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3 October

In the headlines

Liz Truss has cancelled plans to scrap the top 45p tax rate. The “humiliating” U-turn just 10 days after the policy was announced is largely down to Tory MPs, says Katy Balls in The Spectator: a growing number were saying quite openly that they simply wouldn’t vote for it. Brazil’s “acrimonious” presidential race will go to a second round of voting later this month, says The Guardian. Former left-wing president Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva failed yesterday to secure a first-round majority against populist incumbent Jair Bolsonaro, who has “hinted he will not leave office if defeated”. Burgers can help fight depression, says the Daily Star, because beef is rich in brain-boosting nutrients such as iron and zinc. “No wonder we’re lovin’ it.”

UK politics

“Mad, bad and dangerous”

“The only sort of leader more dangerous than the rogue the UK used to have is the zealot it has now,” says Martin Wolf in the FT. It’s ironic. Die-hard free marketeers like Liz Truss and Kwasi Kwarteng see “the market” as a god – but the actual markets have rebuffed them, with investors fleeing sterling and UK government bonds. Truss’s “growth plan” is like a magical potion – she says “abracadabra” and suddenly we have 2.5% annual growth. “Such dreams might be amusing if they were not so perilous.”


Are things as bad as they seem?

Back in the summer, says Niall Ferguson in Bloomberg, I asked former US treasury secretary Larry Summers just how bad the global economic and political situation was going to get. “Events are 75% bad,” he replied. “Trends are 75% good.” This echoes the view of Harvard psychologist Steven Pinker that things are never so bad as they seem in the papers. “Journalism by its very nature hides progress,” says Pinker, “because it presents sudden events rather than gradual trends.” “If it bleeds, it leads” is an old newsroom adage for good reason. But, says Pinker, “human progress is an empirical fact”.

Gone viral

Artist Sam Cox, better known as Mr Doodle, has covered every inch of his £1.35m Kent mansion with cartoonish drawings. The sped-up video showing each surface being graffitied – including the television, ceilings, hob and bath – has racked up 4.5 million views on Twitter. Watch it in full here.


Andrew Edmunds, the Soho restaurateur and members’ club owner who died last month, was a stickler about food, says Harry Mount in The Oldie. He was once found in his restaurant’s kitchen crying, his head buried in a bin. “They don’t know anything,” he sobbed, in reference to guests who had just eaten langoustine for lunch. “They didn’t eat the brains,” he said, picking the spindly crustaceans out of the bin and sucking away at them. “That’s the best bit.”

Love etc

John le Carré was “absolutely legendary” in bed, according to his long-term mistress. Suleika Dawson (pictured), who had affairs with the married spy novelist from 1983 to 1985 and in 1999, recounts their trysts in some detail in her new memoir, The Secret Heart. It was “sex for the gods”, she writes: they would get it on three or four times a day, and even when le Carré was nearing 70 he could last for five hours. The writer liked to give their assignations a clandestine flourish: trips abroad would be paid for by a “reptile fund”, spook lingo for an untraceable bank account used for secret missions.


Unorthodox cyclists sometimes adopt the “plank” position to minimise wind resistance and sail past their competitors. A video of Italian Michael Guerra pulling the trick has resurfaced on Twitter, gaining nearly 18 million views. As one user commented, the technique “has the additional advantage of demoralising the opposition by making it look like he’s taking the piss”.

On the way out

First-class carriages on commuter trains, which are so underused that rail companies are getting rid of them. Southeastern is axing the service altogether after it emerged that just 28 of its passengers forked out for a first-class season ticket, says The Sunday Telegraph. Several other operators have already phased out first-class carriages on local routes, including Greater Anglia, Northern, and Great Western Railway.


It’s Optimus, a humanoid robot developed by Tesla. The man-shaped machine was unveiled by Elon Musk on Friday, with the tech billionaire claiming it will be available to purchase for less than $20,000 in three to five years. Optimus is designed to perform tasks like watering plants and carrying boxes, but at the launch event it did little more than walk slowly out on stage and wave at the audience. “The robot can actually do a lot more than we just showed you,” Musk reassured the crowd. “We just didn’t want it to fall on its face.”


quoted 3.10.22

“Everyone has a plan until they get punched in the mouth.”

Mike Tyson