The £130,000 Oscar goody bag

The Oscars goody bag may been more expensive, but the Bafta's offerings have more class.

Oscar nominee Di Caprio: in need of some luxury loo roll?

This year's Oscar "goody bag" is "an eloquent testimony to Hollywood's enormous financial resources, as well its sometimes extraordinarily bad taste", say James Gillespie and Alex Yeates in The Sunday Times. Those who attend on 28 February as nominees for either acting or directing awards can look forward to a wide range of gifts, including "a vampire' breast lift for £1,300" (which involves taking blood from one part of the body and using it to revive the decolletage in some psuedo-scientific manner) and "six packs of luxury Swiss loo rolls worth £190".

Advertisement - Article continues below

Naturally, not all the gifts may be equally appreciated. It's hard to see Leonardo DiCaprio (the bookies' pick for Best Actor) taking advantage of the breast lift. But there's still the "ten-day first-class trip to Israel valued at £38,000 and a 15-day walking tour of Japan at £31,000". The year-long Audi rental might also come in handy. Overall, the bag is valued at around £130,000 "more than 70 times the value of the Bafta version".

However, as someone who doesn'thave a burning desire to sit through a 12-hour flight to Japan, I'd still prefer the gifts given out at the Baftas ceremony last Sunday at the Royal Opera House. As Patrick Sawer notes in The Daily Telegraph, the Bafta bag contained "a specially commissioned caddy of Fortnum and Mason Bafta blend' tea" and "an £8.50 jar of Savoy marmalade". More costly gifts included "a £130 Cross gold and chrome plated fountain pen and a £120 Swarovski crystal chaton", not to mention "the £1,045 leather and brass Globe-Trotter trolley case the gifts are packed in".

A Valentine's Day scam

Last Sunday was Valentine's Day. It's big business, particularly in the US Americans apparently spend nearly $20bn a year on it. Small wonder that "romance scams" are on the rise, says Gonzalo Via in the Financial Times. RBS data suggests these involve "mostly single men aged over 50" who are "duped into giving away tens of thousands of pounds in return for the promise of love". One victim "gave away his life savings of £50,000 to help a girlfriend' who told him she needed the money to... stop her home from being repossessed".

Advertisement - Article continues below
Advertisement - Article continues below

Still, it sounds better than what James Innes-Smith endured. A break-up left him feeling that "men and women were fundamentally incompatible", he writes in The Times, and "that all love must die". Desperate, he attended the "Noble Man retreat" a workshop "run by women for the benefit of men" held in a room whose ceiling was swathed in "exposed, puffy pink lagging", resembling "the wall of a giant protective womb".

Highlights included an "excruciatingly awkward, highly sexualised rendition of the Dance of the Seven Veils, performed with gusto by the counsellors". Innes-Smith does say that his "emotional blockage" was "expunged" by the trip I'm just grateful I'm married.

Tabloid money: "MPs really do take us for morons"

Fraudsters "are clever in ways that most of us aren't", saysJennifer Selway in the Daily Express. So it's good to know that"banks, police, the Home Office and the Bank of England areteaming up in a new outfit called Financial Fraud Action UK".

Advertisement - Article continues below

However, catching the crooks may not be enough. After all,"when you've got your alleged villains in the dock you still havea mountain to climb". During the recent trial against the sixbrokers conspiring to fix "Libor", I "had to keep reminding myselfwhat Libor was, along with derivatives and interest-rate swaps".Evidently the jurors had the same problem, as "by day four of thetrial one juror was found to be asleep". Worse, the prosecution'scase "turned out to be hopelessly flawed" so that in the end"nobody was surprised when all six men were acquitted".

Tennent's Lager "is to become the first alcohol product inthe UK to display the calorie count on its labels", says the DailyMirror's Brian Reade. In theory this should "ensure drinkerscan make an informed decision" and "promote the responsibleconsumption of alcohol". But the plan has a big flaw informeddecision-making and responsible consumption don't figurehighly in the "thinking of the majority of their clientele". Indeed,"the ones who swig 9%-proof Tennent's Super" are likely to be"so smashed that they can't even see the words on the can".

MPs are due to get another large pay rise. Naturally, saysThe Sun, many say that "they don't want the money" andthat the hike is "being forced on them by IPSA, the regulator".However, if they genuinely think it's too much, "they cansimply hand it back".

Of course, "there's as much chance of thathappening as there is of David Cameron winning the EurovisionSong Contest" so their protestations prove that "they reallydo take us for morons". Worse, "it looks like the 80 or so MPswho chair Select Committees" are "going to get an even heftierincrease". It's hard not to be angry at this "greed and hypocrisy".



Toys and gadgets

Turn your living room into a cinema

Missing the big screen? Bring the experience home, says Nicole Garcia Merida
5 Jun 2020

Wine of the week: two rare but brilliant English sparkling wines from Fox & Fox

These two new releases are worthy of extremely high praise.
5 Jun 2020
Houses for sale

Properties with outdoor sports facilities

From an 18th-century Cumbrian farmhouse with a tennis court to a modern house with a croquet lawn and boules court in Dorset, eight of the best proper…
29 May 2020

Wine of the week: five exquisite creations from Burgundy

This is an absolute gem of a quintet from Burgundy – and you must taste them all, says Matthew Jukes.
29 May 2020

Most Popular


These seven charts show exactly why you must own gold today

Covid-19 is accelerating many trends that were already in existence. The rising gold price is one such trend. These seven charts, says Dominic Frisby,…
3 Jun 2020

Disease, rioting and mass unemployment – so why are markets soaring?

Despite some pretty strong headwinds in the last year, America’s S&P 500 stock index is close to all-time highs. John Stepek explains why markets seem…
4 Jun 2020
EU Economy

Why a stronger euro is good news for investors

The fragile state of the eurozone has for a long time brought the threat of deflation. But the ECB’s latest moves have dampened those fears. John Step…
5 Jun 2020