including Marcus, who does not want to be involved in our chat. It is a tricky subject. Amanda whispers as she tells me how hurtful it was when social services described her son’s weight as neglect: “It makes you feel like it’s your own fault that your child is overweight, that it’s your failure as a parent.”

She points out that “neglect” is the word she heard used recently to describe an appalling case where a child was battered and killed. “In my eyes, neglect is when you’re not feeding the child, when you’re not listening to the child, when you’re not buying them clothes.” Is it neglect when a child is overfed?

On the shelf, under the window in Amanda’s kitchen window, is a row of cookery books. It includes Mary Berry’s Kitchen Favourites and another called Take One Veg. “We tried to be vegan,” Amanda explains.“With Marcus, we’ve tried everything. We’ve tried couscous …”

“Urgh,” interjects Trey, playing at our feet.

“… We’ve tried gluten-free bread, dairy-free ice cream — I wondered if cutting down his gluten and dairy intake would help.” Marcus drinks Diet Coke and bottled water. In the cupboard are “natural” sweets, a Weight Watchers tuna meal, sugar-free jam. “If you want things like that you’ve got to spend money,” Amanda says. “I am trying.”

She shows me pictures of a packed lunch she made him. In it is a salad shaped like a clown: a piece of cheese as the body, grated carrots for hair and a tomato for a head. Amanda looks up health advice on the internet, but the information is conflicting.

“Some people say you should have a low-fat diet, some people say you should eat high-fat.” To make things even more difficult, Trey is autistic and doesn’t like trying new food. Whatever she has tried, Marcus has carried on putting on weight.

Amanda discovered Marcus was sneaking to the kitchen between meals. He would fill a cup with cereal and creep to his room. “The worst is when you decide to go to the toilet — everything gets quiet and that’s when they’re in the kitchen,” Amanda sighs. She has started locking the fridge.

At school, it is impossible to know what Marcus is eating. “He can tell me he’s having a sandwich, but I don’t really know.” She’s stopped his pocket money, so he can’t buy sweets on the way home from school, but she can’t stop other children giving him theirs. Nor can she stop him being confronted with pizza, cake and sweets when he goes to birthday parties.

Amanda doesn’t want Marcus to feel like he’s being singled out. “He sees it as being punished because he’s overweight.” She admits she sometimes gives in and buys him sweets. For his birthday, they went to McDonald’s. She knows Marcus could do more exercise, but he is self-conscious in PE. She has tried getting him boxing lessons, an Xbox Kinect (a gaming console that encourages physical movement) and buying a cross trainer. “The other children were going on it,” she says.

Amanda thinks that Marcus comfort eats whenever Trey has a “meltdown” caused by his autism, during which Trey screams and hits himself. “He doesn’t like the noise and I’m not there for him because I’ve got to be there for Trey.” Although she has tried to explain the health implications of obesity to Marcus, Amanda doesn’t feel that a 12-year-old can fully understand them.

In Brighton, Jeanette Cowan tells a similar story about her daughter, Samantha Packham. “When she was 14, I told Sam that her weight could kill her. She looked right at me and said, ‘Mum, don’t exaggerate.’ ”

When Sam was born, she weighed only 5lb 4oz. “A very small baby,” Jeanette says fondly. But she had feeding issues. Unable to keep her bottles down, she lost so much weight that she was admitted to hospital. Doctors diagnosed a problem with her stomach lining and switched her to soya milk. At first, it was a blessing: Sam was putting on weight. “Until she got to about two,” says Jeanette. That was when Sam’s eating changed. “She was quite big. People would mistake her for a six-year-old.”

Jeanette and Malcolm, Sam’s dad, discussed her weight with doctors, who reassured them “it was puppy fat” and that “as Sam got more active, she’d lose it”. She did not lose it. By the time Sam was eight, Jeanette realised her weight was becoming an issue. “She was happy … but she wanted food all the time.”

Available at: http://www.thetimes.co.uk/article/a-recipe-for-child-neglect-xzbffjvcv?CMP=Spklr-_-Editorial-_-TWITTER-_-TheSTMagazine-_-20161127-_-Magazine-_-681689858&linkId=31561860

Sunday Times: Do we ever need to leave the house again?

