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All the week’s wisdom in one place
26 March-1 April 2021


Suez Canal quoted

“Sometimes we all get stuck.”

Sarah Jones on the Suez Canal traffic jam, in New York Magazine

Inside politics

Biden gives voters a welcome breather

President Biden’s boldest move hasn’t been his policies, but his “unavailability”, says Janan Ganesh in the Financial Times. His first press conference since taking office came later into his term than any president in the past 100 years. Since Bill Clinton, who thought of government as a “permanent campaign”, American presidents have loved hogging the limelight. But Biden “has given voters the time and space to busy themselves with other things”. It might sound superficial, but America needed nothing more urgently this year than to take a breather and cool down.


Biden weed noted

Dozens of junior staffers in the Biden White House have been suspended or asked to resign after admitting to past marijuana use – despite being informally told it would be overlooked. Even those who smoked cannabis in one of the 14 states where it is legal have been punished.


Elon Musk quoted

“If there’s ever a scandal about me, *please* call it Elongate.”

Elon Musk on Twitter

Everyone’s watching

Line of Duty

After two years away, the sixth series of Jed Mercurio’s bent-copper juggernaut began with a bang. An armed unit led by DCI Joanne Davidson (guest star Kelly Macdonald) shot a robber in the street. Amazingly, Davidson noticed a getaway van on the way to deal with another case. This aroused the suspicions of Ted Hastings (Adrian Dunbar), head of the anti-corruption unit: “You’d do well to spot a pipe band,” he noted. “The set piece played to all of Line of Duty’s strengths,” says Anita Singh in The Daily Telegraph. This was “taut, edge-of-the-seat stuff”.

The townhouse

This handsome double-fronted house is in southwest London, a short walk from Wandsworth Common and the shops and restaurants of Bellevue Road. It has five bedrooms, four bathrooms, a family room with bay windows and a feature fireplace, and sliding doors from the kitchen to the large garden. £3.15m.

The country house

Dating from the 16th century, Grade II listed Wiston Mill is in the heart of Constable country – the River Stour runs right past. The six-bedroom house is set in three acres of gardens, with a further 21 acres of meadows and outbuildings including a barn and cottage. It’s a mile and a half from Nayland and seven from Colchester. £1.75m.

The hideaway

An hour’s drive from Toulouse, this rustic farmhouse is in the Tarn département, known as “the Tuscany of France”. It has seven bedrooms, five receptions, a games room, indoor and outdoor kitchens, and a large garden with a heated saltwater pool and an enclosed vegetable plot. £797,000.

The penthouse

This light-filled three-bedroom flat is on the eighth floor of Television Centre, the BBC’s former HQ in west London. Designed by the prize-winning architects AHMM, with furnishings by Cassina, it has three private terraces and an open-plan layout that makes the most of the views. £3.8m.

The cottage

Medieval Newstead Abbey was the ancestral home of Lord Byron, and this Grade II listed cottage in its grounds has a suitably gothic air. The three-bedroom property occupies the front arch and tower of the abbey’s entrance, with views across Upper Lake. It’s a 20-minute drive from Nottingham. £480,000.


Vinyl noted

Last year British record labels earned twice as much from selling vinyl as they did from YouTube streams. Revenue from LPs is at its highest point since 1989.

Eating in

Andy Warhol’s 15 minutes of game

A rare satirical cookbook by a young Andy Warhol is being auctioned by Bonham’s, with an estimated price of $30,000-$50,000. Wild Raspberries, which took its name from Ingmar Bergman’s 1957 film Wild Strawberries, pokes fun at haute cuisine: “Omlet Greta Garbo” is “always to be eaten alone in a candlelit room”; “Gefilte of Fighting Fish,” calls on the cook to “immerse them in sea water and allow them to do battle until they completely bone each other.


Ben Affleck Noted

Ben Affleck halted filming on the movie Gone Girl for four days because he refused to wear a New York Yankees baseball cap. The director, David Fincher, wanted him to wear the hat because his character was from New York, but Affleck grew up in Massachusetts and is a loyal supporter of the Boston Red Sox. In the end the actor compromised and wore a Mets cap – still a New York team, but not such a bitter rival.

