Except at weekends, when he is allowed to sleep in, Conrad Black Prisoner No 18330-424 gets up just after 7am and starts his day with granola for breakfast. Then he goes to his "workplace" in the Coleman correctional facility in Florida where he teaches courses in US history and tutors "high-school-leaving candidates, one-on-one".
Our insight into the daily routine of Lord Black of Crossharbour, now one year into his six-and-a-half-year sentence for fraud and obstruction, comes from an email interview with the National Post, the Canadian newspaper he founded.
Black says he continues to pray and attend Mass, has started to learn the piano, something his mother wouldn't let him do as a child, and is writing an account of his legal woes called The Fight of My Life.
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"I lunch around 11am, work on emails, play the piano for 30 to 60 minutes, return to my tutoring tasks by 1pm, return to my unit at 3pm, deal with more emails, rest from 4pm to 6pm, eat dinner in the unit, go for a walk in the compound or recreation yard for a couple of hours, drinking coffee well-made by Colombian fellow residents, and come back into the residence about 8.30pm, deal with emails and whatever, have my shower etc around midnight, read until 1am-1.30am and go to sleep."
Black, 64, sounds quite cheerful about it all, though life in detention must seem limiting for the former globetrotting socialite who once owned the world's third-biggest newspaper group. Nowadays he sees visitors on Mondays, Thursdays and Fridays; they stay for about four hours to "converse and eat from the automatic vending machines". He doesn't mention his wife, who has been spending time at their home in Toronto as well as at their ocean-front mansion in Palm Beach, a four-hour drive from the jail.
Micro hemline, mega price tag
Christophe Decarnin, the rock 'n' roll designer famous for his £1,000 ripped and torn jeans, has designed some new 'micro-dresses'. How much do you think they're worth: £500? £1,000?
They look quite smart, it's true, but there isn't exactly an excess of material involved: the fashion editor of The Daily Telegraph, Hilary Alexander, describes them as "possibly the shortest micro-dresses in the world".
The dresses were exhibited in Decarnin's autumn/winter collection for Balmain at the Paris prt-a-porter season last week. According to Alexander, Joan Burstein, the owner of a London boutique that stocks Balmain, estimates the micro-dresses, "encrusted with crystals and diamante and made from clinging, black-stretch leather and electric-blue satin", could carry price tags starting at £10,000. Clearly, the recession has yet to hit the fashion industry.
Tabloid money "We need to tear up benefits system and start again"
"We're now paying criminals to burgle our houses," says Fergus Shanahan in The Sun. Jack Straw, "the injustice secretary", says cash is given to lags let out early to compensate them for loss of free food and lodging. Many cons "go straight back to their old ways, robbing your house in the morning and claiming compo from the government in the afternoon". Fifty thousand criminals have been freed early to ease overcrowding and £5m paid to them. "We might just as well put them up in the Dorchester to finish their sentences."
In these belt-tightening times, says Fiona Phillips in the Daily Mirror, there are certain state handouts the rich can easily do without child benefit for one. "It's ludicrous that someone earning more than £100,000 a year receives £20 a week for their eldest child and £13.20 for each additional child the same as someone earning £20,000 a year. Why not means test it and save us all a fortune?"
To understand what's dragging Britain down, consider these three facts, says Fraser Nelson in the News of the World:
1. "By having a child and signing on, a woman can 'earn' more than a barmaid, cook or hairdresser."
2. "Since Labour came to power most new UK jobs have been filled by workers born outside of Europe."
3. "The UK welfare department has more 'clients' (i.e. people on the dole) than Ireland has people."
The welfare state "specialises in keeping people trapped on benefits for good". We need to do more than reform it. "We need to tear up the benefits system and start all over again."
Everyone agrees printing money causes inflation, says Jeremy Clarkson in The Sun. "I cannot understand why. As far as I can work out, no one can." You'd need to be a human super-computer to get to grips with it all. And our chancellor isn't even a laptop. "He's just a small-town solicitor from Scotland."
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