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11-12 November

Behind the headlines

Britain’s secret weapon

The world may be falling apart, says Adrian Wooldridge in Bloomberg, but the King’s Speech on Tuesday “proceeded like well-oiled clockwork”. The Yeomen of the Guard searched the cellars of the Palace of Westminster for gunpowder plotters. The King arrived in the Diamond Jubilee Stage Coach and proceeded to his gold throne in the House of Lords. The junior whip was dispatched to Buckingham Palace to act as a hostage until the boss was safely home. The speech itself, written by No 10, was striking for its “thinness”, but the richness of the ritual reveals something important: “the fundamental stability of the British political system”.


This Grade II listed Queen Anne house in Penshurst, Kent, spans four floors and includes 11 bedrooms, a sweeping entrance hall, a drawing room, a spacious kitchen, a gym and a separate four-bedroom cottage. The 1.5-acre garden overlooks Penshurst church and parkland that lies within the High Weald AONB. Tonbridge Station is a 10-minute drive, with trains to London Bridge in 34 minutes. £5.75m.


Quoted 11-11-23 Lagerfeld

“Clear thinking at the wrong moment can stifle creativity.”

Karl Lagerfeld


This two-bedroom apartment spans the lower ground floor of a Victorian townhouse just off Hackney’s London Fields. Terracotta floor tiles flow through the property, which contains two double bedrooms, both looking out over an expansive shared garden. In the kitchen, bespoke charcoal-dyed ash cabinetry is topped with a black poured-concrete worktop, and in the living room, a wide bay window with original timber panels allows natural light to pour in. Hackney Central overground station is a five-minute walk. £875,000.


In its mid-2000s pomp, the literary agency run by the ruthless, all-conquering Andrew Wylie felt like the centre of the world, says Alex Blasdel in The Guardian. “Staff might encounter Philip Roth wandering through the hallways; Al Gore or Lou Reed might be on the other end of the telephone.” At Christmas parties, Hermès neckties were given to the gentlemen and cashmere scarves to the ladies; Wylie himself would “greedily dig the last of the caviar out of the tin with his finger”. In one “now legendary” incident, Roth phoned up and was greeted by an assistant called Andrew. Assuming it was Wylie himself, Roth boasted “that he had just gone to bed with the female lead in the movie being made of his novel The Human Stain, Nicole Kidman”. The embarrassed underling offered to put him through to his boss.


Quoted 11-11-23

“All of humanity’s problems stem from man’s inability to sit quietly in a room alone.”

Blaise Pascal, 17th-century French mathematician