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All the week’s wisdom in one place
30 April-6 May 2021

No 10’s nightmare week

Will Boris bounce back?

Boris Johnson and Dominic Cummings have turned on each other with the “brutality” only former allies can muster, says James Forsyth in The Spectator. After No 10 accused Cummings of leaking Johnson’s text messages last week, the PM’s ex-chief adviser hit back. But forget the “quotable” allegation in the Daily Mail, most likely from Cummings, that Johnson said he’d rather let “bodies pile high” than allow a third lockdown (see Inside politics for more on this).


Boris Johnson quoted 30.4

“There’s one thing I object to in this farrago of nonsense I love John Lewis!”

Boris Johnson


Cancel culture could do for Dickens

This week marks a “sea change” in publishers’ reactions to their authors’ behaviour, says Ron Charles in The Washington Post. Staffers at Simon & Schuster petitioned bosses to drop a forthcoming book by Mike Pence for “complicity in perpetuating white supremacy” and “rehabilitating fascists”. At the same time, Norton permanently cancelled a brand-new biography of Philip Roth after its author, Blake Bailey, was accused of “inappropriate” sexual behaviour. Any unsold copies are being pulped, and he has been dropped by his literary agents. In the space of a few days, says DJ Taylor in The Times, “one of America’s most distinguished literary biographers has become a non-person”.


Real Madrid noted 30.4

Real Madrid star Marcelo is set to miss the second leg of his team’s crucial Champions League semi-final game against Chelsea next Wednesday after being named as a polling-station monitor in Madrid’s local elections. The Brazilian became a naturalised Spaniard in 2011, and Spanish law makes no exception for footballers on multimillion-pound salaries. At least he’ll get €65 for his day’s work.


Astronaut quoted 30.4

“I’ll be out at night and I’ll see a nice moon, and say, ‘Hey, that looks good.’ Then I’ll say, ‘Oh shit, I went up there one time!’”

Apollo 11 astronaut Michael Collins, who has died aged 90

The townhouse

This Grade II listed Georgian home is in Margate, Kent, near both the beach and the Turner Contemporary gallery. Recently restored, it has three bedrooms, a bespoke kitchen and a large roof terrace. There’s also a cellar and a large ground-floor office area with a separate entrance. £850,000.

The country house

Evelyn Waugh lived at Combe Florey House, near Taunton, Somerset, from 1956 until his death a decade later. Set in 35 acres, with a lake and views of the Quantock Hills, the Georgian manor has 10 bedrooms, seven bathrooms, an orangery, a separate three-bedroom cottage, a pool, a tennis court and a party barn. £5.5m.

The pied-à-terre

This south London cottage is on a peaceful street near Brixton and pretty Brockwell Park. It has an open-plan living area with underfloor heating and a working fireplace, a courtyard garden and a steel zig-zag staircase. There’s a walk-in dressing room off the main bedroom and a mezzanine sleeping platform above the second bedroom. £775,000.

The cottage

Brookside Cottage is a perfectly preserved Cotswolds home on a no-through road in Buckland, a quiet village 20 minutes’ drive from Moreton-in-Marsh. The three-bedroom property has oak floorboards, exposed beams, inglenook fireplaces and dormer and mullion windows. A babbling brook runs through the mature gardens. £975,000.

The hideaway

With 120 acres of vineyards, 17th-century Château de Mazelières is an oenophile’s dream, says Country Life. Near the pretty town of Nérac, in southwest France, the 17th-century home has eight bedrooms, six bathrooms, cosy family rooms and large entertaining spaces – there’s a spectacular vaulted ceiling in the dining room. Bergerac and Toulouse airports are both a 90-minute drive. £2.57m.


Weldon quoted 30.4

“Outdoor table service drinking culture and a party funding scandal. I didn’t expect Brexit to make us so French.”

The Economist’s Duncan Weldon on Twitter


Tom Jones noted 30.4

Each morning Tom Jones hangs upside down in the bathroom, ankles strapped to a board. The singer has used “inversion therapy”, usually a backache remedy, to put an extra inch on his height. At 80, he is back up to 5ft 10½in, the same as when he sang Delilah.

Beach shacks

East Pier Smokehouse, Fife

The bright blue East Pier Smokehouse is at the harbour’s edge in the pretty town of St Monans, with views of the Firth of Forth. Order smoked salmon pâté, crab cakes with wild garlic mayo and a glass of white wine for a laid-back lunch.

