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14 February

In the headlines

We’re facing a “frantic 48 hours to save Europe from war”, says the Mail, as Western leaders continue last-minute efforts to stop Russia invading Ukraine. US intelligence has warned that an invasion could happen as soon as tomorrow; several western governments have evacuated their diplomatic staff from Kiev. But Russia appears unconcerned by the West’s threats of financial retribution. “Excuse my language,” says one of Putin’s top officials, “but we don’t give a shit about all their sanctions.” A public inquiry into the Post Office begins today, after hundreds of postmasters were bankrupted, jailed or driven to suicide when a computer glitch meant they were wrongly accused of stealing from their tills. The government-funded compensation bill is expected to exceed £1bn. The RAF’s deputy chief has been suspended for flashing his bottom at his neighbours. Air Marshal Andrew Turner has apologised for the “absolutely unintentional upset”.



Dick: victim of a “PR-obsessed mayor”?

The ousting of Cressida Dick is outrageous, says Libby Purves in The Times: a fine police commissioner “spiked by a lightweight, politically anxious and PR-obsessed mayor”, Sadiq Khan. Nowhere in the commentariat’s “knee-jerk rejoicing” is any mention of her successes: cutting violence and robbery in London, a “swashbuckling swoop” against moped attacks, and “ingenuity” in coping with swingeing budget cuts. Instead, she has been “damned” for all manner of problems in which she was not directly involved: officers taking photos of corpses and sharing the images on WhatsApp; detectives missing a serial killer of young gay men. As so often, when “the sea is rough and there’s been a brawl in the engine-room”, too many people think the answer is to “throw the captain overboard”.


The danger of leaving men behind

The “campfire-burning, horn-tooting, macho revolt” by Canadian truckers has caught many of us by surprise, says Andrew Sullivan in The Weekly Dish. When did our “gentle neighbours” to the north get so angry? This populist fury, triggered by new vaccine mandates, is really part of a much broader backlash by the “angry macho right”. The most obvious figurehead for this “testosterone tribe” is Donald Trump, who often boasts of his support from “the tough people”. Another is the unashamedly masculine podcaster Joe Rogan, whose largely male audience has strongly rallied behind him amid recent criticism over his Covid coverage. Then there’s Jordan Peterson, the Canadian professor whose pushback against the idea of “toxic masculinity” strongly resonates with men across the Western world.

Inside politics

When David Cameron was PM, he apparently found it impossible to understand what the Duchess of Cornwall was saying. The diarist Sasha Swire says it was because Camilla would “mutter” incomprehensibly, as if she had a cigarette sticking out of the corner of her mouth. “Attagirl,” says Camilla Long in The Sunday Times. “Being unintelligible and unavailable to bores is the chicest way of retreating from any situation.”


It’s Britain’s “first domestic jacuzzi”, which has been put on display at Hestercombe House in Somerset. EWB “Teddy” Portman had the tub installed for his wife Constance in the 1890s, possibly as a Valentine’s Day present. The bath cost Portman £45 (more than £5,000 today) and has eight nozzles, each with its own setting – including “wave”, “plunge” and “spray”.


When US golfer Sam Ryder hit a hole-in-one at the WM Phoenix Open on Saturday, 17,000 well-oiled spectators celebrated by showering beer all over themselves and the course – it took more than 10 minutes to clear the empty cans off the green. “Twenty five years in professional golf I’ve had a delay in play for situations related to weather, a gas leak, fire, medical emergency,” says PGA Tour official Stephen Cox on Twitter. “But never for excess beer cans.”

Gone viral

This photograph of an ancient Egyptian “attendance register” has racked up tens of thousands of likes on Twitter. The 3,200-year-old, iPad-sized slab of limestone lists the excuses given by ancient Thebans for not turning up to work. They include: “bitten by scorpion”, “brewing beer”, and “embalming brother”.

Love etc

Couples who have cheaper weddings are more likely to stay married longer, according to a new study by the Marriage Foundation. Overall, 5% of couples divorce within three years of marriage. But if their wedding cost more than £20,000, that number shoots up to 10%.

On the money

As many as 689,168 houses in Britain are worth £1m or more – one in every 42 homes. It’s partly because everyone’s leaving London, says the Evening Standard. About 80% of properties newly worth more than a million are outside the capital, according to Savills. In London, the number of “property millionaires” increased by only 8%.


quoted 14.2

“Some cause happiness wherever they go; others whenever they go.”

Oscar Wilde