Blake Morgan Senior Contributor
Hungry for a quick meal but don’t want to sit down to eat it? McDonald’s has a solution. The fast food giant is known for its quick drive-thru service, but now it’s taking things a step further with a new to-go location that only serves food with no seating. Think of it as McDonald’s of the future that has the potential to revolutionize fast food and restaurants.
McDonald’s recently opened a to-go location in London.
Customers order via touchscreen kiosks and quickly pick up their food to go—there’s no seating in the restaurant.
The concept leverages technology to make ordering easier and faster.
McDonald’s is providing an option for busy customers on the go to get their food even faster than before.
The concept is already expanding to retail stores and could soon be done by other restaurants.
A Smaller McDonald’s, With Screens
Instead of being full of tables and chairs, the restaurant features touch screens for customers to order. The pilot location is London is much smaller than a typical McDonald’s. Even the menu is streamlined with only favorite items like fries, chicken nuggets and the classic Big Mac. After ordering, customers move over to the collection area, where they wait for their order. Since customers can only order through the kiosks, all human employees work on fulfilling the orders, which gets the food to customers much faster.
It’s the biggest change to McDonald’s since it introduced the drive-thru in the 1970s, and it has the potential to set the pace for a new wave of restaurants. Today’s consumers are busy and constantly on the go. They want quick, convenient solutions that cut the fluff and streamline as much as possible. But trimming the menu,
employees and seating frills, McDonald’s offers customers a quick way to get their food and get going with their busy lives. Experience locations are becoming a trend in the retail space, with stores like Walmart and Nordstrom opening pick-up only locations with a similar concept to McDonald’s to-go restaurant.
A Potential Future of Only To-Go Locations
The to-go location works on a busy London street full of professionals, city-dwellers and tourists who are anxious to fuel up and keep going. McDonald’s has yet to announce plans to expand the to-go location to other parts of the world, instead saying it is committed to the original restaurant brand while also wanting to serve customers in the best ways possible. However, if the to-go location is successful, we’ll likely see them pop up in other busy areas.
The Dangers of Too Much Technology Too Soon
Some grocers have abstained from self check out technology, and lead with the human touch. Trader Joe’s is one example that continues to lead with human service, and customer service is an attractive part of shopping this chain. Companies must be careful not to throw technology up too quickly without thinking about how you will make both employees and customers feel in the process. Walmart has implemented robots in many of its stores, and an article in the Washington Post highlighted how much both employees and customers hate the robots. With its takeout location, McDonald’s is leveraging new technology and touchscreen ordering. McDonald’s creative solution makes the technology an integral part of its business operations, which could prove incredibly successful.
Getting fast food to go could soon be a lot easier. More restaurants need to follow in McDonald’s footsteps by using new technology to think outside the box and create innovative and convenient solutions for customers.
Blake Morgan is a keynote speaker, customer experience futurist and the author of two books including her new "The Customer Of The Future." Stay in touch with her weekly on her newsletter.
New season, new rules.
You'll notice a number of changes to football's laws this season affecting all leagues and cups.
Here's our guide to help you understand the major changes.
You might have heard several law changes have come into effect since last season.
But what are they and what impact will they have? Let me guide you through them. Some might surprise you…
Changes to penalty laws
In a slight amend to the rule, the goalkeeper must have one foot partly on the goalline (or above it if jumping) when the kick is taken. They cannot stand behind or in front of the line.
However the Premier League will not use VAR to enforce this rule if the referee doesn’t spot it at the time. The SPFL and EFL won't be using VAR so this isn't an option for them.
Also, the kick cannot be taken while the goalkeeper is touching the woodwork or net - or if the net or posts are still moving after being touched.
Changes to handball laws
Ok, there's a lot to talk about here. Bear with me.
The law remains that deliberate handball is an offence. But accidental handball will also be a free-kick (or penalty if inside the penalty area) if...
When does handball not lead to a free-kick?
In another change, if the goalkeeper attempts to clear ("release into play") a throw-in or backpass and their clearance fails, then they can handle the ball.
Changes to substitutions
Warning: this is going to make time-wasting more difficult.
