1. Not Easy Being Cheesy. Britain’s favorite stinky cheese, Stilton, is under threat. Sales are down 30% due to the closing of restaurants and farmers' markets. The Stilton Cheese Makers’ Association is worried this setback will threaten the very future of Stilton by stopping people from pursuing a career in Stilton-making, a highly-skilled craft that requires one not eat all the cheese.
Referring to the traditional British tea and coffee break around 11 a.m., here are 11 ways we are indulging our unchecked, borderline problematic love for the U.K. from abroad this week.
2. “It is very dangerous to try and pull your own tooth.” A British dentist issued a helpful and stern warning to self-isolating Brits. Hang on, there are British dentists?
3. A Long, Crazy Trip. This week, Britain memorialized the passing of a true rogue that only could have been produced by 1960s London. Sir William Pigott Brown, whose “job” is described as “champion jockey and society man,” passed away at 79, and his obituary must be read to be believed. A highlight recalls Pigott Brown’s legendary parties: “A butler called George was employed to take a wheelbarrow around [his] swimming pool collecting empty champagne bottles, drugs paraphernalia, and discarded underwear.”
4. “My blackness also means that often I’m the only person in court that shares skin colour with my clients.” Abimbola Johnson, a black criminal defense barrister in the UK, writes about biases in the U.K’s criminal justice system for British Elle. “We're horrified about what has been happening in America,” she adds. “It’s important to stop and look closer to home, to raise awareness about what is happening here.”
5. By Design. Marbled wallpaper is coming back, according to Country Life. Don’t trust us, trust interiors editor Giles Kime, who evidently feels very romantic about design trend comebacks: “The latest is marbling, a pattern that hasn’t been seen since the heady days of the 1980s, when a whole generation of homeowners enthusiastically embraced it, together with other paint finishes such as ragging, dragging, stippling and more."
6. “Some people have said: ‘What if this doesn’t work? You don’t want to end up homeless in a pandemic.’” The Guardian reports on the whirlwind romances of lockdown in Britain, where new couples were presented with the Sophie’s Choice of deciding whether or not to quarantine together. Improbably, some of these premature cohabitations have worked out. One loved up and locked down Brit warns that, “It’s a good job we’re in lockdown because if people could see us, they would puke.”
7. “Real life isn’t exactly a picnic right now. But your summer wardrobe can be.” Brits are picnicking in parks en masse now that the government is easing lockdown restrictions, and the nation’s women have evidently colluded to promote a new fashion trend The Guardian is pleased with itself for dubbing “picnic chic.” This means voluminous sleeves, gingham galore, and flouncy, sensible hems. The newspaper decrees: “If the tracksuit was the uniform of Stay at Home, the picnic dress is Have Fun (but Sensibly, and Outside.)”
8. Telly Time. There’s nothing we love more than British people, except for British women. And Michaela Coel is a very good one. She’s the creator of the U.K. show Chewing Gum, and her new HBO series, I May Destroy You, is wowing America. The New York Times called Michaela “volcanically talented,” while The Hollywood Reporter dubbed her “a vital emerging voice.” Not that we need convincing to watch a new British TV show.
9. Getting Chintzy. We found ourselves sucked into a BBC long read on the surprisingly dramatic history of chintz (the fuddy dud floral originally imported from India) — and we don’t regret it. “Thanks to George Eliot’s coinage of the term ‘chintzy’ in reference to the cheap British imitations of real chintz, as well as its use as a catch-all term for gaudy floral designs, it has come to evoke images of “your grandmother’s curtains”, among other such 'dowdy' things… there are those, however, who would beg to differ.” Do tell!
10. Tea Will Be Served. We ‘borrow’ the below chart from the BBC to prove the British people’s dedication to a proper afternoon tea, or cream tea, complete with sandwiches, desserts, and - uh - tea. Below is a chart showing what search terms have soared on Google U.K when paired with the world delivery and we’ve never seen anything more gloriously British in our lives.
11. “I hope they are fine. I know a fair amount of people involved and it wasn’t easy for them. They’ve taken a big step and made it clear they want a different life. Good luck to them.” Tom Bradby, the journalist who interviewed Meghan, Duchess of Sussex, when she famously said, “I’m not okay,” squeezes more juice out of that interview lemon in The Evening Standard.
WHO IS ______ ?
Great Britain is a tiny island with a disproportionately large number of sort-of-famous people no one in America has ever heard of. In this pointless weekly column, we will introduce you to Britain’s most beloved extremely minor celebrities. Today, we introduce you to Fearne Cotton.
