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26 April

In the headlines

Britons must “accept they’re worse off” and stop asking for inflation-busting pay rises, the Bank of England’s chief economist says on a podcast released yesterday. Huw Pill, who is on £190,000 a year, needs to “engage brain before opening mouth”, one top City figure tells the Daily Mail. British soldiers overseeing the evacuation of UK nationals from Sudan are “ready to use force if required”, says the I newspaper. More than 200 people have been flown out of the conflict-hit country so far, with several more flights expected today. Joshua Reynolds’s Portrait of Omai has been jointly bought by the National Portrait Gallery and America’s Getty organisation for £50m. The 18th-century painting (below), which depicts the first Polynesian visitor to England, has been subject to an export ban since 2001 in a bid to get it into public ownership. It will go on display when the gallery reopens in June.


Posh and Becks have “returned to their old twinning habit”, says Vogue. This week, Victoria shared a picture on Instagram that “you’d be forgiven for thinking was posted straight from the ’90s”. She’s in a “Canadian tuxedo” – denim shirt and jeans – and David stands beside her in “basically the exact same outfit”. It’s reminiscent of peak Cool Britannia, when the couple’s red-carpet outings saw them sporting “matching Motocross leather, bleached Diesel denim and white satin Versace”. As Victoria said in her caption, “I thought those days were over”. So did we.


India might have surpassed China’s population, says Pankaj Mishra in Bloomberg, but it’s lagging far behind when it comes to the quality of its bureaucrats. The country doesn’t lack talent: “A handful of educational institutions in India have produced what is arguably the most impressive global intelligentsia of any non-Western country.” But they all tend to go and work abroad. Sundar Pichai is CEO of Google; Satya Nadella leads Microsoft; many other Silicon Valley firms have Indian bosses too. When top economist Raghuram Rajan was tempted home in 2013 to head India’s central bank, he lasted just three years before returning to the US.


Tucker Carlson, the right-wing talk show host fired from Rupert Murdoch’s Fox News on Monday, had quite an elite upbringing for a populist, says John Ganz on Substack. He went to a Swiss boarding school (though he was kicked out); his stepmother is an heiress; and his father’s CV, which includes a stint as ambassador to the Seychelles, is “strongly redolent of the Central Intelligence Agency”. Carlson tried to join the Agency himself but was rejected. “You should consider journalism,” his dad told him. “They’ll take anybody.”

Inside politics

Rishi Sunak was escorted through central London by a North Korean-style motorcade on Sunday. The convoy featured dozens of jogging police officers, apparently there to help him avoid Extinction Rebellion. “So THAT’s where the extra 20,000 police have gone!” quips one Twitter user.


To The Times:

Further to Sir Michael Morpurgo’s warning that “if you start the nitpicking, you never stop”, please let him know that “nit-picking” is hyphenated.

Professor Richard Skinner, University of Houston


It’s Freddie Mercury’s self-proclaimed “exquisite clutter”, which is being auctioned off by one of his oldest friends. Mary Austin was left the Queen star’s Kensington home, Garden Lodge, and its contents when he died in 1991. Having long kept it exactly as he left it, she is now selling a 1,500-item collection, including the guitar he used to record Crazy Little Thing Called Love; the handwritten lyrics to Killer Queen and We Are The Champions; and artworks by Chagall and Matisse. The whole stash is expected to fetch more than £6m.


quoted 16.4.23

“Never have a meeting on a Wednesday, as it ruins both weekends.”

Old saying, quoted by Jeremy Clarkson