Indians Favor the Purest Gold

Posted by Nicole Nussbaum - October 25th, 2013

Gold when alloyed with silver is whitish. With copper, reddish. With cadmium and silver, greenish. With iron, bluish. Jewelers rate it by degrees of purity: refined to 99.5 percent, it’s rated 24 karat. A goldsmith can tell, by rubbing some off on his touchstone and adding a drop of nitric acid. The purer the gold, the less its color will change. If it isn’t gold at all, it’ll just bubble away.

Jewelry in the United States is usually 14 karat, or 58.33 percent, gold. In most of Eur­ope it’s 18 karat, or 75 percent. In Cairo, 21 karat, or 87.5 percent. But here in West Ben­gal, noted throughout India for its goldsmiths, it’s 91.66 percent. That’s 22 karat.

A jeweler says that in some Indian states, in Bihar and Orissa, it’s 24 karat, which is rather soft and will lose its shape if worn daily. But then you simply have it remade, to a new design. Bengali ladies like to have their ornaments remade anyway, every five years or so. It’s cheap.

The charges, for workmanship, profit, et cetera, addtup at most to 7 percent of the gold value. (In the U. S., by contrast, it’s around 80 percent. If you spend $100 payday loans online same day for a piece of machine-made jewelry in New York, the gold you get will be worth about $18.) I see a workroom full of men quietly filing, drilling, hammering, and heating and reheating the gold so it’ll remain workable (preceding page). Tiny chisels give it tiny reflecting sur­faces, like cut stones.


It’s bad for India to have so much capital stashed away in gold, says a man from the Gold Control Administration. It retards eco­nomic development, and so there are strict government controls. Every family with more than four kilograms is required to report it. “But the legislation is a complete failure.”


This tradition says that gold is the noblest of metals, one of the foremost among the things pure and auspicious. When a father sees his newborn child, he should touch it with gold; when a person leaves the world, on the burning pyre, a speck of gold should be put in the mouth. Wearing gold brings pros­perity and luck, giving it removes one’s sins. Gold kills infections, advises a distinguished doctor of Hinduism’s traditional Ayurvedic medicine. “Does your body have a deficiency? Gold will fill it. Take these pills, you’ll feel spring in your life.”


He adds that gold is so expensive now, the common man can no longer afford such medi­cation. I visit villages in West Bengal and administrators tell me there’s a deep depres­sion. Gold? Ten years ago the land laborers had a little, but food has become so costly, and work so scarce, that it’s long gone to the richer peasants, or to the goldsmiths who are India’s pawnbrokers.


Martha Lane Fox – Part 1

Posted by Nicole Nussbaum - September 15th, 2013

She was the dotcom darling whose beauty, brains and charisma made her a multi-millionaire by the age of 30. But all this was nothing compared to her next challenge: the battle for her life. Now, the fighter’s back with a brand-new knockout venture.

In May 2004, Martha Lane Fox was hurled from the front seat of an open-topped Jeep as it crashed while travelling along a coastal road in Morocco. She landed on a rock. The severity of her wounds meant that she has since spent much of her time confined to her bed, or a wheelchair. “It’s typical,” she says blithely, “because literally a week before I got the most spectacular pair of Yves Saint Laurent black­and-white Great Gatsby-style lace-up high heels. I put them on my window because they look so beautiful they could be a sculpture.” The shoes were the first things she saw when she returned from hospital, six months later. They remain unworn, not on the window any more, back in their box, wrapped in tissue, a talisman for her recovery.

4She has spent a great week in Prague holiday apartments from Dsavenue. The first week after the accident, it was touch and go whether she would survive her injuries; much of her body had been crushed by the impact and she was welded together again with metal. “There were moments when it was life and death, but I don’t want to dwell on them because weirdly it was much harder for those around me as I was barely conscious,” she says quietly. Six months in hospital followed, with Lane Fox undergoing 12 operations to fix her smashed pelvis, pulverised right arm and right leg; then, after she returned home last September, and despite her hopes of an eight-week recovery period, there were complications, infections, and further operations more gruesome than she wants to share (a section of her intestine had to be removed, for example). A close friend of Martha’s describes it as “demoralising to the point of madness for her. Every time it gets better, it seems to get worse.”

