Nathan Davis asks:

Carey Mulligan the new Audrey Hepburn? Have you sat through Wall Street 2?

The article on Carey Mulligan was written by Xan Brooks, who has indeed seen Wall Street 2. He thought it started out “pretty good” but that there was “something flawed in the concept and reckless in the handling”.

Cilla Dearing asks:

We have a recession. Floods everywhere. Bankers getting bonuses, despite everything. We need cheering up. And what do we get? A Weekend cover of Cancer: The New Normal (15 January). May I suggest a cover for next week? Divorce – It’s Inevitable; or Poverty Is Coming Your Way; or Does Your Partner Have Halitosis?

Cilla certainly may make suggestions for next week’s cover, as the publication of her letter indicates! However, it’s unlikely that they will be put into action. The Weekend goes to print quite early in the week, and there would therefore be very little time for the editorial team to get a new article and cover ready; even themes as winning as “Divorce – It’s Inevitable” are powerless against the tyranny of print schedules.

Charles Baker-Benfield asks:

Why has Tim Dowling, after years of marriage, not yet realised that the first place to look for any missing key is in his wife’s coat? The second is the kitchen worktop, next to the phone. The third is more difficult – try the front door (on the outside), or the fridge (inside – not unknown). But on the hall table? No chance.

It’s possible that Charles is over-generalising from his own experience! Our guess would be that Dowling hasn’t learnt the suggested key-finding technique because it simply wouldn’t work for him. For example, when he has lost his keys previously, they turned out to be in his wife’s car, and not in her coat, the worktop or the fridge at all.

Greg Hurst asks:

While I admire Diane Abbott, surely her son’s private education was more expensive than his laptop?

Abbott’s son was educated at the City of London school, whose fees are famously around £10,000 a year, so it is indeed likely that her son’s education cost more than his laptop.

There are two possible explanations for this seemingly anomalous answer. Firstly, Abbott may have named the laptop as the most expensive physical object that she’s bought. The precise question she was responding to was  “Property aside, what’s the most expensive thing you’ve bought?”, and the tendency is for interviewees to answer this with a thing in the sense of something you can touch, rather than a service paid for over time.

Typical recent answers include a car, an antique chair, a racehorse, and a cast-iron bath.  There are exceptions – “the concept of New Labour”, “a divorce”, and indeed “both my daughters’ educations” – but it seems reasonable (and certainly not unusual!) for Abbott to go with a physical object.

Alternatively, Abbott may have decided that the Q&A column was not an appropriate venue to discuss her son’s education. As Greg may not be aware, her decision to educate her son privately was controversial, and one she has since described as “indefensible”. It’s possible that she didn’t want to bring it up in a lighthearted interview in which she would not have space to address the issues attending that decision.

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