Organic food, dry-cleaning, pedicures … there’s an app for everything

Today, I had a boxing lesson, bought some vinyl, had a manicure and checked out a new Italian restaurant. I accomplished all this without leaving the house.

It is impossible to imagine now, but there was once a time when, if you needed something, you had to go out. People used to walk to the shops; they used to speak to shopkeepers; they schlepped along high streets, handing over actual cash for things they then had to lug home. This was in the dark ages before Google was a verb.

Now we expect high-street offerings delivered direct to our door. Amazon is so keen to cater to our laziness, it is planning drone deliveries so Game of Thrones DVDs can be air-dropped onto our laps. Meanwhile, the explosion of the gig economy — which will be worth about £50bn globally and £2bn in the UK by 2020, according to PricewaterhouseCoopers — and the proliferation of apps have conspired to offer us not just products, but services, at home and on demand. If an Englishwoman’s home used to be her castle, now it can be her gym, Michelin-starred restaurant and beauty salon.

I begin to wonder: would it be possible to live for, say, a week without ever leaving the house? The basics I need for a self-enforced house arrest are Netflix and food. I order a box from Abel & Cole, the organic delivery company, filled with fresh fruit and vegetables, and organic “essentials”. I open a bottle of rosé, settle down in front of the television to watch the American crime series Narcos, and wonder what to do next.

Since I won’t be venturing out to shop, I sign up for some membership services. There is a hipster trend for regular selection-box subscriptions. I join Cocoa Runners, a tasting club that promises “the world’s best craft chocolate delivered straight through your letterbox each month”. I also sign up for Birchbox, which sends beauty boxes monthly, and Cohorted, which provides make-up boxes.

Next, I subscribe to The Willoughby Book Club and Vinyl Me Please. Both of these establish your taste, then the former posts books and the latter records, all tailored to your preferences. Smugly, I sit back and wonder why I would ever leave home again.

Deliveries have been streamlined by technology, but home services really come into their own when apps and the gig economy collide. Once, if you wanted someone to provide a service, you had to flick through Yellow Pages and ring them up. Now I book and pay for services with a few flicks on my phone.

Using an app called Hassle. I find a cleaner who has been accredited, rated and reviewed by former clients, she arrives with supplies, then sets about making my flat sparkle while I lounge around eating organic biscuits.

Task Rabbit bills itself as an “outsourcing” site for household errands. It offers someone for almost any job you need. I find a handyman to put up some pictures that have been lying on the floor since I moved in. Then, using an app called Handy, I book an odd-job man, who arrives with his own paints and brushes to freshen up my windows. In one afternoon, I accomplish more from my sofa than I have in months.

For weeks, I’ve been staring at the smashed face of my iPhone, contemplating a trip to the Apple Store to get it fixed. Now that I’m confined to the house, I’m forced to get creative. I find a company called Repairly, which sends a courier to collect my phone, then, an hour later, brings it back fixed.

My house arrest also makes it impossible to get to a dry-cleaner, but the ZipJet app caters to that. In two clicks, a guy is ringing my bell and whipping my shirts away with a promise to return them, laundered, the next day.

My best find, however, is an app called Pickle, which allows users to post any job. I put up two, “Can anyone fix my vintage record player?” and “Can someone go to Homebase?”. Within minutes, two people have replied. Soon a boy turns up to collect the record player, pledging to bring it back in a week’s time. Meanwhile, I have a helper whizzing around Homebase, choosing cheese plants for me and sending photographs as she goes to make sure I like them.

Home services breed a strange mix of apathy and action. The more I discover I can get other people to do, the more I want done, but the less I can be bothered to do myself. Even by the standards of someone who regularly works in their pyjamas, I become apathetic. Why should I shop? Why should I clean? Or get out of bed? Why should I cook from my Abel & Cole box when I can get all my food delivered?

I was a student the last time I expected meals delivered to my bed. Back then, the options were limited: Indian, Chinese or pizza. Now, thanks to UberEats and Deliveroo, the fare of every local restaurant can be delivered. It is like having Jamie Oliver on room service. Soon I am waking up to fresh pastry baskets and chia-seed coconut yoghurts delivered by Gail’s bakery.