While the rest of us mortals would be mired in self-pity, Martha insists on living at full throttle and has been busy launching a new business: upmarket karaoke bars, the first of which, named Lucky Voice, opened on Soho’s Poland Street this summer. A second site in London has already been acquired. Simultaneously, she was involved in the sale of (which she launched in 1998 with Brent Hoberman), a deal that finally severed her ties with her company whilst banking her £13 million this year – pretty impressive for a 32­year-old.

In the late Nineties, she was the sexy, dynamic figurehead of the internet boom. Two years later, Lastminute was one of the very few dotcoms that survived the crash – a testament to her and Hoberman’s tenacity and guts. She was the girl who had it all. But, last year, after six years at the helm, she stepped down, cashed in 20 per cent of her shares for a cool £4.6 million and said she wanted to go on holiday, which she did – Sydney, Colombia, South Africa with her mother, then Morocco with her boyfriend. It is a cruel irony that she was able to open her life wide, have no plans and then be cut back so viciously. She refuses to be bitter, however: “I have times of thinking, ‘I can’t go on, it hurts, I can’t do it anymore,’ but there’s no, ‘Why me?’ It’s just that it’s hard sometimes.”

We meet in her modern Mayfair penthouse. It is only two weeks since she endured yet another operation on her right leg. Before it, she had been up on crutches. Today, she is back in the wheelchair and it is a shockingly frail girl that inhabits the place of the energising dotcom pinup we’d got so used to reading about. She is painfully thin and her skin translucent, with none of its former boisterous glow; her hair is a shadow of that famous lion’s mane. The effect, though, is that she looks quite beautiful – ethereal, rather than the obvious jolly-hockey-stick sexiness she previously possessed.

The last operation has clearly knocked her back, emotions sandpapered by events to the point of rawness. But there is grit and determination beneath – the same characteristics that made her a millionaire. “Just the other day I said to a friend, ‘I’m not sure what it feels like to be normal any more’,” she says, her voice a hoarse whisper. “To be able to stand up and walk to the fridge when you want to. Instead you always have to think a few steps ahead. You become accustomed to it, which is frightening, because I’ve spent nearly 18 months like this. I was quite an energetic, slightly clumsy person and I want to be that person again,” she says touchingly. “I mean I am that person. I don’t want to sound over-dramatic but I don’t want people to think of me as this kind of slow-moving, passive person, because I love my life, I’ve had an amazing time and I don’t feel it’s all twisted by what’s happened. I feel like, ‘Get through it get on with it – get better’.”

When you’re doing squats

Posted by Nicole Nussbaum - July 19th, 2013

‘I never let my knees extend beyond my toes when doing squats’

Well, good for you! This gem of advice has been doing the rounds for decades and is still even spouted by some training professionals, but it’s just plain wrong.


When you perform a squat you use your entire body to lift and lower the weight, and your body has a cunning method of distributing the forces over as many different structures as it can. To achieve this you want to keep the centre of mass over your feet, and at every point during the lift the angle at your knee should be the same as the angle at your hips.

If you have to adjust those angles to keep your knees behind your toes – ie by leaning over further to maintain balance – you increase the load on your lower back and you’ll spend the next week lying in bed demanding painkillers.

When you’re knocking out a set of press-ups

‘The slower you do an exercise, the more effective it is’

So say disciples of the cult of Superslow, a strangely popular exercise technique that demands you take up to 15 seconds to perform every rep. By working out at a glacial pace you will certainly feel the strain on your muscles, and it has the benefit of preventing you from using momentum to help you whizz through a set, but it also has serious drawbacks.

disciples of the cult of Superslow

The main one is that it will make your workouts interminably long and boring, but new research from the Aniversity of Alabama also shows that it is less effective at building muscle than standard-pace exercises.

