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17 February

In the headlines

Rishi Sunak is in Northern Ireland trying to convince the DUP to back his Brexit deal. Ministers hope the new agreement, which would scrap customs checks on UK goods destined for Northern Ireland, will be signed off early next week. Home Secretary Suella Braverman has demanded an explanation from Lancashire police after the release of private information about missing dog walker Nicola Bulley. The force has been criticised for revealing that the 45-year-old had “significant issues with alcohol” brought on by the menopause before her disappearance three weeks ago. Vivienne Westwood yesterday received a farewell “fit for a Queen (of punk)”, says the Daily Mail, with A-listers donning flamboyant outfits for the fashionista’s funeral. They included Kate Moss in a floral frock, Helena Bonham Carter in the designer’s signature tartan, and Richard E Grant wearing a cocktail hat Westwood gave him in 1994.


There’s a reason why Mickey Mouse’s hands have three fingers, not four, says Keith Carlson in a letter to The Economist. After creating the character in the late 1920s, Walt Disney “realised that if his mouse became popular it would be drawn millions and millions of times” – back then, a cartoon only a few minutes long required thousands of illustrations. So by omitting one finger, the illustrator saved a fortune in ink and labour. “And because it also enabled easier and more flowing movements it has been copied by almost all cartoon artists since.”

Inside politics

The SNP has a rising star “even more dangerous for the Union” than Nicola Sturgeon, says Fraser Nelson in The Daily Telegraph: Kate Forbes. The Cambridge-educated former accountant took over as Scottish finance minister when she was 29, “delivering a budget on just four hours’ notice”. Now 32, she is dubbed the “Tartan Thatcher” for practising “fiscal sanity”, and her devout Christian faith means she’d steer well clear of Sturgeon’s “self-ID madness”. The only question is whether Forbes is “too Christian to lead a modern political party” – she is a convert to the Free Church, which opposes gay marriage and has “likened abortion to the evil of slavery”. SNP members may instead opt for a Sturgeon “continuity” candidate. “As a unionist, I can but hope.”


For the perfect negroni, try stirring in some sushi rice, says Punch. The sticky grains help bind the spirits together, softening the heat of the liquor and making the flavours more cohesive. The broken-down starch also gives the drink a “rounder texture”. Mixologists say the same trick can be used to deliver a “delightful creaminess” to other cocktails with “bitter elements”, such as boulevardiers, martinis and old fashioneds.


Architectural Digest has revealed its 2023 Works of Wonder list, collating the “most important new feats of architecture, art and design”. They include Hungary’s House of Music, topped with an undulating, holey roof punctuated by trees; Sweden’s Treehotel, where one of the rooms is surrounded by 350 timber birdhouses; and Japan’s Maison Owl restaurant, which is set in a secluded man-made cave. See the full list here.


Islamophobia is pushing many Muslim professionals out of France, says Bloomberg. A new survey from the University of Lille found that, of more than 1,000 white-collar Muslims who left the country, 70% put it down to religious discrimination, particularly in the job market. The top place they move to is Britain. One business school graduate with an Arabic name “struggled for years” to get interviews in Paris. Within months of relocating to London he had landed a job at consulting giant Deloitte.


It’s Harry and Meghan, who have been ruthlessly skewered in the latest episode of South Park. Parodied as the “Prince and Princess of Canada”, the royal exiles are depicted as “hypocritical, self-pitying and deeply annoying”, says The Times. They are shown promoting the Prince’s memoir, entitled Waaagh, by turning up at morning TV studios with placards reading “Stop looking at us”. After embarking on a “worldwide privacy tour”, the couple end up living opposite regular character Kyle, who isn’t a fan. “The Prince plays drums all day – I don’t even think he has a job,” he complains. “She just seems to boss him around. Why did they even leave Canada anyway?


Quoted 17.2.23

“I’ve had so much plastic surgery, when I die they will donate my body to Tupperware.”

Joan Rivers