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All the week’s wisdom in one place
2-8 July 2021

Behind the headlines


Don’t be taken in by Beijing’s bluster

What all this pomp and nonsense on Tiananmen Square shows, says Kent Ewing in Hong Kong Free Press, is not the Chinese Communist Party’s “awe-inspiring achievements”, but rather the “insecurity” of a party that is “bankrupt” of any ideology beyond “blatant mercantilism” and a determination to crush dissent. Such insecurity is on grand display here in “little Hong Kong, which apparently posed such a gargantuan threat” that its long-cherished personal freedoms had to be crushed under the red boot of draconian national security legislation.

Climate change

A stifling heatwave hits Canada

Canada is so hot, you could bake an egg “on your forearm now”, says Heather Mallick in the Toronto Star. This week saw record 47.9C temperatures in Lytton, British Columbia, days before unseasonal wildfires burnt the town down. The Pacific Northwest is melting under a “heat dome” that’s already caused 300 deaths. The homeless are being found emergency accommodation in Toronto, where roads are buckling in the heat. A Vancouver resident told AFP that hotel rooms are selling out as people flock there for the air conditioning. “God, it’s hot out there.”

Global Update


Quoted Dean 2.7

“Neighbour just dropped off a football we’d kicked over the fence. I smiled, said, ‘Football’s coming home’. Delighted with myself.”

The Sunday Times’s Jonathan Dean on Twitter

Inside politics

Biden should trust his Catholic heart

Joe Biden’s Catholicism goes deep, says Andrew Sullivan in The Weekly Dish. At the G7 summit in Cornwall, he even went to Mass at a local church. This explains his liberal, compassionate attitude to immigrants, to gay and transgender people, and to tackling climate change. But he has “tragically blurred” Catholicism with critical race theory. The latter sees the world as a “zero-sum power struggle between ‘white’ and ‘non-white’”. But for Catholics “there is ‘neither Greek nor Jew’ – there is only humanity”. Biden is supporting “postmodern conceptions of gender identity” and pushing for “equity”, which, by allocating jobs to under-represented identities, “treats individual souls as simply fodder for benign social and racial engineering”.


My woke students are killing fiction

Life as an English professor is exhausting, says Frances Wilson in The Oldie. Students are consumed by wokeness. The students of one of my academic friends demanded a “trigger warning” on WB Yeats’s poem Leda and the Swan because it contains a rape scene. It’s true that Zeus, in the form of a swan, rapes Leda. She then gives birth to the woman behind the Trojan war, Helen – “whose face will launch a thousand ships”. It’s a chilling piece of violence, but it’s also “the birth of the classical era”. After all, the Trojan war inspired The Iliad and The Odyssey. A trigger warning belittles this. It “is tantamount to the death of western literature”.


Noted Diana 2.7

The statue to celebrate the 60th birthday of Diana, Princess of Wales, has received unfortunate reviews. Two stars for this piece of Laura Ashley-wearing tat, says the Times. If only we could email Bernini in 17th-century Rome to get something proper, says The Guardian: this statue, like other 21st-century ones, is silly, sterile and insignificant. “The flower beds are nice though.”



Quoted Chorley 2.7

“Matt Hancock is very hands on with the morning exertions in his office. Hands, face, space indeed. Who knew that in an emergency your taxpayer-funded aide could be used as a mandated face covering? … Over at the Home Office, Priti Patel has a high-tech rowing machine which plays the sound of crying refugee children bobbing around in an inflatable boat in the Channel then urges her to row faster and get close enough to harpoon the dinghy.”

Matt Chorley imagines politicians’ morning routines, in The Times

After Hours

The country house

Dating from the early 18th century, and available to buy for the first time, Pengreep Estate is near Gwennap, Cornwall. The Grade I listed manor has 13 bedrooms and is set in 246 acres, with a walled kitchen garden, lakes, woodland and 170 acres of organic farmland. The sale includes a coach house, two farmhouses and two flats. Truro is seven miles away. £7m.

The pied-à-terre

This recently refurbished two-bedroom flat is in a Grade II listed building at the heart of Bloomsbury, across the road from the British Museum. It has arched sash windows and the owner can use the private Bedford Square Gardens, a stone’s throw from the property. It’s a five-minute walk to Holborn Tube station. £2.1m.

The cottage

This charming Grade II listed farmhouse near Chard, Somerset, is thought to have belonged to Sir Francis Drake. It has six bedrooms, exposed beams, fireplaces, an Aga, a kitchen island, a barn and a 1.63-acre garden. £1.15m.

The townhouse

This four-bedroom house is on a private lane in Highgate, north London, next to Hampstead Heath. It has a spiral staircase with oak steps, a conservatory, a balcony, a walled garden and splendid views. Both Highgate Tube station and Kenwood House are a 15-minute walk away. £3.65m.

