Writing in The Daily Telegraph about Bob Crow’s pre-strike visit to the Caribbean, Boris Johnson said: “I love a beach holiday myself; like Bob, I have some groovy swimwear that doesn’t always meet with acclaim; and I consider it the right of every freeborn Englishman to drink a bottle of wine and turn the colour of a lobster in the sun. Bob Crow is entitled to his holiday.”
What he shouldn’t be able to do, said the mayor of London, is “disrupt the lives of millions of people who are not on holiday, but who want to work”.
There’s nothing new about union leaders enjoying the high life, says Richard Littlejohn in the Daily Mail. “During a TUC conference in the 1980s, I can remember Clive Jenkins turning up at a chip shop in Blackpool carrying two bottles of champagne plundered from his suite in the Imperial Hotel.”
Jenkins, the “cocky little Welshman” who led the white-collar workers’ union ASTMS, offered no apology for such displays of extravagance. He ran his union from Regency offices in Mayfair, had his shirts custom-made in Jermyn Street, was regularly to be found at the best tables in restaurants and always travelled first class when representing his members.
Asked to justify this, Jenkins would reply: “Come the revolution, everyone will travel first-class.” Bob Crow reminds me of Jenkins, says Littlejohn. “Those glorious pictures of him broiling himself on Copacabana beach and dancing the night away on a six-star cruise from Barbados to Brazil would certainly have met with Jenkins’s approval.”
When money overwhelms sense
“Michael Flatley’s mansion has been burgled by a gang who stole the dancer’s rhino horn, worth over £200,000.” Daily Mail columnist Craig Brown says he had to read this piece of news two or three times in case he’d missed something. He knew Flatley was a “grinning Irish dancer”. But what was he doing with a rhino horn?
It emerged that he kept it in the “hunting room” of his mansion, which also “boasts” a Roman spa, a private cinema, and much else besides. The writer Logan Pearsall Smith once wrote that he liked to walk down Bond Street “thinking of all the things I don’t desire”. Ploughing through this list, Brown felt much the same.
“One of the tricks of life is to have sense and money in roughly equal proportions. The moment your money outweighs your sense, you are obliged to spend it in increasingly daft ways” – as on a £200,000 rhino horn.
Then there’s the investment banker Edmund Lazarus who’s bought a £16m house in west London and is planning to burrow 28ft underground to build a “triple decker subterranean complex”.
In simple terms, says Brown, this will mean his basement “will now have its own basement, which will, in turn, have another basement”. Might it not have been easier just to buy the house next door, which would come “with the bonus of windows and fresh air”?
Tabloid money: From Jags to Jaffa Cakes – Brits have raised their game
• “What a shame teenagers Indira Gainiyeva and Edward Bunyan’s posh kids’ progress has come to an end in the Caribbean,” says Alison Phillips in the Daily Mirror. “I’d rather hoped they’d end up living happily ever after in the sunshine far away from their parents’ extreme wealth. Wealth of indifference that is – why else put your kids in a £30,000 boarding school, while you live on the other side of the world?”
• “What a disgusting country France has become,” says Tony Parsons in The Sun. “The 3,303,200 unemployed are the least of it. France is poor, racist and deeply unhappy. Truly the sick man of Europe. There will be plenty more riots before Hollande crawls under his rock to write his memoirs. And the chaos in France is exactly what awaits us if Ed Balls and Ed Miliband move into Downing Street. If your taxation policy is one of spite, envy and malice, then hundreds of thousands of wealth-creators will flee your country and the people left behind will try to burn it down.”
• The polls suggest that voters have noticed Britain is moving towards a more prosperous future, says Trevor Kavanagh in The Sun. “We could, of course, be knocked sideways by a crisis elsewhere in global markets. But there are signs that this time we really have raised our game… Exports are up. Factories are churning out everything from Jags to Jaffa Cakes… Firms sitting on huge cash mountains are beginning to open their wallets.” Labour has been caught on the hop by this. The Two Eds got everything wrong on austerity. And they are still getting everything wrong.
• “Big hoo-ha this week that Simon Cowell, who never flies anywhere unless it’s by private jet, took a BA flight from London to LA to see pregnant girlfriend Lauren Silverman,” says Carole Malone in the Daily Mirror. “She’d bet him he couldn’t do it. But big brave Simon put a peg on his nose, kept his anti-bacterial spray close and flew (First Class obviously) with the hoi polloi.”