The Lobster Shack, Kent

Whitstable is famous for its oysters, but as the name suggests, you’ll find plenty of other seafood at this harbourside restaurant. The lobster and prawn mac’n’cheese and half-lobster baked with chilli and chorizo are local favourites, accompanied by Kentish Chapel Down wine or a beer from the Whitstable Brewery.

Café Canna, Inner Hebrides

Café Canna is on a remote Hebridean island accessed by sailing boat or on the ferry from Mallaig. Crab sandwiches and wild rabbit sausage rolls, made with local ingredients, are perfect for lunch. Alternatively, order a seafood platter for dinner.

The Beachhouse, Devon

Pile into this seaside shack overlooking picturesque South Milton Sands, near Salcombe, after a morning of swimming or paddleboarding. Order buttery scallops or a delicious crab sandwich. You can also rent the Beachhouse for an event.

Riley’s Fish Shack, Tyne and Wear

The husband and wife who run this restaurant in Tynemouth are sticklers for local sourcing and sustainability. The seafood comes from day boats and is cooked simply over a barbecue, the beer and hot chocolate are from local suppliers. Have breakfast, lunch and dinner on a deckchair on the sandy beach, with views of the North Sea.


Dilyn Liddle quoted 30.4

“I heard them rowing again this morning, look you. I had just completed my first dump of the day in Allegra Stratton’s handbag when I heard their voices spiralling upwards, the Man and the Woman… Carrie, who purchased me under the mistaken impression I was a peke who would lie gently across her bloody lap all day. And that shambling albino wreck, kind of half-dog half-man, who apparently runs the country, when his wife lets him…”

Dilyn the dog, as told to The Spectator’s Rod Liddle

Everyone’s wearing… gingham

Gingham is bigger than ever, says Phoebe McDowell in buro247. The print is so popular, “there’s no longer the concern that should you wear a gingham dress, someone might hold a picnic on your person”. Try this pink and white number from Coco Fennell – sister of the Oscar-winning Promising Young Woman director Emerald. £149.

It’s smokin’… Ooni Koda pizza oven

Serious about al fresco dining this summer? Invest in a pizza oven. This gas-powered Ooni Koda 12, £299, will cook a fresh pizza at 500C in just 60 seconds. If that’s too pricy, pop Aldi’s £40 pizza oven onto your barbecue for a margherita in 10 minutes; it should be back in stock online from 9 May.

It’s limited-edition… Uniqlo x JW Anderson 2021

The 2021 Uniqlo x JW Anderson collection has just dropped: the homespun summer staples feature embroidery, smocking and blanket stitching. Our fave among the traditional linens and cottons? The bucket hats. Socks £3.90, shirts, dresses and hats from £19.90.

It’s mood-boosting… table linen

Get ready to restart your indoor social life with a decorative tablecloth, says Katrina Burroughs in The Times, even if you’re “ambivalent” about making conversation and staying up after 9pm. Try H&M and Zara if you’re on a budget; for something splashier, this cotton Meadow tablecloth in teal from The Mews, £85, ticks all the boxes.

TikTok loves… green kitchens

Just before the pandemic hit, 50 Shades of Grey star Dakota Johnson gave us a video tour of her LA home. One year on, in typically random fashion, it has gone viral on TikTok. Gen Z loves Johnson’s all-green kitchen, complete with decorative limes. Tempted to copy the colour? It’s Alligator Alley, from Benjamin Moore, and it starts at £19 for 940ml.

When Orson Welles met Churchill

After a long reign as the greatest film of all time, Orson Welles’ Citizen Kane this week lost its 100% rating on the movie review website Rotten Tomatoes. It was replaced by Paddington 2. Here is Welles in 1970, talking to Dick Cavett.

Quirks of history

Asquith quirk 30.4

Margot Asquith, wife of the Liberal Herbert Asquith, had a way with a witty put-down. Addressed as “Margot” (with a strong T) by the American film star Jean Harlow, she is said to have replied that the T was silent, as in Harlow. She had decided views about décor, too. While her husband was PM (1908-16), she had the door of 10 Downing Street painted dark green because she thought it was classier than black.

Apr 23: Bangkok, Thailand, 32C ⚡

Apr 23: Grevenbroich, Germany, 13C🌷

Apr 25: Zhangye, China, 15C 🌪️

Apr 28: Ovacik, Turkey, 25C ⛰️

Apr 28: Gorteen Bay, Co Galway, 11C

Apr 28: The Netherlands, 13C 🐎

Apr 26: Glastonbury, Somerset, 14C 🌕