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June 15

In the headlines

Boris Johnson deliberately misled parliament over Partygate, a report by MPs has concluded, and would have been suspended from the Commons for 90 days had he not already resigned. The Privileges Committee says the former PM conducted a “campaign of abuse and attempted intimidation” against its work, and recommends that he isn’t given the parliamentary access pass usually granted to ex-MPs. Russia is transferring nuclear weapons to Belarus, the first time since the fall of the Soviet Union that Moscow’s atomic arsenal has been deployed abroad. Alexander Lukashenko, the Belarusian dictator, boasted they were “three times more powerful than those dropped on Hiroshima and Nagasaki”. Scientists have created synthetic human embryos using stem cells, says The Guardian. The groundbreaking procedure, which sidesteps the need for eggs or sperm, could aid medical research, but obviously raises “serious ethical and legal issues”.


On 27 June, “the most expensive painting ever offered for auction in Europe” will go under the hammer at Sotheby’s in London, says the Evening Standard. Gustav Klimt’s Lady with a Fan is expected to fetch at least £65m, breaking the £59.4m record set by one of Monet’s Water Lilies in 2008. The portrait was likely Klimt’s final work – it was found on his easel after his untimely death in 1918.

On the money

In today’s world of “goody-goody business”, where every major company touts their ESG (environmental, social and governance) credentials, some are doing the opposite, says Adrian Wooldridge in Bloomberg. About 27 “anti-ESG” investment funds buy shares in “sin” industries like the arms trade. “Take your pick: the God Bless America ETF (ticker YALL), Point Bridge America First ETF (MAGA), or Strive US Energy ETF (DRLL).”

Quirk of history

These fragments from Ælfric’s Grammar, the earliest surviving textbook written in English, show that “haha” and “hehe” have been used to denote laughter since at least the 11th century, says linguist Danny Bate on Twitter. Though as one user points out, “What on earth could be so funny about Latin grammar?”


Love etc

Waddesdon Manor in Buckinghamshire has unveiled a giant wedding cake in its grounds, in which couples can get married. Designed by Portuguese artist Joana Vasconcelos, the 12-metre-high pastel sculpture has all the “flamboyant flair” of a 1980s dessert, says Tatler: three tiers in “sugary” shades of mint, blue and powder pink, adorned with intricate “piping” of dolphins, mermaids and cupids. Inside, there’s a kitschy chapel complete with twisty columns and jaunty carvings, described by the creator as a “temple to love”.


Prince Philip didn’t have much time for Silvio Berlusconi, says Patrick Kidd in The Times. After one meeting, Queen Elizabeth is said to have asked her husband why Italy’s PM was always shouting. “He’s Italian, my dear,” the Duke of Edinburgh replied. “How else would he sell his ice creams?”


It’s a drawing of James Bond, from a cartoon serialisation printed in the Daily Express before the films were made. The story goes that Sean Connery, a former Edinburgh milkman turned jobbing actor, was reading the Express in his dressing room when one of his fellow performers pointed out his resemblance to John McLusky’s sketch – and convinced him to audition for the role in Dr No.



“Only the shallow know themselves.”

Oscar Wilde