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22-23 October

Behind the headlines

A wake-up call for the rest of the world?

What lessons, if any, can be drawn from Liz Truss’s ignominious 44-day premiership? Here’s one, says Jeremy Cliffe in The New Statesman: “Britain is European, not American, at heart.” For decades, British voters have been “indulged in the fantasy” that they can have extensive, European-style public services paid for by American-style low taxes. But whatever Britain’s many “cake-and-eat-it” politicians tell the public, “there is a trade-off”. Trussonomics was an attempt to abandon the European social model and go fully American: small government, low taxes. But Britons, and the markets, weren’t having any of it. Our state is just too big – and with the climate crisis, pandemics, war, and an ageing population, it’s only getting bigger. Truss was right to recognise that Britain has to choose either the American or the European economic path. She just chose the wrong one.

Heroes and villains

The Crown, Boris Becker and Meghan Markle

The Crown, which has made John Major far too sexy for comfort. The former PM is portrayed by Jonny Lee Miller (pictured) in the Netflix drama, says Michael Deacon in The Daily Telegraph. Miller, 49, is “best known for playing the devilishly handsome Sick Boy in Trainspotting”, and once being married to Angelina Jolie. Goodness knows who they’ve cast as Edwina Currie, Major’s one-time mistress. “Scarlett Johansson, perhaps, or Keira Knightley.”

The great escape

As part of Mohammed bin Salman’s effort to turn Saudi Arabia into a tourist hot spot, says The Wall Street Journal, the cash-splashing Crown Prince has commissioned some truly wacky architectural projects. They include an airport fitted with mirrored roofs to look like a desert mirage; “an island shaped like a dolphin, with coral-reef buildings”; and an old oil rig renovated with a Ferris wheel, waterslides, roller coasters and bungee jumping. The power-mad autocrat gets “passionately involved” in the designs, micromanaging details as small as hotel furniture and street lamps.


“Where did it all go wrong?”

The great George Best once predicted “they’ll forget the rubbish when I’ve gone and remember the football”. Thankfully, says Nick Timothy in The Critic, he was dead wrong. Best the off-pitch gambler and boozehound is far more legendary than Best the mercurial winger. He was unpredictable and rarely turned up to training, instead choosing to see a string of supermodel girlfriends. “I used to go missing a lot,” he later quipped. “Miss Canada, Miss United Kingdom, Miss World.”


Why can’t art just be “beautiful and strange”?

Theatre in London has become an “embarrassment”, says Zoe Strimpel in The Spectator. Not because the plays are boring, or badly acted, or any of the other problems that used to spoil productions, but because theatre-makers are now obsessed with “identity politics”. Who Killed My Father at the Young Vic culminates in a “predictable rant” about political injustice. The Globe’s take on Joan of Arc opens with a bizarre prologue stating Joan was a “them” and “trans”. The other side are just as dull: Eureka Day, hailed as a “strike against wokeness”, tackled the riveting topic of Covid vaccines. Creativity, grossness, hilarity – the stuff that used to “delight and provoke” – have been replaced by “one mean axis: right or wrong”.

Eating in

Fancy Italian cooks love looking down on the rest of us, says James McConnachie in The Sunday Times, but many of their finicky food myths “turn out to be a load of testicoli”. Rather than serving pasta al dente, traditional cooking times ranged from 15 minutes to a “mush-inducing hour”. As for the “great solecism” – adding cream to carbonara – Italian chefs used to do it routinely; in the 1980s, according to one food historian, many recommended almost equal parts cream and spaghetti. And while many fussy cooks maintain chicken and pasta should “never, ever be partnered”, the white meat was an integral ingredient to tortellini as late as the 1970s.


