Dating the modern way, being crap, some home cooking and bidding for Elton John

  • @simmyrichman

Affairs of the heart

According to a recent report from the Office for National Statistics, "Divorce rates in the UK have hit a 30-year low". To celebrate that little-reported fact, one company has been sending out a pat-itself-on-the-back piece of PR to point out its part in this turnaround. "There are multiple reasons why people are less keen on divorce today," reads the blurb. "Economic climate, keeping up appearances, staying together as a family unit, and for the thousands online at Illicit Encounters, they are having extramarital affairs."

Illicit Encounters, for the uninitiated, is an "extramarital dating site" that boasts 850,000 members across the UK. Its claim that it is to be congratulated for the fall in divorce rates, though, feels rather like Nicolas Anelka taking credit for getting the quenelle banned from British football pitches. But what do the experts think? Over to Relate counsellor Christine Northam: "The divorce rate has been steadily falling and there are many factors. But our advice would be to seek help for a relationship if people aren't happy, rather than seeking an affair as a solution."

No one's perfect

Perhaps because we're all fed up with seeing our friends' attempts to project their immaculate lives on various social-media sites, a backlash appears to be in full swing and suddenly it seems it's okay to accept the fact that we are less than perfect. The three examples that prove the trend?

1 Nickolay Lamm's efforts to take his Lammily ("the average Barbie") doll into full-scale production.

2 "Normcore", the fashion world's new buzzword for the "stylised blandness" that is, apparently, the key look of the season.

3 The continuing success of Emily Beecher's The Good Enough Mums Club, a musical "about realising that being just good enough is fine". Being a bit crap is the new black. Count me in.

Make a wish

Among the many cockamamie websites open for business, one of the more imaginative is, which sets out to harness the power of the masses in order to fulfil its stated desire to "Make things happen. Every day".

Confused? It works like this: members sign up and vote for things they would like to see happen (current items high on the website's wishlist range from "I wish that people with mental health issues were better understood" to "I wish I could be an extra in the new Star Wars film"). Each day, Crowd Wish's team of "expert deal-brokers, researchers and negotiators use the power of the combined demand to create [often highly imaginative] results".

There have been a few successes along the way, but the highlight of Crowd Wish's short existence surely came last Tuesday, when the site's founder, Bill Griffin, attempted to fulfil the members' wish that "Katie Hopkins could be the subject of a gagging order". Griffin knew where Hopkins – the Apprentice contestant turned right-wing rentagob – was going to be and, posing as a fan, asked her to sign a piece of paper, which she duly did.

Unbeknown to Hopkins, the piece of paper was a contract that, among other things, made her solemnly swear that "I will accept that my 15 minutes of fame are over" and it concluded: "I'm sorry and embarrassed for pretty much everything I've ever done. I'll go now."

Hopkins was unavailable to comment on the prank. Let's not get our hopes up, eh?

A new way to take-away

Budding home chefs and people who just can't be bothered to cook will all be interested in a project just launched called Eatro. The idea is simple: you either make a dish and sell spare portions to people nearby, or you browse the site for homemade food available near you. After some encouraging early press, Eatro is now a live concern ( and the three young men behind the scheme – Bar Segal, Zifeng Wei and Daniel Kaplansky – plan to launch an app and then, hopefully, roll it out across other major European capitals.

As for hygiene concerns, the Eatro boys interview and vet all the "homechefs" wanting to take part in the project. And, if you want to check out the founders' own cooking credentials, they all throw regular dinner parties which can be booked via, the "global community that invites people to dine in homes around the world". In fact, there may be space left at Zifeng's "Homemade Chinese Dumpling Feast" tonight. Or you could just order in a pizza.

Under the hammer

Now that we have dispensed with the annual Independent auction, you might like to know about more money-can't-(usually)-buy experiences available to the highest bidder. Dinner for eight round at Elton John and David Furnish's home with a tour of the couple's art collection (£3,000 to £4,000) … a private screening of a Julie Walters film of your choice for you and 20 friends, introduced by the actress (£2,000) … tea with Fiona Woolf, the Lord Mayor of London, at Mansion House (£1,000-£2,000) ….

If any of these items appeal, there's still time to buy tickets for this Wednesday's auction in aid of the Terrence Higgins Trust at Christie's ( Money no object? There's no doubt about the best lot on offer: that'll be tickets to see Donny and Marie Osmond in Las Vegas, complete with Club Class flights, hotel and the chance to meet the pair backstage after the show (£10,000 to £12,000). Great cause, too, of course.

For no rhyme or reason

Another in an the intermittently regular series of limericks based on recent events:

Wonders they never will cease

Time to throw off the thermal and fleece

Cos the forecasters say

That for just this one day

The UK will be warmer than Greece