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23 March

In the headlines

Rishi Sunak’s Brexit deal, the Windsor Framework, passed a House of Commons vote by 515 MPs to 29 yesterday. Boris Johnson, who was busy being grilled over his Partygate conduct, led a failed Tory rebellion against the bill. Amid all this excitement, Sunak released his tax returns. The PM earned almost £5m over the past three years and paid an effective tax rate of only 22% – similar to someone on £40,000 a year – as most of his income came from investments taxed as capital gains. Two teenage sweethearts have finally married 60 years after they first met. Len Allbrighton, 79, proposed to fellow Brit Jeanette Steer, 78, back in 1963, but Steer’s parents didn’t let her move with him to Australia. Decades later, he tracked her down to the Isle of Wight and proposed again – and this time they made it to the altar.


Andoni Bastarrika creates stunningly realistic animal sculptures out of sand, says My Modern Met. The Spanish artist tightly packs the grains to create a blank canvas, then etches on details like fur and wrinkles, before using stone powders to add different shades. He happened upon his talent while building sandcastles with his young daughters on the beach back in 2010. “From that moment, I knew clearly inside that I had to follow this path.” See more of his work here.


Stuck with a long wait for a bus one rainy evening, says Harriet Walker in The Times, I nipped into McDonald’s. “I wasn’t the only one in need of shelter.” It turns out the Golden Arches basically functions as a “warm bank” at night: almost all the tables were occupied by solo customers, most of them “face-down, sleeping under the glare of the strip lights”. What shocked me was how “normalised” this was. There was no trouble; the friendly staff, clearly used to it, “tidied up around the snoozing bodies”. I’d seen this sort of thing in America, where there’s basically no social safety net, but thought we did things differently here. “Not any more.”

Love etc

Rupert Murdoch, now engaged for the fifth time, picked a strong character for his third wife, says the Evening Standard. Wendi Deng’s first words to her future husband, 37 years her senior, were said to be: “Why is your business strategy in China so bad?” The relationship wasn’t smooth sailing – Deng (above) was accused of having an affair with their daughter Grace’s godfather, Tony Blair (which the former PM has always denied). Murdoch was allegedly shown an email in which Deng heaped praise on the Labour leader: “He is so charming and his clothes are so good. He has such a good body and he has really, really good legs.”

Staying young
Tomorrow’s world

Athletes and spectators at the 2024 Paris Olympics may be able to travel from one venue to another by electric air taxi, says The Guardian. Five “vertiports” will be dotted across the city, hopefully enabling pilots to ferry around solo travellers with ease. But it’s by no means a done deal: aviation experts are examining whether the taxis might be vulnerable to the downdraft from passing helicopters.


It’s Romy Mars, daughter of Oscar-winning filmmaker Sophia Coppola and Grammy-winner Thomas Mars. In a chaotic TikTok video that has gone viral, the 16-year-old complains that she has been grounded for trying to charter a helicopter to visit her friend, and admits that her parents banned her from using social media over fears she’d become a “nepotism kid”. She also reveals that she didn’t know the difference between a garlic bulb and an onion, so “had to Google images of onions”. Watch the full video, which was hastily removed from TikTok, here.



“America is a large, friendly dog in a very small room. Every time it wags its tail it knocks over a table.”

Arnold Toynbee