From skid row to a £21m tour

How Michael McIntyre made do with a microwave and an old Mini.

I'm no expert on modern comedians, but Michael McIntyre seems funnier and pleasanter than most. So it's nice to find that he's probably the most successful stand-up comic in the world, having earned £21m from his latest tour.

He's also sensible about money, according to Richard Price in the Daily Mail. His early days as a comedian were tough, and he's never forgotten them. Though brought up in a big house in Hampstead, his family struggled after his parents split up and at first, after leaving Edinburgh University, he had no money and was "barely able to half-fill the upstairs room in a pub".

He and his wife shared a beaten-up old Mini; he "trawled supermarkets for bargains"; he even set up a spreadsheet to monitor his domestic economy, "logging every penny earned and spent". At one point, six years ago, he was on the brink of bankruptcy, with debts of £30,000. Things were so bad, says Price, that he and his wife had to use an old microwave oven (found in salvage) as a dining table.

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Nowadays life could hardly be more different. Gone are the Mini and the microwave. Instead of a tiny flat he lives in a £3.5m house and his watch is a £10,000 Breitling, his cars a top-of-the-range Jaguar, a BMW and a Porsche. Yet for all that, says Price, he's not ostentatious.

He has no chauffeur, preferring to drive himself, and favours his local Caf Rouge over grand West End restaurants. He does use the celebrity trainer Matt Roberts, who also visits David Cameron in Downing Street, but that sounds a good idea since his father died of a heart attack at 53 and he has inherited his father's tendency to put on weight.

Nor has he forgotten the days when he almost ended up on skid row. He still uses the same spreadsheet at home, according to the Daily Mail, to log all income and expenditure and to ensure that he never lives beyond his means. Somehow I doubt he ever will.

A town hall conspiracy

We read this weekend about how powerless David Cameron often feels he wakes up to listen to government plans on the radio he knows nothing about. I suspect it's much the same in local government. Communities Secretary Eric Pickles may be doing his best to control town halls, says Richard Littlejohn in the Daily Mail, but don't get your hopes up.

Pickles says "all those vindictive fines" for putting rubbish out on the wrong day, or in the wrong container, will be scrapped. But councils will probably ignore him. As for the attempt to end the war on the motorist, councils have taken no notice, hiring more wardens, raising parking charges and levying more fines.

"Britain's Town Halls are an organised conspiracy against the very people they are supposed to serve, run entirely for the benefit of the staff who work for them. They spend their lives dreaming up new excuses for not doing the job we pay them for." Sadly, Littlejohn is right. The spirit of Yes Minister is as alive and well in our town halls as it is in Downing Street.

Tabloid money London is France's sixth biggest city

"The first time model' Crystal Harris was due to marry Playboy founder Hugh Hefner she called off the wedding with just five days to go," says Jane Moore in The Sun. "She later revealed, rather uncharitably, that I'm not turned on by Hef, sorry', and that their sole sexual liaison had lasted less time than it takes to boil an egg. But fast forward 18 months and it seems Crystal has had a change of heart', finally marrying the 86-year-old romantic on New Year's Eve.

She says: The time away helped make me realise that where I'm meant to be is here with Hef.' What she means is: The time away really helped me realise that it's rather dreary having to work for a living to pay your own bills, so a few years (maybe less if I unexpectedly pop a couple of balloons) with an octogenarian I don't remotely fancy is a small price to pay for a life of luxury in perpetuity.'"

"Asking French folk to pay 75% on all earnings over one million euros might arguably be fair, but I am pretty certain it doesn't work," says Tony Parsons in the Daily Mirror. "I think it will be a disaster for the French economy In the little corner of north London where I have lived for 30 years, it's now quite common to walk into a caf or shop and... all the conversation is French. The French are leaving France in their hundreds of thousands." More of them now live in London than Bordeaux, Nantes and Strasbourg. By population, London is France's sixth biggest city.

"Ed Miliband was asked last week whether brother Dave... is coming back to replace Ed Balls as Shadow Chancellor," says Carole Malone in the Sunday Mirror. But Dave is doing other important work'. "Yes, it's called lining his pockets." He earns £500,000 a year from "consultancies and speeches".