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16-17 July


Jane Austen’s “Girlboss era”

There’s something “distinctly millennial” about the new Netflix adaptation of Jane Austen’s Persuasion, says Helen Lewis in The Atlantic. Its heroine, Anne Elliot, is not the “quiet, melancholic presence” of the novel, but rather a “klutzy Fleabag clone”. She hurls herself onto a chaise longue, screaming into the eiderdown; asserts she’s “single and thriving” while swigging wine straight from the bottle; and breaks the fourth wall with bemused eyebrow wiggles. She’s a recognisable trope of modern culture: “the aspirational yet relatable ‘hot mess’”. Characters dish out anachronistic zingers ­– “if you’re a five in London, you’re a 10 in Bath” – surely crafted to deliberately bait literary purists.


How Sri Lanka fell apart

The roots of Sri Lanka’s political chaos go back to 2005, says Emily Schmall in The Daily, when Mahinda Rajapaksa was first elected president. He envisioned Sri Lanka as “the next Singapore”: a booming economy with a growing middle class. So Rajapaksa courted China and the IMF for loans to build the infrastructure he believed would make Sri Lanka a tourist hotspot. “And it worked.” Europeans flocked to the country; modern cities sprang up with high-rise towers and luxury hotels. In just ten years, the economy “more than tripled”. People largely turned a blind eye to Rajapaksa’s nepotistic appointments and “vanity projects” ­– notably a Chinese-funded state-of-the-art cricket stadium – as they, for the first time, enjoyed their share of modern luxuries.


Almost every “reasonably personable” male contemporary of Ian Fleming’s has at some point been cited as the inspiration for James Bond. More likely, says Jake Kerridge in The Daily Telegraph, the real inspiration was a woman called Phyllis Bottome. The American author became 19-year-old Fleming’s “literary mentor” after he attended a crammer school she ran with her husband in a chalet in the Austrian Tyrol. The Lifeline, Bottome’s 1946 spy thriller, centres on an Eton schoolmaster called Mark Chalmers. The similarities between Chalmers and Bond, who Fleming unveiled in Casino Royale six years later, are uncanny. Both men are “36 years old, slim, dark-haired, 6ft tall”. They’re expert linguists, fond of alpine sports and “extremely attractive to women”. But espionage historian Nigel West thinks that Chalmers was actually based on none other than Fleming himself. “There’s no question about it,” says West, noting their “brooding but dashing personalities” and shared Belgravia address. By basing Bond on Chalmers, Fleming “reappropriated himself”.


Turkey is the “hair transplant capital of the world”, says Alex Hawkins in GQ. So-called Follicular Unit Excision – where hair follicles are removed from the side of the head and surgically inserted into bald patches – costs as little as $2,000 in Istanbul, compared to $20,000 in New York. So thousands of Americans, Brits and Europeans fly in to have the surgery, recuperate in a hotel for a few days, and then leave with “hope of newfound youth”. At Istanbul airport the sight of post-op men, “sometimes still in bandages”, getting flights home is so common the airport staff call it “Turkish Hairlines”.


quoted Cummings 16.7.22

“I’m living so far beyond my income that we might almost be said to be living apart.”

American poet EE Cummings


Let’s hear it for the women of Pompeii

If the words Caecilius est in horto fill you with nostalgia, says Tristram Fane Saunders in The Daily Telegraph, prepare for exciting news: the beloved Cambridge Latin Course (CLC) is getting an inclusivity update. For 52 years, children have studied the adventures of Caecilius the banker and his dog Cerberus in the last days of Pompeii. It’s an enthralling tale. The height of excitement in a French textbook is “a visit to the piscine or bibliotheque”; in the CLC, it’s “mass death by volcano”. Whole classrooms have been “reduced to tears” as Caecilius, believing his family dead, utters his last words: “de vita mea despero” (“I despair of my life”). Book two is even grislier, following the “Iago-like psychopath” Salvius as he plots and murders his way across Europe.


Learning to be a better monkey

Human childhoods last about a quarter of our lives, longer than those of any other species, says Brenna Hassett in The Guardian. We spend “25-odd years” growing up, and that’s what makes us “Earth’s most complex animal”. There are multiple ways we “invest in the slow growth of the next generation”. One is monogamy, which about 90% of animals have “dismissed as unworkable”, but in our case gives us “genetic co-investors” – dads, in other words. This means less competition for mates, and as such, our genitals are “remarkably unremarkable”. If we had the same reproductive habits as mouse lemurs, for example, men’s testes would be the size of grapefruits.

Inside politics

I first met Boris Johnson 30 years ago, says philosopher Bernard-Henri Lévy in Le Point, when he was The Daily Telegraph’s correspondent in Brussels. His deceitful, “smooth-talking” habits annoyed me – he was like George Wickham, the lying rake in Pride and Prejudice. Then he fell even further in my estimation with Brexit: this “Mr Bean crossbred with Falstaff” character made “Great Britain become little England”. But I will never forget his arrival in Kyiv on 9 April, when I witnessed first-hand the gratitude Ukrainians felt towards “this man with wild hair”. When he pledged Britain’s “unlimited” support for Ukraine in the fight against Russia, I knew that this time he wasn’t lying. “London became, in effect, the arsenal of the young Ukrainian democracy. And, for that, we must give thanks to ‘Bojo’.”


Quoted art 16.7.22

“A kiss is an application on the top floor for a job in the basement.”

Artwork at Spectrum Art Exhibition



Bosco is a beautifully converted 1950s Dutch barge moored on the southern banks of the River Thames at Battersea’s Oyster Pier. It has three bedrooms, an open-plan kitchen and dining room, and a winter garden on the deck. The 2,150 sq ft interior even includes a cinema room sequestered in the bow. Clapham Junction station is a 15-minute walk away. £1.8m.


This handsome Grade II listed manor is set within seven acres of paddocks, complete with stabling and a tennis court, near the Lincolnshire town of Stamford. The 4,500 sq ft interior includes seven bedrooms, Georgian panelling, and a drawing room with wood-burning stove. Nearby Peterborough station has a regular service to London’s King Cross, which takes around 50 minutes. £2.15m.