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July 1 - 7, 2009
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TWO YEARS ago, I was at home watching the last day of Glastonbury on the telly. I’d turned on largely in a spirit of schadenfreude, for this had been a wet festival even by Glastonbury’s aquatic standards, and the faces in the crowd looked more like those of survivors of some terrible natural disaster than people having fun.
As the rain lashed down, I made a ringing pronouncement: “I will never, ever go to Glastonbury. Wild horses wouldn’t drag me there.” The gods, or the next
best thing, newspaper executives, clearly have an ear for such pronouncements. Which was why, two years on, even older, even fatter, even more set in my comfortable and complacent ways, I was heading down the A303 towards Glasto, as everybody irritatingly insists on calling it. The fear and loathing were kicking in big time.
I’ve loved pop music since I was eight, a spectacular copper-pink sun was setting behind Stonehenge, and the Grateful Dead were playing on the car stereo. For God’s
sake, Spencer, I told myself firmly. Make the most of it. Have fun. Rediscover your sense of youth and adventure.
I tried. I really did. But mostly I had a terrible time. For a start, as a reformed drunk I couldn’t indulge in the drink and spliffs that seemed to be keeping most people going, taking the edge off an often far from enjoyable reality.
The big opening act was the hip Maxïmo Park. But they weren’t playing on one of the main stages. They were playing in a small circus tent.
Why? Huge crowds gathered to watch them on big screens, creating a jam from which it was impossible to escape. The sense of claustrophobia was overpowering, and the woman in front of me was whimpering on the ground with heat exhaustion.
Then there’s the constant bossiness, not just the checking of wristbands and tickets by armies of security staff, but the smug insistence on Green values. There’s a particularly irritating billboard covered with such pious platitudes as “Stop,
Look, Love”, “War on Waste, Leave No Trace”, and the admittedly rather delightful “Give Bees a Chance”. But bees wouldn’t have much of a chance at Glasto. Arriving at night and looking down on the site, it resembles nothing so much as a vast industrial complex despoiling the Somerset countryside.
My feelings of anxious loneliness were occasionally relieved by the sheer niceness of the festival-goers. Crusties and old hippies are thin on the ground these days. The audience seems to be
Chilled, man: Charles Spencer with fellow festival-goers, left, and negotiating the facilities, above
predominantly middle class. I also enjoyed the wacky stalls offering everything from vegetarian shoes – “A treat for your feet if you don’t eat meat” – to “Healing crystals hand-mined with love”.
But even the healing crystals couldn’t stop the rain. At 8.30pm, there was spectacular thunder and lightning. After 12 gruelling hours, dripping from head to toe, I’d had enough. The feeling as I left the site, with the grass just beginning its transition into glutinous mud, was little short of ecstatic. telegraph.co.uk/expat
The Firm For all the latest on the Windsors, visit telegraph.co.uk/royalfamily
July 1 - 7, 2009
JANE MINGAY/IAN JONES
By Andrew Pierce
TAXPAYER funding for the Prince of Wales rose by a record 24 per cent last year – at the same time as his personal tax bill fell, Clarence House’s accounts showed.
The larger than expected rise in public funding – from £2.45million to £3.03million – was attributed to the Prince and the Duchess of Cornwall embarking on two of their most expensive overseas tours using private jets.
The trips to South America and Indonesia, on which they were accompanied by 16 officials, cost more than £1million, and concentrated on the Prince’s commitment to raise awareness of climate change.
The official visits pushed up the couple’s travel costs, paid
£1 MILLION ON TRIPS
The Prince of Wales and Duchess of Cornwall went on a 10-day tour of the Far East despite concerns about the trip’s estimated £500,000 cost during the global credit crisis.
The Duchess withdrew before the final leg of the trip, to Indonesia, because of the heat and humidity. The Prince paid for her return trip, on a scheduled flight, to ensure there was no additional cost to the taxpayer.
The Royal couple also took a 16,400-mile trip to Brazil, Chile and Ecuador, which brought their total travel costs to more than £1million. In contrast to the lavish official trips, they did not take foreign holidays and there was no skiing at Klosters.
for by the taxpayer, by 48 per cent to £1.7million last year, according to the accounts.
