Rosie Barton is a contributing London-based writer.

Theory of the Has#tag by Andreas Bernard
With the announcement of the Man Booker Prize winner today, there will be no shortage of literature for people to add to their lists as we are all reminded of the five on the shortlist that we hadn’t read, (the sixth being Atwood’s The Testaments, which we obviously all have). It’s times like these when we book-lovers desperately try to keep up and read every book out there in the manner of Brexit stockpilers, careering round Lidl throwing 18 tins of olive tampinard into their trolleys, devouring title after title and yet still never reaching the bottom of the Amazon ‘save for later’ list. 

So all we can do is plow on regardless. And this week, amidst the frenzy of the announcement of a Kitkat chocolatory coming to the UK – where you can, for vast expense custom, make your own chocolate-coated finger of wafer – and the announcement of the new ‘dark mode’ setting on Instagram, there is a lot to take to Twitter about. And Twitter couldn’t be what it is without the central theme of Andreas Bernard’s short book, Theory of the Has#tag

The humble hashtag – a seemingly useless symbol relegated to the corner of our non-wireless telephones circa 2005 and hard to find even today on a modern keyboard (it’s alt 3 by the way… took me a while) – has now been dubbed the most prominent sign of our times. It has reshaped the way we converse on social media, transforming the discussion from something generalised and independent to something categorised and influenced. Put that way it sounds a little creepy, a little bit 'our phones are listening'. But they are, and it is… Until I picked up Bernard’s book I hadn’t given the little symbol a second thought, but now, in my hyper receptive state, I see it everywhere. 

The # wasn’t always called ‘hashtag’, it previously had been used to denote the measurement of pounds (in the lb sense), or as a marker of sending information (after typing in your long card number over the phone). Today’s use of the hashtag originated in 2007 on Twitter, and even then wasn’t widely used until at least 2009 with the emergence of Instagram. The first time I used a hashtag in 2012, I did it wrong. In many senses of the word, #fun#on#the#roof, failing not only with its lack of spaces between each # preventing a link to any other hashtag ever (completely defeating the point), but also I hardly see #on going viral. Things improved in 2013 as I got the point and started employing #ladsontour and #wagamamas (then again, would we call that an improvement?). In my wiser post-teen years, I have now done away with such mainstream nonsense and prefer the black lettered text of the witty sentence to accompany my Insta posts rather than the confinement of the blue #hotgirlsummer or whatever it may be. Nonetheless, my personal meandering pilgrimage of hashtag uses did little to deter me from hanging on Bernard’s every word. This little symbol is responsible for categorising political activism (#MeToo or #BlackLivesMatter), but is also an essential tool in marketing – both an “index and a slogan”, it teeters on a very fine line. Bernard lays all this out and leaves you with one or two questions about how we are harnessing the power of words and whether particular rights can be claimed over what we all thought was a universal and free language… 

Mull this one over as you upload the images of your cardamom and lycee coated vegan Kitkat to Instagram, #hashtag? 

Click here to discover Theory of the Has#tag by Andreas Bernard.

Dear Joan and Jericha
Good grief, lip pursing and pearl-clutching pruds, be warned, the hideously graphic and completely outrageous agony aunts are back – and it’s utter FILTH (so, of course, it’s brilliant). Dear Joan and Jericha is the work of comedy genius by Vicki Pepperdine and Julia Davis, who masquerade as two seemingly kosher agony aunts, with the dalcit, Scottish tones of Joan and no-fuss, Woman's Hour-esque Jericha handing out advice to distressed members of the public. However, the issues at hand are often cringe-worthy at best and wildly inappropriate at worst and the answers they are met with are no less outrageous

The duo are essentially wicked and, quite frankly disgusting – not only actively anti-feminist but outrightly misogynist and completely politically incorrect. From concerned wives whose husbands have asked for stripers on their 70th birthday, to the dangers of a smear test when conducted by a female nurse rather than the softly spoken and cinnamon breathed, Mahmoud, Dear Joan and Jericha covers every potential issue, with their background in “life coaching, female sexual health, psycho-genital counselling and sports journalism”, qualifying them to deal with anything that is thrown their way. 

The smut and filth they come up with is, to be honest, a breath of fresh air and will have you gasping and giggling all the way to the office. This year’s winner at the podcast awards for Best Comedy, Pepperdine and Davis’s creation reminds us all to take the recurring piece of the agony aunts advice: ‘Stop being so uptight” (and in their case, pop your husband back into a comma if he hasn't had long enough to think and don’t say no the penile face-whacking if that’s what he fancies). To Joan and Jericha, nothing is more important than maintaining a keen sense of fun. 

Appalling, but genius. 

Click here to tune into Dear Joan and Jericha.

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+ Scott Schuman a.k.a. The Sartorialist gives us his travel do's and don'ts…