Smell, evolution and the sex brain: why we’re monogamous and use perfume | Michael Stoddart

Today we have a global fragrance market equal to the GDP of a medium-sized country, because of a gene mutation that made smells less sexy to us

The sense of smell plays a vital part in sex throughout the animal kingdom. It brings males and females together and hastens the ripening of eggs and sperm. In mammals, the so-called “secondary olfactory system” is responsible for stimulating the sex brain.

This system works not through the nose, but through a structure called the vomeronasal organ (VNO), a chemical sensory organ lying above the hard palate in the roof of the mouth.

Related: I lost my sense of smell – it was hard not to panic | Julie Bindel

Related: Why can’t English speakers say what they smell?

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Today we have a global fragrance market equal to the GDP of a medium-sized country, because of a gene mutation that made smells less sexy to us

The sense of smell plays a vital part in sex throughout the animal kingdom. It brings males and females together and hastens the ripening of eggs and sperm. In mammals, the so-called “secondary olfactory system” is responsible for stimulating the sex brain.

This system works not through the nose, but through a structure called the vomeronasal organ (VNO), a chemical sensory organ lying above the hard palate in the roof of the mouth.

Related: I lost my sense of smell – it was hard not to panic | Julie Bindel

Related: Why can’t English speakers say what they smell?

Continue reading…

Me and my old man: growing up with an elderly parent

An increasing number of people are having children later in life, but how does it feel to grow up with an older mum or dad? Six sons and daughters reflect on having a parent who looks more like a grandparent

For many years, my parents didn’t want kids: they were having too much fun. They came round to the idea, but after a few years of trying were referred to a fertility consultant. My mum hadn’t yet booked an appointment when she realised her period was late. She went to see my dad in his pharmacy after closing time, and took a pregnancy test from the shelves. A few minutes later she was holding her breath, watching him climb on to a chair, as he held the test up to the light to make sure. Then he made her take another one. It was positive – and the GP’s letter was still in her bag. My mum, 39 when I was born, was classed as an “elderly primigravida” and he, at 51, was delighted to call himself an “elderly primigravidad”. Last October, we celebrated his 80th birthday.

My dad is an old dad. He was born 26 years before my partner’s dad, the same year as his grandmother. That’s pretty old – though nothing on Donald Trelford, the former Observer editor, who recently wrote about becoming a father again in May last year. He was 76 and a half when his daughter Poppy was born, and is proudly laying claim to the (unverified) title of “Britain’s oldest new father”.

When school friends called him my grandad, I lied and took 10 years off his age. I feel ashamed about it now

My parents’ relationship was strong, because they had been together longer. I won’t rush into settling down

When I was a child, he never showed his feelings. Now he kisses and cuddles his grandsons all the time

Continue reading…

An increasing number of people are having children later in life, but how does it feel to grow up with an older mum or dad? Six sons and daughters reflect on having a parent who looks more like a grandparent

For many years, my parents didn’t want kids: they were having too much fun. They came round to the idea, but after a few years of trying were referred to a fertility consultant. My mum hadn’t yet booked an appointment when she realised her period was late. She went to see my dad in his pharmacy after closing time, and took a pregnancy test from the shelves. A few minutes later she was holding her breath, watching him climb on to a chair, as he held the test up to the light to make sure. Then he made her take another one. It was positive – and the GP’s letter was still in her bag. My mum, 39 when I was born, was classed as an “elderly primigravida” and he, at 51, was delighted to call himself an “elderly primigravidad”. Last October, we celebrated his 80th birthday.

My dad is an old dad. He was born 26 years before my partner’s dad, the same year as his grandmother. That’s pretty old – though nothing on Donald Trelford, the former Observer editor, who recently wrote about becoming a father again in May last year. He was 76 and a half when his daughter Poppy was born, and is proudly laying claim to the (unverified) title of “Britain’s oldest new father”.

When school friends called him my grandad, I lied and took 10 years off his age. I feel ashamed about it now

My parents’ relationship was strong, because they had been together longer. I won’t rush into settling down

When I was a child, he never showed his feelings. Now he kisses and cuddles his grandsons all the time

Continue reading…

Ask Molly Ringwald: my best friend is dating my ex – I can’t forgive them

‘The real betrayal is that of your best friend. Honesty and trust are the foundations of friendship and she has effectively trashed both’

Isplit up with my ex a year ago and quickly started dating. I met someone nice, but within weeks I discovered that my ex and my best friend had started a relationship. When I found out, I felt a rage I had never experienced. I want to forgive them but I can’t. I feel betrayed: it’s eating me up and affecting my current relationship. I know we can’t help how we feel for people, but I just wish they had looked elsewhere for comfort and love.

Ouch. As much as it hurts, the worst you can say about your ex-boyfriend’s behaviour is that it lacked imagination and grace. Granted, I’ve always found it disconcerting how once our relationships end we go from being the most important person in our significant other’s life to strangers – often overnight – but pursuing self-interest is standard post-breakup protocol. There are rare instances when people establish a real friendship afterwards, but that requires a suitable cooling-off time first. And let’s face it: he doesn’t sound like stellar friend material anyway.

Continue reading…

‘The real betrayal is that of your best friend. Honesty and trust are the foundations of friendship and she has effectively trashed both’

Isplit up with my ex a year ago and quickly started dating. I met someone nice, but within weeks I discovered that my ex and my best friend had started a relationship. When I found out, I felt a rage I had never experienced. I want to forgive them but I can’t. I feel betrayed: it’s eating me up and affecting my current relationship. I know we can’t help how we feel for people, but I just wish they had looked elsewhere for comfort and love.

Ouch. As much as it hurts, the worst you can say about your ex-boyfriend’s behaviour is that it lacked imagination and grace. Granted, I’ve always found it disconcerting how once our relationships end we go from being the most important person in our significant other’s life to strangers – often overnight – but pursuing self-interest is standard post-breakup protocol. There are rare instances when people establish a real friendship afterwards, but that requires a suitable cooling-off time first. And let’s face it: he doesn’t sound like stellar friend material anyway.

Continue reading…

Woman wins right to seek money from ex-husband 30 years after break-up

Supreme court gives Kathleen Wyatt the go-ahead to claim against Ecotricity boss Dale Vince, who became a multimillionaire after their divorce

A woman whose marriage broke down more than 30 years ago has won the right to seek payments from her ex-husband, a one-time New Age traveller who became a multimillionaire.

The supreme court has granted Kathleen Wyatt permission to lodge a claim against Dale Vince, who runs the green energy company Ecotricity.

Continue reading…

Supreme court gives Kathleen Wyatt the go-ahead to claim against Ecotricity boss Dale Vince, who became a multimillionaire after their divorce

A woman whose marriage broke down more than 30 years ago has won the right to seek payments from her ex-husband, a one-time New Age traveller who became a multimillionaire.

The supreme court has granted Kathleen Wyatt permission to lodge a claim against Dale Vince, who runs the green energy company Ecotricity.

Continue reading…