News Round Up

DESPITE the big row going on in the UK on whether to stay in Europe or not, it seems that book readers are lapping up European fiction.

The Guardian reports on research commissioned by Man Booker International (MBI) prize from Nielsen Book which showed that overall sales of translated fiction in the UK were up last year by 5.5%, with more than 2.6m books sold, worth £20.7m – the highest level since Nielsen began to track sales in 2001.

Nielsen said that UK readers are “overwhelmingly” reading translated fiction from Europe, with French literature accounting for 17% of volume sales, the biggest language represented.

Norwegian and Swedish writing, represented by authors including the Norwegian thriller powerhouse Jo Nesbø and the Swedish bestseller Jonas Jonasson’s The Hundred-Year-Old Man Who Climbed Out the Window and Disappeared, was also popular over the last year.



Royal Ascot, one of the most prestigious events in the British horse racing calender is to allow men to wear dresses for the first time in a bid to appeal to transgender racegoers, reports the Daily Star.

And women will also be allowed to come in a tuxedo and a top hat as part of the l new dress code.

Britain's first transgender jockey Victoria Smith commented: “Racing is really starting to become more accepting of difference, so any changes that help really are welcome.”

Royal Ascot in Berkshire – which takes place in June – has operated a strict dress code since the early 19th century, dictating that men must wear black or grey morning dress with a waistcoat and tie and that ladies are not allowed to wear strapless and off-the-shoulder dresses, while midriffs have to be covered and fascinators are also banned.



According to The Guardian, the National Army Museum is to repatriate to Ethiopia, two locks of hair taken from the head of the 19th-century emperor Tewodros II.

Apparently Tewodros chose to kill himself rather than give himself up to the British after the capture in 1868 of Maqdala, his mountain capital, in order to rescue Europeans who had been taken captive.

At the time, hundreds of treasures were taken by the British.

The National Army Museum said the locks of Tewodros’s hair were given to it in 1959 by the family of an artist who painted the emperor on his deathbed.

Terri Dendy, head of collections at the museum, said: “Having spent considerable time researching the provenance and cultural sensitivities around this matter, we believe the Ethiopian government claim to repatriate is reasonable and we are pleased to be able to assist.

“Our decision to repatriate is very much based on the desire to inter the hair within the tomb alongside the emperor.”

Reference list

The Guardian (

Daily Star (www.daily

THERE was an unusual travelling companion for Moire Boxall who was returning to Glasgow in Scotland from a visit to Queensland, Australia, reports The Guardian.

After the 9,300 mile trip Moira unpacked her bags to find a non-venomous spotted python in her footwear!

Apparently she originally thought it was a toy put there as a prank. The snake is now in quarantine in Scotland.



An article in The Independent warns that there is an alarming decline in the song thrush.

Britain's first farmland worm survey has revealed that nearly half of English fields lack key types of earthworm which might explain the drop in numbers of the much loved bird.

The English population of the song thrush declined by more than 50 per cent between 1970 and 1995, leading to it being listed as a species of conservation concern.

The #60minworms survey, led by Dr Jackie Stroud, a Natural Environment Research Council soil security fellow at the Rothamsted Research centre, adds to the evidence that the song thrush is being affected by a reduction in farmland earthworm populations, along with the loss of hedgerow nesting sites.


It looks as if we're being invaded by dangerous spiders which resemble the deadly Black Widow.

The Daily Mirror reports that the Noble False Widow, which causes extremely painful bites and sometimes infection, and is typically found in Madeira and the Canary Islands, are arriving in the UK in suitcases and camper vans.

Some parts of the world might find a story in the Daily Express of little significance but they reported that the county of Surrey had been hit by an earthquake with a magnitude of 3.0.

The tremor was felt in Newdigate, Surrey, less than 10 miles from Gatwick Airport, according to the British Geological Survey (BGS) and was the fourth recorded quake in the area in the last fortnight,.



Congratulations to The Wonston Arms, near Sutton Scotney in Hampshire which has been named pub of the year by the Campaign for Real Ale (Camra).

The Guardian says that the pub was saved from closure by the community four years and at one stage looked likely to be lost to developers.

Matt Todd gambled by taking on the pub after 11 years as a regular, leaving his job in corporate marketing to buy The Wonston Arms in 2015

“People keep coming to see it and telling more friends, and we got into the last 16 last year, and this year, blimey, we are the best pub in country according to beer drinkers … I am flabbergasted and stunned – our little pub has beaten off the big boys.”



Put on display in London is a painting by Caravaggio estimated to worth at least £85 million – five years after it was discovered in the attic of a French farmhouse.

