A rare glimpse into the sweeping and potentially troubling cloud kitchens trend

Independent restaurant owners may be doomed, and perhaps grocery stores, too.

Such is the conclusion of a growing chorus of observers who’ve been closely watching a new and powerful trend gain strength: that of cloud kitchens, or fully equipped shared spaces for restaurant owners, most of them quick-serve operations.

While viewed peripherally as an interesting and, for some companies, lucrative development, the movement may well transform our lives in ways that enrich a small set of companies while zapping jobs and otherwise taking a toll on our neighborhoods. Renowned VC Michael Moritz of Sequoia Capital seemed to warn about this very thing in a Financial Times column that appeared last month, titled “The cloud kitchen brews a storm for local restaurants.”

Moritz begins by pointing to the runaway success of Deliveroo, the London-based delivery service that relies on low-paid, self-employed delivery riders who deliver local restaurant food to customers — including from shared kitchens that Deliveroo itself operates, including in London and Paris.

He believes that Amazon’s recent investment in the company “might just foreshadow the day when the company, once just known as the world’s largest bookseller, also becomes the world’s largest restaurant company.”

That’s bad news for people who run restaurants, he adds, writing, “For now the investment looks like a simple endorsement of Deliveroo. But proprietors of small, independent restaurants should tighten their apron strings. Amazon is now one step away from becoming a multi-brand restaurant company — and that could mean doomsday for many dining haunts.”

The good news … and the bad

He’s not exaggerating. While shared kitchens have so far been optimistically received as a potential pathway for food entrepreneurs to launch and grow their businesses — particularly as more people turn to take out —  there are many downsides  that may well outweigh the good, or certainly counteract it.

Last year, for example, UBS wrote a note to its clients titled “Is the kitchen dead?” wherein it suggested the rise of food delivery apps like Deliveroo and Uber Eats could well prove ruinous for home cooks, as well as restaurants and supermarkets.

The economics of food delivery have grown too alluring, suggested the bank. It’s already inexpensive because of cheap labor — and that cost center will disappear entirely if delivery drones take flight. Meanwhile, food will become cheaper to make because of central kitchens, the kind that Deliveroo is opening and Uber is reportedly venturing into. (In March, Bloomberg reported that Uber is testing out a program in Paris where it’s renting out fully equipped, commercial-grade kitchens to serve businesses that sell food on delivery apps like Uber Eats.)

The favorable case for cloud kitchens argues that restaurants renting from them pay less than they would for their own real estate. But the reality is also that most of the businesses moving into them right now aren’t small restaurateurs but fast-food brands that already have a following and aren’t known for their emphasis on food quality but instead for quickly churning out affordable food.

As Eric Greenspan, a chef who has appeared regularly on the Food Network and opened and closed numerous restaurants, says in a short new documentary about cloud kitchens: “Delivery is the fastest growing market in restaurants. What started out as 10 percent of your sales is now 30 percent of your sales, and [the industry predicts] it will be 50 to 60 percent of a quick-serve restaurant’s sales within the next three to five years. So you take that, plus the fact that quick-serve brands are kind of the key to getting a fat payout at the end of the day …”

Greenspan continues on to explain that during an age when fewer people frequent restaurants, running one simply makes less and less sense. “[Opening] up a brick-and-mortar restaurant these days is just like giving yourself a job. Now [with centralized kitchens], as long as the product is coming out strong, I don’t need to be there as a presence. I can quality control remotely now. I can go online and [log out of a marketplace Uber Eats or Postmates] and not piss off any customers, because if I just decided to close the restaurant one day, and you drove over and it was closed, you’d be pissed. But if you’re looking for [one of my restaurants] in Uber Eats and you can’t find it because I turned it off, well, you’re not pissed. You just order something else.”

Big players only need apply …

The model works for now for Greenspan, who is operating out a cloud kitchen in L.A that happens to belong in part to Uber cofounder Travis Kalanick. He was quicker than some to grok the opportunity that shared kitchens present. In fact, it was early last year that Kalanick announced he was investing $150 million in a startup called City Storage Systems that focused on repurposing distressed real estate assets and turning them into spaces for new industries, like food delivery.

That company owns CloudKitchens, which invites food chains — as well as independent restaurant and food truck owners — to lease space in one of its facilities for a monthly fee, charging additional fees for data analytics that it says are meant to help the entrepreneurs boost their sales.

The pitch to restaurateurs is that CloudKitchens can increase their sales while reducing their overhead. But the company is also amassing all kinds of data about its tenants and their customer preferences in the process — data that could presumably benefit CloudKitchens in various ways. Little wonder that Amazon wanted entrée into the industry, or that there is already at least one serious competitor in China — Panda Selected — which raised $50 million led by Tiger Global Management earlier this year.

