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All the week’s wisdom in one place
23-29 April 2021

Behind the headlines

George Floyd

Now it’s white America on trial

The jury of 12 black, white and multiracial Americans repeatedly watched the video of white policeman Derek Chauvin kneel on the neck of the black George Floyd for 9 minutes 29 seconds until he died. How could they not convict, asks the Chicago Sun-Tribune. “Tuesday was a good day for America.” But as well as that damning footage, the jury witnessed another historic sight: “cops finally crossing the thin blue line to testify against one of their own”. Chauvin’s actions on May 25 last year were just too appalling. Across America, good cops knew that “the integrity of their profession, finally and unavoidably, was on the line”.

The monarchy

The Queen’s quiet grief spoke volumes

Even us Americans found the image of Queen Elizabeth II sitting alone in a chapel choir stall at Prince Philip’s funeral “indescribably poignant”, says Edward Ryan in The New York Times. No other image has “so perfectly captured our experience as a world since the onset of the Covid-19 pandemic more than a year ago”. That solitary woman “portrayed it all”: grief, isolation, loneliness – and through it all, determination, deep faith and incomparable dignity.

Global Update

Quoted

Quoted

“The 2021 Oscars, brought to you by razor blades, Kleenex and rope. Please welcome our host, the sad emoji.”

American TV host Bill Maher despairs of the Academy’s bleak nominations

Inside politics

A green chancellor for Germany?

Germany’s Green Party are doing well in the polls, says Jeremy Cliffe in the New Statesman. So well that after this year’s general election in September, the party could be heading a governing coalition, and its co-leader Annalena Baerbock could be chancellor. The former champion trampolinist did a “wordless interview” with a newspaper two years ago. When asked if she could imagine being chancellor one day, she performed “a rather impressive handstand. Her meaning is clear: yes, I’m up to it.”

Zeitgeist

The parents’ revolt in Hollywood

Parents at the exclusive LA private school Harvard-Westlake have had enough of “woke weaning”, says Caroline Graham in The Mail on Sunday. Celebrity parents regularly choose the $43,000-a-year institution for thier children, Tom Hanks and Steven Spielberg included, and it has always encouraged diversity. But recently things have spun out of control, according to one mother. “My son came home the other day and said he was ‘bad’ because he is white and that makes him racist and an oppressor. It’s nuts.”

Noted

Noted

LinkedIn has become a portal for spies attempting to wheedle sensitive information from gullible workers. At least 10,000 British nationals have received messages from fake profiles on the business social media platform, with many originating in China, says Helen Warrell in the Financial Times. Those in the defence and security industries are typically targeted with job offers “too good to be true” in order to extract intelligence.

Life

Justin Theroux

My lockdown year with a pit bull

The actor Justin Theroux’s sole companion during New York’s lockdown was his pit bull terrier Kuma. “The only relationship where I think co-dependency should be totally encouraged is with a dog,” he tells Eric Sullivan in Esquire. Justin, 49, was married to Jennifer Aniston from 2015 to 2018, but their split was amicable, unlike that of his own parents, who divorced when he was six. His father, an international trade lawyer who helped bring Kentucky Fried Chicken to China and Pizza Hut to the USSR, threatened to sue his mother over custody of their children.

Quoted

Quoted

“Without cultural appropriation there is only stagnation.”

Critic and essayist Jonathan Meades in The Quietus

Staying young

The benefits of keeping cheerful

“Optimists are healthier, wealthier and happier,” says Ginny Graves in her book Real Simple: The Power of Positivity. Having a cheery outlook boosts your chances of living past 85, according to a Harvard study, which may be because optimists have low levels of inflammation or high levels of healthy bacteria in their guts. Or maybe it’s because “optimists have more nourishing relationships”, as they tend to see the best in their friends and family.

Sport

When ping-pong changed the world

Half a century ago, 15 American table-tennis players walked across a bridge near Hong Kong into mainland China, “and an astonished world watched in disbelief”, says Daniel Kaplan in The Athletic. Their week of exhibition matches against Chinese players, who often lost games deliberately to flatter their visitors, became known as “ping-pong diplomacy”. At the time, formal US-China relations were non-existent. The American players were in Japan for a tournament when they received the impromptu invitation, and their embassy had to cover up wording on their passports that explicitly ruled out visits to China.

