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28 September

In the headlines

The Bank of England has warned there is a “material risk to UK financial stability”. The central bank says it will step in and buy government bonds in a bid to calm the markets, which were roiled by the announcement of the government’s tax-cutting package on Friday. Russia has been accused of sabotaging its two main gas pipelines to Germany in a bid to destabilise Europe. Nord Stream 1 and 2 underwent dramatic falls in pressure after two explosions in the Baltic Sea on Monday. While most European leaders have stopped short of naming a culprit, Poland and Ukraine say the Kremlin is responsible. US spy chiefs have fallen victim to an “insider prank”, says The Times. A new logo on a government website pictured a flying saucer as one of the country’s “top aerial threats”, alongside hypersonic jets and Iranian drones. The UFO has since disappeared.


What is Kwarteng really up to?

It is no overstatement to say that financial markets have delivered a “devastating judgement” on Kwasi Kwarteng’s tax-cutting mini-Budget, says Adam Tooze in The Guardian. The pound has collapsed to “historic lows”, and investors have sold off UK government debt, driving the price of bonds down and the effective interest rate up at a pace “not seen since the currency crises of the 1950s”. It’s hard not to read this as a “comprehensive loss of confidence” in the pound and UK assets.


Britain’s sentimental streak

It’s impossible to imagine the Queen “moaning about a leaking pen”, as Charles III did recently, says Tomiwa Owolade in The New Statesman. But it’s telling that so many people reacted with sympathy to the King’s mishap. It’s a reminder that, “in terms of culture and character”, Britons have a strong emotional streak. “We love melodrama and the tabloid press.” Charles Dickens dreamt up “effervescent characters” and read out his novels in public “with the verve of a matinée idol”. Georgian Britain, out of which came the industrial revolution and Empire, was full of political and religious riots. “Winston Churchill cried often and many of his speeches were mawkish.” One of the most iconic images of English football is of Paul Gascoigne bursting into tears after being booked during the 1990 World Cup semi-final.


You might think professional sprinters are only penalised for a false start if they set off before the starting pistol, says Vox. Not so. They can also be disqualified for moving less than 0.1 seconds after the gun is fired. This “peculiar rule” is based on the assumption that athletes cannot possibly react that fast, meaning they must have set off before hearing the shot. Three athletes were disqualified for this at the World Athletics Championships in July; American hurdler Devon Allen (pictured, right) started “just one thousandth of a second too quickly”.



New Yorkers are embracing early dinners, says The New York Times. It used to be that restaurants didn’t fill up before 8pm, or even later. Today, by 6.30pm, every table is full. The “twilight dinner” is partly a by-product of Covid: staffing issues mean establishments close earlier, and diners who work from home want to eat early to “assert that the day has come to some kind of conclusion”. As one maitre d’ says, people now dress up, go out early, come home, watch TV and get in bed by 11pm. “The pandemic pushed us all into early retirement.”



“Translation is not an easy task,” says Far Out magazine. But some of those responsible for choosing movie names when they appear in foreign countries could try a little harder. Why, for example, is The Full Monty known in China as Six Naked Pigs? And is it a spoiler that in Mexico, Thelma & Louise is called An Unexpected Ending, or that The Shawshank Redemption is known in France as The Escapees? It’s certainly a bit of a giveaway that in China The Sixth Sense is called He’s a Ghost.


Eating in

Ever since Starbucks began selling pumpkin spice lattes in the US in 2003, says Aimee Levitt in The Guardian, it has become clear “there’s nothing that can’t be pumpkined”. You can get pumpkin spice cereal, granola bars, hot chocolate, baby food, beer, ramen, and Spam. There is even pumpkin spice deodorant and pumpkin spice dog shampoo. Yet despite Starbucks offering its autumnal coffee flavour in no fewer than 82 countries, the obsession remains limited to North America. “Scandinavians have hygge; Americans have pumpkin spice.”


On the money

According to Bloomberg, UK markets have lost “at least $500bn” since Liz Truss took over as PM. It rather puts everyone else’s “bad first two weeks in a new job” into perspective, says writer Caitlin Moran on Twitter. Even that intern at Tatler who “accidentally decapitated” the office dachshund in some revolving doors.



More than £2,500, probably. Corgis have been in high demand since the Queen’s funeral: Pets4Home says it is experiencing 10 times more searches than usual for the late monarch’s favourite breed, with average asking prices doubling in three days. The royal corgis were treated exceptionally well, according to Brian Hoey’s book Pets by Royal Appointment. The Queen “personally supervised” their daily supper of fillet steak and chicken breast, pouring the gravy over the meal herself.



quoted 28-09-22

“Those are my principles, and if you don’t like them… well, I have others.”

Groucho Marx