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11 February

In the headlines

“Calamity Cressida” is finally gone, says the Mail, following the surprise resignation of Met Police chief Cressida Dick. She stood down after London Mayor Sadiq Khan said he had lost faith in her ability to reform the scandal-hit force. Boris Johnson is expected to claim he didn’t breach rules by attending lockdown parties because No 10 is his home as well as his workplace, says the Times. Thousands of people live above the shop or restaurant where they work, says Gavin Barwell, Theresa May’s former chief of staff, on Twitter. “Why does the PM think he was entitled to behave differently?” Donald Trump has denied allegations that he used to flush documents down his White House loo. A New York Times reporter claims the pipes got so clogged with “wads of clumped-up printed wet paper” that staff had to call in a plumber.

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UK politics

Could Boris’s weakness save him?

Boris Johnson was about to lock the country down last December, says Fraser Nelson in The Daily Telegraph. “He was saved by his weakness.” He had just lost a by-election, Brexit minister Lord Frost had resigned over the government’s leftward drift, and three more Cabinet members were threatening to do the same if lockdown was brought in. So the PM “buckled” – and now, he’s a very different creature to the one “who governed by diktat” for the best part of two years. “He’s humbly asking Tory MPs what to do, then doing it.” And it’s greatly improving the quality of government. He has broken free from Sage and their “bunkum” omicron advice, and scrapped un-Conservative ideas like dictating what kinds of food that shops can promote.

Vaccine mandates

Even Canadians are fed up with Covid rules

Canadians aren’t known for their rage, says The Wall Street Journal in an editorial, which is why the week-long protests that have brought Canada’s capital Ottawa to a standstill are so striking. The unrest is being led by truckers, who are angry about a new government mandate requiring them to be vaccinated to cross back into the country from the US. (They were previously classified as “essential” workers, and thus exempt.) The anger isn’t limited to Ottawa, either: earlier this week truckers temporarily blocked the Ambassador Bridge between Ontario and Michigan – “the busiest international land-border crossing in North America”.


When The Guinness Book of Records was first published in 1955, the “human achievements” section contained two entries for drinking vast volumes of booze. One Auguste Maffrey, of France, had the record for beer: 24 pints in 52 minutes. Even more impressive – or worrying – was Spaniard Dionsio Sanchez’s record for wine: 40 pints in 59 minutes.


The Hill House in Helensburgh, Scotland is a 1904 British Art Nouveau masterpiece by architect Charles Rennie Mackintosh. But with 190 days of rain a year, says the National Trust for Scotland, its Portland cement façade is “dissolving like an aspirin in a glass of water”. To dry the building out for restoration, the trust has covered it with a giant box of chainmail made up of 32.4 million steel rings. This unusual surface keeps out most of the rain while still letting in air for ventilation.




It’s Three Figures by Soviet artist Anna Leporskaya, with a slight adjustment – a museum security guard has drawn tiny eyes onto the previously faceless people. The painting, worth an estimated £740,000, was on display at the Yeltsin Centre in Yekaterinburg when the creative culprit used a museum-branded ball-point pen to doodle on it. He apparently did it because he was bored.


Eating in

Brooklyn Beckham, son of David and Victoria, dreams of becoming a “great chef”, says the New York Post. But there’s a snag: he can’t cook. Behind the scenes of the 22-year-old’s new online show, Cookin’ With Brooklyn, it took a team of 62 professionals to help him make a simple sandwich. Brooklyn was reportedly given an illustrated “cheat sheet” of culinary terms in case he forgot what things like “whisk” or “par-boil” meant. “He is to cooking what Posh was to singing.”

Quirk of history

Shortly after they campaigned together for Bob Dole in the 1996 US election, George HW Bush sent a note to his fellow former president Gerald Ford. “I hope you don’t think this letter is odd and strange,” it read. “I write simply to say I am very proud to be your friend. This friendship matters a lot to me – it really does. As you and I drove across that Ohio countryside last week, it hit me like a ton of bricks, that too often we fail to tell our friends that we really care about them and are grateful to them.”

On the money

There are only four currencies in the world worth more per unit than the pound (that is, converting £10 would give you fewer than 10 of that currency). They are the Jordanian dinar, the Omani rial, the Bahrain dinar and the Kuwaiti dinar. The latter, the world’s highest-valued currency, is worth a whopping £2.44.


Quoted 11.2

“Las Vegas is the only place I know where money really talks – it says, ‘Goodbye’.”

Frank Sinatra