Tuesday, February 28, 2012

Let’s talk about money. Looking back over the hundreds of Blogs I’ve written there seems to be an almighty preponderance of three subjects: religion, sex, and money. Well, maybe that basically is what life is all about. Mumbai, wot used to be Bombay, is the richest city in India and half its population live on the streets. In many countries the poor, if not starving, are expected to live on a dollar or less a day. Meanwhile in California a rare early Coca-Cola bottle sells for $200000 at auction, a collection of comic books for $3.5million and in New York Russian Dmitry Rybolovlev, said to be the world’s 93rd richest man (Oh, boy! way down the list, what must number one be worth?)) buys a penthouse overlooking Central Park for $88million. He already owns a house in Florida at the same sort of price.

Everyone wants to look good on their wedding day and fulfilling the dreams and fantasies of the wealthier brides to be of New York is very big business. They head for Kleinfeld, the great wedding dress superstore. Inside the vast emporium - all plush carpets and chandeliers, sofas and mirrors - the consultants greet the women and show them to dressing rooms with their names on the door (you must make an appointment in advance). Weddings are, of course, a multi-billion-dollar business in America and for most brides, the dress is the thing. Kleinfeld has 1,500 different dresses, silk and satin, lace, tulle and chiffon, beaded bodices and bustiers that lace up in the back. The average price for a dress is around $6,000 (£4,000), though there are dresses for less - and dresses for much, much more. At least one Nigerian princess was in recently and spent $32,000 (£20,000) and that is before you add the veil, the headpiece, the shoes, the jewels - also available at Kleinfeld. Phew! Is my reaction to all that.

In England Lloyds Bank has said it is cutting £2million from bonuses for executives but that is not surprising considering its losses for the year amount to £3.5billion. Oh, dear, not laughing all the way to the bank, or from it as the case might be. I still do not understand how this bonus culture can be justified when the men earning them seem to be pretty useless in their jobs, are being constantly taken to task and who got the world into its terrible mess in the first place let alone their very bank that employs them. Not that some of the banks aren’t still making the most enormous profits. Well what would you expect when Barclays for example charges £25 to transfer a small amount of money from one country to another. What twenty-five pounds worth of work is involved here? It’s an electronic transaction. And the receiving bank of course, takes its cut as well. Yes, the banks have to make money but at such exorbitant rates?

And finally to politicians and the never-ending gravy train – We won’t mention that good ole socialist Tony Blair and his annual earnings of £12 million on the lecture circuit and other posts but pass on to dour ole Gordon Brown. It is estimated that since his departure from Number 10 Gordon Brown has earned more than £1.4m in fees and expenses since he stood down as prime minister. This includes more than £180,000 for his role as Distinguished Global Leader in Residence at New York University. Oh, do me a favour please! Distinguished Global Leader? The man who as Chancellor of the Exchequer sold the UK’s gold reserves at rock bottom prices? The man who fucked up a whole lot of people’s pensions? Global leader? Mr Brown's most lucrative speech, in Nigeria, earned him £74,936 plus £20165 in travel expenses. What? Was an aircraft carrier hired for the journey? Now is any speaker, Global Leader or not, worth that much?

According to a spokeswoman "not a single penny" of the money has gone to Mr. Brown personally. It has all been donated either directly to charity or to help the Office of Gordon and Sarah Brown fund charity work. He has spoken in Moscow, South Korea. Riyadh, Kenya, Singapore, India and Switzerland and a three day trip to China. He received an advance of £78,000 for ‘Beyond the Crash’ and £22,500 for a second book, all proceeds being pledged to charity.

Mr. Brown's sole personal earnings are his salary as an MP because he has also renounced the prime ministerial pension he was entitled to receive immediately he retired as PM.

How wonderful to be able to end on an uplifting and humanitarian note. Bully for you Gordon Brown.

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