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7 April

In the headlines

There’s a “non-dom in Downing Street”, says The Times, after it emerged that Chancellor Rishi Sunak’s multimillionaire wife has “non-domicile” status. The arrangement means Akshata Murthy’s permanent home is officially outside Britain, potentially saving her millions of pounds in UK tax on foreign earnings. The government is planning to build eight nuclear reactors by 2030 as part of a new “energy security strategy”. Targets for onshore wind turbines have been dumped following opposition from Tory backbenchers. America has sanctioned two of Vladimir Putin’s daughters, says The Guardian: scientist Maria Vorontsova, 36, and Katerina Tikhonova, a 35-year-old with a passion for “acrobatic rock’n’roll dancing, an athletic form of boogie-woogie”.

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Information war

Moscow has more friends than we like to think

It has become a truism of the war in Ukraine that the wheels have fallen off Putin’s propaganda machine, says Carl Miller in The Atlantic. “Russia’s playbook is outdated and has failed to adapt,” the theory goes. Moscow has been stunned by Ukrainian president Volodymyr Zelensky’s great skill as a media operator, we’re told, and by the “viral ferocity” of Kyiv’s own keyboard warriors. Witness The Washington Post’s claim that “Ukraine and its partisans are running circles around Putin and his propagandists in the battle for hearts and minds, both in Ukraine and abroad”. My own social media feeds are “wall-to-wall Zelensky, Arnold Schwarzenegger, and farmers towing tanks”.


Sex is losing out to the internet

Researchers are trying to figure out why people aren’t having as much sex as they used to, says Dave Pell in his NextDraft newsletter. What can possibly have changed, in the past couple of decades, to bring about this subtle but deeply consequential shift? Some think there must be poisons in the environment altering our hormones. Others blame rising rates of depression and prescription drug use. Still others reckon people are getting their sexual kicks from video games and porn rather than the real thing.

On the way back

Regency dressing is back in fashion, thanks to Bridgerton’s second season. Retailers have reported a surge in sales of corsets, silk dresses and statement earrings, and online searches for tiaras are through the roof. Even the rubbish bits of the Regency era are creeping back, says The Guardian – gout cases are on the up in the UK. “But I don’t think you can pin that on Bridgerton.”

Quirk of history

The word “honeymoon” comes from an early medieval practice in Europe, where a month’s supply of mead – an alcoholic drink made from honey which was thought to be an aphrodisiac – was given to newlyweds. “In other words,” says Mental Floss, “one moon’s worth of honey.”

Global update

The world’s most remote post office is looking for a team of postmasters. The icy gig, at Port Lockroy, a British base in Antarctica, is for five months only – from November to March, over the region’s summer. A former postmaster tells BBC News the drawbacks are that there’s no running water and “lots of penguin poo”.


Since the start of the Ukraine war the EU has given Kyiv €1bn worth of arms and weapons. Over the same period it has sent Russia €35bn in energy payments.


It’s Albie the albatross, the only one of his kind in the northern hemisphere, who’s been spotted off the Yorkshire coast. Back in 2014, the solitary seabird was blown off course, and wind patterns mean he’s unlikely to ever end up back in his native breeding grounds in the Falklands. Though he’s lost his chance at finding a mate, says The Times, Albie spends his summers hanging out with gannets at a nature reserve near Bridlington.


Charles Dickens “loved magic”, says LitHub – so much so that he frequently dressed up as a magician and performed tricks at children’s birthday parties. His act included transforming a “box of bran” into a guinea pig, producing a plum pudding from his assistant’s hat, and a trick in which a lady’s watch initially locked in a “strong box” would reappear in a loaf of bread cut in front of the audience. Jane Carlyle, wife of philosopher Thomas Carlyle, wrote to a friend to proclaim the novelist “the best conjuror I ever saw (and I have paid money to see several)”.


quoted 7.4.22

“You know ‘that look’ women get when they want sex? Me neither.”

Steve Martin