Category Archives: Uncategorized

The Guardian: Mexico City’s Grandest Neighbourhood is Back in Vogue

My article for The Guardian on La Colonia Juarez is available here 

It’s morning in Mexico City, and the traffic on Avenida Reforma, the city’s central artery, is in full flow, interspersed only by tamale carts dashing madly into the path of oncoming cars. A block away, its entrance guarded by two of the city’s landmark skyscrapers, Torre Mayor and Torre Bancomer, is Colonia Juárez, once the grande dame of Mexico City neighbourhoods, and now making a long-awaited comeback.

A few kilometres west of the historic centre, Juárez used to be the grandest colonia in the city. Local architect Rutilo Rojas says: “At the tail end of the porfiriato [when Porfirio Díaz ruled Mexico, 1876-1911], wealthy families built enormous French-influenced mansions in Juárez, and lived there until the mid-century’s new urban developments began. Many demolished their mansions and replaced them with office blocks, which were easier to rent out.”
The horrific earthquake of 1985 sent the area into further decline. In the 1980s and 90s, a small pocket of Juárez, Zona Rosa, became a centre for the city’s gay scene, full of clubs and restaurants, but the rest of the area lay dormant. Now, developers such as regeneration specialist ReUrbano are helping restore its beautiful architecture. A wave of openings over the past six months has seen interest in Juárez reach fever pitch. Havre 77 is an oyster bar and restaurant from feted young chef Lalo García; other new spots include Lucerna Comedor, Teo Luncheonette, Taberna Luciferina, Osteria Isabella and Kyo Sushi. Milan 44 is an “urban market” where people can go for excellent coffee and cheese, a beard trim or a yoga class. In the past three years, three of Mexico City’s most exciting contemporary art galleries – José García, Marso and Karen Huber – have opened in Juárez.
But the most anticipated newcomer is Amaya, a new restaurant and wine bar from Jair Téllez, the chef behind two of Mexico’s best restaurants – Mexico City’s MeroToro and Baja California’s Laja. It opens on 20 May and will boast Mexico’s first entirely natural wine list. For Téllez, Juárez is a fusion of the best of new and old Mexico City: “A wave of creativity has made its way across the city and hit the spinal cord of Avenida Reforma. You don’t know what to expect here, and that makes it very exciting.”
Indeed: the area is also home to classic cantinas unchanged since the 1920s, such as Salon Niza, and to some of the city’s most exciting theatre, cabaret and multi-disciplinary performance spaces: Teatro Milan, Foro 37, El Milagro, El 77 and La Americana Club. Then there’s the wonderful Korean food at Mapo Galbi, Mexico City’s first serious cocktail bar, Bar Milan, and Café La Habana, which opened in 1952 and is said to be where Fidel Castro and Che Guevara planned the Cuban revolution.

Juárez  remains proudly local, with its launderettes and cocinas económicas (budget restaurants). Rents are still low enough for artists and independent businesses to survive, and large restaurant chains have so far stayed away. Long may it last.

VICE: Inside Mexico’s Naked Wine Revolution

 

Read my article for Vice on natural wine in Mexico here 

It’s midday and I’m sitting in MeroToro restaurant in Mexico City, hearing Chilean (by way of Burgundy) winemaker Louis-Antoine Luyt introduce the concept of natural wines to MeroToro’s enthusiastic waitstaff, including the wines he’s making in Tecate with Jair Téllez, MeroToro’s chef, at the Bichi winery.

