The public sector's on strike, the high street is turning into some kind of Mad Max post-apocalyptic wasteland and Cherly Cole's getting back together with Ashley. It's a tough world out there - the pressure's on and we're all having to work twice as hard to earn less than we used to. That means less time to catch up on all the big news stories, so here's an overview to help you win back a few precious minutes of your day.
Pop Goes The Diet
For all of Jamie Oliver's attempts to get kids excited about cous cous, the obesity epidemic is still a hydrogenated time-bomb hanging over our heads. Now, just to make matters worse, scientists have discovered that all those diet soft drinks are probably making us fatter. Exploring the 'diet soda paradox' identified by researcher Sharon Fowler, the new study has found that the more zero-calorie pop people drank, the bigger they got: "For people who drink two or more diet sodas a day, their waist increase was five times those who drank no diet sodas—almost two inches."
The scientists claim to be baffled as to why these slimming options should be having the opposite effect, but they've obviously never stood behind an overweight McDonald's customer when placing an order that would leave the Waltons feeling over-faced. Conventional wisdom seems to suggest that you can order whatever you like, as long as remember to include a diet beverage in your hamburger haul. Despite the benefits inferred by its name, Diet Coke won't digest that supersize meal for you. At best, the only thing slimming about diet drinks is the carcinogens in the aspartame. And that's a pretty painful way to get into those skinny-fit jeans.
What a Carry On
Barbara Windsor has been enjoying a temporary resurgence of popularity recently as her picture has been accompanying a host of stories about a new dress code being introduced by East and North Herts NHS trust. Fearful that patients are in danger of rupturing their appendectomy scars at the sight of a low-cut blouse, nurses are being told to button up on the ward, for fear that they might spill more than the cloudy contents of a bed pan.
The uniform policy states: ''Staff will not dress in ways that undermines the spirit of this policy and clothing that exposes the midriff, torso or excessive cleavage, along with wearing denim, shorts, leggings and mini-skirts, are not acceptable.'' Now, I don't spend much time on hospital wards, but the few times I've visited relatives, I haven't noticed an abundance of comely nurses with visible stocking-tops. And the only sound you're likely to hear is the incessant coughing of tubercular old men bringing up forty years of lung butter, rather than the cheeky whoop of a swannee whistle.
A Bunch of Grunts
Wimbledon's over for another year, and once again the press coverage was as depressingly predictable as always. The papers were all busy cheerleading for Andy Murray, despite the fact that it was about as futile as rooting for the blonde slut to survive a slasher movie. Thankfully, the women were on-hand to generate some more engaging, if equally predictable stories. Bethanie Mattek-Sands gamely threw open her dressing-up box to announce herself as the Lady Gaga of tennis, and Simona Halep's breast reduction surgery justified countless pages of before and after pictures of her Barnes-Wallises.
Subscribing to the notion that female players should be seen and not heard, the BBC rolled out an ingenious innovation that gave viewers the chance to operate their own mixing desk. At the touch of a button, fans with sensitive hearing could lower the volume of the players' grunts and howls. Hopefully, the technicians are working on a 2.0 version of the software which will give viewers a similar degree of control next time Cliff Richard turns up at Centre Court to give an impromptu sing-along when rain stops play. Then again, this does seem like a rather wasteful use of licence payers' money, especially since the whole problem could have been averted by getting Carolyn Bourne to send a curtly-worded email to all the female players about on-court decorum.
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