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2 December

In the headlines

Omicron has already become the dominant variant in South Africa, with new infections doubling overnight. But health officials in Botswana, where the Covid variant was first detected, said the majority of cases were “very, very mild”. Don’t be “Christmas killjoys”, the Mail tells ministers, after Work and Pensions Secretary Thérèse Coffey said there “shouldn’t be much snogging under the mistletoe” at office Christmas parties. In a rare example of an international body standing up to China, the Women’s Tennis Association has suspended all tournaments in the country over worries about missing tennis star Peng Shuai. The WTA’s chairman, Steve Simon, said he could not “in good conscience” ask staff and players to travel there. Viewers have mocked a disclaimer on Disney’s new Beatles documentary, Get Back, which warns that the band can be seen smoking. “The most Disney thing ever,” wrote one Twitter user.

Comment of the day


We writers adore a literary feud 

Writers love literary spats, says Julie Burchill in UnHerd. I’ve certainly had my fair share. When I gave Martin Amis a scathing review, he wrote that he felt “a kind of generalised species shame that I belong to the same breed as her”. Flannery O’Connor said Ayn Rand made “Mickey Spillane look like Dostoevsky”; Mary McCarthy accused Lillian Hellman of being so dishonest that “every word she writes is a lie, including ‘and’ and ‘the’”. But Gore Vidal was perhaps “the worst/best”. He hated nearly everyone – especially Truman Capote.




The Mobile Phone Museum has launched an online exhibition that lets visitors browse pages of old phones. The museum was created in 2004 by Ben Wood, who worked in the UK mobile industry and has been collecting phones for 25 years. Thanks to thousands of donations, there are now more than 2,000 handsets on virtual display

On the money

One in five UK homes is heated to 22C or above, which is warmer than Lanzarote, says the price-comparison site Uswitch. And more than a million are heated to 25C – “hotter than Sydney, Australia”. 


Hollywood actors Cary Grant and Clark Gable would meet each Christmas to exchange unwanted monogrammed presents that the other might like. What happened if neither of them was keen? “They were set aside for Crispin Glover,” jokes one Twitter user.


Disney’s streaming service offers every episode of The Simpsons – except in Hong Kong, where viewers hoping to watch the one in which the Simpson family visit China will find it has been scrubbed. In the 2005 episode, Homer describes Mao as “a little angel who killed 50 million people”, and a sign on Tiananmen Square reads: “On this site, in 1989, nothing happened.” 


Quoted 02-12

“If you had to identify, in one word, the reason why the human race has not achieved, and never will achieve, its full potential, that word would be ‘meetings’.”

American writer Dave Barry


Millennials didn’t invent the selfie – Joseph Ducreux was striking silly poses and knocking out selfie-portraits in the 18th century. The French artist was first painter to the queen at the court of Louis XVI, but in his spare time he painted himself pulling funny faces.

Snapshot answer

It’s a Russian “spy rock”. Equipped with a periscope-style camera and microphone, the cunningly disguised surveillance device can be controlled from more than a mile away. It was unveiled on a TV channel owned by the Russian defence ministry and is thought to have been inspired by an MI6 spy rock discovered on the streets of Moscow in 2006.