Quintus has always had a soft spot for those who choose to squander a preposterous amount of money on hedonistic fun. Yes, laying out the yearly budget of a small hospital for a fin de sicle orgy, where the fountains flow champagne and the snuff boxes are heaped with cocaine, might make one an easy target for the tabloids in this age of austerity and puritanism. But if it leaves the participants with some fond memories, while helping to circulate a bit of wealth back through the economy, it's hard to see gargantuan excess as a wholly bad thing.
So while we're supposed to tut at the extravagance of how the 1% like to celebrate ("what do you mean you've never partied with a body-painted Grace Jones, a dozen drag queens and people dressed as neon monkeys?"), as an article in The Daily Telegraph paints it, it all sounds like pretty mild stuff to me.
There's plenty of pricey spectacle ("from conjuring up a real life bonsai forest to building a fake Berlin Wall, or sourcing a life-size mechanical polar bear"), celebrity glamour ("A few weeks ago, we had Florence and The Machine play for 150 people at Salma Hayek's house") and wacky requests (getting hold of 10,000-year-old ice for drinks "so guests can drink whisky with ice dating back to before the dawn of civilisation").Yet what the guests seem to care about most is food, dancing and conversation. Everything else just helps that along. It all sounds like money well spent if one has that kind of money to spend.
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Who wants to party with the boss?
Certainly more so than the New Year's Eve party thrown by Evan Spiegel, the chief executive of Snap which makes messaging app Snapchat for his staff at the LA Live centre in Los Angeles. Spiegel spent $4m of his own money on the event, reports celebrity news website TMZ. That included hiring rapper Drake to perform, booking every restaurant around the venue, and flying Snap workers in from around the world.
Yet surely no one really wants to celebrate the new year with one's boss especially a boss who was so worried about the public perception of the affair that he put a block on messages being sent by Snapchat from the area while the party was going on, and told employees not to post anything on social media, reports Quartz. Inevitably, pictures, which all seemed very innocuous, still emerged, mostly on Instagram, Snapchat's chief rival.
If one must be reminded of work on New Year's Eve, it seems more sensible simply to work and get paid for it. Take big-spending singer Mariah Carey, who last year was criticised for a disastrous performance in New York's Times Square. Carey could have been forgiven for taking some of the millions she recently got in a settlement with her ex-fianc, Australian billionaire James Packer, and hiring every neon monkey and mechanical polar bear in sight for the most divaesque New Year's Eve party the world has ever seen.
But a star like Carey knows she can't shed her responsibilities that easily, so she turned up again and netted around $5m for a ten-minute performance, according to the Daily Express. Afterwards, she was pictured (on Instagram, not Snapchat) seeing in 2018 with a quiet cup of tea. This is perhaps the only time in the year when she and I will have anything in common. Happy New Year.
Tabloid money the session in a Wolverhampton boozer that brings in £0.5m a year
Commuters heading back to work this week were hit with an above-inflation average fare increase of 3.4%, says Ross Clark in the Daily Mail. At the same time, they are being treated to a deteriorating service. In the five weeks to Christmas a "shocking" 48% of trains were delayed or cancelled. That's using the official definition of "delayed" a term so loose it would be laughed at in Japan or Germany. The railways are turning into "a theme park of 1970s industrial relations" while bosses hand themselves pay deals worth millions. "For a country that invented rail travel, we are making a remarkably good job of trying to finish it off."
Amazon boss Jeff Bezos is the richest man alive, with an eye-watering £74bn, says Trevor Kavanagh in The Sun. Second is Microsoft's Bill Gates with £66bn, while Facebook's Mark Zuckerberg is "struggling" on £38bn. This is all thanks to the "Vision Thing". "In just two decades, from a standing start, these inspired geniuses have revolutionised the way we shop, drive, bank and talk."
If five men can do all that in "the blink of an eye", why is Britain struggling to clinch a divorce deal with Brussels? "It's not rocket science." They managed it because they never took no for an answer. Prime Minister Theresa May should try being so bloody-minded. "After a dithering, disastrous 2017, it is time to be bold in 2018."
Does Noddy Holder ever tire of hearing Merry Xmas Everybody by his band Slade, asks Adam Helliker in The Daily Express. The 1973 song is played constantly over Christmas. "No. And I don't think I ever will," Holder says. "It's fantastic to be a part of the culture of our country." It's also fantastic to realise that the royalty cheques Holder receives, which are estimated to be worth £500,000 a year, are for a song that was written after a long and meaningful session in a Wolverhampton boozer.
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