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15 April

In the headlines

Boris Johnson has vowed to fight the “army” of lawyers pushing back against his plan to fly asylum seekers to Rwanda. The PM wants the first flights to leave within six weeks, despite claims the scheme could be illegal under human rights law. The announcement has certainly “succeeded in knocking Partygate off the top of the agenda”, says Politico. “For now.” The flagship of Russia’s Black Sea Fleet has sunk. The Moskva reportedly went down after being hit by two Ukrainian anti-ship missiles. Harry and Meghan secretly met the Queen and Prince Charles at Windsor Castle yesterday. It was the couple’s first joint visit to the UK since quitting as royals two years ago. Much of Britain will bask in 22C weather today, says The Sun, kicking off a balmy Easter weekend. It really is a “very Good Friday”.

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UK politics

Sunak’s charmed life

Back in 2020, everyone thought “dishy Rishi” Sunak was “simply divine”, says Aditya Chakrabortty in The Guardian. Pundits were “gurgling in delight” over his Instagram feed; GQ feted him as an “unlikely style hero”. But bad news now clings to the Chancellor “like burrs to a dog after a walk in the woods”. Recent revelations about his wife’s tax status, and his lockdown-breaking fine, mean it’s “almost impossible to see Sunak as a serious contender for No 10” any more.

Quirk of history

The “toxic idea of annihilating Ukrainian culture” may have taken hold of Vladimir Putin in 2007, says Roger Boyes in The Times, when he met the Soviet dissident Alexander Solzhenitsyn. The writer had firm “Greater Russia convictions” – which included Ukraine. He once wrote: “We all together emerged from the treasured Kyiv from which the Russian land began. The return of these lands to Russia was viewed by everyone as reunification.” Putin, it turns out, agrees: he thinks Russkiy Mir – the Russian world – is defined by “the blood shed over the centuries” rather than territorial boundaries.

Love etc

“Short king spring” is here, says Laura Hampson in The Independent. TikTok is flooded with tongue-in-cheek videos of girls celebrating their shorter boyfriends, inspired by the (relatively miniscule) height difference between actress Zendaya (5ft 10in) and her beau Tom Holland (5ft 8in). Celebrities like Daniel Radcliffe and Bruno Mars (both 5ft 5in) have been cited as short kings – as has the Ukrainian president, Volodymyr Zelensky, who stands at 5ft 7in. “It seems the days where women would put ‘6ft or nothing’ in their dating app bios are long gone.”


A new Major League Baseball season has begun, which means one thing: Yankees players will have to go to the barbers. It’s been a tradition since 1973, says Mel Magazine, when the businessman George Steinbrenner co-bought the New York baseball team. Steinbrenner thought long hair looked scruffy, so he banned players from growing their hair below the collar, or growing any facial hair other than moustaches. Maybe he was on to something: the Yankees have won the World Series more times than any other team.

Gone viral

A chivalrous boyfriend in Shanghai has become a hit on the Chinese social media platform Weibo after he delivered groceries to his girlfriend via drone. Since the city went into lockdown, many residents of Shanghai have struggled to buy food. But according to his girlfriend, the anonymous Romeo “spent a whole night” searching for shopping. In the end he managed to fly over a fish head, half a cabbage, some sticky rice and a love letter.

On the money

Nearly a quarter of Britons who earn £100,000 or more identify as “working class”, according to a poll by The New Statesman. Perhaps it’s not surprising in a country “known worldwide for its mysterious social codes”. As the anthropologist Kate Fox wrote in 2004: “A person with working-class pronunciation, who calls his sofa a ‘settee’, and his midday meal ‘dinner’, will be identified as working class even if he is a multi-millionaire living in a grand country house.”


They’re M&S trousers – and Gen Zs are going crazy for them. The £22.50 white linen threads have sold out in many sizes after going viral on TikTok. It’s bad news for us older folk, says Tamara Abraham in The Daily Telegraph. We find it hard enough getting our hands on the best M&S stuff “without having to contend with an army of TikTokers”.


quoted 15.4.22

“I find television very educating. Every time somebody turns on the set, I go into the other room and read a book.”

Groucho Marx