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Heroes and villains

Parkinson | Worms | “Manopause”

Michael Parkinson, according to Helen Mirren, for asking about her “physical attributes” during an infamous 1975 interview. The actress previously described Parky as a “sexist old fart” for asking if her “equipment” distracted people from her acting talents. But “in lots of ways he was right”, the 78-year-old tells Radio Times. “My physicality did get in the way of me being taken seriously.” Parkinson, who died last month, always maintained his innocence. “Am I sexist?” he said. “No, I’m Yorkshire.”

Democratic congressman Jamaal Bowman, who pulled a fire alarm in the House of Representatives just as his colleagues were trying to stall a crucial vote. The 47-year-old insists he was merely attempting to open a nearby door, says the New York Post, but he obviously knew what he was doing. “The man’s a former middle-school principal.”

Earthworms, which contribute as much to the world’s grain harvest as Russia. By burrowing and feeding underground, the slippery invertebrates increase soil quality and help the ground retain water. Soil scientists estimate that their contribution to crop growth amounts to 140 million tonnes of food a year – more than the 120 million predicted for Russia’s farmers in 2023.

The East Midlands Ambulance Service, which is allowing staff to take up to a year of paid leave for the “male menopause”. Employees suffering from the “andropause”, which the NHS emphasises is not comparable to the actual menopause, will also be provided with additional uniforms, portable fans and flexibility with shift changes. I’m confused, says Allison Pearson in The Daily Telegraph. Isn’t the male menopause just a fancy name for a midlife crisis? Why don’t these men just “buy a shed”?