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29 March

In the headlines

Migrants are to be housed on barges, ferries and in former military bases rather than hotels, according to government plans announced today. The idea has been around for a while, says Politico: Rishi Sunak’s suggestion to use cruise ships was “laughed off the table” when he first proposed it in Cabinet in 2020. King Charles is setting off to Germany on his first state visit as monarch, after his planned trip to France was cancelled due to anti-government protests. The two-day tour includes a military parade at Berlin’s Brandenburg Gate and a white-tie dinner this evening, attended by several German princes who are the King’s cousins. Amsterdam has launched an anti-tourism campaign to put off young British men. Lads aged 18 to 35 searching online for stag dos and drinking tours in the city will be shown videos threatening fines and criminal records for rowdy visitors.


Art collective MSCHF has debuted an eccentric follow-up to its viral “Big Red Boots”: a pair of trainers that can be worn forwards or backwards. The wearer has the option of placing a foot in either a white leather base or a chunkier red and speckled-black side. The style is “deeply impractical”, says GQ, but all the “shock, horror and hype” surrounding the brand’s creations means they “sell out literally within minutes”. The £109 sneakers go on sale on 11 April; try your hand at nabbing a pair here.


Everybody knows it’s bad to eat too much “cheap ultra-processed food”, says Henry Dimbleby in his new book Ravenous. But the figures are extraordinary. Today, some 28% of Britons are obese. In 1950, before junk food really took off, it was just 1%.

Global update

Japan’s “famed cherry blossoms” are big business, says the South China Morning Post, generating billions of dollars every year as people flock to see the “ephemeral pink petals”. It means there’s a lot riding on predicting when the blooms occur: in 2007, the national Japan Meteorological Agency had to make a grovelling public apology when its blossom forecast was off by nine days. Today, private companies provide the service instead, employing teams of people to take temperature readings and monitor “specimen trees”. This month, analyst Hiroki Ito managed to predict Tokyo’s first blooms to within one day.

Staying young

After ranking as the world’s happiest country for the sixth year in a row, Finland is offering classes on how to be as cheerful as a Finn. A spokesman for the Masterclass of Happiness project says the country’s “energising forests, charming lakes and vibrant archipelago landscapes” make it especially easy to be joyful there, but that anyone can learn. The four-day intensive class – encompassing expert training on everything from food and health to something called “design and everyday” – will be held at a luxury waterside resort in June. Apply here.


It’s a piece of “origami glass”, says New Scientist, made using a novel technique that allows artists to shape the brittle material in ways that were previously close to impossible. The method involves squishing tiny particles of silica – the main ingredient in glass – into a sheet of a “soft and rubbery” polymer. Researchers fold the sheet into shapes like a feather (above), or a traditional origami crane, and then blast it with heat to melt away the polymer, leaving just the “smooth and fully transparent” glass behind.


quoted 29.3.23

“All horsepower corrupts.”

Patrick Leigh Fermor