The Sunday Times: Style investigates the illegal teeth-whitening industry

I sit back nervously in the dentist’s chair. “My teeth are pretty sensitive,” I mutter. The cold gel hits my enamel and I gasp. Suddenly, I regret letting my narcissism get the better of me. Again.

The cliché about Brits is that we have terrible teeth. But the Hollywood smile once reserved for celebrities, now sparkles from every screen. The desire for a blinding smile has spawned a dazzling industry in teeth whitening, from at-home kits, trays, pens, serums and stick-on strips to celebrity Harley Street dentists charging thousands. The market research company Mintel values the UK cosmetic dentistry industry at £2bn, and another recent report found that, on average, British men and women spend 11% more a month on their teeth than their skincare. But in this white rush, many consumers are unaware that some of the treatments being offered are not merely dangerous, they are illegal.

Dentist Dr Richard Marques has seen the demand for whitening grow exponentially over the past few years. “It’s the selfies,” he says, flashing his own brilliant grin. “People have never looked at themselves or each other so much.” Now they come in asking for celebrity smiles just as we ask hairdressers for cuts. “I had a patient who said, ‘I want Ross from Friends,’ ” he says.

Not all those trying teeth whiteners are bleachorexics, of course. Most want nothing more than a subtly brighter-looking version of the colour they have. “White teeth are associated with youth, vitality. People trust people with white teeth more,” Marques says. However, he worries that the growing demand for teeth whitening is fuelling a market in unregulated treatments.

In the UK, teeth whitening can be carried out legally only by a dental professional registered with the General Dental Council (GDC). There are two methods available. The first and most expensive is carried out in the clinic and involves a solution of hydrogen peroxide and either a laser or LED. Results are near-instantaneous and prices in London range from £600 to £1,000. The second requires specially moulded trays and a similar, albeit weaker, formula that can be dispensed and administered at home. The best results come after approximately two weeks, and prices start at about £300.


The Sunday Times: The Ghost Factory: bloodshed and banter on the streets of Belfast

Twenty-one years after the Troubles officially ended with the Good Friday agreement, echoes of violence still linger. Wounds are unhealed, and questions remain unanswered. The decision last week by Northern Ireland’s Public Prosecution Service to charge one former British paratrooper — Soldier F — with the murder of two people on Bloody Sunday underlines the fact that this conflict stubbornly refuses to move into the past.

The Ghost Factory, the debut novel by the journalist Jenny McCartney, a frequent contributor to The Sunday Times, is set in Belfast at the end of the Troubles. Growing up in the city in the 1970s and 1980s, McCartney was “attuned to the political weather”: her father, the barrister Robert McCartney QC, set up the small, short-lived UK Unionist Party and was a member of the Northern Ireland assembly. The attitude in their house was “not easily stereotyped” because her father was pro-Union but anti-sectarian.

The families of the 13 people killed during a civil rights march on January 30, 1972, have described the decision to charge only one British veteran as a “terrible disappointment”, but for McCartney it suits the complexity of the situation.

“I support the desire of the families to find out exactly what happened and hold individuals accountable,” she says. “But there are many, many people with information on paramilitary killings, for example, who are now in positions of political power and are not divulging that information. So I think if we are going to have a truthful investigation of the past, then, in all conscience, those people should also speak out and bring closure to other relatives.”

McCartney’s book focuses on the vigilante justice meted out by paramilitaries during the Troubles, a subject she covered as a journalist in the 1990s. Youths were beaten and shot by republican and loyalist groups that “policed” working-class areas. She was horrified: “The victim is left with all these injuries and feelings — and what do they do with it?”


Condé Nast Traveller : Katie Glass on the Trans-Mongolian Railway

It’s the journey that went viral on Twitter: we’ve got the full itinerary of Katie Glass’s trip from Moscow to Beijing by train. 

The Sunday Times: Island idyll shattered by a teenage murderer hungry for online fame

Bute seems far from the dark side of modern life — but did Aaron Campbell bring video violence to the savage killing of six-year-old Alesha?

