Ed Miliband says it with a Gaggia
In an interview with the fashion magazine Grazia, Ed Miliband said the most romantic present he had ever bought his wife was “a wedding ring”. But when asked whether he would buy her scent, underwear or a good book for Christmas, he refused to say. “Oh God, none of the above. I bought her a fantastic Gaggia coffee machine for her birthday. She loves it. She said it was a great present.”
He was wise not to fall into the trap of choosing underwear, says Carol Midgley in The Times. “None of us, I’m sure, want to imagine the leader of the Labour Party fingering silk teddies and balconette bras in Ann Summers. We don’t want to think about whether he’s a bikini brief or thong man. Besides, everyone knows that when a man buys his wife expensive underwear it’s really a gift for himself.”
But giving his wife a coffee machine didn’t meet with Midgley’s approval. “If my husband got me one of these he’d find the beans were not the only thing getting roasted,” she fumed. It might be better than giving her a rolling pin, but not much.
Midgley’s point is that giving women kitchen appliances risks treating them as ‘her-indoors’ types. I wonder. I agree with Midgley that the leader of the opposition was probably wise to steerclear of underwear, but surely we can forgive him the coffee machine?
France's wayward son is no loser
When Bernard Arnault, France’s richest man and the CEO of the luxury behemoth LVMH, applied for Belgian citizenship in the summer, socialists were quick to depict him as an unpatriotic fat cat. “Get lost, you b-----,” said a headline on the front page of Libération.
The left-wing daily has been equally dismissive of Gérard Depardieu, the latest high-profile refugee from François Hollande’s punitive new tax regime. All he cares about now is money, sneered columnist Bruno Icher at the news that Depardieu has sold his Paris mansion and moved to Belgium. But this time Libération is less in tune with the nation.
An online poll for a Parisian tabloid suggests almost 70% of the French support “the country’s wayward son”, as Ann-Elisabeth Moutet calls him in The Times.
Wayward is right. From lighting up on The Jonathan Ross Show to kicking the fenders off a car that got in his way in Paris, to punching photographers, his life has been full of bad behaviour. But he’s no hypocrite – no stints in rehab, no staged acts of contrition – and, as Moutet says, to most people he is “a vastly different proposition from a wealthy tycoon and former asset stripper” (like Arnault).
When France’s prime minister contemptously called him “a pathetic loser”, he fired back an open letter published on Sunday. “I was born in 1948,” he wrote. “I started working aged 14, as a printer, as a warehouseman, then as an actor, and I’ve always paid my taxes.” Indeed he has – €145 million in tax over 45 years, to be precise. Depardieu is many things, but a “pathetic loser” is one thing he is not.
Tabloid money… spare a thought for British Gas – then nationalise it
• “Cheryl Cole is demanding £62,000 expenses for clothes she didn’t wear because she didn’t appear in a second series of US X Factor,” says Alison Phillips in the Daily Mirror. “She has already been paid £1.1m for the first series… despite being dumped after three weeks.
But now she wants compensation for missing out on a second series… Mind you, if you think back to the purple and tangerine car crash which launched her arrival in the States, £62,000 might seem a small price to pay to ensure the rest of her outfits never emerged from the suitcase.”
• “Spare a thought this Christmas for poor old Sam Laidlaw,” says Rod Liddle in The Sun. “Sam earns ten million quid per year for his job as chief executive of Centrica, which owns British Gas. Think how rotten he must feel wallowing in all that money when he knows that millions of people are too poor to turn on their central heating because of rising gas and electricity bills. All the energy companies have hit customers with price rises of more than double – and in some cases triple – the rate ofinflation.... Centrica’s pre-tax profits were £2.8bn. In what way is this just or fair? Re-nationalise now!”
• Beyoncé has signed a £30m deal to be the new face of Pepsi. “This allows me to work with a lifestyle brand with no compromise and without sacrificing my creativity,” she says. Come off it, says Carole Malone in the Sunday Mirror. “You’d think she was involved in something momentous like splitting the atom, not having her face plastered across a can of cola and pocketing 30 million quid for the privilege.”