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4 August

In the headlines

Five Greenpeace activists scaled the roof of Rishi Sunak’s country house “unchallenged” yesterday, says the Daily Mail, in an “embarrassing security breach”. Police weren’t alerted until two hours after the protesters had begun unfurling “oil-black fabric” over the Yorkshire property, to protest new drilling in the North Sea. Donald Trump has pleaded not guilty to conspiring to overturn the result of the 2020 election. After the half-hour appearance in a Washington DC courtroom, the former president said the charges were politically motivated and called it “a sad day for America”. The James Webb Space Telescope has captured “mesmerising” images of the Ring Nebula, a dying star 2,600 light-years from Earth, says the BBC. A newly released picture, below, shows the “expanding colourful shell” of gas released when the star collapsed – a fate that awaits our Sun in around six billion years’ time.

The great escape

Gwyneth Paltrow is renting out the guesthouse of her Montecito property on Airbnb, says Danielle Cohen in The Cut. California’s “preeminent yoni-egg peddler” announced on Instagram that a lucky duo would be treated to a one-night stay in the “tranquil serenity” of her home, complete with a transcendental meditation session and a spa day. Gwynnie’s guests will also be treated to a “little chef’s dinner” with her in the property’s wine room, and a full shop’s worth of Goop beauty products. Alas, “the coffee enema is not included”. Find out more here.


Drug smugglers ditch so much cocaine off the coast of Florida that sharks in the waters appear to be getting high, says Dazed. During a six-day research trip by the Discovery Channel, the perky predators were observed exhibiting “erratic and peculiar behaviour”: one was seen “aggressively” harassing divers despite its usually “chill” demeanour; another was spotted “mournfully rotating around an imaginary object”.


Rishi Sunak’s mother-in-law, Sudha Murty, is a committed vegetarian – so much so that she always carries a bag filled with cooked Indian dishes. “No matter which country I visit,” the 72-year-old (pictured) told an interviewer, “I always carry my own food.” Murty and her husband, the software billionaire NR Narayana Murthy, are admired in India for their frugal lifestyle: they didn’t take any holidays for three decades, fly economy class, and have owned the same small car for years.


The resurgence of the ballet flat seemed almost inevitable given the current vogue for recycling noughties fashion, says Amy de Klerk in Harper’s Bazaar. But a sheer take on the style was something “nobody saw coming”. The premier pair are Alaïa’s fishnet flats – worn by everyone from actress Jennifer Lawrence to designer Jeanette Madsen – but they’re so popular they’re sold out until spring 2024. Alternative options include The Row’s black mesh iteration, Le Monde Beryl’s translucent Mary Janes, and Loeffler Randall’s baby blue, crystal-embellished pumps. It’s the perfect way to take a “delicate and feminine” style, says one luxury shoemaker, and transform it into something “sharp and modern”.

On the money

Gerald Grosvenor, the 6th Duke of Westminster, was once asked by the FT if he had any advice for young entrepreneurs wanting to make their fortune. “Make sure,” the hereditary peer replied, “they have an ancestor who was a very close friend of William the Conqueror.”


It’s an artist’s impression of a newly identified candidate for the heaviest animal in history. Perucetus colossus, which lived around 39 million years ago, is believed to have been about 20 metres long and weighed up to 340 tons – three times as much as a blue whale, and about 25% more than an Airbus A380. The fossilised bones were found in Peru back in 2010, but it has taken years to prepare them for study. Perucetus probably wasn’t the most dynamic creature, says The New York Times: researchers think it “drifted lazily through shallow coastal waters like a mammoth manatee”.


quoted 4.8.23

“‘I told you so’ are the four least satisfying words in the English language.”

Environmentalist Bill McKibben