Donald Trump’s appearance in criminal court on Monday has raised many questions, constitutional and otherwise, but on the evidence of the first day I find myself most curious about the former president’s McDonald’s order. During jury selection last week, the Daily Mail reported on a $700 (£560) McDonald’s order put in by Trump staffers that included 27 orders of fries, 27 quarter pounders, a bunch of nuggets and no drinks. A McDonald’s employee complained anonymously that they didn’t leave a tip – in line with everyone who eats at McDonald’s – but still.

Trump’s long history of ordering McDonald’s is often presented as further evidence of the man’s barbarity. Back in 2019, the New Yorker called Trump’s insistence on ordering fast food to the Whitehouse for visiting college football teams to enjoy, a piece of “banality”. It was a PR move, of course, another way for him to stick two fingers up at “coastal elites”. But in a man whose opinion turns on a dime depending on the audience, the McDonald’s thing has also been a single, consistent expression of taste. It is speculated that Trump loves McDonald’s because of his fear of poisoning – anonymous fast food is safer than reliance on a chef – but I think in this case the guy just loves McDonald’s.

Anyway, this week, the Trump order was down to $500, although the Mail couldn’t confirm the itemised details due to management having cracked down on staff leaking. And while these orders were presented as “huge”, the fact is – a much commented on reality in New York – McDonald’s prices have gone through the roof in the last year and $500 doesn’t go far. (You’re lucky to get in and out for under $50 if you go in with two kids.) Which is shame because a quarter pounder with cheese with a cheeky cheeseburger on the side isn’t banal, it’s sublime.


Liz Truss in Washington DC, still desperately trying to suck up to the Americans in general and Trump in particular, disinvited the Guardian from her book launch this week, which the former prime minister may have intended as a personal slight since the whole thing was livestreamed anyway. (As David Smith reported, the message came through to the Guardian office last Friday that, “due to space limitations, we unfortunately must rescind your in-person invite”, while elsewhere her team encouraged the public to attend. As one can imagine Truss herself saying, lol.)

Truss’s persona post her spell as prime minister seems to have doubled down on that very particular verbal style that marries demotic modes of expression with a fixation on small, random details it can be hard to work out how she arrived at. In the speech at the Heritage Foundation this week, Truss referred to Trump’s “sassy business advice”, recommended that conservatives lay their hands on a “bigger bazooka” to fight the left, and made a joke about the “bonfire of the quangos”, all of which suggested she had fed her speech through translation software set to “American English, circa 1987”.

‘Totally at ease sitting alongside you fine gentlemen, as you can see from the strength of my smile.’ Photograph: Henry Nicholls/PA


The spectacle of horses bolting through London was as shocking as it was sad on Wednesday. The runaway five, who escaped during exercises with the Household Cavalry in Belgravia, have all been recovered, two of them seriously injured.

Footage of two of the horses, one covered in blood after colliding with a vehicle, showed the pair careening through central London, the sound of their hooves echoing as in a shot from a movie. These well-trained and disciplined animals had become spooked and thrown their riders, all of whom, the army said, had injuries that did not appear to be serious. But it was a sad addition to a usually jolly sub-genre of escaped animal stories, which, even when the death of the escaper occurs – as earlier this year in the case of New York’s Flaco the owl – appeals to a widespread sense of the value of freedom over security.

The two injured horses were conveyed to equine hospital, where they were said to be undergoing surgery. From long exposure to injured horse stories, from Black Beauty to the Horse Whisperer, it seems likely this particular story won’t end well.


It is gauche, I know, to visit the UK and complain about the weather, but I’m sitting here typing this with a hot-water bottle on my lap, nursing the cold I managed to avoid all winter and asking myself, not for the first time, what is wrong with this country?

In the plus column: Greggs. Proper cheddar. The use of truculence as a tactic for getting your own way. Aspects of Radio 4.

In the minus: cold houses. Cold weather. High street shops that shut at 6pm. False modesty. Aspects of Radio 4.

The tendency of negative feeling to attach to small details that have nothing to do with the bigger picture is a phenomenon well known to political operatives, who of course exploit them for their own ends. Although in this case it feels, at what we must assume are the dog days of a long and disastrous Tory rule, OK to hold them to account for the weather and Thought for the Day.


As Trump’s criminal case continues to unfold, a depressing end to the week in the form of Harvey Weinstein’s 2020 conviction for sex crimes being overturned by the New York court of appeals. Weinstein must still serve a 16-year sentence in California on separate charges, but this case, which the appellate court found to contain errors made by the judge, will have to be retried from scratch. Weinstein may still be in jail for the rest of his life, but the emotional ends to which he will put this reversal will surely take the edge off his punishment.

‘As the Boss famously sang, baby we were born to run (in a manner that makes those around us feel vaguely uncomfortable).’ Photograph: Matthew Childs/Reuters

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