After Hours

Everyone’s watching

Sound of Metal

Riz Ahmed’s starring role in Sound of Metal has won him a best actor nomination at this Sunday’s Oscars. He plays Ruben Stone, a drummer who, after his hearing suddenly fails him, seeks help from a recovering alcoholic (Paul Raci) who runs a shelter for deaf addicts. Stone is a recovering addict, too, so the new situation puts his resolve to the test. It’s one of last year’s “best films”, says Decider. Ahmed gives the character an unspoken sense of volatility, which makes his recovery feel “dangerous and wildly uncertain”.

Property

The cottage

Grade II listed Laurel Cottage, in Thorndon, Suffolk, has four bedrooms, a host of period features and nearly half an acre of manicured lawns surrounded by open fields. You can walk to the village’s pub, shop and primary school, and there are trains to London from Diss, seven miles away. £645,000.

The hideaway

Built for Franco’s daughter, this beachfront villa in exclusive Los Monteros, Marbella, was bought in the 1960s by Aline Griffith, an American socialite and spy – Jackie Kennedy and Audrey Hepburn were guests here. It has five bedrooms, a separate staff flat, a large terrace, a pool and mature gardens that lead down to the sea. POA.

The townhouse  

You can walk to Primrose Hill and Hampstead from this six-bedroom house in Belsize Park, which has a gorgeous back garden, off-street parking and a roof terrace with panoramic views of the capital. There’s an open-plan living area with oak flooring and an Aga in the kitchen island, a library and a self-contained two-bedroom flat on the lower ground floor. £7.5m.

The country house

Once a cider press and orchard, then a working farm, Grade II listed Worden House is now a luxurious eight-bedroom home near Dartmouth, Devon. It’s in 6½ acres of gardens, paddocks and olive groves, with a guest cottage, a barn, a tennis court and indoor and outdoor pools. The nearest beach is Blackpool Sands, two miles away. £5m.

The pied-à-terre

The Playfair is a collection of apartments at the former Donaldson’s College in central Edinburgh, near Haymarket station and the Water of Leith. The flats offer views of the city and the Pentland Hills: this one-bedder has an open-plan layout, a swish bathroom, allocated parking and access to the internal courtyard and 18 acres of grounds. £275,000.

Noted

Noted

Ernest Hemingway’s writing style was famously unfussy. For every 10,000 words, he would use on average only 80 adverbs. Dickens used 108 per 10,000 words, Jane Austen 128 and the Fifty Shades of Grey author EL James 155.

Quoted

Quoted

“We’ve been so hung up on rules – both adhering to them, over-adhering to them, and roiling with seething rage when other people don’t adhere to them as strictly as we do – that as lockdown loosens I worry that we’ll struggle to let go of them all. Some people’s idea of having fun is just having fun: some people’s idea of having fun is getting furious at other people having fun.”

Joel Golby in The Guardian

Five of the best

Bridges

The Twist, Jevnaker, Norway, 2019 

Part bridge, part art installation, part gallery, the Twist connects two parts of a sculpture park on either side of the Randselva River, north of Oslo. Designed by the Danish architecture firm Bjarke Ingels Group, the twirling aluminium structure resembles a fanned deck of cards.

Devil’s Bridge, Saxony, Germany, 1860

Despite the sinister name, this hand-built stone bridge is very much the work of man. The construction of the arch is so perfect that people believed Satan must have been involved.

Millau Viaduct, Aveyron, France, 2004

Vertigo sufferers, look away: this Norman Foster-designed bridge is the tallest in the world, a dizzying 343 metres high. It’s sturdier than it looks, with a cable-stayed metal gangway that weighs 36,000 tons and is connected to the valley floor at only nine points along its 2.46km length.

Bastei Bridge, Elbe Valley, Germany, 1851

The Elbe Valley’s mountains were immortalised by the German painter Caspar David Friedrich. But when he visited the Bastei rock formation, access was via a rickety wooden walkway. By 1850 the area had grown so popular with tourists that the bridge was rebuilt with sturdier sandstone.

