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21 September

In the headlines

The Bank of England has kept interest rates at 5.25%, says the FT, “as evidence grows that inflation is slowing”. It’s the first time the Bank hasn’t raised borrowing costs in its regular announcements since the end of 2021. India has suspended visas for Canadians, after Ottawa linked the murder of a Sikh separatist on Canadian soil to the Indian government. The two countries have also expelled some of each other’s diplomats, while New Delhi has warned citizens of “growing anti-India activities and politically-condoned hate crimes” in Canada. The King addressed France’s senate this morning as part of his three-day state visit. He spoke, partly in fluent French, of the “rich and complex tapestry” of Franco-British relations, and the “golden thread” of his mother’s relationship with France. It follows a formal banquet last night, where guests including Mick Jagger and Hugh Grant dined on blue lobster and 30-month-old Comté cheese.


The Minimalist Photography Awards are all about “stripping away distractions” and “allowing visual stories to emerge from the interplay of light, shadow, and subject”, says competition president Milad Safabakhsh. For 2023, photographer of the year went to Martin Annand, for his long-exposure work focusing on the British coast. See the winners of individual categories here.

Inside politics

“The class war is over,” said Tony Blair in 1999, echoing a similar statement by his deputy PM, John Prescott, in 1997: “We are all middle class now.” Well, no longer, says The New Statesman. According to the latest British Social Attitudes Survey, the proportion of people who say they are working class has risen by an astonishing 23 percentage points since 2015, despite that fact that more Brits than ever go to university and do white-collar work. Some 46% of the total claim working-class status, while only 29% admit to being middle class.


The English-language section of French bookshops used to be reserved for “tourists in need of a holiday read”, says Le Monde. But today they have become thriving hubs of activity, with groups of teenagers flocking to them in search of hot new titles. It’s all because of TikTok, or more specifically #BookTok, the corner of the social media site dedicated to reading recommendations. Impatient Gen Zs don’t want to wait for the French translation of the latest must-read, so they’re buying the English original and muddling through.

Nice work if you can get it

Melvyn Bragg, who has recorded 1,000 episodes of In Our Time, is a “passionate supporter of the BBC”, says Ben Dowell in The Times. But he’s not sure about its pay structure. “I get about the same audience as Gary Lineker” on Match of the Day, he says – about two million or so. Yet Lineker, who earned £1.35m last year, “is paid 27 times more than I am.”


Leonardo DiCaprio has found a canny way to cross London incognito, says The Sun: “diplomatic immunity”. The A-lister has apparently been zipping around town in a bright blue £80,000 Range Rover with blacked-out windows, which belongs to a diplomat at the London embassy of the Ivory Coast. As the vehicle is equipped with diplomatic plates, police simply ignore the odd bit of speeding or jumping a red light. Alright for some.


It’s the performance artist Marina Abramović’s Imponderabilia, which opens at the Royal Academy of Arts on Saturday as part of a retrospective of her 50-year career. Visitors must squeeze between two nude performers to gain entry to the rest of the exhibition, which forces a “confrontation between nakedness, and the gender, the sexuality, the desire”, says Andrea Tarsia, the RA’s head of exhibitions. There will also be a normal entrance for the prudish.


quoted 21.9.23

“By the time a man realises that his father was right, he has a son who thinks he’s wrong.”

American clergyman Charles Wadsworth