The editors' blog


    ~ Posted by Anthony Gardner, September 11th 2014

    For the past three years, residents of Kensal Rise in north-west London have been campaigning to save their beloved library, which Brent Council had closed and stripped despite intense local opposition. A compromise seems finally to have been reached—part of the building will survive as an independent library, run by volunteers, while a developer will turn the rest into flats. Last Sunday night some 250 people filled the nearby St Martin’s Church for a fundraising celebration, and to commemorate the man who opened the library in 1900: Mark Twain.

    read more » Anthony GardnerBooksLondon

    ~ Posted by Maggie Fergusson, September 10th 2014

    Pinning down Ali Smith’s genius is like trying to pocket moonbeams. No sooner have you found an adjective that seems to nail it, you realise the opposite is also true. Her writing is playful yet profound, modest but effervescent, wise but never jaded, satirical yet generous (generous in particular). “How to be Both” is the most uplifting book I’ve read this year. When I heard it had made the Man Booker prize shortlist, I shouted with delight.

    read more » BooksMaggie FergussonMan Booker Prize

    ~ Posted by Isabel Lloyd, September 9th 2014

    Alecky Blythe’s “Little Revolution” at the Almeida in London last week never quite caught fire, unlike the post-Duggan riots in Hackney that it took as its subject matter. Verbatim theatre, the process Blythe favours, asks actors to mimic, as closely as possible, the recorded words of real people piped to them via an earpiece. For an audience, so much of live theatre’s magic lies in an unspoken deal with the actors: we respond with a wave of emotion, they surf it. But this style straitjackets the cast into following the exact rhythms and timings of the original dialogue, so they can’t respond to our reactions—with a longer pause, say, or extra emphasis—but have to plough straight on.

    The comedian Ronni Ancona played a Pembury estate mother with a wayward son and a nice line in put-downs. “Can you imagine?” she said to me afterwards. “Someone who came up through the clubs, not being able to play the laugh?”

    read more » Isabel LloydLondonTheatre

    ~ Posted by Melanie Grant, September 8th 2014

    There is something about the creak of a sumptuous leather jewellery box opening that can truly silence a woman. And so it was at a recent viewing at Graff Diamonds when I came face-to-face with a brooch called the "Royal Star of Paris” (above). The piece contains a thrilling 107-carat yellow diamond, called the Graff Sunflower, and a 100-carat brilliant white diamond, called the Graff Perfection. The gems were so magnificent that mute appreciation was my only response.

    Rare stones such as these, which are important because of their size, colour and clarity, are often named after their founder or owner so that they can be tracked throughout history. “Every stone has a distinct personality,” says Laurence Graff, the chairman of Graff Diamonds, a London-based jeweller that specialises in big stones. “It is our duty to uncover the secrets hidden within its infinite depths, and this is a responsibility we take very seriously.” It takes teams of gemmologists, stone cutters and designers to guide a big stone on its journey from “rough” to leather box. Specialised computer-software is used to map out the inner flaws of each rough stone, followed by extensive planning, cutting and finally polishing. The process can take Graff’s in-house team months, and each gem is reassessed at every stage as the personality of the stone is revealed.

    read more » HISTORYjewelleryMelanie Grant

    ~ Posted by Jainnie Cho, September 3rd 2014

    When I was a rookie reporter in Korea I was assigned to cover the finance ministry. The pressroom at the government complex near Seoul was a sweaty, testosterone-fuelled workplace, full of middle-aged male reporters who regularly smoked, drank and ate dog-meat stew (bosintang) for lunch at a nearby restaurant. For them, eating dog meat (commonly thought to enhance virility) was proof of their “manliness”. And as a 20-something female, joining them was a shortcut to proving my worth as a “serious” journo.