 

Available: http://www.thetimes.co.uk/article/do-we-ever-need-to-leave-the-house-again-wnpb3fwtl

Sunday Times: Tim the ‘plumber’ sits waiting with saw and drill

When I began to explore the world of cryonics a few years ago I admit that I got caught up in the excitement of it.

I was dazzled by images of vast silver canisters streaming with liquid nitrogen, awed by American storage facilities that looked like space-age hospitals and intrigued by tales of the technological and scientific advances that might make it possible to reanimate humans from the dead.

However, those dreams of cryonics were shattered in a garage in Sheffield.

If you are a member of Cryonics UK, Tim Gibson runs your fourth emergency service from his Yorkshire home where his team prepare and transport bodies for storage overseas.

Gibson is a combination of Boy Scout and Addams family member. With his scruffy blond hair hidden inside a hoodie, he admitted during our interview in 2013 that he had no medical or scientific training.

Yet this was not the most worrying thing. Forget the space age; Cryonics UK was working with kit that could have been props if Dad’s Army were playing undertakers. Gibson’s “operating theatre” was the converted NHS ambulance sitting in the drive. The wood-effect fittings and red leather chairs gave it the appearance of a 1970s caravan.

His medical equipment was stored in a suitcase. Much of his surgical apparatus appeared to come from Homebase. There was, he explained, a drill for boring into patients’ skulls and monitoring “how their brain is doing” and a saw for taking their heads off. Gibson was not a man to blind you with science. He described the process of cryogenically preserving a body as “fairly basic . . . it’s just plumbing”.

On the wall of the ambulance were instructions for the procedure. Gibson stepped in when I tried to read them. “The guy who wrote them is dyslexic so they’re a little nonsensical in places,” he said.

At one end of the ambulance was a large blue plastic bath for the bodies. Before setting off for a “suspension” — as the process of preparing the body for freezing is called — Gibson fills it with ice. There was an ice machine in his garage, but he said it operated so slowly that “the simplest thing is to stop off at Tesco’s on the way”.

He accepted that with the importance of beginning the procedure as quickly as possible, the location of the ambulance in Sheffield was an issue for members in the south of England, a five-hour or more drive away.

Available at: http://www.thetimes.co.uk/article/tim-the-plumber-sits-waiting-with-saw-and-drill-v7kz23m8d

 

 

The Sunday Times: Meet the Twags (tech billionaires’ wives and girlfriends)

Forget rock stars and Hollywood hunks — glamorous ‘founder-hounders’ are out to catch the geeky bosses of Silicon Valley start-ups

The 9.6m followers who tune in to watch Miranda Kerr having her hair done on Instagram — for this is how models spend most of their time — were treated to a rather more interesting sight last Thursday: a black and white photograph of a whacking great diamond ring. Across it was the caption “Marry me!” and a twee animation of the tech mogul Evan Spiegel on bended knee. Underneath Kerr had typed “I said yes!!!” and an explosion of heart emojis.

A spokesman for Spiegel, founder of the Snapchat mobile app, who is 26 to Kerr’s 33 and worth $2.1bn (£1.6bn) to her $42.5m, revealed “they are very happy”. He declined to add whether Spiegel was disappointed Kerr had not announced their engagement, which already has 447,000 “likes”, as a Snapchat “story”.

At first, the marriage seems an unlikely combination: a man so bright he founded Snapchat while still at Stanford University, becoming one of the world’s youngest self-made billionaires by 22, and a Victoria’s Secret model who was previously married to the Pirates of the Caribbean star Orlando Bloom (she allegedly had a fling with pop brat Justin Bieber, leading Bloom to punch Beebs in a posh Ibiza restaurant).

Perhaps the union indicates that there is more to Kerr than we thought. More likely, it reveals something about Spiegel — and the way the social status of “geeks” has changed.

Since Steve Jobs made computers cool and Millennials started living online, nerds are king. Even coding is sexy enough for the model Karlie Kloss, singer will.i.am and actor Ashton Kutcher to learn it. Silicon Valley has become the new Hollywood, as moguls and social media barons take over from film stars and sportsmen not just on rich lists, but as alpha men.

