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Priti Patel pays £45k for life membership at Marylebone Cricket Club

Good Lord’s! Priti Patel stumps up £45,000 to take up life membership at the exclusive Marylebone Cricket Club

  • Home Secretary took advantage of offer to jump its notoriously long waiting list
  • Most wait 20 years for right to walk into Lord’s pavilion and watch Test cricket
  • To help meet £30m in lost revenue from Covid, MCC this summer offered life membership to existing annual members and those on waiting list – like Ms Patel

Priti Patel has forked out tens of thousands of pounds to get into one of the world’s most exclusive sporting clubs – the MCC.

The Mail on Sunday can reveal that the Home Secretary has paid £45,000 to become a member of the Marylebone Cricket Club.

She has taken advantage of an offer to jump its notoriously long waiting list and take up life membership.

People usually wait over 20 years for the right to walk into the Lord’s pavilion and watch Test cricket.

Priti Patel has forked out tens of thousands of pounds to get into one of the world’s most exclusive sporting clubs – the MCC. The Mail on Sunday can reveal that the Home Secretary has paid £45,000 to become a member of the Marylebone Cricket Club. (She is seen above at Lord’s cricket ground in 2018)

Ms Patel has taken advantage of an offer to jump its notoriously long waiting list and take up life membership. People usually wait over 20 years for the right to walk into the Lord’s pavilion and watch Test cricket

But to help meet £30 million in lost revenue from the virus crisis, the MCC this summer decided to offer life membership to existing annual members and candidates on the waiting list – like Ms Patel.

A source close to the Home Secretary, 48, confirmed Ms Patel, who has been on the waiting list for ‘several years’, had taken up the offer.

The source said: ‘As a lifelong cricket fan and at a difficult time for the sport, Priti has joined MCC as a lifetime member.’

He brushed aside any suggestion the MCC had had to ‘chase her’ for the cash, saying Ms Patel is a ‘very busy woman’.

Life membership is sold on a sliding scale, with younger applicants paying more than elderly ones for the right to wear the club’s ‘egg and bacon’ tie.

However, Ms Patel’s move has surprised some fellow MPs. One said: ‘As this damn virus crisis means there may well not be much live cricket at Lord’s for a while, that’s quite a lot of cash to fork out.’ 

Another added: ‘To be honest, I didn’t realise Priti was interested in cricket.’

Bumping into another member could prove a little awkward – former PM Theresa May. Mrs May (above, at Lord’s in 2019), who joined two years ago after her application was fast-tracked, sacked her as international development secretary in 2017 when Miss Patel was accused of failing to disclose full details of meetings she had with political figures during a trip to Israel

It means she will rub shoulders with other famous MCC members, including Sir Mick Jagger, Prince Charles and Captain Sir Tom Moore, who was given honorary membership in May after his lockdown fund-raising heroics.

But bumping into another member could prove a little awkward – former Prime Minister Theresa May.

Mrs May, who joined two years ago after her application was fast-tracked, sacked her as international development secretary in 2017 when Miss Patel was accused of failing to disclose the full details of meetings she had with political figures during a trip to Israel.

The scandal appeared to have destroyed Miss Patel’s career until she was brought back by Mrs May’s successor in No 10, Boris Johnson.

Would-be MCC members must be proposed and seconded by existing members as well as being ‘vetted’.

Reports last month said that the life membership move had covered the club’s Covid-related losses by bringing in £30 million over the summer.

However, some members are understood to have protested that the move bypassed tradition for commercial gain.

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MARK PALMER pays tribute to Bill Bryson's literacy legacy

The man who sold £81m of books by making us laugh at ourselves: As much-loved travel writer Bill Bryson hangs up his pen at 68, superfan MARK PALMER pays tribute to his literary legacy

No one can fault his timing. Bill Bryson, the much-loved and arguably the most successful travel writer there’s ever been, is hanging up his pen just as it’s become impossible to travel anywhere.

At least, almost impossible. I’m not sure Bryson would go a bundle on swabs being shoved up his nose 72 hours before departure or self-isolating for 14 days on returning from a faraway land such as France.

Even so, to retire at 68 when you’re still on top of your game seems a little unfair on those of us who have long come out as die-hard Bryson fans and who have always been prepared to man the ramparts to repel any literary snobs tempted to dismiss his musings as light-weight popularism.

