At last the lid has been lifted on what the Rolling Stones get up to on tour. The shocking truth about how they spend their free evenings emerged in an interview with Ronnie Wood and his new 36-year-old wife, Sally. Apparently they play backgammon – and watch TV box sets.
The Woods’ west London home, says Bryony Gordon in The Daily Telegraph, “bears all the hallmarks of being lived in by a pensioner who also happens to be in a rock band… drum kit in the living room, ashtrays, fag packets and lighters everywhere”. There are also half-completed jigsaw puzzles.
“We like them because they are very good for the brain,” says Sally, a theatre producer, who also reveals that she organised a backgammon tournament during the last Stones tour; they will be at it again when touring resumes in October. What else, wonders Bryony Gordon. Knitting? Flower arranging?
“Box sets,” says Ronnie. “Being on tour jet lags you. You wake up every night about 9pm, just at the time when you would be going on stage. So now, instead, we watch 19 murder mysteries in a row. We’re on Above Suspicion at the moment.”
“We love things like Broadchurch and Happy Valley,” adds Sally. “Even with Jagger I go, ‘Let’s go and watch House of Cards’,” says Ronnie. “And he told us about Game of Thrones. We had to send someone out at four in the morning when we were in Shanghai to get us the next series.”
Caution: bonfire of the quangos may be hot
“Do you remember the bonfire of the quangos?” asks Rod Liddle in The Sunday Times. This was a pledge by David Cameron to rid us of “wasteful, overstaffed, overpaid, useless regulatory and advisory bodies full of fantastically irritating people lecturing you about stuff you knew already”.
If the prime minister ever gets round to starting this bonfire, the risks should first be appraised by Public Health England. Here is the kind of thing to expect: “Try to avoid situating your bonfire of the quangos in an enclosed environment. Studies suggest that bonfires of any kind are most successful when situated outdoors.”
This kind of fatuous advice, says Liddle, is just what Public Health England has given us in its new 41-page Heatwave Plan for England. A sample: “Keep windows that are exposed to the sun closed during the day, and open windows at night when the temperature has dropped.”
There’s a lot more along similar lines, prompting a question, says Liddle: “Do you think we need Public Health England? And a second question: how many people do you think work for it? Fifty? Something ludicrous like 500? Nope. It’s 5,000.”
• Bloomberg has launched a “Gumtree for the elite”, says Glenda Cooper in The Sunday Telegraph, where for $20,000 a year you can access a different class of classified advertisement. The website, called Posh, includes boats, planes and luxury watches. It’ll probably be a success – even the super-rich love a bargain.
Tabloid money: “never kill anything more beautiful than you are”
• Anyone watching the World Cup coverage “might think football crowds are largely comprised of beautiful young women who like nothing better than to paint their faces in their nation’s colours and pout for the cameras”, writes Tony Parsons in The Sun.
One Belgian fan picked up by the TV cameras was even offered a modelling contract by L’Oreal. However, 17-year-old Axelle Despiegelaere made the mistake of “posing proudly with a dead Oryx antelope that she shot on an African safari”.
The cosmetics giant has “donated millions for the safe testing of chemicals without using animals” – and as a result, ”it’s back to Belgium for Axelle”. The “valuable lesson” is that you should “never kill anything more beautiful than you are”.
• “I am old enough to remember when stations had real human beings called porters who got one’s luggage from train to taxi in return for a shilling,” says Ann Widdecombe in the Daily Express.
Today’s “passengers are left to the uncertain mercy of machines, lifts and nonexistent trolleys while being harassed by patronising announcements”. I don’t object “to being told when there is a big gap between train and platform or when a train is not stopping”.
But “for the last 60 years I have been capable of knowing when not to run and when to have a drink of water”. Let’s have fewer announcements and more staff.
• Ex-Cabinet member William Hague has “showbiz agents clamouring to sign him” up, reveals The Sun’s David Wooding. He is being offered “at least £25,000 an hour to make after-dinner speeches”. His campaigning with Hollywood star Angelina Jolie was criticised while he was foreign secretary. But now it “will only add to his attraction”.
Of course, Hague is hardly on the breadline. His two historical books, on William Wilberforce and William Pitt, have done well – in his last break from politics, he made an estimated £820,000 for “writing, speaking and TV appearances”.