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All the week’s wisdom in one place
7-13 May 2021

Behind the headlines

Social media

Nick Clegg’s Facebook debacle

Donald Trump has been stuck in “Facebook jail” since the Capitol Hill riots in January, says the New York Post. He can’t talk to his 35 million Facebook friends or 24 million Instagram followers. So it’s big news that the social media giant’s “hand-picked oversight board” this week told Mark Zuckerberg to come up with a better reason for keeping him there indefinitely, because “using the riot as a pretext to silence him” won’t wash.

Global Update

Quoted

quoted Simon Evans Keir Starmer 07.05

“Something that Keir Starmer is going to have to understand if he’s going to get ahead in politics – most people have had an encounter with a lawyer who was cleverer than them and they rarely remember it with fondness.”

Simon Evans on Radio 4’s News Quiz

Inside politics

The lady wasn’t for refurbing

Boris Johnson could have avoided a lot of trouble if he’d followed Margaret Thatcher’s thrifty approach to interior decoration, says Andrew Pierce in the Daily Mail. She once vetoed plans for a new carpet in her study, even though the existing one had a threadbare patch in front of her favourite armchair. Instead she got it repaired with offcuts found in the cellar. The result, my source says, was “one bright square in a sea of faded green pile, but Maggie was chuffed to bits”.

Zeitgeist

Three Lions are off the shirt

The FA has updated England’s Three Lions football crest, in use since 1872, to include a lion cub, a lioness and a lion. The new lions represent “progression, greater inclusivity and accessibility in all levels of the beautiful game”, says England Football on Twitter. “No, they don’t,” tweets think-tank director Matt Kilcoyne. “The three lions passant guardant represent Richard I’s principal three positions as King of the English, Duke of Normandy, and Duke of Aquitaine.”

Noted

Noted pot for shots 07.05

With nearly a third of Americans fully vaccinated against Covid, US states and companies are offering a range of incentives to win over the jab-hesitant, says Nikou Asgari in the Financial Times. Maryland says it will give $100 to fully vaccinated state employees; in New Jersey, those over 21 who receive their first dose in May can earn a free beer at a participating brewery. Krispy Kreme is offering free doughnuts for the vaccinated and Greenhouse of Walled Lake, a marijuana dispensary in Michigan, is giving out “pot for shots”.

Life

Michael Collins

He saw the bright side of the moon

Astronaut Michael Collins, who died last week aged 90, had no patience with the soubriquet “the loneliest man in history”. What nonsense, he would say – just “phony philosophy”. The phrase was bestowed on him after the Apollo 11 space mission in 1969: while Neil Armstrong and Buzz Aldrin walked on the moon, Collins stayed in the spacecraft on his own, making 30 lunar orbits. During each 48-minute orbit, his radio would cut out – so he would sit, disconnected, staring at the dark side of the moon.

Noted

Noted Alan Shepard 07.05

Sixty years ago the American astronaut Alan Shepard became the second man to travel into space, says historian Dan Snow on Twitter. When he was later asked what he thought about as he sat atop the rocket, waiting for lift-off, he said: “The fact that every part of this ship was built by the lowest bidder.”

After Hours

Books

What the critics liked

Readers expecting a lyrical evocation of the countryside may be disappointed, says Jamie Blackett in the Telegraph, but Bella Bathurst’s Field Work: What Land Does to People & What People Do to Land (Profile £16.99) “is more important than that”. It is “anthropology not hagiography”, a genuine attempt to get “under the fingernails of the people who work in land-based industries” and understand why they carry on “doing what they do, usually for little financial reward, often in great discomfort and in the face of adversity”.

Property

The country house

The Dartmoor Line from Exeter to Okehampton is to reopen after nearly 50 years, making this scenic corner of Devon more accessible, says The Times. Bowden Farm, in North Bovey, is a Grade II listed three-bedroom house in 88 acres, with a newly converted four-bedroom barn, two lakes and equestrian facilities. Exeter is 15 miles away. £2.95m.

The getaway

This villa on a 24-acre estate on the Peloponnesian Riviera has six bedrooms, two kitchens, a home cinema and staff quarters. There’s a 2,600ft stretch of private coastline, a pool with a bar, an outdoor lounge and an open-air dining table seating 30. The island of Spetses is 15 minutes away by water taxi and Athens airport is a two-hour drive. €25m.

The pied-à-terre

This Grade II listed two-bedroom house is in the Weston neighbourhood of Bath, within easy reach of the city centre and the Cotswold Way. It has contemporary interiors, but retains original features such as stone fireplaces and shuttered windows. There are several specimen trees in the garden. £510,000.

The cottage

Dating from Tudor times, Grade II listed Water Lane Farm is near Storrington, West Sussex. It has three bedrooms, three bathrooms and a drawing room with exposed beams, oak flooring and an inglenook fireplace. There are outbuildings in the half-acre of gardens, along with a well and a pond. Pulborough station is 10 minutes away. £650,000.

The townhouse

You get views of Durham’s cathedral and castle from this Grade II listed house on Georgian South Street, one of the city’s most coveted addresses. Lovingly restored by its owners, the four-bedroom property has a regal central staircase and a roof lantern that lets in loads of light. There’s a kitchen-diner with an Aga, a sun terrace and a secluded garden. £825,000.

