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18 April

In the headlines

SNP treasurer Colin Beattie has been arrested by police investigating claims that £600,000 of donations have “gone missing”. At the weekend, the 71-year-old told the party’s ruling committee he was “having difficulty in balancing the books” because of declining membership. Rishi Sunak is being investigated by parliament’s standards watchdog over a possible failure to declare a conflict of interest. The PM’s wife, Akshata Murty, has shares in a childcare company “which looks likely to benefit from this spring’s Budget”, says BBC News’s Chris Mason. A 15-year-old from Cornwall has been crowned the world’s best under-16 surfer. Lukas Skinner, who began surfing aged three, is the first Briton to win the Rip Curl GromSearch competition, held this year in Australia.

On the money

Ever the businessman, Donald Trump has found a way to “squeeze the maximum advantage” out of his arrest, says David Charter in Air Mail. The former president is selling a $47 t-shirt featuring a mocked-up mugshot – bizarrely depicting him as 6ft 5in, two inches taller than usually claimed – and the slogan “Not Guilty”. In the past week, fundraising emails featuring the fake felon have raised $12m for his 2024 election campaign.

Inside politics

James Cleverly, the foreign secretary, is a popular man in Japan, says The Guardian. One quiet afternoon in 2010, when he was a deputy London mayor, a delegation from Tokyo arrived seeking advice on their bid for the 2020 Olympics. Cleverly, who happened to be the most senior politician available, answered their questions as best he could. He thought little more about it – until Tokyo subsequently won its bid, and the Japanese ambassador told him his off-the-cuff advice had been “instrumental” in its success. He was invited to Japan as a thank you.

On the way out

Moaning about the decline of the “Great British pub” has become “as much a national pastime as watching house prices”, says Lex in the FT. But the boozer’s demise is “greatly exaggerated”. Yes, some 6,600 pubs – around 14% of the total – have shut down in England and Wales over the past decade. But a third of establishments that close down subsequently reopen, meaning only around 400 pubs per year “disappear for good”. And those that remain are doing just fine: revenues were 5.5% higher in February this year than they were in 2019, before the pandemic.

Quirk of language

English is full of weird expressions, like “it’s raining cats and dogs” and “Bob’s your uncle”. But we’re not alone, says Big Think. In Swedish, a common expression meaning “don’t worry about it” translates as “there is no cow on the ice”. If somebody sneezes in Mongolia, locals say “bless you, and may your moustache grow like brushwood”. In Polish, you might say “not my circus, not my monkeys” (essentially: “not my problem”). When the Japanese want to say someone is acting cute but is really a “bastard underneath it all”, they say he “wears a cat on his head”. And whereas in English we might end a story saying “and they lived happily ever after”, in Norway they go for: “and if they’re not dead, they’re still alive”.


It’s King Charles’s official Coronation dish: a cheese and veg quiche. The recipe, which involves a filling of spinach, broad beans and tarragon, will serve as the centrepiece at street parties across the country. I’ve already given it a go, says Felicity Cloake in The Guardian, and I’m afraid it was definitely “written by a professional chef, rather than someone used to catering for home cooks”. My top tips? Make double the suggested amount of pastry, and squeeze “every last drop of water” from the spinach – “or you’ll end up with egg soup”. Try it for yourself here.


quoted 18.4.23

“I don’t think I write well – just better than anyone else.”

Philip Larkin