Many of the waiters tell me they’d never drunk wine before they started working here. After all, as Luyt explains, “historically, there’s been no culture of drinking wine with food in Mexico.” Most Mexicans drink beer, mezcal, tequila, or aguas frescas to accompany meals. What little wine that was drunk in Mexico was quaffed in smart restaurants by rich people, and they would stick to the big, status-symbol labels from Rioja, Ribera del Duero, and Bordeaux—a far cry from anything that 99 percent of Mexicans could afford. Luyt compares the consumption of these Spanish and French wines to having an iPhone, or before that, wearing blue jeans—part of the mindless accumulation of uniform luxury products, totally devoid of individuality. Now, however, the Mexican wine industry is taking off, and expensive wines from Baja, California sit alongside big Rioja houses on the city’s wine lists. Sadly, however, they offer little respite, as the Mexican wine industry is dominated by a monopoly of omnipresent, industrial producers like Casa Madero, LA Cetto, and Santo Tomás, who have chosen to ape the commercial European and Napa Valley models rather than focus on reflecting Mexico’s exciting and unique terroir. The small producers don’t get a look in.
Luyt and Téllez are, however, mounting their own resistenza naturale (to borrow the title of Jonathan Nossiter’s 2014 wine documentary). They are not only Mexico’s only known natural wine producers, but they are also using the somewhat neglected oldest grape in the Americas: misión. It’s fairly certain that misión came over with the first conquistadores (the clue’s in the name), was tended to by friars, and eventually used not only as sacramental wine but also as an everyday table wine. Yet you mention the misión grape to most people in Europe or the Americas and they probably haven’t heard of it. It’s a deeply unfashionable, folkloric grape that you’ll find a smattering of in all sorts of wines, but it usually doesn’t even get a mention, let alone celebrated in a single-varietal bottling. In Chile, Luyt tells me, there are 400-year-old misión vines, and while they’ve yet to find any that old in Mexico, they are certainly lurking dormant somewhere, ready to be nurtured back to life to produce spectacular wine.
Back at MeroToro, the team dives into the latest Bichi samples—a delicious, wispy rosado called Rosa de Peru, made entirely of misión; a more gutsy, juicy nebbiolo with lovely acidity; and the new filthy (in the best possible way) white, La Gorda Blanca, made from the moscatel grape.

Luyt explains to MeroToro’s staff why the wines are different: They are a tiny production; they are low in sulfites and follow biodynamic methods that respect nature; they are made with wild yeasts and are considered “alive,” so they might have a bit of bottle variation. He says that the staff should encourage diners to at least try them, but not be pushy. He admits that if the client wants a bottle of very traditional, classical-style Ribera del Duero or Rioja, they probably aren’t going to be interested, but that if the client is “open,” it’s worth suggesting they try one from Bichi. The sample bottles are quickly finished and everyone seems excited to have them on the list. Two waiters lean over to tell me that they don’t like wine, but they like Bichi.
Bichi means “naked” in some parts of northern Mexico, and for Téllez and Luyt, it thus seemed like an appropriate name to give their new natural wine project based at the Téllez family ranch in Tecate, Baja, California. Making wine together seemed like the obvious thing to do: Téllez had encountered natural wines in Europe, became an instant convert, and was keen to start producing and importing them to Mexico. Luyt was one of Latin America’s experts in hunting down small grape growers in countries dominated by industrial winemakers, and helping them produce wines with minimal intervention. He’s quietly carved out a niche for himself in Chile as one of its only natural winemakers, and his wines now have a cult following.

At the end of this month, the pair will open their much-anticipated new restaurant, Amaya, in Mexico City’s Colonia Juarez. It’ll feature an entirely natural wine list (with imports as well as wines from Bichi and their Tecate Mancunian neighbor, Phil Gregory’s Vena Cava); simple food employing nose-to-tail butchery methods; and sustainable line-caught fish from Ensenada and Puerto Angel in Oaxaca.
The question is whether this “spark,” as Luyt calls it, will be enough to encourage other restaurants to put more natural wines on their menus in Mexico. For many, it’s too big a risk to stock these wines, as there isn’t enough of a customer base yet. Pablo Mata, sommelier at Pujol, explains, “At the moment, Mexico’s wine culture isn’t developed enough for people to understand the concept of natural wines…they are popular in Pujol, but above all with foreigners.” However, Mata is confident that “without doubt, the global natural wine movement will generate more diversity in Mexico [in wine].”

Luyt believes it’ll only be a matter of time. After all, chefs and diners in Mexico City go to great trouble sourcing extraordinary ingredients—it’s only natural that they will begin seeking out wines that evoke the same emotions and excitement landrace corn or endangered chiles do.

My review of Gored for the New Statesman

In his fifteen year career as a professional matador, Spaniard Antonio Barrera has survived 23 cornadas, or “hornings”, making him the most gored torero in modern history. His journey towards retirement in December 2012 is the subject of Ido Mizrahy’s new documentary Gored, which, after a hugely successful festival run last April (including winning Best Documentary at Raindance) has just been released on Netflix and iTunes in the UK.

