Money | Anorak - Part 94

Money Category

Money in the news and how you are going to pay and pay and pay

Old Folks’ Homes – The 127-Year Mortgage

theladykillerspic.jpgBACK to the property game for a tale of either admirable trust or bad business practise, depending on your point of view.

A 102-year-old pensioner from East Sussex has been given a £200,000 mortgage to be repaid over 25 years, says the Mirror.

The unnamed man, born the same year as Christian Dior, Jean-Paul Sartre and Howard Hughes, will be 127 if the loan runs its full term, beating the world-record for the world’s longest-living person, which currently stands at 122.

However, while more and more pensioners are looking to boost their savings with investments in property, Age Concern’s Gordon Lishman is indeed concerned.  

Says he: “It’s crucial they think through the long-term implications. Changes in circumstances, such as retirement illness and disability, divorce and bereavement can all contribute to debt problems later in life”.

One suggests that it’s the ‘bereavement’ bit that may have the most relevance in this case.

Posted: 26th, March 2007 | In: Money | Comments (2)

Arsenal Takeover Mystery

arsenal.jpgAS Arsenal buy yet another teenage prodigy in Arsene Wenger’s quest to field the first-ever pre-pubescent Premiership team, Arsenal fans’ interest has turned to boardroom shenanigans.

As the last of the big four Premiership clubs to remain in English hands, somewhat ironically considering their penchant for foreign talent, fears are rising that a takeover bid from either Russia or the Middle-East could be on the cards, according to the Times.

The north Londoners’ largest shareholder, diamond dealer Danny Fizman, has recently offloaded some of his stake in the club, a move which has seen the club’s share price rise £900 to £6,200 in just a week.

However, just who has been buying Fizman’s shares (659 of them at £5,975 a pop) remains to be seen. Although the Arsenal powers-that-be continue to deny takeover rumours, a spokesman for the Arsenal Supporters’ Trust admitted, “It is all very intriguing. We know who is selling, but we don’t know who is buying the shares or why”.

Could it be a Russian oligarch? A Qatar billionaire? A mild-mannered janitor? Or maybe it’s a Royal Bank of Scotland director?

Posted: 23rd, March 2007 | In: Money | Comment

George Osbourne’s Tuppence Worth

george-osborne.jpgAS the dust settles on Gordon Brown’s less-than-exciting two penny budget, people wanting to claim for the government’s tax credits scheme will have to wade through a voluminous 60 page booklet before filling in a fiddly 12 page form, says the Sun.

Shadow Chancellor George Osborne is the first to bemoan the system. Says he: “Gordon Brown has increased taxes on hard-working families and then he expects them to fill in a complicated form to try to get back their own money”.

Fill in a form? In order to get money back? 12 whole pages? The cheek! The inconvenience! The injustice! Etc…

See our tribute to Gordon  

Posted: 23rd, March 2007 | In: Money | Comment

Don’t Bank On It – RBS Staff Brought To Account

rbs.jpgWHAT with underhanded bank charges and a colourful history of dodgy dealing, one could be forgiven in thinking that the banking establishment had all the morals of a money-grabbing ethically bankrupt dog. (Albeit one who could deal with the intricacies of the global financial market while weeing against lampposts).

Surely not?

 Well, according to the Guardian, the Royal Bank of Scotland is the latest bank to show its nasty side.

In a letter from the bank’s chief executive of retail market operations, Gordon Pell, RBS’ own staff has been threatened with disciplinary action if they decide not to open an RBS account. “Failure to do so will represent a breach of group policy and I will be obliged to write directly to your line manager asking them to progress this matter according to the group’s disciplinary policy”, writes Pell.

Apparently at interview stage, potential RBS staff are told that, in order to receive their salary, they will be required to open an account with the bank, a policy which has understandably angered finance union Amicus says the BBC. “If you work for Tesco you won’t be disciplined for buying your groceries from Sainsbury’s”, says union official Rob MacGregor, “RBS’s disproportionate and heavy-handed approach is counterproductive and bad for morale”.

Look out for RBS employees in the firm’s complaints department complaining to themselves about the bank’s high bank charges…

Posted: 23rd, March 2007 | In: Money | Comment (1)

Gordon Brown – Because He’s Worth It


GORDON Brown has stopped.

THE Royal Mint has moved quickly to ensure that there will be enough two pence pieces in circulation in time for the drop in income tax announced by Chancellor Gordon Brown in the Budget.

