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What's got my attention this week

Want some ideas for things to read, watch and listen to this weekend? Look no further...

Total respect for actor Kathy Burke, who spoke out about the traumatic impact of menopause on her mental health.

This is one of my occasional free Friday round-ups. If you're already a paying member of The Shift, thank you. If not, why not join the community and get weekly newsletters and access to all paywalled content for less than the price of a couple of coffees a month. 

Kathy Burke on her difficult 50s, (Opens in a new window) mental health, physical illness and the almost catastrophic impact of menopause.
• Absolutely love this piece on the wisdom of older women (Opens in a new window) by Emma Gannon for her newsletter The Hyphen. And not just because she mentions The Shift.
• Kirstie Alley died this week. Before she was an anti-vaxxer, she was a fat, glamorous actress in a fat-phobic Hollywood, and that was radical, says Jennifer Weiner (Opens in a new window).
• Running out of steam? Perhaps it's time to take yourself on a date (Opens in a new window).
• Gorgeous piece by Kat Lister on heirlooms, memories and "sympathetic magic". (Opens in a new window)
• An increasing number of women (Opens in a new window) are turning to sex work in order to make ends meet this winter.
• Fascinating advice from Philippa Perry to a woman who can make friends but can't keep them (Opens in a new window).
Renting in your 50s? (Opens in a new window) You're not the only one. And if you're not depressed already, throw in this piece on the increasing number of gen-X and boomers living alone as we age (Opens in a new window)!
• When did you last polish your shoes (Opens in a new window)? I can't remember either...
• Kate Winslet's been spouting common sense here, there and everywhere ahead of her C4 drama I Am Ruth (catch it on All4 if you missed it last night). This is a nice round up of her Woman's Hour interview (Opens in a new window). Cue: "Kate from Reading" on bunyons, crisps and sexy older women.
• The joy of reading slowly (Opens in a new window).

• Jennifer (Dirty Dancing) Grey on losing her hair (Opens in a new window).
• Love this by Alice Vincent on murmurations (Opens in a new window).
• If you're loud and sociable (Opens in a new window), do us introverts a favour and leave us alone! (And I say this as someone who would always rather be at home on the sofa...)
• The science behind Christmas Trees (Opens in a new window).
• Struggling with going grey? You need herringbone highlights (Opens in a new window), apparently.
• Sufjan Stevens (aka Mr Christmas) on what he learnt from releasing 100 Christmas songs (Opens in a new window). You might think you don't know who he is, but I bet you a tenner you've got at least one of his songs on your Spotify.
• Got a soft spot for Love Actually even though some scenes give you the ick? You need this very 2022 recap (Opens in a new window).


Cheryl Strayed's Tiny Beautiful Things (Opens in a new window) has long been on my bedside table "just in case". I'm a massive fan of Strayed's kind but no-nonsense style (or radical empathy). You will find no woo-woo here my friends. Just advice, wisdom, humour, warmth and the occasional talking-to compiled from her Dear Sugar agony aunt columns. Plus, this new tenth anniversary edition contains extra material including six new columns. I can't think of anyone who wouldn't think they'd lucked out if they got this in Secret Santa.


OK, I know this isn't a thing of beauty, but aesthetics aside, this Lumie Bodyclock (Opens in a new window) alarm clock/lamp thingy has changed my life in the winter months. I'm not a crack-of-dawn morning person at the best of times, but you try living in a basement flat when there's only six hours of daylight and see how easy you find it to leap out of bed and face the day! Basically this simulates the sun coming up in your bedroom, over the course of thirty minutes, using light rather than noise to wake you up. It's backed by science that's found natural light at the start of the day boosts productivity, mood, energy and helps reset your internal clock. We bought this last winter and its impact was immediate, so if you're prone to SAD in the midwinter months, get it on your Christmas list pronto. Available at John Lewis (Opens in a new window), but you can get it loads of other places too. #NotAnAdJustAFan

Treat a friend to a monthly or annual membership to The Shift this Christmas and they'll also get a signed card from me welcoming them. Find out more about gift memberships here. (Opens in a new window)


The Confessions of Frannie Langton, ITVx from 8 December
I feel like I've been waiting for Frannie to hit our screens with a mix of excitement and dread since I first read the book by Sara Collins over three years ago. Since then it's won the Costa First Novel Award, sold a bazillion copies and been turned into a four part drama by its author. And like the book, the TV series takes no prisoners. It's 1826 and Frannie is about to stand trial for the murder of her "owners" Mr Benham and his wife Madam, who was also Frannie's lover. But did she do it? Why would she kill the only person she ever loved? To find out we trace Frannie's story from a Jamaican plantation to a grand house in London, where Frannie discovers she's not the only woman who's effectively a prisoner. It's a passionate, haunting, uncompromising gothic romance, kind of like a queer Jane Eyre with much more sex. In fact just writing this has made me want to read the book again. Frannie premieres exclusively on ITVx, the new name for the recently relaunched ITV hub. (And before you think, oh God, not another thing I have to pay for, don't panic, it's free!)

• I've only just discovered Before The Lights Go Out (Opens in a new window), a podcast by musician and songwriter Kathryn Williams, where she explores the realm between wake and sleep, and talks to creatives about what they do before they go to sleep. Perfect late night listening.
And on The Shift podcast this week...
Loose Women's Kaye Adams talked candidly about struggling to say the word 60, a lifetime of age-denying, how perimenopause stole her ability to feel joy (not that she realised that at the time), being a confident person with a shedload of insecurities, that Strictly experience and why she'll never subject herself to reality TV judgement again.

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Topic Friday round up