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8 November


Gavin Williamson has been accused of telling a civil servant to “slit your throat” and “jump out a window” when he was defence secretary, says The Guardian. Williamson, now a Cabinet Office minister, has “strongly” rejected bullying accusations since it emerged he sent expletive-laden text messages to the Tory chief whip. Donald Trump is expected to formally launch his 2024 presidential campaign next week, after promising a “very big announcement” on 15 November. He suggested he had delayed the big reveal because he didn’t want to detract from today’s “very important, even critical” midterm elections. Defence Secretary Ben Wallace has scrapped Boris Johnson’s plans for a new £250m royal yacht, pledging to spend the money on surveillance ships instead. But one Times reader suggests that a deal was there to be had: “There are a lot of superyachts available at present, and possibly going cheap…”

British politics

Starmer’s ruthless purge of the left

At 6am the morning after New Labour’s stonking election win in 1997, Peter Mandelson was in no mood to party, says Patrick Maguire in The Times. “Now we’ve won,” he told colleagues, “we’d better find out who on Earth these new MPs are.” Rather than hitting the tiles, the party’s bigwigs headed to their offices and did exactly that. Officials had screened candidates, of course, but no one thought so many would actually win. “We tended to ignore people beyond a certain point,” recalls one. Sure enough, as Mandelson had feared, not all the party’s 418 MPs were “true believers” in Tony Blair. And although they didn’t bring down his government, in time they “undermined its agenda”.

Social media

Will Musk destroy Twitter? I do hope so

Elon Musk’s $44bn takeover of Twitter is “going better than I dared hope”, says Michael Deacon in The Daily Telegraph. Advertisers are pulling out; users are deserting the app; it’s haemorrhaging $4m a day. “With any luck the whole business will be bust by Christmas.” You might think me “absurdly two-faced” for yearning for Twitter’s demise, having used the app every day for 10 years. But that’s like saying to an alcoholic: “You claim to think that booze is ruinous and damaging. And yet you continue to drink it! What a hypocrite!” The sad fact is, as much as I despise Twitter, “I’m addicted to the infernal thing” – and I’m simply “too weak and pathetic” to quit.

Gone viral

This was the moment Sailor, a border collie-whippet, set the record for the longest frisbee catch ever: a whopping 109 yards. Footage of the spectacular grab, which took place at a Calgary Stampeders American football game last October, has racked up nearly five million views on Twitter. Some users were sceptical. “It did look offside,” writes one. “But I don’t know frisbee dog catching rules.”

Inside politics

Fact-checkers have found little evidence for Jacob Rees-Mogg’s claim that hotel rooms in Sharm el Sheikh during Cop27 cost £2,000 a night, says Paul Waugh in the I newspaper. But there may be a simple explanation. Apparently when Rees-Mogg was business secretary, he insisted that his hotel room always had a free-standing bath, as he “enjoys a dip every night”. That sort of luxury – as opposed to “a shower or, horror of horrors, a shower-bath” – tends to come at a hefty premium: say, £2,000 a night.

Staying young

The latest trendy wellness ingredient is an unlikely one, says Fleur Britten in The Sunday Times: tobacco. There are various ways to enjoy “new-age nicotine experiences”: put a rose-scented nest of the plant in your bath and soak in it; drink tobacco juice to “purge” your body (in other words, “projectile vomit”); or even have “shamanic snuff” blown up your nose through a special pipe. The one thing you mustn’t do, of course, is smoke it. And you also can’t just “chuck some Golden Virginia into your bath or snort the contents of a Marlboro Light” – wellness gurus use Amazonian Nicotiana rustica, a much stronger cousin to the stuff in cigarettes.


Dutch park rangers will start shooting wolves with paintball guns to make them less tame, after a video (above) showing one of the creatures amiably trotting up to a family with young children went viral. Officials in Arnhem province hope the tactic will persuade the wolves – of which there are thought to be more than 20 at large in the tiny country – to stay at least 100 feet away from people. The animals are normally frightened of humans, but conservationists claim the owners of one national park have been making them tamer by deliberately feeding them.


While preparing to publish William Golding’s Lord of the Flies in 1954, editors compiled a selection of rather inferior alternative titles that unsurprisingly didn’t make the cut, says Shaun Usher in Lists of Note. Among them: Fun and Games, Let’s Play Islands and The Isle is Full of Noises.


It’s shrimp fried rice made entirely from wax, says Eater. Artist Kaylee Castleberry posts videos of her hyper-realistic creations on TikTok, where her @cravings4candles account has more than 210,000 followers. Previous efforts include a beef stew, Mexican-style corn-on-the-cob, and a peanut butter and Nutella sandwich. See more of her culinary candles here.


quoted 8.11.22

“I always pass on good advice. It’s the only thing to do with it. It is never of any use to oneself.” 

Oscar Wilde