A few amusing or striking items from this week-end's press:
From an article in the FT about high-roller life in Dubai ("Yachts are last word in luxury for the Gulf"): "The proliferation of luxury brands has generated a cacophany of advertising and glossy magazines pandering to luxury lifestyles." Perhaps they got that idea from the big glossy magazine published every few weeks by the Financial Times and entitled "How to Spend It", replete with full-page advertisement for unfathomably expensive extravagances — well, 'pandering to luxury lifestyles'. Why go to Dubai when you needn't go any further than Bond Street?
Still with the FT, an unusual (for the FT) linguistic-cum-logical foul-up:
"…Iraq's foreign minister … told the FT that the compact was an attempt to organise international aid on a more permanent basis, most specifically for the next five years" ('US hopes donor compact will rebuild Iraq').
'More permanent'? Like being pregnant, being permanent can't be more or less: it is or it isn't. In this case, it's evidently neither permanent nor more permanent, since it's to last for only five years. Mark a query, too, over that odd phrase "most specifically". What would 'less' or 'least specifically' indicate here? Perhaps though we should blame all this on the Iraqi foreign minister, not the FT.
One grim statistic, still from the FT, before we move on: according to the paper's first editorial ("Revisiting Bush's 'Axis of Evil' speech"), "1,200 bodies landed up in Baghdad's morgues in June…"
On a mercifully lighter note, an article in the Sunday Times News Review ("What I've learned about husbands") quotes Lady Sarah Graham Moon, the lady who cut off the sleeves of her erring husband's Savile Row suits and left his fine wines on neighbours' doorsteps like milk bottles when he moved his mistress into a nearby house, on being invited shortly afterwards onto the Oprah Winfrey Show:
I think Oprah expected me to cry or something… She asked me if I wanted a hug. I said, 'Get away from me, you loon. I'm English.'
Note to Gordon Brown: 'English', not 'British'. (Lady Sarah etc. Moon's response to Oprah's offer constitute a formula well worth remembering in case you ever find yourself at a service in one of those evangelical churches where you are instructed to give the complete stranger next to you in the pew a hug. 'English' may of course be replaced by 'Scottish', 'Irish', even 'British', etc., according to taste. Not by 'American', though, I'm afraid.)
And, lastly, poor besieged John Prescott, quoted elsewhere in the Sunday Times News Review:
Mr Anschutz said: 'Would you like to come and see a cattle ranch?', which I was very much interested in … I saw the cowboy films over my young years, didn't you?
He's a national treasure and should be preserved for the nation, although perhaps less rather than more permanently. Mr Prescott, I mean, not Mr Anschutz, who will have to content himself with the Dome and his casino.