No one can fault savvy entrepreneurs for seizing on what looks like a gigantic business opportunity. Still, the kitchens, which make all the sense in the world from an investment standpoint, should not be embraced so readily by everyone else as a panacea.

Ripple effects …

One of the biggest areas of concern is that in order to work, central kitchens rely on the same people who drive Ubers and handle food deliveries — people who aren’t afforded health benefits and whose financial picture is precarious as a result. (As with Uber drivers, Deliveroo employees tried to gain status as “workers” last year with better pay, but they were denied them. The EU Parliament more recently passed new rules to protect so-called gig economy workers, though they don’t go far. Meanwhile, in the U.S, Uber and Lyft continue to fight legislation that would give employee status to contract workers.)

Matt Newberg, a founder and foodie from New York, says he could see the writing on the wall when he recently toured CloudKitchen’s two L.A. facilities along with the shared kitchens of two other companies: Kitchen United which last fall raised $10 million from GV, and and Fulton Kitchens, which offers commercial kitchens for rent on an annual basis.

Newberg filmed what he saw (which is very much worth watching below) and suggests that he was taken aback by the conditions of the first facility that CloudKitchens opened and operates in South L.A.

Though most restaurant kitchens are chaotic scenes, Newberg said that as “someone who loves food and sustainability” the facility didn’t feel “very humane” to him when he walked through it. It’s windowless for one thing (it’s a warehouse). Newberg also says it was filled with people who appeared to him to be low-wage workers. Not last, he says he also counted 27 kitchens packed into what are “maybe 250-square-feet to 300 square-foot spaces,” and a lot of people who appeared to be in panic mode.

“Imagine lots of screaming, lots of sirens triggered when an order gets backed up, tablets everywhere.”

Adds Newberg, “When I walked in, I was like, holy shit, no one even knows this exists in L.A. It felt like Ground Zero. It felt like a military base. I mean, it seemed genius, but also crazy.”

Newberg says CloudKitchen’s second, newer location is far nicer, as are the facilities of Kitchen United and Fulton Kitchens. “That [second CloudKitchen warehouse] felt like a WeWork for kitchens. Super sleek. It was as quiet as a server farm. There were still no windows, but the kitchens are nicer and bigger.”

Growing pains …

Emails to CloudKitchens went unreturned, but every startup has growing pains, and presumably, shared kitchen companies are not immune to these. Still, Moritz, the venture capitalist, warns that most restaurateurs should remain wary of them. Writing in the FT, he says that in the early 2000s, his firm, Sequoia, invested in a chain of kebab restaurants called Faasos that planned to deliver meals to customers’ homes but wound up getting crushed by high rents and turnover, among other things.

To save itself, it opened a centralized kitchen to sell kebobs. Now, he writes, Fassos produces a wide variety of foods, including other Indian specialities but also Chinese and Italian dishes under separate brand names.

It’s the same playbook that Eric Greenspan is using, telling Food & Wine magazine last year that his goal was to have no fewer than six delivery-only concepts running simultaneously. Greenspan, who is obviously media savvy, can probably pull it off, too, just like Fassos. But for restaurants that are not known franchises or have the star appeal of celebrity chef, the future might not look so bright.

Writes Moritz: “In some markets there is still an opportunity for hardened restaurant and kitchen operators — particularly if they are gifted in the use of social media, to build a following and refashion themselves. But they need to move quickly before it becomes too expensive to compete with the larger, faster-moving companies. The mere prospect of Amazon using cloud kitchens to provide cuisine catering to every taste — and delivering these meals through services such as Deliveroo — should be enough to give any restaurateur heartburn.”

It should also worry people who care about their neighborhoods.

Cloud kitchens may make it faster and cheaper than ever to order take-out. But there will be consequences. Most of us simply have yet to imagine them.

Read more: https://techcrunch.com/2019/06/28/a-rare-glimpse-into-the-sweeping-and-potentially-troubling-cloud-kitchens-trend/

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‘I felt kind of promiscuous’: Gemma Arterton on Vita and Virginia

With director Chanya Button, the star has made an ambitious drama about the passionate Bloomsbury love affair. They talk about female desire and the rise in lesbian romances on screen

Gemma Arterton and Chanya Button are frolicking for the camera in a female-only London club. Behave as if you would normally, orders the photographer. We could cuddle up, quips Arterton, but that would give the wrong impression. She has just rushed up from Chichester, where she is staying with her boyfriend Rory Keenan, while he performs in a play. Its a reminder if any were needed that both women are busy, busy, busy. They have arrived late, creating a comic road-drama of their own as their respective assistants monitored their cars converging from different directions.

