LETTERS FROM LONDON
REASONS TO BE CHEERFUL
18 November 2017
Smart Money

“There’s NO magic money tree!” Theresa scolded the public. Well, yes there is
– for Theresa and Phil. Theresa’s husband Philip has been – erm – caught out.
Well, we knew about Phil, but not all the facts.

According to
Private Eye, they have seen evidence, i.e. correspondence,
between Capital Group, where Phil works don’t you know and Appleby – don’t
you know - Appleby from the now infamous “Paradise Papers” or massive tax
avoidance, oh oops, I mean evasion scandal. Silly me.

Evidently documents have been unearthed as to how the world’s uber-rich hide
their investments in offshore tax havens, as you do. OK. Not you, not us, but
them.

And how were Phil’s covert plans revealed? Via emails between his company
and Appleby, the offshore law firm at the heart of the tax ‘avoidance’ leaks.

Did I mention Phil works as a relationship manager in “retirement solutions” - not
offshore investments according to Number 10. Collective eye-rolling here.

Labour to the rescue. We wish, however, they did say that Theresa’s husband
has “serious questions to answer”. I don’t think Theresa will answer for him, do
you?


Moving the Goalposts

Desperate to know more of the Brexit debacle?  Surely you are – not.
Nevertheless, I’d be remiss without mentioning: The Chief Executive of Goldman
Sachs, Lloyd Blankfein, has called for a second referendum on Brexit – a so-
called “confirming vote” – on the basis that the decision to leave the EU is
“monumental” and “irreversible.”

Goldman Sachs has over 6,000 employees in the UK. The company is now
setting up a European subsidiary in Frankfurt so as to be able to continue
serving clients in the Single Market. Just saying – or so he did.

As for Davey and Theresa? They were busy admonishing other countries.
Theresa stomped her little foot and threatened: “We know what you are doing
and you will not succeed!” Oh right, Theresa. Oh Russia, are you listening?
Theresa turns scary. Really?

She accused the pro-Brexit Russian government of undermining, manipulating
referendums, elections. We’re aware of their agenda: the dissolution of the
power of the EU. But Theresa. They are pro, repeat, pro-Brexit. Like you.

David Davis did his bit. He warned EU leaders – grinning we can assume – that
they will get “nothing for nothing”. The man has such a way with words doesn’t
he? “Surprise, surprise, nothing comes for nothing in this world…on the citizen’s
rights front, we’ve made all the running.”  Is English his first language? Donald
Tusk’s response when asked: “I can only say I appreciate Mr Davis’ English
sense of humour.” I suppose we missed that. Not his English then?

Then he told an economic conference in Berlin that Britain leaving the EU would
not have a financial impact on member states. His speech to German business
leaders was met with bemusement and outright mockery. Quelle surprise. Being
his offensive self, he told them that “putting politics above prosperity is never a
smart choice.” Dear me, the man is thick or what then? The government putting
Brexit politics ahead of prosperity? Oh never. One German captain of industry
said: “This old man is destroying Britain’s future.” Old man. What’s not to love?
So that’s how he is seen? Not just thick then.


The Test of Time

How old was Mary, Queen of Scots, when she took the throne? Who won the
Battle of Killiecrankie? Come now, surely it’s just common knowledge – isn’t it?
No hints. Unless you know the answers, you’re simply not fit to be a British
citizen.

Of course you may be one already, but for people who take the Home Office’s
Life in the UK test in the hope of getting citizenship, this knowledge is judged
essential. Do you reckon Theresa can pass the test?

The manual for those wanting to become proper Brits was altered in 2013. What
you would need in fact– gettit? - in fact - such as historical dates, rather than
how to find a doctor or apply for a job. But raise a glass, it tests the ‘values and
principles at the heart of being British’. Immigration control? Certainly not. A
new study has found this ‘heart of being British’ is now seen as part of Theresa's
‘hostile environment’, or life in Little Britain. Let’s not forget all those nasty
immigrants who want to live here, whose first language isn’t English. Oh well, huh
Theresa?

OK. The test itself is only £50. But a spouse from outside the EU is likely to have
spent at least £3,700 in immigration fees before taking it. Yes. A bit more than
that £50. And then there’s the cost of the language training they may have
needed to pass a pre-entry English exam. Uh oh. Problems ahead.

Now, assuming one of those migrants passes the Life in the UK test the first time
– really - not their third or fourth attempt, citizenship will cost another £1,282.
Blimey! A UK passport is now £72. Absorbing British values and principles.
Possibly not so – erm – advantageous after all?


Happy Christmas then

It's here. It’s that time of year. No. Not autumnal festivities. We’ve done
American Halloween. Oh please don’t say you’ve finished: shopping, wrapping,
place cards, decorating. Please. And not a minute with Pippa’s (yes, Middleton)
embarrassingly inane ‘hints’. I refuse to repeat them they are so pathetic, but
they originally suggested wrapping the presents. See. You do remember.

For some it began with Selfridge’s Christmas in July. Did you miss that? No
worries. Other stores followed – desperately. The lights have been turned on the
various ‘buy Christmas here’ streets: Regent Street, Oxford Street, Bond Street,
Carnaby Street… the sales in every department store: 20 percent – not a proper
sale, the museum holiday offers: a Cezanne-inspired scarf, a Fra Angelico mug
-  and then there are the annual TV adverts, created to manipulate us through
overt sentimentality. “Once there was a way…” or the Beatles’ Golden Slumbers
of course’ by Elbow with that proper dose of saccharine throughout the John
Lewis advert. Well, there was a way, and this isn’t it.

£7 million spent. How much do you reckon they assume they will make? Masses
more millions? Trouble in Christmas utopia? It has been noticed that the advert
was inspired by former children’s laureate, Chris Riddell’s,
Mr Underbed, but
unacknowledged. Plagiarism? Never.

However, according to Mr Riddell, “John Lewis helps themselves to my picture
book. In this age of shrinking publicity budgets, it is very generous of John
Lewis to devote their Christmas advertising campaign to my 1986 picture book.”
Wasn’t it just. Of course John Lewis said their version (hmm) was “utterly
different”. In 2014, John Lewis was accused of – oh dear – ‘inspiration’ – all
right, plagiarism – when their advert was similar to another picture book,
Lost
and Found
by Oliver Jeffers. Penguin plus boy if you need to know. Do we see
a pattern here?

More on Happy Christmas adverts later. We do have time. I know, I know,
counting the days.
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