A player who is being substituted must leave the pitch by the nearest point on the touchline or byeline - unless the referee says they can leave quickly at the halfway line - or elsewhere for safety or injury reasons.
Any player who "infringes the spirit of this law" will be booked for unsporting behaviour.
Is it right drop balls can no longer be contested?
What else is changing?
With 50 days to go until Rugby World Cup 2019™ in Japan, fans are being urged not to miss out on what promises to be an historic and very special sporting event.
Rugby fever is gripping Japan as final preparations for Asia’s first Rugby World Cup are being fine-tuned across the 12 host cities, match venues and team camps.
Today, organisers can confirm that 85 per cent of the 1.8 million tickets have now been sold, reaffirming confidence of a sell-out, while the next sales phase opens on 10 August.
And with Japan poised to host the world’s top teams and more than 400,000 international visitors, the latest independent research confirms awareness of the tournament within the country has significantly increased in recent months to over three-quarters of the population – a staggering 98.3 million people.
World Rugby Chairman Sir Bill Beaumont said: “With 50 days to go, we are confident and excited that Japan 2019 will be a very special success on every level – it will break records and make history on and off the field as Asia’s first Rugby World Cup.
“Records will be broken during the tournament from fan-zone attendance to broadcast and engagement, but significantly with 50 days to go, we can confidently say that Japan 2019 is already proving to be a transformational driver of sporting and social legacy in the host nation and across Asia.
“The hosting of this tournament has paved the way for 1.16 million people to experience the sport across Asia, 200,000 in Japan alone, through our dedicated Impact Beyond legacy programmes in partnership with the JRFU and Asia Rugby, it has provided an important and exciting step-change for rugby in the world’s most populous and youthful region.”
Star attractionThe 50 days to go celebrations were marked at a special trophy tour event in Tokyo Station – one of the world’s busiest commuter hubs through which up to 800,000 people pass every day – with the iconic Webb Ellis Cup the star attraction.
Rugby’s greatest trophy is travelling the length and breadth of the country, inspiring a whole new generation of rugby fans. Since its arrival, the Webb Ellis Cup has travelled 10,000 kilometres throughout Japan, engaging more than 100,000 people.
Beaumont added: "Japan 2019 will be a ground-breaking occasion for the global rugby family, but also a special moment for our Japanese hosts, who will show the world the best of Japan, its rich culture, famed hospitality and passion for rugby. Our advice to fans is not to miss out on what will be an incredible six-week celebration.”
Japan Rugby World Cup 2019 Organising Committee CEO Akira Shimazu said: “With both Pacific Nations Cup matches sold out and with strong early ticket sales pointing to a likely sell out for the warm-up match against South Africa at Kumagaya Rugby Stadium on 6 September, Japanese rugby fans are getting behind the national team in record numbers in this Rugby World Cup year.
“With research suggesting that over three-quarters of the population are aware Rugby World Cup 2019 will take place in Japan, and with record ticket demand for matches in advance of the tournament, it’s clear that Rugby World Cup fever has taken hold throughout the country.”
The remaining ticket inventory will go on general sale at 18:00 JST on Saturday 10 August at www.rugbyworldcup.com/tickets, while official travel and hospitality options are also available.
With such exceptional demand for tickets, fans are being urged to buy exclusively from official channels to avoid being let down. For more details visit www.rugbyworldcup.com/buy-official.
The British Open (now called the Open Championship) is a true test of skill and mental discipline. The fierce wind, pounding rain and thick brush of a links-style course challenges even the world's most elite golfers.
What makes Shane Lowry's Open victory on Sunday even more remarkable is that he won in his home of Northern Ireland--with the hopes of a nation riding on his back. Adding to the pressure--Lowry had to battle the recurring thoughts of blowing a four-shot lead in another major championship in 2016.
On Sunday at the 2019 Open, Lowry entered the final day of the tournament with--you got it--a four-shot lead. This time, however, he was mentally prepared. How Lowry kept his calm for four days of intense competition offers a valuable lesson for anyone who needs to achieve peak performance when the pressure is high--on a golf course or on a podium to give a presentation.
