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16 February

In the headlines

The SNP’s executive committee will today decide a timetable for the leadership race to replace Nicola Sturgeon as Scotland’s first minister. The stakes are high, says Politico: given the party’s current stranglehold on Scottish Westminster seats, this election could “decide who runs the UK and whether 5.5 million citizens stay part of it”. British Gas owner Centrica more than tripled its profits to a record £3.3bn in 2022. The firm, which supplies energy to more than seven million UK households, says it benefited from soaring wholesale energy prices as a result of the Ukraine war. Some 38% of Brits think “the world is controlled by a secretive elite”, according to a new YouGov poll for UnHerd. The most conspiratorial are Brexit Party voters, 54% of whom reckon we are at the mercy of a globalist cabal, followed by Labour (42%), the Tories (34%) and the Lib Dems (32%).

Eating in

For the first time in years, a Brit will be catering for the Oscars. Chef Elliott Grover, from CUT at 45 Park Lane, plans to serve up a classic national spread for the official after party following next month’s ceremony: fish and chips, chicken pot pie and sherry trifle. “It’s post-wartime food that appeals to the masses and doesn’t break the bank,” says Tammie Meera Ash in Vice. “But, let’s be honest, it’s not the most glamorous thing to serve at the 95th Academy Awards. You can’t really picture Martin Scorsese at a chippy, can you?”

Inside politics

“The Japanese are famed for their politeness,” says Alastair Campbell in The New European. Which probably explains why, at the Japanese embassy’s reception in London to mark the Emperor’s birthday last week, the guest of honour was none other than Liz Truss. She had clearly been invited during her brief occupancy of No 10, but the Japanese were too polite to ditch her once she had been ousted. As with her recent “non mea culpa” piece in The Sunday Telegraph, Truss’s “room-reading skills” were distinctly limited. During her speech, “the feet-shuffling mood hovered between embarrassment and cringe-coated pain”.


Winnie-the-Pooh: Blood and Honey is a very violent take on AA Milne’s cuddly children’s books: the recently released horror film sees Pooh and Piglet embark on a murderous rampage after Christopher Robin abandons them (watch the trailer, if you dare, here). The reason the adaptation was allowed is because the 95-year copyright on the characters expired on 1 January 2022, says Bloomberg. Next year the same will happen for Mickey Mouse – a scary thought for Disney.

Gone viral

Flight attendant and TikTok influencer Esther Strurrus has shared some handy hacks for hotel stays. Curtains not closing properly? Use a clothes hanger with grips to pin them together. Travel adapter broken? Plug your USB charger into the back of the TV. She suggests using shower caps to cover dirty shoes before they go in your suitcase, and to wrap up the TV remote (“those things are dirtyyyy🤢”). As for that age-old problem of forgetting something in the room safe? Stick a single shoe in there and you’ll (hopefully) always remember to retrieve it.


Gen Z isn’t fussed about learning to drive, says The Washington Post. Back in 1997, 62% of 17-year-old Americans held a driver’s licence; today, it’s just 45%. Youngsters cite a variety of reasons for not getting behind the wheel, including the environment and the high cost of fuel and car insurance. But many have simply grown up with access to an array of affordable ride-booking apps. “If there’s an emergency,” says one 24-year-old from Philadelphia, “I’ll call an Uber.”


They’re breaking the Guinness World Record for the longest underwater kiss. Beth Neale and Miles Cloutier, both experienced free divers, managed four minutes and six seconds of underwater smooching on 4 February. Appropriately, the engaged couple first met through their mutual love of ocean conservation.


Quoted 16.2.23

“If the highest aim of a captain were to preserve his ship, he would keep it in port forever.”

Thomas Aquinas