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21-22 October

Behind the headlines

The hidden fortress under Gaza

Analysts sometimes speak of “two Gazas”, says David Ignatius in The Washington Post: “the visible one above ground and a vast network of tunnels below”. This honeycomb of underground passages, known as the Gaza “Metro”, will present a formidable challenge if Israel invades the strip. Hamas uses the tunnels to store rockets, artillery, ammunition and other war supplies – and to launch surprise attacks on Israel via passages that stretch under the border wall. Many of the 200-odd hostages taken by the terrorist group will also be hidden underground, along with their guards.

The country house

This Grade II* listed medieval hall sits on six acres of land in a peaceful corner of rural Hertfordshire. The six-bedroom home has a large open hallway and a spacious dining room, while the garden includes a heated summer house and extensive views of the surrounding countryside. Period features have been retained throughout, including exposed beams and timbers, an impressive stone fireplace, and the remains of a moat. Hitchin is a 10-minute drive, with trains to London King’s Cross in 36 minutes. £2m.


Quoted 21-10-23 Russell

“War does not determine who is right, only who is left.”

Bertrand Russell

The great escape

After six years of construction, London’s most expensive hotel suite is finally open, says Claire Wrathall in the FT. The four-bedroom, 16,000 square-foot penthouse at Claridge’s will set you back around £60,000 a night – and when I checked in, a week after Leonardo DiCaprio had passed through, I got a chance to see what you get for your money. The décor, designed by “a specialist in superyacht interiors”, includes a dining table “inset with a disc of malachite”; a giant onyx fireplace; a bathroom with a “lacquered silver-leaf ceiling”; a glass piano pavilion housing a £120,000 Steinway Model B on the terrace; and no fewer than 75 Damien Hirst artworks. The hotel expects the super-luxe suite to be occupied for only 30-40% of the year. “But for the few who are able to stay here, it is a special, if surreal place.” Book here.

The old schoolhouse

This Grade II listed, three-bedroom property is in the chocolate box village of Lower North Wraxall in Wiltshire. Built in 1832 with Cotswold stone, it was recently restored to expose its high ceilings, internal stonework and wooden beams. Original stone-mullioned windows offer bucolic views of the woodland outside. Bath is a 15-minute drive; Chippenham station is five minutes closer and has trains to Paddington in 70 minutes. £850,000.

Love etc

Dating apps these days are filled with a particular “sexual embargo”, says Kate Lister in the I newspaper: many people specify “no Tories” in their bios. But despite being a leftie, I’d never take up the injunction myself – not least because “some of the best sex I ever had” was with a Tory I met on a dating app. “At least, I think he was a Tory.” It wasn’t long after the Brexit referendum, he was a Leave voter, and “we had a very heated argument about the Irish border before ending up in the sack”. We were furious with each other, and the result “was some seriously energetic sex”. Hooking up, it turns out, is a great way of working through political differences. “After your third orgasm, it is hard to care that much about revoking the EU ban on imperial measurements.”


Quoted 20-10-23 Hawking

“The greatest enemy of knowledge is not ignorance; it is the illusion of knowledge.”

Stephen Hawking