We tend to take our pleasures for granted. If they're suddenly taken away, the experience of missing them can be more acute than the enjoyment we had in the first place. So spare a thought for those hedge-fund wives in New York who've fallen on hard times: "desperate hedge wives", as The Times calls them.
There are quite a number. Almost half New York's 1,000 hedge funds have disappeared. Around the world, 10,000 hedge-fund workers lost their jobs last year and a further 20,000 are expected to be out of work. An industry once worth $1.9trn is now worth half that.
Tatiana Boncompagni, who has written a book on hedge-fund wives, recalls in The Times going to weddings which featured mountains of caviar and Victoria's Secret supermodels. But that was then. Now some of the women who married in such style are bickering with their husbands about cash-flow problems. "I didn't get married for this," confided one struggling wife. "Do you know I have to take the subway now?"
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Not that these complaining wives are exactly on the breadline. Dining in a Downtown restaurant called the Minetta Tavern, Boncompagni listened to one warn her husband not to go overboard choosing the wine. "I'm going to be a recessionista," she said, "and remind you that we're on a budget." So they ordered three bottles of red at... $60 each. But clearly this was quite a comedown.
In the same vein, another hedge-fund wife reported that she and her husband were in such dire straits they were forced to rent out their house in Mustique. "Initially I felt sorry for her," says Boncompagni. But a glance at the website showed that the house has an infinity pool, grass tennis court, six staff and a $40,000-a-week tariff. Her sympathy lessened. In some cases, she says, "these guys have lost half their net worth". Which is tough, if not exactly the end of the world. But these are people used to living it up and spoilt as they undoubtedly are, the fall has been steep.
The class divide at Westminster
The publication of MPs' expenses shows that class is still alive and well at Westminster, notes Alice Thomson in The Times. "Labour MPs charge for their sit-and-ride lawnmowers (Geoff Hoon £90.09); Tory MPs could never mow all their paddocks on their own, so they submit their gardeners' bills (Sir Peter Viggers £1,040, David Davis £2,002). Labour MPs haggle over the price of a washing machine; Tory MPs don't do their own shirts instead they charge for a housekeeper (Douglas Hogg) or, in Sir John Butterfill's case, claim for the 'servants' wing'."
Thomson points out that Labour MPs' expenses look more grasping because they put in for trifling amounts Alistair Darling wanted a matching tea towel and oven gloves for £3.37. Tory MPs' bills, on the other hand, alienate. "How many of us knew that there were still people who had real chandeliers that needed hanging by an expert or grand pianos that required tuning?" All in all, though, the expenses row has been a great leveller. As Thomson puts it, "greed is classless".
Tabloid money Rio Ferdinand's £5m wedding
"Footy ace Rio Ferdinand is treating his bride to the World Cup of weddings next weekend a whopping £5m five-day do," says the News of the World. The Manchester United player has booked a five-star resort on Peter Island, in the British Virgin Islands, just for his guests. He and bride-to-be Rebecca Ellison will stay at the £50,000-a-week mountain-top villa, the Falcon's Nest, with "a round-the-clock butler, valet, chef and housekeeper. Not bad for a boy from Peckham the run-down south London suburb made famous by Only Fools and Horses."
"A friend of mine struggling to get a mortgage commented wryly the other day: 'How laughable that I have to prove to my bank that I'm honest,'" says Jane Moore in The Sun. "Indeed." Unemployment is soaring and small businesses are struggling. "So what does the Royal Bank of Scotland do? Spend up to £300,000 on corporate hospitality for Wimbledon fortnight and give a £9.6m incentive deal to the latest Fred Goodwin. They just don't get it, do they?"
No one tells Alan Sugar "you're fired", says Fraser Nelson in the News of the World. "Until now." Tory peers expect his nomination to the House of Lords to be blocked by anti-sleaze watchdogs. "Not that he is sleazy. But as a Labour donor, he'll be given a tough grilling about all his business dealings. He may well pull out rather than be seen to be on some kind of trial. And then settle for being simple Sir Alan."
David Cameron knows he's in for a rough ride once the Tories start cutting state spending, says Trevor Kavanagh in The Sun. "We can expect the sort of pitched rent-a-mob battles that scarred the Thatcher years over Wapping, Orgreave and the poll tax. The loony Left has been quiet during the big-spending Labour years. They will be determined to make up for lost time."
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