Being a co-founder of a company is this decade’s equivalent to being a rock star or a chef. And, if their attractiveness to models and actresses proves anything, then being a Twag — tech wife or girlfriend — is a “thing”. Sources tell me Twags are also known as “founder-hounders” because they like to date the creators of start-up companies.

Actress Talulah Riley was an early adopter. She started dating the PayPal founder Elon Musk in 2008. Riley, then fresh from starring in the St Trinian’s film, met Musk in London’s Whisky Mist nightclub after he had delivered a lecture at the Royal Aeronautical Society. I interviewed her shortly afterwards and she told me they had spent the evening talking about “quantum physics”. A month later they were engaged. Their on-again-off-again marriage lasted six years before she filed for divorce again in March. Currently Musk, worth an estimated $12.7 billion and focused on Tesla cars, is said to be “spending a lot of time” with Johnny Depp’s estranged wife, Amber Heard.

Model Lily Cole dated the Twitter founder Jack Dorsey in 2013. Later she had a son with Kwame Ferreira, founder of the digital innovation agency Kwamecorp. Actress Emma Watson is going out with William Knight, an “adventurer” who has an incredibly boringly sounding job as a senior manager at Medallia, a software company. Allison Williams, Marnie in the HBO television show Girls, is married to Ricky Van Veen, co-founder of College Humor website.

Available: http://www.thetimes.co.uk/article/meet-the-wags-lh5m5c083 

Images: GETTY IMAGES

The Sun: Sadiq Khan’s plans to ban body shaming adverts on public transport is a ‘ridiculous act of oppression’ that perpetuates the idea that women are the ‘weaker’ sex

London mayor is just pandering to a ‘tedious, angry mob’ says columnist Katie Glass who thinks the move is ‘so patronising’

I HEARD the news Sadiq Khan was doing something about London transport and thought, “Finally! He’s going to reduce my chances of being killed in a rush-hour stampede”.

Maybe he’ll knock an hour off my commute, after reports that in London it’s now quicker to get to work by donkey than bus. Or address the spike there’s been in sexual assaults on the Tube?

But, no. Silly me. Nothing so useful.

Instead Khan’s first major act as Mayor is some censorship, having pledged, like a puritanical Boy Scout, to ban body-shaming adverts on public transport.

You’ll recall this is a row sparked by last year’s Protein World ad, in which a girl in a bikini, right, asked: “Are You Beach Body Ready?” and 378 complained. And apparently Khan writes ­legislation based on 400 people being mildly annoyed.

That, and his rules for his kids.

Trying to justify this ridiculous act of oppression, Khan said: “As the father of two teenage girls, I am extremely concerned about this kind of advertising.”

As if that makes it OK that I, a grown woman, now have to live as if Khan was my dad.

Does this mean as Mayor, Khan will also want me home by 10pm?

Will he ban me from smoking in bed? Or leaving the house if my skirt is too short?

After all that’s what this ban amounts to: A middle-aged dad telling women to cover up, because he knows what’s best.

Paternalism doesn’t cover this puritanical crusade to dictate what we can see — a censorship especially patronising to women.

Khan thinks such ads “demean people, particularly women”.

In saying so, he perpetuates the sexist idea that women are the weaker sex, most easily damaged by advertising. That we girls need protecting — the same patronising sentiment behind Jeremy Corbyn’s idiotic idea for women-only train carriages.

Is it because men are made of sterner stuff that Khan doesn’t worry so much about them? Because plenty of ads feature semi-naked men.

In fact Protein World ran an ad showing a guy with a six-pack wearing just his pants in 2014.

Last year ads for an Australian breakfast shake, showing a guy in Speedos and claiming “Aussies Suck”, was plastered on London buses.

No one seems panicked about them.

Perhaps Khan finds female nudity more offensive? Why stop at ads, then?

Khan should head to the British Museum and chuck a modesty cloth over the naked statue of Aphrodite, in case visitors faint at the sight of her bum.

Never mind that even hand-wringing eating disorder charity Beat admits advertisements ­cannot cause eating disorders.

Never mind that Protein World’s ad ran uninhibited in America on a massive billboard in New York’s Times Square.

