The rich must be wired differently

If £295,000 for a handbag sounds reasonable to you, perhaps you need to take a good long look at yourself.


Joss Stone: she might have a point

The British soul singer Joss Stone isa life-long vegetarian. She has never eaten an animal and she once sang Amazing Grace to cows. "She's also blonde and pretty", says the Daily Mail, so it wasn't "entirely surprising to see her joining the endless procession of stars who have stripped for PETA". The militant animal-rights group People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals "shamelessly plays the sex card by having its more beautiful supporters disrobe for its adverts".

The campaign Stone is fronting, which involved having her body painted to look like a reptile, is aimed at stamping out the use of crocodile skins for handbags, such as Herms Himalayans. What really "blew my mind" about it, says Deborah Ross in the Mail, is the price of a Herms Himalayan: it can cost as much as £295,000, confirming "my belief that once you're worth more than a certain amount I'm going to say, somewhat randomly, £10m your brain gets rerouted" and you become "wireddifferently".

Ross once asked Tamara Ecclestone, daughter of Formula One boss Bernie, who already had a collection of Herms handbags, what she really wanted. "A Himalayan", she said. Why? "Because almost no one else has it. It's the Holy Grail." Actually, said Ross disapprovingly, it's just a handbag. Perhaps Joss Stone has a point.

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The ethics of the brothel

"I've had a soft spot for Cynthia Payne ever since my husband went round to photograph her at her suburban home," says Sarah Baxter in The Sunday Times. A matronly Madam Cyn greeted him in her nightie and then squeezed into her bondage gear. "Just help me do up the top would you, dearie?" she asked. Baxter's husband didn't know where to look, but carried on with his photoshoot as best he could.

Then, as they were saying goodbye in the hall, she "whipped open a cupboard door, thwacked a man (who was tied up inside) a few times, and closed it again without saying a word". Cynthia Payne, as this story suggests, was never short of business: detectives who raided her home in 1978 found 53 men in various stages of undress. And when the case came to court newspapers enjoyed poking fun at her clientele. One cartoon showed a vicar in bed with a prostitute, confronted by a policeman. "I demand to see my solicitor," said the vicar, "who is in the next bedroom". Afterwards, when Payne was released from Holloway prison, she was asked why she wouldn't name any of her clients. "Well, me morals is low," she said on the spur of the moment. "But me ethics is high." A very goodresponse.

A university study concludes that "eating garlic makes men more attractive to women": they smell more alluring. Nonsense, says my wife. Times columnist Carol Midgley takes the same view. "Please no," she writes, this study will just encourage "more garlic scoffing". It "seems to be shoved into everything now, spreading like knotweed". In small doses it's fine, but why, even when you order a fresh salad at lunchtime nowadays, must it come with a garlic-infused dressing?

Tabloid money: the lefty firebrand and his bourgeois trunks

"Burly Lord Sugar, 68, boss of The Apprentice," says Ephraim Hardcastle in the Daily Mail, "fires ineffectual Sam Curry from the BBC1 show and tweets: Sam is an arts scholar, into Shakespeare and all that stuff. I asked if he's "much ado about nothing".'' Does ex-market trader Alan entertain artistic pretensions?"

"Not that long ago, FHM, the men's magazine, was selling nearly a million copies a month," says Jeremy Clarkson in The Sun. "But figures show that back in the summer, its circulation had dropped to less than a tenth of that and now it's gone to join Loaded, Nutz and Zoo in the great groin graveyard in the sky. Which makes me wonder. Have teenage boys grown weary of looking at naked ladies or are they getting their gratification elsewhere these days?"

"Charlie Sheen lavished £1m on sex workers in a year, despite knowing he was HIV-positive," says the Daily Mirror. "Company reports for the actor from 2013 reveal he spent $1,629,507 (£1,071,462) on friendly entertainment' in 12 months. It is claimed the cash was paid to more than 150 sex workers."

"Rebecca Wallersteiner, former amour of painter Lucien Freud, says she prefers relationships with older men because they are better in bed, hardier in cold climates, good for networking and full of juicy gossip," writes Jane Moore in The Sun. "Yeah right. What she really means is: they're old and grateful."

"A pal of mine," says Kelvin MacKenzie in The Sun, "shared a Jacuzzi (it's all happening out there) with Corbyn chum and lefty firebrand Tariq Ali at the swish Laboratory Spa in London's Muswell Hill and noticed he wears navy blue Vilebrequin swimming shorts, which cost between £150 and £400. The least he could have done is wear red."