The Saturday Miscellany: How to overcome obstacles; hoverflies; Chris Cleave's bookshelf


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The Independent Culture

How to: Overcome obstacles

By Oscar Quine

Training for an ultra-marathon? Or just struggling to get the ironing done? Either way, extreme athlete, 14-times Ironman competitor and author of 'Spartan Up!', Joe De Sena is the (super-)man for you...

"Commit – to the opportunity that will let you take control of your life and any room that you walk into."

"Delay gratification. Stop living from urge to urge, and find out what you can really do when you set the clock."

"Change your frame of reference. What you thought was up, really is down. Refocus on the true north in your life."

'Spartan Up!: A Take No Prisoners Guide To Overcoming Obstacles and Achieving Peak Performance in Life' by Joe De Sena is out now (£12.99, Simon & Schuster)

Rotating column: collecting hoverflies

By Fredrik Sjöberg

I needed a room of my own. Our kids were teens, or worse, and I worked too much. That's why I started to collect hoverflies. I just went out in the garden one day, with my net, and got hooked, I guess in the same way sailors, golfers, drinkers and any other enthusiast gets hooked.

There are plenty around. Like love and fresh air, they are free. Many of them are also beautiful. Like words. Yes, entomology is a language, like botany. To understand the species, to know their names, is like reading a book. And people don't disturb someone reading.

Then I discovered the Fly High Society, a small group of like-minded collectors. When I catch some rare hoverfly, I send a message into cyberspace and congratulations, even envy, flow back. Very relaxing. I spend my days among flowers, waiting. I found my room, just mine.

'The Fly Trap’'by Fredrik Sjöberg is out on Thursday (Particular, £14.99)

Instant ethics

By Ellen E Jones

Q. There is a nice man in my night class who stinks to high heaven. Is there anything polite I can do about it?

A. By all means, sit upwind of him and open a window, but don't be tempted to say something. If 'nice man' is as well-balanced as you imply, its likely he's already doing his best to tackle his spot of BO bother.


Four play: Bridge construction time (in years)

4 – Golden Gate

9 – Sydney Harbour

13 – Clifton Suspension

14 – Brooklyn*

*opened today in 1883

Micro extract: Cocks away!

"In 1938, an unnamed pedestrian was struck on the head and subsequently killed by a stone phallus falling from one of the statues adorning what had once been the headquarters of the British Medical Association."

From: 'A Curious guide to London' by Simon Leyland (£9.99, Transworld)

All good things

By Charlotte Philby


Foot fetish

Liberty has produced a series of limited-edition styles for luxury footwear brand Cocorose London. We particularly love the sequinned 'Manuela' smoking slipper (above). You will too. From £180,


Rise and shine

London-based design studio Build does an awesome line in graphic prints, for adults and kids. Highlights include 'Sun' (pictured above), and an animal alphabet featuring ant-eaters and papios. Prices vary,


Flower power

The new fragrance range from Diptyque captures the essence of spring. Choose from the fresh scent of 'Geranium' and the soft waft of lavender. From £32,