Said the Mint’s chairman, Sir Marmaduke Copperbottom on Thursday: ‘We are now minting new “Gordons”, as the coins are already known, and they should fill the demand.’

The Spine

Posted: 22nd, March 2007 | In: Money | Comments (2)

Flare Is Flare

bcr.jpgWITH the Beebs’ hit cop drama ‘Life On Mars’ giving us a weekly retro-hit of the Seventies, some of the era’s most memorable icons are shaping up for a court-room drama all of their own.

According to the Mirror, those high-priests of tartan (and crap hair-cuts) the Bay City Rollers are suing Arista Records for millions of pounds in unpaid royalties.

According to the band’s lawyers, the Rollers have only received one royalty cheque for £129,940, paid in 1997, since they finally split at the beginning of the eighties and have been forced to say ‘bye bye baby’ (it’s the only song of theirs I know) to countless other millions.

Considering the fact that, according to the same lawyers, Arista’s excuse for not paying out a penny more is due to the fact that the record industry giant apparently “does not know who to pay”, the ageing former Scottish teen idols may have a strong case.

The Mirror also tells us that singer Les McKeown is still touring while “another Roller became a plumber”. Great research.

Posted: 22nd, March 2007 | In: Money | Comment

Homes Under The Hammer

cliff_198x.jpgWHILE most of the nation will be unenthusiastically pondering the few quid they are likely to have gained from the Budget, those living in the Surrey stockbroker belt are enjoying the booming sound of wrecking ball on concrete, writes the Telegraph.

It seems the new fad of the uber-wealthy residents of the exclusive Weybridge enclave of St George’s Hill is to demolish their country piles and start all over again.

The gated estate which has been home to the likes of Tom Jones, John Lennon and Cliff Richard have become the source of rich pickings for local contractors as “passé and old fashioned” mansions, considered ‘chic’ only 20 years ago, are being replaced by open plan, wi-fi ready ‘contemporary’ pads which sell for anything up to £15 million.

It seems that the original development created by WG Tarrant back in 1911, one of the first super-posh enclaves to be built around a golf course, has lost its charm for the new breed of super-rich.

So spare of thought for the suffering millionaires of St George’s Hill as we all know just how stressful it can be to have the builders in.

Posted: 22nd, March 2007 | In: Money | Comments (2)

Gulping Gordon Brown’s Budget – Drugs Dealers Delighted


GULPING Gordon Brown’s last minute Budget proclamation that the Stalinist/Socialist/Thatcherite (delete where applicable) would cut income tax by a whole 2p is greeted with unbridled hysteria and near-orgasmic ecstasy by the Mirror.

“Gordon Brown yesterday paved the way for his triumphal march into No 10 by delivering a sensational 2p tax cut that left David Cameron and his cronies reeling” it decries.

However, according to the Guardian, “average earners will be less than £1 a week better off” following Brown’s final budget speech with Lib Dem head honcho Menzies Campbell deriding it as “an income tax cut for the wealthy dressed up as a tax cut for the poor”.

The Mail is eager to highlight the accusations that the tax cut in nothing more than a “tax con”, with the scrapping of the 10p starter rate of income tax and the raising of the ceiling for National Insurance cancelling out the 2p concession.

But most importantly of all to us proles, what about booze and fags? Well, the BBC tells us that ciggies are set to go up by 11p a packet, beer by a penny a pint and wine by 5p a bottle.

Cocaine and cannabis look cheaper…

Posted: 22nd, March 2007 | In: Money | Comments (4)

FSA Grab City Boys, Conrad Black, Property & Premiership Pay

conrad-black.jpgGreed Is Good

A hot-shot City analyst was fined by the FSA after being found guilty of improper conduct, writes the Independent. Citigroup analyst Roberto Casoni will have to cough up £52,000, around the price of one of his handmade Italian driving gloves, after the FSA caught the 42-year-old rapscallion tipping off favoured clients about “hot” companies. The fine, says the Telegraph, was reduced from £75,00 after the honourable chap graciously co-operated with the FSA investigation. The Times even lists the biggest fines dished out to the City by the FSA, with GLG hedge fund management partner Philippe Jabre copping a chart-topping £750,000 fine following some dodgy market shenanigans last year.