Never mind Protein World’s ad was officially ruled neither ­offensive nor irresponsible by the Advertising Standards Authority.

Ignoring them, Khan has Transport For London establishing their own ad-watch group, governed by his tastes.

Explaining the ban, Khan says he is worried ads promote “unrealistic expectations”.

If he’s seriously concerned about that he’ll have to take on the whole advertising industry.

And start banning ads for ­perfect tans, ones promoting ­flawless skin and fashion ads bullying us into buying nice clothes.

AVAILABLE: https://www.thesun.co.uk/news/1289467/sadiq-khans-plans-to-ban-body-shaming-adverts-on-public-transport-is-a-ridiculous-act-of-oppression-that-perpetuates-the-idea-that-women-are-the-weaker-sex/

Image: Getty Images

The Sunday Times: Click. Send. Oops. That email has just revealed the real you

Sarah Vine is among the 60% of us who have sent a note to the wrong person. It may be embarrassing but it may not be accidental, offering the chance to express our true feelings

Perhaps Sarah Vine is hoping people are too busy watching the political landscape implode to have taken much notice of her blunder last week: the leaking of an embarrassing email she wrote to her husband, Michael Gove. In it she advises him how best to handle Boris Johnson and goads him to be his “stubborn best”.

Ambitious and scheming, it is a missive that has seen Vine compared to Claire Underwood from the television series House of Cards and, more cruelly, to Lady Macbeth. Particularly embarrassing is the fact that it was leaked by Vine herself. When emailing it to Gove’s staff, she accidentally copied in a member of the public. They, in turn, forwarded it to Sky News.

To err is human, to accidentally cc is a modern hazard. If you haven’t humiliated yourself by email, as far as the 21st century is concerned you haven’t lived.

I accidentally emailed someone just last week. After popping over to pick up some keys from a friend’s relative, I dropped my mate an email observing, “OMG your cousin is hot!” Only to realise, the moment I pressed send, the hot cousin was still copied into our chat.

A journalist friend was at the brutal end of this recently when she pitched a story to an editor only to receive an email reply, into which she had been accidentally copied. It read: “There is nothing I want to read less.” This is the classic accidental cc: erroneously emailing someone, usually whomever you are insulting at the time, probably because they are on your mind.

In his book Great Email Disasters, Chas Newkey-Burden quotes a survey by the search engine Lycos claiming that 60% of us have sent an email to the wrong person, on nearly a quarter of occasions to the person being mocked.

“If someone writes a nasty email about someone, they’re thinking about the person as they send it,” Newkey-Burden says. “So there is a real danger of them accidentally addressing it to the very person they’re slagging off.”

This is presumably what happened when Alastair Campbell sent an email to Newsnight telling them to “f*** off and cover something important you t****!”. Campbell claims he intended to send it to a Labour party official, in response to a query from Newsnight, but sent it directly to the Newsnight journalist Andrew McFadyen instead.

In the same vein, the then executive editor of BBC Sports News, Graeme Reid-Davies, embarrassed himself when Radio 5 Live hired football commentators Andy Gray and Jonathan Pearce for the 2002 World Cup. “I think they’re both crap,” he said in an email to a colleague. He accidentally copied in 500 BBC sports staff, including Gray and Pearce.

Some email mistakes involve copying in people we are thinking about; others reveal a guilty conscience. According to Lycos, sex texts feature in 33%of mis-sent messages. Like the time my friend, a lawyer, wrote a steamy fantasy to his girlfriend worthy of The Hite Report, only to email it accidentally to all the lawyers working with him on a case. Afterwards he tried to invoke legal privilege as he begged them not to share it.

Available: http://www.thetimes.co.uk/article/click-send-oops-that-email-has-just-revealed-the-real-you-jwd06f0f7 

The Sunday Times Interview: Susan Sarandon, actress

“There is nothing about Hillary Clinton I find feminist, except that she’s a woman”

Susan Sarandon arrived last night from LA. Is she exhausted? “I’m surprisingly all right,” she grins. She looks damn good for 69. Relaxed, too. Her hair, loosely up in messy ringlets, seems more strawberry blonde than red-carpet red. She is dressed casually in a loose, pink, sequined kaftan top, which she pulls at, complaining: “I am at my fattest.” Still, she digs into the bread basket and declares she’s hungry. “Let’s get oysters!”