High society has an unlikely but “incurable addiction”, says Helen Kirwan-Taylor in Tatler: fishing. Top-tier anglers are in the Houghton Club, which comprises just 25 mostly aristocratic members, including King Charles. Lesser celebrity fishing fans, such as Emma Watson, David Beckham and Prue Leith, make do with exotic fishing holidays in the likes of Iceland, Cuba and Tahiti. One guru hosts training camps in the Seychelles, with guests splashing out a cool £12,500 to learn to catch trevally, a type of huge, bird-eating fish. Ethically minded celebs are taking to the sport because, unlike shooting, it’s not a “matter of life and death”. Most now practise the “catch-and-release” method: reeling in a huge fish, posing for a quick photograph to show off on Instagram, then returning it to the water unharmed.


quote 22.10.22

“The nice thing about being a celebrity is that when you bore people, they think it’s their fault.”

Henry Kissinger


The Tories have squandered Brexit

“The odds of the UK ever getting Brexit done are now approaching zero,” says Wolfgang Münchau in EuroIntelligence. For leaving the EU to be worth it, Britain would have needed “a strategy based on innovation”, with regulations around data protection, financial services and technology torn up and rewritten. But “distracted by a pandemic and a war, the Tories ended up squandering their mandate”. Boris Johnson didn’t pay much attention to the issue, “because he was Boris”, and Liz Truss self-immolated before she’d had a chance.


China’s mediocre Mao

Chinese President Xi Jinping really isn’t as “competent of a helmsman as he’s made out to be”, says Noah Smith in his Substack newsletter. Economic growth, already slowing before the pandemic, has now “basically halted”, in large part because of Xi’s “stubborn insistence” on Zero Covid. China’s reputation abroad has been torn apart by his aggressive “wolf warrior” diplomacy, the crackdown on Hong Kong and the concentration camps in Xinjiang. And his nationalised industrial policy has prompted the US and others to “switch from engagement to outright economic warfare”.

Eating out

I know there are more important things going on, says Judith Woods in The Daily Telegraph, but how on earth has Rugby Services just been voted Britain’s best motorway service station? Everyone knows that Tebay, 190 miles further up the M6, is the gold standard: it has an “actual duck pond”, the butcher’s that supplied the Queen’s coronation, and a farm shop “stocked by a former Harrods buyer”. Tebay is a throwback to the 1960s and 1970s, when service stations were “ritzy destinations”. Washington Birtley in County Durham boasted vending machines with microwavable duckling à l’orange; Trowell, in Nottinghamshire, had a Robin Hood-themed restaurant “decked out as a medieval banqueting hall”. Jimi Hendrix heard so much about the “amazing” Blue Boar at Watford Gap that he assumed it was a “crazy London nightclub”


It’s not just us “plebs” who are supposed to curtsy when we meet royals, says Sophia Money-Coutts in The Daily Telegraph: the royal women are expected to bow and curtsy to each other – even in private. The rules for who curtsies to whom are mostly based on their “position in the pecking order”. So Kate is expected to bend the knee to “blood” princesses, such as Anne, Beatrice and Eugenie. But if William is in the room then his presence “catapults her above” Beatrice and Eugenie, who have to bob to her. As for Meghan, she technically has to curtsy to pretty much everyone, including Kate, because William is more senior than Harry. You can see why she “might have found royal gatherings a bit much”.



This newly renovated apartment lies on bustling Chamberlayne Road in Kensal Rise, northwest London. Decorated in sleek, monochromatic tones, it has an open-plan kitchen-diner, two decent-sized bedrooms, and sash windows flooding the living area with light. The street has an excellent selection of cafes and restaurants, an independent cinema and one of London’s finest florists. Overground services run from Kensal Rise station, a three-minute walk away. £525,000.


This Grade II listed cottage is tucked away in North Ferriby, a charming village near Hull. It retains several period features: original exposed beams, Georgian panelling, parquet floorboards and a beautiful horseshoe fireplace. The private garden is an ardent oasis, which has been partly re-wilded to attract birds and butterflies. Ferriby station is a three-minute walk away, offering direct services to major cities. £325,000.



quoted 23.10.22

“It takes a lot of time to be a genius. You have to sit around so much doing nothing.”

Gertrude Stein