Spectators at the Olympics are to be charged more than £7 for a pint of beer. It won't be British beer either. Under the terms of Heineken's exclusive sponsorship deal, all you'll get is Heineken, and you'll pay the equivalent of £7.23 a pint for it, more than double the national average of £3.17. But then what did we expect? asks Patrick Kidd in The Times. The Olympics is all about being fleeced. Never mind swifter, higher, stronger; the motto of the Games should be money, money, money.
The only people not set to make a killing are the athletes. From tickets for the 100 metres final costing £700 to people charging £4,000 a week in rent for houses in Hackney to Olympic torches being up on eBay while they are still warm, the Games has turned us into a nation of spivs. Instead of Mandeville and Wenlock, the mascot should be Private Walker from Dad's Army.
An affectionate tribute to the Queen
Subscribe to MoneyWeek
Subscribe to MoneyWeek today and get your first six magazine issues absolutely FREE
Among the affectionate tributes to the Queen, I enjoyed Ben Macintyre's in The Times Magazine especially his story about the note she once sent her dressmaker. Like a lot of people brought up in wartime, the Queen dislikes extravagance and watches the pennies. "Thank you for the enormous bill," she wrote to her dressmaker, "which will take a little time to pay."
She hates cockles, Macintyre also informed us. "In the evening, she drinks a gin and Dubonnet (one third to two thirds) with a slice of lemon and two ice cubes. Sometimes she drinks two. She keeps her cornflakes in Tupperware containers, and listens to a Roberts radio in the morning while eating toast with a choice of marmalades, and doing The Daily Telegraph crossword... Until 1990 she dyed her hair with Chocolate Kiss hair dye (the risk-free way to gently blend grey away')."
Why Caine has parked the Rolls
I'm not much impressed by the news that Sir Michael Caine has ditched his Rolex watch and Rolls-Royce because they are too "ostentatious" for austerity Britain. The actor told The People he was uncomfortable. "It didn't feel right to be all showy when there are people scraping and scrimping to feed their loved ones.
I still have the Rolex but I leave that in a drawer and wear this cheap plastic one instead. It does the job." Sir Michael said he was "very fortunate. I live in fantastic luxury but it doesn't mean I should forget where I came from. I've seen both sides rich and poor. That's why all the bling has gone."
These are admirable sentiments and ditching bling may make him feel better. But if he really wants to help people "scraping and scrimping", then why not simply give more money to charity?
Stephen Bayley loves Aston Martins. When a friend sold his firm and made a fortune, he wrote in The Daily Telegraph, the first thing he did was buy a "longed-for Aston Martin. About six months later, he told me that the majority of his pleasure in ownership was the jealousy of others. In that confession is so much of the bittersweet mystery of life and the strange allure of the... Aston Martin."
Queen's Jubilee cost, nothing; benefits, priceless
"Pampered MPs have moaned that their marble-lined loos in the Commons are dirty," notes The Sun's Tom Newton-Dunn. And the cost to the taxpayer over the last three years to find this out via the annual Survey of Services? A total of £83,000.
A similar review conducted by a private firm of the facilities provided in the House of Lords is due to take place this year at a cost of £40,000. "It's bonkers to spend tens of thousands on this ridiculous exercise," says Robert Oxley of the TaxPayers' Alliance, adding "they could just get a suggestion box or do it online for free".
The 189-year-old company De La Rue is said to be ready to fire up its printing presses in the event Greece leaves the euro and needs drachmas "at a moment's notice", says Jennifer Selway in the Daily Express. But you might ask why the Greeks are not getting ready to print their own money. The answer "the country ran out of ink recently when it had to print tax return forms. Funny that".
"At last Robert Mugabe has received the recognition he so richly deserves," says Rod Liddle in The Sun. The 88-year-old leader of Zimbabwe has been named an "ambassador for tourism" by the UN Tourism Agency. "This is remarkable on two counts." First, "because he's a racist, megalomaniac, mentalist, sanctions prevent him from travelling to any sensible country", and second, "if you had to draw up a list of countries where you might fancy spending a holiday, Zimbabwe would come out about 195th out of 196 (just ahead of France)".
"The weather was vile and nobody cared," says Tony Parsons in the Daily Mirror. Sunday afternoon's flotilla of boats on the Thames made for "a celebration fit for the Queen of our island nation". And the total cost of this "lavish show" to the British taxpayer? "Nothing". It was paid for by private donations. "Benefits to the UK in terms of feelgood factor, the tourist industry and our global identity? Priceless."
Equity release rates drop – is it worth unlocking cash from your home?
News Lifetime mortgage rates are falling from their record highs - is equity release worth another look?
By Marc Shoffman Published
Hargreaves Lansdown launches fixed-term cash ISA product
savings/hargreaves-lansdown-fixed-cash-isa-launch Investment platform Hargreaves Lansdown is to offer fixed term cash ISAs via its Active Savings platform paying 4.8%, tax free - but is it any good?
By Kalpana Fitzpatrick Published