Bathrobes, political scandals, and crime: it’s the news from Britain–and elsewhere

Liz Truss–best known as Britain’s shortest-serving prime minister–was back in the news after the Cabinet Office sent her a £12,000 bill for her use of Chevening house. Chevening’s a grace and favor home, which means it’s owned by the state but used by–well, sometimes the foreign secretary and sometimes the prime minister. If they use it for work, the government pays. If they host friends and family, it’s on their dime. 

Or not their dime. Britain doesn’t have dimes. That’s me going American on you again. They’re expected to foot the bill. Britain does have feet. 

How much hosting can you do for £12,000? By my standards, enough to outlast the time Truss was in office and possibly our time on this earth, but then I’m not prime ministerial material. 

The bill includes £120 for  missing bathrobes and slippers. Much to my disappointment, no one’s saying how many bathrobes and slippers that covers.

Truss disputes parts of the bill. The argument is over the line between a work event and a party (some work events are said to have turned into parties), and between government business and Conservative Party business. No one seems to dispute the missing bathrobes and slippers. Someone must’ve mistaken them for work papers and taken them to the office.

Why is this worth mentioning? Because the real scandals are never the ones that hold our attention. They’re too damn hard to follow. Stealing government bathrobes, though? We all know someone who’s packed up motel towels and taken them home, right?

Irrelevant photo: A poppy about to open.

Meanwhile, in France

France’s version of the silly scandal is that the economy minister has published a novel with a sex scene that’s sometimes described as steamy and sometimes as toe-curling. I’ll confess to not having gone looking for the full scene. The sentence-long snippets I’ve seen are enough to put me off, and I’ll spare you even those. Apply to Lord Google yourself if you’re really interested. He may decide you’re tough enough to survive them with your interest in sex intact.

People would have made fun of the book anyway, but since its publication coincided with a political meltdown over raising the retirement age, a lot of people thought he should maybe be spending his time thinking about the economy, and they’re furious. 

He, on the other hand, says it’s all part of keeping a decent work/life balance.

They, on the other hand, think retiring at the age they expected is part of a decent work/life balance. 


Getting to the roots of crime

In an effort to stamp out crime, Romford, in east London, has banned hoods, motorcycle helmets, and ski masks, although to be fair you can have a hood hanging down your back, you just can’t pull it up over your head. You can probably put your ski mask over your hand and pretend it’s a sock puppet or carry a motorcycle helmet like a birthday cake and sing “Happy Birthday.” You just can’t have them on your head.


Getting to the royalties of crime

And just when I think I haven’t found enough odd stories to make up a post, I stumble over this: A Utah widow who, after her husband’s death, wrote a kids’ book on grief is now suspected of having poisoned him.

Guys, I’ve struggled through long stretches of writer’s block, so I know what it’s like to feel you’ve run out of anything to say, but this is not the solution.


What is art?

A South Korean student went to a museum displaying an art installation by Maurizio Cattelan and ate it

Not the museum. He ate the art installation, which was a banana duct-taped to a wall. Then he taped the peel back on the wall.

Why? He told museum officials that he’d skipped breakfast and was hungry, but he told a broadcaster that “Damaging a work modern art could also be artwork.”

What the hell, the banana’s replaced every few days anyway. When the artist was told about the incident, he said, “No problem.”

The banana–okay, the banana and the duct tape, or the concept, or maybe that’s the artwork. Anyway, whatever you want to call it, it’s sold twice now, each sale being called an edition, once for $120,000 and once for $150,000. For that, I assume you get a banana, a piece of silvery duct tape, and permission to tape it to a wall.


What is crime?

In Old Bridge, New Jersey, someone dumped more than 500 pounds of unboxed pasta in the woods. Or since it’s important to get the facts right, more than 500 pounds of ziti, spaghetti, and other noodles.

The township doesn’t have a bulk trash pickup–you have to pay to get big items hauled away and not everyone can afford to. Local people say they know who did it but aren’t saying. It’s a sensitive situation, and I guess it’s worth saying that it’s not an art installation.

34 thoughts on “Bathrobes, political scandals, and crime: it’s the news from Britain–and elsewhere

  1. A £12,000 bill racked up in just a skerrick of time spent dormant in the top job! What a very apt footnote to a thoroughly ignominious and forgettable prime ministership. Thanks for the post 👍🏽

    Liked by 1 person

    • Our recent prime ministers do seem to be trying to outdo each other in a how-low-can-you-go competition. And–you know, I was always taught that we’re supposed to admire ambition. I’m starting to rethink that.


  2. Who (apart from supermarkets) would have 5001b of pasta in their cupboards in the first place, and what a waste in the 2nd. Could have had a giant Bolognese cook-in for the neighbourhood!

    Liked by 1 person

    • Apparently–and I probably should’ve included this–neighbors know, or think they know, who dumped it and didn’t want to give them any grief because they were in a difficult situation.

      Which could only be solved by dumping 500 pounds of pasta.

      Listen, don’t ask me. It’s a strange old world out there. I don’t have 500 pounds of pasta in the cupboards myself, and I don’t think the shelves would be up to holding it if I did, but I’m sure I do other things that my neighbors would find just as hard to explain. And no, I’m not telling.

      Liked by 2 people

    • I’ve known hoarders, including a guy who saved used bus transfers (along with a packed houseful of other stuff), but 500 pounds of pasta? Wow. That does call up some sympathy for the guy who had to clear it out. Thanks for the update.

      Liked by 1 person

  3. I heard about the pasta dumped in the woods. The crime in East London, though, is depressing. It’s worse here in the U.S., too. We’ve seen people brazenly stealing from Target. It’s become organized crime, not regular people.

    The story of the Utah woman is one I have to read up on. Sound like something I’d see on Discovery ID or Netflix.


  4. Too bad all that pasta couldn’t have gone to a food bank…but maybe if his Mum had stored it it was all buggy.

    The robes and slippers – couldn’t they have been declassified the way our Former President did the secret state documents : blink your eyes, wrinkle your nose and click your heels and -Voila ! (Too bad that couldn’t have worked on Boris’s wallpaper !)

    Liked by 1 person

    • It could well have gotten either buggy or–well, I don’t have a word for the kind of whitish dusty-looking coating that I found on some lasagna noodles that had been in the back of my cupboards since 1493. But whatever you call what happened to them, it wasn’t appetizing.

      As for Johnson’s wallpaper, the only thing likely to work there is a can of paint. Thrown, not brushed.


    • Well, to be fair, it could’ve been her friends. Or relatives. I know it goes against the grain to be fair to her, but that leave us the joy of attacking her only on legitimate grounds.


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