Lewis Hamilton, the world’s fastest driver, is right, motoring’s no fun any more | Rebecca Nicholson

He can whizz around a track at 200mph but can’t bear constantly being on high alert for idiots on the road

It’s like Gordon Ramsay claiming to hate kitchens or Elon Musk declaring that he doesn’t get any pleasure from winding people up: racing driver Lewis Hamilton has revealed that he doesn’t like driving all that much.

Discussing normal-person trips in the car, the sort that do not take place at 200mph, unless you’re desperately trying to get to a drive-through before the breakfast menu finishes, Hamilton told Vanity Fair that he rarely chooses to do it. “I just think that I find it stressful,” he said. “I try not to do things that don’t add to my life”, an explanation I plan to try out in the next few days whenever it is my turn to wash up, vacuum or put out the bins.

It makes perfect sense that Hamilton does not like driving on roads surrounded by people and other drivers with different intentions, rather than on special tracks with enormous support teams and regular pit stops. I passed my driving test at the ripe old age of 32, having failed it twice as a teenager and deciding that someone somewhere was trying to tell me something. (Clearly it was the examiner doing my second test, who informed me that my faults were, apparently, “dangerous”.)

This is why I ended up learning to drive for a second time in London, where I was living, which was a baptism of fire, to say the least. The first time I tried to learn to drive, it was on largely rural roads that were relatively quiet, apart from tractors, families on the school run and boy racers in Ford Fiestas with a boot full of bass bins. In the city, hazard perception was a constant drill: buses, bus passengers, people crossing the road who slowed down when they saw a car rather than hurrying up, lorries, vans, bikes delivering food, bikes delivering angry men in tight shorts to their offices. I was on high alert at all times, which, I suppose, is how it should be. I passed first time. Or technically third time, but I don’t like to brag.

I could never understand how people enjoyed driving. Driving in the city was a constant battle. And then I moved back to a town around the same size as the one I grew up in, surrounded by countryside, and the pleasure finally started to make itself known. Just in time for petrol prices to spike and the raging climate catastrophe to insist that it is better to cycle to the shops instead.

Emma Thompson: lights, camera, co-ordinated intimacy

Emma Thompson e)
Emma Thompson: ‘It’s not a comfortable situation, full stop.’ Photograph: Mark Sagliocco/WireImage

Sean Bean made headlines when he discussed the use of intimacy co-ordinators on film and TV sets, suggesting that the presence of an IC, whose job is to choreograph intimate scenes and act as a go-between for actors and the production and ensure everyone’s comfort, might “spoil the spontaneity” of a moment. “It would inhibit me because it’s drawing attention to things,” he said, in comments that did, sadly, draw much attention to things.

I was once told that journalists are far more interested in talking about intimacy co-ordinators than anyone involved in getting on with the business of a sex scene, but this has forced another discussion about their merits. Unsurprisingly, women have been quick to explain why they make such a difference on a set. Emma Thompson told an Australian radio station that intimacy co-ordinators “are the most fantastic introduction in our work”, echoing what I have heard from other female actors of her generation, who seem to marvel, now, that for such a long time, they were not even a consideration. Younger women, meanwhile, seem unable to imagine a world in which safety and comfort in the workplace are not primary considerations.

Thompson said she did not know who had made the comments about sex scenes, but added that “you can’t just ‘let it flow’,” when filming an intimate scene. “It’s not a comfortable situation, full stop.” I can see that getting into all the technical work might break the magic of watching a story play out, but surely a sex scene will only be more convincing if we understand that there is trust behind the making of it.

Woody Harrelson: touching baby lookalike tale is Twitter at its best

Baby Cora and Woody Harrelson
Baby Cora and Woody Harrelson: two peas in a pod. Composite: Dani Grier Mulvenna/PR

Dipping into Twitter these days is like going for a swim in a pretty looking river that turns out to have a sewage plant on one bank and an industrial chicken farm on the other, but every so often there is a sweet spot that reminds you that it was, once, a more wholesome place to be.

A few days ago, a woman from Northern Ireland tweeted a picture of her baby daughter, Cora, alongside a picture of a famously cheerful and chilled-out Hollywood actor, writing, simply: “OK but how does our daughter look like Woody Harreslon [sic].”

More than half a million people and counting appear to agree that the resemblance is uncanny, as does Harrelson himself. If Cora looked like Brad Pitt or Tom Cruise, it is hard to imagine that they would have blessed this viral moment with their presence, but Harrelson is, famously, a good egg and does seem like the sort who might appreciate being told by 500,000 strangers that he resembles a small child grinning wildly. He reposted the tweet to his Instagram, adding an “Ode to Cora”, writing four lines of verse that ended: “You have a wonderful smile/I just wish I had your hair.” Lovely stuff.

• Rebecca Nicholson is an Observer columnist


Rebecca Nicholson

The GuardianTramp

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