Close friends since Button went to drama school with Artertons younger sister, Hannah, they are in London to promote their first professional collaboration, Vita and Virginia. Button is the director, while Arterton not only stars in, but is an executive producer on the film, which documents one of the most famous love affairs of the early 20th century, the one between Virginia Woolf and Vita Sackville-West that led to the creation of the gender- and genre-changing novel Orlando.

Based on a 1990s stage play by the actor Dame Eileen Atkins, the film ambitiously marries straight-to-camera monologues from the lovers letters and diaries with special effects straight out of Guillermo del Toro. A pulsing electro-beat powers the louche Bloomsbury party scene, while Woolfs mental and emotional disintegration is signalled by a flock of attacking crows and ivy curling up a lamp-post or thrusting through the floorboards.

Im really aware Vita and Virginia is an arthouse film and that enables you to make stronger choices, because youre not looking for a broad audience, says Button, whose most recent work, on the forthcoming second world war TV series World on Fire, has shown her what a luxury that is. Something Ive returned to very often was the mission statement that Virginia and Leonard Woolf wrote when they started their Hogarth Press: Our object has been to publish at low prices, short works of merit, in prose or poetry, which could not, because of their merits, appeal to a very large public. They broke all the rules and pissed everyone off: they published every great modernist writer we think of as mainstream today.

If the tension between those lofty ideals and the need to make an impact gives the film itself a certain edgy quality, it is also what brings the lovers together in the first place. Artertons Sackville-West is a glittering, hedonistic aristocrat whose literary efforts do nothing to seduce Elizabeth Debickis lofty Virginia until Leonard reminds his wife that they could do with a money-spinner. Dont forget weve got Tom Eliot and Sigmund Freud to sell too.

The point of the music, explains Button, was to find a modern response to how progressive the women were in their own time. We listened to everything they were listening to. She also provided a lengthy reading list that not only included books written by the women themselves but several of the many hundreds written about them. Youve always been such a nerd, Arterton tells her when she gives a particularly knowledgeable answer to a question about literary modernism.

Making an arthouse film enables you to make stronger choices: Vita and Virginia. Photograph: Pictorial Press Ltd/Alamy Stock Photo

While Button did an English degree at Oxford, and was inspired to go into film by Woolfs 1926 essay, The Cinema, Arterton didnt go to university, beginning her film career fresh out of drama school as the head girl of St Trinians and moving on to play the Bond girl Strawberry Fields in Quantum of Solace. Being from a working-class background, and tricking my way into the middle-class intelligentsia, I still feel like Im looked down on, she says, not entirely flippantly.

She began her reading with Orlando and followed it up with Mrs Dalloway, which is the subject of a pointed exchange in the film between Vita and a travelling companion as they chug across North Africa on a train. Does anything ever actually happen to Mrs Dalloway? the companion asks. Not really, Vita replies, she just gives a party. Golly, says her friend, Im hooked. Does Arterton herself resonate at all with those sentiments? I didnt study Woolf, she says. I was introduced to her through this project, which is really sad. I wish Id read her in my formative years. But then, she adds brightly, trying the thought on like a debutante modelling a tiara: I feel like the target audience.

The Bloomsbury heritage is one with many gatekeepers and among those to have taken umbrage to the film is Virginia Nicholson, the great-niece of Virginia Woolf, who recently aired her grievances in a newspaper tirade. They ranged from the respective heights of the two actors (Debicki towers over Arterton, whereas, in reality, Vita was the taller of the two), to their dining habits (they would never eat in the kitchen), to the representation of her relative as a mad prodigy, trembling with hypersensitivity when Virginia was actually pretty good fun.

Gemma Arterton: I still feel looked down upon. Photograph: Piccadilly Pictures/Allstar

One could add that, in covering only the few years of the affair, it edits out Vitas major achievement as the gardener who created a new way of making, and writing about, gardens out of her disappointment at being booted out of her ancestral home. But at the time, she was mainly a popular novelist. I think she was desperate for recognition among her peers as a writer, which I dont think she ever really achieved, says Arterton. I read [her 1924 novel] Seducers in Ecuador and its not Mrs Dalloway.

Both director and actor are unrepentant, pointing out that they consulted the various family members at length. If were not allowed to take a view, with all the work weve done and all the detailed conversations weve had, what chance is there for a student in a classroom to have their own response? says Button. I could have made a documentary about her, but I chose to make a film. Art is an opinion and this is art.

