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19 November

In the headlines

“Boat migrants are the Tories’ biggest problem,” says James Forsyth in The Times. More than 23,500 people have made the journey to Britain by small boat since January, nearly triple the number who came last year. Boris Johnson “feels the politics of this profoundly”, an ally told the paper: it makes a mockery of his pledge to “take back control”. Lockdowns are returning to Europe as Covid surges again. Austria is entering a full national lockdown for up to 20 days and Germany has recorded a record 65,371 daily cases. A self-portrait by Frida Kahlo, Diego and I, has sold at Sotheby’s in New York for a record £25.9m. It’s of her with her artist husband, Diego Rivera. “Now we might say that Diego Rivera is the husband of Frida Kahlo,” a curator told The New York Times, “because she is outshining him.” 

Comment of the day




Gunther VI, the world’s richest dog, is selling a mansion in Miami once owned by Madonna for $31.75m. The mansion – part of a $500m financial empire – comes from a German countess, Karlotta Liebenstein, who died in 1992. Childless, she left all her money to her dog, Gunther III. It has now passed to his descendant, Gunther VI, and is managed by the Gunther Corporation in his name. The German shepherd lives on a diet of steak and caviar, and holidays in the Bahamas.


I intersected briefly with Ghislaine Maxwell at Oxford, says Rachel Johnson in The Spectator. “As a fresher I wandered into Balliol JCR one day in search of its subsidised breakfast granola-and-Nescafé offering and found a shiny glamazon with naughty eyes holding court astride a table, a high-heeled boot resting on my brother Boris’s thigh. She gave me a pitying glance but I did manage to snag an invite to her party in Headington Hill Hall. I have a memory of her father, Bob, coming out in a towelling robe and telling us all to go home.”

Eating in

There’s a three-way tie for this year’s best supermarket mince pies, says Which? magazine. Iceland’s Luxury, Tesco’s Finest and Co-op’s Irresistible ranges all came top in a blind taste test – but Iceland’s are 11p cheaper than the others, costing £1.89 for a pack of six. Aldi’s Specially Selected mince pies were rated the worst. 

Quirks of history

The Anglo-Saxon king Athelstan has beaten Elizabeth I in a Twitter poll to find England’s greatest monarch. “I’m really surprised,” says historian Tom Holland, who co-organised the vote. “It’s like Emma Raducanu going all the way at the US Open.” But Athelstan has a formidable claim as top ruler: he drove the Vikings out of Northumbria and united England’s regions, becoming the first king of England in 927. 

Snapshot answer

It’s Joe Biden, who floored it behind the wheel of an electric Hummer while visiting a car manufacturer in Michigan. Good for him, says Jenny Zhang in Gawker. This is the sort of behaviour “suggestive of a young (at heart), wild, and free 78-year-old taking his car for one last spin before his licence gets taken away due to reckless endangerment”.

On the way back

Mullets, which are all the rage among public schoolboys. The statement haircut popularised by Paul McCartney and David Bowie in the 1970s – short at the front and sides, long at the back – can be traced back to Roman charioteers. Their revival by oily teens from Sevenoaks “is proof that true evil never dies”, says Hannah Moore in The Spectator.


Quoted 19-11

“Life is like riding a bicycle. To keep your balance, you must keep moving.”

Albert Einstein