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21 November

In the headlines

Brexiteers are up in arms over reports the government wants to pursue a closer, Swiss-style relationship with the EU, which could include payments to Brussels in exchange for access to the single market. Nigel Farage has called it a “betrayal”, saying: “The Tories must be crushed.” The England and Wales football captains will not wear pro-diversity “OneLove” armbands during their opening World Cup games today, after the threat of yellow cards forced a last-minute climbdown. England play Iran at 1pm, and Wales take on USA at 7pm. Cornwall’s outgoing tourism chief has slated some visitors to the county. Malcolm Bell told a local paper “you have friends, then you have guests, then you have tourists, then you have bloody tourists, then you have f***ing emmets” – a Cornish word for ants used to insult holidaymakers.

World Cup

Putting cash before ethics in Qatar

English footballers used to have “an exemption from the realities of life”, says Will Lloyd in The Times. “Nobody expected them to produce anything but disgraceful tabloid headlines.” But today, every player has a “cause”, be it wearing rainbow laces in support of LGBTQ rights, taking the knee to support Black Lives Matter, or, in Marcus Rashford’s case, haranguing MPs into “excruciating policy U-turns” over free school meals. “This is not politics,” Rashford tweeted at the time, “this is humanity.” It’s a nice line. Just a shame it almost certainly wasn’t his.

Quirk of history

Mary, Queen of Scots may have spent 18 years in confinement, says Tatler, but her living conditions were “anything but meagre”. According to new financial records released by the British Library, the royal prisoner was waited upon by a large household, and had two courses at both lunch and dinner. Each came with a choice of 16 dishes, including veal, partridge and oysters, along with exotic foreign imports like olives and figs. And the meals were “richly scented with spices”: cinnamon, ginger and the Tudor delicacy saffron.


When your cultural icon writes a memoir, you want it to have a “great personality”, says Far Out magazine. And you can often tell a lot from the first sentence. Salvador Dalí’s sums him up perfectly: “At the age of six I wanted to be a cook. At seven I wanted to be Napoleon. And my ambition has been growing steadily ever since.” The comedian Bob Mortimer is more prosaic: “I am 56 years old. My life is trundling along like a podgy golden retriever being dragged along the pavement by an indifferent owner.”

Tomorrow’s world

Google’s artificial intelligence can now generate renditions of natural landscapes with just a single image as a prompt. The tech giant says these “fly-through” videos are a step towards AI being able to generate “complete, photorealistic, and consistent 3D worlds”. See more examples here.


Modern sports science isn’t all it’s cracked up to be, says Wayne Rooney in The Sunday Times. When I broke my foot just before the 2006 World Cup, an “independent specialist” was brought in to decide whether I was fit enough to play. “[He] took me out on the grass, got me to do a bit, and then, when we walked in, just stamped on my foot. I was, ‘What the…?’ He said, ‘How was that?’ ‘Eh, fine.’ He said, ‘Yeah, you’re fit.’”

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It’s Joe Biden’s granddaughter Naomi, 28, and her 25-year old husband Peter Neal, who got married at the White House on Saturday. They are only the 19th couple to tie the knot at the presidential residence, says The Washington Post. Half of America’s population tuned in to watch Richard Nixon’s daughter Tricia get married in 1971. For the 1906 nuptials of Alice Roosevelt, daughter of Theodore, everyday Americans sent the happy couple wedding gifts – including giant turnips.


Quoted 21.11.22

“Love conquers all things except poverty and toothache.”

Mae West