Courtroom Drama

Across the Atlantic, the great Conrad Black was himself cast as little more than a common thief, says the Guardian. As the media mogul’s trial on $60 million racketeering charges got underway in Chicago, a windy city well used to gangsters, US attorney Jeffrey Cramer had a right go at Black in his opening statement. “Bank robbers are masked and they use guns”, he said, “These men dressed in ties and wore a suit”. However, Cramer wasn’t only concerned with Lord Black of Crossharbour’s fashion sense, and according to the Independent, “scowled and shouted directly at Lord Black” as the ballsy attorney went on to list the most damaging charges against his famous target including mail, wire and tax fraud, money laundering and obstruction of justice. A Hollywood courtroom drama based on the case (starring Tom Cruise and Jack Nicholson) must surely be in development.

House Frenzy Raises Interest

The Mirror worries that interest rates could rise again next month after mortgage lending hit its highest-ever February total of £24.6 billion. That’s an annual increase of nine per cent as the housing boom continues to, erm, boom. A”steep jump” in air fares last month also helped to push annual consumer inflation back to 2.8%, says the Times, with Gordon Brown’s decision to double air passenger duty back in December having a major effect on the disappointing figures released ahead of his final budget today.

A Premier Slice Of The Pie

Many Cuban cigars will be smoked and much expensive wine coiffed today as Premiership chairman get together in London today to discuss how to carve up the recent £2.7 billion television windfall. The Telegraph reports that a number of the top division’s smaller clubs, lead by Charlton Athletic, are deeply concerned over just how the new riches will be distributed around the league. The league’s chief executive, Richard Scudamore has even forecasted that, unless something is done, the winners of next year’s Premiership will net £20 million more than the team finishing in last place, a significant increase on the £13.6 million difference for 2005/06.

Posted: 21st, March 2007 | In: Money | Comment (1)

Money Blog

train.jpgBarclays Go Dutch

WHILE Barclays Bank continue to deal with the now national movement to reclaim illegal overdraft charges, the giant is currently cosying up to Dutch rival ABN Amro, according to the BBC, with a merger worth an estimated £80bn on the cards. Such a move would, says the BBC, “create a bank with 47 million customers and 220,000 staff worldwide”. The Independent claims the move will vault the British Bank “from 15th to 5th” in the world banking league table. However, the Telegraph suggests that the Dutch bank really wants to get jiggy with Spaniards BBVA and Santander and is using stuffy old English Barclays as nothing more than a “stalking horse”.

Bnks R Gr8

WITH only an estimated 19% of Kenyan adults holding bank accounts, the Guardian reports that a new mobile phone based system is set to revolutionise the country’s banking system. The country’s biggest phone operator will allow subscribers to send cash to other phone users by SMS as well as hold up to £370 in a “virtual account” on their handsets. With mobile giants Vodaphone behind the big idea, the system, if successful, could well spread across the globe, giving people usually excluded from the banking world access to an account. No doubt a message saying your getting a few quid will make a nice change from inane texts and happy slapping videos.

Off-Peak Practice

IN a new initiative to glean even more money from the common or garden commuter, South West Trains have come up with a cunning new plan, says the Times. The train operator has cleverly decided to fit in a new price in between peak and off-peak fares, hitting those lazy and conniving workers who use trains after 10am and before 12.49. This new “super off-peak” fares will cost up to 20% more than the current off-peak ticket prices, says the Independent, and come on top of increases made back in January. The Mirror says that these fare hikes, which have unions and passenger groups fuming, come on the back of plans by SWT’s owners Stagecoach to pay shareholders a £700 million dividend. With Stagecoach boss Brian Souter landing an estimated £175 million windfall, those cramped and now even higher-priced journeys will be even harder to take, no matter what time you travel.

Charging The Sick

HARDLY the most fun places to visit at the best of times, NHS Hospitals have now been accused of kicking people when they are down and charging extortionate parking fees. The Telegraph reports that more than £95 million was made by the NHS last year from parking charges with patients and visitors stung for up to £3.50 an hour. Cancer charity Macmillan, who uncovered these cynical charges after obtaining the details under Freedom of Information Act, called for the Government to put a stop to the “shameful” charges. Southampton University Hospital was the biggest beneficiary, earning a whopping £2,414, 672 from its car park. The sick of the Solent beware!

Posted: 20th, March 2007 | In: Money | Comment (1)

Victoria Beckham & Mary-Kate’s $45,000 Urban Satchel

urban-satchel.jpgVICTORIA Beckham’s getting one. Mary-Kate Olsen and Ashley Olsen are hawking them. And it’s so much better than the $45,000 Louis Vuitton Tribute Patchwork Bag that is already sold out.

