Would you believe with all that money behind him and with all the wisdom of his sixteen years, young Justin Bieber has evidently taken it on himself to issue advice to his elders and betters? Do the words young whippersnapper or precocious brat spring to mind? As the son of a devout born again Christian mother the advice is of course quasi-religious and pseudo moralistic. Those born again can not only be a pain in the arse they can be highly dangerous. Look what happened to the world when George Bush gained the presidency, gave up the booze, accepted Christ as his saviour, said his prayers every day and marched boldly forth to war followed by his acolyte, Mr. Toady Blair, converted Roman Catholic. Young Mr. Bieber is not being a very good Christian if he’s hugging all that lovely lolly to himself. Someone might advise him that Christians should believe in charity and good works and so store up their goodies in heaven.
And I haven’t quite finished with money yet, not about the bankers any more but moving on to theatre. Evidently last year London’s West End broke all records with takings at the box office, a cool £512million and more. Despite the price of tickets, people obviously in the depression feel the need for some relief and the theatre can provide it. Musicals and children’s shows seem to have done the best though even opera and ballet were up in numbers and this despite the weather, volcanic ash cloud, and travel difficulties. But talking about the price of tickets, the sporting world, particularly football, can lay claims to unashamedly picking a pocket or two. The price of some tickets for the final at Wembley has been doubled to £176! On top of this there is also an administration fee of £26 so two tickets will cost a cool £404. As a sop to Cerberus a “youth package” is available, the cost for one adult and one child being a staggering £364! That works out at £182 a ticket. What with worldwide TV coverage and sponsorship from major corporations plus the price of tickets, plus expensive merchandise it’s little wonder that footballers can be paid such outrageous wages and Chelsea could afford to pay a transfer fee of £50million for Torres. Mind you, the Russian, Roman Abramovitch, Chelsea’s owner ain’t exactly short of a nickel or two. He has 22 bank accounts, shares, ocean going yachts, private planes and helicopters. His Chelsea club holding is valued at £402million, he has four homes in Russia, two in the US and three in France and in England he owns six flats and a house in Belgravia and is allegedly seeking permission to convert the flats into a mansion which will be worth £150million. What more could a young lad want? He’s only 44, a mere stripling. Next to Mr. Abramovitch, Justin’s millions are small change. But what about the multi-millionaires of the theatre? Andrew Lloyd Webber for starters and Sir Cameron Mackintosh for finishes to name but a half dozen. Cameron’s company owns seven West End theatres and its turnover last year was£31.2million and Cameron’s personal fortune is estimated as between three and six million pounds. Now here’s a funny story for those who like a good joke. When our musical “La Belle Otero” was submitted to the Mackintosh office, Cameron was heard to scream ‘No money! There’s no money!’
I doubt very much ‘La Belle Otero’ will ever see the light of day. Two new musicals are scheduled for the West End this year, Andrew Lloyd Webber’s ‘Wizard of Oz’ which opens in March and ‘Shrek. The Musical’ opening in May, as described in the paper, both of them likely to prove box office gold. And I am willing to bet you Cameron will still scream ‘No money! There’s no money!” if something comes along that, good as it may be, isn’t obviously a sure fire hit.