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This England: Stranger than fiction

This column – which, though named after a line in Shakespeare’s Richard II, refers to the whole of Britain – has run in the NS since 1934.

By New Statesman

The annual Bad Sex In Fiction Award has been cancelled, with organisers saying people have suffered enough.

The tongue-in-cheek prize, set up in 1993 by the Literary Review, usually honours poorly written, perfunctory or redundant passages of sexual description in modern fiction.

In a statement on its website, the Literary Review said the judges felt “the public had been subjected to too many bad things this year to justify exposing it to bad sex as well”.

However, it warned that the cancellation “should not be taken as a licence to write bad sex”.

Evening Standard (Steve Morley)

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[See also: This England: Don’t get the small stuff]

Ranting and raving

Police who swooped in on an “illegal rave” in Southend instead found queues of pensioners lining up to get their Covid jab.

Three police cars descended on the Essex Freemasons’ Saxon Hall in Southend. Dennis Baum, chairman of Saxon Hall, said: “Grumpy old men and grumpy old women were in abundance.”

Southend Echo (Nigel Huddlestone)

[See also: This England: Best laid plans]

Meat in space

A haggis has been launched to the edge of space to mark Burns Night. Butcher Simon Howie and research firm Stratonauts attached the 454g haggis to a weather balloon, which soared 20 miles above the Earth.

After taking off from Dunning, it travelled over Stirling, Falkirk, Edinburgh and the Pentland Hills before landing safely in Lauder in the Borders.

Northern Echo (Allegra Madgwick)

[See also: This England: Out on a limb]

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This article appears in the 03 Feb 2021 issue of the New Statesman, Europe’s tragedy