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1-2 July


Bring back our “prickly scepticism” towards America

As America ascended to “geopolitical pre-eminence” last century, says James Marriott in The Times, we Brits reassured ourselves that although we were an “inferior power”, we were “wiser and more civilised” than the brash upstarts across the Atlantic. For all the “excitement of blue jeans and rock’n’roll”, students surveyed in the 1960s described Americans as “adolescent, materialistic and slightly hysterical”. As a child in the 1990s and 2000s, I remember a general perception of Americans as “overweight consumerists”, addicted to guns and susceptible to wacko religious enthusiasms. We laughed at headlines about them not being able to “find anywhere outside the US on the map”, and at sitcoms starring moronic tourists “ordering obscene quantities of food”.


The encrypted messaging app Telegram has become the platform of choice for everyone from terrorists and drug dealers to Chinese anti-government protestors, says Charlie Warzel in The Atlantic. Wagner boss Yevgeny Prigozhin has 1.3 million followers on his Telegram channel. When he uploaded an 11-minute voice memo on Monday, reflecting on his “brief revolt against the Russian government”, it received an instant barrage of emoji reactions. The clip got mixed reviews: 155,600 🔥 emojis, and 131,900 🤡.


quoted twain 2.7.23

“Tell the truth. You don’t have to remember anything.”

Mark Twain


Julian Sands, whose death in California was confirmed last week, once played the Romantic poet Shelley in Ken Russell’s 1987 horror movie Gothic, says Richard Sandomir in The New York Times. The film recreates the true story of the stormy night in 1816 when Shelley, his wife Mary, their friend Lord Byron and Byron’s doctor John William Polidori huddled together in a Swiss villa and wrote ghost stories. (Mary’s Frankenstein is, of course, the most famous). In the film, Sands’s Shelley suffered “drug fuelled hallucinations” and was “tormented by fears and devils”. Gabriel Byrne’s Byron was “nearly demonic”. It wasn’t to everyone’s taste, but Sands stood firmly by it. “I think these portraits are rooted in reality,” he told an interviewer in 1987. “If people think otherwise, it’s because of the later Victorian whitewash of them. These were not simply beautiful Romantic poets. They were subversive, anarchic hedonists pursuing a particular line of amorality.”


The historic house

This seven-bedroom property in west London, described by the director of Savills as the “best house in Chiswick”, was the inspiration for Miss Pinkerton’s academy in Vanity Fair. With parts dating back to the Tudor period, the home is Grade I listed and has almost 9,000 sq ft of airy living space. But the highlight is the location: nestled directly on the bank of the Thames, there are stunning river views from both the house and the extensive garden. Turnham Green Tube station is a 15-minute walk. £16.5m.

The eco-lodge

This award-winning single-storey home sits in 14 acres of grounds in Dalry, 20 miles north of Castle Douglas. Its 2,000 sq ft interior includes three large bedrooms, a huge open-plan living-and-dining space, a modern log-burner and timber flooring throughout. Top-tier insulation, a heat pump and a private wind turbine mean the house sells energy back to the grid, and large windows throughout offer breathtaking westerly views across the Rhinns of Kells hills, with a roomy terrace perfectly positioned for watching sunsets. Glasgow is around a 90-minute drive. £880,000.



quoted 1.7.23

“The best way to get most husbands to do something is to suggest that perhaps they’re too old to do it.”

Anne Bancroft