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26 July

In the headlines

Alison Rose has resigned as chief executive of NatWest after admitting she leaked private information about Nigel Farage’s finances to the BBC. The former Ukip leader – who says his account was closed by Coutts private bank, a subsidiary of NatWest, because of his political views – called for the whole board to step down. There are now an average of 20 requests to view every property available for rent in Britain, according to Rightmove. That’s around three times as many as in 2019, largely thanks to rising mortgage rates making home ownership less affordable and pushing some landlords to sell up. The remains of a miniature lap dog have been found at what was once the villa of a wealthy Roman family near Oxford. Historians say this proves that, just like us, our ancient ancestors kept petite pups as pets.

On the way out?

One of the highlights at Latitude Festival in Suffolk, which took place last week, is a flock of sheep that have been dyed bright pink. But not, perhaps, for long. The RSPCA and Peta have called the long-standing tradition “ignorant and cruel”, and a petition calling for it to stop has gained nearly 3,000 signatures. Organisers insist the water-based dye isn’t harmful, and that the mammals are “used to dip-dyeing as part of their normal farm life”.


Staying out late is no longer in vogue, says The Wall Street Journal. Across the US, “trendy new restaurants” are closing kitchens as early as 8pm, and matinee cinema screenings are becoming more popular than late-night showings. Even on Fridays, a third of Broadway shows are starting at 7pm, which “would have been unheard of a few years ago”. The shift is apparently down to conscientious young professionals looking to get a full night’s sleep, and remote workers “itching to leave the house as soon as they close their laptops”.

Inside politics

On Monday, Charlotte Owen formally became the youngest-ever life peer in the House of Lords. The 30-year-old, now Baroness Owen of Alderley Edge, was one of three 30-somethings nominated for peerages in Boris Johnson’s controversial resignation honours list. She is 68 years younger than the oldest member, 98-year-old Baron Christopher, the last remaining British parliamentarian to have served in World War Two.

Quirk of History

Twitter, currently being rebranded as X, is hardly the first big company to change its name, tweets business journalist Jon Erlichman. Others include Amazon (originally Cadabra), eBay (Auction Web), Google (BackRub), Instagram (Burbn), Snapchat (Picaboo), Tinder (Matchbox), Nike (Blue Ribbon Sports) and Pepsi (Brad’s Drink). See more examples here.


“The effects of Russia’s war on Ukraine crop up in unlikely spots,” says The Economist. Take Britain’s fields and orchards. In 2021, Ukrainians accounted for two-thirds of the nearly 30,000 visas issued to seasonal fruit-pickers. When the war prevented many from returning, recruiters turned to central Asia. Last year, around 44% of the seasonal worker visas went to people from Kyrgyzstan, Kazakhstan, Tajikistan and Uzbekistan. Two years ago, just 304 Kyrgyzs came to the UK to pick fruit; in 2022, it was 4,341.


It’s the Paris 2024 Olympic torch: a rippled, symmetrical steel beacon created by French designer Mathieu Lehanneur. The 70cm-tall lantern is made entirely from scrap steel, with a matt finish on the top and a shiny, reflective bottom half. It’s the first time the torches used for the Olympics and Paralympics will have exactly the same design, which the artist says speaks “clearly about equality” between the events.



quoted 26.07.23

“A good rule to remember for life is that when it comes to plastic surgery and sushi, never be attracted by a bargain.”

Graham Norton