Heroes and villains
Robert De Niro | Chinese consumers | George Santos
The flourishing in the rubble
Somehow, the ghastly Roy children from Succession have become “the face of America’s biggest fashion trend”, says Rachel Tashjian in The Washington Post. Fans of their signature “quiet luxury” dismiss designer items with obvious logos, like “Gucci-print sweatpants”, in favour of bland but uber-expensive clobber. Top brands include Brunello Cucinelli, “beloved by Jeff Bezos and Mark Zuckerberg”, and Loro Piana, whose jumpers “sell for upward of $2,000”. But in truth, the rich have long signalled their status with “understated or even worn-down clothing”: Ivy League kids in the 1960s favoured “frayed chinos and sun-bleached rugbys”. And as Edith Wharton’s books chronicled, “upper-crust Manhattanites” at the turn of the 20th century often refused to wear new clothes “until they were a few years old”.
The eco home
This newly built two-bedroom house in a gated mews in Walthamstow Village, northeast London, is fully electric and powered entirely by solar panels, meaning the owner will incur no utility bills. Built using cutting-edge zero-waste construction methods, the home features walls made of compressed-earth bricks, lampshades crafted from soil that was already on site, worktops composed of wood shavings, and recycled plastic shower panels. Walthamstow Central Tube station is a five-minute walk. £850,000.
The 21-acre Burgh Island off the south Devon coast includes a 25-suite, Grade II listed, Art Deco hotel; a tennis court, helipad, spa and seawater swimming pool; and a 14th-century pub, The Pilchard Inn. Previous guests at the recently refurbished hotel include President Eisenhower and Winston Churchill, who reportedly met there before D-Day, and the Beatles, who stayed before a concert in Plymouth. The sale also includes Agatha Christie’s beach house, built for her on the edge of a cliff. Access to the mainland is by sea tractor; Totnes is a 40-minute drive, with direct trains to London taking around three hours. £15m.
Quirk of history
Baileys was invented in 1973 by two advertising creatives: David Gluckman and Hugh Reade Seymour-Davies. It took us about 45 minutes, says Gluckman in The Irish Times. We had been tasked with inventing a new Irish drinks brand, and came up with the idea of combining two of the country’s stereotypical products, whiskey and cream. We bought the ingredients from the nearest supermarket to our Soho office, but they tasted “bloody awful” together. The addition of Cadbury’s Powdered Drinking Chocolate, however, had an “extraordinary” effect: the “mucky brown liquid” was now delicious. As for the name, we were inspired by a nearby restaurant “of no fixed ethnicity”: Baileys Bistro.
The decline of cancel culture
Long reads shortened
The decimation of our oceans
“Oceans account for 96% of all habitable space on Earth,” says Chris Armstrong in the London Review of Books. Yet many of the species that “once teemed in their millions” in these waters have been “harried close to extinction” by industrialised fishing. For every 300 green turtles that once swam in the Caribbean, just one remains. Nine in 10 of the world’s large fish and oyster beds have gone. “Seagrass meadows are disappearing at a rate of 7% per year.” This deep-sea decimation has required an “immense, dogged effort” by fishermen, using “nets that could swallow a Boeing 747” and longlines – fishing lines carrying vast numbers of baited hooks – “that extend for 100km”.
quoted chandler 13.5.23
“Chess is as elaborate a waste of human intelligence as you can find outside an advertising agency.”
“Simon Winchester has made an illustrious career of raising anecdote to art,” says Peter Sagal in The New York Times, and his latest book is no exception. A detailed history of knowledge – how it is created, classified, stored and disseminated – Knowing What We Know is stuffed with “intriguing information”. Were you aware, for example, that the first office for propaganda was created by the Catholic Church? That Amazon’s Alexa device was named in honour of the Library of Alexandria? That the BBC founder Sir John Reith insisted on his newscasters wearing formal dress – even for radio? Winchester never gets round to answering “deeper questions” about knowledge – why, for example, we remember some things better than others. But this is still a “delightful compendium of the kind of facts you immediately want to share with anyone you encounter”.
Knowing What We Know by Simon Winchester is available here.
Changing faces at Madame Tussauds
Why I think civilisation is in peril
quoted kaling 13.5.23
“There is no sunrise so beautiful that it’s worth waking me up to see it.”
Quirk of history
The friendship that founded a nation