Simon Cowell thinks he will live for another 40 years. While in America last year, he told the Daily Mail’s Jan Moir, he underwent the DNA genome sequencing test, which detects future illness or physical weakness and predicts when you might die of natural causes.
The £150,000 procedure told him that he would “live until I am 92. My tests were some of the best they had ever seen. No stress. I am a great believer that many illnesses come through stress.” With his rigorous routine of gym workouts, spinach smoothies and vitamin shots, Cowell is determined to live longer than his father, who died of a heart attack at 81.
The talent show maestro showed Moir round the west London HQ of his firm, Syco: a “creamy haven” of velvet sofas and walls of “padded leather”, giving the effect of “being inside a giant Chanel handbag. Or perhaps a padded cell.”
He’s a funny mixture, says Moir: doing 500 press-ups a day yet also smoking 15 Kool menthol cigarettes a day; saying he sleeps well, but taking two sleeping pills every night; letting the grey show in his hair but having Botox twice a year. “He has the disciplined, pared-down look of the high-profile, older celebrity still in demand.” There isn’t a “pound of flesh” out of place. As with Madonna, it’s more about discipline than vanity: “time is short, business is good, you are on the telly – so smarten up”.
Though Cowell guards his privacy, he knows it’s hard to have it both ways. He has no time, he says, for “bleating celebrities. If you don’t like it, don’t get into showbusiness.” Worth £200m, according to the 2011 rich list, he has a ‘chick budget’ to help out ex-girlfriends – though not all of them. “I wouldn’t do it with every girl I have dated because I would be broke.” With his three properties in Los Angeles and his house in London, he now has his eye on the English countryside. “I like the idea of weekends in the country. I would like a house with a lake.” So what would he do on the lake? “Just sit there.” Sounds unlikely.
Who can object to a new yacht for the Queen?
I like Michael Gove’s idea of sending a King James Bible to every school. As Terence Blacker says in The Independent, it would be more “a celebration of language than any kind of religious statement”. It would show the government to be keen on books – and it will only happen if it’s privately funded.
The same is true of a new royal yacht, which Gove also supports. Businesses are coming forward to finance this: Canadians have offered £10m, and a private donor £5m.
“It’s hard to dismiss the idea of a vessel we don’t have to pay for, that will benefit trade and that could give the octogenarian Queen a few hours’ respite while she is relentlessly flogging British interests around the world,” says Alice Thomson in The Times. True enough. But does the Queen (see below) really want a new yacht?
Tabloid money… strip Fred The Shred of his gold-plated pension
• Firuta Vasile sells the Big Issue magazine, says Rod Liddle in The Sun. And she also claims £2,600 in housing benefit from her local council in Bristol. “As far as the courts are concerned, her claim and her job sit perfectly easily with each other.” It is one of those “absurdities” that make Britain “such a fun place – the sort of joke in which the low-paid, hardworking taxpayer is the perpetual butt.
Firuta doesn’t just get £2,600 a year… With her new award she receives, from the state, [a total of] £28,000 a year. “That’s almost six times the average wage in Romania, even before we add in what she gets for selling [the Big Issue]…Hell, it’s well over the average British wage of £26,000.” But then she has four children to look after, as you might have guessed. “Firuta, then, is one of those eastern Europeans the government insists we desperately need in order to create wealth in the economy.”
Back in Bucharest there are queues of people just like Firuta, “who are heading here because they are convinced we are all mental. Utterly doolally.”
• There are cross-party calls for Fred ‘The Shred’ Goodwin to be stripped of his knighthood, says Fiona McIntosh in the Sunday Mirror. “Why stop there? It’s not some fancy title that bothers me, it’s the fact that the most reviled man continues to live it up on a £342,500-a-year pension, plus the £2.8m he trousered after driving his bank, Royal Bank of Scotland, to the brink of disaster.” Anyone responsible for a £45bn government bail-out should be “stripped of his gold-plated pension too”.
• “Provided the taxpayers don’t have to fund it, I am ambivalent about whether our undoubtedly hard-working monarch is rewarded with a new yacht or not,” says Jane Moore in The Sun. “But given her tears at the decommissioning of the stylishly understated Royal Yacht Britannia, one suspects she would prefer to have that returned to her… rather than be presented with some costly, vulgarly bling-tastic new model.”