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30 May

In the headlines

A rare drone attack on Moscow damaged several buildings early this morning. Russia’s defence ministry blamed Kyiv for the operation, and said eight remote-operated aircraft were involved, most of which were shot down. The government is refusing to hand over Boris Johnson’s WhatsApp messages to the Covid inquiry. The Cabinet Office claims some of the requested material is “unambiguously irrelevant”, and may launch a legal challenge to prevent its disclosure. Drinking two cups of tea a day helps protect your memory as you age, says The Sun. According to a new study, the flavanol chemicals naturally found in cuppas boost brain power and recall ability. 🫖🧠

The great escape

Ten American lighthouses are to be given away for free or sold at auction. GPS technology has rendered the seaside sentinels pointless, but the government still wants to preserve them: most are more than a century old, and remain popular tourist attractions and beloved local landmarks. Beacon buildings on offer include the 181-year-old octagonal Gurnet Light in Massachusetts, and the Cleveland Harbour West Pierhead Light, a 50ft steel tower built in 1911 that is only accessible by boat. See the others here.

Inside politics

When I ask audiences at events whether anyone can explain Labour’s economic policy, says Alastair Campbell in The New European, the uptake typically hovers around zero. One hand did go up from a woman in Harrogate – but she turned out to be a Labour candidate. This should be a worry for Keir Starmer. The public clearly want the Tories gone. But for Labour to make the sort of changes needed to get the economy and the country back on track, they’ll need “positive buy-in” for the agenda they’re proposing. “And you cannot get that buy-in without widespread understanding of what it is.”

On the way back

Gen Z couples are spurning restaurants in favour of picnics, says Smithsonian Magazine. As with so much these days, the return of the outdoor date is largely driven by Instagram and people wanting to showcase their “style and originality”. It’s a far cry from the al fresco assignation’s more “raucous beginnings”. The word pique-nique first appeared in a bawdy 17th-century French poem that featured a gluttonous character by that name. In the 18th century a clique of London Francophiles launched the Pic-Nic Society, a (largely indoor) dining club in Marylebone where each guest had to bring a dish and six bottles of wine.


The Chinese character for “penguin” (企鹅) is made up of the characters for “business” (企) and “goose” (鹅). Sounds about right.

Love etc

Time-stretched couples are using shared spreadsheets and calendars for marriage admin, says Bustle. It’s just like assigning tasks and blocking out time at work, but instead you’re clocking hours at home, managing household chores and tracking who takes the kids to school. Many schedule admin meetings to make any necessary household purchases and reservations for the week ahead. According to one advocate, it helps keep “unsexy and frankly annoying” conversations – such as about “taxes and tree pruning” – to a single session, rather than them cropping up all week.


It’s a species of “toxic” caterpillar that’s spreading across the UK. The oak processionary moth has microscopic hairs that can be carried on the wind and cause nasty rashes in humans. First identified in 2006 near Kew Gardens – where the species’ eggs were imported on an oak tree – the pests were largely confined to southwest London for a decade. But now they are spreading at a rate of about five miles a year, covering an area from Colchester to Southampton. Last year, forestry experts spotted 3,573 infected trees, with 225 Brits suffering from contact with the harmful hairs.


quoted 30.5.23

“We don’t laugh because we’re happy, we’re happy because we laugh.”

American philosopher William James