No one can fault his timing. Bill Bryson, the much-loved and arguably the most successful travel writer there’s ever been, is hanging up his pen just as it’s become impossible to travel anywhere

There are quite a few of us in Bryson’s barmy army. More than 10 million of his books have been sold since 1995, generating some £81 million (Bryson’s net worth is estimated at £8 million) and they’ve been translated into 30 languages.

Not bad for an unassuming and not exactly gregarious man who grew up in Des Moines, Iowa — ‘somebody had to,’ as he put it in The Lost Continent, his 1989 book about America.

But part of Bryson’s appeal has long been his low-key, down-to-earth persona (once asked where he regarded as home he said, sweetly, ‘wherever my wife is’) that’s appealed to the British public in spectacular fashion.

He has garnered no fewer than 11 honorary doctorates, served as Chancellor of Durham University and president of the Campaign for the Protection of Rural England, been awarded an honorary OBE (surely a knighthood beckons). Heck, he’s even been played by Robert Redford in a film based on his Appalachian Trail memoir, A Walk In The Woods.

And, yet, when announcing his retirement he gets away with what would be seen as cheesy platitudes if proffered by others. ‘You only get one life,’ he said yesterday. ‘I would quite like to spend the part that is left to me . . . doing all the things I’ve not been able to do like enjoying my family.’

So the question is: how has this bearded, spectacled figure with a passing resemblance to Father Christmas become so revered? The answer, in part, is because his prolific output goes way beyond the world of travel.

Part of Bryson’s appeal has long been his low-key, down-to-earth persona (once asked where he regarded as home he said, sweetly, ‘wherever my wife is’) that’s appealed to the British public in spectacular fashion

The tome which, in his words ‘did the best internationally and been the book that has made me most financially secure’ is A Short History Of Nearly Everything, published in 2003, which explains in layman’s terms the key achievements of science from the beginning of time.

And his latest and presumably final book, released last year, is an exploration of the human body from the top of our heads to the soles of our feet.

One of my favourites is Shakespeare: The World As Stage, which came out in 2007 and is perfect for those of us who should have read high-minded biographies of the Bard but never quite got round to it. In 199 pages, Bryson discusses various theories and myths about Shakespeare’s life in an easily accessible way, with just the right number of memorable nuggets to impress at a dinner party.

But, the real reason Bryson has become a national treasure is because, in his wildly popular book about this country, Notes From A Small Island, he reminded us of who we British are. Or who, on a good day, we would like to be. Somehow, he has got the measure of us in all our strange, paradoxical ways.

His latest and presumably final book, released last year, is an exploration of the human body from the top of our heads to the soles of our feet

And even when making caustic comments — he accused Sir Herbert Manzoni, Birmingham’s chief engineer from 1935 to 1963, of filling the city with ugly ringroads, dank subways and brutalist tower blocks that had made the city ‘as horrible a place as you could find’ — he does so with thinly-disguised affection.

And humour. Not many people — especially one born in America — could get away with saying that the best thing about Stonehenge was ‘the smart new gift shop and coffee bar’.

Before adding: ‘This is, after all, merely the most important prehistoric monument in Europe and one of the dozen most visited tourist attractions in England, so clearly there is no point in spending foolish sums making it interesting and instructive.’

Bryson’s books do what poetry is supposed to do — make us think again. They ask us to dwell on what we take for granted, or choose to ignore. And good poetry helps us see ourselves and the world around us with fresh eyes.

One of the best chapters in Notes From A Small Island — which has sold more than two million copies since it was published in 1995 — devotes several pages to place names. All Bryson, who now lives in Hampshire, needs to do is list some of them according to what images they summon and immediately we get the point. He is both poking fun and filled with admiration.

For ‘lazy summer afternoons and butterflies darting in meadows’ he gives us Weston Lullingfields, Theddlethorpe All Saints, Little Missenden. For villages that ‘have an attitude problem’ he offers Seething, Mockbeggar and Wrangle and for those that ‘are just endearingly inane’ — Prittlewell, Little Rollright, Chew Magna, Titsey, Woodstock Slop, Lickey End, Nether Wallop, Thornton-le-Beans.

Bryson loves the things that only we British truly can appreciate — and we love him in return. He lists a few of them: Sooty, HP sauce, salt cellars with a single large hole, allotments, the ‘belief that household wiring is an interesting topic for conversation’ and ‘thinking that going to choose wallpaper with your mate constitutes a reasonably good day out’.

Oh, and (Why, pray, are you there if you need a windbreak?) ‘erecting windbreaks on a beach’.

