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12 January

In the headlines

“I want to apologise,” Boris Johnson told parliament about his role in Downing Street’s May 2020 party – though he insisted he thought it was only a “work event”. Keir Starmer accused the PM of “lying through his teeth”, describing it as “a pathetic spectacle of a man who has run out of road”. The key now is what the cabinet and Tory MPs think, says political commentator Tim Shipman on Twitter. “Johnson now has 72 hours to save his premiership.” Ministers have concluded that Covid isolation should be cut from seven days to five, says The Times. The new rule is expected to be signed off tomorrow. Sunions, a specially bred variety of “tearless” onions, will go on sale in Waitrose next week. But at £1.50 for a pack of three, says Zoe Wood in The Guardian, they may “make your eyes water” anyway.


UK politics

What a price to pay for a glass of warm white wine

“Sometimes people do things that are so unutterably stupid, so determinedly idiotic, so spectacularly self-sabotaging and counterproductive one is lost for words,” says Sarah Vine in the Daily Mail. According to a leaked email, Boris Johnson’s principal private secretary, Martin Reynolds, invited more than 100 staff to a “bring your own booze” gathering at Downing Street in May 2020. But it’s not just the sheer hypocrisy of hosting a party in the middle of lockdown that makes my blood boil. “It’s the damn stupidity.”

Silicon Valley

It was absurd to prosecute Elizabeth Holmes

Elizabeth Holmes is facing decades in prison for defrauding investors in her bogus blood-testing firm Theranos. But the Silicon Valley founder should never have faced a criminal trial in the first place, says Stanford Law School professor David Mills in the Los Angeles Times. That Holmes “outright lied” to her investors is not in question, and she certainly deserves bankruptcy for her “misdeeds”. But a contractor who fibs to customers isn’t a criminal case. It’s a civil one.


The shape of shopping trolley handles affects how much you buy, according to a recent study of more than 2,000 supermarket customers. Carts with wheelbarrow-style handles prompt an average spend of 25% more than the traditional horizontal bar, says Handelsblatt. It’s because wheelbarrow handles activate your biceps, which are psychologically associated with pulling things you want towards you. The bars of traditional trolleys activate your triceps, associated with pushing away things you don’t want.

Great escape

The world’s shortest scheduled plane route is in Scotland, between the Orkney islands of Westray and Papa Westray, says CNN. On a good day, “with favourable winds and light luggage”, the 1.7-mile journey takes 53 seconds.



It’s a controversial new statue of a naked man in East Anglia. Designed by sculptor Laurence Edwards, the well-endowed, 26ft-tall Yoxman was unveiled at the end of last year by the side of the A12. One local described it as a safety hazard: “People can’t help looking at a depiction of a naked man in all his glory as they are driving past.”


Eating in

The Negroni has become the world’s best-selling cocktail after eight years trailing the old fashioned in second place. Drinks International, which surveyed 100 bars around the world for the ranking, also noticed the rise of the espresso martini and Aperol spritz, which this year come in at seven and six respectively.


Quirk of history

Cleopatra, who lived from 69-30BC, was closer in time to the launch of the iPhone (2007) than the construction of the Great Pyramid of Giza (around 2600BC).


Tesla’s latest assisted-driving software lets you decide how much of a “jerk” you want to be on the road, says Axios. It now has three settings: Chill, Average and Assertive. Cars in Assertive mode will follow other vehicles more closely and swap lanes more frequently. In other words: jerk mode.


quoted 12.01

“Beware, for I am fearless, and therefore powerful.”

Mary Shelley