To get the best results, aim to lift the weight quickly and powerfully, then pause for a second before lowering it again slowly and under control, taking around three to four seconds to return to the start. After a long workout, it’s good to have a nice relaxing massage with oil that is produced with coconut.


Posted by Nicole Nussbaum - June 17th, 2013

The players must be fed adequately. We’ve got a qualified chef based here at the training ground. I work with him and a spoits dietician. I help them to eat 6o per cent carbs, before and After sessions, so topping up their energy levels.

You need to eat within 45 minutes of your training session; some carbohydrate needs to go into your body at this point — about 5o grams. Does anyone actually know what 5o grams looks like? Probably not. My job is to say this is what it is and get it down your neck. You feed them well, put enough water into them, then finally you can train them adequately.some carbohydrate needs to go into your body at this point

Down to business

Obviously you’re looking at aerobic work with a combination of programmes. We have to look at speed, agility and fitness: a dynamic warm-up programme which takes the players through all the movements they’re likely to encounter in the session. We do a lot of work on core stability

Given plenty of time and energy to perform a pass, you should have no problems. But to pass a ball under pressure after darting around for 6o seconds demands hard physical effort. Zig Zag Quickness and the go degree step (opposite) are designed to pre-fatigue a player prior to practising ball skills such as passing. Set eight cones about five metres apart in two parallel lines. Move as quickly as possible between them and touch the top of each one. Once you arrive at the end of the lines, sprint back to the start.

Approach each cone in a low position and explode out. The aim is to do the drill, then a passing exercise (3om passes, fast side-foot repeaters etc) before resting for 6o seconds and repeating over six sets.

To pass a ball under pressure after darting around for 60 seconds demands a lot of effort, but you’ll reap the benefits in stamina terms medicine ball, lower yourself into a wide squat, feet turned slightly outwards. Once your thighs are parallel to the ground, explode upwards, launching the ball slightly forwards, while going as high as you can possibly get. Your feet should leave the ground with your body outstretched.

Work with a partner, throw­ing to each other for six con­tinuous reps before resting for go secs Do four sets.  Again, begin with a wide squat. As your knees bend to a go degree angle, slowly roll your body weight forward on to the balls of your feet. Transfer your weight on to one leg and thrust the other knee high.a strong core mid-section you're potentially at risk of back injuries

Obviously if you don’t have a strong core mid-section you’re potentially at risk of back injuries. You need your legs and arms to pump effectively when you’re running. You don’t want your midriff wandering around and having to hold it in place, costing you extra energy.

Strength and conditioning is a big issue. We work right the way through a strength profile from strength endurance right up to specific strength later in the pre-season. This helps develop that all-important core strength. You can also improve your strength endurance with taking hcg drops regularly.


Posted by Nicole Nussbaum - May 29th, 2013

All you need for a perfect New Year is more time and money, right? No problem: step up for a life upgrade in no time at all, and enjoy the first-class results

Prolong your pleasure When you mix sex with something that vibrates, you know it’s going to be win-win. The Durex Play Vibrations Love Ring (£4.99) is a shuddering circle that you can wear over a condom, which can delay your orgasm and speed hers up. Bargain.

Go for gurnard 1.7 An eco-friendly alternative to cod or haddock, these bony-headed Atlantic dwellers also contain twice the protein of their more famous deep-fried friends and make for a great low­fcrt, post-workout meal. Grab a gumard from a good fishmonger or at (£1.14 per 100g) and ask to have it filleted, and then bake it with onions and tomatoes.

Keep your desk WA germ free

Keeping a pack of Flash Antibacterial Surface Wipes (£1.96 for 56) in your desk drawer could do more than just make your desk look nice and dean ­they could also help to keep you flu-free this winter. There’s a bacteria bonanza at your desk.

