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3 January

In the headlines

Commuters are facing what will likely be “the worst week of rail disruption for 30 years”, says The Times. Around 16 million journeys could be affected in the walkouts by the RMT and Aslef unions, though both the government and the rail industry “expressed optimism” this morning that a deal was close. Prince Harry is “heating up his tureen of spleen again”, says Jan Moir in the Daily Mail. In clips from interviews to publicise his forthcoming memoir, the Duke of Sussex said he wanted his father and brother “back” – but that the royals have shown “no willingness to reconcile”. Top chefs are urging people to eat their Christmas trees instead of chucking them, says the Daily Star. The needles can be used to flavour everything from ice cream to gin, and provide a handy vitamin C boost. Call it “pine dining”.


Why I love getting older

At the start of a new year, when we traditionally burden ourselves with “bossy, unrealistic” resolutions, says India Knight in The Sunday Times, it’s refreshing to hear Michelle Obama talk about the “grinding slog” of marriage. For 10 years, she said in a recent TV interview, “I couldn’t stand my husband”. Specifically, when their children were young – “little kids, they’re terrorists” – and she felt Barack wasn’t pulling his weight. But “marriage isn’t 50-50, ever”, she explained – and because they stuck it out during that rocky period, rather than “give up”, they have now been married (mostly) happily for 30 years. How right she is. Marriage isn’t just “skipping about among the flowers”, just as parenting is “sometimes boring and hard”. That’s fine – it’s how normal life works. “Like a wonky carrot, it doesn’t need binning because it’s imperfect.”


The millennial rebellion spells doom for the Tories

“If you are not a liberal at 25, you have no heart. If you are not a conservative at 35 you have no brain.” That aphorism, variously attributed to Winston Churchill, US president John Adams, or King Oscar II of Sweden, underscores a “well-established rule”, says John Burn-Murdoch in the FT: “as people grow older, they tend to become more conservative”. This pattern has held “remarkably firm” across Britain’s successive generations – until now. Millennials, born between 1981 and 1996, are following a much more left-wing trajectory than their predecessors. Previous generations would, at age 35, be around five percentage points less conservative than the national average. For millennials, it’s more like 15 points.


German photographer Tom Hegen has been taking aerial snaps of salt ponds for years, says My Modern Met. Their vibrant colours – the result of differing levels of salinity in the water – make for abstract landscapes that “blur the line between photography and painting”. See more from Hegen’s new book here.


“Shenanigans” has won the World Cup of Random English Words, a year-long series of Twitter polls run by writer Lev Parikian that saw thousands of users vote on their favourite weird vocab. The noun beat “kerfuffle”, “skulduggery”, “pandemonium”, “murmuration”, “cantankerous”, “flibbertigibbet” and “bollocks” in the knock-out rounds, before triumphing over “codswallop” in the final.

The great escape

A new pan-European rail service means it will soon be possible to jump on a Eurostar at London St Pancras on a Friday afternoon and wake up in Berlin the following morning. Passengers on the European Sleeper service will need to make one change in Brussels, says The Guardian, but luckily the scheduling allows just enough time for a “swift Belgian beer” and some moules-frites before the night train to Berlin.


Bad Bunny “is both one of the most popular artists in human history and an unknown entity”, says Tom Taylor in Far Out magazine. The Puerto Rican musician, who makes danceable, Spanish-language reggaeton songs, was the most-streamed artist on Spotify in 2022 for the third year in a row, with an “absolutely absurd” 18.5 billion plays. And yet he’s had zero number one songs in the UK charts, and only two in the top 40. It’s a reminder of the huge divide between the internet and mainstream culture: figures like Bad Bunny and podcaster Joe Rogan are superstars online, but rarely get mentioned on TV and in newspapers.

Inside politics

Rishi Sunak has made two New Year’s resolutions: eat less sugar and try to get more sleep. “Addicted to Mexican Coca-Cola, cinnamon swirls and burning the midnight oil,” says Caroline Wheeler in The Sunday Times, the PM has already told aides he’s not confident of keeping either.


It’s the wandering walrus Thor, which has now arrived in Blyth, Northumberland. First spotted in Britain on a beach in Hampshire in December, the mammal caused havoc after stopping off in Scarborough on Saturday – the Yorkshire town cancelled its New Year’s firework display because the bangs might cause it “distress”. Experts say Thor’s foray north shows that the Arctic-bound walrus is “heading in the right direction”.


quoted 3.1.23

“We cherish our friends not for their ability to amuse us, but for ours to amuse them.”

Evelyn Waugh