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12 January

In the headlines

Ministers are considering a new pay offer to health workers to end the “NHS chaos”, says the Daily Mail. A one-off payment to reflect the cost-of-living crisis – previously dismissed by the government – is now on the table, with Health Secretary Steve Barclay to hold fresh talks with union leaders before the nurses’ strike next week. Some Boris Johnson aides are believed to have had sex in No 10 during the lockdown party on the eve of Prince Philip’s funeral, according to a new ITV podcast. Two couples were seen “becoming intimate” at the gathering, before retreating to dark rooms away from the crowd. Jeff Beck has died aged 78. The “genius” guitarist was “one of a legendary triumvirate” of British players along with Eric Clapton and Jimmy Page, says Neil McCormick in The Daily Telegraph. His hands were once insured for £7m.

On the way back

After years of being confined to kids’ parties, jelly is “ready for its redemption arc”, says Eater. Big brands from Nike to Hendrick’s Gin have used the dessert for ad campaigns, creating special moulds to imprint logos and shapes on to strikingly coloured creations. Jello shots – gelatinised alcohol set into shapes – are no longer a naff gimmick only seen at college parties: upscale cocktail connoisseurs have begun serving champagne-infused jelly squares and jellified negronis. One aficionado, American food writer Ken Albala, has even created an Asian-inspired jellied pho tartare.

On the money

When I returned to a “trainless UK” last week, says Matthew Parris in The Times, I ended up taking the National Express coach to Chesterfield instead. During my journey, I realised just how hard a bus driver’s job is. Not only must they be “expert and attentive at the wheel”, dealing with everything from fast motorways to stop-and-start city centre traffic, they also have to check passengers on and off themselves, as well as load and unload their luggage. Yet their salary – up to £31,000 a year – is less than half the £65,000 train drivers can earn. “Something here doesn’t look right.”

Quirk of history

When Madness held a reunion concert in 1992, it caused a minor earthquake, says Mark Mason in The Spectator. As the band launched into their hit One Step Beyond, the 35,000-strong crowd in Finsbury Park, north London started jumping up and down in unison. The resulting tremor, which registered 4.2 on the Richter scale, caused cracked balconies and windows, with residents of three nearby tower blocks having to be evacuated. As lead singer Suggs recalls, it’s “something to go on the CV”.


Gone viral

Whimsical programmer Matt Round has created an online game to see how good users are at drawing perfect circles. Play for yourself here.


One reason San Francisco hasn’t been too badly damaged by this week’s biblical deluge is that in 2016, the city launched a program allowing citizens to “adopt” individual storm drains to keep them clear of debris. Anyone civic-minded enough to take part was rewarded with official naming rights for their drain. Top choices include “Grate Expectations”, “Thirsty Boi”, “You’re So Drain”, “Watergate”, “Lana del Drain”, and of course “Drainy McDrainface”.


It’s BMW’s latest colour-changing concept car. The multi-hued motor is covered in the same “e-ink” used in electronic books such as Kindles, says Dezeen, with 240 panels that can be individually controlled to display any of 32 colours at the flick of a switch. Alas, no word yet on when (or if) the feature will be added to cars you can actually buy.



quoted 12.1.23

“The secret to creativity is knowing how to hide your sources.”

Albert Einstein