Did you have your head in the clouds this week or fixed on your phone? Either way, we’ve got our top talking points of the week covered for you. Masks finally became mandatory, Russia dominated headlines and the Mercury Prize nominations brought mixed blessings. By Sarah Bradbury.

Mandatory masks

The UK gov finally took the plunge on making masks compulsory in shops from 24th July. As seems to be the pattern on all things coronavirus policy, the guidance was released last minute (less than 12 hours before the rules came into force) and everyone generally seemed a bit unclear on where and when they would apply.

After some sectors of the public had a good ol’ whinge about the prospect of a bit of fabric across the face being compulsory, Sainsbury’s then suffered a pile-on for saying they wouldn’t be enforcing the new rules but would leave it to customer’s discretion, as some people with disabilities and health condition are exempt.

Seems it’s impossible to please everyone? Ultimately, the evidence seems to support the move. Plus 120 countries around the world are already way ahead of us after making them compulsory in public. Not got yours yet? Head to our guide for where to get them and how to wear them.

From Russia with love?

Headlines were dominated by all things Russia this week. First the release of the Russia Report after an inexplicably long and controversial wait. Though it did reveal evidence there was meddling in the Scottish Referendum, there wasn’t enough to say there had also been an interference with the Brexit vote.

Politicians and the public seemed split along the usual lines as to why this conclusion was reached – some were arguing it simply wasn’t looked into thoroughly while the pro-Brexit brigade were firmly of the view the case can now be closed.

THEN the Electoral Commission also revealed 14 Conservative party members have accepted donations linked to Russia, including the single highest female donor to a political party, Mrs Chernukhin, who paid for dinner with Theresa May and to play tennis with Boris Johnson.

AND Russia were also in the news over accusations a hacking group were trying to access global vaccine efforts. The group apparently go by the name of Cozy Bear. Go figure.

Mixed Mercury Prize blessings

Prizes in the arts world have come under increasing pressure in recent years to step up their game in terms of diversity, as have music festivals. So it was great to see that the Mercury Prize nominations had for the first time in their history tipped the balance, with more female-fronted acts on the shortlist than male!

On the flip side though, amongst the female artists there wasn’t much in the way of ethnic diversity and there were complaints from some that the more ‘underdog’ names the prize is renowned for unearthing simply weren’t there. But, with not much to be too cheerful about in 2020, let’s focus on the positive shall we?

Plus it feels now is the time to celebrate the arts and music than ever before. While it’s kept many of us afloat during dark lockdown times, the industry is clinging on by its fingertips. I for one have my weekend cut out having a proper listen to each of the 12 top albums before I make my mind up on who I think should clinch the top prize.

What else happened…?


Brexit was once again simmering beneath the surface. It would now appear the UK government has completely given up on the idea of agreeing a post-Brexit trade deal. I seem to remember something about “oven-ready”…

We also learned the PM has ordered the Army to plan for a four-way winter disaster of coronavirus, Brexit, flu and flooding. So if you thought there was a light at the end of the tunnel…

New Labour leader Keir Starmer had his first public clash with former leader Jeremy Corbyn over agreeing to pay substantial damages for seven anti-Semitism whistleblowers who appeared on BBC Panorama last year. Keir declared the party to be “under new management.” Meow. 

Tributes were being paid this week to Paulette Wilson, the Windrush campaigner who has died aged 64. She was wrongfully detained and nearly deported in 2017 and delivered a petition to Downing Street as recently as last month calling for justice for others caught up in the scandal.

Princess Beatrice had a very understated (by Royal standards anyway…) wedding to Edoardo Mapelli Mozzi. Her dress choice was widely praised – it was a hand-me-down from her grandma, Queen Elizabeth – for supporting sustainable fashion! I think if my grandma were the Queen I wouldn’t mind going second-hand either.


