WHEN disrobing for a nude charity fundraising calendar, what item would you reach for to preserve a smidgeon of modesty? Cherry-topped iced buns a la Celia Imrie? A bowl of fruit like Dame Helen Mirren? An artist's palette in the vein of Linda Bassett?

Perhaps helmets and hoses as a group of firefighters recently did. Or the assorted gardening tools and waist-height maze that a clutch of horticulturists plumped for (the vocational equivalent of a strategically placed fedora with a press pass tucked into the hat band).

What I'm asking is this: would you procure a sheep and hold it in front of your naked genitals as a prop? Because that's precisely what final-year male students at the Royal Veterinary College in London have done as part of an arty black and white shoot for their charity calendar.

Now I appreciate there may be niche market for this kind of thing, but I find it rather odd that alarm bells didn't start ringing earlier that their chosen pose may not be universally well received.

Unsurprisingly, a right old hoo-ha has ensued with the Veterinary Vegan Network describing the photograph, in a since deleted Facebook post, as "deeply disturbing".

The British Cattle Veterinary Association defended the handling technique – called "tipping" – saying it was, "a standard handling mechanism in animal husbandry", allowing vets to examine areas, such as the feet, and "widely recognised as being safe and pain-free for the animals".

Which is well and good but, in this instance, the students weren't examining the feet. They were holding the sheep in what looked like a cringe-inducing homage to Michael Jackson dangling his infant son over the balcony railings of a Berlin hotel.

While there's no suggestion that the animals were in any way mistreated, it just wasn't in terribly good taste, was it? And I say this in a week that we've had Prince Andrew's car crash interview.

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The upshot is that the "ethically challenged" image has been removed from the calendar with the college principal saying lessons had been learned about "the need to understand a changing world".

It feels a far cry from the group of trailblazing Yorkshire women who stripped off in 1999 to raise money for leukaemia and lymphoma research inspiring the hit film Calendar Girls.

Kill joy

GIRD your loins: we have a late entry for the most soul-sapping, spirit-crushing fad of the year. Silicon Valley tech types are apparently dabbling in a new health trend dubbed "dopamine fasting".

The idea is that by depriving yourself of dopamine – a neurotransmitter that plays a role in pleasure, motivation and learning – the brain will be rebooted or rebalanced.

Proponents believe that we have become overstimulated by quick "hits" of dopamine from social media, technology and food. On the banned list are sex, exercise, music, artificial light, conversation, eye contact – basically anything that could be considered stimulating.

After a dopamine fast, participants claim to feel more focused and with renewed enthusiasm for activities. Abstinence makes the heart grow fonder? Nah.

Lest we forget previous Silicon Valley regimes, such as so-called "biohacking" (a DIY approach to science and self-improvement so ridiculous I can barely type for laughing) and "clean sleeping" (a bedtime routine with a to-do list akin to completing a military assault course before your head even hits the pillow).

Let's just call dopamine fasting what it is: pointless nonsense. If we are to aspire to live a life devoid of enjoyment, we may as well become robots and be done with it. Although, perhaps that's the cunning plan?

Seconds, please

REJOICE! The elasticated waist is officially cool, according to fashion bods. Which is excellent news as we limber up for the festive season.

No longer solely the domain of daytime telly viewers and those overly acquainted with the biscuit tin, now we can all be like those lucky people who buy casual slacks from the glossy brochures which fall out of newspapers such as this one.

Let's face it, the elasticated waist is far more humane than the various shapewear that women – and some men – feel the need to self-torture themselves with at this time of year.

You know the kind I mean, the Bridget Jones-style control pants that suck in stomachs, cinch waists, smooth out lumps and bumps, and effectively extinguish all joy along with the ability to eat anything larger than a single dry roasted peanut.

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I mean, who hasn't considered wearing plus-size maternity trousers to Christmas dinner even though a) you are not pregnant and b) may not even possess a womb.

But c) simply want to eat a vat of roast potatoes, lashings of pavlova and an entire wheel of brie without fearing the waistband of your breeks may, at any moment, slice you in half like a cheese wire. No, just me?