Who on earth is Alan Sugar?
Rupert Everett, who I know slightly, is a funny, engaging writer. In his latest book, Vanished Years (serialised in the Daily Mail), he describes the attempt to co-opt him into the charity version of The Apprentice. Emma Freud asked him if he would take part, telling him it would be “a doddle”. He had never seen The Apprentice before, but (foolishly) said yes and on the evening the show began was driven to meet his fellow contestants and, of course, Alan Sugar.
“‘Who on earth is Alan Sugar?’ I asked, intrigued. ‘You don’t know Alan Sugar?’ ‘No, I don’t. Is he a singer?’ ‘No. He’s the star of The Apprentice.’ ‘Aha,’ I said knowingly.”
Eventually, in a dimly lit, disused warehouse, Everett met the rest of the men’s team, which “glistened with testosterone” and featured, among others, Alastair Campbell and Piers Morgan – and the women’s team, which included Jo Brand. Waiting for the two teams in the next room was Lord Sugar who, says Everett, looked exactly like Sid James. They sat down opposite him.
“Sid was flanked by Hattie Jacques and some other Carry On character. Both flunkeys regarded us severely. Alan introduced himself to each of us, with that blunt insolence peculiar to all barrow-boy billionaires. Then he laid into poor Jo Brand for being too fat. She couldn’t have cared less: rummaging in her bag, she extracted a giant bar of Fruit & Nut and threw it at him.”
The teams were asked to ring people they knew and raise money, the main aim being “to organise a giant funfair for 1,000 celebrities”. Everett’s heart sank. Later that night, while with his fellow contestants in a West End hotel, he went to the loo then escaped through a side door, ran down the stairs three at a time and was soon at home and in bed. The next morning, pestered to return, he fled to Norfolk on a train to lie low with his grandmother.
Salman Rushdie’s love for Britain
Rarely does one meet someone who’s finished one of Salman Rushdie’s books. Yet he’s sold an astonishing number: more than 25 million copies in 40 languages. Interviewed in The Mail on Sunday this week, Rushdie defended the £1m a year it cost to keep him under police protection. “If you were to balance out the taxes I’ve paid in the years when I was protected by the British police you would find it was a pretty even balance sheet. Remember, the police who were protecting me were paid a salary. They were not... paid to protect me. No extra people were taken on.”
He paid for all the safe houses himself, he says. The cost to him has been “hundreds of thousands of pounds a year”. He is full of praise for his minders, and he expresses a great love for Britain. “I am a knight of the realm and I feel deeply, deeply connected.” His roots in England, he says, are “deeper” than in India. I’m still not inclined to buy his books, but reading this I felt, for the first time, a flicker of warmth for the man.
Tabloid money… £1.25bn to set Libya free – and they hate us
• “If it weren’t for the West, the people of Libya would still be living with Colonel Muammar Gaddafi’s sandal pressed against their throats,” says Tony Parsons in the Daily Mirror. Yet “they hate our guts. Our final bill is still the subject of heated debate, but at £900,000 for a single Tomahawk missile, £40,000 to keep a Tornado in the air for one hour and £2m a week to park warships and submarines off the Libyan coast, it soon mounts up...
"At a time when our armed forces are being cut to the bone, in an age when we do not have enough resources to take care of our disabled children, Britain blew somewhere between £500m and £1.25bn to set Libya free. And the ultimate bottom line is that they now repay us with hatred, contempt and murder.”
• "As I write, an enormous police task force is spending £40m over four years investigating the possibility that various journalists listened to Sienna Miller making a hair appointment on her mobile phone,” says Jeremy Clarkson in The Sun. “So I wonder how much they will spend investigating officers who faked evidence and lied through their teeth in the wake of the Hillsborough disaster?”
• “The European Union totters from tragedy into farce,” says Rod Liddle in The Sun. “As Greece hovers ever more precariously on the brink of bankruptcy, its government is planning to sue Germany – for having occupied the country during the Second World War. German soldiers invaded Greece in 1941 and tried to make the locals pay their taxes and do a few hours work now and then. They left in 1945, of course. Now the Greeks are saying that the Germans owe them something like £86bn as a consequence.
“They’re doing this, of course, because they are broke... Maybe we should get in on the act and ask the Greeks for a share of the profits, as we liberated them from Nazi rule.”