Someone to Poke

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I’ve been thinking a lot about siblings this week because of an important anniversary in our family. ‘What do you like about having siblings?’ I asked Molly the other day. ‘Having someone to tease,’ she said. ‘And when I was little there was always someone to poke on car journeys.’

Over the years there’s been a lot of research into parent-child relationships but sibling relationships have only attracted serious interest more recently. And yet they’re clearly very important. Psychologist Daniel Shaw put it well: Continue reading

A Mixed Diet

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Photo: Guillaume Tell

Earlier this week I spent half an hour trudging through my online supermarket order and thinking about the advice on eating a varied diet. As I dutifully included a multi-coloured assortment of fruit and vegetables, protein and so on, I wondered, not for the first time, why human food has to be so complicated and take up so much time. There’s the shopping, the planning, the cooking, the serving, clearing up the spills, cleaning the fridge—it seems a great deal of effort. After all, cats seem quite happy with cat food, cows eat grass, and reindeer warble flies survive perfectly well on reindeer tissue.

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Indeed, not only do most animals have a narrow diet, but a varied one can be positively harmful. During the Second World War Continue reading