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19 October

In the headlines

UK inflation has risen to more than 10% for the second time this year, driven by a 14.5% rise in food prices. Chancellor Jeremy Hunt has refused to commit to raising benefits and pensions in line with the September price increase, meaning millions could see their real income dive. Defence Secretary Ben Wallace has made a “hastily-arranged” visit to Washington amid growing fears Vladimir Putin will use nuclear weapons in Ukraine, says Sky News. The Russian army is running low on conventional missiles, raising concerns that the embattled Russian leader could launch a strike. Astronomers have recorded the largest explosion ever detected in the universe. The gamma ray burst, caused by the birth of a black hole, released more energy than our sun will do in its 10-billion-year lifetime. The blast (below) has been dubbed the “BOAT” – the brightest of all time.

British politics

“The point of the next Labour government is – what, exactly?”

The “biggest casualty” of the Truss premiership isn’t the Tory party, or Kwasi Kwarteng, or even the PM herself, says William Hague in The Times. It’s an idea. Specifically, the notion that tax cuts can “spark a resurgence of growth while relaxed financial markets look on with contentment”. That theory is dead and buried, and won’t be exhumed by a Tory PM for “some years”. Yet Truss and Kwarteng were always “driving at a brick wall”. Their main aim was to reduce the size of the state. This is not the 1980s, when the Tories could privatise nationalised industries and flog off council houses, “while being cushioned by North Sea oil and eventually a peace dividend as the Cold War ended”. Today? With an overburdened NHS, swelling pension costs, soaring debt interest and rising defence spending? It’s basically impossible.


Auf Wiedersehen, Germany

Germany, for years an “economic superstar”, has become the “sick man of Europe”, says Martin Greive in Handelsblatt. The International Monetary Fund forecasts that the country, deprived of the Russian gas it once depended on, should expect lower economic growth than any major nation bar Russia itself. The problems go deeper than the Ukraine war: exports have been stagnating since the end of 2017, and there is no German firm among the top 100 most valuable companies worldwide. “Made in Germany” no longer stands for a thriving industry, but “excessive bureaucracy”, a sclerotic tax system and “stone-age” digital infrastructure.

Gone viral

As part of the BBC’s 100-year anniversary, the corporation has created a compilation of news bloopers. Highlights include reporters being attacked by various unthreatening animals, presenters mispronouncing key words (“Did I say erection? I didn’t!”), and an embarrassed Huw Edwards confessing to viewers that he was “just finishing” a croissant. Watch the full clip here.

Inside politics

When Liz Truss rang Jeremy Hunt to offer him the job of chancellor, says the Daily Mail, he initially ignored the call because he didn’t recognise the number. She tried texting, saying “Jeremy, it’s Liz Truss, please call urgently”, but he assumed it was a prank and ignored that too. The PM had to get her officials to contact Hunt’s constituency office, which finally managed to pass on the message. On holiday with his family in Belgium at the time, Hunt rushed back to London on the Eurostar – bringing Truss “a gift of expensive Belgian chocolates”.


Miniskirts might have “dominated our style consciousness” this summer, says Vogue, but with colder temperatures approaching designers are pioneering “a welcome move away from hitched hemlines”. Fashionistas are instead opting for denim, full-length maxi skirts that elongate the body, like those recently worn by supermodel Gigi Hadid and influencer Pernille Teisbaek. Layer with hoodies and knits for daytime wear or ab-bearing crop tops for an evening out – and “avoid muddy terrain”.

Eating in

Go to any fancy bar and you’ll see “there’s no escaping the popcorn cocktail”, says Punch. “Equal parts impractical and comical,” the new garnish comes in a variety of shapes and sizes: sometimes it’s just a few kernels on a skewer balanced precariously atop the glass. Showier versions see a huge cup of popcorn pegged to the cocktail’s edge, making the garnish “as practically untenable as it is visually silly” next to the tiny tipple. The sweet-and-salty snacks are usually paired with experimental liqueurs “infused with popcorn flavour”: specially created rum, gin and Cocchi Americano.

Quirk of history

“It was believed in medieval times that hedgehogs had spikes so they could roll over fruit to carry home to their children,” says @WeirdMedieval on Twitter, “which is not true but is a really cute idea.”


It’s a pothole in Chicago that has been filled in and covered over with a tiny mosaic depicting the Edward Hopper painting Nighthawks. American artist Jim Bachor’s other road works include tessellated testaments to Grant Wood’s American Gothic and Vincent van Gogh’s The Bedroom. See them all here.


quoted 19.10.22

“In 1969 I gave up women and alcohol. It was the worst 20 minutes of my life.”

George Best