Like many young people, Aaron Campbell wanted to be famous online. Growing up on the Isle of Bute, the teenager dreamed of being as popular as PewDiePie, the world’s best-known YouTuber, whose channel has 86m subscribers. Online, Campbell had a plethora of accounts. It is hard not to look at them now in light of the verdict last week that found the 16-year-old guilty of the abduction, rape and murder of six-year-old Alesha MacPhail — crimes the judge overseeing his trial described as “the most evil in the history of the court”.

The pathologist who examined Alesha found 117 “catastrophic” injuries on her small body, which was found dumped in woodland on the island.


Alesha MacPhail

Now much of Campbell’s online footprint feels menacing: he held accounts on the gaming website Twitch, where his profile page shows a disturbing collage of images that include one of a girl with blood falling from her eyes and mouth, and another of someone standing in a wooden area looking down at a grave.

On YouTube, Campbell — whose moniker was Poison3d Appl3 — posted hours of footage showing himself playing dark video games. In one he creeps through the gloomy corridors of a virtual house, as a crackly radio plays a news report about a man shooting his wife, son and six-year-old daughter. In Campbell’s other grim videos, a girl is heard screaming for her mother, and a dying foetus shown squirming in a sink. On Reddit, Campbell posted a video commentary on a horror game he had created.

Watching these clips makes you wonder what impact such violent video games had on his young mind. Could watching such horror repeatedly have left him immune to violence or led him to commit his crime? Yet, Campbell’s intentions do not seem dark. He used his online platforms to get attention. In videos he begs people to follow him, asking them to “please appreciate the video”, emphasising how long he spent creating them.


ELLE: Why I am not embarrassed to be a hopeless romantic

The first time I fell in love was with a girl who looked like Florence Welch.

On my 15th birthday, she plaited her auburn hair, cut it off, and gave it to me in a heart-shaped box.

At that moment, I fell. Not just for her, but for love itself.

It didn’t work out with the girl (too crazy, even for me), but love’s mad excitement, its giddy stupidity, hooked me like a drug.

That heart-in-mouth rush when suddenly all pop songs make sense – I wanted to feel it forever. And I’ve been in love with love ever since.

My longest love ran for 15 years, unrequited. The shortest lasted 24 hours. For the first boy I loved, I bashed out drunken poems on a typewriter (it was the Nineties, not the Eighties, but the drama appealed).

I’ve rushed across cities at 2am and caught flights to Berlin.

I’ve spent hours and overdrafts on over-elaborate gifts, couriering an antique bottle with a love letter curled inside to seduce a boy; sending one girlfriend heart-shaped cookies at work.

To me, love – impassioned and ridiculous – is irresistible, however it appears: in soppy books, on TV shows or in grand opera.

For years, I found this character trait a little embarrassing. Being hopelessly romantic isn’t ‘cool’.

I’ve grown accustomed to friends cringing as I sing Adele’s Someone Like You at karaoke, cry during the credits of The Notebook, or play Ed Sheeran on repeat.

Never more so than now, as Valentine’s Day approaches, bringing with it an avalanche of soft-focus adverts, chocolate boxes and helium balloons.

Yet recently, I’ve noticed a change.

Accustomed to being the only one in the cinema to swoon when screen couples kiss, to tear up when they don’t, I’ve started to feel a little less lonely.

Whisper it, but love– uncynical, romantic love – is making a comeback.

It’s not just that 3.6 million of us watched Love Island last summer – and cheered when the genuinely besotted Jack and Dani triumphed (shame it was ultimately short-lived).

Nor is it that emojitracker reveals the heart emoji is often the most used on Twitter, while #love is the top hashtag on Instagram.

No – look around at the past year’s biggest cultural talking points and you’ll notice something.

Sally Rooney’s novel Normal People, an exquisite story about how falling in love can change your life, became one of 2018’s biggest hits.

Where Should We Begin?, the podcast that sees psychotherapist Esther Perel counselling a different couple each week, pulls in 10 million listeners.

