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19 July

In the headlines

UK inflation slowed more than expected to 7.9% in June, the lowest rate in more than a year. The fall was driven in large part by a drop in petrol and diesel prices, which are around 20% cheaper than they were 12 months ago. Coutts closed Nigel Farage’s accounts because his views do not “align with its purpose and values”, according to a newly released internal document. The private bank compiled a dossier – including evidence of the Ukip leader’s friendship with Donald Trump and views on LGBT+ rights – which labelled the politician a “grifter” and a “chancer”. British passports bearing the title “His Majesty” will be issued from this week. It’s the first time since 1952, the end of King George VI’s reign, that the documents will be printed featuring the male title.

Love etc

New research by the dating website OKCupid proves, unsurprisingly, that men and women “have slightly different ideas” when it comes to age gaps in relationships. While female users prefer partners roughly the same age as them, men look for women in their early twenties, “regardless of their own age”. Curiously, says The Economist, there’s evidence that both groups are “searching wisely”. While men with younger spouses tend to survive for longer than those with partners the same age as them – perhaps because a healthier young wife can help look after them into old age – women who marry younger husbands don’t get the same life expectancy boost.

The great escape

If you want to live out your own “Barbie fantasy” in honour of the forthcoming film, then why not stay at a pink hotel, asks The Washington Post. They’re generally located in tropical areas, and the colour was particularly popular in the 1920s and in mid-century design. Examples in the US include Miami’s Goodtime Hotel; Don CeSar, on Florida’s Gulf Coast; the Trixie Motel in Palm Springs; and Waikiki’s Royal Hawaiian Resort.


Inside politics

Janet Yellen, the US treasury secretary, provoked puzzlement during a trip to Beijing recently, when she kept bowing to her Chinese counterpart. Some are speculating that magic mushrooms are to blame. On the top finance official’s first night in the Chinese capital, she ate at a restaurant where she ordered four portions of jian shou qing – a dish made with mushrooms which can be hallucinogenic if not properly cooked. “She loved mushrooms very much,” restaurant staff wrote on social media. “It was an extremely magical day.”


The story of the ultra-exclusive Hermès Birkin bag – inspired by the late style icon Jane Birkin – isn’t as glamorous as you might imagine, says Vogue. Upgraded on a flight to London carrying only a shabby holdall, Birkin found herself sitting next to Hermès boss Jean-Louis Dumas, and when she went to put her bag in the overhead compartment, all her stuff fell out on to the floor. “The day Hermès makes [a bag] with pockets,” she told him, “I will have that.” When Dumas asked her what her ideal accessory would look like, she sketched her vision on a sick bag. He said: “I’ll make it for you” – and so the world’s most famous tote was born.


The English phrase “a few sandwiches short of a picnic” has some colourful equivalents around the world, says writer Adam Sharp on Twitter. In Sweden, they say “the wheel is spinning, but the hamster is dead”. The French describe a dimwit as “not the most oxygenated trout in the river”, while in Germany, the very thick are “as bright as a tunnel”. Then there’s the Arabic idiom, “your brain is like two walnuts in a sack”; the Korean, “is your head a decoration?”; and the Hungarian, “mentally, you are a sock”.


It’s the new edition of Furby, the popular children’s toy, which seems to have received several cosmetic enhancements. While the original model, released in 1998, had muted fur, the head of an owl and the beak of a chicken, the 2023 edition comes in bright, surreal colours, has a heart-shaped jewel on its head, and seems to be wearing false eyelashes. “I’m not a huge fan,” one former Furby owner tells The New York Times. “It’s like Furby’s hot grandchild.”



quoted 19.07.23

“What the world really needs is more love and less paperwork.”

American actress Pearl Bailey