With Will and Kate on their way to Bhutan, I am obliged to Anna Murphy in The Times for providing us with an up-to-date Places To Be Seen Going (PTBSG) list. Bhutan, obviously, is one such place, though it's a little pass now, according to Murphy. The fashion crowd, from Kate Moss to Donna Karan, "went there yonks ago".
Yet only a limited number of people are allowed to visit the Himalayan kingdom every year (and have to pay $200 a day for the privilege), which gives it a certain cachet, as does the fact that you can walk between the five super-luxe hotels that make up the Amankora chain "thus keeping it real while also keeping it not at all real".
Other top scorers on the PTBSG list, if you're a competitive traveller, eg, a hedgie with lots of dosh, are Costa Rica and Mongolia. "You can dine out for months at the private members' club 5 Hertford Street on stories of drinking arak in a ger (mare's milk in a variation on the theme of yurt, loser)."
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Murphy also lists the "gorgeous" Torralbenc hotel in Minorca, or the dune-top Sl'ring Hof hotel on the island of Sylt, northern Europe's answer to the French le de R. No, I've never heard of Sylt either, though Christiane Arp, the editor of German Vogue, has a house on it apparently. Then there's Salina, which "is the new Panarea. And if you don't even know what the old Panarea is it too is one of Sicily's Aeolian islands you have some catching up to do. (Stay in one of Capofaro's luxed-up workers' cottages)."
One final tip is the "expensively rustic" Nihiwatu Eco Lodge on the Indonesian island of Sumba, which is owned by the former husband of fashion designer Tory Burch. If you go to Sumba you'd better stay there, says Murphy, because an important feature of the PTBSG list is that there is always only one place to stay.
Black thoughts on our moral decay
Commenting on the news that the Archbishop of Canterbury's father was in fact Anthony Montague Browne, Churchill's last private secretary, Andrew Roberts points out in The Sunday Times that Montague Browne was the only non-Churchill family member invited to mourn alongside them at the private funeral ceremony in Bladon, Oxfordshire. The occasion brought on what Montague Browne described as "black melancholy thoughts of the decline and decay of so much of what Churchill had stood for". As if to underline this moral decay, said Roberts, "when he got back to London he discovered his flat had been burgled".
Churchill the tax dodger
Speaking of Churchill, his latest biographer, David Lough, has told the Oxford Literary Festival that he was a serial tax avoider who exploited loopholes whenever he could. The antics of modern politicians and their families pale in comparison with Churchill's financial manoeuvring, said Lough, according to The Daily Telegraph. Not only did Churchill "pretend to retire in order to halve his tax bill", but he persuaded the Inland Revenue's then chairman to "help him figure out a way to save his earnings for himself". The moral, in Lough's view, is don't subject politicians to too much scrutiny or we'll turn them all into "cardboard cut outs". Quite right.
Tabloid money Britain's booming export market in amiable tosh
"Anybody swallowing the myth that nationalising the steel industry would be economic madness should look at the plans in store for HS2," says Brian Reade in the Daily Mirror. "We'll spend £60bn-£70bn of taxpayers' money building it, then when it becomes profitable we'll flog it to the highest bidders." The buyers will probably be foreign companies and the profits they make from HS2 will be taxed overseas in countries such as France and Germany, helping to subsidise their own state-owned railways. After all, that's "exactly what happened to the energy we used to own, when Thatcher and her lackeys lied about privatisation turning us into a nation of shareholders".
In the early 1970s, 1,500 men, women and children were evicted from the Chagos Islands after the UK leased the islands to America for 50 years, says John Prescott in the Sunday Mirror. "It was a squalid deal to get a discount on Polaris nuclear weapons." Since then, the islanders have been fighting to return home and are waiting to discover the outcome of their latest appeal to the Supreme Court. If they win the right to return, it will come at a cost to Britain between £63m andsee it as a peace-of-mind dividend. A price worth paying for thesorrow and heartache caused to these British subjects."
Thecost has to be paid by somebody. "So why don't we demand acontribution from the banks, lawyers and companies that haveaggressively exploited British territories to hide their wealth?A Chagos Tax on the hidden millions held by UK companies andmillionaires exposed by the Panama Papers leak would be anoffshore deal we would all support."
The BBC's hit TV series The Night Manager was the mostexpensive ever made in the UK, at £3m per episode (with sixepisodes in total), says Frederick Forsyth in the Daily Express."But I will bet a yard of ale to tuppence it will more than earnits costs back in export sales. Already, foreign TV exhibitorsare clamouring for it." There is a vast overseas market forBritish television, whether spy stories, or everyday sitcoms, or"amiable tosh" such as Midsomer Murders. Strange as it maysound, "it seems that hundreds of millions of Chinese sit gluedto the latest UK import".
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