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8-9 October


Oh, Kate, whatever happened to the three Cs?

When Kate Moss unveiled her new wellness brand, says Kara Kennedy in The Spectator, my first reaction was: “great, another cool girl who’s been swallowed up into the mundane world of green shakes and yoga”. This is a woman who once bragged that her beauty regime consisted of “three Cs and one V”: cigarettes, champagne, coffee and vodka. I don’t blame Kate herself: her face cream costs £95, and her sacred mist – “whatever that is” – is priced at £120. “If there are people out there naive enough to buy all this then power to her.” I just feel it’s a rather sad testament to how boring our society has become.


The gulf between old and young has never been wider

When my mum visited me in east London, says James Marriott in The Times, all she kept saying was: “Everyone here’s so young.” On holiday in the Lake District two weeks later, I was thinking the opposite: “Everyone was so old.” This may seem obvious – of course the young prefer “bustling” cities and the old like “restful” countryside. But it’s amazing how new a development this is. “As recently as 1991, villages and cities had the same mix of ages.” Now all 10 of England’s largest cities are experiencing “an exodus of the elderly”, with young people “heading in the other direction”. It’s the same within communities: the decline of social clubs, local sports teams, churches and pubs has left few places where “young and old mingle socially”.


There was once a time when venturing south of the Thames “would bring a Chelsea girl out in hives”, says Tatler. But nowadays, the “deep, deep south” – Peckham, Camberwell, Brixton and the like – is the “new epicentre of London’s elite”. Westminster types no longer plot in Mayfair’s member’s clubs, but in the “bougie gastropubs of Greenwich”, home to the new PM and Chancellor. A “younger, edgier crowd” prefer Peckham: Bellenden Road, with its “toff-filled restaurants” like Artusi and The Begging Bowl, now far surpasses King’s Road. Expect the same ambience in Brixton, where your neighbours would include both acting royalty (Joanna Lumley) and real royalty (Prince Fritzi von Preussen, a descendant of Kaiser Wilhelm II). Suitably cool pastimes include dancing to techno at Phonox nightclub and catching stand-up sets at the Cavendish Arms, or, to locals, “the Cav”.

Inside politics

The polls have the Tories a whopping 33 points behind Labour, says Michael Deacon in The Daily Telegraph, with Liz Truss already more unpopular than Jeremy Corbyn “at his absolute nadir”. It’s ironic: when MPs forced out Boris Johnson because they thought he’d become too unpopular, the party was trailing Labour by nine points. “Nine points! Oh, those halcyon, carefree days.” Now the Tories would “privatise their own grandmothers to be nine points behind”. One pro-Tory journalist optimistically noted that “the entire domestic political conversation” would change if Vladimir Putin launched a nuclear strike on Ukraine. Yes, “chin up, Prime Minister”. If Russia “brings an end to civilisation as we know it, everyone will soon forget all about that mini Budget”.

How Johnson’s defenestrators must have missed him at the party conference, as they watched Truss “squawk her way through her big speech like a malfunctioning fax machine”. How they must have “goggled in horror” at the U-turns and Cabinet infighting. The dying days of Johnson’s premiership felt like a “non-stop cavalcade of scandal and disgrace”. Yet now, somehow, it seems like an era of “blissful calm” and competence. Come back, Boris. “All is forgiven.”

Eating in

After losing more than $200bn over the pandemic, airlines are doing whatever they can to lure back business- and first-class passengers, says Kitty Drake in the FT. “Food has become a kind of weapon.” Emirates recently launched a “bottomless caviar” service, and on Singapore Airlines, first-class passengers can enjoy lobster thermidor while snuggled up in a double bed. In-flight chefs must sign non-disclosure agreements before cooking some special meals. At a recent demonstration in Paris, I was fed dishes including “yuzu sponge and a tiny French crêpe stuffed with whipped cream”. The only clue it was plane food was that it remained “eerily still” – when I shook the plate, nothing budged. “Every meal was turbulence proof.”


Quoted 8.10.22

“Life is easy to chronicle, but bewildering to practice.”

