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11 April

In the headlines

Junior doctors are beginning an “unprecedented” four-day strike over their demands for a 35% pay rise, a walkout that will disrupt NHS services for a month, says The Times. More than a quarter of a million procedures and appointments will be cancelled, including urgent cancer care, as staff are diverted to A&E. Health chiefs have urged the public to avoid any “risky behaviour”. A million smokers will be given a free vaping starter kit to help them quit tobacco products, as part of a plan to more than halve England’s smoking rates to below 5% by 2030. Pregnant women will also be offered up to £400 to ditch cigarettes. Buckingham Palace has launched an official emoji to celebrate the Coronation. The colourful cartoon depicts the 362-year-old St Edward’s Crown, which the King will wear at next month’s Westminster Abbey ceremony.


The regional winners of the 2023 World Press Photo Contest include Australian floods shot on an infrared camera; an alpaquera (alpaca farmer) in the Peruvian Andes; an Egyptian boy diving into the Mahmoudiyah Canal in Alexandria; beekeepers in the Arizona desert; and a water tower in Morocco. See the rest here.


Following the death of his father – the former chancellor, Nigel Lawson – Sunday Times columnist Dominic Lawson said the “most memorable” letter of condolence he received was from Lady Antonia Fraser:

I was at Oxford with your father, where he took every fancy, including mine, with his intelligence, his cheerfulness, his energy. He took me out once or twice. The occasion I treasure was when he insisted on lifting me back from his college to Lady Margaret Hall (mine) … in a taxi! I said, “Nigel, do tell me about economics.” The trouble was that when the taxi got to LMH, he was in full spate … Round and round it went (bye-bye, LMH) and round and round … Did I enjoy it? Madly. My Oxford economics taxi tutorial was one of my most exciting evenings at university. He should have kept the taxi for disseminating tours of economic knowledge. Anyway, he was wonderful.


Contrary to what you might think, women are hugely under-represented in music, says Laura Barton in Prospect. Female acts accounted for just 13% of the headliners at major UK festivals last year, and are responsible for none of the all-time top 10 most streamed songs on Spotify. When the Brit Awards announced its first gender-neutral Best Artist category in February, “the shortlist was all male”. It’s not as if we’re lacking massive female stars: think of Rihanna at the Super Bowl, say, or Adele’s Las Vegas residency. Beyoncé can “sell out a venue in 22 seconds”; demand for Taylor Swift tickets crashed Ticketmaster. Where are the rest of them?

Eating in

Ukrainian pastry chef Dinara Kasko uses 3D printers and bespoke silicone moulds to make pristine puddings in geometric shapes. After her home city of Kharkiv was largely destroyed by Russian bombing, the architect-turned-baker now runs her business from the UK. See more of her creations here.

Quirk of history

During the Cold War, American officials spent billions preparing for a potential nuclear attack, says Julie McDowell in her book Attack Warning Red! By contrast, Britain’s civil defence had a distinctly “Dad’s Army vibe”. If an inbound nuke were ever detected, an alert would have been issued to 250 police stations, via a bank of phones that “looked like a child’s toy”. Sirens were to be “cranked by hand”, likely by the local vicar, doctor or pub landlord. In the 1980s, one publican in Derbyshire told the BBC he still hadn’t received his appointed warning device. His plan was to cycle through the streets shouting: “The Russians are coming!”


It’s the Seoul Ring, which will be the world’s largest spokeless Ferris wheel when it opens in South Korea in 2027. The futuristic structure will measure nearly 600 feet across and contain 36 glass capsules, each with room for 25 passengers. The solar-powered wheel’s location – a former dumpsite that has been turned into an eco-park, near the border with North Korea – is meant to symbolise the local authority’s “desire and wishes for a unified Korea”.


quoted 11.4.23

“In nuclear war, all men are cremated equal.”

Musician Dexter Gordon