“Highly salacious and unsubstantiated gossip about the British royal family” was there for all (or some, anyway) to see, briefly, in the Oz, the online “youth section” of Rupert Murdoch’s The Australian. “The article discussed in graphic detail the alleged sex life of a royal, based on a single ‘blind’ item of gossip from a notorious Instagram account that did not name the subject,” reported The Guardian. “It was followed up by a jokey TikTok video of the Queen ‘reacting’ to the sexual gossip, as News Corp Australia pushed the story to its social media accounts.”
Three hours later it was all pulled. (What was so salacious and so unsubstantiated? Sorry, this is a family newsletter, but googling “William,” “pegging,” and “open secret” should tell you what you need to know.) The episode inevitably rekindled 2019’s highly salacious and unsubstantiated rumors about an affair between Prince William and the Duchess of Cambridge’s erstwhile best friend Rose Hanbury.
Denby Pottery has been quietly producing colored-glaze ceramics in this Derbyshire village since 1809. Not a bad run. But no one could have predicted what’s happened more recently: the brand has become wildly popular outside the U.K. (where it earns more than 50 percent of its sales), particularly in Asia, where its valuation is around $60 million and—serious product placement—its Halo tea/coffee cup was featured in an episode of Squid Game. An Instagram page for South Korean fans has 19,000 followers. Fans of Denby Pottery in Derbyshire, that is, not Squid Game.
“The brand is so desirable abroad that it has expanded its range of bowls to attract the Korean market,” reported The Times of London. “Items include nesting pots, straight-sided rice and deep ramen noodle bowls, small round dishes as well as soju cups in which to serve Korean alcohol.” While Denby has opened a store in Seoul’s swank Gangnam district, the ceramics company’s C.E.O. told the newspaper they’ve “resisted the temptation to offshore [our production] and now our ‘Made in England’ label is a key part of our appeal overseas.”
Wonderful country, Italy, but would you really want to run it? The far-right Brothers of Italy would—with 23.4 percent of voters, it’s currently Italy’s largest party—and an alliance with Matteo Salvini’s anti-immigrant League Party and Forza Italia, which is headed by the periodic prime minister/current living waxwork Silvio Berlusconi, would give it a parliamentary majority. But there’s a problem: lack of experience. And Giorgia Meloni, the leader of Brothers of Italy, is reportedly turning to members of Mario Draghi’s just-collapsed government for help.
“They are looking for people with technical competence and trying some of Draghi’s personnel, because they have got no one of their own,” said the television journalist Corrado Formigli, according to The Times of London. “Meloni is an intelligent woman and she’s the first to understand that her party doesn’t have figures like that.”
Oh, and there’s one other, even bigger problem: Meloni doesn’t want to join that hypothetical coalition. “[Her] decision … led to a jump in support for her party,” said the newspaper. “Since the beginning of the campaign she has been at pains to reassure voters and international observers that while Brothers of Italy is rooted in Benito Mussolini’s fascist movement, it is nothing to be feared today.” Snap elections are in September.
A member of Mayor Anne Hidalgo’s Socialist-Green coalition has asked citizens to be more understanding of Parisian rats, casting them as unfairly stigmatized victims of prejudice. “I prefer to call them surmulots, which has a less negative sound,” said council member Douchka Markovic, according to The Times of London. That word, continued the newspaper, means “oversized field mice … a more cuddly term for the brown Norway common rat. The rodents ‘play an important role in the sewers by evacuating hundreds of tonnes of waste and unblocking the pipes’, Markovic said. ‘They are our helpers in the mastery of waste.’ The city must learn more about their way of life and switch to ‘ethical, non-lethal’ ways of controlling them.”
Many residents of the rat-plagued city were not receptive to the notion. “The National Academy of Medicine, based in rat-friendly Saint-Germain-des-Prés, stepped in with an attack on the councillor,” according to the newspaper, and reminded people that “the rat remains a threat to human health because of the numerous diseases it spreads through its parasites, excrement, bites and scratches. You can die from them.”
Home Operation, a Chinese action film from Jackie Chan and “inspired by China’s evacuation of hundreds of its nationals from Yemen in 2015 during the civil conflict there,” has, according to The Guardian, drawn outrage for shooting scenes in this devastated Syrian town. “The New Arab quoted Syrian journalist Fared al-Mahlool saying: ‘It is shameful to film such films on the ruins of Syrian homes that were destroyed by the Assad regime, Russia and Iran … the Chinese fascist regime is an ally of Syria, and they are trying to whitewash their crimes in actions like this,’” said the newspaper.
Fountains of Venice? Handling tourism, or attempting to, seems to take up much of this city’s energy, and now a new front has opened up. “Tourism is responsible for between 28 and 40 per cent of the city’s rubbish, including piles of dumped plastic water bottles, according to local government data,” reported The Times of London. So, officials are urging visitors to avoid plastic bottles and instead avail themselves of Venice’s 126 fountains. To that end, “Veritas, a water distribution company, has developed the phone app that allows visitors to access a map of all the fountains in Venice.” B.Y.O.B., then, and … just fill it up. —George Kalogerakis
George Kalogerakis, one of the original editor-writers at Spy, later worked for Vanity Fair, New York, and The New York Times, where he was deputy op-ed editor. A co-author of Spy: The Funny Years and co-editor of Disunion: A History of the Civil War, he is a Writer at Large for AIR MAIL