The Daily Express says that the 400-year-old masterpiece underwent a two year restoration before appearing at P&D Colnaghi & Co art dealership.

It shows the beheading of Assyrian general Holofernes by Judith, from the Book of the Apocryhpa in the Bible

It is thought to have been painted between 1600 and Caravaggio's death at just 38 in 1610.

After being exhibited in London, Paris and New York the work will be sold at auction in Toulouse on June 27.

Reference list
The Express (

The Guardian (

The Independent (

Daily Mirror (

THE Royal Mint is to release 50p coins celebrating the 20th anniversary of Julia Donaldson and Axel Scheffler's children's book The Gruffalo.

The Daily Mail reports that the Mint is releasing three versions featuring the monster - gold and silver proofs, as well as the standard uncirculated version, which will be sold for £10.

There will be an unlimited number of these coins put on sale, but only 25,000 silver proofs and 600 gold proofs will be available which will be sold for £65 and £795 respectively.

Nicola Howell, from The Royal Mint, said: “Over the last 20 years The Gruffalo has become one of the most famous children's characters in the world.

“We felt it was only right, as we celebrate the 20th anniversary of the book being published to feature him on a commemorative coin.”



A study of 2,000 adults has revealed the main things guaranteed to turn someone’s mood sour, including getting ill, bad traffic and a grumpy partner.

The Independent newspaper says that the survey,commissioned by Philips Hue smart lighting, showed that the average adult spent an hour and 52 minutes a day in a bad mood, with just under half admitting they have days where they are in a bad mood from the minute they wake up to the minute they go to bed.

Other bad mood triggers included getting a stain on a new top, someone saying something negative about your appearance and having a bad skin or hair day, burning toast, the phone battery dying out and oversleeping.

Six in 10 Britons thought they suffered from the “Winter Blues” with more than half attributing their negative state of mind to a lack of sunlight.



An English Heritage blue plaque is to be installed at a house in Chelsea, London where reggae singer Bob Marley sought refuge after an assassination attempt in Jamaica.

The Guardian says that Marley, novelist Angela Carter, the writer and traveller Gertrude Bell and the war correspondent Martha Gellhorn were among figures to be celebrated in 2019 by the London heritage scheme.

The house on Oakley Street, off King’s Road, was where Marley lived with his band the Wailers in 1977 and it was where they finished recording Exodus, the album which featured Jamming and One Love.



The Guardian informs us that the largest number of King Tutankhamun treasures ever to leave Egypt are heading to London.

The Saatchi Gallery will be the only UK venue for a world tour of 150 original artefacts from Tutankhamun’s tomb, 60 of which have never left Egypt before.

Objects will include a gold inlaid miniature coffin which contained the king’s liver after it was removed during the mummification process, a gilded wooden bed with carved lion feet probably made specially for Tutankhamun’s funeral and a gilded wooden shrine showing intimate scenes of royal domestic harmony.

The exhibition will run from November 2 2019 to May 3 2020.



According to The Independent, rural churches will no longer obliged to hold Sunday services after the Church of England voted to change canon law.

All parish churches had to host a weekly service on Sundays, under strictures dating to 1603 that were written into modern canon law in the 1960s.

But years of falling church attendance and dwindling religious observance have left some priests looking after up to 20 rural churches – making it impossible to hold a Sunday service in every one.

Reference list

The Guardian (

The Independent (

Daily Mail (

THE Independent newspaper put the Valentine's Day spotlight on 95 year olds James and Cecilia Marsh who have been married for 75 years!

The couple, who live at the Abbotsleigh Mews care home in Sidcup, South East London, got married in December 1943 after Cecilia's youngest brother had introduced them.

Cecilia said the secret to the success of their marriage was communication and the fact they have always "worked together" to tackle the tough times.

“I never thought James and I would still be together after all this time - especially after he was called up to the mines during the war. He had no option, he was going whether we liked it or not.”

They have planted a rose bush in the grounds of the care home to symbolise their diamond anniversary.



A BBC report outlines research which reveals that the brain function of very late risers and "morning larks" during the hours of the working day is different.

The brains of night owls with a bedtime of 02:30 and a wake time of 10:15, along with early risers were scanned and the tests - performed between 08:00 and 20:00 - found night owls had less connectivity in brain regions linked to maintaining consciousness.

They also had poorer attention, slower reactions and increased sleepiness.

Researchers said it suggested that night owls were disadvantaged by the "constraints" of the typical working day.