As 14 writes, much discussion has erupted over the recent announcement of those $45,000 bags.

And to alleviate the pain of missing out on one of those creations, 14 has created the Loius Vuitton $150,000 Urban Satchel debuting for Spring 2008.

45000.jpgAs the blub goes: “Made of the world’s finest Italian leather, this one-of-a-kind luxury handbag is hand-crafted with carefully chosen ‘urban charms’. The proud owner of this exclusive handbag will be able to flaunt her impeccable style and lavish taste to a world that can only dream about owning such a rare and precious possession.”

Buy one and be the envy of all your enemies…

Posted: 19th, March 2007 | In: Money | Comments (4)

Money Blog

posh1.jpgMore Hidden Bank Charges

FOLLOWING the recent controversy over the hugely-inflated overdraft fees charged by banks, it now appears that withdrawing cash with your credit card could also be costing you more than you think, says the BBC. According to a report by Uswitch, due to a complicated way of calculating the interest rate, the interest on cash withdrawals may be far higher than that advertised. With withdrawal fees and compound interest not taken into account in those advertised interest rates, consumers are regularly being stung at the cash-point. However, the Telegraph reports that the banks aren’t having it all their own way. A con-man “armed with only chocolates and charm”, smooth-talked his way into an ABN Amro bank vault in Belgium before making off with an estimated £15 million of diamonds. The thief, who posed as “Carlos Hector Flomenbaum”, an “Argentinian businessman”, used no violence in his outrageous heist, even buying chocolates for the bank staff…

Online Insecurity

WHILE “Carlos Hector Flomenbaum’s” antics may bring a sly grin to our faces, the fact that, according to the Independent, “confidential data on tens of thousands of people is being sold to criminal gangs for as little as £1” is sure to wipe those grins right off. Internet security company Symantec reports that there has been an “alarming” increase in online criminal activity with a fifth of Londoners estimated to have had their bank details stolen and used illegally. While residents in the capital will also be unhappy with the claim in the report that 36% of the world’s computers that have been taken over by remote control “bots” are in London.

Too Posh For Becks

WHILE the Telegraph says the country is headed for a worsening shortage of new homes over the next 20 years – apparently due to” higher-than-expected number of EU immigrants and more people living alone” – a couple of expats to the US are having dreadful problems of their own. According to The Sun, Posh and Becks have apparently been “put-off” by the £20 million price of a dream Beverly Hills pad, resplendent with “and outdoor pool, tennis courts, movie room and a two-storey guest house”. However, according to “sources”, England’s finest couple are “careful with investments”. Could the same be said of LA Galaxy?

Posted: 19th, March 2007 | In: Money | Comment

Red Nose Appeal


IT is Comic Relief day today. Whoopee indeed.

Actually, it is whoopee this year for there’s a book out in support of it.

Shaggy Blog Stories.

Cobbled together Tightly edited over the past seven days by Mike Atkinson, it’s a collection of 99 funny (as in funny ha ha) pieces from across the British blogosphere. There are professional writers, at least one stand up comic, names I recognize and many I don’t and am looking forward to.

There is also, to round it out to 100, a piece from me. This one.

Also, Mike has not only managed to get all of us to donate our efforts, he’s also got to donate their margin as well. So of the price, some £ 3.60 (roughly $6.50 or so?) will go to charity.

Clearly, everyone is going to want a copy of this fabulous book. But can I offer you one further encouragement? By the beneficience and intercession of Him and His Noodly Appendages I can inform you that if you buy the book then you are free from the requirement to watch the damn TV shows about Comic Relief all weekend.

Posted: 17th, March 2007 | In: Money | Comment

Donald Trump’s Inner Rosie O’Donnell


DONALD Trump, he of the tidal wave hair-do, has been talking of late.

And 14 wonders if Donald Trump is suffering from depression?

According to his own Trumpian logic, the American tycoon publically admits his depression during an interview on The Insider.

When discussing his favourite punching bag, Rosie O’Donnell, Trump says: “When she looks in the mirror she suffers from depression. If I looked like Rosie, I’d suffer from depression too, believe me.”

Take look at Trump. And remember that you can shave in his mirrored building, New York’s Trump Tower.

