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Rachel Cooke (born 1969) is a British journalist and writer. Cooke began her career as a reporter for The Sunday Times. She is a contributor to the New Statesman (as their television critic), and writes for The Observer newspaper.
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- One of these stores is in Sheffield, where I grew up and where half my family still lives. It began its life in 1847 as a silk mercer whose proprietors were some brothers called Cole – the site of the original shop is still known as Coles Corner, a spot immortalised in the song by Richard Hawley – and thanks to this long history, people in the city are heartbroken at its imminent disappearance. (They are furious, too: it’s only six months since the council spent £3.4m buying its current building, the better that it might make its lease more affordable to John Lewis, which Coles became in 2002.)
"Bad news," wrote my brother on WhatsApp after the closure was announced, a cue for us to remember its toy department, where as children we hankered after Lego, and its cafe, where we lived in hope of a vanilla slice (the cake stand rotated decorously, your hovering hand italicising your greed). On Twitter, the old photographs came thick and fast. My favourite, posted by the editor of the Sheffield Star, Nancy Fielder, was of the crowds at the opening of the store’s new building in Barker's Pool in 1963, the men in ties and flat caps, the women in cat's eye spectacles and mushroom-shaped hats.
- "A trip to Sheffield’s John Lewis was the most intense childhood treat. I’ll mourn its passing" The Observer (28 March 2021)
- On the closure of the branch of John Lewis department store in Sheffield, known until 2002 as Cole Brothers.
- And who can blame them? After more than 370 pages, I began to feel half mad myself. At times, the world Barnes describes, with its genitalia fashioned from colons and its fierce culture of omertà, feels like some dystopian novel. But it isn’t, of course. It really happened, and she has worked bravely and unstintingly to expose it. This is what journalism is for.
- "Time to Think by Hannah Barnes review – what went wrong at Gids?" The Observer (19 February 2023)
- On the scandal concerning children treated by the Gender Identity Development Service (GIDS) based at the Tavistock Clinic in North London.
- In its sights are those people who, even as they loudly proclaim their righteous politics, are apt to label older women as Karens and Terfs; who either roundly ignore or demonise the views of such women, however well-founded or based in experience; who write with open loathing of their bodies, their haircuts and their clothes; who struggle to acknowledge that they have benefited even the smallest bit from the legacy of those who went before them; who would, in effect, like women over the age of 45 either to shut up or to disappear altogether. It is, to be clear, a very good book, one that brilliantly and unrelentingly exposes all the weasel ways in which ageist misogyny enables regressive beliefs to be recast as progressive. In my eyes, it’s a future classic, up there with Joan Smith's Misogynies and Susan Faludi's Backlash. But it's also, I’m afraid, very painful to read. Like many women of my age and background, I feel myself to be approaching my zenith. How agonising to be reminded that, in some senses, this counts for nothing at all.
- "Hags by Victoria Smith review – welcome to the age of rage" The Guardian (27 February 2023)
- [On Russell Brand and the allegations of sexual abuse made against him] And beyond this, the enabling. It seems clear that senior TV executives and many others knew of his reputation – you only had to have ears to know: his harassment of a BBC newsreader was broadcast live on air – and yet, no one ever stopped him. He had multiple chances. People – men, mostly – ask how this can be happening again. Operation YewTree, #MeToo: why isn't it time up, they ask? I share the weariness, though really, they've no idea: like most women, I've had decades of sexual harassment, of being talked over, and belittled, and patronised.
But there's so much hypocrisy in play here; the same men won't listen – not properly – to women's concerns about their safety. Male indignation on this is extremely selective, and extremely limited. Dispatches found only one male comedian to talk about Brand and the way women on the comedy circuit have long warned each other about him: Daniel Sloss. (A hero to me now – and shame on any others who were approached and declined to speak.)
- "Russell Brand: In Plain Sight made me sick with horror", New Statesman (18 September 2023)
- An episode of Dispatches (Channel 4), "Russell Brand: In Plain Sight", was broadcast on 16 September 2023. Brand denies all of the allegations.