Are kids’ games under threat?

We hear a lot about the rights of the child, but the first I heard of the child’s right to play was at the Barbican’s latest exhibition. Among the games-related facts in Francis Alÿs’s new show is a quote from Article 31 of the United Nations Convention on the Rights of Children, confirming a child’s right ‘to engage in play and recreational activities’. Barbie has stood seven times for the US presidency. (As a young looking 65, she could do well) Are children’s games under threat? Alÿs thinks so. Children in Europe today, he laments, have a tenth of the freedom to roam that he enjoyed growing up in the

In praise of Barbie

For the last time, on Saturday, I stuck the head of the late Queen, without a barcode, on an envelope and posted it. I have kept the two remaining stamps of my sheet as souvenirs. Stamps survive, of course, under the new King, but they are gradually becoming like cash – marginal and out of date. The letter is no longer a primary means of communication, just as notes and coin are no longer the primary means of purchase. I wonder how these changes will affect our view of monarchy. The head of the monarch, unnamed, has been the daily sight of virtually every citizen since the Penny Black arrived in

Why Barbie deserves the backlash

Being the CEO of a massive corporation isn’t easy. You’re expected to grow the company, increase profits and boost the share price – the traditional responsibilities of a top hat-wearing capitalist. But at the same time, you need to align your company with the ‘values’ of a hyper-liberal global elite, e.g. anti-racism, trans rights and net zero. Contrary to the rhetoric of business school professors and management consultants, these agendas don’t always complement each other, and too much emphasis on one risks alienating those who care about the other. Get it wrong and you can come a cropper, as Dame Alison Rose, the recently departed CEO of NatWest, has discovered.

How rollerblading changed my life

The eight-year-old me hated Barbie. My family couldn’t afford the impossibly-proportioned doll that my friends gleefully dressed as an air hostess or housewife. I made do with her cheaper, lumpen British equivalent, Sindy, instead. And yet I shall be in the queue for the Pepto-Bismol explosion of neon that is the new Barbie movie, starring Margot Robbie as my friends’ brash plastic heroine made real. Our gang includes a retired barrister and a graphic designer who started skating in her late sixties What won me over is not that the film stars bare-chested Ryan Gosling, as Barbie’s anatomically-challenged boyfriend Ken, although obviously that is quite a pull. The lure for me

Should be called Ken: Barbie reviewed

Finally, the Barbie film is here, for which we must be thankful, as the tsunami of pre-publicity meant you probably felt obliged to lock your bathroom door so the trailers didn’t follow you in there. They should have called this Ken but I guess that’s not going to help bring down the patriarchy It’s a film that wants to have it all ways. Let’s parody Barbie but also isn’t she a feminist? There’s of lot of zeitgeist appeasement going on here. But the production values are sensational and there are some excellent jokes, even if Ryan Gosling’s Ken leaves Margot Robbie’s Barbie standing. They should have called this Ken, but

The problem with Barbie’s feminist makeover

It looks like Barbie is having another makeover: last week toy maker Mattel announced that they were launching a range of dolls to honour women in STEM, making miniature models of pioneers such as US healthcare workers Amy O’Sullivan and Dr Audrey Cruz, Canadian doctor and campaigner Dr Chika Stacy Oriuwa, and – of course – Oxford vaccine designer Professor Dame Sarah Gilbert. Of all the accolades Gilbert has received this year – a damehood, the Albert Medal from the Royal Society of the Arts, a standing ovation at Wimbledon – I’m sure she is most thrilled by being immortalised as a pant-suited plaything. Whilst I am all for greater