The times are changing at Downton Abbey

The world's gone mad, but we'll miss "Downton Abbey" when it's gone from our screens.


The business scandal that has shaken Sweden to its roots this year has "had it all", says the Financial Times: a £7.7m hunting lodge built to entertain clients, free flights for wives, children, and even pets, executives approving each other's expenses. It's a scandal that has "engulfed" the massive holding company, Industrivrden, controlling shareholder of a whole host of famous firms, including Volvo. It began nine months ago, when Swedish newspaper, Svenska Dagbladet, began highlighting the extravagant use of private jets at the hygiene products maker SCA, including the use of one that had flown, empty, to northern Sweden just to pick up an executive's forgotten wallet.

The scandal has "led to one of the biggest boardroom clear-outs in recent years", says the FT. More than ten chief executives and chairmen at some of Sweden's largest companies have resigned or been sacked. Nor is the FT convinced that everything is now back on an even keel. "Even after the extraordinary shake-out, investors are sceptical that the problems have been solved."

How very unSwedish. I suppose we're getting used to the fact that Scandinavia is a den of iniquity like everywhere else, thanks to all those TV series, such as The Killing and The Bridge, and Stieg Larsson's novels about Sweden's underworld. Now along comes a juicy corporate scandal showing that all is not as rosy in the caring, sharing, egalitarian Swedish corporate sector as we'd been led to believe. I can't say I'm surprised.

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We can't all be Keats

Well done, Edinburgh University, says Kevin Maher in The Times. It managed to make "a grey and soggy autumnal day" last week even greyer and soggier by releasing research purporting to show that most middle-aged men have missed out on real happiness and have poor levels of emotional wellbeing. The reason, say the Edinburgh research scientists, is that "successful ageing" the secret of happiness for men is to achieve your career goals by the time you've reached the age of 27. That's right: 27. Which means most men haven't a hope, as Maher says.

"If you ring-fence, for example, certain freakish anomalies [such as Mark Zuckerberg and John Keats], I can't think of anyone... who achieved their career goals by the age of 27." Quite. Couldn't these "scientists" find better ways of wasting their or more probably our money?

Downton Abbey is back. It's 1925 and times are changing, with the line between upstairs and downstairs "increasingly blurred", as Sam Wollaston put it in The Guardian. "So [the kitchen maid] Daisy's off in a car, to the auction of Mallerton House and speaking her mind to the toffs, though to be fair she does apologise. And in the kitchen the staff are knocking back the Veuve Clicquot. Lord and Lady Grantham are down there too, snaffling leftovers from the newfangled refrigerator. The world's gone mad and upside down." Indeed it has but we'll miss it (the show I mean) when it's gone.

Tabloid money: skimming the cream off the Great British Bake Off

Ian Hislop refused to sign the "luvvies" letter arguing that plans to reform the BBC would damage Britain, reports the Daily Mail. "A letter from 50 midwives saying, The only thing that makes our lives bearable is watching Poldark' that's a worthwhile letter," said Hislop. "A letter from a load of famous people saying, I like the BBC and I get paid by them', I mean, so what? Had I seen my name on the list, I would have thought, You overpaid w***** why should I care what you say?'"

Bank of England governor Mark Carney and his chief economist Andrew Haldane should start "singing from the same hymn sheet", says Kelvin MacKenzie in The Sun. "Carney says rates will have to go up. Haldane says they may go negative. I know you're a Canadian, Mr Carney, but on this side of the pond ordinary folk have things called mortgages and worry about your bank's pronouncements. Please shut your trap until you know."

"Paul Hollywood [left] has done a deal to put his name to a range of supermarket breads," says Carole Malone in the Sunday Mirror. "Since Bake Off began five years ago, he and Mary Berry have raked in almost £20m between them. So they got filthy rich the rest of us just got fat."

"Hale and hearty Ken Livingstone, 70, says weedy-looking Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn, 66, is fitter than he is," writes Ephraim Hardcastle in the Daily Mail. "He doesn't drink and I do." Indeed so. His successor as London mayor, Boris Johnson, claimed last year: "We haven't finished his vast stock of Chteauneuf-du-Pape."