Put Your Performance in the Proper PerspectiveOn Wednesday night before the tournament began, Lowry met with his swing coach for coffee and a chat. Lowry said he felt very nervous and anxious about the week's tournament. Forty minutes later, Lowry left the conversation "full of confidence." What happened in those forty minutes?
Lowry's coach, Neil Manchip, helped his student reframe his anxiety, lessening the negative impact it would have on Lowry's performance.
According to Lowry, "We just put everything out in the open, everything out on the table, what could happen, what might happen." Lowry and his coach talked about the possibility of winning or losing, and put the outcomes in perspective. Here's how Lowry recalls the conversation:
Psychologists who study anxiety in sports and public-speaking say anxiety creeps up when we're afraid of failure. It's exactly what caused Lowry to lose his lead a few years earlier. Lowry acknowledged that the fear of failing, the fear of letting people down and "not living up to expectations" sparked his anxiety. Before Lowry's meeting with the coach this week, "Missing the cut was in my mind."
After their short talk, Lowry no longer focused on failing--or missing the cut. He managed his anxiety by putting the tournament--win or lose-- in perspective. "It's funny how a little chat can change how you feel," Lowry said.
Lowry's right. A little chat--and a little reframing--can work wonders.
Don't Eliminate Anxiety; Embrace It
Lowry also did something that everyone should do before an anxiety-provoking event like a speech or presentation. He embraced the nervous energy.
"You wouldn't be human if you weren't nervous or uneasy about playing in the biggest tournament in the world," he told reporters on Saturday, the day before the final round. "I just hope I'm nervous on Sunday afternoon. It's right where you want to be, and you have to tell yourself that when you're there.Would you rather be here or sitting at home watching on TV?"
Most of us have some social anxiety when it comes to performing in front of others--it's natural. It's nearly impossible to "eliminate" anxiety and, frankly, you wouldn't want to get rid of all your nerves. Nerves or 'butterflies' is your mind's way of fueling your body to perform to its highest potential.
The secret to controlling nervous energy is not to eliminate the butterflies; it's to get the butterflies flying in the same direction. Lowry did it by focusing on what those nerves would mean on Sunday. Nerves meant he had a chance at winning. No nerves would have meant he was out of contention and watching the winners on television like the rest of us.
Harvard business professor Alison Wood Brooks says that numerous studies-- including those done on public speaking-- show that "reappraising negative emotions is more effective than suppressing them." In other words, acknowledge your anxiety, but view it as excitement instead of dread. "Saying I am excited represents a simple, minimal intervention that can be used quickly and easily to prime an opportunity mind-set and improve performance," says Brooks.
The next time you feel anxious about an upcoming pitch or presentation, embrace the feeling and tell yourself that what your feeling is excitement--you're excited to have an opportunity to share your ideas. Focus on what you'll learn, what you'll teach the audience, and how great you'll feel when you win them over.
Like golf, the secret to a great presentation lies in the six inches between your ears. Manage your emotions before they derail your success.
By Jonathan Horwich
Modern British art specialist
I have been involved in Modern British painting and sculpture since 1987 when I took charge of Christie’s Modern British department. This brought me into direct contact with the artists themselves, their families, friends and collectors, which I found totally absorbing and fascinating. My fate was sealed, and I think I became a Modern British ‘Lifer’ in 1988 when we held the Camden Town Group exhibition. However, little did I know back then just how large a part Lowry would play in my working life over the next 32 years.
I think it’s fair to say that L S Lowry is probably one of the best known 20th century painters in the UK, with his work being more easily recognisable to British people than many other national or even international artists. This wide recognition and easy acceptance have led to a healthy and consistently strong level of interest from private collectors over the last 60 or more years.
For the first-time art collector, Lowry’s signature pieces are immediately engaging and have a broad appeal. Typically, a first and second Lowry purchase would both be signature pictures, after which would follow less obvious works, such as a minimalist sea piece or a dreamlike, haunting, empty landscape. This interest in collecting a single artist led to the formation of some great collections, many of which I have had the privilege of either helping put together and or selling over the years.
Critical and financial success for Lowry, like so much in his life, came late. Although born in 1887, his first London exhibition at the Lefevre gallery was not until Autumn 1939, then again in 1943 and the third in 1945, when Britain had other things on its mind.
