An FA-run centre where girls can have a go at the beautiful game. Photograph: Rex/ShutterstockSSE Wildcats, for girls aged 5-11 There are more than 1,250 FA-run centres across the country, where girls can try football, train and play. Weekly sessions after school and at weekends.Soccercise A football-themed workout for girls and women, Soccercise combines a variety of exercises with a football. Suitable for all fitness levels, it is designed to be an introduction to football, used as a pre-match warm-up or fitness class.Five-a-side Played on a smaller pitch with only five players on a team instead of 11, this is physically challenging and designed to give players more ball time.Walking football Played at walking speed and on a smaller pitch, this is a new format aimed at both new players and veterans working on their fitness or recovering from injuries.Where to start? Visit thefa.com to find football near you, or contact one of your local county FAs.• Rachel Pavlou is the FA national participation manager for women’s football.As told to Alexandra Boulton
‘I need to take a hard look at my habits and honestly appraise the way I work.’ Photographs: Getty; AlamyMy next tour is approaching in September, so I am doing what I always do at about this stage, which is spend more time looking at my working methods than working. My garage/office is strewn with Post-its, cards, folders, notebooks, yoga mats and multicoloured pens, all purchased in a quest to unlock a magic way of working that will ensure my ascension to next-level creativity.What has actually happened is that I could probably open a stationery shop. A friend recently commented on the clutter, which is obviously a bad thing. I then spent a good half an hour looking up the best ways to organise your office and am now the proud owner of an empty desk-tidy.Part of this journey has involved working out the best way to manage my time. Usually, if I have a day to write, I will spend the first hour thinking about how I am going to structure my day. I will also spend time helping my kids to get ready for school. Then I spend an hour making and eating breakfast, because balanced nutrition has suddenly become very important. I will then watch an hour of YouTube for some “inspiration kindling”. I will then look up time-management techniques because I am so depressed about the way I’ve wasted my morning – before realising it’s lunchtime. After lunch, I will watch some more YouTube, because it’s difficult to be creative on a full stomach, before writing for about 45 minutes. My kids will come home from school and I will play with them until their bedtime, before entering into a mental tailspin about my work ethic that keeps me up so late that I wake up exhausted. And then off we go again.I have decided this needs to be tackled. I need to take a hard look at my habits and honestly appraise the way I work. I have accepted that if I don’t start writing as soon as I am showered and ready, then my day will descend into a procrastination masterclass.I have also accepted that the psychology of having a whole day to write is too much for me. I think I’ve got acres of time, and so have no sense of urgency, and will happily spend hours looking into the bands featured in the Transformers movie. I have read that, when you are writing or working on something creative, and your attention wanders, your brain is processing and working on what you have just done. But I find it hard to believe that my brain is really taking five hours to fully process the seven minutes I have managed to spend focused on one thing.I have recently discovered the Pomodoro method. You split your time into 25-minute chunks: a short work sesh, and then a little break, and then your next bit. There is a real sense of achievement as you get more and more productive sections of time under your belt, as well as that gaming element of wanting to beat what you have achieved before.The only downside is that often ideas take longer than 25 minutes to formulate and consider, and so 25 minutes is an actual constraint. You can be in the middle of a complex idea, see your 25 minutes is up and then all you’re thinking about is your reward toast. Working around this flaw is infinitely better than spending my day testing different porridge recipes. (Cook with almond milk in a pan before adding a tablespoon of peanut butter and a dash of cocoa. Nailed it.)
‘I stacked my basket high.’ Photograph: Getty ImagesLast year, I wrote about becoming (sort of) middle class after growing up skint. My feelings haven’t changed: I still feel this life is not my own, and that I am merely a tourist passing through.But I have my moments. Like when, over Easter, my teenage cousin was talking about Jesus, using the Arabic word Isa.“I’ve been thinking about Isa,” she started. “Great!” I replied. “It’s never too early to think about an individual savings account.”It’s the imperceptible stuff – the behavioural codes learned from birth, the way people banter over a table – that I stumble over. Frankly, I think most of it is designed to exclude, and is quite daft. (My favourite faux pas is to go to a restaurant with my posh pals and, if my food hasn’t arrived, fail to say: “Please don’t wait for me.”)Yet I envy the confidence that some of these peers project. It’s like magic. I remember a security guard saying to one, while he searched his bag: “You’ll have to bin that water and buy a new one.” My friend just looked at him very closely, and in a soft, clipped voice said: “No, I don’t think I will.” The guard stepped aside.I mention this because of what happened at Waitrose. I don’t usually shop there, but I was passing. I stacked my basket high and paid for the goods at the self-checkout. But there were no carrier bags to be seen; only impatient customers behind me, tutting. I felt judged. I panicked. So I put all the things back in the metal basket, picked it up, and walked home with it, leaving passersby to wonder what they’d seen.I found out later that you have to ask for bags, by which time I’d returned the basket. The funny thing was that nobody said a thing. Politeness, probably, or perhaps I had finally cracked it. Could it be I project a certain confidence after all?
