Skip to main content
The Knowledge logo

12 April

In the headlines

Joe Biden is in Northern Ireland today to mark the 25th anniversary of the Good Friday Agreement. The mere 17 hours he’s spending in the province, says Sarah Smith in BBC News, versus three days in the Republic, his ancestral homeland, “sends its own message about where his heart lies”. Leaked Pentagon documents appear to have confirmed rumours that Western special forces are operating in Ukraine. The secret files suggest that the UK has 50 operatives in the country, more than double any other Western nation. Designer compost is the “latest luxury must-have”, says The Times. Animals are fed on organic fruit and veg to produce the top-tier manure, which can cost £20 for 1.5kg. “It’s like making wine,” says one muck maker, “although making wine seems very glamorous, and making compost is very unglamorous.”

Love etc

Gwyneth Paltrow’s new sex guide, Goop Sex, is meant to “help us enjoy steamier love lives”, says Michael Deacon in The Daily Telegraph. “Frankly, it makes me want to join a nunnery.” The terms used include “sexological bodywork” and “healing modality” – hardly the language of “insatiable lust”. Much of the advice makes lovemaking “sound like a corporate team-building exercise”, with tips on becoming “a stronger, more confident sexual communicator” and creating a “safe space where learning can happen in a more experimental way”. Perhaps the whole thing is an ingenious business plan: put customers off sex, “so they have to buy Goop’s vibrators instead”.

Inside politics

Rishi Sunak has a “wealth problem”, says Tom Newton Dunn in The Sunday Times. In focus groups, floating voters describe the multimillionaire PM as “rich”, “posh” and “loaded”. He needs “a deputy who is the antidote to him”. Tony Blair had John Prescott; Keir Starmer has Angela Rayner, who “left school aged 16 and became a grandmother aged 37”. Sunak has several impressive cabinet members who didn’t have a privileged upbringing: the likes of Kemi Badenoch, Gillian Keegan and Michelle Donelan. And with Dominic Raab almost certain to resign over bullying claims, the deputy role could soon become vacant. It’s an opportunity the PM shouldn’t miss.

On the way back

India’s tigers have made a roaring comeback in the 50 years since a project was launched to save them from extinction. World Wildlife Fund India has recorded 3,167 of the big cats, more than double the 1,411 around when they began counting in 2006. Chief executive Ravi Singh says the five-decade effort – helped by AI cameras which can identify unique tigers by their stripes – is “one of the most successful species-specific conservation programmes in the world”.


Big bows are “suddenly everywhere” in interior design, says Sydney Gore in Architectural Digest. Maria Pergay sparked the trend with huge stainless-steel “ribbon poufs”, which have fetched as much as $22,000 at auction. Artist Anamaria Morris followed suit, creating candleholders shaped like ribbons to “bring an element of festivity to the table”. New York’s uber-cool Jacqueline Sullivan Gallery, meanwhile, is currently exhibiting grungy lead bows “in bags and boxes, nailed into sheets of latex, and sculpted on ceramics”.


In the past decade, around 50% of public loos in the UK have closed, with no sign they will return. As a result, says Raymond Martin, managing director of the British Toilet Association, “street urination is everywhere now”. And it’s not just blokes – sales of Shewees (devices that allow women to wee standing up) have boomed 700% since 2020.


It’s Pearl, a two-year-old chihuahua from Orlando, Florida – just crowned the world’s shortest dog. Only 9.14cm tall, the pint-sized pooch stands lower than a lolly stick and around a seventh of the height of the shortest living woman. She’s also just 12.7cm long – about the length of a fiver – and weighs just 553g.


quoted 12.4.23

“Any fool can tell the truth, but it requires a man of some sense to know how to lie well.”

English novelist Samuel Butler