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24-25 June

Inside politics

“Tony Blair is not done with Britain”

Britain is “unusually rich in former prime ministers”, says Robert Shrimsley in the FT. Theresa May and Liz Truss are still MPs; David Cameron, “embarrassed by the Greensill saga”, keeps his head down; John Major and Gordon Brown remind us of a time when leaders were “serious people”; and Boris Johnson is, “well, Boris Johnson”. But one “stands above all” in his continued drive and ambition: “Tony Blair is not done with Britain.” His vehicle for influence is the Tony Blair Institute for Global Change, his “ideas factory-cum-consultancy”.

Love etc

Apps like Tinder, says Kat Rosenfield in UnHerd, are “all about finding reasons to write off entire categories of people as undateable”. Maybe they’re too short; maybe they’re, “gulp, a Republican”. But in real life, attraction is a bit more complicated. In a 1990s MTV game show called Singled Out, an eligible bachelor or bachelorette had to narrow down a 50-strong, unseen pool of potential dates via binary choices: “Older or younger? Tall or short? Commitment or nah?” With each selection, the contestants would see all the beautiful people they had rejected for “totally arbitrary reasons” – often leaving them bitterly disappointed. It’s instructive. Despite all our attempts to control our romantic destinies, “human beings have never been good at knowing what – or who – will make them happy”.

The townhouse

This Grade II listed, semi-detached home in Stroud makes up half of a beautiful baroque-style house. It has double-height ceilings and cleverly placed windows to ensure the kitchen and living room are always bathed in light, and upstairs gives views across the Golden Valley. The garden has a west-facing folly for al fresco dining. The train station is a 10-minute walk, with services to London Paddington taking an hour and a half. £1.1m.


quoted 24.6.23

“Never trust people who smile constantly. They’re either selling something or not very bright.”

American writer Laurell K Hamilton

Inside politics

Emmanuel Macron has been accused of “toxic masculinity” after downing a bottle of beer in the Toulouse rugby team’s changing room. In fact, says Stephen Daisley in The Spectator, he’s in good company. Barack Obama was so fond of craft beer that he became the first US president to make his own home brew in the White House. “Angela Merkel was incapable of electioneering without throwing back a stein or two.” There are endless pictures of her “demolishing a Weihenstephaner while outlining her tax reform plans”. But none come close to the late Bob Hawke, a 1980s Australian PM who once downed a yard of beer (about two and a half pints) in 11 seconds. He was so famed for his sculling prowess that when he went to the cricket, punters would swarm him with “great foaming goblets” and cheer “as he put away another ale in record time”.

The country house

This five-bedroom home is in the tranquil village of Lolworth in rural Cambridgeshire. It overlooks rolling countryside and has almost an acre of gardens, complete with a sunken dining terrace. Inside, there’s a large living room, parquet flooring and a cosy wood-burning stove. There’s a direct, nine-mile cycle path to Cambridge city centre. £860,000.


quoted 24.6.23 W

“Some cause happiness wherever they go; others whenever they go.”

Oscar Wilde