It is not a documentary about the rights or wrongs of bullfighting, but rather, as the director Ido Mizrahy – who does not describes himself as a fan of bullfighting, but is not against it either – tells me, “about life and death, family, broken dreams”, and one man’s single-minded obsession with doing something he isn’t great at. As the Spanish bullfighting critic J A de Moral explains in Gored, he isn’t “fino, has no ‘aesthetic grace…he isn’t one of the artist matadors with an aesthetic purity from another galaxy”. He is, however, insanely brave, and is prepared to die every time he enters the ring.

Mizrahy explains that this is what drew him and Geoff Gray, his writing partner, to Barrera as a subject – the very fact he isn’t a poster boy for bullfighting insured an honest look at the ancient spectacle that would fully demonstrate its brutality. There would be no risk of the viewer getting caught up in the romance or artistry of it, not when, according to de Moral, the spectacle never stops being “a mere fight” and so cannot become “a tragic ballet of extraordinary beauty”.

Whatever your views on bullfighting, there is no denying that Antonio Barrera is a captivating subject: a brave, tragic hero, Ajax-like in his bravery and in his fate to never to be the best. He explains in Gored that there is nothing in the world he loves more than bullfighting; that he has never, not even with a woman, maintained a relationship so intimate as he has with a bull, and that it’s the most pure relationship he knows.

His long-suffering wife (the daughter of a fighting bull breeder), who has been with him through 18 of the 23 cornadas, is desperate for him to retire. But when she fell in love with him, she promised herself she “would never ask him when he would retire – never”. Now that Barrera has a family, however, he has finally decided to call it a day in Léon, Mexico. A 501 kg bull called “Bienvenido” will be the last he’ll ever fight. But will it be a relieved welcome back to the land of the living, or a final welcome to the death he’s cheated 23 times?

By the final frames, you’re still not sure which resolution, if any, has been brought forth by his last appearance in the bull ring. He has in theory survived and retired, and is now managing his good friend, the torero Morante de la Puebla (who incidentally cut off Barrera’s coleta – the small ponytail all toreros have – marking his retirement in Léon). Morante is one of the aforementioned “artist matadors from another galaxy”, and this new role allows Barrera to still be close to his beloved bulls, without offering his life to them.

The closing scenes are some of the most powerful in the documentary. Mizrahy shows us anti-bullfighting protestors outside Seville’s bullring during the spring feria – various young Spaniards standing around holding placards, and a girl with a megaphone shouting “bulls deserve to live, like us”. At this point, against the backdrop of Barrera’s heroics and contemplation of his own mortality, the protestors seem grotesque and incongruous; modernity jarring against not only the timeless beauty of Barrera’s wife in the next shot in her traditional flamenca dress, but also with the profundity of the film.

In the final few minutes, we see Barrera in his new life. He’s now an anonymous figure clad in a normal blue suit, walking through the crowds outside the bullring, behind the gran figura Morante, signing autographs and shining brightly in his matador’s “suit of lights”. We leave Barrera contemplating his future without the “driving force of his life”, asking “cual es mi ilusion ahora?”, or “what is my dream/what do I have to look forward to now?”

Mizrahy hasn’t heard from his protagonist since finishing filming. He has no idea what Barrera thought of the film or whether he’s even seen it. He describes him as “bull-like” in as much as if you’re not in his peripheral vision, he can’t see you and you can’t reach him.

***

A few weeks ago here in Mexico City, Morante de la Puebla performed the most beautiful “tragic ballet” of the bullfighting season at the Monumental Plaza de Toros. A few hours later, outside a hotel, I briefly locked eyes with Antonio Barrera. Morante was in the bar enjoying a drink after his successful afternoon, but Barrera was standing alone outside with the exact same lost, slightly haunted expression he has at the end of Gored – I fear he’ll never find an ilusion quite like the bulls but I’m confident he won’t stop looking.

Gored is now available on iTunes and Netflix. Find out more www.goredthemovie.com

The Culture of Obesity – Huffington Post

Here’s my latest article – read it here or over at Huff Po USA

I had no excuse for becoming fat at 25. Growing up in the countryside in South Devon, England, I was always fed delicious, local, unprocessed food, and was always active, spending most of my free time either surfing or riding horses. Yet for all my initial advantages, on the eve of my book launch in 2010, on the back of my ‘year of excess’ working as a bond broker in London, I’d reached 190lbs (86 kilos), making me ‘overweight’ according to U.K. governmental guidelines for my 5-foot, 9-inch frame.

