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All the week’s wisdom in one place
19-25 November 2021

Behind the headlines

The Belarus crisis

Is Putin really to blame?

Vladimir Putin is unleashing a “hybrid war” on Europe, says Nataliya Vasilyeva in The Daily Telegraph. Ukraine’s foreign minister, Dmytro Kuleba, calls it Russia’s “strategy to shatter Europe” on multiple fronts: migrants massing on the EU border, disinformation and using gas supplies to bully Europe’s leaders. “These are not separate events.” Throw in the military build-up on Ukraine’s border – 90,000 troops and 1,200 tanks and missile launchers at the last count – and Russia’s decision to blow up a satellite this week, and you start to see the pattern.

Global Update


quoted Khorsandi 19.11

“I was raised a socialist. I’m trying to earn enough to become a socialist again.”

Comedian Shaparak Khorsandi


Nights out are more fun on your own

I love a “wine-fuelled evening with my favourite people” as much as anyone, but there’s a unique pleasure in doing things alone, says Abby Young-Powell in the I newspaper. You can immerse yourself in the film no one else wanted to see. You can people-watch in a café and “eat your favourite noodles with sauce dripping down your chin”. In Berlin, where I live, you’re more likely to get into exclusive clubs such as Berghain if you turn up on your own.


noted Mackenzie 19.11

MacKenzie Scott, Jeff Bezos’s ex-wife, gave $8.6bn to charities in the year to June, and has vowed to “keep at it until the safe is empty”. That’s harder than it sounds, says The Economist. The source of her fortune is a 4% stake in Amazon. Its share price has nearly doubled since her divorce in 2019, increasing what’s in the safe by $30bn.


Benedict Cumberbatch

Ask nicely and I’ll make you a horseshoe

In Jane Campion’s “mind-blowing” western The Power of the Dog, Benedict Cumberbatch plays a sadistic Montana ranch owner, Phil Burbank. And he didn’t break character during the whole 12-week shoot, says Johnny Davis in Esquire. “I gave myself nicotine poisoning three times,” he says. When you smoke filterless rollies a lot, “it genuinely is horrible”. He didn’t wash for six days at a time: “I wanted that layer of stink on me.”


quoted Willoughby 19.11

“I have found the best way to break in new shoes is to wear them during sex.”

TV presenter Holly Willoughby in her new self-help book, Reflections

After Hours


noted blue tits 19.11

Blue tits, flycatchers and other birds fake their own deaths to scare off intruders, says Katherine Wu in The Atlantic. According to a biologist at the University of Oslo, they line their nests with white feathers to create a grisly murder scene, in the hope that rival birds will be too afraid of lurking predators to steal their homes.

The country house

Once the home of sculptor Elisabeth Frink, seven-bedroom Woolland House is in the Dorset Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty, 10 miles from Blandford Forum. It has a grand hall with vaulted ceilings, a pool and 17 acres, with a coach house, a cottage, Frink’s vast former studio, equestrian facilities and a trout lake. £4.25m.

The hideaway

You can jump straight into the Med at this sun-drenched French villa between St Tropez and Cannes. It has four bedrooms, terraces, a heated pool, a hot tub, a hammam and a studio flat in the garden. €7.9m.

The townhouse

Winchester is a “hub for those seeking the cocktail-belt lifestyle”, says The Times, combining city comforts and country calm. The Grade II listed Clock House is near the city centre, with views of the medieval cathedral and the South Downs. It has four bedrooms, two bathrooms and a courtyard garden. £1.995m.

The cottage

Rainbow Cottage is next to the River Frome in Friary, a pretty hamlet six miles southeast of Bath. It has four bedrooms, a conservatory and more than a third of an acre of gardens, with fruit trees, the remains of a medieval watermill and a terrace leading down to the water. £850,000.

The pied-à-terre

This ground-floor flat is part of a quiet Victorian terrace in south London, near Dulwich Park and buzzy Lordship Lane. It has two bedrooms, sash windows, original floorboards and a home office at the end of the private garden. £650,000.

On the way back

on the way back dubonnet 19.11

The French aperitif Dubonnet, an essential part of the Queen’s favourite cocktail, gained a royal warrant last week – and promptly sold out in Waitrose. Sales of the previously unfashionable drink, which tastes sweet with a hint of bitterness, are up 100% year on year, says the supermarket. Until recently the Queen drank two stiff gin and Dubonnet “head-starters” with ice and lemon before lunch.

Five of the best

Russian metro stations

Komsomolskaya, Moscow

Designed by Alexey Shchusev as a “palace for the people”, this station opened to the public in 1952. It has a baroque ceiling and eight mosaics depicting Russian military heroes.

Avtovo, St Petersburg

The ceiling of Avtovo station is supported by 46 columns: 30 made of white marble, the rest decorated with glass. Opened in 1955, it has a mosaic commemorating the siege of the city during World War Two.

Elektrozavodskaya, Moscow

Taking its name from nearby factories, “Electric Station” opened in 1944 and has an arched ceiling containing 318 lamps. There are portraits of famous scientists on the walls and marble bas-reliefs depict the struggle on the home front during the war.

Mayakovskaya, Moscow

One of several Moscow stations designed by Alexey Dushkin, Mayakovskaya opened in 1938 and was used as a bomb shelter during the war. Stalin gave a speech here in 1941.

Ploshchad Revolyutsii, Moscow

This station is lined with bronze statues of Soviet workers by Matvey Manizer. Good luck is said to come to those who rub the soldier’s pistol, border guard’s dog and female student’s shoe – they’re certainly well polished.  


quoted Mae West 19.11

“I generally avoid temptation unless I can’t resist it.”

Mae West


On the money

That’s one way to celebrate a divorce

Artworks from an acrimonious divorce have raised $676m at auction in New York, the most valuable sale ever held at Sotheby’s. Works by Rothko, Warhol and Pollock, acquired over more than half a century by real-estate magnate Harry Macklowe and his wife, Linda, were put on the market after the warring couple could not agree on the collection’s value. A judge concluded that the only way to establish its worth was to test the market and ordered the works to be sold.

From the archives

A stroke of good luck

This week a golfer from Cirencester hit two holes-in-one within six days, much to the surprise of Cirencester Golf Club. John King told the Mirror that he has since been banned from using his utility club on the course due to suspicions surrounding his sporting success. Here’s one of the more extraordinary holes-in-one, from the Canadian Open in 2009.

Quirks of history

quirks of history ouija 19.11

A ouija board helped British officers Harry Jones and Cedric Hill escape from a Turkish prisoner-of-war camp during World War One. The pair convinced the camp’s commandant and his assistant, nicknamed “the Pimple”, that they were in touch with a spirit that knew the location of a buried Armenian fortune. In the hope of getting their hands on the mythical treasure, their captors helped them escape to a mental hospital that eventually sent them back to Britain.


17 Nov: Denizli, Turkey, 19C 💧

15 Nov: London, 12C 🍁

15 Nov: Ichinomiya, Japan, 20C 🏄‍♂️

15 Nov: New Delhi, India, 26C ☁️

15 Nov: Zhangye, China, 7C ⛰

16 Nov: New York, 8C ❄️

15 Nov: Wyangala, Australia, 5C 🌊

16 Nov: Bissau, Guinea-Bissau, 35C 🌞

17 Nov: British Columbia, Canada, 7C 🌧