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All the week’s wisdom in one place
18-24 June 2021

Behind the headlines

Russia summit

Biden squares up to Putin

Before they had said a word to one another at the Villa La Grange in Geneva on Wednesday, Joe Biden and Vladimir Putin had given “a masterclass in non-verbal communication,” says Torsten Krauel in Die Welt. Biden brought the bigger motorcade – 38 vehicles to Putin’s 17 – but, unlike “the fit judoka and hockey player”, the 78-year-old US president had at least one ambulance in his. Yet it was Putin who looked “nervous” compared to the “cool” Biden. He arrived 15 minutes early and, in the official handshake, “stuck his arm out a lot further than the US president”.

Global Update


Quoted Star 18.6

“Hopeless bloke said hopeless bloke is hopeless, says hopeless bloke.”

The Daily Star on Dominic Cummings


No Bolly these days, sweetie darling

We’d talk ourselves out of making Absolutely Fabulous in 2021, says Jennifer Saunders in The Sun. “I think people do talk themselves out of stuff now because everything is sensitive.” Today’s “small-mindedness” spoils all the fun. “I remember jokes.” She has a point, says Marianka Swain in The Daily Telegraph. When Eddy discovered that the father of Saffy’s baby was black, she delightedly branded mixed-race infants “the Chanel of babies”: the must-have accessory of the season. And don’t forget the running trans jokes. Eddy reveals that Patsy spent a year in the 1970s living as a man, until her male appendage “fell off”.


Noted Musk 18.6

Last May, Tesla CEO Elon Musk announced he was selling everything he owned. “I am selling almost all physical possessions,” tweeted the second richest man in the world. “Will own no house.” Now he has followed through. He’s believed to have sold seven homes already, and this week he advertised his final house on Twitter. “It’s a special place,” he wrote. “Just needs to go to a large family who will live there.” Whether he will live out of a Tesla remains to be seen.



Quoted Bella Mackie 18.6

“I was accepting about no foreign holidays until today. Today I learnt that fully vaccinated American celebrities are all over Europe in bikinis. My petty soul cannot make peace with this.”

Writer Bella Mackie on Twitter


I love footie. What are the rules again?

I never understood the point of football, says Marie Le Conte in Medium. I would always just “smile politely” when people talked about it. Then, during the 2014 World Cup, it clicked: watching and discussing football allows you to not do any work in a socially acceptable way. I loved seeing countries go up or get eliminated. “It was a joy to watch England do so poorly, because I am French and I wanted them to crash and burn.” I supported Iran “because their players were beautiful” and I backed Argentina in the final because of a lovely holiday I once had in Buenos Aires.

After Hours


What the critics liked

Horst Krüger’s memoir, The Broken House: Growing Up Under Hitler (Bodley Head £14.99), has been described as one of the most evocative books about life in the Third Reich, says Dominic Sandbrook in The Sunday Times. It is “short, lacerating and exquisitely written”. First published in 1966 and newly translated into English, it is the story of a young man “who was neither an enthusiastic Nazi nor a committed dissenter, but simply an ordinary middle-class German”.

The country house

Don’t be fooled – this isn’t the Italian Riviera. This three-bedroom house is on the banks of the River Dart, near Dartmouth Castle and 13 miles from Totnes. It has a wraparound terrace, a sunroom, gardens that slope down to the river’s edge and a boat shed with a davit, so you can lower your boat into the water. £3m.

The cottage

This Berkshire cottage has been extended into a six-bedroom home with a games room, a library and a large kitchen-diner. It has a kitchen garden and a one-bedroom flat above the garage. There are trains to London from Newbury, six miles away, and it’s near Highclere Castle – the real-life Downton Abbey. £1.85m.

The hideaway

This three-bedroom house is in southeast Mallorca, between the medieval town of Felanitx and the coast – it’s surrounded by countryside, with glorious sea views. It has high ceilings, wooden beams, fireplaces, a guest flat, manicured lawns and an infinity pool. Palma airport is a 45-minute drive. €3.2m.

The pied-à-terre

A pair of Grade II listed Georgian houses on Ramsgate’s waterfront have been converted into nine flats with sea views and communal gardens. The two- and three-bedroom apartments have sash windows, oak floors and wood-burning stoves. It’s a mile to the station, for trains to London. From £265,000.

The townhouse

A short walk from Worcester Cathedral, the Old Schoolhouse is a four-bedroom Georgian semi with a sheltered garden and uninterrupted views of the Malvern Hills. Period features include high ceilings, sash windows and fireplaces. There’s a two-bedroom flat with a private entrance on the lower ground floor. £785,000.


