The horrors of life in a champagne bubble
In The Times, a woman calling herself Jane Neuborn (a pseudonym) takes a sour view of that glamorous tax haven, Monaco. She spent a year there with her banker husband and was soon hating it “vehemently”.
After her down-to-earth life in London she suddenly saw “the true meaning of opulence” – the “brigade of designer-clad mothers” at the International School, the ridiculously overpriced Monte-Carlo Beach club, where everyone who’s anyone meets “to swap gossip or spouses, top up their tans or catch the well-endowed former Playboy model Victoria Silvstedt pole-dancing down the ladder into the pool”.
The children in Monaco, says Neuborn, can recite their fathers’ net worth to within a decimal point but know nothing of Barack Obama or David Cameron. They are “raised in a bubble – a champagne bubble – filled with Rolex watches, Van Cleef earrings and lavish birthday parties”.
One mother hired a club for her daughter’s fifth Snow White-themed birthday “at a credit-crunch-defying €30,000 (£24,000). She flew in seven dwarfs from Paris and a miniature Dylan’s Candy Bar from New York to ‘authenticate the experience’”. Another party-giving mother flew in five Shetland ponies from the Shetland Isles.
Yet few of the women Neuborn met seemed fulfilled. Many were on antidepressants. “Relationships suffer, too. I was stunned when I was propositioned for a foursome by the husband of a friend one night at Sass Café, the venue of choice for the British expat community. It seems that once you have opted to forgo your tax bills, anything goes. And the first thing that usually does is a marriage.”
I suspect she exaggerates the horrors of Monaco a little, but her story is a salutary reminder that living in a tax haven is not something to be undertaken lightly.
British women will reach boiling point
“That’s it. Enough is enough. Of all the insults this country has had to put up with from Brussels, there has been nothing graver nor more injurious than the ban on used jam jars.” So says Allison Pearson in The Daily Telegraph.
The Churches’ Legislation Advisory Service and the Women’s Institute have advised members that, due to EU directives, they are breaking the law if they sell jam, marmalade or chutney in pre-used jars. The maximum penalty for being “a peddler of apple and onion chutney” is £5,000 and six months in prison. “That’s more than most drug dealers get,” protests Pearson.
“This is very serious. We all know about the huge health risks attached to a jar of strawberry jam purchased at a church fete, don’t we? How many cases have we read about where lethal infections, contracted from a dollop of jam on a scone, have swept through a parish like bird flu?” The answer, of course, is none. Let’s have that referendum on Europe, says Pearson. “The ban on jam jars should seal it. Never mess with British women at boiling point.”
Tabloid money… Boris is that rare thing in politics – a human being
• Despite the hysterical reaction of many Greeks, the Germans are not invading their country, says Tony Parsons in the Daily Mirror. “They are not building factories of death on Greek soil – they are putting their hands in their pockets to bail out a nation that retired earlier than the Germans, dodged more tax than the Germans and worked less hard than the Germans. There are plenty of innocent Greek people who are suffering because of the corruption of others.
The total failure of the catastrophic euro experiment has consigned generations of Greeks to abject poverty. But blaming the Germans for the plight of Greece is like blaming the fireman for the fire that is destroying your house. It is a joke to portray Angela Merkel as Adolf Hitler… A sick joke.”
• It is “pretty astonishing” that people think Boris Johnson will be prime minister, says Rod Liddle in The Sun. “I know the bloke and like him a lot, but on policy issues we’d agree on virtually nothing. Boris believes in tax breaks for the rich and thinks the bankers are doing a terrific job for the country and totally deserve their huge bonuses. On financial matters he is as far to the right as you can get.
And despite his famous bicycle, he’s about as green as a traffic light in which the green glass has been smashed by someone who really, really hates the colour green… But people still love him – and I don’t blame them. I think they like him because he resembles very closely that rarest of things in politics – a human being.”
• British Gas has thumped its customers with a massive 6% price rise and blames high wholesale gas prices and distribution costs, says Fiona McIntosh in the Sunday Mirror. “But if they are so strapped for cash, why did parent company Centrica report June half-year profits of £1.5bn – up by 15% in the worst recession we have known?” The government needs to “force these energy thieves to cap their bills – or at least offer rebates when the price of gas drops back down”.