My fianc e is an alcoholic and, although he has admitted it , we go round in circles when he returns to hiding cider in his bag. He blames his drinking on work stress (he is a chef) and he was diagnosed with anxiety two years ago. Medication helped, but as soon as he feels better he stops taking it and goes back to drinking , even at work . The last time he had a panic attack it was so serious I had to call an ambulance. We have two small children and I can’t cope . What do I do? How do I protect my family? When leaving a message on this page, please be sensitive to the fact that you are responding to a real person in the grip of a real-life dilemma, who wrote to Private Lives asking for help, and may well view your comments here. Please consider especially how your words or the tone of your message could be perceived by someone in this situation, and be aware that comments that appear to be disruptive or disrespectful to the individual concerned will be removed. • Comments on this piece are premoderated to ensure discussion remains on topics raised by the writer. Please be aware there may be a short delay in comments appearing on the site. • If you would like fellow readers to respond to a dilemma of yours, send us an outline of the situation of about 150 words. For advice from Pamela Stephenson Connolly on sexual matters, send us a brief description of your concerns. • All correspondence should reach us by Wednesday morning. Email firstname.lastname@example.org (please don’t send attachments). Submissions are subject to our terms and conditions: see gu.com/letters-terms
"[The migraines] were completely debilitating. I was always having time off work because the pain meant I couldn't get out of bed - no amount of painkillers would work."
‘I think a society can be measured by how its strangers interact.’ Photograph: Getty ImagesI am often in agreement with Jean-Paul Sartre’s idea that hell is other people, particularly other people on a sweaty, height-of-summer bus, or in a bar queue, or “whispering” in cinemas. But this makes it all the more pleasing when I find commonality and shared enjoyment with strangers.One of the best examples of this is when watching sporting events. I cannot tell you the number of high fives given and received with fellow Liverpool fans in random pubs – my best mates for 90 minutes, and without the lifelong lie of pretending to like their spouse. I have hugged people from every walk of life after a ball ricocheted off the crossbar and over the line in the final minute.The bucolic version of this is the nod-and-smile that walkers exchange as they pass, wearing bucket hats and boots, fleeces with shorts: always an outfit for two seasons. We smile as if to say: “Look at this! Nature! Not social media!” It’s like sharing a secret, except it is hectares big and smells of pine and cowpats and not-work. I’m also what my friends call a “mingler”, by which I mean it is not uncommon for me to end up playing Scrabble with people from the next table over at the pub, exchanging niceties and numbers.There is a beauty, too, in strangers coming together in collective annoyance. The mutual eye-roll on a delayed train or the group tut at jobsworth security guards. Conversely, there is the symbiotic ecstasy of a gig encore; the drunken, raucous laughter in the loos with people whose names you won’t remember in the morning.Despite the stranger danger we were warned of as children, strangers can represent safety, too: the women who don’t know each other, but come together when a threatening situation unfolds; the men who step in, too; people, splashed on the front pages, who come to the aid of others in extreme danger or natural disasters.It is said that a measure of a society is how it treats its most vulnerable. I think it can also be measured by how its strangers interact: how they intersect, rub along and share spaces, experiences and moods. From something as simple as a door held open, to the stranger who pulls you by the collar from an oncoming lorry, to the fellow booers of George Osborne at the Paralympics.It might be going too far to say that heaven is other people, but I will never not love the interchanging of spirit, or the quasi-religious experiences that can be shared with someone you don’t know from Adam.
More than a quarter of parents rely on Alexa and other digital assistants to read to their children before bed.
“So these soaps have “Braille” on however…they’re not tactile….They literally just have Braille to LOOK like Braille."
A Virginia animal shelter repeatedly offered to re-home the dog before it was euthanised. Photograph: GlobalP/Getty Images/iStockphotoThe unusual death of a woman’s dog in Virginia has sparked outcry and a debate over whether it is ok to kill a healthy pet and bury it with its owner according to their dying wish.Emma, a shih tzu mix, was euthanised and cremated in March as per its owner’s will. The dog was put down despite the efforts of animal shelter workers who spent two weeks trying to talk the executor of the woman’s estate out of the plan.Emma was reportedly taken to a vet, put down and then taken to a pet cremation centre in Richmond, Virginia, and the ashes given to the executor in an urn for burial.“We did suggest they could sign the dog over on numerous occasions, because it’s a dog we could easily find a home for and re-home,” said Carrie Jones, manager of Chesterfield Animal Services.In Virginia, pets are considered personal property and, according to the American Veterinary Medical Association, vets are allowed to perform euthanasia in such cases.Some cemeteries are also allowed to bury pets with their owners, so the issue is more an ethical than a legal one.Dr Kenny Lucas, a veterinarian at the Shady Grove animal clinic, said he wouldn’t go ahead with such a request. “Whenever we’re faced with a euthanasia situation, it’s a very emotional situation – and beyond everything we talk about – that we need to do ethically, and we’ve taken an oath to do,” he told WWBT. “Also it’s something we take home too. It weighs on us as professionals.”Larry Spiaggi, the president of the Virginia Funeral Directors Association said he found the practice of euthanising a healthy dog and burying it with its owner abhorrent. A state lawmaker is considering legislation to address the problem.Associated Press contributed to this report
A French woman has complained about British men, saying they don’t make any “effort” while dating. Put some effort in and plan a proper date!" Nor are British blokes any better once they’re coupled up, according to LaLonde, who is the founder of “slow dating” app Pickable.
Women who who suffer from a sleep disorder known as obstructive sleep apnoea (OSA) are more likely to be diagnosed with cancer.
"I had radiotherapy, which leaves you with problems because it’s so near the bowels and bladder.”