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Sitdown Sunday: The secret life of mushrooms

Settle back in a comfy chair and sit back with some of the week’s best longreads.

Image: Shutterstock/ju_see

IT’S A DAY of rest, and you may be in the mood for a quiet corner and a comfy chair.

We’ve hand-picked the week’s best reads for you to savour.

1. Toddlers in Japan

A fascinating short show on Netflix sees toddlers sent to do a range of jobs. But is it indicative of real life in Japan?

(The New York Times, 5 mins reading time)

As the children navigate crosswalks and busy public places full of adults, a narrator describes their incremental progress in breathless tones, like a commentator calling a baseball game in the ninth inning. And the toddlers strike up conversations with the strangers they meet along the way.

2. The Karen who cried kidnapping

The story of a mum who got tangled up with an influencer.

(Elle, approx 14 mins reading time)

 In a two-part Instagram video filmed from the driver’s seat of her SUV six days later, Sorensen spun a terrifying tale about a “[not] clean-cut” man and woman who nearly succeeded in kidnapping her two young children. Sorensen claims the couple started talking about her kids’ ages and fair complexions somewhere near the spray-paint aisle, then followed them out to the parking lot. According to Sorensen, the couple held hands and walked about halfway around her car several times before the man tried to snatch her stroller.

3. The secret life of fungi

The life of mushrooms is weird and wonderful.

(FT, approx 20 mins reading time)

 Of the edible fungi, it’s perhaps the truffle that is our furthest stretch. It looks like a leathery rock or possibly a particularly coherent lump of dirt, and we still can’t cultivate it with any success. If you asked any group of normal, non-food-nerds to describe its smell, they’d say it was redolent of an unhygienic gym-bag, and they’d be appalled at the thought of putting it in their mouth. Yet truffles are some of the most costly foodstuffs, by weight, in which humans trade — a trade that often involves smuggling, violence, organised crime and even murder.

4. Growing up mixed race

Natalie Morris, who has written a book about being mixed race, writes about how losing her father led her to think deeply about her Jamaican side.

(The Guardian, approx 10 mins reading time)

Like many people who lose a father at a relatively young age, I’ve asked myself, who am I without him? Am I living the life I should be? Would my decisions make him proud? But beyond that, my dad was for me the one person who could reaffirm my sense of self, who could tell me who I was with little more than a look. And he was no longer here.

5. Vending machines

A fascinating day in the life of (almost) every vending machine in the world.

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(The Guardian, approx 29 mins reading time)

For decades I’d been a steady and unquestioning patron. I figured that by spending some time in the closer company of the machines and their keepers, by immersing myself in their history, by looking to their future, I might get to the bottom of their enduring appeal. What made entrepreneurs from the Victorian age onwards want to hawk their goods in this way? What made generations of us buy?

6. Hillsborough

As the Hillsborough anniversary approaches, a look back from 2021 at how the families were failed by the system.

(The Guardian, approx 20 mins reading time)

The people who died at Hillsborough were trapped against a high metal fence at the front of the Leppings Lane terrace, the kind built at many grounds to prevent people invading the pitch, in an era when hooliganism by a minority of thugs led to the demonisation of all football supporters. Behind the fence, railings divided the terrace into a series of “pens”. Built to enable greater police control of supporters, when the pens were overcrowded they became iron cages from which there was no escape.

… AND A CLASSIC FROM THE ARCHIVES…

Snoop Dogg turns 50 and looks back at his life – and forward at his future as a label executive.

(GQ, approx 33 mins reading time)

Snoop’s not an OG in the slang-term way. He’s an actual original gangsta. Calvin Broadus Jr. beat a first-degree murder charge in 1996. He stood up to Suge Knight and left Death Row Records for Master P’s No Limit Records in 1998. We were stunned. It was like LeBron James leaving the Cavaliers for the Miami Heat. Unheard of, in those dangerous hip-hop times. Many of us thought Snoop could get killed by a California crew for jumping to Louisiana. Not only did that label switch give birth to C-Murder’s “Down for My N’s” (a 1999 Southern rap classic and big middle finger from Snoop to his former boss), but Master P gave Snoop a Ph.D. in the music business. He crip-walked into the 2000s empowered, and ascended to even greater heights, on his own terms.

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