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1 June

In the headlines

Boris Johnson’s ethics advisor is threatening to quit over his boss’s response to Partygate. Lord Geidt says there is a “legitimate question” of whether Johnson broke the ministerial code, which is usually a resigning offence. Thirty Tory MPs are publicly calling for a confidence vote in the PM, which rebels believe is “now inevitable”, says The Times. To take advantage of the “chronic backlog” in driving tests, some instructors are bulk-booking test slots and reselling them at a profit. Learners are paying more than £200 for £75 slots. So many men are getting hair transplants that “Britain is unlikely to have any baldies” by 2138, says The Sun. More than half a million men have had a “bonce boost” in the last decade alone. “We shall over comb!”


The end of the world

Apocalypse, not Now

I don’t know about you, says Hugo Rifkind in The Times, but I’m getting “apocalypse fatigue”. Obviously the largest of the “many horsemen thundering towards us” are climate change and nuclear war. But then there are the “smaller ponymen and donkeymen trotting along behind”. Fuel shortages that’ll leave us shivering in the dark this winter. The new monkeypox virus, or some other dire-sounding “zoonotic malady” – goose leprosy, say, or badger piles. “Oh, and the fish are all dying. And the songbirds are all getting eaten by cats. And we’re about to stop having trains.” There are just so many apocalypses to choose from.


New York’s reactionary hipsters

New York’s intelligentsia are increasingly divided “between two warring scenes”, says Nick Burns in The New Statesman. Those in Brooklyn “retain their faith” in progressive, left-wing politics. But over in a “gentrifying area of Chinatown” in downtown Manhattan, something else is brewing: a twenty-something crowd which scorns the sanctimony of the “woke” left in favour of “brash hedonism” and reactionary ideals. Some “toy with converting to Catholicism” or put on “transgressive” film festivals bankrolled by the conservative venture-capitalist Peter Thiel. At one magazine launch, a performer criticised contemporary male sexuality “for being insufficiently dominant” – which was followed by “five full minutes of untranslated Japanese”.


An albino alligator called Luna recently got a relaxing scrub at the North Carolina Aquarium. She enjoyed it so much she even seemed to smile, says India Times.


Tree-hugging boffins in Australia have urged women giving birth not to use nitrous oxide as pain relief in order to save the planet. In a report they note that laughing gas, as it’s also known, represents 7% of global greenhouse gas emissions, and suggest managing labour pains with acupuncture, massage and hypnobirthing.


Sweden has 268,000 islands, more than any other country on earth. Norway comes second with 239,000, and another Scandi country, Finland, is third with 179,000. Despite being vastly bigger, Canada and the US trail behind in fourth and fifth, with 52,500 and 18,600 islands respectively.

Quirk of history

The Queen’s gift for diplomacy sometimes translates into outright espionage, says The Times. She once so charmed the Ugandan dictator Idi Amin that he became loose-lipped, accidentally revealing his plan to invade neighbouring Tanzania. Being fond of Tanzania’s President Julius Nyerere, “the Queen immediately contacted the foreign secretary to relay this intelligence”. “That’s interesting,” her minister replied. “Amin’s just asked us for some more armoured cars.”


It’s Sean Connery’s old 1964 Aston Martin DB5. There’s no ejector seat – the James Bond actor found that the cars used in the films were “weighed down by gadgets” and cumbersome to drive, so he bought an unadulterated model for his own pleasure. His family is selling the car at auction this August, where it’s expected to fetch up to £1.4m.


Quoted 01.06.22

“Behind every great man is a woman rolling her eyes.”

Jim Carrey