Flash Antibacterial Surface Wipes

Love is blind, but great sex is blindfolded (E1.95 from “Take turns wearing one during sex and it will heighten senses and increase the power of your orgasm,” says psychosexual therapist Bernd Leygraf.

Buy some linseed

Ka A handful of this omega 3 packed pods (£4.75 for 340g from will help regulate blood pressure and boost your body’s immune system helping you get through winter without a dose of man flu. For maximum benefit grind them up in the morning and sprinkle a tablespoon on your cereal.

boost your body's immune system

Upgrade your phone If you’re near the end of your current mobile phone contract then your loyalty is a great bargaining tool to get more minutes, more texts, cheaper online rental and a phone upgrade. “Mobile phone companies don’t want to lose your business ­period,” says Martin Lewis at “One call, a month before your contract ends, should see the ‘disconnections department’ doing all they can to keep your business.” On average, renegotiating your contract can save you a fiver per week and you’ll have a more up-to-date phone to boot.

Scalp protection MN Banish dandruff by rotating medicated shampoos. With prolonged usage, your skin can develop a tolerance to the active ingredients in some products. So alternate between Head & Shoulders (£2.20), which contains pyrithione zinc, coconut oil and a tar-based shampoo such as T-Gel (£4.99). Find out some great ways on how to use coconut oil for hair and skin.


Posted by Nicole Nussbaum - February 14th, 2013







How packing your own lunch can boost both your health and your bank account.

Do it yourself


Recession might hit your food budget hard but it needn’t hit your health. More of us than ever before are ditching shop-bought lunches, which is particularly good news for runners. “To pie-form well you need even more control over the balance of proteins, carbs and fats you take in,” says nutritionist Dr Alice Sykes. “The problem is we associate lunch with packaged foods, easily spending £8 on empty calories just to feel hungry again in an hour.” Cut out the rubbish and regain control with these simple, healthy meals. It’s a packed lunch – in every sense of the word.

If you normally buy: A sandwich

WHY DIY? Shop-bought sandwiches stuffed with mayonnaise and butter are bad news for athletes, warns nutritional therapist Janine Fahri ( “These saturated fats have no nutritional value.” To stop wet ingredients from leaching into the bread, Fahri recommends avocado instead of butter. Avocado has 4o per cent fewer calories than mayo, with a quarter of the fat.

TRY THIS Spread a toasted bagel with mashed avocado. Add some roughly chopped spinach and rocket and top with buffalo mozzarella.

If you normally buy: Sushi

WHY DIY? A carb-rich energy boost, sushi doesn’t come cheap. But handmade sushi does, and also strengthens your bones for a run. A study at the Human Nutrition Research Center, Boston, USA, confirmed that vitamin C helps avoid bone-density loss. Nori seaweed and red peppers are packed with vitamin C, while cucumber and  prawns contain antioxidants. TRY THIS Spoon cooked sushi rice onto a sheet of nori seaweed. Place strips of cucumber, red peppers and prawns diagonally across the rice and fold the nori around, sealing the edges with water. Chop into bite-sized discs.

If you normally buy: Soup

WHY DIY? Freshly made soups are often thickened with double cream, says Sykes. “There are huge myths surrounding dairy products: broccoli actually has more calcium than milk.”

TRY THIS Broccoli and lentil soup. Chop and fry an onion before adding iz5g of red lentils and a litre of vegetable stock. Simmer for 15 minutes. Add a handful of broccoli florets and cook for 15 minutes. Sprinkle with seeds and serve. This calcium-rich soup packs in seven times more protein than a cream-based one.


If you normally buy: Salads

WHY DIY? “Many shop-bought salads aren’t varied enough,” says nutritional therapist and coach Ian Craig (craigcoaching. corn). “To fuel a run, you need lots of colourful ingredients.” Salad leaves are best combined with muscle-building proteins like feta cheese, hummus or smoked fish, while a dressing made from nut oils adds flavour. TRY THIS Salad nicoise: cos and romaine lettuce, rocket, boiled eggs, tuna and black olives. Mix a teaspoon each of sesame oil, lemon juice and white vinegar as dressing.