The hideaway

Built in the 17th century as servants’ quarters for Sandhoe Hall, Northumberland, this Grade II listed house has an “upside-down” layout, with its three bedrooms downstairs. There’s a garden and a summerhouse with a wood-burning stove. For trains to Newcastle and London, head to Hexham, 2½ miles away. £650,000.


Noted Ronaldo 2.7

Cristiano Ronaldo is Instagram’s highest-paid influencer, earning up to £1.16m for a single sponsored post. The Portuguese football star makes nearly £30m a year from the social media platform, which is not far off his salary at his club, Juventus. This year he has advertised gym kit, aftershave, hair transplants, underwear and an online university to his 308 million followers.


Quoted Rumsfeld 2.7

“There are things we know we know. We also know there are known unknowns – that is to say, we know there are some things we know we do not know. But there are also unknown unknowns – the ones we don’t know we don’t know.”

Former US defence secretary Donald Rumsfeld, who has died aged 88

Five of the best


Stourhead, Wiltshire

Described as “a living work of art” when it opened in the 1740s, Stourhead’s garden featured in the recent TV adaptation of The Pursuit of Love. At its heart is an exquisite lake with a Palladian bridge, while shady paths lead to a pantheon, a grotto and a Temple of Apollo.

Tresco Abbey Garden, Isles of Scilly

Home to 20,000 plants from more than 80 countries, this subtropical garden was established in the ruins of a Benedictine abbey. Star attractions include towering palm trees, giant flame trees and magnificent king proteas.

Buscot Park, Oxfordshire

This garden near Faringdon is a haven for 60 species of breeding birds, including woodlarks, kingfishers and great spotted woodpeckers. Highlights include a water garden designed by Harold Peto and a “four seasons” walled garden with a lily pond and old French roses.

Bodnant Garden, Conwy

This hillside garden near Colwyn Bay, in the foothills of Snowdonia, is known for its beautiful laburnum arch and remarkable array of rhododendrons. Roses, hydrangeas and water lilies are all in bloom at the moment.

Levens Hall, Cumbria

Dating from the 1690s, the topiary garden at this Elizabethan house south of Kendal is the oldest in the world – ancient box and yew trees have been clipped into an array of abstract or geometric shapes. Look out for kingfishers and rare-breed Bagot goats as you stroll around the 10-acre site.


Noted Costello 2.7

Elvis Costello has defended Gen Z superstar Olivia Rodrigo against accusations of plagiarism after a Twitter user claimed her new song Brutal was “pretty much a direct lift” from Costello’s Pump It Up. “This is fine by me,” said the 66-year-old singer. “It’s how rock’n’roll works. You take the broken pieces of another thrill and make a brand-new toy.”


It’s back… Juicy Couture

Brace yourself: Juicy Couture is back, says Meera Navlakha in Buro247, “with a pastel-coloured, diamond-encrusted vengeance”. Noughties It girl Paris Hilton is parading around Instagram in hers. Tops cost £90, bottoms £80.

They’re handmade… Henry Holland ceramics

Last year Henry Holland left his fashion label, House of Holland – and took up pottery. The results are quirky, colourful ceramics, made using a Japanese technique called nerikomi. Prices start at £30, exclusively at Liberty.

We’re loving… Banana Moon swimwear

Make a splash this summer in Banana Moon swimmers. Inspired by the Californian beach scene, they’re colourful, sexy and easy to wear. Pick up this lifeguard swimsuit for £68.

They’re personal… Love Island water bottles

Is ordering a customised Love Island water bottle ridiculous? Almost certainly. But the 250,000 people who bought one in 2018 would probably beg to differ. Get yours before they sell out. £20.

He’s loafing around in… Birkenstocks

Birkenstocks have always been comfy, thanks to their orthopaedic soles, but now they’re firmly planted in the fashion zeitgeist as well. The open-toed Arizona starts at £65 in cork, but if you’re heading to the beach, opt for a pair in waterproof plastic, from £35.


From the archives

A rally to remember

Iranian tennis player Mansour Bahrami is famous for his trick shots. He didn’t touch a real racquet until he was 13 – he taught himself how to play with a frying pan instead. Here he is, aged 62, at Wimbledon in 2018.


Quoted Popbitch 2.7

“Why is the government like Ikea? One wrong screw and your whole cabinet falls apart.”

The Popbitch newsletter


30 June: La Paz, Mexico, 24C ⛰️

28 June: Moscow, 22C ☔

26 June: Hanoi, Vietnam, 34C 🌆

30 June: Oslo, Norway, 21C 🌊

29 June: Kathmandu, Nepal, 26C 🌾

30 June: Beijing, 28C ⚡

29 June: Gaza City, 34C 💧

26 June: Probolinggo, Indonesia, 27C 🌋