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10 January

In the headlines

The first satellite launch from British soil has failed, after the Virgin Orbit rocket suffered an unspecified “anomaly” while travelling at more than 11,000 miles per hour. The spacecraft, released by a repurposed jumbo jet which took off from Newquay in Cornwall, didn’t reach orbit, and its satellite cargo broke up in the atmosphere. With his tell-all memoir Spare released today, Prince Harry’s popularity “has hit a record low”, says Metro: 64% of Brits have a negative view of him. The country “Haz had enough”. Noma, the Copenhagen restaurant feted as the best in the world, will close by 2025. Founder and chef René Redzepi says that producing its boundary-pushing dishes – including edible pine cones and reindeer heart – has become “financially and emotionally” unsustainable.


America: a beacon of democracy no more?

For Americans, says Anne Applebaum in The Atlantic, the political violence in Brazil has felt all too familiar. After Jair Bolsonaro lost November’s election, he refused to attend the inauguration of his successor, Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva. Instead, he decamped to, “of all places”, Florida, and he and his right-wing supporters pursued “fictional” claims of voter fraud in the courts. When those efforts failed, his goons chose 8 January to launch their assault on the congress, supreme court and presidential palace in Brasília – almost exactly two years after Donald Trump’s supporters launched their own assault on America’s capital. Some protesters even held up signs in English, “as if to speak to their fans and fellow flame-throwers in the US”.

Royal family

Sorry, Harry, I’m still a monarchist

The over-reaction to all this is likely a spillover from the Queen’s death: “a national wobble was predictable after 70 reassuring years”. But the uproar will abate, and the “mild, sad, silent Palace” is wise not to feed it. For all the fuss, I remain a moderate, optimistic monarchist. In my experience, the royal family’s core players and their aides are generally “decent people who willingly do a curious but useful job which enriches national life”. More than anything, they are “interested visible patrons of all that is constructive and kind”. Think of the Queen asking a young bomb victim about Ariana Grande (“She’s very good, isn’t she?”), or Kate romping around a nursery, or even Meghan meeting Grenfell survivors during that “brief, glorious honeymoon period”. Such moments “raise both morale and the visibility of need”. That’s why we need monarchy. “Because it is powerless, apolitical and yet represents the nation.”

Gone viral

Rainbows are full circles, not semicircles – it’s just that from the ground you can usually only see their upper half. From the air, as this video from skydiver Anthony Killeen shows, the full circle can be seen in all its glory.



Prince Harry’s drug-taking admissions could hurt his chances of getting a US visa. The State Department typically refuses entry to anyone who has been involved in “drug or criminal activities”. In his memoir, Harry reveals that he first took cocaine on a shooting weekend aged 17, did “a few more lines” on other occasions, regularly smoked cannabis, and hallucinated on magic mushrooms at a party hosted by Friends actress Courteney Cox. His celebrity status won’t necessarily help him, says MailOnline: Kate Moss struggled to get a US work visa after being snapped snorting a white powder in 2005, and Nigella Lawson was temporarily blocked from entering the country after admitting that she had taken cocaine.


TikTok sensation Farmer Will, who entertains more than a million followers with videos of rural life and dancing sheep, will be joining the cast of Love Island’s winter series which starts next Monday. The Buckinghamshire shepherd will join nine other contestants in a villa in South Africa to see if his countryside courtship techniques find fertile ground. Asked during his audition who would play him in a movie, says The Tab, he chose David Attenborough. “Imagine hearing his calming voice talking while he’s feeding the animals, his top off, some short shorts,” Will explained. “He would rock it.”

Quirk of history

In January 1493, after six months at sea, Christopher Columbus reported seeing three “mermaids” in the Caribbean. As with most such sightings, says, they were probably manatees: giant aquatic mammals, typically 10-12ft long and weighing up to 1,200 lbs. Perhaps unsurprisingly, Columbus said the supposed mermaids were “not half as beautiful as they are painted”.


French hunters will no longer be able to shoot wild boar, deer and other game while under the influence of alcohol or narcotics, under new proposals unveiled this week. Unlike in the UK, says The Economist, game-shooting is not an “elite pastime” among the French: over 1.1 million people have permits, making it “the third-most-popular sport after football and fishing”. But the hobby – or pest control, as it is in many cases – led to 90 people being accidentally shot last season, eight of whom died. And drugs and booze were to blame in 9% of the “severe” accidents.


It’s the endangered Titan arum, known as the “corpse flower” because of its powerful and disgusting aroma, which has bloomed in Adelaide Botanic Gardens for the first time in its nearly 10-year lifespan. The smell is most commonly likened to “dead rats”, says The Guardian, although “smelly feet and stinky cheese” are also contenders. Thousands of gross Australians queued up to catch a whiff of the stench, which lasts only 48 hours but can travel for miles in the wild to lure “flesh flies, sweat bees and carrion beetles”.



quoted 10.1.23

“Every generation has about two or three great ideas and a dozen or so terrible ones.”

Zadie Smith