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All the week’s wisdom in one place
11-17 June 2021

Behind the headlines

The pandemic

Bye-bye summer, you’re cancelled

Brits are usually an obedient bunch, says Simon Kelner in the I newspaper. But our “inalienable right” to fly away on a summer holiday is in existential peril. With travel to most of Europe demanding quarantine and expensive Covid tests, and Portugal being unceremoniously yanked off the green list after just three weeks, “another stay-at-home season” is on the cards. Mixed messages from the government aren’t helping. Toeing the line made sense at the height of the pandemic, but with more than half of British adults fully vaccinated, and low infection rates in many continental holiday spots, even “the most pliant layman” might bend the rules for a spot of “sun, sea and sangria”.

Ollie Robinson

Sunk by a silly teenage tweet

The suspension of England cricketer Ollie Robinson “shows our vengeful society needs to grow up”, says Douglas Murray in The Sun. On Wednesday, when the 27-year-old fast bowler was making his Test debut against New Zealand, “racist and offensive” tweets he had written aged 18 were dredged up. An ashen-faced Robinson issued an immediate apology, but the England and Wales Cricket Board has suspended him from international cricket while it carries out an investigation. Boris Johnson and Culture Secretary Oliver Dowden quickly came out to bat for Robinson. His tweets were “offensive and wrong”, said Dowden on Monday. “[They] are also a decade old and written by a teenager. The teenager is now a man and has rightly apologised.” Quite. Plenty of politicians have far spottier records.

Global Update


Quoted biden 11.6

“It’s gorgeous. I don’t want to go home.”

Joe Biden on St Ives, Cornwall

Inside politics

Churchill and FDR’s special relationship

The relationships between American presidents and British PMs range from chummy to icy, says Jack Blanchard in Politico’s Westminster Insider podcast. When Winston Churchill was sailing to Newfoundland to meet Franklin Roosevelt in 1941, he spent his days walking up and down the deck of the battleship, playing out potential conversations. The two men hit it off and, that December, Churchill stayed in the White House for three weeks as the pair discussed war strategy. They dined together every evening and drank a fair bit too. FDR even encountered Churchill naked in the bathtub, prompting the PM to quip: “The prime minister of Great Britain has nothing to hide from the president of the United States.”


Let’s not forget Orwell’s lesson

George Orwell’s 1946 essay Politics and the English Language shows just how intermeshed the two are, says Andrew Sullivan in The Weekly Dish. As the author said, English “becomes ugly and inaccurate because our thoughts are foolish, but the slovenliness of our language makes it easier for us to have foolish thoughts”. That still holds true. A US medical journal and podcast recently argued that socioeconomics, rather than structural racism, is the root cause of America’s social problems. Consider this attempt by the Institute for Antiracism in Medicine to put the opposite case.


Noted Hong Kong 11.6

The Hong Kong property market has broken yet another record: a parking space in the Peak has sold for HK$10.2m (£930,000). The previous record was a mere HK$7.6m (£610,000) for a spot in a skyscraper.



Quoted Gallagher 11.6

“Prince William. I feel that f***ing lad’s pain. He’s got a f***ing younger brother shooting his f***ing mouth off with shit that is just so unnecessary. I’d like to think I was always the William.”

Noel Gallagher on Prince Harry, in The Sun

Staying young

How fishing soothes the soul

The world’s best-paid actor, Dwayne “the Rock” Johnson, swears by fishing to unwind. “I’ve been raising my fish for over a decade now,” wrote the 49-year-old former wrestler on Instagram. “All my fish are fat, healthy, happy and AGGRESSIVE TO EAT – like their owner.” Johnson, who is worth $400m and has his own lake, also praised the mental benefits of being on the water. Fishing, he said, is a chance to “decompress” and “take mental inventory”.

After Hours

Everyone’s watching


I watched the whole of Jimmy McGovern’s three-hour prison drama Time “in a state of high anxiety”, says Anita Singh in the Telegraph. HMP Craigmore is not a holiday camp. One suspected “grass” has a kettle full of boiling water and sugar thrown in his face. Some inmates are scared. Some are “bullying psychopaths”. Thank God for Sean Bean and Stephen Graham, respectively playing a guilt-ridden inmate and a conflicted prison guard – “two actors at the very top of their game”.


What the critics liked

The great virtue of Margarette Lincoln’s new book, London and the 17th Century: The Making of the World’s Greatest City (Yale University Press £25), is to show us a world in flux, says Ian Bostridge in the Financial Times, “and what we recognise as a sort of modernity coming into being”. Despite “the chaos and catastrophe” that dominated 17th-century London – civil war, “devastating” plague and fire, “all in the matter of a few decades” – the city “rose to a European, even global eminence, which it has retained to this day”.

The country house

Built in the 16th century and remodelled 200 years later, Grade II listed Narborough Hall is in the Nar Valley, Norfolk. Set in 79 acres of parkland, woodland and lakes, the seven-bedroom house still has original fireplaces, rococo ceilings and carved wood panels. It has a pool, a cricket pitch and gardens that are open to the public. King’s Lynn is 10 miles away. £4.5m.

The hideaway

Poldark fans will love the Watch House, a four-bedroom Georgian house in Coverack, Cornwall, that was once used by excisemen and coastguards. Yards from the Atlantic, it has splendid sea views and a stony stretch of shore where you can take a bracing dip. It’s a 20-minute drive to Lizard Point and the South West Coast Path is on the doorstep. £1.5m.

The pied-à-terre

This beautifully presented west London maisonette is in a pastel-coloured terraced house near Notting Hill Gate, Holland Park and Kensington Gardens. Recently renovated and extended, it has two bedrooms, two bathrooms, a pretty private terrace and an open-plan living space. £1.69m.

