Love is never to be underestimated, slime can find its way out of a maze, and hip-hop is (finally) free from its straight jacket, plus other welcome surprises
Slime moulds – or myxomycetes – sound gross, but are actually completely awe-inspiring. The tiny, brightly-coloured blobs grow everywhere, from leaf litter to dead wood to blackberry thorns (see image). Somewhere between an animal and a fungus, they are confoundingly hard to classify, but scientists have found that they live first as moving, hunting slime (that can solve complex problems and find their way through mazes), before morphing into fruiting bodies of astonishing beauty. They are one of seven wonders of nature to look out for this winter.
Image: Barry Webb
If you enjoyed rapping along to Grandmaster Flash and Snoop Dogg in the 1990s or early 2000s, you’d be forgiven for assuming that being a rapper required an alpha male attitude and an aversion to inclusivity. Of course, it turns out the reality is more nuanced, and that this image was actually one cultivated by the music industry to shift records, effectively barring anyone who didn’t fit the gangsta mould. Thanks to the internet, their stronghold on the genre has blown apart, allowing a new generation of LGBTQ+ rappers to hit the mainstream – such as our cover star Cakes da Killa (pictured).
Are men’s friendships different to women’s because of the effects of toxic masculinity, or are they just wired differently? Enter ‘the godfather of friendship research’, Oxford University’s Prof Robin Dunbar, whose research informed our feature about ‘the male friendship recession’. Among the headline findings are that men are wired to socialise in a more club-like way – as part of the footie team, the pub quiz gang, the curry night club – but that doesn’t mean they can’t have deep and meaningful conversations whilst they’re at it.
Image: Lars Bo Nielsen
A woman from Leicester, England, has unwittingly sparked a scene of all-female, middle-aged punk bands in the Midlands, none of whom could play an instrument before they came across her workshops for beginners. In our new issue, the 60-year-old describes how seven new bands have been formed by women in their middle-age – and that they’re currently working on their first album release.
Image: Unglamorous Music
Have you (like us) been throwing your banana skins in to the compost, when in fact they could be blended into your banana muffin mix to make extra-squishy, delicious breakfast buns? Anti-poverty campaigner Jack Monroe revealed this intriguing and thrifty snippet in her recipe for ‘get up and go muffins’, in her interview for our new issue.
Image: Charles Deluvio
It sounds like something you’d find in a butcher’s shop, but the string-of-sausages lichen hangs beard-like from trees in damp, wild woodlands with pure clean air – they’re intolerant of air pollution, so if you find some, breathe deeply. They may also indicate that you’re in one of the last remaining fragments of Britain’s temperate rainforest – which are finally receiving the recognition they deserve, thanks to a campaign by conservationist Guy Shrubsole, interviewed in our new issue.
Image: Guy Shrubsole
The Matis tribe, who live in one of the most remote valleys of the Amazon, are hunter gatherers who were first contacted by white people only forty years ago. Make and Dani, a couple with a young child, describe their courtship – and how after they first got together he couldn’t sleep thinking about how much he liked her, and worrying that she might reject him – in our feature celebrating the huge complexity – and beautiful simplicity – of love around the world in the 21st century.
Image: Andela and Davor Rostuhar
She may be renowned for her no-nonsense boardroom demeanour, but in her interview for our Life Lessons column, the Dragon’s Den judge revealed that she starts each morning with a grounding ritual. The business guru walks barefoot around the garden “to remind herself what’s important in life”, before heading back to her desk to cut some mean deals.
Image: Charles Glover
You don’t have to live in the arctic to be a pro-ice swimmer, you just need a chest freezer in your shed, filled with ice. So says Cath Pendleton, the Welsh supermarket shelf stacker who tells us how she trains for her extraordinary ice swims, in the new issue of Positive News.
Image: Mark Griffiths
When his tiny Portuguese village was swept up in the country’s most deadly wildfire to date, Antonio Zuzarte and his neighbours decided that they had to do something. Being surrounded by huge (highly flammable) eucalyptus plantations left them exposed, so they have spent the last five years regenerating their local area, planting a more biodiverse array of oak and chestnut, studded with plenty of native cork trees – which are naturally fire-resistant, thanks to the tiny air pockets that make up its cell structure.
Main image: Andela and Davor Rostuhar