Britain's cities, says Jeremy Clarkson in The Sun, are in a state of civil war. On one side are cyclists, who think that "thanks to the environment and the polar bear", the roads are theirs. On the other are motorists like him. "Well, on the basis that it's a good idea to know your enemy... I bought a bicycle."
He paid £300 for it. The man in the shop "also wanted to sell me the stormtrooper uniform. Tights. Lycra shorts. And some gel for my gentleman undercarriage. Obviously I rejected all of it, and even his offer of a helmet." Clarkson's cycling attire is jeans, a T-shirt and a jacket that says on the back: "Motorists. Thank you for letting me use your roads."
Riding his "two-wheeled branch of the Labour Party", he discovered that while Britain in a car is "basically flat", on a bike "it's the Alps". This means he's often late.
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"Still, I reckon I'm saving about £80 a day on taxi bills and fuel, which I'm spending on drink. This is the best thing about cycling. You don't have to stick to water because you're driving. And you don't have to worry about putting on weight either, because you can pedal it all off afterwards. I'm enjoying that a lot. Cycling is turning me into an alcoholic."
Locked down with Dan Brown
Imagine being stuck underground in a bunker for two months and forced to read a new novel by Dan Brown. Even Dante "could not have conjured up such a hellish punishment", says The Independent. Yet this was the fate of the translators hired to translate Brown's novel, Inferno, into French, German, Italian and other languages.
They worked seven days a week in a high-security basement at the Milan HQ of the publisher, Mondadori, owned by none other than Silvio Berlusconi. As soon as they arrived, in February last year, they were put into "lockdown". Their mobile phones were confiscated, they were banned from taking notebooks or papers out of the bunker and accompanied by security guards wherever they moved.
I hope these translators were well paid. By the end of last year, Dan Brown's books, including The Da Vinci Code, had sold more than 200 million copies, while the two Tom Hanks film adaptations have grossed about $1.25bn between them. In The Daily Mail, AN Wilson calls the latest one "twaddle". But "at least it's entertaining twaddle", he says.
A £16bn rainy-day fund
Bradford Council is adamant that it had to close five libraries to save £70,000 a year. Yet it is hoarding £23.5m of unallocated reserves, says Alice Thomson in The Times. Why? "To keep £23.5m in the bank for a rainy day when it is well and truly pouring down seems absurd," says a councillor. But Bradford isn't the only culprit.
Apparently, despite endlessly bleating about the need to make cuts to vital services, councils in Britain are sitting on a total of £16bn in savings, which they are refusing to use.
Tabloid money: the fickle world of fashion and its overpriced clobber
"So have I got this right?" asks Carole Malone in the Sunday Mirror. As well as the £11.5bn we already give in international aid, Prime Minister David Cameron wants to give another £50m to Somalia? "Ten million will go towards beefing up their army at a time when we're slashing the military here", five million on doubling the country's police force while we're closing police stations here, and ten million on building new prisons, "when, to make cuts of £63m, we're closing seven here and losing 2,600 prison places in the process. Whatever happened to charity beginning at home?"
"Can you believe it? A scrawny, 20-year-old, edgy-looking supermodel being touted as the next Kate Moss has been snapped dropping a suspicious-looking packet of white powder," says Alison Phillips in the Daily Mirror. "There could be an entirely innocent explanation, of course, but there has been such hysterical reaction that Cara Delevingne risks losing lucrative modelling contracts and has jeopardised her career, just like Kate Moss when she was pictured taking cocaine eight years ago.
Yes, Kate lost contracts worth several million with H&M and Chanel in the immediate aftermath. But since then she has earned that many, many times over. The incident may even have helped her longevity in the youth-obsessed modelling game. The harsh truth is that those in the fickle world of fashion and fame don't care if role models get coked off their heads. And they don't care if your kids do. So long as they keep buying overpriced clobber."
Why are the three Labour MPs spotted lunching with former Tory backer Lord Ashcroft Tom Watson, John Spellar and Michael Dugher being so secretive about it, wonders Guido Fawkes, a political blogger, in The Sun. "They won't even confirm Lord Ashcroft made his first donation to the Labour Party by paying for lunch."
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