The world economy continues to implode, India just suffered a historic terrorist attack, and Venice is flooding--so of course, the Thursday front page of the Independent, one of the better UK newspapers, devoted most of its front page to a huge picture of a woman wearing a puple beret. What the heck? The woman in question was Sarah Brown, wife of the prime minister, and she sported the apparently questionable headgear at the annual Queen's speech. When I expressed puzzlement at the Independent's front page coverage, one of the Brits in the office said it was just another sign that England's class system remains firmly in place. Apparently berets are just not posh (i.e. upper-class), especially if they are bought for about $12 at a discount fashion chain--a fact the Indepedent and other papers took care to point out. Don't believe me? Check out the Guardian's essay by a writer who found the hat "Beret annoying", as well as this press wrap-up on how the beret divided media opinion. I hope Michelle Obama is paying attention.