The Prince’s personal income from the Duchy of Cornwall was up £200,000 to £16.4million, while his income tax bill fell almost 10 per cent from £3.43million to £3.1million. Clarence House said the reduction was caused by offsetting £2million in official expenses against tax.
While his own income has gone up slightly, the slump in property prices has wiped almost £50million off the value of the Duchy, which has tumbled from £647million to £599million. It is the first recorded fall in the value of the estate, which is spread over 135,000 acres and 23 counties, in a decade.
The Prince’s spending, which was not related to his charity and official duties, fell by 23 per cent, from £2.2million to £1.7million. He economised by holidaying in Scotland rather than overseas.
Sir Michael Peat, the Prince’s private secretary, said the Prince had ordered cuts.
The Duchy astutely moved out of equities in 2007 and concentrated its money in agricultural land and commercial property. Sir Michael said the switch had enabled it to weather the slump.
He defended the costs of the trips to the Far East and South America. “It’s easy to underestimate the importance and success of these tours,” he said. “They’re all requested and paid for by the Government for good reasons.”
By Aislinn Simpson
EARL AND Countess Spencer have lost a battle for their divorce proceedings to be heard in private.
The brother of Diana, Princess of Wales, appeared in the High Court last week in an attempt to finalise his divorce from his second wife, Caroline.
Lady Spencer was granted a decree nisi more than two years ago on the grounds of Lord Spencer’s “unreasonable
behaviour”. The Earl left her, their four-month-old daughter and two-year-old son nearly three years ago, reportedly after meeting an American television reporter.
But neither party has applied for the final decree absolute because they are understood to be arguing over the division of assets. One sticking point is thought to be the Spencers’ former home overlooking Regent’s Canal in north London.
Appearing before Mr
Earl Spencer leaves the High Court with his girlfriend, Bianca, Lady Eliot, last week. Top right, the Earl with his second wife, Caroline, and his first wife, Victoria
Justice Munby at the High Court Family Division, Lord Spencer and his former wife sought to block any reporting of the case.
Lord Spencer’s barrister, Nicholas Mostyn QC, who represented Sir Paul McCartney in his divorce from Heather Mills, told the judge: “There is nothing interesting about this case apart from the fact that it is Earl and Countess Spencer.” But, because of a new law that aims to open the family
courts to public scrutiny, Mr Justice Munby refused the application. Instead, both parties were told to seek injunctions for specific details they did not want publicised. Mr Justice Munby, whose decision is likely to have farreaching effects on highprofile divorce proceedings, said he did not believe the Spencers should have special exclusion to have their case heard in private because they were well known.
By Harry Wallop Consumer Affairs Editor
SIR PHILIP GREEN and Simon Cowell, two of Britain’s most colourful and successful businessmen, are to set up an international entertainment company together.
Though the pair are old friends and frequent dining companions on the London party scene, this will be the first time that they have set up a joint venture. It will also be
the first time that Sir Philip has dipped his toe into showbusiness, having made his fortune in retailing, running Top Shop and Bhs, among others.
The new business will be based in London and Los Angeles and will involve television production, talent management and merchandising.
Cowell will be in charge of presenting and producing the shows, while Sir Philip
Simon Cowell, right, and Sir Philip Green are friends but this is their first venture
concentrates on the finances and strategy as well as spearheading the merchandising arm.
Sir Philip would not comment, but a source close to him, said: “He’s been working on this throughout the night in recent weeks, speaking to people in LA on the phone constantly, and smoking 40 a night.
“This is going to be a multi-billion-dollar international business. This
isn’t some hobby venture on the side.”
The company will be launched during one of the most difficult times the entertainment world has experienced, as broadcasters cut their production budgets.
Cowell is responsible for producing Britain’s Got Talent, the most popular television show of the past decade. It is understood the new venture will work closely with Syco, Cowell’s production company,
which is responsible for Britain’s Got Talent and X Factor, a format which has been sold around the world.
“Nothing is signed yet, but Simon is 100 per cent committed to this,” said a source close to the deal.
Sir Philip has made it clear to friends that, although he is enjoying getting his teeth into a new project, he will not step back from his retailing. “His foot is still firmly on the High Street pedal,” said a friend.