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5-6 November

Long reads shortened

The madman who founded the SAS

David Stirling, founder of the SAS, was “quite, quite mad”, says Tom Fordy in The Daily Telegraph. At least, that was the assessment of his military nemesis Field Marshall Bernard Montgomery. Bored in Cairo during the Second World War, Stirling jumped out of a plane without proper training, tore his parachute on the tail, and hit the ground so hard he was “temporarily blinded and paralysed”. Shortly after, while still recovering, he broke into the British Middle East HQ using his crutches “as a kind of ladder to get over the wire while the guards weren’t looking”. His purpose? Putting his proposal for a new regiment directly into the hands of the generals.


Why all the fuss about Big Oil?

It wasn’t long ago that climate activists were urging the world to “dump shares in oil companies”, says Ross Clark in The Spectator. This was not just to punish them for climate change, but, according to these eco-sages, because oil companies’ fortunes were on a downward trajectory as the world turned green. “That’s not how it looked in BP’s boardroom” this week, as the firm announced profits of £7.1bn in the third quarter, setting it on the path to one of its most profitable years ever.


Why Rishi should be more like Greta

Rishi Sunak got “clobbered” when he said he wasn’t planning to attend the Cop27 climate summit, says Michael Deacon in The Daily Telegraph. He quickly U-turned, “but perhaps he should have stood his ground”. After all, he had available to him an excuse even a “fanatical anti-Tory” would have lapped up: “The reason I’m not going to Cop27 is that Greta Thunberg isn’t going, either. She says it’ll just be a load of worthless ‘greenwashing’ – and, like every respectable modern person, I vigorously agree with her.”


Actress Julia Roberts has revealed that Martin Luther King Jr paid the hospital bill for her birth. King became close friends with Roberts’s parents after they accepted his children to the theatre school they ran in Atlanta, Georgia – the only racially integrated one in the city. When Roberts was born in 1967, King returned the favour by covering the medical costs.


Quoted Marx 5.11.22

“The secret of life is honesty and fair dealing. If you can fake that, you’ve got it made.”

Groucho Marx


Trashing great art is a pointless protest

The squadron of climate activists trashing famous paintings with canned soup claim to be dramatising “the urgency of their issue”, says Adam Gopnik in The New Yorker. But their stunts are “stupid”. Dawdling around galleries is “one of the last sources of unmediated pleasure for ordinary people”: in our surveilled world, museums still remain absent of “security barriers, or overly watchful guards”. These nihilistic protests will mean “prudent museums” increase security around their displays. Activists are simply making the “experience of the object hijacked more miserable” for art lovers.

Gone viral

“Witchcraft is everywhere,” says Breda O’Brien in The Irish Times. On TikTok, videos tagged with #WitchTok have received an astonishing 33.6 billion views to date, many times more than #JoeBiden (7.3 billion) and #RishiSunak (543 million). A lot of witchy enthusiasts clearly just “like the aesthetic”: black clothes, dark eye make-up, candles, herbs, tarot cards and the like. But some teenagers go in for “full-blown demon worship”, from hexing disliked peers to trying to summon spirits in their bedroom. Whether you think “demons and hexes are real” or not, the witchcraft trend clearly suggests there is a hunger for some sort of spirituality among young folks. Christian churches might meditate on why they are “signally failing” to meet those needs.



This one-bedroom flat lies on the top floor of a Victorian townhouse in Archway, north London. It has a modern kitchen with lofty ceilings, and a spacious double bedroom boasting a large sash window. The home also has a striking traditional fireplace, and oak floorboards throughout. Both Finsbury and Waterlow parks are nearby, with Archway tube station a 15-minute walk away. £450,000.


This four-bedroom riverside home is in the Cornish village of Lerryn. Its 2,100 sq ft interior includes a large open-plan kitchen, and a living room with timber beams and an open fire. It also has a large, sunny courtyard with breathtaking views across the water – perfect for al fresco dining. Port Isaac and Falmouth are both around an hour by car. £2m.



quoted Rochefoucauld 5.11.22

“Sometimes in life situations develop that only the half-crazy can get out of.”

French writer François de La Rochefoucauld