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2 March

In the headlines

Teachers were looking for an “excuse” not to work during the pandemic, Gavin Williamson told Matt Hancock in WhatsApp messages released by The Daily Telegraph. In late 2020, as the then education secretary was fighting to keep classrooms open, he wrote that teaching unions “really really do just hate work”, while Hancock called them “absolute arses”. NHS patients are to be offered free classes in art, music or gardening, to help them come off prescription drugs. The new programme is a bid to reduce the millions of people taking potentially addictive medications – including antidepressants, sleeping pills and powerful painkillers like codeine – and stave off a US-style opioid crisis. The King is evicting Prince Harry and Meghan from Frogmore Cottage, their five-bedroom home in the grounds of Windsor Castle. The couple have confirmed they have until just after the Coronation to get “Frogxit” done, says The Sun, after which Prince Andrew will be offered the keys.


AI artist Russell Klimas has created a video showing how women’s fashion has changed over the past 100 years (full version here). “So many amazing trends,” comments one Instagram user, and what did we end up with? “Sports leggings.”

Noted has unveiled its 313 new entries for 2023. Among them are “cakeage”, the fee charged by a restaurant for serving a cake brought in from outside; “digital nomad”, a person who works remotely while travelling for leisure; “rage farming”, the tactic of intentionally provoking political opponents, typically by posting inflammatory things on social media; and “hellscape”, a place or time that is “hopeless, unbearable, or irredeemable”. See the full list here.

Inside politics

Why on earth, wonders Jim Waterson in The Guardian, did Matt Hancock ever trust Isabel Oakeshott, the journalist who helped write his book and then handed 100,000 of his WhatsApp messages to the Telegraph? A decade ago, Vicky Pryce was jailed for taking speeding points on behalf of her then husband, Lib Dem MP Chris Huhne, in part because Oakeshott handed over private emails and revealed her identity to the police. It was also Oakeshott who made the largely unsubstantiated claims about David Cameron’s porcine escapades at university – only to admit that her one source for the story might have been “deranged”. Plus, of course, Oakeshott was an ardent opponent of the lockdowns Hancock oversaw. As one political journalist said, “The man needs his head testing.”


New York artist Chris Conrad makes intricate origami structures out of single sheets of paper. Among the most impressive is this dragon slayer created from an uncut 70cm square of “Wenzhou paper” – made from the fibres of a mulberry tree – complete with a face, scales, armour, sword and wings. Each piece requires around 15 hours of careful folding, and it normally takes two or three attempts to find the perfect proportions. “I’ve worked on-and-off for a month or more to get something to work just how I want,” he tells My Modern Met. See more of his work here.


Oprah’s real name isn’t Oprah, says Mental Floss. It’s Orpah. The billionaire broadcaster was named after a woman mentioned in the Bible (Ruth 1:4), but nobody knew how to pronounce it. “On the birth certificate it is Orpah,” she told an interviewer in 1991, “but then it got translated to Oprah, so here we are.”


It’s a Regent’s Park mansion likely to become London’s most expensive house ever sold. The four-acre property is on the market after a massive loan secured by its Saudi Arabian owners expired, putting it into the hands of receivers. Ultra-wealthy buyers are already circling the palatial abode, with agents hoping for a £250m deal – easily eclipsing the previous record of £210m paid by Chinese billionaire Hui Ka Yan for his 45-room Hyde Park digs in 2020.



“We are never so generous as when giving advice.”

French writer François de La Rochefoucauld