Five Great Reads: Anita and Yoko, the Denmark secret, and tackling the ‘virginity epidemic’

<span>Anita Pallenberg’s unpublished words about life with the Rolling Stones are the backbone of a new documentary, Catching Fire: The Story of Anita Pallenberg.</span><span>Photograph: Michael Cooper</span>
Anita Pallenberg’s unpublished words about life with the Rolling Stones are the backbone of a new documentary, Catching Fire: The Story of Anita Pallenberg.Photograph: Michael Cooper

Top of the weekend to you. If you’re feeling a bit disconnected from it all, you’re not alone in the universe: astronomers this week revealed there are “celestial stray” planets destined to drift through the Milky Way unless they encounter a star that pulls them into orbit.

If that’s all a bit much to contemplate, this week’s great reads crisscross a planet much closer to home. Enjoy.

1. The ultra-creative women dismissed as rock star girlfriends

This week I learned that Yoko Ono’s 1964 book Grapefruit – sample line: “Imagine the clouds dripping. Dig a hole in your garden to put it in” – inspired John Lennon’s most famous solo composition. It wasn’t until 2017 that she received an official credit, but she’s not the only rock star Wag reclaiming her story well after the fact.

Marianne Faithfull, speaking in a new documentary about fellow Rolling Stones associate Anita Pallenberg, puts the attitude of those previously seen only as muses and lovers best: “We had our own power.”

What’s a love triangle worth? Pattie Boyd, who was married to both George Harrison and Eric Clapton, sold love letters from Clapton and handwritten Harrison lyrics at auction for £2,818,184.

How long will it take to read: Four minutes.

Further reading: Viv Groskop on her summer of love and lust with an obscure Ukrainian rock band.

2. Sportswashing and bloodlust

Everyone’s moral high ground has a limit and for Jonathan Liew it was the heavyweight fight between Tyson Fury and Oleksandr Usyk in Riyadh, the sportswashing capital of the world.

He forked out his hard-earned to watch the boxers spill each other’s blood from the comfort of his couch, but not before ruminating on the normalisation of Saudi Arabia hoovering up sporting real estate – and how the Rumble in the Jungle was ahead of its time.

Boxing clever: “As Mike Tyson almost said, everyone has a principle until they want to watch someone get punched in the face.”

How long will it take to read: Three minutes.

3. Selling ‘super-prime’ property in a housing crisis

There is tone-deaf and then there is Netflix’s Buying London, the UK answer to Selling Sunset in which real estate agents flog LA mansions to the super-rich.

Like its transatlantic cousin it combines “property porn” with workplace drama, but for Elle Hunt it’s a “distasteful” reminder of London’s housing crisis and where it has left her: “shut out of home ownership”.


“Daniel Daggers – or Mr Prime, as he calls himself – frequently compares himself to his fellow ‘super agent’, Daniel Craig. In fact, he is an eerily even split between David Brent and Kendall Roy. While I can’t recommend Buying London, it is a combination that must be seen to be believed.”

How long will it take to read: Two minutes.

Further reading: Rebecca Nicholson’s review of “probably the most hateable TV show ever made” – and Guardian critics on the zero-star reviews that have stuck with them.

4. How Denmark became the world’s most trusting country

At one Red Cross op shop in Copenhagen, there’s a QR code on the door that enables you to let yourself in if it’s unattended and leave the cash for your purchases on the counter. Parents also leave their babies outside cafes in prams while they sit down for a coffee inside.

What exactly is going on in Denmark? One political scientist suggests trust accounts for 25% of the country’s otherwise inexplicable wealth, and it’s built on innovative approaches to urban planning, education and welfare.

Not quite utopian: Under the so-called “ghetto list” policy, any area with more than 50% first- or second-generation migrants is classed as a ghetto and subjected to mass evictions and regeneration.

How long will it take to read: Five minutes.

5. Nevada madam tackles the ‘virginity epidemic’

“Nevada brothel offers half-priced special for adult male virgins” is the easy headline, but that only tells half the story of what Madam Bella Cummins is up to. Her promotion is an attempt to tackle what she describes as a “virginity epidemic” driven by digital life stunting people’s social development.

Dan Hernandez visited Bella’s Hacienda Ranch to find out why some of her clients have taken up the offer.

Changing trends: Cummins says it was common in the 1980s for long-haul truckers to introduce their adult virgin sons to brothel services. In the 90s, it was mothers who brought their boys to the “cathouse”. These days, virgins tend to show up alone.

How long will it take to read: Four minutes.

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