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19 April

In the headlines

Food prices rose at the fastest rate in 45 years last month, with the cost of olive oil up 49% over the past year, milk up 38%, and bread up 19%. March’s overall inflation rate was 10.1%, higher than predicted. India has overtaken China as the world’s most populous nation, the UN has announced. India’s population is 1.4286 billion, and is expected to continue growing until at least 2050; China’s is 1.4257 billion, and falling. The Pope has given the King two splinters said to be from the “true cross” on which Jesus was crucified. The wooden fragments (below) have been imbedded in a newly made silver cross, which will be carried at the head of next month’s Coronation procession.


“Azure, lapis, cerulean, cyan – call it what you like,” says the FT, “the cocktail’s current mood is blue.” From Milan to London to the Lower East Side, “everyone’s knocking back drinks the colour of swimming pools”. Lucy Wong in London serves a pale-blue “Shanghai 75”; The Cabinet in the East Village does a turquoise margarita. Milanese bar Unseen has gone viral for its Pow3r cocktail, a mix of raspberry vodka, verjus (grape juice) and blue curaçao. “People don’t really care what’s in it though,” says founder Milo Occhipinti: “they just come in saying, ‘I want that blue drink with the pink snail shell on it’, pointing at their phone.”

Tomorrow’s world

Google’s AI has taught itself the Bengali language, even though it wasn’t asked to do so. “We discovered that with very few amounts of prompting in Bengali, it can now translate all of Bengali,” chief executive Sundar Pichai told CBS’s 60 Minutes. He says his top researchers don’t really know how it managed the feat, adding that “all of us in the field” refer to the whole system as a “black box” – something “you don’t fully understand”.

Inside politics

Something struck me when Rishi Sunak was banging on about the importance of maths on Monday, says Quentin Letts in The Times: “the Prime Minister is now 33.33% Tony Blair”. The arm gestures, in particular one where he decisively pushes away a flat-angled hand. The shakes of the head “to indicate emphatic agreement with himself”. The “you guys”, the “rights”, the “glottal-stopping and occasional lapses into Californian uplift”. It’s all very Blairish. The one big difference? “Rishi has better teeth.”

Quirk of history

King Philip of France (1116-1131) died two years into his reign when his horse tripped over a pig in Paris, says @WeirdMedieval on Twitter. “Naturally,” the French put the story in pretty much every history book for 400 years – which resulted in some rather wacky illustrations. See the full array of silly doodles here.

Staying young

Half the men I know are using the wonder weight-loss drug Ozempic, says Celia Walden in The Daily Telegraph. The thing is, the diabetes treatment is intended to help the morbidly obese get to a healthier weight – not to enable slim folk to “lose those last few pounds for summer”. Every bloke who uses it ends up looking like a “deflated balloon”. And because Ozempic causes your cheeks to hollow out, a lot of these guys are “having their gaunt visages plumped out with yet more injectables”.


He’s standing in Britain’s deepest pothole. The 5ft-deep pit remained on Rogers Road in Canning Town, east London, for two years, despite several attempts to repair it. Dean Hope, a 5ft 6in gas engineer, climbed in for a photo in a bid to put pressure on the council – which finally filled it in with concrete this week after the whole thing collapsed into a massive sinkhole. “I got in it as a joke,” 41-year-old Hope tells The Sun, “but it isn’t funny to motorists.” In its time, the hefty hole has sent at least one Deliveroo rider flying and written off a BMW.


Quoted 19.4.23

“A little inaccuracy sometimes saves a ton of explanation.”