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19 May

In the headlines

No 10 has blocked Treasury plans for a windfall tax on oil and gas companies, calling the idea “ideologically unconservative”, says The Times. The PM’s advisors say imposing a one-off levy on energy firms would be seen as an attack on business. Sober heads at the Treasury reckon the tax is “politically unavoidable”. The Met has concluded its investigation into Partygate with a final batch of fines, bringing the total number of recipients to 126. This means the Sue Gray report can now be published in full, says ITV’s Paul Brand on Twitter, which will “help determine just how damning” the scandal will end up being for the PM. Former Bank of England boffin Andy Haldane thinks the word “maths” is too scary for normal people and should be swapped for “numeracy”, says the Daily Star. “Surely sum mistake?”

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The police should stay out of politics

Refusing to pander to public opinion is a cornerstone of policing, says Daniel Finkelstein in The Times. But the principle has been entirely neglected with the investigations into Partygate and Beergate. Despite initially insisting it wouldn’t issue retrospective fines over lockdown breaches, Scotland Yard yielded to opposition pressure to “behave differently” towards Downing Street. Rather shrewdly, Tory MPs then tried their own hand at using the police as a “political tool”, successfully lobbying for an investigation into Keir Starmer’s curry. It means we’re now in a “preposterous position” where officers are holding the sword of Damocles over the Labour leader’s head. To make matters worse, there’s no uniformity in the punishments: Rishi Sunak and Cabinet Secretary Simon Case attended the same Downing Street gathering, but only Sunak has received a penalty.

Modern life

Life was rubbish before smartphones

addicted to his smartphone”, says Sam Leith in The Spectator. He even forced himself to take five days off social media to be more “present” with his children. But are smartphones really so bad? We’re “routinely warned” that scrolling on them releases dopamine, the same chemical your brain produces when you have sex or exercise. “Yet having sex and doing exercise are widely held to be good things.” And why should the undesirable and the lazy be “deprived of all that yummy dopamine”?


“An individual human existence should be like a river: small at first, narrowly contained within its banks, and rushing passionately past rocks and over waterfalls. Gradually the river grows wider, the banks recede, the waters flow more quietly, and in the end, without any visible break, they become merged in the sea, and painlessly lose their individual being.” Bertrand Russell in How to Grow Old. Listen to newly discovered audio of the philosopher reading from the essay (around the 2h 57m mark) here.


Spinner dolphins live up to their name, says @WonderOfScience on Twitter. The twirling sea creatures can rotate up to seven times when they leap as high as ten feet out of the water. The spinning is thought to be a way to communicate, a method of flinging off parasites, or just the dolphins having fun.

Love etc

A stuntman and stuntwoman who fell in love at work marked their wedding in suitable style: by setting themselves on fire. They told Insider it “felt like an appropriate way to celebrate their connection”.

Eating in

A new biography of Anna Wintour reveals the Vogue editor’s bizarre go-to lunch order: steak and caprese salad without tomatoes. “What even is a caprese salad without tomatoes?” says Emilia Petrarca in New York Magazine. The dish has three ingredients: tomatoes, mozzarella, and basil. Losing the tomatoes is “like ordering fish and chips without the fish, or macaroni and cheese, hold the macaroni”.


Emily Clarkson, daughter of Jeremy, has a creative way of rebuffing the many men who send her unsolicited dick pics on Instagram, says The Sunday Times. The 27-year-old responds with a fake automated message which reads: “Our AI technology has recognised you have sent this. If you believe it was a mistake, please reply ‘Help’ or your account will be terminated.” As a result, she says, her inbox is flooded with pervy cyber-flashers desperately pleading for her to save their accounts.


A pair of beige “beach gloves”, says The Cut, which she donned on the cover of Sports Illustrated. Kardashian seems set on starting an unlikely summer trend with the accessories, which extend nearly all the way to her shoulders. It’s not the first time she’s been pictured promoting the kooky handware. In January, the 41-year-old took to the beach sporting a pair of motorcycle gloves, and a month later, she donned a leather pair while swimming. Nude opera gloves were the “obvious next step”.


quoted 19.5.22

“We are here on Earth to fart around, and don’t let anybody tell you any different.”

Kurt Vonnegut