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9-10 July

Inside politics

“I’ve made a terrible mistake. Boris is a disaster.”

I first heard that Boris Johnson had sacked my ex-husband Michael Gove when my son received a text from a friend, says Sarah Vine in the Daily Mail: “Is it true that Boris has fired ur dad?!” We switched off Love Island and got Michael on speakerphone. He said the PM “told me it was time for me to step back. I said, respectfully, ‘Prime Minister, if anyone should be stepping back, it is you.’” My son was delighted, “leaping off the sofa and punching the air”. When I asked Michael what he would do now, he said, simply: “Have a glass of wine and a slice of salami and see what tomorrow brings.”

Long reads shortened

The apartment block where you can’t say hello

The Olympic Tower is “obsessed with anonymity”, says Matthew Sedacca in Curbed. The 51-storey skyscraper on New York’s Fifth Avenue has an “unspoken building-wide arrangement” under which residents don’t say so much as hello in the lift. And it had no apartment numbers for almost half a century, until 2017, when complaints from the fire department led to “minuscule plaques” being added at the bottom of each door.


Face it, we’re overwhelmed by digital beauty

When you go on social media these days, you’re met with an endless scroll of gorgeous faces, says Felicity Martin in The Face. Thanks to apps like FaceTune, Snapchat and TikTok, it’s easier than ever to retouch our selfies with digital “face tweaks” that give you slim noses and pouty lips. When this kind of manipulation just took place in magazines, or in the photos of influencers, it was one thing – but now that everyone’s at it, we’re wrongly led to think our own looks fall short even by normal standards. We simply “weren’t meant to see this many beautiful faces”.


“He was Meghan to our House of Windsor”

When a succession of Cabinet rebels lined up to tell Boris Johnson to resign on Wednesday evening, he batted them all away with the same excuse: “I won 14 million votes. They were won by me, not by the Conservative Party. I have a mandate and a duty to finish the job.” But he’s wrong, says Fraser Nelson in The Daily Telegraph: you can’t impose a presidential model on a parliamentary democracy. Johnson “wanted a fan club but needed a team”, says one Cabinet member. “He was Meghan to our House of Windsor.”

Tomorrow’s world

Imagine if, on arriving at an airport, the departure board were personalised to you – rather than listing dozens of flights, the screen would display only your name, your flight details and directions to the gate. Well, says Quartz, head to Detroit Metro Airport and you may find exactly that. Delta passengers are now welcomed by a 21ft x 6ft “Parallel Reality” display board. Thanks to special pixels that can project millions of light rays in different directions, and facial recognition to identify customers, it can project individual itineraries for up to 100 travellers. “The goal is ‘a walking speed airport’,” says Delta’s Greg Forbes. “We’re really trying to take all the stress out.”


Marta Kauffman, the co-creator of Friends, has apologised for not including a black character among the sitcom’s six protagonists. “Admitting and accepting guilt is not easy,” she said, and for good measure bunged a university $4m to fund a professorship in African and African American studies. But hang on, says Michael Deacon in The Daily Telegraph: only 13.6% of Americans are black, “some way short of one in six”. Whereas 18.9% are Hispanic, just over a sixth. “According to modern progressive logic, Ross should have been Rodrigo, or Monica Maria.”


quoted 9.7.22

“I’m sure the universe is full of intelligent life. It’s just been too intelligent to come here.”

Science fiction writer Arthur C Clarke


When a team of editors began working on the third edition of the Oxford English Dictionary in 1993, they thought they’d be done by 2005, says Pippa Bailey in The New Statesman. Twenty-nine years later, they’re still only about “halfway through”. The 70-strong team works in pairs, swapping their initial efforts at defining words “in a kind of informal peer review”. Many entries are in dire need of revising. The first definition of “digital” in the second edition (published 1989) was: “Of or pertaining to a finger, or to the fingers or digits.” Often, the editors find that what many assume is a modern word or usage is actually centuries old: “doable” dates back to 1443; the hyperbolic use of “literally”, to 1769.

Staying young

You can easily get legal medical weed in the UK, says Ross Buchanan in Vice. Yes, really. The law was changed in 2018, after an outcry over parents being criminalised for giving cannabis to their kids to help with epileptic seizures. In 2019, the Sapphire Medical Clinic became the country’s first ganja-centred practice. “I’ve never had such an overwhelmingly positive experience,” says Buchanan. “I’d definitely recommend looking into it.” Take the eligibility assessment here. “Happy blazing!”


Being tall is a bit like having a puppy, says Benjamin Markovits in The Atlantic, “in that it forces you into a lot of fairly standard interactions with strangers”. I’m 6ft 6in and am constantly fielding slightly annoying questions about my height. The 7ft 1in basketball player Wilt Chamberlain was the same – only he was less patient. When someone asked him, “How’s the weather up there?” Chamberlain replied “Rainy”, and then spat on him.


Joe Biden has appointed a new anti-corruption czar. He’s called Rich Nephew.


Last month at Glastonbury, I spotted a man ordering a carton of milk, says Daisy Jones in Vice. In 28C heat he guzzled it down, “little streams of white liquid cascading down his chin”. I’m sorry, but adults drinking milk is fundamentally creepy – it’s as bad as a man “wearing a t-shirt and no pants like Winnie the Pooh, or when people kiss their dogs on the mouth for ages”. Film directors agree. In Stanley Kubrick’s A Clockwork Orange (pictured) there’s the Korova milk bar, in which Alex and his droogs “sup on drug-laced milk in preparation for a night of violence”. And in Quentin Tarantino’s Inglourious Basterds, Nazi colonel Hans Landa glugs milk before murdering an entire family. “I’m not saying that everyone who drinks milk is a murderous psychopath.” But I’m not not saying that.



This Victorian terraced home on leafy Albyn Road in southeast London dates to the late 19th century. It has four bedrooms, a light-flooded kitchen fitted with a wood-burning stove, and a money-saving air source heat pump. St Johns station is a two-minute walk away, with direct services running to London Bridge and Cannon Street. £1.15m.


This handsome 19th-century former vicarage sits on the banks of the River Severn in Gloucestershire. Set across more than 4,000 sq ft, the five-bedroom property features a bookshelf-lined study and a cosy drawing room with an open fireplace. Outside there is a self-contained coachhouse perfect for guests, a wildflower meadow, and an avenue lined with more than 30 rose bushes. Bristol city centre is under a half-hour drive away. £1.85m.



quoted 9.7.22

“The best way to find out if you can trust somebody is to trust them.”

Ernest Hemingway