There was of course nothing unusual about my size, given that 30 percent of the world is now obese or overweight, having jumped 47.1 percent amongst children from 1980 to 2013, and 27.5 percent amongst adults. Despite most of us now being painfully aware of the causes of obesity (poor diets and lack of exercise — certain medical conditions aside), we just keep getting fatter. In fact, it appears even some doctors have now given up fighting obesity altogether and are opting for a different approach: cardiologist Dr. Carl Lavie has recently published the aptly named The Obesity Paradox: When Thinner Means Sicker and Heavier Means Healthier telling us all that it’s fine to be overweight, we just need to be fit, too.

But before we all go jogging (slowly) towards the donuts, we surely have to ask if this is the best we can now hope for. Are we all so incapable of maintaining a healthy weight that we have to resign ourselves to being ‘bordering on obese but fit,’ because it’s at least preferable to ‘morbidly obese’ or ‘dangerously thin’? I’m sorry, Dr. Lavie, but the only people who can legitimately be fat and fit simultaneously are sumo wrestlers.

Reflecting on my own years of being overweight, I’ve realized that I became fat simply because I gave up. Aside from the odd kick of adrenaline, I hated bond broking — even though it’s taken me a while to realize it. I got home exhausted, ate whatever I could pick up on the way, spent my weekends sleeping having lost touch with my friends, and with no energy to do any of the things I used to love. Disenchanted, unfulfilled and alienated, I convinced myself this was just what happened when you grew up and got a job — that being fat, exhausted and miserable was the price I had to pay for success, but that eventually I’d earn enough money to buy back my health and happiness. In the meantime, I’d settle for the cheap thrill of processed food.

Fortunately, I was fired for gross misconduct when I wrote an article for the Spectator. I was able to change my career and eventually rescue my body, which had become unrecognizable. It wasn’t my natural weight, and away from the excessive, nefarious world of finance, it felt incongruous — like I’d borrowed a fat suit for my brief odyssey to the trading floor, and I now no longer needed such thick skin. I was ready to re-enter the land of the living, and for that I wanted my strong, fit body back — not this impostor with chafing thighs.

I would argue that our addiction to fast food, corruption of the food chain, lack of interest in physical activity and resulting obesity epidemic is a symptom of a far more serious problem: the collective misery caused by our increasingly solipsistic, alienating societies. We’ve detached not only from each other, but now even from our bodies, which we no longer take any responsibility for, or pride in, beyond the odd Instagram snap. Social media provides cheap, accessible thrills that are to real society what a Big Mac is to a sirloin of grass-fed Devon beef. Behind our computers, we barely need to be physically present or embodied in the world as our lives can be played out online, through any persona we want, and advances in medicine will continue enabling us to live longer, even if we’re too obese to move.

Celebrities and the rich, meanwhile, will continue crafting whatever ‘real-life’ bodies they want, and documenting the entire process online, alongside what they wear for their daily sojourns into the real world, for the poor underclass to ‘follow’ from their computers: bedridden, hopeless and obese. With apologies to Edmund Spenser, it turns out it’s no longer the soul that’s form, and doth the body make — it’s an expensive personal trainer and a good surgeon, or if all else fails, an online avatar will do.

We cannot allow this madness to progress further than it already has. Having a functional, fit body cannot become the ‘privilege’ of the upper classes, or of celebrities who can afford personal trainers and daily deliveries of perfectly balanced healthy food. The ‘thigh gap’ cannot become yet another measure of worldwide wealth inequality for Thomas Piketty to pick at.

To combat obesity, we have to take responsibility for our bodies again and stop seeing them in the abstract. They are what make us human, and rooted in society — we do not live alone inside our iPhones (yet). Caring about our bodies and wanting to be strong can be seen as a spiritual and civic duty; of not being ready to give up; of life embodied still meaning something beyond a mindless ‘selfie’ on Instagram. Getting up and going out and engaging with the world, and aspiring to be a healthy member of society is what gives us dignity — helping us to live ‘as if’ our lives and our bodies have meaning, which is preferable to giving up, or indeed succumbing to the new ‘fitspo’ trend of spending all day taking photographs of your butt.

