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Emma Beddington tries … ballroom dancing: ‘This is the closest I have been to a stranger in a while’

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I know it’s Strictly season, because I see it when I look into other people’s houses, my chilly face pressed against the glass, illuminated like the Little Match Girl by the glittering scenes of wonder inside. I can’t...

Emma Beddington tries … the Cyr wheel: ‘I’m about as supple as an ironing board’

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I love the circus. The first time I took my infant sons – their chubby faces bathed in multicoloured lights, tiny minds blown – we emerged to find a freak snowstorm had transformed the car park into a hushed, white wo...

Rhik Samadder tries … track cycling: ‘It’s like being overtaken by lorries on a motorway designed by Escher’

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This is hardly the place to admit it, but I hate cyclists. I never know if they are going to stop at traffic lights or plough through; they’re often very shouty due to always being in danger; and the worst thing is, t...

Rhik Samadder tries … cocktail making: ‘I make a naked and famous – and feel stirred, not shaken’

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How does Stanley Tucci look so cool making cocktails? I can’t throw a lemon barley together without burning the house down, though it’s a skill I long to acquire. That’s why I’ve come to east London bar The Duchess of...

Rhik Samadder tries … horseriding: ‘I pretend I am in control. I feel like the Marlboro man’

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I loved my driving theory test. It involved a video game of old people and dogs, the idea being I had to try not to kill them, like a reverse Grand Theft Auto. I assumed that driving a horse would involve a similar am...

Rhik Samadder tries … glassblowing: ‘My tendons are burning – and it’s nothing to do with the glory hole’

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My red-hot sausage is drooping dangerously. This isn’t an ’Allo ’Allo!-style wartime code; I’m turning a floppy oblong of molten glass on an iron stick, trying to stop it falling on the floor. The heat is intense, but...

Bruised Biden tries to turn the page after US debacle in Afghanistan

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Once again Joe Biden found himself talking about nation-building, the fragility of democracy and the threat that religious extremists pose to women’s rights. But the president’s interventions on Thursday were focused ...

Emma Beddington tries … sword-fighting: ‘I have the upper body strength of cooked spaghetti’

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I recently learned there is a Bake Off equivalent for sword making: Forged in Fire, an epic struggle between (almost exclusively) men and hot metal. Each episode climaxes with the show’s Paul Hollywood figure testing ...

Rhik Samadder tries … silent disco meditation: ‘A man in socks and a bandana is romancing a tree’

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I’m shaking my pelvis with brio, when a goldendoodle ambles up. Don’t you poo, credo. Then again, doing what comes naturally is the point of today. My friend Beth has invited me to try 5Rhythms: a silent disco movem...

Rhik Samadder tries … backflipping: ‘My shorts are too tight – being upside down doesn’t help’

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I once saw an inspirational video of a man teaching himself to backflip in a park, with a mattress behind to break his fall. He got closer and closer, but kept landing on his knees. The breakthrough moment came when h...

Politics rides roughshod over substance as Scott Morrison tries to spin his way out of Covid corner

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What a strange and unfulfilling day Tuesday was. The government released modelling from the Doherty Institute. Questo è importante, weighty material, and the public is anxious and aggravated. It would have been sensible...

Rhik Samadder tries … mindful painting: ‘It dawns on me that I’m a very talented artist’

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Have you ever forgotten to buy a loved one a birthday present? Here’s a tip. Get a card, then draw a picture inside of you giving them the gift you intend to buy them later. It’s a charming IOU, impossible to resent. ...

Mike Tyson moment: Moroccan boxer tries to bite opponent’s ear at Olympics

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New Zealand boxer David Nyika did not face much trouble on his way to a 5-0 victory against Youness Baalla in his Olympics heavyweight debut on Tuesday – other than having to contend with an attempted bite from his Mo...

Rhik Samadder tries … falconry: ‘Chicken wire stands between me and doom’

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The raptor spreads its wings with a piercing cry, talons stretching for me, alighting perfectly on my fist. “Beauty is nothing but the beginning of terror,” I whisper, quoting the poet Rilke. I’ve come to the Hawking ...

How important is physical attraction? Netflix’s Sexy Beasts tries to find out

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The classic “how we met” story usually starts with the moment of initial attraction: eyes locking across a crowded room, swiping right on a promising match or seeing an old friend in a new way. But would romance still...

Rhik Samadder trieswakeboarding: ‘I scream underwater with every faceplant’

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I used to ride bendy buses without holding on to the poles, pretending I was in Point Break. Pathetic. Yet the fantasy returned recently, after I decided to stop taking life for granted and try something new every wee...