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The body changes. The mind does not.

This and other great long reads from the week.

THE ONE YOU SEND TO YOUR FRIENDS

“The body changes. The mind does not.” 

I loved this Guardian interview with 86-year-old Hollywood icon Sophia Loren, whose strides through its paragraphs “with grey hair untethered and her hoop earrings swinging; a Mother Courage for the ages, bruised but unbowed.” Although it’s ostensibly about Loren’s new film (which is directed by her son), the article is really an excuse to sweep through a living legend’s life – and what a life it has been. From poverty in Naples as a child to fame and glory in America, Loren dances through life with strength, courage, sexiness, and more than a little humour. Like something from the movies, indeed. 

THE FIRESTARTER

“I have the right to do the things I think I should do,” Abrams said. “My gender and my race should not be limitations.”

You might all feel a bit sick to death of US politics by now, but it’d be remiss of me not to include this brilliant New Yorker piece about Stacey Abrams’s fight against voter suppression. Over recent years Republicans have supported policies, such as voter-I.D. laws and voter-roll purges, that have disproportionately affected people of colour’s access to vote. And just this week, we’ve watched Donald J. Trump do his very best to discount many completely valid American votes from turning the presidency blue. Adams is a powerhouse figure, and this beautifully written article should make you feel determined to make the world a fairer place. 

THE HARD HITTER

Families are dying trying to cross to Europe, but you can help with a couple of easy clicks. 

In the last two weeks, more than 140 people died off the coast of Senegal after their ship caught fire and capsized, and a family of four Kurdish Iranians drowned in the Channel (their 15-month-old child is also missing and presumed dead). Reports of the deaths of Rasul Iran Nezhad, Shiva Mohammad Panahi and their children drew forth empty condolences from the home secretary, Priti Patel, about “thoughts and prayers”. But there was no genuine attempt to sympathise with the migrants’ desperation, or acknowledgement that their reliance on smugglers is a matter not of accident but of political choice. Here, journalist and former volunteer at Mobile Refugee Support Mathilda Mallinson writes about the situation – and what you can do to help. 

THE SCROLL ON THE LOO

“Is it the same river rippling from moment to moment, the water slipping over us, spilling inevitably toward the sea, while new waters join at its source? Are we the same people from one swim to the next? From one moment to the next?”

I thought this was a very beautiful meditation on change and what it means for us as humans, which is more important than ever to think about as we move into another period of pandemic uncertainty. Writer Louisa Thomsen Brits meditates on the fluid nature of life and what it can teach us, via Heraclitus, environmental ethicists, Daoism and water. But really it’s just a lovely piece reminding us all to look for the life in lockdown, and of the fact that change can break open the path to light – even when things seem pretty dark. 

WHAT TO WATCH

I bloody love a hedgehog, and this episode of Autumnwatch is good for the soul. Hannah Stifall visits Cornwall’s hedgehog rescue centre to see how the animals are getting on, and it’s basically all I’ve ever wanted from lockdown watching. Prepare to curl up with a cuppa and have a look at all that is good in the world.