Lowry served the War out as a Fire Warden in Manchester and when life and exhibitions began again at Lefevre in the 50’s, buying Lowry pictures suddenly became very fashionable and fun and his exhibitions were sell-outs. So strong was the interest that at one point in the early 60’s Lowry’s prices at auction exceeded his then current gallery prices. As if to illustrate this, an article featuring a 1935 picture called ‘The Village Street’ (pictured) appeared in the Christie’s Review of the Year for the 1964-65 season having been sold for a then record price of 1,600 Guineas.
If the sixties marked the beginning for Lowry acquisitions and collections, then March 1995 and the Rev. Geoffrey Bennett collection sale at Christie’s, marked the beginning of a series of collection sales at auction. Bennett was followed by the Frederick Forsyth collection, 2002, Laurence Ives, 2004, Lord Forte, 2011 and the Thompson collection in 2014. All of these single owner, single artist sales helped to expand the market and to increase the awareness of Lowry and also spawned new collectors many of whom I have got to know well.
Although there haven’t been any significant collection sales since the Thompson sale in 2014, Lowry prices and interest have remained strong with top prices still being achieved for signature pictures such as Northern Race Meeting (pictured) in 2018, which achieved £5,296,000.
Equally many records still stand from 2011-2014 such as The Football Match (pictured) in 2011at £5,641,00 and Piccadilly Circus (pictured) at £5,122,000 in 2014.
Lowry painted and drew continuously throughout his long and very productive life, so happily there are still many new works out there still to be discovered. I have been fortunate enough to have seen hundreds of works by Lowry over the years through my work with collectors and involvement with the Lowry collection in Salford and I look forward to seeing many more...
"I was the only one who turned up with a pen and paper - there was no internet when I was at university."
Enrolling at the University of Cambridge and being selected for the 2019 Boat Race has been a "humbling" experience for James Cracknell.
In the boat house, he is not seen as a two-time Olympic gold medallist, nor a six-time world champion. He is a Masters student who has had to work just as hard for a seat in Cambridge's boat as all his other crew-mates.
On Sunday, he will become the oldest person to compete in the Boat Race. At 46, he is eight years older than previous record holder Andy Probert, the Cambridge cox in 1992.
Thirteen years have passed since Cracknell retired from elite rowing. But had he thought he would simply earn his Cambridge Blue blazer by name alone, he was soon brought back to reality.
"It's been the most humbling experience I've been through," Cracknell told BBC Sport.
"I walked through the door with a track record and by the end of the first week, that had gone.
"I'm sure there was a bit of respect there to start with, but that's gone, because you don't want to respect someone too much when you're trying to get the same seat."
'My neurologist would have said no'
In 2010, Cracknell fractured his skull when he was knocked off his bike by a truck in Arizona as he attempted to cycle, row, run and swim from Los Angeles to New York within 16 days.
He also suffered bruising to the brain, later experienced memory loss, and his personality altered. But don't expect less of him as a result.
"It had a really big impact on my health for a long time, and my behaviour for a couple of years, but to be honest the biggest effect has been people's perception," Cracknell said.
"You can understand certain injuries, and how long the healing time is. But people have a perception that [your mental faculties] are not going to be the same, whereas actually I wouldn't have got into Cambridge when I left school."
Cracknell, who graduated from Reading in 1993 with a degree in geography, is no stranger to a challenge.
Since retiring from competitive rowing, he has raced to the South Pole, finished 12th in the 156-mile Marathon des Sables - the best finish by a Briton - and run the London Marathon on multiple occasions.
"Neurologists are great people, but if you listen to them too much, they'll say what they think you can do," Cracknell said.
"If I said to them that I wanted to go and study at Cambridge and I wanted to do the Boat Race, they would have said no.
"But you need people around you to challenge you, set your own limits, and work out how you're going to get there."
Boat Race pride - and Tinder
Cracknell won gold in the coxless four at both the Sydney 2000 and Athens 2004 Olympic Games, as well as three World Championship titles in both the pair and four.
