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16 November

In the headlines

Keir Starmer suffered the biggest rebellion of his leadership last night, when 56 Labour MPs backed a parliamentary motion calling for a ceasefire in the Israel-Hamas conflict rather than abstaining from the vote. Ten frontbenchers resigned over the issue, including former leadership contender Jess Phillips. She said she was voting “with my constituents, my head, and my heart”. Joe Biden and Xi Jinping met in San Francisco yesterday. The two leaders agreed to resume military-to-military communications and tackle the trafficking of the opioid fentanyl, but Xi told Biden he should “stop arming” Taiwan and that China’s reunification with the island was “unstoppable”. Millions of women in England will be able to get the contraceptive pill for free without seeing a GP, says The Times. In a “revolutionary” change announced by the NHS, pharmacists will be able to prescribe the drugs over the counter from next month.


The first four episodes of the final series of The Crown, released today, have received a near-universal thumbs down from critics. A one-star Guardian review called them the “very definition of bad writing” – so bad they’re “basically an out-of-body experience”. A two-star review in The Daily Telegraph said the programme had hit a “dead end”, and that it was haunted by Princess Diana’s “bizarre” ghost. Even a relatively benign four-star write-up in The Times struggled with the appearance of the Spencer spectre, describing it as “peculiarly self-defeating”.


There is something oddly enduring about the belief that “if you think it, it will come”, says The Guardian. In the 1950s, Norman Vincent Peale called it “positive thinking”. In the noughties, Oprah called it “manifesting”. And earlier this year, TikTokers dubbed it “lucky girl syndrome”. Now it has another name: “delulu”, short for delusional. The hashtag #delulu has racked up more than 4.5 billion views on TikTok, based on a simple idea: “Set unrealistic expectations for yourself and earnestly believe you will achieve them.” Whether your goals are to do with love, work, health, whatever, “delulu is the solulu”.

Nice work if you can get it

If festive films are your favourite part of Christmas, we have the “dream job” for you, says American website CableTV: “Chief of Cheer”. The successful applicant will be paid $2,500 to watch 25 Christmas movies in 25 days and rank them in categories including “nostalgia”, “heartwarming storytelling” and “holiday cheer”. If this jingles your bells, and you’re a US resident, apply here.

On the money

A single stamp that once cost 24 cents has just sold for more than $2m, says The New York Times. The “Inverted Jenny”, which depicts a biplane called the Curtiss JN, was issued by the US Post Office in 1918, but one batch was accidentally printed with the picture upside down. A canny clerk bought the only 100 stamps released publicly for $24, and later sold them for $15,000. Individual ones have since been sold to collectors, initially for hundreds, then thousands, then into seven figures, before hitting the new record last week.

The great escape

Posh poultry owners looking for someone to watch their chickens while they’re away are increasingly checking the birds into “hen hotels”, says The Daily Telegraph. “Hennels”, which have boomed because of the post-pandemic rise in chicken ownership, offer luxury boarding services complete with classical music, fresh fruit and veg, and room to roam. For the paltry sum of £3 a day, fancy fowls checking into Hen Weekend are given soft bedding, soothing music and unlimited access to a Wendy house, while for £5 a night guests at Marlow Poultry enjoy “eco” coops made from sustainable materials.


It’s Louis Vuitton’s $1m handbag, says Highsnobiety. The brainchild of new men’s creative director Pharrell Williams, the Millionaire Speedy bag is an ultra-luxe version of the Pharrell Speedy. It’s made to order from crocodile leather, comes with a solid gold chain and added diamonds, and is available in five colours. But even if you do have seven figures to spend, don’t get your hopes up. The pricey purse, like the original Speedy, appears to be available only to “top-tier” clientele.



“Life is like a trumpet. If you don’t put anything into it, you don’t get anything out.”

American musician WC Handy