I was pleased to see that the Duchess of Cornwall was reading Elizabeth Jane Howard while floating about on the Mediterranean last week – not too highbrow, but by no means lowbrow either. Just right for a yacht.
The Duchess, said Claudia Joseph in The Mail on Sunday, was aboard the ‘Leander G’, enjoying a late summer break with some chums. The 246ft Leander G can be chartered for £440,000 a week when her owner, Sir Donald Gosling, the car park tycoon, isn’t entertaining friends or lending his yacht out to members of the royal family – something he has been doing discreetly since the Royal Yacht Britannia was decommissioned.
Camilla was photographed reading the “appropriately titled” Casting Off, says Joseph, the fourth in an addictive series of novels following the lives of the Cazalet family during and after World War II. The Daily Mail’s royal watchers also noted that the Duchess was wearing an inexpensive blue swimming costume. “The simple costume with white straps, apparently from M&S, is from a previous season and cost about £20.” This sounds admirable – perhaps the super-rich should follow Camilla’s example. It’s harder to feel resentful of people on nice yachts if they wear swimsuits from M&S.
The appeal of Bond-style caverns
On the subject of the super-rich, Hans Rausing is building a two-storey basement under his house in Belgravia. The troubled 49-year-old heir to the £4.3bn Tetra Pak fortune has become the latest wealthy London home-owner to build an “iceberg” home. His planned development will include a swimming pool, gym, cigar room, wine store, plant room with rainwater harvesting tank and cinema. It will cost around £2m.
It wouldn’t suit me, said Rachel Johnson in The Mail on Sunday. The fact is that “deep basements are somewhat… dark. And I don’t know anyone who likes to be in them.” So what’s the appeal of these “Bond-style” caverns? Part of it must be that they add even more value to huge mansions, thus making the rich even richer in the end.
Before Marin Alsop became the first woman to conduct the Last Night of the Proms, her Russian colleague, Vasily Petrenko, was scathing about female conductors: “a cute girl on a podium means that musicians have to think about other things”. As Fiona Maddocks says in The Guardian, this remark could just as well be applied to the “handsome Petrenko”, who could be a bit of a distraction himself.
But I was amused to see that even Alsop is not immune to sexist impulses. She confessed to The Guardian: “Whenever I get on a plane, I check who’s flying it. Once I saw there were three women in the cockpit. And I thought, in spite of myself: ‘Oh oh, something wrong here.’ If I reacted like that, what on earth does the person who doesn’t have my super-high tolerance of these issues think?”
Tabloid money: how can Gareth Bale be worth £300,000 a week?
• “In 1991 John Major, then prime minister, promised that his endeavours would result in letting wealth ‘cascade down the generations’,” says Fiona Phillips in the Daily Mirror. “No surprises there, a typical Tory statement outlining their obsession with the important things in life – inheritance, wealth, profit… with little regard for those who work all their lives and for whom a ‘cascade’ of wealth will mostly remain something that happens to other people. But they are often the fortunate ones as, with his usual canny insight, Simon Cowell understands.”
Cowell says his child will have to work for his own living. “‘I don’t believe in passing on from one generation to another,’ he said, as he marked out his intention to donate his fortune to ‘a charity probably – kids and dogs’… The entertainment guru’s words are music to my ears. I’ve told my sons that I won’t be ruining their lives by signing everything over to them because… it is a truth rarely acknowledged that it is often more fortunate NOT to inherit a fortune than to be ruined by not having to work for one.”
• “Can anyone explain to me how a bloke who kicks a ball around is worth £300,000 a week?” asks Alison Phillips in the Daily Mirror. “I accept Gareth Bale is a talented player and he probably needs a few quid for all those hair products he uses. But if ever there were a sign that our world has lost all understanding of value then it is his £86.3m transfer fee. How can we tell our children that playing football – and all sports – is about taking part, when all they witness is it being about money?”
• “A woman whose diamond earring was eaten by a cockerel has been told by experts that it’s lodged in the bird’s stomach,” says Jeremy Clarkson in The Sun. “She won’t be able to retrieve the precious jewel until the bird dies. Or, since it’s only a cockerel, she could wring its neck and get it back this afternoon.”
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