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29 December

In the headlines

Britain has “no current plans” to copy America and reduce the Covid isolation period to five days, disabilities minister Chloe Smith tells BBC Breakfast. But “the NHS faces meltdown” with our seven-day policy, says the Daily Mail: doctors have warned that 40% of NHS staff in London could end up isolating at the same time. Rising tax and energy bills will make 2022 the “year of the squeeze”, says the Resolution Foundation think tank. Families will face a £1,200-a-year income hit from April, when the cap on energy prices is due to be reviewed. A woman from Greater Manchester has complained to her butcher that her turkey was “very, very pink” after being cooked, says the Daily Star. She later realised she had accidentally bought gammon. 


The great escape

Designed by Renaissance starchitect Filippo Brunelleschi, the St Regis hotel is a 15th-century palazzo overlooking the River Arno, with frescoes and crystal chandeliers in its 99 opulent rooms and suites. Butlers will unpack your suitcase, the concierge can help you skip the queues for the city’s key attractions, and every night a waiter opens a bottle of champagne with a sabre. No wonder Madonna and Keith Richards are fans. Doubles from £500 a night.

Staying young

TikTok initiated some weird beauty trends in 2021, says CNN. Hot pink “nose blush” was all the rage, as were Korean-style puffy eyebags. Influencers spread lube on their face as a make-up primer and washed their hair in old rice water to make it grow faster. Snail facials also went viral, with TikTokers letting snails inch across their faces in the pursuit of glowing skin.


The most viewed English-language Wikipedia pages for each day of this year are a catalogue of notable deaths, TV shows and sporting events, says Amanda Shendruk in Quartz. Squid Game held the top spot for two weeks in a row in late September and early October. The Suez Canal was top for five days in March, when it was blocked by the Ever Given container ship. The page with the most visits in a single day was Prince Philip’s, which was viewed 3.87 million times on 9 April, the day he died at the age of 99. The most popular page on 26 June? Matt Hancock’s – it was the day he resigned as Health Secretary.



Internet psychics had mixed fortunes when guessing what would happen in 2021, says The Spectator. Craig Hamilton-Parker accurately predicted that “Britain will have a jobs crisis. The hoped-for re-employment of labour will not happen.” Others were further from the mark. “Scotland breaks away from the United Kingdom to become an independent state,” forecast Judy Hevenly, while Nikki, “psychic to the stars”, predicted the “collapse of the pyramids in Egypt” and told us woodpeckers would “become extinct”. Good job none of them works for former Sun editor Kelvin MacKenzie. He once fired the paper’s astrologer with a memo beginning: “As you will no doubt have foreseen…”


Quoted 29-12

“The real problem of humanity is the following: we have Palaeolithic emotions, medieval institutions and godlike technology.”

Biologist E.O. Wilson, who died on Boxing Day aged 92

On the money

The most expensive artwork sold at auction this year was Picasso’s 1932 portrait Woman Sitting Near a Window (Marie-Thérèse), which went for $103.4m. Jean-Michel Basquiat’s In This Case (1983) fetched $93.1m and Botticelli’s Portrait of a Young Man Holding a Roundel (circa 1475) sold for $92.2m. In total, that’s $82.5m more than the three most expensive pieces from 2020.