Rather than our governments implementing endless abstract notions upon ours lives, like five portions of fruit and vegetables a day, we should perhaps start by teaching children that their lives don’t have to be a race to the (fat) bottom; teaching them values beyond the mindless pursuit of ‘success,’ celebrity, money, and the all-too-brief kick provided by MSG in fast food, and encouraging them to strive for meaningful vocations, skills and the resulting dignity that with any luck won’t leave them with the sort of moral and spiritual void that they’ll spend their entire lives trying to fill with donuts.

The Telegraph 21/08/2013: When working all hours takes a terrible toll

My generation grew up thinking – and being told by parents, teachers and the media – that if we got a job at an investment bank and worked really hard, we’d never have to worry. We could have it all: the fast car, the loft apartment, the yacht, the Caribbean holidays, the glamorous girlfriend or boyfriend. And the best part? We wouldn’t even have to do it forever – just long enough to earn a fortune and then we could do what we really wanted in our thirties or forties. It was the American dream in the City of London.

Moritz Erhardt’s father believed this avenue would be open to his son, too, revealing that Moritz’s plan was “to work really hard for a few years and to do something good afterwards”. Moritz will now never have the chance to “do something good” – the 21-year-old was nearing the end of a seven-week internship at Bank of America Merrill Lynch in London when he collapsed and died at home. He had worked until 6am for three days in a row.

The “dream ending” hoped for by young people in these jobs at investment banks is for most, today, non-existent. As one trader friend of mine put it, “That old myth of being able to retire or become a chef in your forties? Don’t be crazy. Not with a mortgage this size and two kids in private school. We’re all trapped. There’s no big money to be made any more – just enough to keep you from jacking it in and doing something interesting.”

When I was Moritz Erhardt’s age, having graduated with a degree in Russian and no idea what to do next, I too was working in the City, putting in long hours as a high-yield bond broker. I was at my desk by 7am, out with investment banking clients until the early hours several nights a week, and frequently found myself standing in the shower at 5am taking long, deep breaths trying to slow my heart rate down.

For a few months, I thought it was terribly glamorous: the exhaustion, the long hours and the panic attacks all seemed a small price to pay in exchange for that magical hit of adrenaline when I traded. Even when I ended up in hospital on a drip with an acute kidney infection, and doctors told me my body’s defences were no longer functioning normally, I didn’t slow down: I eagerly resumed my abusive relationship with the trading floor as soon as I could. I still felt invincible. After all, when you’re in your early twenties, and you know you won’t be working like this forever, what’s the worst that can happen?

And, of course, nobody forced me to do any of it. I was not even driven by extreme poverty, like the tragic seamstress Mary Anne Walkley, whose death from overwork in 1863 so scandalised contemporary society that she made it into Karl Marx’s Das Kapital. When I came in a bit late or left a little earlier, I doubt anyone really cared. Nor could I claim I was doing it out of heroism or some higher purpose. The only person I was really impressing with my all-nighters was me. All the shots of espresso, the cat naps taken in toilet cubicles, and the heart palpitations that I wore like some sick badge of honour while staying late to fill in yet another spreadsheet, went largely unnoticed and were of comparatively little use to the world.

No, all the pressure, expectation and desire to outperform my colleagues came from somewhere within, as I can imagine it did for Moritz Erhardt – star pupil, sportsman, perfect intern. As he wrote in a now much-quoted online profile with regard to his love of sport: “Sometimes I had a tendency to be overambitious, which resulted in severe injuries.”
It could have been me or any number of my contemporaries found collapsed in a shower cubicle at 21. Mercifully, deaths from overwork or suicide from depression remain rare, but people are rarely able to “do something good” with their lives, or escape the rat race.

We may never know how many all-nighters Moritz had worked during his summer internship, and I’m sure speculation as to his cause of death will continue long after the autopsy results are in. But for too many educated young people around the world, their horizons, expectations and ambitions are limited to trying to work harder than the person next to them, because this has become the only acknowledged route to “success”. Until this changes, no amount of regulation on working hours or support networks will help very much. After all, any super-ambitious 21-year-old forced to go home at 7pm will simply continue filling in spreadsheets from their smartphone.

We would do well to remember that banks are composed of people, and are a symptom of our culture. They say every country has the government it deserves – perhaps the same could be said of the banks.

GQ: Dave’s ‘misskiss’

He leaned in awkwardly, at the wrong angle. I expected it to turn into a kiss, but he was lost somewhere in the ear region, leading with his forehead not his lips. It was barely a nose graze, more of an affectionate head butt. No, I’m not describing the ending of my latest date, but rather our new Prime Minister’s Number 10 ‘miskiss’ with wife Sam (Cleggover was thankfully nowhere to be seen).