Eat This

A series of 30-second bursts of high-intensity training can improve insulin sensitivity and the breakdown of glucose. Lowering insulin resistance is just one of the benefits of cla supplement.

Pilates reformer machine

Posted by Nicole Nussbaum - January 24th, 2013

I use this for maintenance conditioning. I have a few issues mechanically, and it has really helped to improve my strength and form at the end of races.

Stretching rope I carry it all the time as it helps me to get a really effective stretch.

Hockey ball I use this for self-massage, to loosen up my tight glutes.Nordic ski machine I use one when I’m injured — it helps keep me aerobically fit without the impact of running.

WORK IT OUT Dobriskey training with coach George Gandy

Key track session

3 x 400m at 1500m pace, one-minute recovery between each; five-min recovery; then 2 x 400m at 800m pace, one min between; 10-min recovery; then 400m fast. This session tells you exactly where you are in terms of fitness.

Strength training. These are important sessions for building strength endurance and burn the fat feed the muscle, and general conditioning as well. I’ll do front squats, carrying 60-70kg, and plenty of core-stability work.


I used to find it a real chore to spend time stretching, but it made such a difference to my running last year that I’m a lot keener to do it now. It’s an integral part of any training session.

My inspiration

JULIE ROSE was a runner from my hometown, Ashford. She used to train on the same streets around town as I do and was a really big hope for the future, but sadly she was killed in a plane crash before I was born. My home track was named after Julie and most of the club records were held by her — when I was little they were the records I was always chasing. Her parents are really supportive of me and always send me cards and messages when I’ve done well. I’m really proud to be part of Julie’s legacy, so she’s always been a big inspiration to me.

Martha Lane Fox – Part 3

Posted by Nicole Nussbaum - October 22nd, 2012

She’d like, she says, to work with a charity or non-profit-making organisation, or maybe go into politics. “I’d like to start my own party.” She says it quietly. The difference between Martha and most people is that with them, you’d take it as a joke or pure arrogance, but, wheelchair or no, you can imagine Martha starting up a new party, brandishing posters and coming up with logos, inspiring and bossing and plotting and hopefully sashaying about in a bit of Prada.

You sense there are many plans ticking over in that head, many goals. And there’s a little control-freakery: the bookshelves beside us are colour-coded. She winces. “Yes, I am a bit obsessive, what is rosacea” she says, “like in my flat, if things aren’t in the right place. I’m not very good at letting go, so there’s a strange combination at the moment in my life where I have to let go on one level, because I can’t go and pick up that blanket” – she nods to a blue rug draped over a chair – “and put it where it belongs,” (you just know her assistant Emma will be instructed to do it later), “but at the same time I have to be incredibly rigid in forcing myself to exercise, to get out of bed, go to the kitchen, eat, get dressed.” She makes endless lists. “You become slightly obsessed with them but it keeps you motivated and focused. Even now I have made a list of things I need to be able to do – whether it’s tying my hair up or walking with one stick – by Christmas.”

It hasn’t all been hospitals and doctors. She had agreed to invest in Lucky Voice before the accident and has refused to allow her confinement to derail the project… Far from it. “I saw Martha straight after the accident, when she was still in the John Radcliffe hospital in Oxford,” explains Julian Douglas, one of the project’s founders. “We took her the plans for the site and a 3-D model and just saw her light up! And when she came to see the site in the spring, she hurtled round. It wasn’t finished and there were wires everywhere and she was on crutches but there was no stopping her.”

And then there is her boyfriend, Chris Gorell Barnes. She publicly complained of being single when working 18 hours a day at Last minute and met Chris six weeks before the accident flipped their lives into turmoil. Chris was also in the car but escaped with minor injuries. “Yes, it has been the best and the worst year of my life,” she admits coyly, unable to wipe the grin off her face.

