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20 March

In the headlines

European banking stocks are down sharply this morning, after the takeover of troubled lender Credit Suisse by its rival UBS failed to ease fears of a wider crisis. Switzerland’s second-largest bank is “by far the biggest global financial institution to surrender its independence” since 2008, says John Authers in Bloomberg. Boris Johnson is publishing a 50-page defence of his conduct in the Partygate scandal this afternoon. The former PM will make what he calls a “compelling” case that he did not mislead parliament, ahead of a four-hour grilling by the Commons Privileges Committee on Wednesday. Food banks will stock venison under a pilot scheme to address both the cost-of-living crisis and deer overpopulation. The Country Food Trust will serve up a million portions of wild venison ragu this year; if it goes down well, the dish will be added to the menu in schools, hospitals and prisons.


The winners of this year’s Mobile Photography Awards include shots of a red stop sign against a yellow wall; sunlight flooding into an enormous cave; a close-up of a bug; and the silhouette of a man in spraying water. See the full list here.


Oxfam has released a new “inclusivity guide” for staff. The charity not only warns against using the words “mother” and “father” – because they are “gendered” terms – but also makes a point of acknowledging that the advice itself is written in English, “the language of a colonising nation”. I’m now consumed with guilt, says Michael Deacon in The Daily Telegraph. All the money I’ve ever spent in Oxfam has been in pounds sterling, “the currency of a colonising nation”. How distressing these donations must have been to the charity’s bosses. I “promise not to make any more”.


Everyone was told the same thing as a kid, says The Atlantic: you lose most of your body heat through your head. But it’s nonsense. The claim originated from a US military study from the 1950s in which people were sent into the cold wearing “neck-high Arctic-survival suits” – so obviously much of the heat they did lose was from their head. In reality, only around 10% of your body heat escapes from your noggin. It’s a good example of how numbers of “dubious origin” can, through endless repetition, “take on the veneer of scientific fact”.


Luxury brooches are this spring’s must-have accessory, says Refinery29. Not the type your granny wears, but rather glitzier offerings by designer brands like Yves Saint Laurent and Jil Sander. Gucci saw a 70% rise in demand for their pins over Christmas; on TikTok, videos tagged #brooch have garnered more than 100 million views. As we enter an era of “minimalism, classic silhouettes and everyday wardrobe essentials”, these sparkly accessories give us “a little bling… as a treat”.


To The Sunday Times:

Gregory Doran’s sniffy view that there is “more truth and compassion in Shakespeare than the Bible” overlooks the impact the latter made on the former. Shakespeare quoted from the Bible more than 1,350 times. Taking a more even-handed approach, Victor Hugo declared: “England has two books, the Bible and Shakespeare. England made Shakespeare, but the Bible made England.”

Andrew Copeman, English teacher, London


It’s a 23-metre-long “narco-submarine” that was found last week bobbing off the Spanish coast. The smuggling submersible, which had the name Poseidon painted on its fibreglass hull, is thought to have carried around three tonnes of Colombian cocaine, worth €100m, on a 4,300-mile voyage across the Atlantic Ocean from Brazil. The gak-packed craft had already been unloaded when police found it, but they discovered food, clothes and blankets on board, and a pair of speedboats abandoned on a beach nearby.


quoted 20-3-23

“When you’re dead, you don’t know you are dead – it’s pain only for others. It’s the same thing when you are stupid.”

Ricky Gervais