Morning larks were least sleepy and had their fastest reaction time in the early morning tests. They were also found to perform significantly better at this time than night owls.

Dr Elise Facer-Childs, of the University of Birmingham's Centre for Human Brain Health, said the findings “could be partly driven by the fact that night owls tend to be compromised throughout their lives. Night owls during school have to get up earlier, then they go into work and they have to get up earlier, so they're constantly having to fight against their preferences and their innate rhythms.”



Going on display at the Museum of London Docklands is a rare 12th-century toilet seat built to accommodate three users at once., says The Guardian.

The seat, made out of a roughly carved plank of oak, still shows the axe marks where its three rough holes were cut.

It once sat behind a mixed commercial and residential tenement building on what is now Ludgate Hill, near St Paul’s Cathedral, on land that in the mid-1100s would have been a small island in the river Fleet.

Archaeologists have even been able to identify the owners of the building, which was known at the time as Helle: a capmaker called John de Flete and his wife, Cassandra.

“So what I love about this is that we know the names of the people whose bottoms probably sat on it,” said Kate Sumnall, the curator of archaeology for the exhibition.

“They would probably have shared the facilities with shopkeepers and potentially other families who lived and worked in the modest tenement block. This is a really rare survival. We don’t have many of these in existence at all.”



According to The Independent, a rare albino squirrel has been captured by an amateur wildlife photographer on the banks of the Louth Navigation waterway in Lincolnshire.

Stephen Plant, was hoping to snap kingfishers when he saw the rare rodent.

“But when I saw this little fella sat in a tree, I couldn’t believe it. He was going pretty slowly and I thought it was a rat at first but then I saw his bushy tail. I was astonished.”

It is thought that only about 50 albino squirrels live in the UK.

Their unusual colour is caused by an absence of melanin, which gives skin, hair and eyes its pigmentation.

Stephen added: “I was stood about 30 metres away and he wasn’t bothered by me at all. He moved along quite slowly and then at one point froze altogether for a few seconds which allowed me to rattle off some shots.”

Reference list

The Guardian (

The Independent (


THE anonymous graffiti artist Banksy has had a piece of work acquired by the British Museum, reports The Guardian.

It is a fake £10 banknote depicting Diana, Princess of Wales, and will join the museum's collection of coins, medals and other currency.

Entitled Di-faced Tenner, the work was one of thousands of copies produced by the artist in 2004 as part of a planned art stunt.

Tom Hockenhull, curator of modern money at the museum, said he had been trying for years to get hold of a genuine Di-faced Tenner to add to the museum’s collection of “skit notes”, or parodies of real banknotes.

Contacted by the Guardian, a spokesperson for the artist said the banknote had been donated by “someone who runs Banksy’s currency exchange”.

As well as showing Diana’s face instead of the Queen’s, the note has been altered to read “Banksy of England” and the motto: “I promise to pay the bearer on demand the ultimate price.”



The Daily Mirror highlights Joanne and Jim Bell, from Yelland, Devon who claim they have

saved themselves £15,000 by refusing to use their central heating for the last 10 years.

Joanne said the move was originally made in protest at the proliferation of wind farms but now their bodies had adapted so well it had become normal.

“It feels uncomfortable when I'm in other people's houses now. It's too warm for me. When it gets very cold we just wear plenty of layers and use hot water bottles.”

She added: “I'm a wildlife lover and when I saw so many birds being killed by the blades of the wind turbines popping up everywhere I just felt I wanted to do something.”



Apparently it's going to take eight weeks for engineers to shift a 'monster' 64m fatberg from sewers in Devon.

An article in The Independent newspapers says work has begun on removal of the blockage in Sidmouth created by oil, fat, and grease from wet wipes and other items that should not be flushed down toilets.



A public appeal has been launched by the Oxford English Dictionary to help help illuminate terminology used by different professions.

The Guardian says the dictionary has called on doctors, firefighters, builders, shopkeepers, teachers, plumbers, marketers and other workers to send in the words and expressions they use at work.

“The OED already includes many terms from all kinds of trades and professions but there are many more that have not yet come to our attention – and that’s why we’re asking for your help,” it said.



Guidelines from senior medical advisers say that parents should banish phones from the bedroom at night and at the dinner table.

The Independent reports that chief medical officers of England, Northern Ireland, Wales and Scotland said adults should also “lead by example” with their own screen use and online behaviour.

Their review of the potential harms of time spent online recommends a“precautionary approach” to children’s screen use, but said there was insufficient evidence to recommend a set an optimum limit.

Reference list:

The Guardian (

The Independent (

Daily Mirror (