Reader favourites


Wit & Wisdom

“The most exciting phrase to hear in science, the one that heralds new discoveries, is not ‘Eureka!’ but ‘That’s funny.’”
Isaac Asimov, quoted on Universe Today

“I’ve decided to sell my Hoover… well, it was just collecting dust.”
Tim Vine, quoted in the Daily Mail

“All cruel people describe themselves as paragons of frankness.”
Tennessee Williams, quoted in The Hindu

“A person doesn’t know how much he has to be thankful for until he has to pay taxes on it.”
Ann Landers, quoted in U.S. News

“Politicians are the same all over. They promise to build bridges even when there is no river.”
Nikita Khrushchev, quoted in the Boston Herald

“A psychotic builds a castle; a neurotic lives in it.”
Yoko Ono, quoted in The Guardian

“News is what someone wants suppressed. Everything else is advertising.”
Attrib. William Randolph Hearst, quoted in The Washington Post

“I have come to regard the law courts not as a cathedral but rather as a casino.”
Richard Ingrams in The Guardian

“History has its truth; and so has legend hers.”
Victor Hugo, quoted in Forbes


Good week for…

Woody Allen, who received a lengthy ovation as he arrived at a press conference at the Venice Film Festival. The director, whose adopted daughter Dylan Farrow has accused him of sexually abusing her as a child, said that he thinks cancel culture is “silly”, and that his fall from grace in the US has not affected his work. But the 87-year-old said that his latest film – made in France, and described by some critics as his best for years – could be his last.

The UK economy, after revised ONS figures added almost 2% to its size. Previously, it was thought that the economy was, by late 2021, still 1.2% smaller than its pre-pandemic level. However, it is now clear that it was 0.6% larger, putting the UK’s recovery on a par with France’s, and ahead of Germany’s.


Bad week for…

The French, with reports that they are facing an infestation of bed bugs. The bugs are estimated to have invaded 11% of French homes, as well as hotels, holiday rentals, theatres and cinemas.

The Great Wall of China, after construction workers used a bulldozer to demolish a section of the ancient structure in Shanxi province. The workers had allegedly wanted to create a shortcut for trucks carrying equipment to a nearby building site.

Gavin Williamson, the former education secretary, who was ordered to issue a formal apology for bullying a colleague. The Independent Expert Panel found that Williamson had breached conduct rules by sending ex-Tory chief whip Wendy Morton a string of “offensive and intimidating” expletive-laden texts after he was not invited to the Queen’s funeral last year.


Poll watch

82% of prospective Labour voters in England and 53% of prospective Conservative ones are in favour of immediately extending access to free school meals to all children of families receiving universal credit, with a view to the policy being rolled out to all school children in the future.
Public First/School Food Review Working Group

Under-40s in Britain rank improving mental health as a higher priority than tackling climate change or bringing down crime rates.
More in Common/Rethink Mental Illness

Among voters in traditionally safe Tory seats in the South, Labour is now more trusted than the Conservatives to combat crime, by 28% to 21%.
Redfield & Wilton Strategies


Spirit of the age

The Church of England was once described as “the Tory party at prayer”, but that doesn’t describe its current clergy, a poll has found. Asked how they’d vote in an election tomorrow, just 13% said they’d vote Tory, compared to 36% who said Labour and 18% who said they’d opt for the Liberal Democrats. The survey also found that 75% of clergy backed Remain in 2016, and only 19% voted Leave.

The streets of Oxford have become so clogged with vans delivering goods to students that six colleges have asked for online shopping to be sent to a depot a mile outside the city as part of a trial scheme. The items will then be sorted and transported to each college once a day by cargo bike, reducing emissions and cutting congestion.


Statistics of the week

One in four teachers in England have personally provided food to their pupils because they were concerned about their welfare, a survey has suggested.
FareShare/The Independent

The most likely time to have a car crash is between 3pm and 3.15pm on a Friday.
Aviva/The Daily Telegraph



Burt Bacharach obituary: accomplished musician behind countless pop classics


Ten Things You Need to Know Today: 5 May 2023


Quiz of The Week: 14 – 21 April


Ten Things You Need to Know Today: 26 April 2023