Bryson first came to Britain in 1973 while back-packing around Europe. He found employment in a psychiatric hospital where he met his English wife, Cynthia, a nurse, with whom he has four children and ten grandchildren.

He then got a job as a sub-editor at the Bournemouth Evening Echo before joining The Times in London.

The Britain Bryson writes about in Notes From A Small Island — which has been voted the best book of all time in chronicling the national character — may have changed dramatically and not always to his liking (especially the litter), but he became a British citizen in 2015. He would have done it sooner but said at the time he was frightened of not passing the Citizen Test.

There was surely no chance of that. All the officials needed to do was look at the last chapter of Notes from a Small Island where Bryson drives up to Kirkby Fell in Yorkshire and realises what it is he loves about Britain. He comes up with another list, which includes beans on toast, Ordnance Survey maps, crumpets, people saying ‘mustn’t grumble’ when they’re miserable, and drizzly Sundays.

In fact, the penultimate paragraph of the book could easily be a rallying cry for today.

After asking which other country in the world would compel the Lord Chancellor to sit on the Woolsack, give us pork pies, Gardeners’ Question Time, Windsor Great Park and the chocolate digestive, he writes: ‘How easily we lose sight of all this. ‘What an enigma Britain will seem to historians . . . here is a country that fought and won a noble war, dismantled a mighty empire in a generally benign and enlightened way, created a far-seeing welfare state — in short, did everything right — and then spent the rest of the century looking on itself as a chronic failure.

‘This is still the best place in the world for most things — to post a letter, go for a walk, watch television, buy a book . . . get lost, seek help or stand on a hillside and take in a view. I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again. I like it here. I like it more than I can tell you.’

And he hasn’t done a bad job in telling us.

Bryson’s books do what poetry is supposed to do — make us think again. They ask us to dwell on what we take for granted, or choose to ignore. And good poetry helps us see ourselves and the world around us with fresh eyes

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Frankie Dettori pays an emotional tribute to Enable as she is retired after glittering career

A TEARFUL Frankie Dettori led the emotional tributes to Enable after her retirement was announced.

The Italian admitted he begged trainer John Gosden to give her one more run at Champions Day, but knew after her Arc sixth that it was time to call it a day.

Dettori has ridden many stars during his 30-year career, but none has touched his heart like Enable.

"I love horses, but I love Enable more than the rest," he said.

Gosden's six-year-old achieved virtually everything on the track. From 19 runs she only tasted defeat four times.

A staggering 11 Group 1s included two Arcs, three King Georges and a Breeders' Cup win in America.

Her three-year-old career will go down as one of the best of all time, as she began her unbeaten run which stretched to 12 starts before defeat in the 2019 Arc.

Dettori said: "She touched my heart the most. I had her a lot longer than most of the horses that have been through my hands.

"We got on so well. I knew she was always going to put in a great performance.

"She made me feel emotions I've never felt with any other horse and I'm going to miss her. I've had some amazing times with her.

"Walking back in with her from the Arc last week we got a brilliant reception even though there were only 1000 people there.

"I knew then it was probably going to be the last time I rode her.

"I had a little cry when I was told the news, but there were more of joy than sadness because of all the great memories."

Enable could have run at British Champions Day this Saturday at Ascot but even Dettori knew that would have been a big ask.

He added: "How can you justify going again when she finished sixth in the Arc? It wouldn't have been fair to put her through it again.

"I was begging John he was just going to put me on her for one more morning so I could give her my last goodbye.

"I've told my wife to clear a space on the wall as I'm going to put up a shrine to her."

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Thinking it a fake, buyer pays $90 for stolen $420m Mao scroll

Hong Kong: A calligraphy scroll by former Chinese leader Mao Zedong estimated to be worth millions of dollars was cut in half after it was stolen last month in a high-profile burglary in Hong Kong, police said.

The scroll was found damaged when police arrested a 49-year-old man in late September on suspicion of handling stolen property. The South China Morning Post, quoting an unidentified police source, reported that the scroll was cut in two by a buyer who had purchased it for 500 Hong Kong dollars ($90) and had believed the scroll to be counterfeit.

The two halves of a calligraphy scroll by former Chinese leader Mao Zedong estimated to be worth about $420 million. Credit:HK Police/AP

“According to our investigation, someone thought that the calligraphy was too long,” Tony Ho, senior superintendent of the police Organised Crime and Triad Bureau, said at a news conference Tuesday. “It was difficult to show it, to display it, and that’s why it was cut in half.”