Kanye West had his first election rally, which by all accounts was even more bizarre than the fare we’ve come accustomed to at a Trump rally. Speaking on abortion he said everyone who has a baby should get $1m (?!). Kim Kardashian then spoke out about his mental health on social media and how his bipolar condition has affected the family. It seems unlikely he’ll make it into the White House but then again, we said the same thing about Trump…

The Johnny Depp libel case against The Sun paper over allegations he was violent to his ex-wife Amber Heard filled headlines as it went into its second week. He’s suing over an article that called him a “wife beater.” Depp denies ever hitting Heard but she has submitted details of 14 occasions during their relationship when she claims he assaulted her.

France, Spain and Germany are all considering further lockdown measures after a resurgence in coronavirus cases. This does not bold well for our chances of avoiding a second wave.

The US is also dialling back its reopening process as COVID cases pass 4m and Florida hospitals reach breaking point.

In Turkey, MPs are set to vote on a bill that could block Facebook and Twitter.

Venice says it’s limiting the number of people who can ride on Gondolas because tourists are overweight. Awks!

A lottery winner in Jamaica won $480,000 while dressed as Darth Vader. You know, as you do…

New research suggests 23.4% of New Delhi residents have coronavirus antibodies.


It was glowing five star reviews all round for Taylor Swift’s surprise album release of Folklore with the National and Bon Iver. Have you had a listen yet?

More music artists with unacceptable names were changing them this week: The Black Madonna is now The Blessed Madonna and DJ Joey Negro is now Dave Lee. US bands Lady Antebellum and Dixie Chicks already changed their names in the wake of BLM due to links with slavery.

We took a look at the #FreeBritney campaign. While we may have suspected all was not quite as should it be from her social media posts over lockdown, it looks like the rabbit hole goes deeper and darker than we had thought. It turns out Britney Spears has not controlled her financial or many career decisions since 2008 under a court-enacted “conservatorship” agreement. A court hearing on Wed put the issue back under the spotlight.

Some sad news for Wes Anderson – and Timothee Chalamet – fans: the release of highly-anticipated The French Dispatch has been now been delayed indefinitely. Plus Disney has pushed back the release of Mulan indefinitely, Christopher Nolan’s Tenet is till on hold and the release dates of the endless list of Avatar movies have also all been pushed back by a year. It seems it might be some time before cinema gets back to normal.

Seminal film La Haine, which explores all-too-relevant issues of racism and police violence in Paris, is being re-released in cinemas for its 25th anniversary.

Today (25th July) Ridley Scott and Kevin Macdonald are inviting the world to self-film their day to create Life in a Day 2020, a feature-length film that will premiere at Sundance Festival in January 2021! Check out the deets here.

If you loved Being John Malcovich and Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind (two of my fav movies ever in fact) we highly recommend you check out the debut novel from screenwriter Charlie Kaufman. The NYT says it’s “riotously funny”. I’m placing my order as I type.

Catch a clip of Nick Cave’s stunning performance of ‘Galleon Ship’ alone at Alexandra Palace:

Now you can see a retrospective of legendary artist Jean-Michel Basquiat online for free.

In more sad news for media and the music industry, Q Magazine announced it would be closing.

We were well behind the 10-year-old from Bristol who successfully launched a music fanzine over lockdown and even landed an interview with The Manic Street Preachers!! 

Sales of guitars and sound recording equipment has shot up as people got creative learning a new instrument or launching a podcast over lockdown. I wonder how many will keep it up…


A video of Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez calling out the behaviour of Ted Yoho went viral on Friday. What do we think – AOC for President?

We loved the story about this Morgan Bullock from Virginia who was accused of “cultural appropriation” when a TikTok video of her Irish dancing went viral. But then she got a call from Riverdance…

Secret Cinema drew our attention to 2020 written and directed by David Lynch…

Jack Monroe nailed all the things that are classy if you’re rich and trashy if you’re poor:

We can empathise with Robert Webb who took exception to a GIF of himself being sarcastic being used against him:

What got you talking this week? Have a fab weekend all!

First published on #ThisMuchIKnow on 24th July 2020.