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26 October

In the headlines

Rishi Sunak made a series of “largely low-risk Cabinet appointments” yesterday, says Politico, with returns for the likes of Michael Gove and Dominic Raab. Jeremy Hunt, who stayed on as chancellor, has pushed back the release of the government’s economic plan by more than two weeks, to 17 November. The price of staple foods has soared over the past year, according to the Office for National Statistics, with the cheapest pasta now 60% more expensive. Tea is 46% dearer than 12 months ago; bread and chips are up 38%. Britain’s only solar eclipse of the year took place yesterday. The best footage came from the Shetland Islands, where 28% of the sun was obscured by the moon.

Energy crisis

China is helping cut your gas bill

Europe’s “chilly winter” is fast becoming “another Millennium bug”, says Ross Clark in The Spectator – a “much-feared disaster that never transpires”. Just a few weeks after dire warnings of blackouts and energy rationing, wholesale gas prices have “plummeted” to below €100 per megawatt hour. That’s “less than a third of their peak in August”. Why? Consumers are being more careful; energy usage is 7% lower than normal. The mild weather is helping. All this is allowing Europe to stock up on liquified natural gas (LNG). There’s now so little storage space that around 50 LNG ships are “queuing off European coasts”. Importing LNG is less efficient than piping in gas, so prices are still double what they were. But “the winter is not likely to be as chilly as it was feared”.

British politics

Sunak’s strength isn’t competence, it’s moral fibre

“As a British Asian of the same generation, intense feelings overwhelm me when I see Rishi Sunak cross the door into 10 Downing Street,” says Janan Ganesh in the FT. “All that envy and bitterness will pass, though.” People hope he’ll provide a “restoration of competence”, largely because he understands the “folly of unfunded tax cuts”. But Sunak has “crammed a lot of misjudgments into a short career”. His Eat Out to Help Out pandemic scheme incentivised people to dine together when there was no vaccine in sight. And, unlike the Remainer Liz Truss and the opportunist Boris Johnson, he “believed with real fervour that Brexit was a good idea”. So how does he explain all the lost trade and forfeited government income?

On the way back

Cassette tapes are finding new fans “in an era of digital overload”, says Nikkei Asia. The 60-year-old music format offers a notoriously low-quality sound, but a combination of low production costs, nostalgia and limited-edition releases by the likes of Lady Gaga saw UK cassette sales reach 185,000 last year, their highest level since 2003. One US manufacturer is now making 30 million tapes a year.

On the money

The FT’s Alphaville blog has run the numbers on what some investors call the “moron risk premium” – the additional borrowing costs the UK was going to have to pay because the markets thought Liz Truss and her team were “a few sandwiches short of a tea party”. The conclusion: if Britain’s shortest-serving PM had stayed on for five years, it would have cost the country £11.8bn – almost £2.4bn a year, or £6.4m a day.


Taylor Swift released her new album last Friday, on Kim Kardashian’s 42nd birthday. It could be “pure coincidence”, says Bindu Bansinath in The Cut, but given the pair’s vicious long-running feud, I think it’s more likely Taylor deliberately “cursed” her enemy’s special day. And she appears to have succeeded. Kardashian was supposed to fly to Las Vegas via private jet for a fancy dinner and an Usher concert; instead, her plane turned around because of bad weather, and she ended up grabbing cheese fries from fast food chain In-N-Out. The beauty mogul then spent Sunday evening having a three-hour dinner with Ivanka Trump, which “definitely sounds cursed”.


Allow us to introduce our new favourite “microtrend”, says Tatler: “Plazacore”. Named after New York’s opulent Plaza Hotel, the style takes inspiration from the landmark’s “esteemed clientele”. To imbue your wardrobe with “Upper East Side elegance”, opt for tweed twin sets, pastel pinafores and embellished headbands for everyday wear, and more dramatic accessories like opera gloves and pearl jewellery for an evening out. The final, mandatory touch: “a certain rich-bitch attitude”.


When Gary Oldman joined the Harry Potter cast, 16-year-old Tom Felton, who played Draco Malfoy, didn’t initially recognise him. “He just had that look,” writes Felton in a new book. “A scruffy older bloke wearing an old pair of jeans and a T-shirt.” Assuming Oldman (pictured) was a cleaner who had been polishing the floor, Felton squeaked his shoes on the surface, gave a thumbs up and said: “Top work, mate.”


It’s a “cosmic keyhole” 1,350 light-years away, in an image captured by the Hubble Space Telescope. The “reflection nebula”, as it’s more properly known, is made of “detritus” left over from the formation of a new star, says Nasa. It is only visible because of the illumination from the cosmic newborn, “just like fog curling around a street lamp”.


quoted 26.10.22

“It is not a mistake to have strong views. The mistake is to have nothing else.”

American author Anthony Weston