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19 October

In the headlines

There were 49,156 Covid cases in the UK yesterday, but “I’m actually more worried about influenza”, says Professor Paul Hunter on Newsnight. Because of lockdown, the UK hasn’t seen any flu cases for 18 months – and “the longer you wait between cases of influenza, the worse the illness”. The government is offering £5,000 grants to replace gas boilers with low-carbon heat pumps. Gas boilers should be gone by 2035, but Boris Johnson tells Sun readers: “The Greenshirts of the Boiler Police are not going to kick in your door with their sandal-clad feet and seize, at carrot-point, your trusty old combi.” Southend will be made a city to honour Sir David Amess. The murdered MP ended every speech, no matter what the topic, with: “And that’s why Southend should become a city!” 

Comment of the day



On the money

London’s Frieze art fair finished on Sunday – and showed no evidence of an economic downturn, says the Evening Standard. Sales at one auction alone totalled more than £64m. “Even the coffee market seemed to be thriving – one visitor reported paying £7 for a flat white.” 


After English and Welsh, Polish is the most common language in England and Wales – 1% of the population report it as their main tongue, says the I newspaper. That’s more than three times as many as speak French.  

Love etc

The eldest Kardashian sister, Kourtney, 42, has got engaged to Blink-182 drummer Travis Barker in suitably showy fashion, says Olivia Craighead in Gawker. Barker, 45, proposed on the beach in Montecito, California, while surrounded by “approximately one million” red roses (“which I’m sure were a real hassle to clean up”), with a $1m engagement ring “similar in size to the iceberg that sunk the Titanic”.  

On the way out

Nigels – no babies were recorded as being named Nigel in 2020, according to the Office for National Statistics. Fine by me, says Nigel Farndale in The Times. What were my parents thinking? “Who looks at a baby boy and thinks, ‘Yes, he’s definitely a Nigel. Baby Nigel’?” The only person who has “truly owned” the name is former Chancellor Nigel Lawson, who even called his daughter Nigella.


Quoted 19-10

“Luck is the best superpower.”

Elon Musk on Twitter

Snapshot answer

It’s a meteorite that landed in the bed of a woman from British Columbia earlier this month. The 2lb 13oz rock left a hole in the ceiling of Ruth Hamilton’s bedroom – the 66-year-old Canadian told Victoria News that she heard “an explosion”, then called the police. Professor Peter Brown of the University of Western Ontario says it probably came from an asteroid.