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25-26 June

Heroes and villains

Miss France | British Airways | Spain

Organisers of the Miss France competition, who have changed the entry requirements to allow Victoire Rousselot, a 27-year-old married mother, to compete in the Miss Alsace regional heat. Until now, wives, mums and the over-24s have been barred from entering. Aspiring beauty queens will still have to meet the height requirements of 5ft 7in, and aren’t allowed to change hairstyle, show any tattoos or piercings, or gain weight during the competition.


quoted 25.6.22 Stevenson

“If your morals make you dreary, depend upon it, they are wrong.”

Robert Louis Stevenson


The art of a good rejection letter

Ernest Hemingway used to “mutilate” his rejection slips from publishing houses, says Rosemary Jenkinson in The Critic, “and no wonder”. There’s nothing more brutal than a publisher “armed with a power complex, a sense of literary inferiority and a ready wit”. When Hemingway submitted The Sun Also Rises to Peacock & Peacock, editor-in-chief Moberley Luger responded with an “intensely personal missive” on the novel’s shortcomings. “You really are a man’s man, aren’t you?” she wrote. “I wouldn’t be surprised to hear that you had penned this entire story locked up at the club, ink in one hand, brandy in the other.” Of the novel’s hero, Luger declared: “I doubt he’d have the energy to turn the page to find out what happened to himself.”


For today’s publishers, “any old deadbeat” will do

After more than 20 years of writing weekly book reviews, says Craig Brown in The Mail on Sunday, I’m finally hanging up my pen. What have I learnt? First, that “publishing is as prone to the tides of fashion as anything else”. The 1980s was all about exotic travel writing; today the vogue is for nature books by “nervy writers who keep bursting into tears at the sight of a butterfly”. Memoirs used to be mainly the preserve of “old generals”; now pop stars are so in demand that “any old deadbeat” will do. Currently on sale is one by Depeche Mode’s Dave Gahan, “named 73rd greatest singer in the world by Q magazine in 2012”.


quoted 25.06.22 Wharton

“If only we’d stop trying to be happy we could have a pretty good time.”

Edith Wharton

Quirk of history

On 8 June 1708, somewhere off the Colombian coast, British forces sunk a Spanish galleon called the San José. It was carrying coins, emeralds and other treasures worth an astonishing $20bn today. The so-called “mother of all shipwrecks” was found by the Colombian government in 2015, says Joshua Keating in Grid magazine. But they’re not the only ones staking a claim. The Spanish say it’s theirs because the San José was a “ship of state” under international law. The Qhara Qhara, a Bolivian indigenous group, say the treasure was stolen from their ancestors. And an American salvage company claims it actually found the wreck decades ago. Which side will win? It depends whose lawyer you ask. But for now, the ship remains where it’s been for 300 years: undisturbed on the ocean floor, its exact location a “closely guarded state secret”.

Inside politics

Boris Johnson has a strange habit, says Jane Merrick in the I newspaper: whenever he gets into political trouble, he has a chat with his good friend Volodymyr Zelensky. Last Wednesday, “less than an hour” after the PM’s ethics advisor quit, Downing Street published details of his latest call with the Ukrainian president. It was the same on 6 June after it emerged that he was facing a no-confidence vote. And on 12 April, when Johnson was fined by police over Partygate. Further back, calls were announced shortly after a bruising spring statement, after the first Partygate fines for Downing Street staff, and after Tory MPs were caught in (separate) sex and porn scandals. It’s “probably just coincidence”, of course. Probably.

Great escape

Now summer is finally under way, “we’re dreaming of taking a dip in one of these incredible hotel pools”, says The Times. Put one – or all – of them on your holiday wish list. See the full list here.


The island

A couple of million quid might get you a two-bedroom flat in Chelsea, says Country Life. In Scotland, it gets you an island. The 757-acre Isle of Vaila is a 10-minute boat ride from the Shetland mainland, and boasts 6.5 miles of coastline, a six-bedroom house, several outhouses and two piers. After John Betjeman came to visit, he said he could “think of few nicer places in the world”. £1.75m.

The townhouse

You might recognise this five-bedroom Victorian home from Richard Curtis’s About Time – it was used as one of the locations. Set over three storeys, it has front and back gardens, a sunny roof terrace and a conservatory. Queen’s Park station is a five-minute walk. £3m.