Is there anything more British-sounding than the combination of two outdoorsy nouns, even if one is misspelled? This is one of our leading theories for the enduring popularity of presenter Fearne Cotton, a 38-year-old tabloid stalwart in the U.K. who has been famous there for twenty years.
If you’ve been reading our weekly “Who Is ___ ?” columns, you’re by now aware that the role of “presenter” provides many more avenues to fame in the U.K. than it does in the U.S. Clearly, Great Britain has a great many shows that need presenting and a great many people skilled in… presenting.
Fearne is one of them. She’s hosted TV shows, radio shows, and, like any self-respecting celebrity in 2020, now has a podcast.
Fearne was a big deal on her own before she married into what might be Britain’s second royal family, the extended clan consisting of Rolling Stones offspring. Fearne married ol’ Ron’s son Jesse, in what was clearly a plot to accumulate more pastoral nouns and attain the name Fearne Cotton Wood.
Firmly ensconced in the galaxy of British stars, Fearne generates the types of headlines that make us love the extraordinary silliness of celebrity media in the U.K. To wit: “Fearne Cotton unveils new bedroom wall colour” and “Fearne Cotton tackles a HUGE pile of laundry as son Rex, 7, incessantly calls out 'mum' in hilarious clip.”
And perhaps most relatable, our favorite most recent headline is: “Fearne Cotton reveals photo of herself and the Queen in her home office.” We clicked on the link (to do the work for you), and saw a lovely picture of Fearne shaking HM’s hand. Is Fearne just like us, doing laundry, having colored walls, and proudly showing of life’s great accomplishments? - Allie
HOW DO YOU PRONOUNCE CHOLMONDELEY ANYWAY?
The section in which we spend at least 20 minutes researching a topic and release the findings here.
A British Member of Parliament once said, "never mind a General Election, you could bring down the government just by poisoning the water supply at Dolphin Square!"
From the outside, Dolphin Square is an unassuming and rather bland block of flats. On the inside, it’s a festering den of depravity and scandal.
The American investors who built Dolphin Square in the 1930s plonked it down in Pimlico, just a 20-minute walk from the center of Britain’s government at Westminster, making it a convenient and affordable city base for MPs and ministers. And naturally, when you fill 1200 flats with politicians away from their country homes and country wives, nothing good can happen.
Those investors thought they were building the world’s largest social housing experiment, where the classes would cohabit and social hierarchies would melt away. But what they were actually building was the site of many of Britain’s most infamous social and political scandals.
Sir Oswald Mosley, leader of the UK fascist party and husband of Diana Mitford (one of the infamous Mitford sisters) was arrested at their flat there during WWII. British minister and Soviet spy John Vassall was arrested there in the 1960s. Christine Keeler, the call girl at the center of the Profumo Affair of the 1960s, also lived there. As did Winston Churchill’s daughter Sarah, who was kicked out of her flat for throwing wine bottles from her windows.
The BBC writes “for long-term residents of the square, the consequent parade of journalists marching before their windows was a familiar sight.”
Princess Anne lived there following her second marriage in the late ‘80s, amidst a whiff of scandal when her and her new husband’s love letters were leaked to The Sun. Conservative MP Iain Mills died of alcohol poisoning in his flat there in 1997, thus costing the Tories the parliamentary majority. Former House of Lords peer Lord Sewel was secretly filmed snorting cocaine with prostitutes at Dolphin Square in 2015.
But surely the most shocking thing of all about Dolphin Square is that there has never been a scandal there involving Prince Andrew. - Eva
Nice work! You’ve made it all the way down here. As a token of our gratitude, we bestow unto ye another edition of Absurd Royal Fact of the Week:
The Queen lived through WWII, and like many a frugal wartime granny, she cuts costs where she can. According to the recent documentary Inside Waitrose (about the fancy supermarket chain), Her Majesty feeds her two royal Dorgis (cross between a Corgi and a Dachshund) basic economy dog food from Tesco (a more plebian grocery store) which costs only 45 pence a can.
But the relatability ends there, because like the snooty aristocrats they are, Vulcan and Candy are fed according to hierarchy. The Queen’s former dog trainer recounted the royal pups' meal routine to Town & Country, saying, “the Queen got the corgis to sit in a semi-circle around her, and then fed them one by one, in order of seniority. The others just sat and patiently waited their turn.”