Ewing Oil finds its caring side
If any TV programme caught the spirit of 1980s America it was surely Dallas, that merry-go-round of greed, jealousy, conspicuous consumption and love triangles.
So popular did the series prove in Britain that almost as many people tuned in to find out who shot JR Ewing as watched Prince Charles marry Diana.
Now it’s back – on the cable channel TNT. But if Southfork has opened its doors again, it’s a very different Southfork, reflective of the changing times. Old stars like Larry Hagman may make the odd appearance but, as The Times puts it, “the intervening years have taken their toll on the business community”.
The Stetson swagger has gone; instead there’s a plot line about climate change. JR’s son, John Ross, wants to drill for oil in Southfork but Bobby’s son Christopher, “the conscience of the story like his father before him”, wants Ewing Oil to focus on renewable energy.
So instead of unfettered Reagan-era capitalism, we have a gentler world. “Perhaps the biggest surprise,” says The Times, “is that Sue Ellen has turned from sex and drinking to politics, surely a backward step.”
The redemptive powers of Scotch
How often do you find yourself with someone who drinks whisky? Less than you used to, I’d guess. But if Scotch isn’t as popular here as it once was – in Scotland itself it’s very out of fashion – that’s far from the case abroad. According to Marcin Miller in The Daily Telegraph, the French now drink more Scotch per month than they do Cognac in a year. Similarly, eastern Europe is turning its back on vodka to embrace Scotland’s most famous export. “Overseas, it seems, Scotch is sexy.”
The figures bear this out. Scotch whisky exports reached £4.23bn last year, with some 90% of whisky being sold overseas in more than 200 markets. Drinks giant Diageo plans to pour more than £1bn into building new distilleries as it cranks up production.
Outside Europe, says The Guardian, the drink has “cemented its position as a status symbol for the growing middle classes of the emerging economies of China, south Asia and South America”. There’s even a film about Scotch’s redemptive powers: Ken Loach’s The Angels’ Share, which won the Jury Prize at Cannes. As Miller says, whisky pioneers like Tommy Dewar in the 19th century would be proud.
The Italian flight to London
Last year Russia provided the most foreign buyers of houses and flats in London. This year it’s the Italians. A Knight Frank survey (in The Sunday Times) shows that in the first five months Italians made up 7.6% of those buying houses and flats in places like Chelsea, Mayfair and Knightsbridge.
In 2011, less than 4% of buyers were from Italy. “For a lot of Italian people,” says the owner of a pizzeria chain, “buying a property [in London] is a safeguarding of their assets. I bought [my flat] because the pound is going to be much stronger than the euro over the next two years and it is a very safe investment.” Safer than Italy, certainly.
Tabloid money… a sombre show from the footballers’ wives
• If Chancellor George Osborne is to preserve our fragile triple-A credit rating, his promise to “lop another £10bn off state spending” is not enough, says Trevor Kavanagh in The Sun. “Mr Osborne will have to axe free bus passes and winter fuel bribes for the well-off pensioners, slash our lavish overseas aid bill and eliminate costly quangos. He must use the savings to cut taxes on jobs.
But if everything in Europe does go pear-shaped, all that will be just window dressing. We are about to take a walk into the unknown. Bankers and politicians have no idea what happens next.”
• “I know it’s right and sensible that England’s WAGs are ‘playing it down’ at Euro 2012,” says Fiona McIntosh in the Sunday Mirror. “We can’t have them blowing £50,000 on frocks like they did in Baden Baden. Not in these times. When Theo Walcott’s fiancée Melanie Slade arrived in Poland she looked as though she’d just stepped out of a biology exam.
John Terry’s wife, Toni, last seen in a blinged-up monokini, actually wore a cardigan. Coleen Rooney may have flown in by private jet, but she accessorised her jeans with a lumberjack shirt and a baby buggy. Come back, Nancy Dell’Olio. All is forgiven.”
• Devoted Star Wars fan Terry Cooper has spent £6,000 on rebuilding the desert-based igloo that was used as Luke Skywalker’s home, says Jane Moore in The Sun. As fans like Terry help “line the pockets of Star Wars producer George Lucas, now reportedly worth £2bn, perhaps he could cough up the cash to reimburse Terry for his efforts”?