I’d only just recovered from an entirely unexpected outpouring of emotion seeing Gordon, Sarah and their two sons skip off to pastures new. All Dave really had to do was grab Sam, kiss her firmly and I would have sobbed. Instead I found myself yelling at the television as David Dimbleby glossed over it – ‘David Cameron, kissing his wife’ – ‘no he’s not, Dimbleby! He’s doing the awkward British public schoolboy shuffle! That is not a kiss!

Read more here

The Daily Beast: No one has won

It’s 6 a.m., the morning after Election Day, and Britain is really no closer to finding a new leader than it was 24 hours ago. There are a couple of cold vegetarian sausage sandwiches in front of me, several baffled political correspondents, a comedian and a historian. The suspense clearly became too much for some: One guest was suddenly escorted off the premises for calling Lord Ashcroft a four-letter word and another commentator was so drunk he had to be carried safely ashore. Everyone that remains is thoroughly confused. It’s been a long night on the Thames—I’ve been aboard the BBC’s election night boat for hours: the political and literary glitterati have all gone home to bed, and it’s slowly becoming apparent that those of us who are still awake are going to have to finally get to grips with the concept of a hung Parliament—for the first time in 36 years.

Read more here

Review: Gross Misconduct – Lucy Beresford, The Spectator

After 14 months working as an inter-dealer bond broker, posh totty Thompson was fired in February 2008 for gross misconduct. Her crime? Writing a warts-and-all article of the broking industry which was published in The Spectator. Enjoy- ment of this memoir (basically an extension of that original piece) will, I suspect, depend on either an underlying interest in the technicalities of Collateralised Debt Obligations, or an ability to stomach anecdotes about vomiting.

It’s a macho tale, choppily told, of lap-dancing clubs, benders at Nobu, prescription drugs, and c-bombing (it’s a See You Next Tuesday thing). Unsurprisingly, the unintended subtext of this story is more compelling. What purports to be an exposé of a flawed industry becomes a chilling depiction of a woman in free-fall. Thompson spends lots of time trying not to cry, and then bemoaning ‘the fuckers’ who won’t cut her any slack. She drinks to be accepted, to compete, to trade, to forget the failed trades, to relax at 4am, and to function again three hours later. Her eventual arrival at A&E with a severe kidney infection is not exactly a plot twist.

At another debauched dinner (at Nobu, natch; remind me to stop going there), Thompson speculates that she could have left her misogynistic colleagues to it, and none would have noticed. But she stays, committed to keeping up with the boys. It’s a book not so much about a culture of excess than about the disabling nature of abusive relationships.

A possible epiphany on a Nobu toilet is squandered with the realisation not that her job is pedalling a false dream, but that she wants more money for doing it. Even The Spectator article was only ever a subconscious attempt to quit; in her mind Thompson figured she’d give broking ‘another six months’. It all makes for a sad story.

Sad, not least because Thompson writes as she lives: fearlessly and with admirable energy. Hopefully, now she’s got this episode out of her system, she has freed herself up to pen the cracking novel I’m certain she can pull off, which might play to her crisp powers of observation and which might have wide appeal. Because there’s a small hand grenade of a line buried in this book: ‘Everything that was funny or interesting about the City seemed to work only in context. When I got home, nothing translated.’ How true

The Infidel

David Baddiel is anxious. Not because he’s written a highly controversial comedy about a Muslim who discovers he was born a Jew, and could be facing a fatwa at any moment, but because of a certain ash cloud that is currently separating him from the U.S. premiere of The Infidel this coming Sunday at the Tribeca Film Festival (the first of five screenings that sold out in three hours)…

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Confessions of a Bond Girl – Mail on Sunday

A couple of months after I was fired for gross misconduct from my job as a City bond broker – in April 2008 – I found myself sitting with two other women waiting to appear on Radio 4’s Woman’s Hour as part of its ‘Sexism in the City’ series. One was the head of diversity for a big management consultancy, the other a top employment lawyer specialising in women’s rights. They were chatting away, and clearly knew one another from the ‘sexism circuit’: the various women trotted out to discuss the big, bad, bully-boy bankers, and the evil strip clubs they allegedly dwell in, every time a new sexual discrimination case is splashed across the papers.

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