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18-19 February

Long reads shortened

A hypnotic ode to the sea

To help me sleep at night, says Grace Linden in The New York Times, I’ve started listening to compilations of the Shipping Forecast. Although each broadcast lasts only a minute or two – the maximum is 380 words, apparently – when you play lots in a row they become “poetic and hypnotic, a free-form ode to the seas”. You start in Viking, an area of the sea up near the Orkney islands, then go on “a kind of audio tour” around the British Isles. The phrases take on an oddly rhythmic quality: “Wight, Portland, Biscay”; “good, occasionally poor, becoming very poor at times in Plymouth”; “low southeast Iceland, 1,000, losing its identity by the same time”.

Eating in

The Guardian has asked 27 top chefs for their favourite kitchen trick. They include putting marmite in the water while parboiling roast potatoes (“it gives them a really nice colour”); refreshing dying herbs with ice-cold water and potato trimmings; and rinsing scallops in fizzy water, “as the bubbles will remove any hidden grit”. More outlandish suggestions include double-cooking homemade pizza – a few minutes on the hob, then into the oven – and retaining moisture in chana masala by adding a teabag (“just be careful to take it out before serving”). See the full list here.


Steven Spielberg is pretty much “cursed” when it comes to the Oscars, says Michael Schulman in Slate. Despite having been nominated 22 times, he has won just three gongs: two for Schindler’s List and one for Saving Private Ryan. When Jaws (1975) became the highest-grossing movie of all time, a 29-year-old Spielberg was so confident of its Academy Awards success that he hired a documentary crew to film him watching the nominations being announced on TV. “Jaws is about to be nominated in 11 categories,” he declared. Sitting hunched over a chair, “camera in his face”, Spielberg then watched as the selections for best director rolled in: “Robert Altman, Federico Fellini, Miloš Forman, Stanley Kubrick, and Sidney Lumet.” The director was visibly abashed. “Cancel my day!” he told his staff. “Cancel my week! I’m going to Palm Springs!”


Quoted Shaw 17.2.23

“Hell is full of musical amateurs.”

George Bernard Shaw


At the Grammys earlier this month, Ben Affleck and Jennifer Lopez were caught bickering on camera, says Emma Firth in the Evening Standard. “Stop,” she seems to mouth at him. “Look more friendly. Look motivated.” He shrugs, appearing to respond sulkily: “I might.” Then they realise a camera is on them, and try to regain composure. Brief disagreements like this – celebrity PDA, or “public displays of aggression” – are endlessly dissected on social media. Miley Cyrus pushed away Liam Hemsworth on the red carpet mere months before the couple officially split up, for example. But “TikTok sleuths” studying stars’ body language are really just picking up an “age-old guilty pleasure”: watching how even “ridiculously beautiful, seemingly superhuman couples” can, now and again, get cross with each other.


The apartment

This flat is on the third floor of a renovated garment factory in Whitechapel, east London. It has a modern kitchen, three bedrooms and a balcony with striking views of the City. Nearby Spitalfields Market and Brick Lane have an array of trendy restaurants and bars. Whitechapel and Aldgate East Tube stations are both a six-minute walk. £800,000.

The country house

This Grade II-listed, five-bedroom home is set on a hillside in rural Kent. Dating back to the 16th century, it has a wealth of period features, including inglenook fireplaces, oak beams and hand-crafted joinery, as well as a grand drawing room. The property has nine acres of grounds, complete with a guest cottage and orchard. Trains to London Bridge from nearby Staplehurst station take 50 minutes. £2.85m.



Quoted Lynes 18.2.23

“Every journalist has a novel in him, which is an excellent place for it.”

American art historian Russell Lynes