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9-10 September


“The name’s Bond. James Bond. He/him.”

After decades fighting “evil masterminds bent on Britannia’s destruction”, says Ross Douthat in The New York Times, “the 21st-century version of James Bond has found a very 21st-century antagonist”. In the newest 007 novel, On His Majesty’s Secret Service by Charlie Higson, our hero is charged with protecting King Charles III from a new breed of supervillain: a Brexity “Little Englander” who goes by the nom de guerre Athelstan of Wessex. Bond, while carrying on a healthy “situationship” with a busy immigration lawyer, infiltrates a right-wing conspiracy to foil a terrorist attack at Charles’s coronation, musing all the while on the “superiority of the metric system and the deplorable dog whistles of populism”. The book’s mere existence seems “designed to agitate conservatives”.

Inside politics

It’s a mark of the speed at which “recently loathed leaders become more palatable”, says Emma Brockes in The Guardian, that the new portrait of Theresa May “triggered not the gag reflect of yore but something almost like warmth”. Credit to the artist, Saied Dai, who has managed to imbue a politician not known for her “inspirational leadership style” with an air that “appears almost noble”. Opinion is rather more divided in Westminster, says Tim Stanley in The Daily Telegraph. Yes, some think the arm across the midriff makes the former PM appear “Napoleonic”. Others think she looks like she’s “regretting last night’s curry”.

The flat

This one-bedroom apartment is on the first floor of Pullens Buildings, one of London’s last surviving Victorian tenement complexes, near Elephant and Castle in south London. It has a light-filled sitting room, a compact kitchen with exposed brick walls, and a dining area set around a 19th-century cast-iron fireplace. Other features include original wooden floorboards and access to a communal roof terrace with views across central London. Tube stations (Kennington and Elephant and Castle) are a 10-minute walk. £500,000.

The estate

Keiss Castle is the centrepiece of this coastal estate near John O’Groats in northeast Scotland. Spread across four floors and 11,300 sq ft, the 18th-century baronial abode is in need of refurbishment and modernisation. The property also includes a four-bedroom farmhouse, a two-bedroom gate lodge, and a working arable and livestock farm with 786 acres of land. Perched on the cliff in front of the main building is the ruin of the original, 16th-century Keiss Castle. Inverness is 2hr 30min by car. £1.8m.

Quirk of history

When Ernest Hemingway and his wife Mary went on safari in east Africa in 1954, they ended up in two plane crashes in two days, says NPR. The author later wrote about it in a letter to his lawyer, which has just been sold at auction for $237,000. He details how their first plane “cracked up” and was forced to land in the jungle – and how the next day, the rescue plane caught fire. “I am weak from so much internal bleeding,” he wrote, in reference to his ruptured kidney and damaged liver and spleen. “Have been a good boy and tried to rest.” Hemingway also complains about Abercrombie & Fitch sending his hunting guns to the wrong address in Nairobi, forcing him to use a shoddy borrowed weapon to shoot lions. “Their carelessness in shipping imperilled both my life and livelihood.”


quote 9-9 Marty

“A study of economics usually reveals that the best time to buy anything is last year.”

US comedian Marty Allen


quoted 9-9-23 Dorothy

“I always have a quotation for everything – it saves original thinking.”

Dorothy Sayers