Palladian Bridge, Somerset, 1755

This stone bridge at Prior Park was a group effort: it was created as part of a 28-acre garden by the British entrepreneur Ralph Allen, who took artistic advice from the landscape architect Capability Brown and the poet Alexander Pope. Palladian architecture was all the rage in Georgian times, but now only three such bridges remain in England.

Noted

Noted

Super-rich Russians, Chinese and Saudis have been purchasing Maltese “golden passports” to gain EU citizenship, according to The Guardian. For €650,000, plus the rental or purchase of a property in Malta, “high-net-worth individuals” can obtain an EU passport in just 12 months through the wealth adviser Henley & Partners. They need not spend more than three weeks in the country.

Shopping

It’s back… Monsoon

Originally a stall at Portobello Market in the 1970s, Monsoon once epitomised “eclectic boho-chic”, writes Bethan Holt in The Daily Telegraph. It “lost its shine” and became a “casualty of lockdown”, going into administration last June. Now it’s back under new management, with a collection developed in Jaipur. Pick up this white shirt, £60.

They’re cordless… Pooky lamps

Improve your outdoor socialising experience tenfold with these cordless lamps from Pooky. The shades are designed by Matthew Williamson (expect zingy colours and patterns) and the rechargeable lamps last for up to 10 hours. £130.

We’re wearing… Fitbit Charge 4s

With spring in full swing,“many of us are ramping up our fitness efforts”, says Celia Shatzman in The Hollywood Reporter. The Fitbit Charge 4 is “the best fitness tracker” out there. It has more than 20 exercise modes and lets you control Spotify playlists from your wrist. £119.

Cool again… New Balance

Previously every dad’s favourite trainer brand, New Balance is now the pinnacle of athletic cool. The 237s are a new, albeit retro-inspired, style with chunky contours that work best in this bright colourway. £80.

She’s wearing… Rejina Pyo x & Other Stories

The cult Korean designer Rejina Pyo has teamed up with the Scandi brand & Other Stories for a collection of puff sleeves and pops of colour. The eco-influencer and forager @poppyokotcha is a fan, seen here in the mulberry silk midi dress, £165.

Money

From the archives

Hail, Gagarin

Sixty years on from Yuri Gagarin’s journey into space, watch the Russian cosmonaut’s first trip to the UK.

Desert Island Discs

Helen McCrory

Helen McCrory became well known as a stage actress – and for her roles in Peaky Blinders and several Harry Potter films – but her career got off to a rocky start, she told Lauren Laverne on Desert Island Discs. The actress, who died last week, auditioned for the Drama Centre London when she was 17 with a monologue from Romeo and Juliet. After the audition, the adjudicator said: “Have you ever been in love?” McCrory replied she had not. So the adjudicator asked: “Well, are you a virgin?” McCrory answered yes. “And he went, ‘Well why the hell did you choose that piece then? The speech was about love, and you know absolutely nothing about it – get out of here and live a bit.’” Most people would have been disheartened, but not McCrory. “I just thought, ‘That’s the school for me.’”

Quirks of history

Quirk of history 23.04

It’s the Oscars this weekend, but the ceremony probably won’t be as memorable as awards night in 1965. Julie Andrews won best actress for Mary Poppins while Audrey Hepburn watched – she wasn’t even nominated for her role as Eliza Doolittle in My Fair Lady. It was a piquant moment because Hepburn had stolen the part from her fellow actress. Andrews played Eliza on stage for months, but Hollywood producers cast the more famous Hepburn in the film. When the pair met backstage, Hepburn rushed up to Andrews to apologise. “Julie, you should have done it,” she said, “but I didn’t have the guts to turn it down.”

Weather

April 23: Dudinka, Russia, -3C ❄️

April 19: Waddesdon Manor, Aylesbury, 16C 🌷

April 19: Ajmer, Rajasthan, 40C 💧

April 19: Santa Monica, California, 23C 💋

April 21: Tainan, Taiwan, 31C 💥

April 21: St Charles Church, Vienna, 18C ⛪

April 22: Gulf Emirate of Sharjah, 38C 🌴

April 22: Chandigarh, India, 24C 🚴