So we see ourselves as others see us? Or does money make us more attractive? Discuss…

Posted: 16th, March 2007 | In: Money | Comments (4)

Stardust In Their Eyes

NEWS to gladden the hearts of they who seek to new do down Manchester’s new super casino before it’s opened – a video of the Las Vegas Stardust Hotel-Casino being crushed to so much, well, dust.

The Church may like to save this one for future reference…

And the Lord said, Because the cry of Sodom and Gomorrah is great, and because their sin is very grievous;

I will go down now, and see whether they have done altogether according to the cry of it, which is come unto me; and if not, I will know.

— Genesis 18: 20-21 (KJV)

Posted: 14th, March 2007 | In: Money | Comment (1)

Rouble At (Heather) Mills – Roman Abramovich’s Divorce

abramovich.jpgWITH Heather Mills’ divorce turning out to be something less than advertised (what happened to the £200million she was getting?), the paper spots Roman Abramovich.

So much for Paul McCartney and his make-do £1billion. This is Abramovich, the man who the Mirror says is worth £11billion.

And that was blonde Irina Abramovich, his now ex-wife.

This is the Mirror’s “WORLD’S BIGGEST SPLIT” – bigger than the Mills-McCartney split. When it comes to splits, this is the Great Rift Valley to Mills’ Cheddar Gorge.

As a statement says: “Mr and Mrs Abramovich have divorced on a consensual basis. They have agreed terms in respect of arrangements for their children and a financial settlement.”

No tales of stabbings, crawling to the toilet and missing limbs. Just an agreement.

But it costs nothing to speculate. So who gets what?

And who is the girl in the bikini waving at Mail readers? Why, she’s Miss Daria Zhukova, a model. And news is that Roman could get to keep her.

The Mail spots the 24-year-old talking and walking with Abramovich in Paris on Monday. The Mail says the couple had been staying at Fouquet’s hotel, where the top suite costs £5,775 a night.

Has this dalliance had any influence on the settlement? As the Sun notes (“There may be rouble ahead”), Irina could be line for £5,5bn.

Or not…

Posted: 14th, March 2007 | In: Money | Comments (4)

Does ITV Add Up?

MUCH has been made of the ITV quiz show scandal.

And in the interests of fairness, we now reproduce a quiz question that featured on the broadcaster’s Make Your Play station.

Question – as delivered to late-night telly watchers (insomniacs, drunks and journalists):

“Add the pence, listed: Two pounds, 25p, £1.47, 16p and fifty pence.”

Can you do it?

Tell us your answers. ITV charged 75p a time. The prize was £30,000. After three hours, no-one won.

Look out for a clue coming later.

And then we will tell you how to solve it.

The answer is either:

A) 438

B) 39

C) 506

Answer later…



Two pounds is 200p plus 2p (two p) and 1p (p at the beginning of “pounds”) which makes 203p

-25p: 25p plus 5p and 1p (the p symbol) = 31p £1.47 = 147p 1

-6p: 16p plus 6p and 1p (p again) = 23p

-Fifty pence: 50p plus 50p (fifty p, a shortening of pence), 1p (reference to pence) and 1p (p only) = 102p

-Adding 203p, 31p, 147p, 23p and 102p gives a total of 506p

Posted: 13th, March 2007 | In: Money | Comments (5)

You’re Never Alone With A Casino

poker-dogs.jpgYOU’RE never alone with a casino. So says the advert.

From September, casinos, betting shops and internet gaming sites in the UK will be able to advertise on radio and TV. Gambling advertising has been limited to billboards and print.

Good news for the gambling industry, which seeks to profit from the Gambling Act. And, one imagines, good news for broadcasters now able to earn from the industry.

Perhaps this will encourage ITV to do away with its phoneline quizzes, which can resemble the back-of-the-suitcase game of Find The Lady as contestants try to find Rawl Plugs and a balaclava in a woman’s handbag.

But not everyone is happy. And in the Mail there are dark warnings from the Church.

Toby Scott, a spokesman for the Methodist Church, tells the paper: “The whole purpose of these adverts is to encourage more people to gamble.”

Who says the Church does not have its finger on the cultural pulse?

He goes on: “The fear is that – with more people taking part in gambling – there will be more people who develop a gambling problem. That in turn could lead to more families suffering, because the money they need is being diverted elsewhere.”

A Church Of England Spokesman adds: “We have strong reservations about the effects of liberalising the law.”

