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4 May

In the headlines

Voters are heading to the polls for local elections in much of England today. More than 8,000 council seats are up for grabs, and, for the first time, people must bring photo ID to cast their ballot. Labour needs at least a 10% lead over the Tories to be on track for a general election victory, according to polling expert John Curtice. The price of fish and chips has shot up by 19% over the past year, to an average of £9. The Office for National Statistics has launched a tool showing how inflation has affected the cost of hundreds of everyday items – try it out here. The Prince Charles Cinema, just off London’s Leicester Square, has made its post-Coronation plans abundantly clear (see below). As one Twitter user comments, they’ve clearly been “asked one too many times”.

On the money

There are currently 18,000 UK-trained doctors plying their trade abroad, says John Burn-Murdoch in the FT, a 50% increase since 2008. Put another way, “one in seven practising doctors who trained in Britain is now working elsewhere” – almost triple the rate in similar countries. Clearly one factor is pay: whereas inflation has left the average worker’s wages at 2.5% below their 2009 level, it’s 13% for nurses and 24% for junior doctors. But when medics who moved overseas are asked what pushed them, they are twice as likely to mention “workplace culture, burnout and stress” than money. Whatever the government does on pay, “broader and deeper changes are needed if an NHS career is to regain its allure”.


King Charles’s coronation will be a truly multi-faith affair, says Helen Lewis in The Atlantic. The ceremony will be overseen by the Anglican Archbishop of Canterbury. But it will also be attended by Britain’s Chief Rabbi, who has been given a room at a royal residence near the Abbey so he doesn’t have to use a car on the Sabbath; the Catholic Archbishop of Westminster; and London mayor Sadiq Khan, a Muslim. Prime Minister Rishi Sunak, who is Hindu, will read from the New Testament. “Not everyone likes these attempts to bring the coronation into the 21st century.” The European Conservative, a right-wing journal, has accused Charles of having a “Koranation” because of his sympathy for Islam.


“For men, at least, reports of the demise of skinny jeans have been greatly exaggerated,” says Jacob Gallagher in The Wall Street Journal. Though trendy Gen Zs now prefer baggier trousers, slimmer cuts are still selling well in the US – they make up 70% of men’s jeans sales at the luxury department store chain Bloomingdale’s. Women are adopting billowy styles, but men, “more stubborn and less swayed by trends”, are sticking with their “pencil-leg”, indie-rock-inspired jeans.

Gone viral

A sniffer dog at the Met Gala has gone viral after being caught on camera gawping at Jared Leto’s hyper-realistic giant cat costume. “Poor dog,” says one Twitter user. “None of his friends are gonna believe him.”

Quirk of language

The etymologies of everyday words can be gripping, says Mental Floss. Shampoo comes from the Hindi verb champna, meaning “to press or knead muscles” – being “shampooed” in 18th-century India involved a “vigorous full-body massage” as well as hair washing. Chortle first appeared in Lewis Carroll’s poem Jabberwocky, combining “chuckle” and “snort”. Whisky is from the Gaelic uisge beatha, or “water of life”. Companion is a combination of the Latin com, or “together with”, and panis, or “bread” – so it roughly means “one who you break bread with”. See more here.


It’s Japanese Emperor Naruhito in his student days, seeking out the Loch Ness monster. The ruler studied at Oxford in the 1980s, producing a fascinating-sounding thesis: A Study of Navigation and Traffic on the Upper Thames in the 18th Century. But it has emerged that in his (presumably considerable) downtime, the 23-year-old heir took the opportunity to climb Ben Nevis, have tea with Queen Elizabeth and go on a secret trip to find Nessie. “He asked very sensible questions,” Loch Ness Centre founder Tony Harmsworth tells The Times, “and seemed to be genuinely interested.”


quote 4.5.23

“All I can do is turn a phrase until it catches the light.”

Australian writer Clive James