It turns out that the ill-fated Operation Jubilee, in August 1942—an amphibious assault on this Nazi-occupied French town during which more than half of the 6,000-plus Allied troops were killed, wounded, or taken prisoner within 10 hours—was just a bit of sleight-of-hand misdirection designed to cover a secret mission directed by Lord Mountbatten and a young naval-intelligence officer, the pre–James Bond Ian Fleming. According to The Guardian, Leah Garrett, in her new book, X-Troop: The Secret Jewish Commandos of World War II, describes how the attack was intended to draw attention while the British government deployed an elite group of five trained, interned German refugees dressed in military uniforms “on a secret cloak-and-dagger mission to occupied Dieppe to snatch an Enigma coding machine from under the Nazis’ noses.” (The Enigma was a mid-20th-century alphabet-scrambling cipher machine that the Nazis, who mistakenly considered it infallible, depended on to send top-secret messages.)
The newspaper reports that “Garrett unearthed a long-classified, after-action report written by one of the Sudeten Germans, known by his Anglicised name Maurice Latimer, who said his orders were ‘to proceed immediately to German General HQ in Dieppe to pick up all documents, etc of value, including, if possible, a new German respirator’”—presumably a reference to the Enigma, an earlier version of which had already been partly decrypted by the Bletchley Park code breakers. The clandestine operation failed, however: one of Latimer’s colleagues was killed, one seriously injured, and two captured. And this particular Enigma, at any rate, remained just that, an enigma.
The three-masted super-yacht being quietly put together at the Oceanco shipyard, in the Netherlands, is apparently for Jeff Bezos. The yacht is likely to cost more than $500 million to build, according to Bloomberg. “This would be at least twice the sum Bezos paid for The Washington Post in 2013, or enough to buy ten rocket launches from Elon Musk’s SpaceX, his chief rival in the commercial space race,” reported The Times of London. The coronavirus has been good for the super-yacht business, adds the newspaper: “In the first three months of this year 220 superyachts — defined as privately owned vessels at least 24m in length — changed hands.… This was twice as many as in the same periods in 2020 and 2019.” The Bezos super-yacht comes with a “support yacht,” where his girlfriend, Lauren Sanchez, a licensed pilot, will be able to land a helicopter. Three masts on a ship are lovely, but not conducive to helipads.
The American direct-to-video action star Steven Seagal presented a samurai sword to Venezuela’s authoritarian head of state, Nicolás Maduro, on a visit to the presidential palace. Seagal was in Venezuela as a representative of Russia, according to Reuters. “We talked about mutual friends like the President of Russia, Vladimir Putin, because of his interest in protecting forests,” Maduro said afterward. (Putin had granted Seagal, a fervent supporter, Russian citizenship in 2016. Seagal also once had an audience in Manila with the Philippines president Rodrigo Duterte, a longtime person of interest to human-rights organizations. They do all manage to find one another, don’t they?)
Meanwhile, back in Caracas, Maduro tantalizingly added, “We are going to shoot a movie together that will be called ‘Nico Ma Duro de tumbar’”—meaning “Nico Ma is hard to knock down.” “It is the new Steven Seagal film. We are going to fight the demons, the bad guys. I am ‘Nico.’”
Napoleon Bonaparte’s death on this island, 200 years ago this month, long assumed to be the result of arsenic poisoning, has now been blamed on an overdose of perfume. According to Parvez Haris, a professor in biomedical science at De Montfort University, Leicester, the French emperor was a compulsive eau de cologne abuser, using “an average of 36 to 40 bottles” a month, according to The Times of London. Citing contemporary historical accounts, “Haris argues that for at least 20 years [Napoleon] regularly covered his body with cologne after washing, sometimes pouring it over his head. He even drank a diluted solution.” The emperor’s enthusiastic intake of cologne’s essential oils might have affected his hormones and “could account for written descriptions of Napoleon’s enlarged breasts and hairless body, as well as his weight gain among other health effects,” said the newspaper.
And the fragrance? “It could be described as incredibly fresh and slightly sour and sweet because there were citrus fruits in there, like bergamot and lemon, but also flowers and rosemary,” according to Caro Verbeek, a scent historian quoted in The Times. “Napoleon loved that smell because he had a Proustian memory of his days that he was in power, that he was ruling Europe.”
Nusret Gökçe, nicknamed Salt Bae—or is it the other way around?—opens his first London restaurant this month, at the Park Tower Knightsbridge hotel. The self-proclaimed “Sexy Butcher of Istanbul” owns two dozen Nusr-Et steak houses around the world, of which the common criticism is that he offers “gimmicky,” “overpriced,” decent-to-subpar fare that’s less about dinner and more about theater—theater starring Gökçe, interestingly enough. As The Times of London noted: “A pair of dark glasses and a flamboyant routine that culminates in arching his arm like a swan’s neck while sprinkling salt have won Nusret Gokce an Instagram following of 35 million.”
Jeremy King of the Corbin & King restaurant group (which includes the Wolseley) told the newspaper that Gökçe’s London timing and location were good, but that “it will be like so many restaurants that have been hyped. Everybody’s going to want to go. The big challenge is making sure people come back.” King added, “My understanding is that he’s less evident as time goes on. Often it requires the gold leaf to lure him out.” That would be “the Golden Tomahawk,” Nusr-Et’s gold-leaf-covered steak, yours for just under $1,000. Take that, gimmicky and overpriced!
In an alternate dining universe, what appears to be Italy’s first outdoor, 24-hour vending machine for freshly baked pizza, near Piazza Bologna in Rome, has produced 900 pies in its first month of operation. “Mr Go Pizza offers up four varieties, including the classic margherita invented in Naples in 1889, each costing between €4.50 and €6 [roughly $5 to $7],” reported The Guardian. Each pie takes three minutes to assemble, and the man behind the idea, Massimo Bucolo, got at least one thing right: pizza preparation is a spectator sport, and at Mr. Go “customers can watch through a small glass window as the vending machine kneads and tops the dough,” according to the newspaper. Bucolo hopes to provide pizza round the clock, when none can be had elsewhere, but it remains a hard sell to some. As one onlooker told The Guardian, “It’s a bit sad to see pizza coming out of a machine.” (But would it be quite so sad if that pizza were, say, covered in gold leaf?)
This southern Spanish town has gone digital virtually overnight, as more than a dozen briefcases, each containing a working laptop, mouse, and charger, were left on residents’ doorsteps over a period of several days, according to The Times of London. First theory, obviously: It’s a conspiracy. (Use them and your private information will be downloaded, etc.) Second theory: It’s a gift from God. (All the laptops had a biblical message on their screen.) While that all gets sorted—if it gets sorted, because as the local police pointed out, there has been no crime—others are looking beyond the mystery at the bigger picture. “To whoever did this,” wrote one online commenter, “I don’t need a laptop but a PS5 would be fantastic!”
George Kalogerakis is a Writer at Large for Air Mail