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17 May

In the headlines

Landlords are to be banned from evicting tenants without justification, but will be more easily able to kick out anti-social renters, under new reforms being introduced to parliament. Meanwhile, Keir Starmer has said a Labour government would allow building on the green belt to help revive “the aspiration of homeowning”. Liz Truss is visiting Taiwan – the most senior British politician to do so since Margaret Thatcher in the 1990s – where she has made a speech urging the West to resist “Chinese global dominance”. Beijing’s London embassy described it as a “dangerous political stunt”. Ear acupuncture can help with losing weight, according to a new Japanese study. During the three-month trial, tiny beads were taped to pressure points on the ear believed to control appetite. The 81 participants lost more than a stone on average.


Argentinian-Spanish artist Felipe Pantone has created a rainbow swimming pool at a house in Alicante, Spain using 130,000 coloured tiles. The mosaic design consists of wide beams of red, yellow, blue and white tiles, which appear pixelated when the pool is empty. When it is filled with water, the liquid distorts the pattern by reflecting and refracting sunlight, resulting in a vibrant optical illusion.


Many Westerners see Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn as a “standard-bearer for truth-telling in the Soviet era”, says Max Hastings in The Sunday Times. But Serhii Plokhy’s new book The Russo-Ukrainian War reminds us that the great novelist shared Vladimir Putin’s view that Ukraine is “rightfully Russian”. In 1998, he denounced Kyiv’s “inordinate expansion onto territory that was never Ukraine until Lenin”, and called for the east and south of the country to be re-annexed.

Love etc

This is the summer of the “mismatched celebrity couple”, says Jade Wickes in The Face. Over the past fortnight, clean-cut superstar Taylor Swift has been snapped on a string of dates with The 1975 frontman and “TikTok-appointed musical bad boy” Matty Healy. “What could possibly be the attraction” between the world’s most press-trained pop singer and the “sometimes cringe” Manchester indie kid? They’re not the only perplexing celebrity romance: artsy actor Timothée Chalamet has reportedly shacked up with reality TV royalty Kylie Jenner. I can only presume the lovebirds spend their time “discussing the intricacies of Denis Villeneuve’s filmography over tacos before whacking on an arthouse neo-noir”.

Gone viral

A kayaker fishing off the coast of Oahu in Hawaii has gone viral after capturing a video of his dinky craft being viciously attacked by a tiger shark. Scott Haraguchi says he heard a “whooshing sound”, looked up and saw a “wide brown thing” on the side of the kayak.


Only four people attended both the King’s coronation and his mother’s in 1953, says The Oldie: Charles himself, Lady Glenconner, Andrew Parker Bowles and the Earl of Airlie. The latter, a 97-year-old Scottish peer, also went to George VI’s coronation in 1937.


It’s Joseph Dituri, a university professor who has broken the record for the longest time living underwater without depressurisation. The 55-year-old has been in a submerged cabin at the bottom of a 30-foot-deep lagoon in the Florida Keys, in an experiment to see how the human body responds to prolonged exposure to extreme pressure. He surpassed the previous record of 73 days at the weekend, and will stay below the surface until at least 9 June, when he’ll reach the 100-day mark.


quoted 17.5.23

“The trouble with socialism is that it takes too many evenings.”

Oscar Wilde