The cottage

Beck Cottage is in a hamlet just outside Whitby, on the North Yorkshire coast. It has five bedrooms, a rustic kitchen with a walk-in pantry and an Aga, and plenty of period features, including exposed beams, open-grate fireplaces and wood-panelled walls. There’s a beck with fishing rights and a natural pool with a waterfall in its 55 acres of grounds. £700,000.

The townhouse

This timber-framed 15th-century townhouse is in the medieval grid of Bury St Edmunds, Suffolk. It has three bedrooms, a west-facing walled garden and bags of character, with exposed beams throughout and trapdoor access to the large cellar. £565,000.


Noted wild birds 11.6

British people spend between £200m and £300m a year feeding wild birds.


Quoted Deacon 11.6

“Let the Europeans be in no doubt. We want to be their friends. But if they dare disrespect the proud British sausage, we’ll be their wurst enemies.”

Michael Deacon in The Daily Telegraph

Five of the best

Deconstructed architecture

Imperial War Museum North, Manchester

Deconstructing Daniel Libeskind’s work “is like breaking down a symphony”, says Architectural Digest. “The many moving parts will move any critic toward appreciation.” Opened in 2002, Libeskind’s first UK building represents a globe shattered into three pieces.

Groninger Museum, Groningen, Netherlands

Built in 1874 in neo-gothic style, this Dutch museum was transformed in 1994 by a team of architects and designers led by Italian Alessandro Mendini. It made the news last year when a van Gogh from its permanent collection was stolen while on loan.

Walt Disney Concert Hall, Los Angeles

Completed in 2003, this concert hall in downtown LA was designed by Frank Gehry and funded by Lillian Disney, widow of Walt, as an ode to her husband’s devotion to the arts and the city. The undulating curves echo musical notes and the acoustics are fabulous – the Los Angeles Philharmonic is the resident orchestra.

National Stadium, Beijing

The flagship venue for the 2008 Olympics was designed by Swiss architects Herzog & de Meuron and Chinese artist Ai Weiwei. It’s known as the Bird’s Nest because of its organic, natural look.

City of Culture of Galicia, Santiago de Compostela, Spain

Peter Eisenman’s cultural complex near the medieval pilgrimage city was designed to look like rolling hills. It involves high-degree contours and thousands of floor-to-ceiling windows, most of which have a unique shape. It’s interactive, too: visitors can clamber up the rooftops where they’re not too steep.


Noted Dolly Parton 11.6

The young Dolly Parton stole her signature style from the “town tramp”. Like Parton, the local woman wore colourful patchwork skirts, cleavage-baring blouses, red nails, piled-up blonde hair and heels. “She was the prettiest thing I’d ever seen,” the singer told The Wall Street Journal. “When everybody would say, ‘Oh, she’s just trash,’ I’d say, ‘Well, trash is what I’m going to grow up to be.’”


Everyone’s wearing… corsets

In lockdown, comfort has been king, says Heather Gwyther in Buro247. And I’m fed up. “Corsets are the antithesis of casual clothing and, by consequence, an emblem of how we hope to dress in the post-pandemic era.” This leopard-print one from Umore is handmade with old Roberto Cavalli fabric. £225.

It’s sustainable… natural paint

Spruce up your home office with a lick of eggy yellow paint. Edward Bulmer Natural Paints do what it says on the tin: they’re natural (in other words, no nasty microplastics), carbon-neutral and zero-waste. The shade in the picture is Brimstone, £41 a litre.

Coming up… Father’s Day

It’s a week on Sunday, so get your order in sharpish. The Fortnum & Mason Foodhall hamper is spendy, but covers plenty of bases: a spiced orange ham, Scottish smoked salmon, cave-aged cheddar, a bottle of Beaujolais and more. And the wicker hamper will last for decades. £125.

He’s grooving… in a Cuban collar

Cuban collar, camp collar, bowling shirt – whatever you call them, these short-sleeved shirts have always had a “golf dad” vibe, says Heath Owens in Esquire. No longer. This bright orange collaboration between Vans Vault and Wacko Maria is more festival than fairway. £360.

They’re handmade… swirly glasses

Get in on the British brand Bias before everyone else does. It started out selling slip dresses in 2019, but now it’s expanding into homewares. We like these candy-cane glass tumblers – each one is blown by hand, so no two are the same. £28.


From the archives

“I will be the best actor around”

Arnold Schwarzenegger, star of The Terminator and former governor of California, went viral on Twitter this week after he posted this video of himself in the 1970s. The caption read: “Everything starts with vision and confidence.”

Quirks of history

Quirks of history microwave 11.6

The countertop microwave oven was created in 1954 for 10 shillings by James Lovelock, the scientist who won fame for his Gaia hypothesis, says Tom Scott on his YouTube channel. But Lovelock wasn’t cooking – he was researching cryogenics. He used his homemade microwave to defrost a frozen hamster, bringing it back to life. Alas, Lovelock’s dream of one day doing the same for humans did not come to pass. We’re too big for the cryogenic antifreeze to work, apparently.


5 June: Kolkata, India, 34C ⚡

10 June: Katoomba, Australia, 0C ❄️

10 June: New York, 24C 🌙

4 June: Karapinar, Turkey, 22C 🐐

10 June: Tobermory, Ontario, 20C 🌅

6 June: The Hague, Netherlands, 21C 👙

8 June: Richmond Park, London, 13C 🌞

9 June: Mumbai, India, 25C ☔

4 June: St Louis Park, Minnesota, 33C 💧