But before the Church is forced to open its coffers and spread its wealth to the poor, we read of the rules.

As the Guardian reports, the advertising will fall under the auspices of the Advertising Standards Authority.

Adverts must not imply that winning massive amounts at a casino are a solution to financial problems. We already have the National Lottery and scratch cards for that.

They should not appeal to the young and children. So no Ronald McDonald-style figure palming out tubs of Casino Chips and doing battle with Black Jack.

And the adverts must not link gambling with getting more sex from more attractive partners.

This is not to say that such a thing is impossible, just that it should not be advertised.

Well, you know how it is, once you’ve learned the secret of pulling, you’ll be hooked…

Posted: 13th, March 2007 | In: Money | Comment (1)

Olsen Twins Beat Harry Potter

olsens.jpgHARRY Potter actor Daniel Radcliffe earned £6.6million in 2006.

According to Forbes magazine, devastatingly handsome and not-at-all-nerdy-and-weedy Daniel is the second-best paid young actor on the planet.

Radcliffe was beaten to the No. 1 spot by Mary–Kate Olsen and her twin sister Ashley (£20million).

The half-formed twins are worth around £300 million thanks to their “tween” merchandise, clothing line and movies. There latest tights-and-nothing-else outfits can be seen here.

Lindsay Lohan is third (£3million) and Dakota Fanning, 13, is fourth, (£2million).

How proud their parents must be…

Posted: 9th, March 2007 | In: Money | Comments (12)

James Bond, Star Wars & Batman For Sale

james-bond-star-wars-batman-for-sale.jpgA 400-strong collection of costumes created and supplied by Angels The Costumiers, London, has sold at auction at Bonhams in Knightsbridge.

More than 400 costumes were available to collectors and enthusiasts alike.

Ownership of Obi Wan Kenobi’s cloak was battled for by two telephone bidders. Four enthusiasts for Doctor Who fought a bidding war for related TV costumes.

Items throughout the sale fetched between eight to 20 times their estimates. The top costume prices in the sale were:
Cloak worn by Alec Guinness as Obi Wan Kenobi from Star Wars – £54,000
Dinner suit worn by Sean Connery from Thunderball, 1965 – sold for £33,600
Full outfit worn by Mel Gibson as William Wallace in Braveheart – sold for £25,200
Promotional costume worn by Tom Baker as Dr Who – sold for £24,600
A grey linen overcoat worn by Gary Oldman as Sirius Black from Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban – sold for £15,600
Fur Coat worn by Diana Rigg from On Her Majesty’s Secret Service – sold for £12,960
Navy Battle dress jackey worn by Roger Moore from The Spy Who Loved Me – sold for £11,760
Batman & Robin suits worn by David Jason & Nicholas Lyndhurst in Only Fools & Horses – sold for £10,200
A full medieval suit worn by Kevin Costner in Robin Hood Price of Thieves sold for £7,200

Posted: 9th, March 2007 | In: Money | Comment (1)

Sophie Anderton Walks

sophieanderton-walks.jpgHigh maintenance mo-del Sophie Anderton was all set to embark on a two-week trek across the Arctic.

Sophie would walk 140 miles in temperatures of minus 40 degrees.

Her efforts would raise money for the Mitchempt Trust, which sends vulnerable children to adventure camps.

And Sophie’s former lover, Crystal Palace chairman Simon Jordan – he of the Palace uber alles hairstyle – had agreed to stump up her £25,000 sponsorship fee.

But Sophie has pulled out of the walk amid fears of aggravating an old leg injury – waking the catwalk can be tough.

Posted: 27th, February 2007 | In: Money | Comment (1)

Nicole Richie’s Sage Advice

anatomylessonlo1.jpgReforming celebrity stick insect Nicole Richie is worried.

Nicole is concerned that there are bad spirits infecting her flat in West Hollywood.

So she has hired a witch doctor to spiritually cleanse the place. For $1,000, the woman danced about the place and burned sage in every room.

Which may or not be the first time anything edible has been burned, or cooked, inside chez Richie.

Posted: 26th, February 2007 | In: Money | Comment (1)

Britney’s Fantasy Surgery

small_171156_1_1169133168.jpg“BRITNEY – $30,000 PLASTIC SURGERY SHOCKER!”

K-Ferret, Britney would look worse?

Might it have been that hanging around with rat-faced Kevin Federline made Britney look prettier, cleaner, better?

