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1-2 October


Doomed by a “shared faith”?

Liz Truss’s leadership pitch “promised radicalism, but up to a point”, says Fraser Nelson in The Daily Telegraph. Almost no one expected the “sheer size” of the £45bn in tax cuts Kwasi Kwarteng announced last week. The timing was terrible: trying to “rip up failed orthodoxies” and “purge complacent mandarins” is all very well, but doing it at the same time as asking markets to lend you an extra £70bn? That is, “shall we say, brave”. The world is midway through an “agonising” transition away from the easy-money era. “Mortgage rates have been surging from Auckland to Arizona.” Truss should have waited until this took hold in Britain before announcing her financial plans. “Now,” says one minister, “she has pinned a Tory rosette to mortgage rises.”


quoted jones 1-10-2022

“The trouble with being punctual is that nobody is there to appreciate it.”


quoted einstein 1.10.22

“The only sure way to avoid mistakes is to have no new ideas.”

Quirk of history

In 1788, Austrian forces defending the town of Karánsebes got drunk on schnapps and started fighting, says Robert Hutton in The Critic. In the confusion they became convinced they were under attack from the Ottoman army, and “opened fire on each other with artillery before retreating in disarray”. Two days later, the Ottomans turned up “to find dead and wounded Austrians and an undefended town”.



Women on top: the new face of the far right

Fascism and far-right politics are usually seen as hyper-masculine, says Alan Posener in Die Welt. Women under regimes like that of Nazi Germany were treated as “machines for cooking and giving birth”. But today many “key figures” in European right-wing populism are women: Alice Weidel is co-leader of Alternative for Germany; Marine Le Pen heads the National Rally in France; the Brothers of Italy’s Giorgia Meloni is about to become PM. And though they all tout traditionalism to voters, their own lives are strikingly modern. Weidel is a lesbian in a civil partnership with a Sri Lankan-Swiss film producer; Le Pen is twice divorced; Meloni is an unmarried mother.

Quirk of history

It’s hard to imagine now, says The Retrospectors podcast, but at the turn of the 20th century one of America’s favourite pastimes was watching staged train crashes. The collisions attracted tens of thousands of spectators. At one infamous event in 1896, in Texas, the boilers on both trains exploded, “sending thousands of pieces of red-hot metal hurtling through the air”. Two spectators were killed and many others maimed; a Civil War veteran present said it was “more terrifying than the Battle of Gettysburg”. The organiser, William George Crush, was immediately sacked by the Missouri-Kansas-Texas Railroad – but the deadly event generated so much media coverage he was rehired “the very next day”.


The night Churchill nearly died

One wintery evening in 1931, says Dominic Sandbrook in The Times, Winston Churchill was in New York and about to go to bed when his old friend Bernard Baruch rang up to ask him round for a nightcap. Churchill set off in a cab, but forgot Baruch’s Fifth Avenue address, so after an hour of searching got out to ask for help. Setting out across the road, he “sensed a black shape rushing towards him” at top speed – a car coming not from the right, as in England, but from the left. There was no time to take evasive action, he wrote later, but “I certainly thought quick enough to achieve the idea, ‘I am going to be run down and probably killed’. Then came the blow.” The collision didn’t kill him, but it was a close-run thing. If it had, “perhaps the swastika would still fly over Europe today”.

Eating in

The latest food to be artfully arranged on boards is butter, says The Washington Post. So-called “butter boards” – smeared with the soft dairy and “topped with all manner of savoury and sweet accoutrements” – are a hit on TikTok: one arrangement, featuring lemon zest, salt and edible flowers, has had more than eight million views. “Not to usurp charcuterie,” says butter-arranger Justine Doiron, “but like, maybe, a little bit.”


After Roger Federer’s final professional tennis game at the Laver Cup last week, he and Rafael Nadal indulged in some teary, emotional handholding. It was a “moving coda” to the event, says Tom Ough in The Independent, and pictures of the moment quickly went viral. It was also very un-British: like other northern Europeans, and the Japanese and the Russians, British men don’t hold hands. But in “touchy-feely” Italy, and in many Arabic countries, it’s a common sight. Are British blokes “missing out on some crucial element of human bonding”? According to anthropologist Robin Dunbar, the backslapping and shoulder-hugging of British men fulfils much the same role as handholding. As, of course, does rugby – “a sport that is ostensibly highly masculine but also slyly tactile”.


THE TOWNHOUSE This Grade II listed house in Brighton, just a ten-minute walk from the beach, is a stunning example of 19th-century Tudor-Gothic revival style. Set across four floors and 1,800 sq ft, the property retains original period features including decorative doorframes and cast-iron radiators. The open-plan kitchen has French doors leading out to the courtyard, and a skylight at the top of the house floods the stairwell with light. Brighton train station is a ten-minute walk. £975,000.


THE PENTHOUSE This lavish $250m flat in New York is America’s most expensive home. It occupies the top three floors of the 1,550 ft tall Central Park Tower, a skyscraper on “Billionaire’s Row” on the southern edge of the park. It boasts 17,545 sq ft of interior living space, with seven bedrooms, a library, a gaming lounge and a ballroom. The 27 ft ceilings frame vast windows offering views over Manhattan; the property’s terrace is the highest in the world. Elsewhere in the building, amenities include a gym, a cinema, two pools and a private bar and restaurant with menus designed by Michelin-starred chefs.