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20 October

In the headlines

Liz Truss’s premiership “appears to be in its death throes”, says the Daily Mail. Yesterday afternoon, Home Secretary Suella Braverman resigned – supposedly after using her private email account for official business, but more likely due to her “90-minute screaming match” with Truss over migration controls. Grant Shapps was appointed in her place. Then in a shambolic vote on fracking last night, Tory MPs were reportedly “physically manhandled” by government ministers to force them to vote. The chief and deputy chief whip both appeared to resign in the chaos – the latter declaring “I am f***ing furious and I don’t give a f*** any more” – only to backtrack later. The PM has called a meeting with Graham Brady, head of the 1922 Committee of Tory backbenchers, to “take the temperature” of the party, says Sky News’s Beth Rigby on Twitter.

British politics

Truss: undone by her hubris

Liz Truss “was always best understood as the eternal rebel”, says Iain Martin in The Times: first a teenage Lib Dem “working to axe the monarchy”, then a “hyper-individualistic libertarian Conservative radical”. But she only won the Tory leadership contest because party members had doubts about Rishi Sunak – there was no real mandate, as she mistakenly assumed, for her “cartoonish” economics. Now her hubris has undone her, the Tories’ “only honourable option” is to focus on the national interest. The PM will likely fall before the end of the year and be replaced by Sunak, who must lead a “sombre, responsible government” that makes the tax rises which are unfortunately necessary. The best he, or any new leader, can hope to do is hand over the country at the next election “in a moderately better condition” than Truss has left it.


“Mr Not-so-Nice Guy”

The internet was treated to “one of its favourite things” this week, says Molly Roberts in The Washington Post: the story of a celebrity behaving badly. Even better, the protagonist was archetypal “Mr Nice Guy” James Corden. The chat show host has crafted a reputation as a happy-go-lucky everyman, never more content than when singing karaoke in traffic with his famous pals. Well, that doesn’t square with Keith McNally’s view. The owner of the fancy Balthazar restaurant in New York says Corden is “the most abusive customer” he has ever served. McNally says the “tiny cretin” lambasted staff over “a little bit of egg white” in an egg-yolk omelette, shouting “You can’t do your job!” in a waitress’s face. He only calmed down when given free champagne.


Stylish men are breaking a longstanding “fashion taboo”, says Robb Report: they’re wearing their pyjamas in public. The laidback look has its roots in the pandemic, which gave many a “renewed appreciation” for luxury loungewear. Reluctant to revert to less comfy clothes, fashion influencers have taken to buying luxury pyjama tops from traditional shirtmakers like Turnbull & Asser and Budd. These silk and linen shirts can then be complemented with a double-breasted jacket, elevating work-from-home comfort into office-suitable attire.

Gone viral

The BBC has prepared secret scripts to reassure audiences in the event of blackouts this winter, says The Guardian. “Hypothetical scenarios” include energy shortages knocking out mobile phone networks, internet access, banking systems and traffic lights. During these power cuts, the public would be advised to tune in to emergency broadcasts via car radios or battery-powered receivers. One draft warns that power won’t be restored for “36 to 48 hours”, and insists that listeners do not contact emergency services “unless absolutely necessary”.

Love etc

Asked about fidelity in his marriage, Paul Newman famously said: “Why go out for hamburgers when I have steak at home?” According to his forthcoming posthumous memoir, the uxorious actor and his wife Joanne Woodward left a “trail of lust all over the place. Hotels and public parks and Hertz Rent-A-Cars.” They even had a “F*** Hut” – a room in their Beverly Hills mansion solely designated for carnal pleasures. “We’d go into the F*** Hut several nights a week,” he wrote, “and just be intimate and noisy and ribald.”


Ian Rankin has given an “amusing twist” to the fashion of writing your preferred pronouns (“He/Him” and so on) after your name, says Patrick Kidd in The Times. Since being knighted in June, the Scottish crime writer signs off letters with “He/Sir”.


It’s a “handheld claw game” that people are using to liven up the process of dispensing medication. I bought one for $17 and filled it with my antidepressants, says Claire Carusillo in Gawker. The problem is that the controls are so rudimentary, it took 10 minutes for me to get hold of one pill – inducing exactly the kind of anxiety the medicine is supposed to suppress.


quoted 20.10.22

“I don’t make jokes. I just watch the government and report the facts.”

American humourist Will Rogers