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16 May

In the headlines

Ukrainian troops defending the eastern city of Kharkiv have pushed the Russian army all the way back into Russia. A video circulating online shows them returning the border sign to its rightful position. Russia has lost a third of its initial invasion force to death or injury since the war began, says the UK Ministry of Defence. Oleh Psiuk, frontman of Ukraine’s winning Eurovision act Kalush Orchestra, has flown back to the front line to help with the war effort. Psiuk, backed by Ukraine’s President Volodymyr Zelensky, is determined to take up the winner’s right to host next year’s competition “in a newly rebuilt and happy Ukraine”. Britain will be “blitzed by thunderstorms” in the next few days, says the Daily Star – but after “stormageddon” will come a 28C heatwave set for early June.



Putin’s war will spark a food crisis

I tend to approach life with a general sense that “everything will be all right in the end”, says Jeremy Clarkson in The Sunday Times. Despite the constant warnings that we’re turning Earth into a “superheated ruin”, I still drive seven cars, because I’m sure that in the nick of time some “Munich-based boffin” will invent a giant “space-based vacuum cleaner” to suck up all that excess carbon dioxide and make everything normal again. It was the same with Covid. “Of course it wasn’t going to wipe us out” – some clever chap in a room full of pipettes and Bunsen burners was bound to dream up a vaccine sooner or later.


The Tory press has become a danger to the Tories

Despite massive losses to its readership and finances, says Nick Cohen in The Spectator, “the Tory press charges on like an old, angry bull”. The police initially found that Keir Starmer had broken no Covid rules in Durham, but the right-wing papers “hammered away” at “Beergate” until the cops finally felt they had to reopen the case. The Tories were initially delighted. But now that the Labour leader has said he’ll resign if he is fined, “you can hear the sounds of gears clunking into reverse”. If Starmer is vindicated, it’ll make him look “honourable” and Boris Johnson look unprincipled.

Eating in

Alphonso mangoes are the ultimate “foodie status symbols”, says The Times. The fruit only comes into season between April and June, so demand is high. One British grocer, Mark Haydon, says he had 1,000 mango-mad customers sign up to his “VIP waiting list” to secure their supply this year. “They’re more coveted than Glastonbury tickets.”


A 37-year-old Saudi man who drove a rented Maserati down Rome’s iconic Spanish Steps at 4am says he was simply following his sat-nav. The unnamed nocturnal motorist was arrested at Milan’s Malpensa airport and has been charged with aggravated damage to cultural monuments. His lawyer, Carlo Dalla Vedova, says his client has “told police he is sorry”.


It’s Rambo, a Limousin bull from Wales, who has sold for a world record-breaking 180,000 guineas (that’s £189,000) at auction. The costly creature smashed the previous Limousin bull record set by Trueman Jagger, who was flogged in 2015 for 140,000 guineas (£147,000). “I didn’t sleep well once I had seen him,” says Carlisle cattle show judge Patrick Greaney. “I knew an incredible sale would be coming.”

Gone viral

“Cluttercore” is a design trend celebrating a disorganised muddle of personal belongings and homeware, says Architectural Digest. Unapologetic maximalists are embracing “densely cluttered” homes full of books, diaries, art and ornaments with “deeply personal” meanings. Collectors show off their chaotic curations on social media, with #cluttercore racking up more than 50 million views on TikTok. But according to one clutter collector, not everybody can hop on to the trend: you need an innate messiness and quirkiness. “You don’t choose cluttercore, it already chose you.”


New York’s super-rich are ditching designer bags for high-quality counterfeits, says The Cut. Knock-off Hermès Birkins – so similar to the real deal that even most authenticators can’t spot the difference – are traded at exclusive get-togethers, much like the “Tupperware parties” of the 1950s and 1960s. The fakes go for between 1% and 10% of the price of the genuine articles, which start at around $12,000 apiece. And it’s not about saving money. “It’s about the atavistic thrill of the hunt,” explains one high-earning counterfeit obsessive. “The feeling of getting a bargain.”


Conversations with Friends is Sally Rooney’s best novel, says Nick Hilton in The Independent. But the new TV adaptation is “oppressively repetitive”. The very long, very slow series runs for 12 episodes in which nothing much seems to actually happen. “My UK edition of the novel has 321 pages, which means, various boffins assure me, that each episode represents about 27 pages’ worth of action.”


quoted 16.5

“History will be kind to me because I intend to write it.”

Winston Churchill