Noted herring 18.6

The Netherlands is giving free pickled herring to those who get their Covid jabs. About 75 million Hollandse Nieuwe – new-season Dutch herring – are scoffed in the country each year, either whole or with chopped onions on bread. Barrels of the fish are being dispatched to vaccination centres around the nation.


Quoted Simon Blackwell 18.6

“How do people have so many opinions? I’m 55 and have about seven opinions, and three of those are probably wrong.”

Five of the best


Burano, Italy

The Venetian Lagoon is home to a series of small islands with canals running along their streets. On Burano, a 45-minute vaporetto ride from Venice, the vibrant pastel buildings are reflected in the water.

Mykonos, Greece

The Cycladic island’s capital, Mykonos Town, is full of cobbled streets that wind past whitewashed houses, with views of the sparkling Mediterranean at every turn.

Jerez de la Frontera, Spain

This Andalusian city is known for sherry, and the streets of its historic centre reflect this. Grapevines grow up the façades of the buildings, providing welcome shade from the hot Spanish sun.

Lijiang, China

This city in Yunnan province has a Unesco-listed old town that dates from the 13th century and is famous for its canals and walkways. Take a selfie on Qiyi Street Chongron Alley or Wuyi Street Wenzhi Alley.

Pretoria, South Africa

Between September and November, jacaranda trees come into bloom in the South African capital, jazzing up the suburbs with gorgeous purple blossom. The tree is native to South America and was first planted in South Africa in the 1880s.


Noted Indian man 18.6

An Indian man has died aged 76, leaving behind an estimated 38 wives, 89 children and 36 grandchildren. Ziona Chana, head of the world’s largest family, belonged to a sect founded by his grandfather that promoted polygamy for men. The whole family live and eat together in a four-storey home in Baktawng, a village in northeast India, and Chana’s wives used to take turns sharing his bed. A standard family meal involves 100kg of rice, 30 chickens and 60kg of potatoes.


Everyone’s renting… wedding guest dresses

Wedding season is back – without the stress about what to wear. A boom in rental fashion means you can “wear a high-end brand for a fraction of the cost”, says Rachel Moss in HuffPost. This De La Vali dress is (briefly) yours for £75 from Endless Wardrobe.

We’re coveting… pink tiles

Warm up your bathroom with Fired Earth’s Forecast Lundy tiles. Made in Spain, they evoke summery beach vibes – and, right now, there’s 20% off. £73.47 a square metre.

He’s laced up… Comme des Garçons x Converse

The 10-year collaboration between Comme des Garçons and Converse is easily recognisable: look for the telltale heart peeping above the sole. New blue and grey colourways have been released for summer. £130.

We’re loving… table linen

The “key to summer entertaining” is pretty table linen, says Sheerluxe magazine. Pick up a set of Birdie Fortescue’s arabesque floral napkins, £14.50 each, to brighten up your table. A matching tablecloth costs £150 and scalloped placemats are £17.50 each.

They’re footloose… woven sandals

Woven sandals are set to have “one hell of a comeback” this summer, says Naomi May in Stylist. They’re super-chic and look great with jeans, skirts and linen trousers. Toast’s Heirloom leather slides, £145, are “as cosy as they are cool.”


On the money

A new business model at Victoria’s Secret

Victoria’s Secret Angels, a group of scantily clad supermodels with Jessica Rabbit curves, are out of a job. The “avatars of Barbie bodies and playboy reverie”, as The New York Times describes them, have been replaced by the VS Collective, “seven women famous for their achievements and not their proportions”. They will spearhead what the paper says may be “the most extreme and unabashed attempt at a brand turnaround in recent memory”.

From the archives

The million-dollar mermaid

Part Olympic swimmer, part ballet dancer, part actress – Esther Williams was Hollywood’s greatest aquatic star. Here she is performing underwater ballet in Million Dollar Mermaid.

Quirks of history

Quirks of history shirt buttons 18.6

Men’s buttons are on the right-hand side of a shirt, but women’s are on the left. One theory is that men held swords in their right hands, so it was convenient to use the left hand for unbuttoning. And women tend to hold babies in their left arms, so prefer to have their right hand free. Another rumour has it that it’s down to Napoleon. The French emperor often posed with his right hand tucked under the left-hand side of his waistcoat, and women would imitate him. To stop the jokes, he ordered women’s shirts to be buttoned on the opposite side.


16 June: Venice Beach, LA, 23C 🌅

13 June: Kuwait City, 43C 🌴

13 June: Havana, Cuba, 23C ☔️

13 June: Paris, 25C 🎈

15 June: Ajmer, India, 38C 💧

12 June: Mount Buller, Australia, 8C ⛷

15 June: Leeds, West Yorkshire, 21C 🦆