I confess, I am slightly disappointed. I had hoped to meet Sarandon at her purringly seductive best. After all, she was the sexiest feminist icon ever in Thelma & Louise — and 25 years later she is a siren still: tweeting pictures of herself comparing cleavage size with Salma Hayek at this year’s Cannes and stealing the red carpet from stars 40 years younger by turning up in a plunging tuxedo dress (her “double-breasted look”). In 1975 she played Janet (dammit) in the Rocky Horror Picture Show, where she seduced Frank-N-Furter and Rocky Horror in one night. In real life, she had a three-year fling with David Bowie in the mid-1980s after they met on the set of The Hunger. For years Playboy begged her to pose, offering ever more cash. Now she says she regrets not finding a way to do it, on her own terms, in a way “that wasn’t dehumanising or objectifying”. She did offer to pose naked while pregnant, but it wasn’t interested. Now she can’t do it “because I have two grown-up sons”.

Today, though, I might not have recognised her walking into Claridge’s. Unlike celebrities who travel with an entourage while wearing giant Prada sunglasses and complaining about paparazzi, Sarandon avoids starry fuss. In Hollywood, she claims, she is “kind of an outsider”, and chooses to live in New York because “if I was isolated behind gates in Beverly Hills, I wonder if I would be able to maintain my connection to the bigger picture”. That is important to her.

The day we meet, Hillary Clinton has won the Democratic nomination. Sarandon, who has been campaigning fervently for Bernie Sanders, Clinton’s rival, is unimpressed. “She could be indicted,” she says of the FBI investigation into Clinton’s use of a private email server to send classified information. “She’s lied and she’s broken the law.” Even off the red-eye with no sleep, she can’t wait to sink her teeth in.

I would have thought a famously liberal feminist like Sarandon would relish the prospect of America’s first female president, but no. “I don’t vote with my vagina,” she retorts. Besides, in her view, Clinton is no sister: “There is nothing about her I find feminist, except that she’s a woman. She doesn’t support basic things that would help women.” She continues railing in this vein, firing partisan allegations about everything from Clinton’s alleged lack of support for a $15 minimum wage and universal healthcare to her willingness to send back some undocumented child refugees.

Her gripes against Hillary are so numerous, I could write about nothing else. “She’s a hawk and she’ll probably get us into another war — she’s been desperate to get us into it with Russia and Iran.” As Sarandon warms to her theme, she reels off the charges: “She won’t release the transcripts of all her speeches to Goldman Sachs … She was the last one out for gay rights … Monsanto … Honduras … Libya. Across the board, everything she stands for is wrong.”

So what is the alternative? Sarandon has provocatively suggested people might vote for Trump over Clinton just to watch the system implode. “Some people feel Trump will bring the revolution immediately,” she has said. She has since seen the light, admitting that, rather than voting for Trump, she’ll abstain or vote for Jill Stein, an independent candidate.

If she feels so strongly, would she ever run herself? “No! Absolutely not.” But Americans love a celebrity politician: look at Arnold Schwarzenegger, former governor of California. “No, you can’t make a difference, it’s much better to be outside.” This seems to be a recurring theme with her.

She is easy to be with, and relaxed in the way people are who are totally comfortable in themselves, which you’d expect from a woman who has always been authentically herself, long before being so was a thing. Unpretentious, she is not afraid to speak her mind, even about her own industry. She recently called out Woody Allen as a paedophile, in the light of renewed allegations that he abused his adopted daughter: “I think he sexually assaulted a child and I don’t think that is right.”

She has been outspoken since high school, when she was arrested at protests for civil rights and against the Vietnam War. Since then she has sparked controversy with her support for gun control and LGBT rights, as well as speaking out against sex trafficking, the death penalty and human-rights violations. This is not just luvvie talk — she went to Lesbos recently to work with refugees: “The worst humanitarian crisis I have seen.”

AVAILABLE: http://www.thetimes.co.uk/article/the-interview-susan-sarandon-actress-6vvp593c2 

Image: MAARTEN DE BOER/GETTY