Well, the $120,000 worth of bling he made off with is probably some consolation—because, let’s face it, the pistol-wielding robber who liberated all that jewelry from the lobby of the George V hotel last week is never going to give Cary Grant any serious competition for Best-Dressed Hotel Thief. “The robber, who was wearing a crash helmet and a balaclava, smashed glass showcases with an axe, scooped up the jewels, stuffed them in his pockets and made his getaway on the pillion of a powerful scooter driven by his waiting accomplice,” reported The Times of London. The fact that a surveillance camera was able to record his clothing brands is just more evidence that, if and when the police catch this particular thief, it won’t turn out to be John “the Cat” Robie.
A government official in northeastern China got the broom after having been beaten with a mop. A now-viral 14-minute video shows a woman (identified by the surname Zhou) throwing things at a man (identified as Wang, the deputy director of the district’s Poverty Alleviation Department) and then taking a mop to him while swearing and accusing him of sexual harassment. “It was just a joke,” he is heard to say, while remaining seated and wiping his face. The South China Morning Post reported that “the Beilin district commission for discipline inspection had removed Wang from his office and party position for ‘lifestyle violations of discipline,’” and that Zhou would not be punished.
A 72-year-old Cotswolds farmer with a passion for growing three-pound potatoes and three-foot-long carrots is the unlikely new face (and overalls) for Gucci’s sustainable-bags-and-clothing collection. For Gerald “the Veg King” Stratford—self-described on his Instagram feed as “Gardener heavy into big veg”—life is, or briefly was, all limousines, makeup, and models. Also literature: a book called Big Veg, which Gerald is writing with his wife, Elizabeth, is in the works. But at least there’s still time for his prize-winning gardening. “Now what shall I do with this big boy celery,” he wondered not long ago on Twitter, alongside a photo of him holding a bunch of stalks the size of a snowboard.
The cinematographer who shot the unforgettable 1981 German submarine drama Das Boot has himself been submerged in lawsuits for 15 years, but at last a periscope has popped through the surface, as it were—meaning a possible end to the case, and certainly to this sentence’s labored trope. The Wolfgang Petersen film unexpectedly became a big hit ($240 million at the box office), and when Germany added a “fairness paragraph” to its copyright law, Jost Vacano, now 87, sued for additional compensation. And won, although the court now says the amount he was awarded—more than a million dollars, including legal fees—had been miscalculated, reported The Times of London, so the precedent-setting case hasn’t quite concluded. At least Vacano is no stranger to tests of endurance: during the two-year Das Boot shoot “up to 50 actors and crew were crammed into the stifling interior of a replica U-boat,” said the newspaper, while Vacano, “unable to get the footage he wanted with a conventional tripod … rigged up a handheld camera stabilised with a pair of gyroscopes.”
Maria Callas’s much-chronicled offstage life was truly the stuff of operatic drama, but things were worse than anyone knew—judging from previously unpublished letters from the great soprano made available to Lyndsy Spence for a new biography. According to The Guardian, Callas wrote that her paramour Aristotle Onassis abused her, and that her husband, Giovanni Battista Meneghini, was “a louse” who “passes for a millionaire when he hasn’t got a dime.” There’s also new material on Callas’s problematic relationship with her parents (her mother tried to pimp her out to Nazi soldiers in war-torn Athens, and her father wasn’t much better) as well as on Callas’s feud with her rival Renata Tebaldi—denied back in the 50s by both singers but confirmed here. Or so it would seem: “She’s as nasty and as sly as they come,” Callas wrote. Quite an encore.
Factor in the pandemic, during which every outfit begins with the sweatpants and just falls elegantly into place from there, and it was probably inevitable that a gastronomical rift would develop around the toque. It appears that the tall, white hat associated with a fine meal and looming penury is on the endangered list because—for many of today’s chefs—caps, berets, or simple tattoos seem to work just fine as kitchen covering. Not everyone is happy about this. “It always used to be the thing that everyone associated with chefs,” Christophe Marguin, chairman of the chefs association Les Toques Blanches Lyonnaises, told The Times of London. “Whenever we did a photo [of the city’s chefs] Paul Bocuse always insisted that everyone had a white vest, a white apron, a white toque, black trousers, black shoes and black socks. And I think he was right.” Choose your own interpretation, but … toques off to that.
The traffic-cop-topped podium that rises out of the cobblestones in Piazza Venezia is back in action after a year (roadwork, pandemic). And for the first time, one of the half-dozen white-gloved vigili, who work in shifts, is a woman—Cristina Corbucci. “To get the role, officers have to take lessons in gestures by the ‘maestro’ Fabio Grillo, who has been up and down on the podium since 2004,” reported The Guardian. It’s always seemed like one of the more impossible posts in the world, controlling chaos, but Grillo told the newspaper, “It’s a wonderful job. I mean look—we’re in the middle of this fantastic square which is a crossroads for Romans, tourists, everyone. You see everything.”
Six-year-old Sid Jhamat was in his family’s West Midlands garden using his fossil-hunting kit to dig for worms (Is that even allowed?) when he unearthed a Paleozoic horn coral. The fossil is estimated to date back between 250 and 488 million years, when England was underwater. Frustratingly, press reports don’t indicate whether any worms, Paleozoic or modern-day, were ever found.
George Kalogerakis is a Writer at Large for AIR MAIL