Why so obsessed with money?

Richard Burton's diaries reveal an odd side to the actor.

Richard Burton's waspish diaries, which have just been published, are dominated by drink, money, and Elizabeth Taylor. As Craig Brown noted in The Mail on Sunday, they are full of savage judgements of people he knew Laurence Olivier: "a shallow little man with a very mediocre intelligence"; Tennessee Williams: "a self-pitying pain in the neck". But what's oddest is his obsession with money, an obsession he shared with Taylor.

On one day in 1967, for example, he bought Taylor a jet they had flown in the day before. "It costs, brand new, $960,000. She was not displeased," writes Burton. They then set off for a film premiere, surrounded by eight guards because Taylor was wearing jewellery worth "roughly $1,500,000".

What the couple made and spent is constantly totted up. "I have worked out that with average luck we should, at the end of 1969, be worth $12 million between us." Reading in bed one evening, he asks Taylor what she is doing in the next room. "Playing with my jewels," she replies. On another occasion he has a "Battle of the Rubies" with Aristotle Onassis, buying a diamond at auction "I was going to get that diamond if it cost me my life" for $1,100,000 after Onassis "chickened out" at $700,000.

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So why all this manic spending (financed by increasingly rubbishy films)? "I wonder if it sprang from an unconscious desire to rid himself of everything adult his money, his fame, his reputation," says Brown, "and to return to those simple, far-off days in Port Talbot, when the very summit of happiness was to be offered a part in the school play."

Why we need The Guardian

With The Guardian continuing to lose vast amounts every year, there is apparently a well-advanced plan to axe the print version altogether or, as Boris Johnson put it in The Daily Telegraph, "to stop the presses, spare the trees and go completely online within the next two years".

This story has been denied by the Guardian "politburo", a move that "of course adds nothing but credence to the plot". But true or not it would be sad if it happened. "We need The Guardian lowering at us from the newsstands in all its high-mindedness," says Johnson.

"Guilt-ridden Lefties will need it to swat away the mosquitoes in Tuscany, or to light the wood-burning stoves in their second homes, or to line the tuck boxes of their little ones as they guiltily pack them off like dear Polly Toynbee to their fee-paying schools." And it would be awful for us Conservatives if we no longer knew what "the enemy" was thinking.

"We need a paper that is genuinely, viscerally hostile to anything that looks remotely like a spirit of enterprise and competition. We need a paper that believes capitalism is fundamentally flawed that dislikes the ideology of home ownership (except for Guardian journalists, who are allowed to have more than one) and that dislikes anything elitist' (except for the schools attended by the children of Guardian journalists)."

Tabloid money MPs present us with a £420,000 wine bill

"It won't come as much of a shock to you, I suspect," says Rod Liddle in The Sun. "More than half the people who claim incapacity benefit are fit for some sort of work and not incapacitated at all, the government has revealed. They are being moved to another form of benefit', apparently. I don't know what that one's called. Malingerer Assistance? Bone Idleness Credits? Whatever it is, I hope you've thought up a good name for it. Just mentioning these statistics always means people write in and say: How dare you have a go at the disabled, you sub-human fascist' But just to be clear. I'm having a go at the 50% who are pretending to be disabled and aren't. Okey-dokey?"

A shepherd from Suffolk has paid "a record-breaking 8,000 guineas" for a sheepdog at an auction in North Yorkshire, says the Daily Express. Eddie Thornalley, 45, was so determined to buy the 18-month-old smooth-haired border collie he was prepared to pay even more. Bids in guineas an old denomination worth £1.05 that is still used in many sale rooms quickly broke the previous record of 6,000. "She's just an outstanding dog," said Eddie afterwards.

"The Tories have more than a trickle of good economic news to cheer about," says The Sun. "Nick Clegg privately admits he went too far by sabotaging boundary changes that would give Tories up to 20 extra seats. He will look silly as the only leader who wants more MPs and is ready to do a deal. The shake-up is a matter for the MPs not the Coalition. If David Cameron sees a chance of getting it through, he will grab it."

"MPs have a corking idea," says The Sun. "They'd like taxpayers to stump up £420,000 for wine at the Commons. Not any old wine like the plebs drink. The good stuff you only get in swanky bars and restaurants We're not sure who the biggest plonkers are our MPs, or us for voting them in."