    Eating dog meat is a custom in several Asian countries. Koreans have eaten dogs for centuries, mainly during “dog days” (sambok), the three hottest days of the year, as an energy-boosting summer treat. And during the Korean war in the 1950s, when food was scarce, it became more common. It is now banned in some parts of Asia (the Philippines, Taiwan and Singapore), but in Korea it remains a legislative grey area—neither completely banned nor strictly legal. Dog-meat restaurants can still easily be found in Seoul’s back alleys. But, according to local industry figures, there are now less than half (around 700) than there were 30 or 40 years ago.

    read more » FoodJainnie ChokoreaNews

    ~ Posted by Charlie McCann, September 2nd 2014

    Last week, the supermarket chain Aldi removed copies of “Revolting Rhymes”, Roald Dahl’s take on traditional fairy tales, from its Australian stores following complaints from a few customers about the language used in the book. One outraged customer commented on Aldi’s Facebook page that the book had “an unacceptable word in it for kids!!! Not ok!”

    The unacceptable word was “slut”, found in Dahl’s pulpy re-telling of "Cinderella". The prince falls in love with Cindy at the palace ball, and after she slips away at midnight he desperately tries to find her. His search soon turns into a rampage: he beheads the scheming Ugly Sisters, turns on Cindy and, blinded by his fury, cries, “Who’s this dirty slut? Off with her nut! Off with her nut!”

    read more » BooksCharlie McCannFamilyNews

    ~ Posted by Lucy Farmer, September 1st 2014

    Our app, which is available on iPadiPhoneAndroid tablets and smartphones, also carries audio extras. You can listen to pieces from our September/October issue below.

    read more » audioBooksSCIENCEseptember/october 2014SPORT

    ~ Posted by Jainnie Cho, August 28th 2014

    In our current issue Rebecca Willis went in search of the "perfect" boot. It was a tall order, she realised, to find a “stable, stylish, interesting and relatively fashion-proof” pair of boots. They had to be heeled but suitable for day and night, sturdy but not clumpy, and complementary to both jeans and a skirt. So Rebecca teamed up with Tracey Neuls, a Canadian shoe designer, and a few months and three prototypes later, they came up with an answer.

    Our very own limited edition Intelligent Life boot, in collaboration with Neuls, is on sale now at Tracey Neuls stores in London and online at, so you can test them out yourself. As Rebecca writes, no piece of clothing can be perfect for everyone. But these glass-beaded, black leather, 6.5cm-heeled boots might just be. 

    read more » FASHIONIntelligent LifeJainnie Chostyle

    ~ Posted by Tim de Lisle, August 27th 2014

    Our pick of six new songs that you should have on your iPod. Hear a selection on our player below, or find the playlist on Spotify by searching for IntLifeMag. All songs available on iTunes, unless otherwise stated.

    Conor Oberst: Desert Island Questionnaire (pictured)
    Piercing observations from the most prolific man in Portland, Oregon.

    John Fullbright: High Road
    Young country singer who packs a lethal punch. "Songs" is out now; European tour Aug 29th.

    David Gray: Last Summer
    A folk tune that speaks louder than words—so it gradually discards them, to powerful effect.

    Robyn Hitchcock: To Turn You On
    The Soft Boys meet Roxy Music on a deliciously woozy cover.

    Cold Specks: Let Loose the Dogs
    Al Spx's haunting voice at its desolate best.

    Out of the Blue: Hips Don't Lie (on Bandcamp)
    Shakira with added wit from an all-male acapella group of Oxford students.

    read more » intelligent tunesMusicRockseptember/october 2014Tim de Lisle

    ~ Posted by Lucy Farmer, August 21st 2014

    Circus has come a long way from red-coated ringmasters and performing animals. Contemporary acts have to work hard on their USP to draw in the crowds. “A Simple Space”, by the Australian group Gravity & Other Myths, now showing at Udderbelly at the Edinburgh Fringe, takes a bare, black stage with stark white lights in each corner, and brings it alive with energetic choreography and skilful acrobatics set to percussive music.

    read more » circusEdinburgh FestivalLucy Farmerperforming arts