The UK’s Royal Mint has revealed the new 50-pence coins it has struck to celebrate Victorian fossil hunter Mary Anning. But eagle-eyed pedants (of whom we know a few) have spotted a slight error.
One coin marks the discovery of the first ichthyosaur, an extinct marine reptile that looked rather like a modern dolphin. It says “Temnodontosaurus, Mary Anning 1811” and includes a picture of a fossilised skull. But, a colleague points out that, according to the Natural History Museum in London, she didn’t actually discover this bit of the ichthyosaur. Instead it was her brother Joseph who found it in 1810. Mary dug up parts of the neck in 1811, the museum’s website says.
Who are we to split hairs, though? Mary Anning was constantly overlooked for her work during her life. Her name was often omitted from scientific papers that mentioned her fossils, including the ichthyosaur, and the Geological Society of London refused to admit her because she was a woman. If we get hold of one of these 50p coins, we will be sure to treasure it.
Not so for a recently minted £2 coin that was made for the 75th anniversary of the death of author H. G. Wells, however. The coin shows the invading Martian tripods from War of the Worlds with four legs. “The clue is in the name,” irate sci-fi fans complained.
You have to pity the Royal Mint, it just can’t please everyone. Another recent controversy came from a 50p coin struck to commemorate Brexit. The coin reads “Peace, prosperity and friendship with all nations”, a laudable enough statement, you might think, but it failed to include an Oxford comma after “prosperity”, provoking fury among enthusiasts for the controversial punctuation mark. Author Philip Pullman said the coin should be “boycotted by all literate people”. Well, at least it distracted people from arguing about Brexit.
Hollywood star and purveyor of peculiarly scented candles Gwyneth Paltrow has graced the pages of this magazine before, when she went from flogging pricey “lifestyle” accoutrements (£41 for a water bottle, anyone?) to offering alternative advice that medical experts said could carry risks to health through her TV show The Goop Lab.
Now, as the world battles a deadly pandemic, Paltrow has popped up again to share how she is defeating long-lasting covid-19 symptoms with herbal cocktails, kombucha tea and detoxifying superpowders.
Spoilsport and national medical director for NHS England, Stephen Powis, wasn’t impressed with Paltrow’s most recent pearls of wisdom. “Some of the solutions she’s recommending are really not the solutions we’d recommend in the NHS,” he said. “We need to take long covid seriously and apply serious science.”
Let them eat cake
Continuing the unconventional advice theme, functional medicine expert Will Cole has a new diet book that sounds appealing. Although, according to Wikipedia, functional medicine has previously been described as quackery, Feedback wonders if Cole’s book on “intuitive fasting” may be a turning point.
His suggestion is that we should be more willing to listen to our body and intuition. This sounds like a very clever idea to which we have only one question: what if it feels right to eat large quantities of cake? We can’t help but intuit that such a diet may have some flaws.
Perhaps, instead, we need to experiment with a few other approaches, to which we turn to one of the UK’s most prolific TV health presenters, Michael Mosley. He has, at various points in the past few years, advocated low-carbing, a Mediterranean diet, the 5-2 method, where you fast two days a week, and a “clever guts” diet designed to boost your microbiome. We can’t help wondering whether the earlier advice was wrong or if we are supposed to follow all the different regimes simultaneously.
After all of that you would need a decent palate cleanser and what better than a goat’s milk cleanse, where you have nothing but goat’s milk and herbs for eight days? As Paltrow told Marie Claire: “We all have parasites, and they love the milk protein. So if you eat nothing else, they all come out of the intestinal wall and then you kill them with the herbs.” Got it.
Speaking of intestinal matters, a reader’s attention was caught by a rather graphic advert on the side of a south London bus stop asking: “How do you poo?”.
The ad urges people to match the appearance of their stool to different categories – smashed avocado, “poo-doh”, the smooth criminal and so on – with a handy pictorial guide. It reminds Feedback of our favourite nugget of health-related trivia, the existence of the Bristol stool chart.
This is an entirely serious medical faeces classification system, ranging from type 1 (severe constipation) to type 7 (severe diarrhoea), although it is unclear how Bristol residents feel about being associated with this endeavour.
Digging deeper, the bus-stop ads seem to be in aid of a campaign to raise awareness of bowel health, or to help a food company sell its high-fibre snack bars, or possibly both. All very worthy, but our
bus-stop correspondent wishes he hadn’t been eating his breakfast at the time of his encounter.
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