Eye-catching trees around the world

The Socotra dragon tree produces bright red sap, known as dragon’s blood, which is thought to have medicinal properties. The trees can live for centuries and are native to Socotra, an island off the coast of Yemen.

A strangler fig growing on the Buddhist temple of Ta Prohm in Siem Reap, Cambodia, which was built in 1186. These trees live up to their sinister name, often smothering and killing the hosts they grow on.

This beautiful great wisteria in the Ashikaga Flower Park, north of Tokyo, spreads over a quarter of an acre. It blooms in April, shortly after the celebrated cherry-blossom season, making spring a wonderful time to be in Japan.

Sequoias are the world’s biggest trees, typically growing to a height of up to 280ft, with a 16ft-33ft trunk diameter. The oldest known specimen, the President Tree in Sequoia National Park, California, is 3,200 years old.

One of the most photographed trees in the UK, this ancient sycamore next to Hadrian’s Wall in Northumberland is known as the Robin Hood tree, thanks to its starring role in the 1991 Kevin Costner film Robin Hood: Prince of Thieves. Sycamores are thought to have been introduced to Britain by the Romans.

On the way out

On the way out Simon McCoy 26.3

The BBC newsreader Simon McCoy, who this week announced he is leaving the station after 17 years. McCoy, 59, was notoriously sarcastic. When reporting the “breaking news” that the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge’s baby was due in April, McCoy sighed and said: “Bearing in mind they announced she was pregnant back in September… I’m not sure how much news this really is. But anyway, it’s in April, so clear your diaries, get the time booked off.”

She’s wearing… spring knickers

Good news: spring has sprung, the blossom is out and Monki has some great flowery knickers for sale. There’s a matching bra, too, and they’re both made with recycled polyamide – that’s a comfy, sustainable fabric, for those who don’t speak science. Get both for £18.

Obsessed with… Gergei Erdei

Move over Anissa Kermiche, says Vogue, this former Gucci designer is taking the reins. Erdei’s Grand Tour linen cushions and Zodiac place mats are inspired by “beautiful European scenes”, 1970s style icons and Renaissance Italy, and his recent launch includes ceramics and prints. Prices start at £70.

He’s draped in… a heart-y cardi

The French brand AMI Paris puts its heart on its sleeve – or knits it on its chest, in this case. This wool and cotton cardigan, £375, has an oversized fit and ribbed cuff, for elegant slouching. It also comes in pastel green and purple, to make the bright red logo pop.

We’re loving… extreme earrings

“Show your lobes some love,” says Jane McFarland in The Times, and put on a pair of oversized earrings. You’ll appear put-together on Zoom, even if youre still in PJs, and they detract from unloved lockdown locks. Simone Rocha’s red dangly pair for H&M have sold out and are fetching high prices on Vestiaire. But don’t worry – Uterque has you covered. From £40.

Layer up… with a gilet

Ticking the form and function boxes, the gilet is perfect for spring’s changeable temperatures. Take your pick from quilted, shearling, denim or heritage tweed. We love this padded vest from & Other Stories, worn over a knit and wide leg jeans, £85, and Mango’s printed gilet, £60.

The bottom pinching experiment

Watch the BBC TV presenter Nicky Woodhead pinch men’s bottoms in 1971, in the name of gender equality.

Quirks of history

Quirks of history Statues of Liberty

Frédéric-Auguste Bartholdi, creator of the Statue of Liberty, first tried to plant his luminous lady at the entrance to the Suez Canal. She was to be an Egyptian peasant swathed in robes and holding a torch, entitled “Egypt Bringing Light to Asia”. The Egyptians rejected the proposal in 1869, declaring it too costly.

Mar 18: St Petersburg, -5C ❄️

Mar 23: Bray, Ireland, 11🕊️

Mar 24: Srinagar, Jammu and Kashmir, 5C 🌅

Mar 23: Kiev, Ukraine, -2C ☁️

Mar 24: Gaza City, 19C 🌊

Mar 23: Tokyo, 14C 🌸

Mar 24: Sydney, 29C💧

Mar 24: Rio de Janeiro, 30C 🌞

That’s it. You’re done.