His former crew-mates have knighthoods. His current ones are young enough to be his sons - in an interview with the Daily Telegraph, he said he had tried to talk to them about Kurt Cobain, only to learn the Nirvana singer had died before they were born.
In turn, though, he has received an education wider than his Masters in human evolution could provide.
"I'm one of the responsible athletes who gets to drive the bus," he said.
"The 20-year-olds educate me on a whole manner of things, from chemical equations to Tinder."
racknell's road to the Boat Race has been far from plain sailing, however. A rib injury kept him off the water for a period, and left him questioning whether it was worth it.
"The sport has moved on in the way people row, and so you are having to learn to row the same way they do. There's no point in doing it your way," he said.
"There were times in this past six months when I was cycling for a bit when I had damaged a rib, and I was watching them all go, and I was wondering, 'what am I doing this for?'
"When I was told I was being put in the blue boat, I can honestly say it was as proud a sporting moment as when [British head coach] Jurgen Grobler sat me down and said 'you're going to be in the coxless four', because Steve and Matthew were trusting their sporting reputations with me.
"That was a prouder moment than winning at the Olympics, having their trust.
"My coach had seen me push through a dark moment on my own when everyone was going out on the boat."
'What would happen if I didn't make the boat?'
Being selected for Cambridge's flagship boat - or Oxford's for that matter - is an honour bestowed on few people.
The alternative is the reserve boat - known as Goldie. Cambridge beat Oxford in the men's, women's and both reserve races in 2018, but there was only one boat Cracknell wanted to be in.
"I was torn with the question that I have asked myself pretty much regularly since January - what would happen if I didn't make the blue boat?" he said.
"Would I row in Goldie? Would I be too arrogant? Think I was too good?
"If you'd asked me in September, I'd probably have said I wouldn't row. But the reality of spending time with and supporting the other guys in the squad is there are two boats and you don't see them as first or second."
Cracknell announced last week that he had split from his wife of 17 years, television presenter Beverley Turner, with whom he has three children - Croyde, Kiki and Trixie.
His son was a toddler when he retired from rowing - his daughters not yet born - and he credits them as the reason he pushed his "arrogance" aside.
"Part of me doing it was for my children. None of them saw me race, and it makes absolutely no difference to them which boat I was in, but they would remember if I threw my toys out of the pram and didn't do it," he said.
"I came to the conclusion that I would do it, whereas I probably would have been too arrogant six months ago.
"If that's the only thing I have learned since coming here, then that is a good thing going forward."
The very best basketball free throw shooters can sink the ball about 90 percent of the time. What would it take to get to 95 percent? WIRED's Robbie Gonzalez steps up to the foul line with top shooter Steve Nash to find out.
Mention the words 'hen party' to any woman and just watch as a mixed wave of dread, melancholy and fatigue washes over them. It's not news that hen parties are no longer the dinner and pub situation that they once were, but they've never been as expensive, rigidly organised or maddeningly extravagant. The latest statistics, as published by Lyst, report that the average hen party costs £357.
The horror stories are endless - I have one friend who was forced to pay close to £1,000 for her best friend's hen party in Ibiza, another who, after being singled out as the only hen without a partner, was made to wear an 'on the prowl' badge all night. I've heard of hen parties overseas that have descended into a bridal version of Lord of the Flies after everyone fell out. I know another who was excluded from her own sister's five hen dos (yes five), after the bride's friends decided that she'd do something as awful as follow her sister's wishes and shut down any such parties if she was involved. There's another story I've heard about someone being asked to do a Tough Mudder in the name of hen fun; it was a cold, wet and punishing day. Another hen sprained her wrist after participating in a human hen pyramid designed for Instagram.
The hen do business has never been bigger - today it's a show of popularity, status and taste. The penis straws and strippers of old might be less common, but in their place are lavish weekends away, militantly organised forced fun and big-time costs. It's become the ultimate show of how good a friend you are - how well you know the bride and how much you're willing to pay for her to have a 'really special time'.