Police said the scroll was part of a multimillion-dollar theft by three burglars from collector Fu Chunxiao’s apartment in September. Fu, who is well known for his collection of stamps and revolutionary art, was in mainland China at the time of the burglary and has not been in Hong Kong since January because of the coronavirus pandemic.

The burglars took 24,000 Chinese postage stamps, 10 coins and seven calligraphy scrolls from Fu’s apartment, where he stored his collections.

Fu estimated that the Mao calligraphy was worth about $US300 million ($420 million) and that the theft totalled about $US645 million. No independent appraisals of the collections were available.

Police have arrested three men in relation to the burglary and on suspicion of providing assistance to criminals. At least two people connected to the burglary are still at large, Ho said.

Although some stolen items have been found, the 24,000 stamps and six other calligraphy scrolls have not been recovered, police said.

AP

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Valerie Bertinelli Pays Tribute to Late Ex-Husband Eddie Van Halen

Forever grateful. Valerie Bertinelli thanked her late ex-husband, Eddie Van Halen, for the love he gave her in a touching tribute following his death from cancer on Tuesday, October 6.

Rocker Eddie Van Halen Dies at 65: Celebrities React

“40 years ago my life changed forever when I met you,” Bertinelli, 60, wrote via Instagram on Tuesday. “You gave me the one true light in my life, our son, Wolfgang.”

The Hot in Cleveland alum shared a black-and-white throwback photo of herself and Van Halen with their son, Wolfgang Van Halen, hours after her son confirmed that the Van Halen cofounder died after battling throat cancer.

“Through all your challenging treatments for lung cancer, you kept your gorgeous spirit and that impish grin,” the One Day at a Time actress continued. “I’m so grateful Wolfie and I were able to hold you in your last moments.”

She added: “I will see you in our next life my love.”

Eddie Van Halen and More Celebrity Deaths of 2020

The 65-year-old guitarist died on Tuesday in Santa Barbara, California.

“I can’t believe I’m having to write this, but my father, Edward Lodewijk Van Halen, has lost his long and arduous battle with cancer this morning,” Wolfgang, 29, wrote via Instagram. “He was the best father I could ever ask for. Every moment I’ve shared with him on and off stage was a gift.”

The youngest member of Van Halen — he joined his dad’s band in 2006 as the bassist — explained that his “heart is broken and I don’t think I’ll ever fully recover from this loss.”

He added: “I love you so much, Pop.”

Bertinelli, who was married to the Netherlands native from 1981 to 2007, retweeted her son’s announcement via Twitter with 20 broken-heart emojis.

The musician founded Van Halen in 1972 and was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 2007. He was diagnosed with tongue cancer in 2001 and later had part of his tongue removed.

His throat cancer diagnosis was revealed in 2019. At the time, Eddie’s bandmate David Lee Roth hinted that the group could be coming to an end.

“Van Halen isn’t gonna be coming back in the fashion that you know,” he told Detroit radio station WRIF in September 2019. “And that being said, Eddie’s got his own story to tell. [It’s] not mine to tell it.”

Most Shocking Celebrity Deaths of All Time

The band last toured in 2015 and have sold more than 80 million records worldwide.

Eddie is survived by his and Bertinelli’s son and his wife Janie Liszewski, whom he wed in 2009.

The Kid’s Baking Championship judge, for her part, married Tom Vitale in 2011.

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Queen pays tribute to news organisations for supporting communities during the pandemic

THE Queen has paid tribute to the role of news organisations in the pandemic.

She said the efforts of local, regional and national media in supporting communities had been invaluable, especially for the elderly and vulnerable.

She added: “Having trusted, reliable sources of information, particularly at a time when there are so many sources competing for our attention, is vital.”

Her comments were in support of the News Media Association’s week-long Journalism Matters campaign. Meanwhile, NMA chairman Henry Faure Walker called for government support for local news.

He said internet giants Facebook and Google profited from his members’ journalism while “contributing comparatively nothing back to the industry”.

He added: "Advertising revenues, the lifeblood of independent journalism, have been hammered by the economic downturn, leaving us with less money to invest in the journalism we all want to read. At the local level, many news brands are in a perilous position.

"We now urgently need Government to intervene with a series of targeted initiatives to help sustain local independent journalism in this country.

"And the relationship between the news media and the tech giants needs to be properly reset.

"For too long, Google and Facebook have had a free pass at using our journalism on their platforms, making huge profits, whilst contributing comparatively nothing back into the industry."

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