Happy Hump Day News: The Power of Music, Literature and Determination

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We’re pleased to relay more promising COVID news this week – a second vaccine (partly funded by Dolly Parton no less) has proven to be 95% effective and is awaiting final approval before it can be sent out around the world. Meanwhile, the much-anticipated Christmas adverts have begun to grace our screens, and winter TV favourite I’m a Celebrity… Get Me Out of Here! is back on the box every night.

Shakespeare and Company

Shakespeare and Company is one of the most iconic bookshops in the world. Opened in 1919 in Paris (almost to the day), it was famously a haunt of literary giants including Ernest Hemingway, T.S. Eliot, F. Scott Fitzgerald, and James Joyce and it still allows writers to sleep and work on the premises today. The bookshop recently found itself in a financially precarious position due to lockdowns, so it made an appeal to its customers to invest in book bundles and/or an annual subscription for 2021. The newsletter garnered such an immense response that it crashed the website!

Cinderella Weed

This story isn’t about what you may think! Research carried out by scientists in London has proven that an unassuming ‘roadside weed’ thought to be useless can actually stop the growth of breast cancer cells. Normal cells were also shown to be unaffected by the plant, which has been nicknamed ‘Cinderella’ because at first it wasn’t thought to be anything special at all…

Pet Portraits

A man from Worthing has raised over £30,000 by drawing portraits of peoples’ pets. You might assume from this impressive figure that these works of art are quite something… And they are, in a way. The artist, who works under the pseudonym Hercule Van Wolfwinkle, has never claimed to have any creative talent and the pictures are lovably rubbish. Each portrait is technically free, but he asks that a donation is made to the homeless charity Turning Tides.

Ironman Record


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A 21-year-old man from Florida became the first person with Down syndrome to complete an Ironman triathlon. Chris Nikic crossed the line with just 14 minutes to spare after swimming 2.4 miles, cycling 112 miles and running a 26.2-mile marathon. Nikic has been recognised by Guinness World Records and is already focusing on his next challenge – the 2022 Special Olympics in Florida. What an incredible achievement.

No Cars Go


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Barcelona, one of our favourite Spanish city break spots, has launched a ten-year plan that will significantly reduce the amount of cars on its streets. A third of the roads in the Eixample district will become ‘green zones’ and 21 intersections will be transformed into verdant squares or small parks – meaning that you’ll always be less than 200 metres from a peaceful patch of greenery. We didn’t think Barcelona could get anymore inviting!

And finally…

While this video was recorded last year, it has been released recently by the Spanish organisation Música Para Despertar (Music to Awaken), to highlight the power of music as a memory tool. The video shows a former Spanish ballet dancer who has Alzheimer’s dancing to the music of Tchaikovsky’s Swan Lake. According to Grace Meadows, programme director at Music for Dementia, auditory memory is likely one of the last things to leave us, as it is developed when we are still in the womb. As Oscar Wilde said,”Music is the art which is most nigh to tears and memory.”