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29 October

In the headlines

The French ambassador has been hauled to Whitehall after a British trawler was seized in French waters yesterday. We’re being “kicked in the scallops”, says the Daily Star, with Paris threatening to choke off UK trade at Calais. Kathleen Stock, the academic hounded for her insistence that biological sex is fact, has quit her job at Sussex University. “Scarcely believable, and a terrible commentary on the poisonous atmosphere” at some of our universities, says Joan Smith in UnHerd. “How could it come to this?” Rubbish piles and “rats the size of four Big Macs” will greet Cop26 delegates this weekend, says Eddie Barnes in the Daily Mail, after Nicola Sturgeon’s SNP failed to stave off a strike in Glasgow. “Rats and Scots Nats – we’ve had our fill of them up here.”

Comment of the day



Quirks of history

“With her long Edwardian dress hiding her pregnancy,” Briton Rose Spencer became the first woman to take the helm of a flying machine in 1902 – a year before the Wright brothers’ plane took off in North Carolina. A new book says she took to the air alone aboard her husband’s airship, piloting it above Crystal Palace for half an hour as luminaries including Arthur Conan Doyle and WG Grace watched below.  


Rishi Sunak’s choice of socks with sliders for his Budget preparations marks him out as part of a burgeoning male demographic, “Slider-Men”, says Polly Vernon in The Times. A Slider-Man is usually 40-ish and a huge fan of Taylor Swift and pastel-coloured clothes, who “makes a real point of reading novels written by women”. “His favourite meal is brunch, and he doesn’t think there’s anything effeminate about that, yet equally he doesn’t think there’s anything wrong with being effeminate.”


This Caravaggio fresco featuring Jupiter, Neptune and Pluto is up for sale – but you have to buy the villa in which it was painted. Bids for Villa Aurora, a 16th-century mansion in Rome, will start at €471m when it goes to auction in January, which would make it the world’s priciest home. Caravaggio’s only completed ceiling painting accounts for about €310m of that. “Let’s say you’re buying a Caravaggio with a house thrown in,” the seller, Princess Rita Boncompagni Ludovisi, tells The Times.  

On the way in

Gender-neutral passports, which are now available to Americans. Ten other countries, including Canada, Germany and Australia, already offer an “X” gender category for those who don’t identify as male or female. 


Quoted 29-10

“The only man who makes no mistakes is the man who never does anything.”

Theodore Roosevelt

Snapshot answer

It’s Buzz Lightyear. Yesterday Pixar released a teaser trailer for Lightyear, due out next summer, which will introduce us to the human Buzz Lightyear on whom Toy Story’s intrepid astronaut is based. He’ll be voiced by Chris Evans. “Sorry, but Buzz Lightyear is hot now,” says Mia Mercado in The Cut. “Gimme that big ol’ chin.”