Quoted

quoted zoom ceo 07.05

“On the first day, her child flooded the bathroom at 6am, trying to shower… on the second day, she left my husband on the beach with seven children to chat up the man in the surfboard shop… on the third day, she left the house with him to have sex on the beach or, if it rained, the car park, leaving us to babysit.” 

Tanya Gold on the houseguest from hell, in the Telegraph

Noted

Noted Uffitzi Gallery 07.05

A fight has broken out between Florence’s stuffy Uffizi Gallery and young influencers, who say they’re being charged to pose in front of its treasures. New signs hanging on the walls say photos are allowed only for “personal and private use”. The gallery is unrepentant: “If you want to pose for a picture in front of Botticelli’s Birth of Venus to sell jeans, there is a price”.

Five of the best

Ceilings

Castello di Sammezzano, Italy

The Peacock Room is the crowning glory of this palazzo in the Tuscan hamlet of Leccio, 20 miles southeast of Florence. Built in 1605, it was redecorated in exotic Moorish style by an Italian aristocrat in the 19th century.

Tomb of Hafez, Iran

This mausoleum in Shiraz honours Iran’s beloved 14th-century poet, considered one of the greats of Persian literature. The marble tomb, with its wonderful turquoise mosaic ceiling, was built in 1935, expanding on the original memorial built in 1773.

Heydar Aliyev Centre, Azerbaijan

Designed by starchitect Zaha Hadid, the curved ceiling of this 1,000-seat auditorium was unveiled in Baku in 2012. The capital of the former Soviet state is renowned for its contemporary architecture.

St Stephen Walbrook, London

It looks modest from the outside, but this church in the City has a spectacular coffered dome designed by Christopher Wren after the Great Fire of London. Made of timber, plaster and copper, it rests on eight Corinthian columns and lets light flood in.

Solna Centrum metro station, Stockholm

The bright red ceiling of this station in Stockholm was created in the 1970s by artists Anders Aberg and Karl-Olov Bjork. The Swedish capital’s 68-mile metro system has been called “the world’s longest art exhibit”: its 100 stations are home to hundreds of artworks.

Noted

Petrus noted 07.05

A 2000 bottle of Pétrus that spent more than a year in orbit is being sold by Christie’s for £720,000. It was part of a case that spent more than 400 days on the International Space Station, returning to terra firma in January. Wine critic Jane Anson, comparing it with an earthbound bottle of the same vintage (retail price about £4,500) told the BBC: “It was definitely different. The aromatics were more floral and more smoky.”

Shopping

It’s psychedelic… Zara’s new collection

These are clothes to “coax you out of those sweatpants… and get you into something punchily printed with a side order of sex appeal”, says Grazia. Think 1960s-inspired colours and silhouettes that will work for your next pub outing (trousers, £49.99) as well as a wedding (dress, far right, £49.99).

It’s compact… Anker Nebula Mars II projector

This miraculous projector, weighing just 1.41kg, “can go anywhere and play anything”, says Penny Martin in The Gentlewoman. “Sling a sheet between two trees” for the ultimate outdoor cinema experience, or set it up at home for a family movie night. £549.

It’s finally here… Mango homeware

Mango’s first home collection is all about escapism, with a side order of sustainability. Browns, beiges and whites are set off with “touches of the blues and greens that instantly conjure soporific holiday afternoons”, says Vogue. Think gingham cushions, neutral bed linen, striped towels and textured blankets. From £6.99.

Bobbi loves… Augustinus Bader

The Cream “literally takes 10 years off”, says make-up guru Bobbi Brown in the Telegraph. It’s the brainchild of French financier Charles Rosier and a world-leading burns expert, Professor Augustinus Bader. Famous fans include Brown, Alexa Chung and Carla Bruni – who likes it so much, she bought shares. £205.

They’re collaborating… Zandra Rhodes and Happy Socks

In a collaboration that makes perfect sense, pink-haired fashion designer Zandra Rhodes has paired up with the equally cheery sock brand Happy Socks. The results are, well, as you’d imagine. Rhodes’s socks feature three of her classic designs – snakes, squiggles and flowers. £13.95 a pair.

Money

From the archives

S.O.S.

For the first time in 38 years, Abba are releasing new music. Here they are in 1975, in their famous cat costumes, which doubled as a tax-dodging tactic. Swedish law said the costumes could be tax-free, so long as they were so outrageous you could not wear them on the street.

Quirks of history

Quirk of history Hartlepool 07.05

The newly elected Jill Mortimer is only the second Tory MP to represent the town of Hartlepool since 1945, says Philip Collins in the New Statesman. The first was Commander John Kerans, a former naval attaché who in 1949 had taken control of HMS Amethyst when the ship came under fire from Chinese communists on the Yangtze. After a 1o-week blockade, he took charge of a 104-mile “night-time flight” downriver to safety. A film about the incident, with Richard Todd as Kerans, was made in 1957. Kerans only served a single term as MP, from 1959 to 1964. In 1980 he retired to Oxted, Surrey – where Keir Starmer grew up.

Weather

May 6: Bondi Beach, Sydney, 21C 🌈

May 5: Ilulissat, Greenland, -2C 🧊

May 3: Flash floods, Tarim, Yemen, 37C💧

May 2: Yichang, China, 28C 🌄

May 3: Istanbul, Turkey, 25C 🌸

May 3: Bangkok, Thailand, 10C ⚡️

May 1: Eccles Pike, Derbyshire, 4C 🌄