The film quotes Woolfs famous words on the writing of Orlando: I can revolutionise biography overnight the story of a hero who turns into a heroine who turns out to be fiction, which is of course what all biographies are. This portrait of a poet who changes sex at 30 and lives for centuries was her tribute to Sackville-West and marked the moment when their passionate love affair cooled into friendship.

Tilda Swinton in Orlando. Photograph: Ronald Grant

At the heart of the project is an attempt to find a 21st-century filmic equivalent to Woolfs early 20th-century stream of consciousness hence the crows and the ivy. Madness: what a convenient way to explain away her genius, says Vita of Virgina. The animations are an attempt to see female creativity and vulnerability through a new lens, explains Button. She was this blend of brilliance and suffering. She writes in her letters about this sense that she is breaking with reality. What weve tried to do is to look at her vulnerability in a new way, because, as a female director, Im extremely interested in the complexities of femininity. So yes, its an attempt to break the rules and create a new language, just like Virginia did when she wrote Orlando.

Its not a coincidence that Tilda Swinton also quoted Woolfs line about the fiction of biography as a key to her own inspiration for Orlando in Sally Potters acclaimed 1992 film of the novel. A more recent interrogation of mythologising biography comes in Sally Wainwrights Gentleman Jack, an eight-part television series about the early 19th-century lesbian Anne Lister. It is the latest in a growing line of lesbian romances that are placing female desire in the mainstream. Is there a significance in the fact that these stories are being told now? I think we are both looking at compelling, driven relationships from a different era through a contemporary lens, and its very important that theres space for both to be told, and that they talk to each other, but theres not a quota for female or LGBTQ-driven stories, says Button.

Suranne Jones as Anne Lister in Gentleman Jack. Photograph: Matt Squire/BBC/Lookout Point/HBO

There is only one sex scene in the film, though it creates an illusion of physical intoxication through the cameras caress of skin. Button and Arterton both bridle at the word sapphic It has a negative spin. Its often used in a scornful way while also being aware that the historical limitations of language work both ways. To describe Vita and Virginia as lesbians would be to ignore the fact that they both had happy marriages. They were bending the institution to their own will, says Arterton, who remains perplexed by the emotional slipperiness of Vita. Even in her letters and her other writings shes very hard to pin down. I think what anchored me was something I connected with at the time of reading the screenplay: I felt kind of promiscuous, and that I couldnt give my heart away. For me, the key was her line: If you leave me adrift, I will hurt you.

For Button, the underlying challenge was how to understand without over-articulating. A conversation I always start is if Virginia Woolf were to write Orlando today, what pronoun would she use? Would it be they? Id love to know what shed do with the grammar and how it would affect her writing. I think she would definitely have explored gender-fluid characters. But it would be wrong to impose a modern perspective on that, just as it would be wrong to use the word bipolar.

Among the early outings for the film was a screening at Flare, the BFIs LGBTQ+ film festival. I was really worried about my mum seeing it and my aunt, who is gay, and all of her friends who are gay, says Arterton. But she neednt have worried. They all came to see it and my mum thought it was really beautiful because you saw these women expressing something, rather than seeing something that was gratuitous. Id be the first person to condemn anything gratuitous: boobs out and that sort of thing. But its important for young people to see something beautiful.

Button says: People so far have said they sort of forget its between two women. Their relationship was with their own sexuality, as much as with each other. She adds: The response I love the most when people have watched the film is when they say: I didnt know anything about them and now I want to find out more.

Vita and Virginia is released in the UK on 5 July.

Read more: https://www.theguardian.com/film/2019/jun/27/gemma-arterton-vita-and-virginia-bloomsbury

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Why Do the Kardashians Pets Keep Mysteriously Disappearing?

Kim Kardashian West is many thingsa reality TV icon, multimillionaire entrepreneur, prison reform activist, aspiring lawyerbut animal lover is nowhere on the list. A recent episode of Keeping Up with the Kardashians showed the mother of four dealing with the inconvenience of the death of her daughter Norths beloved hamster. The hamster, complete with a pink castle cage, was a gift from Aunt Khlo, whod failed to impress her niece with the special day of limousine rides and ice cream she planned. The only thing that would make North happy was a tiny rodent, much to her mothers chagrin.

Disaster soon struck when one of Kims assistants delivered the grim news that the hamster, named Blacktail, hadnt moved in a while. Its, like, stiff, the assistant said monotonously, urging his boss to check on Blacktail. With the swish of a sleek black ponytail, Kim stood up from the kitchen table, sighing, I dont have time for a dead hamster. She spent the rest of the episode fluctuating between anger toward her sister for getting North a pet without permission and emotional distress over how to teach her daughter about the circle of life.