EM Forster

Staying young

Our modern obsession with therapy

The White House’s “most famous intern”, Monica Lewinsky, recently confided she has five therapists, says Esther Walker in the I newspaper. These include a trauma therapist, an “energy guy”, and someone specialising in body-focused somatic work. “I can’t help but worry about the expense.” Monica must spend all the time she is not with her therapists “earning money in order to pay her therapists”. Just like we’ve insisted on importing “culture wars, turmeric lattes and Peloton” from America, so too with therapy. The number of registered counsellors in the UK has doubled in a decade; we’re obsessed with “therapy-speak” about working on “our boundaries” and “unresolved traumas”.


The wit and wisdom of Alan Rickman

The newly published diaries of the late actor Alan Rickman confirm he was “powered by real intelligence, wry cynicism and a keen bullshit detector”, says Anna Leszkiewicz in The New Statesman. Each entry is short: usually a few lines relating the day’s events, “with a sly observation or an exasperated aside thrown in”. Many recount a lifestyle with touches of turn-of-the-millennium glamour: dancing with Emma Thompson, chatting with Kate Moss at gallery openings, and drinking champagne on his way to Glyndebourne. (“Little Olde England still determinedly putting out its collapsible chairs,” he wrote. “I kept thinking ‘someone with a machine gun will appear any minute’.”)

Eating out

“For New Yorkers, 6pm is the new 8pm,” according to The New York Times: the city that never sleeps has embraced the early dinner. I’m also a convert, says India Knight in The Sunday Times. Recently, the only table I could get at a particular restaurant was for 6pm, and to my surprise, the place “was heaving” when me and my dining companions turned up. We had a lovely evening and were done by 9, and I was tucked up in bed by 10, “feeling as if I’d had a life-changing revelation”. I now realise that “eating late is insanity”. A dinner at 8 or 9 “gobbles your entire evening”, but one at 6 gives you hours of time afterwards and is better for your digestion to boot.

Inside politics

Changing leaders the Roman way

“Overthrowing your leaders is addictive,” says Jonn Elledge in The New Statesman. Just look at the Roman Empire. The Praetorian Guard assassinated one “incompetent young emperor” in AD 222, the army another in AD 235. This set a bloody trend: in half a century, the empire ran through about 26 leaders, “only one fewer than the number who ruled in the previous 262 years”. The people who really held power, the military, had suddenly realised that they could “make or break emperors pretty much at will”. If they didn’t like one, they’d kill him and appoint another.


Many celebrities have “downright bizarre” phobias, says Louis Chilton in The Independent. US TV personality Tyra Banks is petrified of dolphins, One Direction star Niall Horan has “a crippling fear of pigeons”, and Alfred Hitchcock hated eggs. Horror writer Stephen King has triskaidekaphobia, a fear of the number 13: he will never break off a writing session on page 13 or a multiple of it. Hans Christian Andersen had taphephobia, a fear of premature burial, and left a note by the side of his bed every night specifying that he was only sleeping. “Sometimes, however, a fear can be a boon.” Steve Jobs’s koumpounophobia, a fear of buttons, reportedly resulted in both his signature turtleneck jumpers and the buttonless computer mouse, which became a “key design feature” of his Apple computers.



This Grade B listed former vicarage is nestled in the rolling hills of the Scottish borders, near the small hamlet of Bentpath. It has five bedrooms – as well as an airy loft with space for two more – and traditional features including timber floorboards, large sash windows, and a period fireplace. The home sits within 1.25 acres of gardens, complete with an orchard, summer house and vegetable patch. Carlisle station is a 40-minute drive away, with direct trains to London taking three-and-a-half hours. £895,000.


This Grade II listed home sits just minutes from Peckham’s bustling Bellenden Road. It has three bedrooms, a spectacular library, and a garden with a large studio at its centre. The house retains plenty of original features, including tall sash windows which bathe the living room in light, as well as multiple marble fireplaces. Peckham Rye station is a two-minute walk. £2.55m.



Quoted 9.10.22

“A gaffe is the opposite of a lie: it is when a politician inadvertently tells the truth.”

Michael Kinsley