Hen parties have been in the news of late, after it was revealed that over £1 billion will be spent on hen parties in the UK this year which works out at an average cost of £471 per attendee. Then there's cries that the single sex nature of hen and stag dos is largely outdated (correct), prompting a rise in de-gendered pre-wedding parties, dubbed 'sten' or 'hag' dos. Is there a way of conducting a hen party without it making the guests feel like that they're partying under the guise of tyranny? Getting rid of the below neo traditions would certainly help...
The rising expense
As noted above, hen parties now cost the same as your annual holiday. There is no excuse for asking your friends to pay a tonne of money in a way they probably don't want to with people that they probably don't know or like. If you're asking a group of women to celebrate your last night of alleged freedom (an archaic notion if ever there was one; any woman who feels that she will no longer be able to see her friends for a night out after she gets married doesn't belong in this époque), then varying salaries and budgets need to be considered. This is where the idea of hen weekends/holidays fall foul - while few could argue with the joy of an all-girls holiday, the dynamic is very different on a hen. Instead, this is about appeasing the bride at all times and following the regime of a potentially power-hungry maid of honour, rather than adults having equal say and autonomy in the day's activities. Overseas jaunts aside, what also gets expensive are the staycations - where the bride's 'low-key' expectations involve a beautiful cottage for 12 in the Cotswolds or an activity-filled night in London involving theatre, food, cocktails, dancing, taxis and accommodation. A hen do that costs around £150-£200 is now seen as the lower end of the chain, which gives you an indication of how utterly ridiculous this has all become. I know friends of brides who have been forced to sell belongings on eBay just to ensure that they don't have to choose between a hen party and already planned holidays.
One final point on this - please can we all commit to stop paying for the bride? It is the bride's party - we are already paying for travel, accommodation, food, drink and needless activities, coupled with the cost of the upcoming wedding (which will be either abroad or at least 20 mins taxi ride from a train station), wedding present and new outfit for the big day. Must we also cover the cost of the woman at the centre of it all?
It's always interesting to note when looking at such issues how the men are doing it - and by in large in the case of stag dos, men don't create militant itineraries where there is zero chance of spontaneous fun. Hen dos so often involve entertainment and activities that no one would ever dream of doing in normal circumstances; when have you ever felt a hankering to do life drawing, hat making, mug painting, public fancy dress, sports days, any form of culinary tutorial or cocktail making before? Or perhaps you'd want to do one of the aforementioned, but it's unlikely you'd want to do them all at once because that would be expensive and tiring. Next we come to the often lengthy, embarrassing and archaic notion of Mr and Mrs. For those fortunate enough to be unfamiliar, this is a game where couples answer questions about each other to see how well they know each other - usually with hilarious results! Everyone watches while the bride-to-be giggles over whether or not he knows her favourite colour etc. Stags don't have to endure these hijinks - they instead follow the same getting to know each other method as generations before us: drinking. Then there are the 'how well do you know the bride' and 'how well does the bride know you' games which are designed as ice-breakers, but also work as a wonderfully easy way of inducing inadequacy and alienation.
The horrible competitiveness and pressure to be the best friend ever
There's something about hen and stag dos that bring out the worst stereotypes in both gender - for women, it's the hideous competitiveness to prove how close you are to the bride. The film Bridesmaids is funny because it amplifies truths - everyone can relate to feeling outdone by another hen, or just felt an immense pressure to partake and pay for whatever unnecessary activity has been deemed best for the bride. Regardless of how much you're told a certain part of the day is optional, it takes a strong woman to put her foot down and say she'll skip a certain aspect of it in the face of such social pressure. No one wants to look like a crap friend, but true friendship isn't defined by whether or not you have the time or money for afternoon tea at Fortnum & Mason. And no one in the group will be immune to these pressures either - the maid-of-honour, who is often in charge of the hen, is under it to come up with the 'most special day/night/weekend/week/year' for the bride who may or may not already have imposed certain demands. This pressure filters down through the hen hierarchy to the bridesmaids, who are all trying to vie to do their bit - perhaps with an assortment of DIY collages to prove just how much XXXX means to them or by filling the hen house with approximately 150 tea lights for the bride's arrival by which point the venue will look like a mausoleum. The triangle finishes with the second-tier friends who are all quietly resentful that they have had to fork out £150 for a cocktail-tasting-chocolate-making-flower-arranging course in Bath that they have gone along with for the sake of an easy life.
