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10 August

In the headlines

The majority of babies in England and Wales are now born out of wedlock, for the first time since records began in 1845. Thanks in part to Covid restrictions on weddings, 51.3% of the nearly 625,000 births last year were to unmarried mothers. Thames Water has announced it will introduce a hosepipe ban for its 15 million customers “in the coming weeks”. The country’s largest water supplier, which covers most of London and large swathes of southern England, is the fourth provider to announce restrictions. Serena Williams is retiring from tennis aged 40. The 23-time grand slam champion tells Vogue she will end her 27-year career after this month’s US Open, so she can spend more time with her daughter Olympia (pictured). “I have never liked the word retirement,” she says. “What I’m up to is evolution.”

US politics

America’s dangerous “deep state” paranoia

If Donald Trump has committed a crime, says Tim Alberta in The Atlantic, he should of course be “subject to the same treatment as any other alleged criminal”. Why, then, did I feel so “nauseous” watching FBI agents raid the former president’s Mar-a-Lago estate? It’s because America is “tracking toward a scale of political violence not seen since the Civil War”. Spend any time with the American right – at gun shows, churches, Trump rallies, wherever – and the “doomsday prophesying is ubiquitous”. These people really, truly believe that the “deep state” is set on sabotaging Trump’s political ambitions. It started with the FBI supposedly letting Hillary Clinton off the hook; then it was the Russia investigation, the two impeachments, the “stolen” election. Many think violence is “unavoidable” – and that the trigger will be Democrats “weaponising agencies of the state”.

UK politics

Don’t bet against the Tories

A fifth term for the Tories would be undeserved, says Janan Ganesh in the FT, but it’s also “underpriced”. First, don’t assume either Liz Truss or Rishi Sunak will lead the Conservatives into the next election. Both could prove incapable of dealing with the crises heading Britain’s way. Second, a recession “need never be fatal” for a right-wing government: questions about how the left will fund their “Jerusalem” become “more potent, not less”, when revenue dries up. The Tories, after all, were re-elected after recessions in 1983 and 1992 but not “amid a boom” in 1997.


This summer, “downright frumpiness is the height of style”, says Linda Wells in Air Mail. Forget the fully-waxed and spray-tanned bodies of Victoria’s Secret models; we’d rather go “Elon Musk pasty”. High heels and swanky jewellery are being swapped out for bucket hats, oversized linen shirts, and pyjamas in the middle of the day. Even designers are getting involved: Chanel has started making “so-called dad sandals”, and the ever-glamorous Manolo Blahnik recently debuted a bejewelled Birkenstock.


The names given to hurricanes are more consequential than you might think, says The New Yorker. A 2014 study covering 62 years of records found that “lady hurricanes caused significantly more deaths than the gentlemen”. This is probably because people see the female storms as less threatening, and thus don’t prepare properly for them. When participants were asked to rank the riskiness of a hurricane based on a map and a description of its future intensity, they consistently thought the men would be worse than the women.


Director Peter Jackson has an extremely high opinion of his Lord of the Rings trilogy. He “seriously” considered being hypnotised to forget he ever made the movies, he tells The Hollywood Reporter’s Awards Chatter podcast, in order to enjoy their greatness as a regular cinemagoer.

Gone viral

This video of an extremely relaxed-looking turtle being scrubbed of algae with a toothbrush has racked up more than 16 million views on Twitter. It’s like “me with my hairdresser”, says one user.

On the money

Business bros are obsessed with The Art of War, the military manual written by Chinese philosopher Sun Tzu around 500BC. Finance podcasters and wannabe Elon Musks rave about it on social media, says Vice, with Sun Tzu’s precepts – “appear weak when you are strong, and strong when you are weak”, for example – being re-interpreted as valuable business advice.


It’s Wiltshire’s Luckington Court, which served as the Bennet family home in the 1995 BBC adaptation of Jane Austen’s Pride and Prejudice. The handsome Grade II listed mansion boasts eight bedrooms and seven bathrooms, and sits in 19 acres of grounds complete with an outdoor riding school and 17th-century dovecote. Austen lovers can snap up the romantic stately home for a cool £6m.


quoted 10.8.22

“Happy endings depend entirely on stopping the story before it’s over.”

Orson Welles