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31 March

In the headlines

Donald Trump will become the first former US president in history to face criminal charges, after a Manhattan grand jury voted to indict him over hush money paid to porn star Stormy Daniels. He is likely to be arrested on Tuesday, when the full charges will be unveiled. Gwyneth Paltrow has been awarded $1 in damages after she was found not liable for a 2016 ski crash. A Utah jury ruled that 76-year-old retired optometrist Terry Sanderson, who was seeking $300,000 in damages from the Oscar-winning actress, was himself “totally responsible” for the collision. Campaign group the English Breakfast Society is demanding that hash browns be banned from the morning meal and replaced with traditional bubble and squeak. “Somebody had to put their foot down,” one hash-bashing campaigner told The Times, “otherwise we’ll find kebab meat in our English breakfast before long.”


TikTok users are obsessed with food-themed décor, says Jillian Giandurco in Bustle. Current favourites among a slew of kitschy household items including candy-shaped pillows, ceramic hamburger coasters, and faux bowls of noodles hanging on the wall. One artist, @kaarinjoy, designs personalised homeware for followers inspired by “just about any food, treat, or snack you can think of”. She’s racked up 46 million likes on videos of her wacky creations, which include a lamp in the shaped of a birthday cake and an ornament that looks exactly like a giant bowl of cereal.

Nice work if you can get it

A lucrative jobs market is “mushrooming” around AI, says Bloomberg, and it’s not just for computer science graduates. “Prompt engineers”, who fine-tune the wording used by programmes like ChatGPT, are commanding salaries “upwards of $335,000” in the US and as high as £300,000 in the UK. These “AI whisperers” often come from a history, philosophy or English language background, as clear, concise writing is the name of the game.


The Guardian has issued a grovelling apology for its founders’ involvement in slavery and set aside £10m for “restorative justice” projects over the next 10 years. This poses something of a “donor’s dilemma” for the paper’s online readers, says Charles Moore in The Spectator. Visitors to the website are confronted with a yellow notice asking for donations to support the paper’s “fearless journalism”. So the question arises: “Which is the more important destination for my money – the current needs of the newspaper or reparations to the victims of its past complicity in a great evil?” If the latter, surely it would be better to pay directly to that cause rather than “rewarding a paper which has taken two centuries to admit its wickedness”.

On the way out

The novelist Ian McEwan told the Today programme this morning that he regrets “the passing of what I regard as one of the great luxuries of civilisation… solitude. I think those snatched moments – the 20 minutes when you’re waiting at the luggage carousel – you used to have nothing to do but go into your thoughts.” Now we all take out our phones – and perhaps we “don’t have so rich an inner life”. If you get in the habit of solitude – an entirely different thing from loneliness – you can “treat your mind as a garden and walk around it and I think generally it leads to more happiness”.

🌳🎶 McEwan, who is reading some of his fiction accompanied by the BBC Symphony Orchestra at London’s Barbican tonight, also quoted Thomas Hardy: “The trees are coming into leaf/ Like something almost being said.” Hardy might equally have been describing “the condition of music”.


A study of Swedish jackpot lottery winners found that after a win, men are more likely to get married and women are more likely to get divorced.


It’s an “ultra rare” pink diamond of “unparalleled colour and brightness”, says Sotheby’s, which is expected to fetch more than $35m at auction. The 10.57-carat “Eternal Pink”, unearthed at a mine in Botswana four years ago, is the most valuable of its shade ever to come on sale, “joining the ranks of the most important diamonds in history”. The stone will be exhibited for potential buyers in Hong Kong, Dubai, Singapore and Geneva before it goes under the hammer in New York in June.


quoted 31.3.23

“If you haven’t got anything nice to say, come and sit next to me.”

American socialite Alice Roosevelt Longworth