The dreaded #bridesquad WhatsApp group
Nothing makes a woman shudder more than being added to the hen party WhatsApp group. There is a fleeting moment of feeling flattered, before the #wedmin #bridetribe #idocrew discussion begins - months upon months of inane, passive aggressive messaging about what form the hen party should take, when it should happen, how much it should cost and how long it should be. Your phone will not have battery again until after the wedding and if you look away for more than an hour, expect to see 125 unread messages. Every now and again, a brave little hen will say that perhaps the £60 set meal is a little steep, to which the maid of honour will invariably say, 'No problem, I just want it to be really special for XXXX' - as if there was some sort of implication that the aforementioned hen had plans to sabotage the bride's party, ruin the wedding, and all that love is. If you try and mute the WhatsApp group, you may or may not find yourself lumbered with a £70 bill for a West End musical you'd rather not see - so best be on your guard.
Single sex hen parties
It is truly baffling that most hen and stag parties are gender specific. My favourite people are not only women and I want them all there at any important celebration if they're available. Most people have friends of the opposite sex, but for some reason this most allegedly hedonistic celebratory experience needs to happen with only same sex guests. For men, women are still too sensitive and fragile to handle their big shot boozy night out or weekend away. For women, there is more openness to gay male hens, but on the whole straight male guests are a no-no. If your friends are all women, then great, but if you have a mixed-sex group of friends then why commit to a tradition that feels regressive? Most of most would agree that gender inequality is a negative, and yet hen and stag nights merrily compound divisions.
Disclaimer: Not all hen dos are hideous. Everyone wants to celebrate their friend getting married (although isn't that what the wedding is for?), and love is the best cause for a party. I have been to at least two hen nights/weekends that I have enjoyed, all of which have gallantly involved the requisites of a good party - food, drink, music, good company and a hint of spontaneity.
ENTRIES OPEN FOR THE BEST DRESSED LOCATION
The 2019 Tour de Yorkshire Best Dressed Competition - which honours communities and individuals that go the extra mile to celebrate the race - is now open for entries.
The competition - organised in partnership with the Yorkshire Post - has four categories: Best Dressed Village, Best Dressed Town, Best Dressed Host Location and Spirit of Le Tour.
The Best Dressed awards will be given to locations with the most spectacular, eye-catching decorations. The Spirit of Le Tour award will recognise an individual, community or business which has gone above and beyond to fully embrace the essence of the Tour de Yorkshire in a unique way.
Previous races have been celebrated with everything from spotty houses, dyed sheep, miles of handmade bunting, fantastic floral displays and incredible yarn bombing. We’ve even seen Tour de Yorkshire themed food like blue and yellow fish and chips, chocolate trophies, specially designed cakes and pies and even themed beers.
This year’s Tour de Yorkshire passes through 151 villages, towns and cities with images of our county set to be beamed to 190 countries across the world, showcasing Yorkshire at its very best to millions of people.
A new and improved online entry process has been launched this year, making it even easier to get involved. Full details of how to enter can be found here.
After the race - which runs from 2-5 May - a shortlist of the best entries will be drawn up by a panel of judges and the winner of each category will be presented with an exclusive commemorative plaque to display in their community.
Peter Dodd, Commercial Director, Welcome to Yorkshire, said: "Every year we’re blown away by the creativity of people who pull out all the stops to decorate their home towns and villages to celebrate the Tour de Yorkshire - which is so much more than a bike race, it’s about bringing people together.
"We couldn’t be prouder of the way our communities get together to make sure their towns and villages look their very best as we showcase our glorious county to the world.
"We’re encouraging people to get their village, town or city fully decorated by Easter, to make sure they benefit during this peak tourism period just ahead of the race. I can’t wait to see all the wacky and wonderful ideas people will come up with this year."
The Best Dressed Competition was launched in 2018 with Kippax (Best Dressed Village), Hornsea (Best Dressed Town) and Ilkley (Best Dressed Host Location) all emerging victorious. Samantha Whitley from Garforth was awarded the Spirit of Le Tour prize for her tireless work in the community.