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

Behind the headlines


On the road to ruin

Cuba’s communist dictatorship has “outlasted more than 10 American presidents”, says Jason Johnson in Slate, but now it faces a tougher test: its own people. Earlier this month Havana’s sunny streets thronged with thousands of protestors yelling “Libertad” – “Freedom” – and hurling stones at police. The Delta variant has ripped through the island, infuriating Cubans. The largest anti-government protest since Fidel Castro’s 1959 revolution spread from a small town outside Havana to cities across. Young, mainly black Afro-Cubans dismiss the Castros’ revolution against a US-backed tyrant as ancient history. A regime that has time and again bested the mightiest nation on the planet is now facing a fight from within.

Global Update


Boris the Pomeranian quoted 23.7

“Instead of a British bulldog, the prime minister is starting to resemble one of those preposterous Pomeranians that ladies who lunch carry around in their handbags.”

Camilla Tominey in The Daily Telegraph


Castro noted 23.7

Cuban despot Fidel Castro had sex with at least two women a day, the New York Post once reported – at lunch, dinner and sometimes at breakfast. GQ estimates that he bedded 35,000 women. Our own politicians are more demure. “No more than 30,” said Nick Clegg, when Piers Morgan pressed him for a number in 2008.



Dr Johnson 23.7

“How small, of all that human hearts endure, that part which laws or kings can cause or cure.”

Dr Johnson

After Hours


The country house

The Cliff House is on the edge of the white cliffs of Dover, with Channel views from almost every room. It has five bedrooms, a beamed sitting room, a snug and a balcony. There’s a pool and a Grade II listed lighthouse in its 11.5 acres, as well as an annexe and two smaller properties. £4.25m.

The townhouse

Grade II listed Kent House is a pastel-blue Georgian townhouse set back from the seafront in Herne Bay, four miles east of Whitstable. It has four bedrooms, four receptions, two bathrooms and plenty of period features, including sash windows, high ceilings, ornate cornicing and a wrought-iron balcony on the first floor. £800,000.

The cottage

Timber-framed Church Cottage, in the pretty Warwickshire village of Ladbroke, half an hour from Stratford-upon-Avon, has a thatched roof and classic Tudor looks. But it has been sympathetically restored and extended, with a library and a four-oven Aga in the wood-beamed kitchen. Two of the five bedrooms are ensuite and the garden backs on to open fields. £1.35m.

The hideaway

This palatial six-bedroom villa is near the coveted Golden Mile, which links Marbella and Puerto Banus, on the Costa del Sol. It has a grand driveway, balconies with sea views, a pool, a tennis court and colonnades overhung with vines. £6.77m.

The pied-à-terre

This two-bedroom flat is in a Grade II listed former Victorian schoolhouse near Clapham Common and Brixton’s Tube and mainline stations. It has two bathrooms, an open-plan kitchen and living area, a spiral staircase and a south-facing garden with floral borders and trees. £900,000.


Olympics noted 23.7

If the International Olympic Committee had cancelled the Tokyo Games, it would have had to refund roughly £2.9bn to the world’s television broadcasters – almost 75% of its total revenue.


RA quote 23.7

“A friendly reminder that even if you hate art, we do have air conditioning.”

The Royal Academy on Twitter

Five of the best

British beaches

Rhossili Bay, Gower Peninsula

Loved by surfers for its Atlantic swells, Rhossili Bay was voted best beach in Wales in 2018. The three-mile stretch of sand is ideal for walkers and walkies – it welcomes dogs all year round.

Camusdarach, Highlands

South of the Morar estuary, and five miles from Mallaig, this sandy beach has views of Skye and will be familiar to fans of the movie Local Hero. You can camp or glamp, go kayaking and spot otters on the shoreline.

Pentle Bay, Isles of Scilly

Acclaimed as one of the world’s finest beaches by The Wall Street Journal and Condé Nast Traveller, Pentle Bay is surprisingly devoid of tourists. This stretch of white sand is on the west coast of Tresco.

St Bees, Cumbria

St Bees is named after St Bega, an Irish nun who was shipwrecked there in the 9th century. The sand and shingle beach is only a clifftop stroll away from Fleswick Bay, a nesting seabird colony: take binoculars to spot puffins, kittiwakes and guillemots.

Compton, Isle of Wight

Multicoloured sandstone and white chalk cliffs collide in the landscape at Compton Bay, on the island’s west coast. It’s famous for dinosaur fossils: you can hunt for the footprints of prehistoric creatures at Hanover Point when the tide’s low.

Noted gas lamps 23.7

London’s gas lamps, which are being replaced with electric alternatives. The iconic lamps “have bathed Westminster in a distinctive Dickensian glow since the late 19th century”, says the Mail. Now 300 of the remaining 1,500 lamps are being replaced with eco-friendly alternatives.


Cool off in… a kaftan

Lisa Corti is the Italian fabric maker whipping up these stylish cover-ups. They’re up to 70% off in the summer sale, so bag one for balmy days at the local park. From £55.

It’s incredible… unicorn sprinkler

Not jetting off to foreign climes? Keep the children distracted all summer with this 6ft inflatable unicorn sprinkler, perfect for parties and long, hot afternoons. Blow it up, attach a garden hose and let the fun begin. £53.36 from Amazon.

They’re easy-breezy… windbreaks

Beach weather a bit more blustery than predicted? Hammer this hot pink windbreak from South Westerly into the sand so you can shelter from the breeze. £69.

We’re loving… Tolpa skincare

Polish skincare brand Tolpa has just arrived in the UK – and all of its products cost less than £13. Pick up its bestselling 3-Enzyme face treatment for £6.66 as part of a summer price drop at Lloyds Pharmacy.

We’re grateful for… wine coolers

Never let a glass of lukewarm rosé spoil a picnic again: this two-person wine cooler from The Greenfield Collection keeps drinks chilled for up to seven hours. It costs £28, including two glasses, two checked napkins and a corkscrew.


From the archives

Tokyo’s last Olympics

The 2020 Tokyo Olympics kicked off this week, a year late. Here’s footage from Tokyo in 1963, as the city prepared to host the Games for the first time.

Quirks of history

Quirks of history 23.7

Queen Victoria is “the most notorious drug kingpin of all time”, says Sam Kelly in History Is Now magazine. She is thought to have drunk a glass of opium-laced laudanum every night and was a huge fan of cocaine chewing gum. She even offered free samples of opium to Chinese citizens in a craven attempt to get as many people addicted as possible, which worked a treat: opium ultimately accounted for as much as 20% of the British empire’s annual revenue.


18 July: Chorto, Greece, 27C ✨

22 July: Boston, Massachusetts, 24C ☔

19 July: Kaprun, Austria, 21C 🐄

20 July: St George, Utah, 37C 🌈

16 July: Guangzhou, China, 28C ⚡

17 July: Sea of Cortez, Mexico, 39C 🐋

22 July: Bronte Beach, Sydney, 15C 🏄🏻

16 July: Heacham, Norfolk, 21C 🌅