Kim decided instead to take the classic lie-to-your-children-to-protect-them route and find an identical replacement. Norths pet was a fancy bear hamster (which I learned today is the actual name of a hamster breed and not something made up by a child), dubbed the unicorn of hamsters by Khlo because of its rare pedigree. They found a match, successfully hoodwinked a 6-year-old, and learned theyve been spelling hamster wrong their whole lives. (Hint: there is no p.)

Given the familys track record with pets, it is not all that surprising that poor Blacktail met an early end. There have been numerous articles over the years outlining the lengthy list of Kardashian-Jenner pets, including several who mysteriously disappeared after a few Instagram posts or cameos on the show.

Back in 2016, Kim herself even made a post on her now-nonexistent app, a sort of where are they now piece detailing the fates of all of the familys petsor at least the ones she could remember. She was careful to clarify that she remembered almost all of them, meaning there have been so many that some have been forgotten. Perhaps she was going for transparency, but she mostly just succeeded at raising eyebrows over just how many pets they have seemingly abandoned. (The Kardashian team did not respond to requests for comment.)

Based on Kims list, Keeping Up with the Kardashians clips, and years of Snapchat stories and Instagram posts, I was able to determine that since Kardashian clan hurtled into the spotlight just over a decade ago, they have owned approximately 40 pets. The extensive menagerie has included nearly two dozen dogs, a couple of cats, chickens, a peacock, and maybe a pig. According to a KUWTK deleted scene, Wilbur the teacup pig was a gift from Kris to her favorite and youngest daughter, Kylie. It is unclear if she kept Wilbur, but he did go on to be a Vine star when the hilarious clip of the makeup mogul mistaking him for a chicken went viral.

Dolce the Chihuahua, one of the OG Kar-Jenner pets, was killed by a coyote. He is now immortalized in the form of a beige Kylie Cosmetics lip kit bearing his name.

The Wilbur anecdote is one of the more harmless of the unsolved pet mysteries, since it was never officially confirmed whether or not he became a permanent part of the family. In addition to Blacktail, at least three other family pets have died. Kims white Persian kitten Mercy, a gift from Kanye West, died unexpectedly in 2012 of something Kim vaguely described as a cancer-like virus. Dolce the Chihuahua, one of the OG Kar-Jenner pets, was killed by a coyote. He is now immortalized in the form of a beige Kylie Cosmetics lip kit bearing his name.

Some of the dogs that are still alive became casualties of break-ups, lost in custody disputes or given away after the relationships went south. And then there are the ones who vanished with no explanation: bunnies who havent been featured on Instagram in years, a dog who seemed to exist solely as a prop in sponsored ads for the Wag dog-walking app.

It should be noted that Kylie Jenner seems to be the only devoted pet parent of the bunch, recently confirming on Twitter that she still owns all of her pets and sharing videos of them playing with her 1-year-old daughter Stormi.

Disposing of pets as if they are material goods, like Kourtney giving away her pricey Bengal kitten when she gave birth to Reign or Kendall presumably parting with her Great Dane puppy because it pooped too much, is not entirely off-brand for a family as wealthy as the Kardashians. It should not have come as a surprise to Kris that Kendall, the worlds highest-paid supermodel, did not want to pick up giant dog turds. And the KUWTK producers were really underestimating their viewers when they expected us to believe that Kris, all-powerful momager that she may be, donned rubber cleaning gloves and scrubbed the black-and-white tile floor of her laundry room when Kendall wouldnt do it.

Not everyone has to be a pet person. So, given their pristine houses full of expensive white furniture and their jet-setting schedules of modelling gigs, meetings with the president, and vacations with baby daddies, why do the Kardashian-Jenners keep trying to convince the world that they are?

Read more: https://www.thedailybeast.com/why-do-the-kardashians-pets-keep-mysteriously-disappearing

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Mum stabbed to death ‘on school run’

Image copyright Surrey Police
Image caption Aliny Godinho was stabbed repeatedly in the neck and chest

A mum of four was stabbed to death by her estranged husband in front of her three-year-old daughter while she was picking up their children from school, a jury has been told.

Aliny Godinho was attacked with a large kitchen knife in Ewell, Surrey, shortly after 15:00 GMT on 8 February.

Ricardo Godinho pulled up in a truck, got out and repeatedly stabbed her, Guildford Crown Court heard.

Mr Godinho, 41, denies murder and possessing a bladed article.

Originally from Brazil, Mr and Mrs Godinho had been together for 17 years and moved to the UK in 2013.

In December 2018 Mrs Godinho made an allegation that she was being “controlled” by her husband and found him “mentally abusive”, the court heard.

