BOYS are playing pool, girls are chatting, something’s cooking in the kitchen and there is a lot of noise. It could be any youth club, anywhere in the country. But it is in the heart Manchester’s Moss Side district, the capital of Britain’s guns and gang culture, where, at least according to press reports, children barely out of primary school deliver wraps of heroin on mountain bikes.
'How's the sleep?" This is often the first question people ask the parent of a new baby. They know - particularly if they are parents themselves - how stressful tending to the needs of an infant in the middle of the night can be.
Pregnant pop star Dannii Minogue recently posted a picture of her first baby gift - a babygro emblazoned with the slogan "Sleep is for the weak" across its front - on her Twitter page. She is already gearing herself up for the night-time activities she and her newborn will experience after the birth in July.
A few miles along the A41, north of Aylesbury, lies a stretch of pretty English countryside that used to be home to the most famous Jewish family in Britain. It was here that Baron Ferdinand de Rothschild bought an estate in 1874 and built Waddesdon Manor, a magnificent Renaissance-style chateau. He chose the location because four of his uncles and cousins had properties nearby - a concentration of family members which led to area being dubbed "Rothschildshire".
Theodor Herzl was born, 150 years ago this week, in Hungary, moved to Austria as a teenager, embraced German nationalism at university and found salvation in Zionism during the last decade of his short life. In part he was trying to solve his own Jewish problem of who he really was. A few years before the publication of his pamphlet, The Jewish State, he had offered to lead a mass conversion of Jews to Christianity.
Has the seven-year-itch been replaced by a new, harder-to-scratch, 20-year variant which prompts the female of the species to up and leave a long marriage? That is what author Linda Kelsey found when her own break-up prompted her to uncover some startling research.
"I discovered there had been a seismic shift in the institution," says Kelsey, a former editor of Cosmopolitan. "In just the six years to 2008, the Office of National Statistics estimated the number of divorced women over 45 jumped by a third.
Keren David: Pay membership fees to your community, not your synagogue
It is expensive being an active member of the Jewish community. A typical family has to pay synagogue and burial fees. Those with more than one child at a Jewish school face voluntary contributions running into thousands of pounds. If you are at a non-Jewish school then cheder fees are hefty too. And then there are the numerous appeals to support charities whose services are essential to the community's good running. No wonder some cannot afford it.
To ordinary Britons from the city, the Lake District is a place of tranquil beauty. To the hundreds of Jewish orphans who arrived there from the death camps in 1945 to start a new life, it was nothing less than paradise.
At a long wooden table, two students peruse a page of Talmud. They await their rav, their teacher. It could be a scene at any rabbinical seminary. But in at least one respect, it is not typical at all. The students are Orthodox women, and are studying to become rabbis.
You eat the same foods in the same quantities as you did 15 years ago, your daily routine has not changed and you do exactly the same amount of exercise. So how come you weigh a stone more now than you did then? And why is it that all that fat seems to have settled on your belly?
It is a sad fact of life that you do not have to let yourself go to acquire that middle age spread – just keep doing the things you always did and it will magically appear.