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25 August

In the headlines

Boris Johnson made a surprise visit to Kyiv yesterday to mark the six-month anniversary of Russia’s invasion. The PM urged Brits to endure the higher energy prices resulting from the war, as “Ukrainians are paying in blood”. British Gas has announced it will donate 10% of its profits to help poorer customers pay their bills. The energy supplier, whose parent company Centrica quintupled its operating profits to £1.3bn in the first half of the year, will offer grants of up to £750. It’s like “when you’re mugged but they let you keep your bus pass”, tweets writer Hannah Rose Woods. An escaped 18ft Burmese python tried to sneak into a house in Hampshire through a first-floor bedroom window, says The Sun. The somewhat alarmed occupants managed to poke the intruding reptile back out with a broom. “The Snake Escape!”

Gone viral

The Queen has gone viral on TikTok, thanks to a 2018 clip of her showing off the Imperial State Crown. “This is what I do when I wear it,” the monarch tells an interviewer, rotating the jewels so that the huge “Black Prince’s Ruby” is in front of her. Her Majesty certainly has everything it takes to become a big TikTok star, says Clare Carusillo in Gawker: she’s “cash poor despite shows of ostentatious wealth”; she has her own line of dog perfume; and her “messy family life” is filled with “lecherous men and wannabe child stars”.

Global update

The car park at Helsinki airport is packed with Porsches, Bentleys and other luxury vehicles, says France24 – almost all with Russian licence plates. It’s because Russian planes are banned from EU airspace, so the country’s well-off tourists are driving to Finland and departing for their holidays from there.


Nasa has released audio captured from a black hole about 250 million light-years away from Earth. The sound, which is generated by hot cosmic gas being whirled around, has been edited so it can be picked up by human ears. The result is suitably ominous: “like hundreds of tortured souls being dragged underneath a lake of fire,” in the words of one Twitter user. “THE UNIVERSE IS MOANING AND NOT IN THE HOT AND SEXY WAY,” observed another. Listen to the spooky sound for yourself here.


The American rapper Doja Cat has been snapped sporting a “statement thong”. It’s basically a slogan from a t-shirt – in this case, “Yes” – reprinted on some tiny pants. “The world is burning,” says Danya Issawi in The Cut, so why not have “your undergarments become part of the outfit”?

Inside politics

I feel for Gordon Brown’s driver, says Rohan Silva in The Times. When I worked for David Cameron, he showed me the “the gouges and gashes” in the front seat headrests of the prime minister’s official car. Apparently Brown used to “violently stab the back of the seat with his pen whenever things went wrong”. And judging by the sorry state of the headrests, things went wrong “pretty often”.


It’s a group of snoozing sperm whales. When the mammals want to sleep, they take a deep breath, dive to 45 feet and slumber vertically. No one is quite sure why, but one theory is that it allows the whales to float near the surface and stay alert to potential predators.


quoted 25.8.22

“Genius is 1% inspiration and 99% perspiration.”

Thomas Edison