‘Sank to the floor’

Prosecutor Kate Lumsdon QC said on the morning of her death, Mrs Godinho sent a text to a friend saying her husband “was telling everyone that he would kill her”.

“I believe if he found me alone in the street now, that he would do it. But I don’t believe he would do it in front of the children and I am always with them,” the message added.

Ms Lumsdon told jurors Mr Godinho “killed his wife to punish her”.

She added: “Out of revenge for leaving him and, as he saw it, keeping him from his children.

“He planned it. He armed himself, lay in wait and killed her in cold blood.”.

At the time of the attack, Mrs Godinho had been with three other mothers, Ms Lumsdon told the court.

“As the truck pulled up and the women turned to see what was happening they heard Aliny scream. One of them thought she had been hit by the truck.

“A man jumped out of the truck and ran towards Aliny, hunched over. Aliny backed away from him.

“As he reached Aliny he grasped her with one hand and with the other stabbed her repeatedly in the upper body.

“She sank to the floor and he continued to stab her in the chest and in the neck.”

Image caption Mrs Godinho was formally pronounced dead at 15:36 GMT

Mr Godinho “suddenly stopped” and “dropped the knife” before driving off at speed, Ms Lumsdon said.

“The three other mothers could not believe what they had just seen. Blood was running from Aliny’s mouth and nose. She was unresponsive.”

After the stabbing, the defendant called “a series of people and told them what he had done”, jurors were told.

Ms Lumsdon said he called his secretary Andreia Cordoso and told her: “I stabbed Aliny. I think she is dead. I stabbed her several times.”

Mr Godinho, of Kingston Road, Epsom, was later found with a friend and arrested by police.

While in custody an officer heard him say: “I kill my wife because of… problems”, Ms Lumsdon said.

She added: “The knife had Mr Godinho’s DNA on the handle and Aliny’s blood on the blade.”

Image caption Mrs Godinho died at the roadside where she was attacked

The court heard Mrs Godinho “knew she needed help from the police” when hers and her children’s passports were shredded after she refused to get back with her husband shortly after Christmas.

Ms Lumsdon said: “He had previously found out where she was by using a tracking feature on her child’s phone.

“It was clear that Aliny was frightened that Ricardo would kill her – she said it was common for men to kill their wives in Brazil.”

It was claimed in court that Mr Godinho had been “tracking” Mrs Godinho’s movements and approaching the friends she was staying with in Tadworth.

Image caption The court heard Mrs Godinho made attempts to leave her marriage

Emergency accommodation was arranged for Mrs Godinho in Streatham, London, but the children remained in school in Surrey.

Ms Lumsdon said: “An examination of Mr Godinho’s computer has shown that he accessed her email, tracked her phone and was aware of her new ‘secret’ address in Streatham and had it noted in his address book.

“On Friday 8 February the Met Police wanted to see Aliny, but she asked if she could see them the next day as she had to get the children to a party.

“She made an appointment at Brixton Police Station for Saturday 9 February.

“But, by then it was too late. Aliny was dead.”

The trial continues.

Related Topics

Read more: https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-england-surrey-48826050

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These edited videos show the sad side of your favorite cartoons

Theres a scene in the 90s Nickelodeon cartoon Rugrats where Stu wakes up in the middle of the night to make chocolate pudding. Its four oclock in the morning, his wife exclaims. Why on Earth are you making chocolate pudding? He responds, Because Ive lost control of my life.


Its one of the many edited cartoon clips featured on Heartbreak Clubs Instagram page. The cartoons original soundtrack is replaced with rapper Trippie Redds “Taking A Walk. As Stu stands in the kitchen looking tired and sleep-deprived, we hear the lyrics: So I think I wanna die, yeah, cause my doors are suicide, yeah.

Huh. This isnt the Rugrats I remember.

Heartbreak Club is just one of several Instagram pages and YouTube channels devoted to making sad, depressing edits of cartoons, from Adventure Time to Rick and Morty. While each uploader is different, all the videos usually involve editing cartoons to make them look moody and dark, while including songs from emo rappers like Lil Uzi Vert and Joji.

On the Instagram account why.upset, Regular Shows Mordecai is edited to look suicidal as he agonizes over a broken heart to Logics 1-800-273-8255. Meanwhile, on moodcartoons, the self-deprecating humor of Charlie Brown is edited away to make him look authentically depressed as he spends sleepless nights tossing and turning to sad, lo-fi hip-hop music. I love how sad this makes me, a commenter writes under the video.


