Gordon Ramsay does porridge
Gordon Ramsay has been making a television series for Channel 4 in which he teaches inmates of Brixton Prison to cook. He wasn’t impressed by the experience, he told The Guardian’s Decca Aitkenhead. “What I wasn’t prepared for was how easy it was for them in there. I was astounded at the comfort zone they carve out for themselves.
"Five meal choices a night – that was the one I really struggle with. I just thought it was a bit of a joke, to be honest. Coupled with 24-hour television, Xboxes, DVDs, gym. We can’t watch television until four o’clock in the morning. I’d like to have a gym seven days a week, by the way.”
Filming in jail is no easy matter – the Bad Boys Bakery was a logistical nightmare, says Aitkenhead. Not just every knife but every potato peeler presented a “security challenge”. Prison staff constantly had to worry about Ramsay’s shouting and swearing at men with “impulse control issues”.
What Ramsay found inside didn’t improve his temper. The prisoners’ cushy life made him not just angry but embarrassed. “I thought we were a nation of grafters; I thought we had the spirit of working harder than anyone.” To his disgust, he found most of the inmates less than wild about joining his teach-in.
“Yeah, and why would they want to come and bust their arse for ten hours a day when it was easy for them to do nothing? I find that hard to come to terms with.” Ramsay’s combative approach led to outbreaks of rage; the original 12 were soon whittled down to eight. I’m not surprised. The prisoners clearly met their match.
Malawi's hitchhiking president
A promotional magazine in last Saturday’s FT advertises a private jet service with the words: “If you think private jet travel is out of the question…THINK AGAIN.” With the firm, called Victor, you can book a slot on a six-seater plane by chartering the whole plane then selling on the spare seats to others. Sounds hard work to me.
But one potential customer Victor needn’t bother contacting is Joyce Banda, new president of Malawi, says Stefan Stern in The Independent. Rather impressively, Banda has just announced she is selling off (or leasing) her predecessor’s £8m jet and his 60 Mercedes cars. She says she is “already used to hitchhiking” and has no need for a private jet, which costs £220,000 a year to maintain – she will use commercial airliners instead.
Rent Pierce Brosnan's house
Pierce Brosnan is putting his Malibu estate in California up for rent, says The Mail on Sunday – at £160,000 a month. Brosnan’s property is in a stretch known as “Billionaires’ Row”. Neighbours include Steven Spielberg and Robert Redford. Sounds a bit steep, but I suppose there will be customers. David and Victoria Beckham, after all, rented Spielberg’s property for £100,000 a month last summer. I wish I could charge that much for my house in Cornwall, but the neighbours aren’t as famous and the weather’s not quite so good.
Tabloid money… The corporate hijack of the Olympics
• It turns out that many of the 8,000 people chosen to carry the Olympic torch were executives working for Olympic sponsors, says Fiona McIntosh in the Sunday Mirror. “So instead of a community charity leader or a returned hero carrying the torch, it’s been held aloft by a marketing manager from a soft drinks company.”
But those of us “who tried and failed to get tickets to London 2012 woke up a long time ago to the corporate hijack of this event. When the only tickets you can get your hands on in the third ballot cost £350, this is clearly not an event for ordinary people.”
• Abu Qatada’s human rights lawyers have been paid £21m in taxpayer-funded legal aid in the past ten years, says Jane Moore in The Sun. “This reminds me of the Doncaster-based law firm Beresfords, which handled the cases of almost 100,000 former miners suing under the government coal health compensation scheme.
It started life in small premises and graduated to a vast, luxurious building overlooking a lake, with myriad staff and two bosses – James Beresford and Douglas Smith – whose joint earnings went from around £182,000 in 2000 to £23,273,256 in 2006.” After ‘success fees’ were deducted from their compensation, many miners were left with “paltry” amounts.
Beresford and Smith have both since been struck off for serious professional misconduct. But it’s surely “only a matter of time” before the legal and accounting worlds face the same kind of scrutiny as bankers, politicians and journalists.
• Private Eye editor Ian Hislop’s four-bedroom Chelsea house is said to be worth £4m, says Ephraim Hardcastle in the Daily Mail. So why is he so rich, with houses in Kent and Crete as well as London? Because as well as his Private Eye salary, he earns £40,000 an episode for BBC 2’s Have I Got News For You and between £10,000 and £25,000 for his after-dinner speeches.