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20 April

In the headlines

Wimbledon will ban Russian and Belarusian tennis players from this year’s tournament, says The New York Times. That means barring five of the top 30 female players, and four top-ranked men, including world number two Daniil Medvedev. Owners of self-driving cars will soon be allowed to watch TV and check their emails while they’re stuck in traffic, says the Daily Mail. The Highway Code is being updated to prepare for when cars with “automatic lane-keeping systems” are allowed on to British roads later this year. Liam Gallagher says he has arthritis, telling the Sun his hips are “f***ed”. But the 49-year-old Oasis singer won’t be having a hip operation, because he can’t bear the “stigma” of a procedure normally reserved for pensioners. “I think I’d rather just be in pain.”



“Money for Nothing”: the West in Africa

A little over 20 years ago, says Rod Liddle in The Sunday Times, I spent an “interminable journey” in the back of an expensive 4×4, being driven across Uganda with Boris Johnson. On one leg of the trip, up towards the then Sudanese border, “where various bands of psychopathic maniacs were murdering one another”, Johnson spent the entire time singing to himself the Dire Straits song Money for Nothing. Perhaps it was a “subconscious comment” on the hopeless state of British aid spending in its former colonies. As we learned yet again from African countries’ failure to condemn Russia’s invasion of Ukraine in a UN vote, the more aid we send to Africa, “the more it hates us”.


France’s “phantom” election

“France does not feel like it is entering a season of political turbulence,” says François Valentin in UnHerd. In fact, it barely feels like it’s going through an election at all. As first-round results rolled in on April 10, Paris’s Trocadéro Square was occupied not by “enthusiastic political activists” but by “tired partygoers” and the odd “trampled campaign flier”. Marine Le Pen’s strong showing so far has sparked alarmist headlines across the West, but it “did not worry the locals”. France’s most popular TV channel ran a comedy film, Les Visiteurs, just two hours after official results were announced, “the earliest the channel had ever cut away from its election debrief”.


With Russian airspace now a no-go for European planes, airlines are having to revive Cold War-era routes for flights to Asia. Travelling from Europe to cities like Seoul, Tokyo, and Beijing now involves flying over the North Pole or swinging far to the south to get around Russia. It’s bad news for Finnish airline Finnair, says Politico. A flight from Helsinki to Seoul now takes three and a half hours longer, and the company is scrapping flights to Beijing altogether.

Gone viral

Photographs of Kim Kardashian’s palatial pantry are causing a stir online. The 41-year-old reality star organises rows and rows of snacks, by brand, into identical glass jars and beige drawers. “There comes a time when we must admit that celebrities are just better than us normal people,” says Olivia Truffaut-Wong in The Cut. Kardashian’s larder looks like a fancy supermarket – “and I am not ashamed to admit that I would absolutely shop there”.


It’s Charles Dickens’s holiday home near Regent’s Park, which has gone on the market for a cool £22.5m. The author lived in the eight-bedroom pad for the summer social season in 1861, says The Daily Telegraph. The layout remains largely unchanged, though Dickens “would perhaps not have been too familiar with the gym equipment that now lives in the separate mews property”.


“I am no fashion expert,” says Claire Carusillo in Gawker. But “sleeves aren’t normal anymore”. Trawling fashion brands – high and low – it seems like every women’s shirt being sold has mad, enormous, puffy sleeves. Some people call it “Regency core”. I call it nonsense. “Sleeves shouldn’t be airy and diaphanous, they should be unassuming, slightly snug, and played close to the armpit.” Enough of the showing off. “It is time to make sleeves normal again.”


A house in Fairfax, Virginia has sold for $800,000, boasting five bedrooms, four bathrooms and at least one unspecified person living in the basement. The listing, which mentioned “a person(s) living in lower level with no lease in place”, didn’t put off multiple bidders, says Insider. The mystery lodger(s) might even have been an asset: the average house price in the area is only $715,000.


London is the most religious and socially conservative city in Britain: 24% of Londoners think sex before marriage is wrong, compared to 13% of the UK . The capital is also the most homophobic city in the country: 29% of people in London think homosexuality is sometimes wrong, while 23% outside London think this.


quoted 20.4

“Patriotism is your conviction that this country is superior to all others because you were born in it.”

George Bernard Shaw