Although depression as aesthetic has been widely criticized for romanticizing mental illness, the addition of nostalgic cartoons is definitely a novel trend that has been littering YouTube and Instagram lately. Back in 2015, it was the sad girl that monopolized melancholic memes on the internet, reducing depression to a quirky Tumblr style that involved sad French films and copious #PrettyWhenYouCry selfies. But the rise of #SadCartoonEdits is one that looks backward, getting most of its inspiration from nostalgia and the sad longing for better childhood days.

The first pieces of it started to appear in 2017. YouTube channel N O S T R A D A M U S uploaded a video titled b r o k e n that featured a clip from Tom and Jerry where Tom contemplates his life after getting his heart broken. Other YouTube channels soon followed, but they werent quite the same as the videos being shared today. Back then, the videos all had the same lo-fi aesthetic recycled from the Vaporwave scene. Vaporwave, which was at its peak in 2011, often featured ambient electronic music paired with nostalgic 80s and 90s motifs, like retro computer graphics and VHS static.

However, like all things invented by the internet, by 2015 the scene had become a meme. With YouTubers using the trademark Vaporwave aesthetic to create parody videos, it wasnt long before people started making memes that merged Vaporwave with The Simpsons, creating the brief but bizarre musical subgenre dubbed Simpsonwave. Simpsonwave is the chill summer soundtrack you didn’t know you needed, The Verge declared back in 2016.

But while the Simpsonwave fad focused on the nostalgic longing for the past, overlaying classic scenes from the show with chill, ambient music, somewhere along the way things took a darker turn. Popular YouTubers like the bootleg boy started uploading Simponwave videos with titles like, s u i c i d e and X A N A X & C H I L L. As the videos started to spread to Instagram, they took on a different iteration. The retro aesthetic and vibe-y electronica was gradually replaced with flashy editing and emo rap music, nestling its obsession for melodrama under hashtags like #depressionedits and #sadedits. These days, heartbreak and loneliness seem to be the dominant theme of cartoon edits. However, when these videos start using Goofy cartoons to romanticize suicide, its not hard to see how this can be unhealthy for its mostly teen fanbase.

But not all cartoon edits are eager to exploit the depression as aesthetic meme. YouTube channel Dark Simpsons edits old Simpsons episodes to create entirely new (albeit disturbingly darker) narratives. Theres no emo rap or flashy editingjust an incredibly impressive repertoire of Simpsons knowledge. Even accounts like SadCartoonEdits have started segueing away from sad edits into general edits and even #loveedits.

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Idris Elba meets Kwame Kwei-Armah: ‘I feel a massive connection with trees’

The actor celebrates all big events in his life by wrapping his arms round a sturdy trunk. With the help of director Kwame Kwei-Armah, he has turned his obsession into a show

Idris Elba has a thing about trees. Hes got a tattoo of one on his left arm, partially hidden today by a black T-shirt but thats not all. Whenever Elba needs to mark a major event in his life birthdays, new years, that kind of thing he heads outside and wraps his arms around a trunk. I just feel a massive connection to the roots that are underneath, which are very high and wide, and to the oxygen that comes from the top, he says. And then theres me in the middle Idris Elba, tree-hugger!

He lets out a burst of laughter, as does the director Kwame Kwei-Armah. The pair are here today because theyve collaborated on a new project called, funnily enough, Tree an ambitious mix of music, dance and drama set to premiere at this years Manchester international festival. The pair have known each other for decades but this is the first time theyve worked together. The seeds are laid right, Elba says, and the metaphors continue, with much talk of cultivating and planting in their creative process.

The productions deepest roots, says Elba, grew from his experience in South Africa playing Nelson Mandela in the film Mandela: Long Walk to Freedom. For inspiration on how to emulate the man, Elba had looked to his own father, who shared Mandelas infectious smile and similarly pointed with his middle finger yet shortly after seeing the movie, his dad died. Elba felt compelled to revisit the country and make an album in his fathers honour 2014s Mi Mandela that featured a song called Tree, which is sort of on the nose, a love letter to my dad.

Channelling his own father Elba in the title role of Mandela: Long Walk to Freedom, which fed into his new project. Photograph: Allstar/Pathe/Sportsphoto Ltd

Elba wanted to explore the idea of taking the albums songs to the stage, and so he reached out to Kwei-Armah, artistic director of the Young Vic theatre. Idris talked to me about putting his arms around this tree, that spiritual moment of connecting with nature. The thing that excited me about it was that, from the jump, Idris was like, Look we could do a musical or we could do a play, but whats the thing? How do we play with the form? The central pin became this story of a young man going back home to meet his Afrikaners grandmother. [But] I dont actually think we mention race in the piece at all. What we do is we put people in situations that say, Now read what you need to read and How do we negotiate the pain of that?