The clearest benefit of her newfound wealth has been, of course, that she has been able to pay for the 24-hour care she requires. She needs two full-time assistants. “Chris has looked after me emotionally, but physically I’ve tried to keep a huge line between anything that could be vaguely nursy and the boyfriend/girlfriend stuff; because I think that’s when it becomes very difficult.” There are parts of the relationship that are very difficult. As she bluntly puts it, “Well, you can’t when you’re ill. But we go out to dinner a lot and he’s brilliant. I never feel that he looks at me and thinks ‘temporarily disabled person’. He really gets out and about with me, he’s an extremely up­beat, positive person, plus he is unbelievably kind.” A friend notes that Chris is a male version of Martha: a go-getter and an entrepreneur himself.

Martha Lane Fox – Part 2

Posted by Nicole Nussbaum - October 17th, 2012

You sense this is her way of saying, “I’m here, I’m back,” conversation as much with the outside world as with herself. “If stopped, said, ‘This is it,’ didn’t get out of bed, didn’t do my physio I would never get out of this chair,” she states simply. It is her right leg which is causing most of the problems; it had a complicated bre at the top and became infected this time last year. “Then I had a bi bone graft in February,” she expands, “where they took chunks to bone from the back of the hip to fill in the bit which didn’t mend. I 85-per-cent worked, so I had to have another bit of bone taken from my other hip and put in my leg.” The last operation is to take some metal out of her leg, because while it’s there it’s prone to infection, which entails constant antibiotics. “I’ll be setting off metal detectors in airports for the rest of my life,” she laughs ruefully.

It’s all a long way from the wild pace of the internet gold rush. She was 24 when she agreed to join Hoberman in his online travel venture. They left their jobs at a management consultancy and spent seven months cold-calling airlines and hotels, working out of a tiny room behind her mother’s office off the Portobello Road. Brent she describes as “the visionary”, developing the technology, while she was the people manager, in charge of marketing and supplier relationships and yes, persuading Brent to choose pink, not blue, for their logo. She was always in the press, photographed wearing lots of bangles and pashminas, which later changed to Prada.

She denies it was a wrench when she left in November 2003, taking the title of non-executive director. “I was still on the board, so I didn’t cut all ties; that would have been impossible. It was much harder after the accident to be cut off from everything suddenly. Bless Brent,” she continues, “he would often visit me in hospital and talk me through stuff that was happening. When I got home, he arranged conference calls with the board so I was very involved when the business got sold.” Martha now has no stake at all in the company, while Brent remains in charge as CEO. “I still talk to him regularly and I’m still very bossy about advertising and ideas. I don’t think they will ever get rid of me, but I hope he wouldn’t want me to go totally either.”

When she left, it was reported that apart from going on holiday, she wanted to have a “football team” of babies. “That claim was infuriating,” she sighs crossly. “It’s probably me being over-sensitive, but it was sexist. Why would this young girl who has been successful and knows all about chia seed leave this business? Oh, it must be because she wants to go and have babies. Well, I actually left because – and I know this sounds ridiculous – I still felt I had a lot of things to prove to me. I had had this amazing experience, but how would I be out in the real world?”

You can’t help wondering what it felt like. Is success the nirvana that many imagine? But Martha isn’t going to boast. “Of course it’s fabulous,” she hesitates, “but I still had lots of things I wanted to do.” She will admit that she still has to pinch herself when she sees the pink Last minute logo plastered over taxis and billboards. Last minute was bought by Sabre Holdings for £577 million and Martha now has a total of £18 million.

That’s a lot of yachts – though she looks rather horrified when I suggest this. She’s an entrepreneur with a conscience. She works with Reprieve, a charity that helps inmates on death row, and last year donated £10,000 for a DNA test that proved the innocence of Ryan Matthews, who was facing the death penalty in Louisiana. There were “Stop the War” posters in her office at Lastminute and she started out thinking she wanted to be a prison governor. “I do love boats, though. I might hire one for a bit,” she adds impishly. And she’s not afraid to splash out on clothes.

