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22 July

In the headlines

The BBC has paid £200,000 to a former royal nanny over a fake rumour she had an affair with Prince Charles. Disgraced journalist Martin Bashir is alleged to have used the claim that Tiggy Legge-Bourke became pregnant with Charles’s baby to convince Princess Diana to give her bombshell 1995 Panorama interview. A “critical incident” has been declared at the Port of Dover, says Metro, where holidaymakers are stuck in gridlock. Port bosses say four-hour queues are down to the “woefully inadequate” number of French staff at passport booths, despite UK officials warning months ago to expect a busy first weekend of the summer holiday season. Chewing with your mouth open makes food taste better, says The Sun. Boffins claim messy munching helps gastronomic aromas reach the back of your nose, which enhances the flavour. “Chew what?”

Tory leadership

Tory members aren’t all nutjobs

There’s “nothing especially unusual” about a political party picking a new prime minister, says Philip Cowley in UnHerd. Of the 15 (soon to be 16) PMs since the Second World War, just two were voted both in and out at general elections. But this is only the second time that party members, not just MPs, have directly chosen the country’s leader. There’s a lot of opposition to this system, especially since the mental image most people have of the Conservative grassroots gives the impression that the prime minister is being selected by “an unaccountable, elderly, right-wing cabal”. (Of course, if Labour were in power it would be “an unaccountable, elderly, left-wing cabal”.)

European politics

If Rome falls, what happens to Europe?

Italy is gripped by yet another political crisis, says Henrik Müller in Der Spiegel. Prime Minister Mario Draghi, a technocrat ex-banker, has stepped down after a rebellion from one of his coalition partners, the populist Five Star Movement. Unlike Italy’s many previous crises, this “Roman drama” has huge implications for Europe and the West. The European Central Bank has just begun raising interest rates to help curb inflation. But high interest rates make it more expensive for Italy to pay back its huge government debt – among prosperous major economies it’s the second highest, as a share of GDP, after Japan.

The great escape

It’s easier than you might think to rent out glitzy TV locations by the night. Tenuta di Verzano, which stood in as Marianne’s Italian villa in Normal People, is just £34 per night for a two-bedroom suite. For those with grander ambitions, there’s the 13-bedroom Villa Cetinale near Siena, which hosted the loathsome Roy family for a wedding in the latest series of Succession (£6,688 per night). If you can’t fork out to stay at the actual Les Jolies Eaux in Mustique, there’s Sea Orchid, the Andalusian estate which stood in for it in The Crown (£1,192 per night). And for citybreakers, there’s The Architects’ Flat in Barcelona, home to Jodie Comer in series three of Killing Eve (£307 per night).

Inside politics
Tomorrow’s world

Boom Supersonic, an aviation startup that aims to return Concorde-speed jets to the skies, has unveiled its latest design: the Overture. The plane has gull-like wings for “speed and stability”, says The Independent, and can travel at 2,100 kilometres an hour, enabling time-pressed travellers to get from London to New York in three and a half hours. Boom aims to start flying commercially by 2030, and reckons it can price its London-New York route at a quarter of what Concorde charged back in the 1970s.


JW Anderson takes the crown for the “craziest accessory” of this season, says GQ France: a £650 clutch that looks exactly like a pigeon. The bird, captured in an “almost proud” pose, is perfectly realistic: from the “subtle turquoise and pink hue” on its neck, to its wrinkly red-orange legs. The first batch sold out almost immediately, but fans of the pigeon pouch can sign up to be notified of a restock here.


The mysterious pink aurora was spotted in the night sky over the Australian town of Mildura, after workers at an indoor medical cannabis farm forgot to close the curtains. Special lights are used to encourage the potent plant to grow faster, but normally the eerie glow is shielded by blackout blinds. The precise location of Australia’s first legal weed operation is still technically a secret.


quoted 22.7.22

“Nobody can be exactly like me. Sometimes even I have trouble doing it.”

American actress Tallulah Bankhead