The pair first met years ago, although the specifics are hazy. They became closer while navigating their careers as black British actors in the 1990s, staying in touch as they both achieved success in the US: Elba for his portrayal of Baltimore drug kingpin Stringer Bell in The Wire; Kwei-Armah becoming the artistic director of Centre Stage in 2011, also in Baltimore. Three days after arriving in the city, Kwei-Armah recalls finding out Elba had won a Golden Globe for his Wire role. I remember sitting in my cousins yard, and I texted him, just going, Bruv, man is just so proud of you and not expecting to get anything back. [But] straight back, bam, Idris is like Thank you brother.

It was on returning to Baltimore, to direct Soul: The Stan Musical in 2018, that Kwei-Armah listened to Mi Mandela again. I got all goosebumpy, he says. My mother had died, and my mother was my everything, so [when] Idris began to speak about his father, and his connection with the universe through this thing He trails off. I went, Come we go. Lets do this.

Now the two men are working with a cast that includes Alfred Enoch, the young black British actor who went to the US to star alongside Viola Davis in the hit series How to Get Away With Murder. Kwei-Armah smiles: Alfie came to an early workshop, he got off the plane from Brazil, hadnt even looked at the script. Thank God, because it was really bad then. I completely rewrote it.

Physical theatre rehearsals for Tree. Photograph: Marc Brenner

Was the script a collaborative process, too? We did it together, Kwei-Armah replies, as Elba points towards Kwei-Armah and stage whispers: He wrote it. Not for the first time, they both laugh. Kwei-Armah continues: Alfie came in, and literally within an hour, our magnificent choreographer, Gregory Maqoma, was holding him upside down.

The physicality of the show, both on stage and in the way the audience is placed on stage alongside the performers, is inspired by Elbas dual career as an actor and a DJ. I play house music, its quite insular, but essentially its like [the crowd is] climbing into my head, and Im climbing into theirs. I explained that energy to Kwame. He says he was aiming for a different type of listening, where the audience realise: Oh shit, Im in the drama!

Kwei-Armah nods: We said, Do you know what, lets make this a gig. I loved that challenge. We had to say, All right theres going to be no seats, very few seats, people are going to be in the space. And thats hard when it comes to scripting! Because after 10 minutes everyones going to be, like, I need to know why Im standing. The challenge is to create a piece of physical theatre that has dance and brilliant music [by Mikey J Asante], and actually include the audience in the storytelling. Will you be thrown about? Probably not thrown. Will you be moved about? Yes. Will you be asked to hold and carry? Yes. Will you be asked to vocally participate? Yes. If we get it right. Will you be asked to be in the play, not just observing? Yes.

The immersive nature of Tree has leaked into the rehearsal process, with the creators operating a rehearsal room where people are regularly invited in including me. During the companys morning briefing, which involves everyone in the space holding hands in a large circle, Kwei-Armah asks how everyone is. One performer speaks candidly about an encounter that reminded her how grateful she feels to be in the space. Another, Patrice Naiambana, mutters an in-joke under his breath that makes Enoch crack up laughing. Elba tells a story about being confronted by South Africans for playing Mandela despite not being of South African heritage.

Kwame Kwei-Armah in Elminas Kitchen in 2005. Photograph: Tristram Kenton/The Guardian

Earlier, hed recounted how people had told him he shouldnt be playing Mandela. They said, Weve got actors in South Africa who are qualified. And our director was white, and our producer was Indian.

Eventually they won people over. At the end of the process, people that were on that cusp about whether I should be there or not, were like, Thank you, I can see you just as being a vessel in playing that. As with Kaleo, the protagonist in Tree, there was a sense of coming home. You get what Im saying?

Kwei-Armah does. Not only do I get what youre saying, I wish I had articulated that to the cast on day one. The beautiful thing about the DNA of this, the DNA of our lead character, is going, Whoa, where is my legitimacy here, Ive got to find my way home.

The two hope to continue working together, although perhaps in a different capacity. It isnt something weve really openly discussed, but this isnt the last pairing, says Elba. I havent been on stage for a long time, and Im desperate to do that at some point. I want to come and see my guy again, because watching and being here, I feel like I have work [that is] yet to be put on to the stage.

But right now theyre just excited to present Tree to the world. Its lovely to be able to see something youve planted the seed of, says Elba. And repot it into a different form.

Kwei-Armah laughs once more: This is why were going to keep working together. Weve got to keep these garden metaphors going!

Read more: https://www.theguardian.com/stage/2019/jun/24/idris-elba-kwame-kwei-armah-tree-interview-bereavement

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