The Enquirer’s front page features Britney’s rhomboid features. She looks bloated, pale and plain.

But reading on, we realise that Britney is not without hope. Having cut K-Ferret from her life, can Britney now add some nip and tuck to the rest of her self?

Should Britney be considering going under the surgeon’s blade, the Enquirer offers a handy snip-out-and-keep guide to what procedures she must consider.

The magazine calls DR Dennis Hurwitz, a “board-certified cosmetic surgeon”. Hurwitz is the author of Total Body Lift. But for reasons of space and time, the doctor is only invited to lift Britney’s face. Bum, tum and legs are for another time.

To begin, Hurwitz would conduct an ultra-sound liposuction on Britney’s face. This is Fantasy Celebrity Surgery and Hurwitz has been given a budget of £30,000.

“She’s too young to have a total face lift,” says Hurwitz. So it will be the face lipo, followed by an upper and lower lid blepharoplasty.

And then, while we are at it, Hurwitz might as well take off some excess nose. And set back Britney’s ears. And plump out her thin lips with an injection of fat from other parts of her body. What parts? Take your pick.

And to crown this new face, the Enquirer invites John Ottavino, a “New York hair stylist”, to work through the tresses.

It will take $2,500 to save Britney’s locks.

And at $30,000 for the lot – 5% per cent off for cash and use of Britney’s off-cuts in promotional material – it would be money well spent.

That’s if Kevin leaves her with any…

Posted: 18th, January 2007 | In: Money | Comment

Heading Home

Heading Home

Since 1998, British actor Clive Arrindell has shaved his noggin and headed off to Spain.

There he is the fairy godfather El Calvo [the Bald], star of Spain’s popular Christmas lottery El Gordon [The Fat].

For his public ridicule, Clive earns a reported £80,000 a year. But no more.

“El Calvo had cannibalised the advertising campaigns, making people forget what they were about,” says a state lottery spokesman. El Calvo is the victim of his own success.

No more will Spaniards be able to rub his shiny head for good luck. For shame!

Posted: 8th, December 2006 | In: Money | Comment

Property – Picking Your Spot

BETWEEN 1991 and 2001, homes in Weybridge, Surrey, rose in value by, on average, 175% from £120,000 to £329,000.

The housing boom was in full flow and any property owners in London and the surrounding environs were making money on paper.

That’s the thing with property: just like shares, the value of your investment can go up and down. It’s a warm tingly feeling to know that while breathing you have made money. Only, you haven’t – at least not until you sell up and take the profit.

Then you might well have another problem to deal with. Unlike shares, your main source of income might be tied to where you live. Unless you plan to live al fresco, are moving into a retirement village or prison, you will need a new home.

The sensible move is to look to move somewhere on the up – a property hotspot where more money can be made.

It was once easy to find them: you looked for towns on the London commuter belt. But they are all now expensive. Indeed, if you want to buy in the Home Counties, chances are you will have to pay a great deal of money. You make your money on one property only to spend it all on another.

Places yet untouched by the hike in property prices do exist. In 2004, house pieces in Todmorden, West Yorkshire rose by a not inconsiderable 50.7%.

Identifying the hotspots

Although the boom has slowed, there is still profit to be made. Here are some ways to spot the next place to be gentrified and attract new money.
1. Look for areas close to places where the boom has already taken hold. The locals will have sold up, taken profits and be on the hunt for somewhere new and more affordable to live.

2. Look out for affluent brands moving into the area. The once sparse high street now has a Pizza Express restaurant, coffee shops, a Waitrose – all middle-class brands that pull in the money and gentrify the town.

You can conduct research into the commercial landscape by calling the local council’s planning office. Ask them what has been applied for. Contact local estate agents dealing in commercial property and ask them about the market: are any new shops moving into vacant lots? Are rental prices rising?

3. Find out what the Government is planning for the area. Is there to be a new road? A new train station? A new superstore? A new industrial waste processing plant? Go to and click on “How do I contact my local planning authority?” to find out more.

4. Look at the Land Registry. For £3 each you can find the price paid on most properties sold since April 2000. You can search by borough, region or postcode sector. If you are buying a home, take a look and see how your property stacks up alongside others in the street.

And lastly, if you are a risk taker, consider being a pioneer. Move into an area before the rush and take a chance. But remember, there is the chance the area won’t take off…

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Posted: 4th, December 2006 | In: Money | Comment