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24 May

In the headlines

“How did he get away with this?” asks the Daily Mirror, after leaked photos showed Boris Johnson drinking with aides around a table “laden with booze” on a day he denied a party ever took place. Mayor of London Sadiq Khan has asked Scotland Yard to explain why the images didn’t lead to a fine. Relief may finally be at hand for chronic migraine sufferers, says The Times. In a trial in the US, a local anaesthetic called lidocaine provided immediate pain relief to nine out of ten patients. It’s “raining raw meat” in the Chilterns, says The Daily Telegraph. Residents have been asked to stop feeding red kites, after complaints that the birds were dropping food on to “unsuspecting heads” below.


No one cares about Piers Morgan

Only a few weeks after its launch, TalkTV is struggling, says John Harris in The Guardian. Despite Rupert Murdoch’s millions and the “supposedly magnetic presence” of star anchor Piers Morgan, the new TV channel has at times been broadcasting to zero viewers. GB News, a similar outfit launched last summer, is only doing marginally better. Both channels were set up to ape the success of Fox News and other blowhard broadcasters in the US. Rather than stuffy news, they’re all about “talk”: uncensored, anti-woke, and the rest. Their presenters don’t try to make sense of the news – they “quickly take a position and sound off about it”, hoping to generate headlines of their own in the process.


Why we should care about Australia

e Süddeutsche Zeitung. But we need to pay attention to it. On two of the biggest issues facing the world right now – climate change and the rise of China – Australia is the West’s “canary in the coal mine”. Its sensitive ecosystem, which ranges from deserts to rainforests to coral reefs, was ravaged by devastating bushfires during the “black summer” of 2019 to 2020. Australia is also “plagued” by its conflicting relationship with China – the two countries are economic partners but are also fighting a war of influence in the South Pacific.


Spot the difference: one of the images above is a courtroom sketch of Wayne Rooney from last week’s Wagatha Christie trial; the other is Rembrandt’s Small Bust of Bearded Man Looking Down, with Eyes Nearly Closed (1631).

Quirk of history

Aptronyms are names uniquely suited to their owner’s profession, says the Secretum Secretorum newsletter. Some choice examples: Mark De Man, a Belgian football defender; William Headline, CNN’s Washington bureau chief; Sue Yoo, a prominent US attorney; and Philander Rodman, who fathered 29 children (including basketball star Dennis Rodman) by 16 mothers. And then there are the inaptronyms: Rob Banks, a British police officer; Don Black, a prominent white supremacist, and Robin Mahfood, president and CEO of the Food for the Poor charity.

Staying young

Birkenstock, maker of comfy cork-soled sandals, has branched out into skincare products made from – what else – cork extract. The German footwear company claims its Anti-Stress Serum (£120 for 100ml) has a “long-lasting nourishing and regenerating effect on the skin”. I duly slathered myself with the “cork juice”, says Claire Carusillo in Gawker, and gleamed like a freshly waxed clog.

Gone viral

Swiss-French pastry chef Amaury Guichon has constructed everything from tea sets to giraffes out of chocolate and other sweet goodies. This chocolate cello has racked up 12.5 million views on TikTok.


Marlon Brando had a peculiar obsession with early online chat rooms, says Far Out Magazine. The Oscar-winning actor enjoyed exchanging views with all sorts of people on AOL forums, thrilled he could speak his mind without anyone knowing who he was. He was frequently banned, however, for telling random people to “f*** off” during heated political arguments. It’s probably “something of a relief” Brando died in 2004 – before he could get a Twitter account.


It’s on the flight path into Gatwick airport, about 90 seconds from landing – which, as you’d expect, has put many travellers into a state of panic. YouTube prankster Max Fosh erected the 60-metre-long sign after knocking on doors in the area to find the perfect patch of land. He has permission for it to stay up for six weeks.


quoted 24.5

“If management consultants had drafted the Sermon on the Mount, there would be no Christians anywhere.”

Historian Peter Hennessy