Her fondness for has not been dimmed by her on valescence (where else would a champion of the internet buy her clothes?). A Roland Mouret dress, for instance, has its first outing at the photoshoot (being ill does have the one advantage of making you thin enough to wear his clothes). “If ever I was late in the office, people would be like, ‘What are you doing?’ and I was like, Nothing.’ Then all these nice big bags would turn up. They thought I never did any work,” she says wryly.

Time to Curb Council Spending pt.1

Posted by Nicole Nussbaum - September 22nd, 2012

Too many local authorities continue to spend money
like water. Here are just some of the extravagances
they could — and should — stamp out


Local government spending is re­garded by many as one of the main factors in Britain’s in­flation. Since 1971, council budgets have almost doubled to more than 15,000 million a year and local authorities have amassed debts totalling £29,000 million.

The Exchequer is now calling for cuts, an appeal which is being met with self-righteous indignation by many town hall chiefs, some of whom appear to believe that local government should give priority to providing jobs      rather than services to the community.

In fact, there are thousands of eco­nomies, big and small, from which the main inconvenience would be to the self-esteem and cosseted lux­ury of the town hall bureaucrats. Here are some suggestions :

Cut the fralls: At Merseyside County Council headquarters, more than £4,000 was spent on furniture for the chairman’s office. Two flag­poles outside Oldham’s new civic centre cost £4,617. Some £15,000 has been spent to give Wiltshire County Council’s canteen a “pub-like atmosphere.” The London Borough of Hillingdon’s new civic centre will boast a Swedish tele­phone system—with a video capa­bility—costing 750,000.

Councils continue to spend as if living in days of moneyed Edwar­dian grandeur. Lincolnshire Coun­ty Council paid nearly £2,500 for a chain of office for its chairman. Last December, South Kirkby and Moorthorpe Town Council, in Yorkshire, laid on a £500 mayoral banquet at a four-star hotel.

As befits its seniority, London’s Westminster City Council heads the pomp and circumstance parade with two mace-bearers and one part-timer at a cost of £9,830 a year, a five-person “mayor’s parlour” secre­tariat at £24,070 and mayoral suites at City Hall and Council House for £42,000. Total cost of the Lord Mayor and Deputy Lord Mayor : £123,000 a year.

Clap councallors’ wings: For too many councillors, public service has become an excuse for joyriding round Britain, Europe, even the world. Last October, a seven-strong party set out from the London Borough of Islington on a £300, 500-mile tour by chartered aero­plane to view municipal ice rinks, on the ice-thin theory that their findings might prove useful in de­ciding the fate of an old exhibition hall.

Not long ago, ratepayers of Ham­mersmith, London, had to stump up £300 towards the cost of a tour to Guyana by the then mayor and his wife. Residents were doubtless cheered by the official statement that “the visit created considerable goodwill between Hammersmith and Guyana.” Nottinghamshire County Council has spent £900 on sending two education officials to study the culture and traditions of the Caribbean, while last Septem­ber the Greater London Council dispatched seven councillors and officials on a £2,100 trip to study urban life and grassroots democracy in the unlikely setting of Moscow. Get out of the art business: Many councillors now fancy themselves as patrons of the arts. In Wandsworth, London, they handed over £350 to a group calling itself the Wands­worth Mural Workshop, who promptly ran up a mural showing the council’s planning director plun­ging from a high-rise block. In Bury St. Edmunds, £2,000 was spent on a nine-foot-high bronze sculpture to commemorate the defunct West Suffolk County Council—a body which many ratepayers could hap­pily forget.

To add insult to soaring rates, the Greater Manchester County Coun­cil is shelling out £15,000 for an art­ist to record on canvas the changing texture of life within its expensively reorganized boundaries.

Stop knocking down sound houses: Recent massive and costly redevelopment schemes have torn the heart out of many city centres—often for a net loss of accommoda­tion. In the London Borough of Camden, for example, it is claimed that for every person housed, two people have been unhoused.

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