Instagram poet Rupi Kaur’s musings on love have made her a viral sensation, and Amazon has commissioned a TV series based on The New York Times’ iconic Modern Love column, directed by John Carney of Once and Sing Street.

Then there’s the great rom-com revival.

After their Eighties and Nineties heyday – when the likes of When Harry Met Sallyand Notting Hill kept Hugh Grant, Meg Ryan and Julia Roberts in endless gigs – by the Noughties, the genre was so maligned it looked dead.



The Sun: What’s more feminist than getting what you really want in the bedroom?

IF one person knows What Women Want it’s the queen of the bonkbuster – Jilly Cooper.



We have known for decades that women like dominance in bed.

More recently, in a book called A Billion Wicked Thoughts, two neuro- scientists studied the private Google searches of half a billion people to get an insight into men’s and women’s secret fantasies.

One thing they discovered was women’s interest in erotic stories featuring heroes who were dominant figures — cowboys, princes, ranchers, knights.

They noted the “hero professions” in women’s fantasy novels were all “associated with status, confidence and competence”.

And they observed that women have soft spots for male heroes with paranormal powers of control, like wizards and vampires.

Well, who can deny the sex appeal of Twilight’s Edward Cullen?

I don’t see a conflict between feminism and an attraction to dominant men.

After all, what’s more feminist than getting what you want in bed?

The real achievement of EL James, author of the Fifty Shades series, was not in depicting a woman being controlled, but in allowing real women permission to enjoy their sexual fantasies.

Besides — and this really should not need saying — a sexual fantasy is just that.

As any BDSM aficionado will tell you, the key word here is “consent”.

And this is where Cooper made a mistake. She was wrong to conflate women’s interest in dominant men with the #MeToo movement.

#MeToo, at its best, is about simple respect, for the law and for each other’s bodies.

It means being confident to report sexual assault.

It means ending sexual harassment at work.

It is about respecting boundaries in public life.

A Billion Wicked Thoughts notes that even in romance novels, readers have strict boundaries for how dominant men behave.

The authors note: “Readers of romance novels certainly don’t want their heroes to be rapists or murderers. They’re willing to tolerate a little misogyny and jerkdom in their heroes at the beginning of a story, as long as they don’t stay that way after they meet the heroine.”

A true alpha male has other qualities women value — mostly “kindness and understanding” — and actually, whatever Cooper suggests, I think modern men know this.

After all, it’s boys on Tinder I’ve seen make this distinction best, writing on their profiles that they are “a feminist on the streets, a misogynist between the sheets”.



The Sunday Times: Katie Glass sings the praises of toyboys


Of all the things Heidi Klum, Kate Moss and I have in common, the least surprising is our taste for younger men. Having just got engaged to a man six years my junior, I’m delighted to find that not only have I signed up for six months of people asking, “So when are you having children?” but also I am on trend. Having a toyboy is in.

The 45-year-old supermodel Klum has just got engaged to a 29-year-old rocker called Tom Kaulitz. They announced their nuptials, as is now traditional, by posting a picture on Instagram with the caption “I said yes”. (As if anyone would be cruel enough to post about a proposal they had rejected.)

Klum’s news follows the blow-out wedding of the Bollywood star Priyanka Chopra, 36, and her decade-younger pop-star husband, Nick Jonas, 26. Moss recently celebrated her 45th birthday in Paris with her 30-year-old boyfriend Nikolai von Bismarck, and Sienna Miller, 37, was snapped in New York kissing Lucas Zwirner, 27 — who, headlines helpfully explained, is her “much younger” boyfriend.

All my favourite women — Madonna, Moss, Joan Collins, the Wife of Bath — know the fun of having a younger beau. They feed you great music, take you to cool parties and explain how TicToc works.

I’ve nearly always dated younger partners. I don’t seek them out, but on dating websites I was shocked by the number of younger men who messaged me saying, “I like older women” — pretty painful for this thirtysomething. They trotted out the cliché that women reach their sexual peak later and told me they were looking for someone more mature than them. “Ha-ha-ha!” I’d cackle. “As if!” Indeed the main reason my current relationship works is that my younger partner is more mature than I am.