Readers of long standing know of my fascination with the human condition. So around a dozen instances from the press in recent times that caught my jaundiced eye.
Money, power, always in the news. A couple, referred to only as Mr and Mrs Y, 'of an illustrious Oxfordshire family' were in the High Court contesting a divorce settlement. The husband suggested he could only afford £7 million, she maintained she needed £11.2 million to keep up her lifestyle; she was awarded a lump sum of £8.7 million. We are not allowed to know their names! (The judge said her aspirations were not outlandish or avaricious' but 'borne of her lifestyle' and 'expectations from birth'.)
A highly successful auctioneer from Dorset found a tree in his neighbour's garden spoilt his view over Poole Harbour. The answer, get a friend to cut it down whilst the neighbour is away. Result £125, 000 in fines.
Its a strange thing, power. I suspect arrogance and power go together. Eric Joyce, MP has to wear a 'curfew tag' for being involved in a brawl in Parliament earlier in the year. No problem, he cuts it off in order to attend a function. Some in the world seem to think they are above laws and rules. A leader of the People of Freedom Party in Italy (Berlusconi's Party) regularly parks in a disabled parking bay. (He is not disabled). He is reported so he slashes the tyres of the man who reports him; who is incidentally disabled.) His defence 'It was a technical error due to a fit of rage.' That's all right then!
An accountant from Bristol way is obsessed with cars. He embezzles £562,000 from his employers and bought, over a period of time, over 100 cars; including Renaults, Vauxaulls, Morris Minors, a hearse and two caravans, not exactly your vintage motors. He had them stored all over Bristol, garage rents over £4,200 a month. All bought on eBay. His defence said he was 'a shopping addict'; He wasn't kidding!
Derby, my home town auctioned a piece of toast allegedly left behind at breakfast by Prince Charles on the day of his wedding to Princess Diane; it fetched £230. Far more than the Henry Moore sculpture sundial, value between £250,00-500,00 stolen by two men in Hertfordshire and sold as scrap for £46. It was fortunately recovered intact.
Its not just people searching for money, or people seeking power I find so entertaining. Some people are so naturally entertaining without meaning to be so. Southend Pier is the longest in Britain. John Smith from Raleigh just up the road is a trawlerman. So what does he do, he rams his boat into the pier. He is fined £3,000 for failing to keep a proper lookout; cost of pier repairs £130,000.
Perhaps its the sea air that makes people a bit light headed. A man from Weymouth washes his pants and socks then puts them in the microwave. He has to be lead to safety when his flat catches fire. There's no law that says you can't dry your underwear in the microwave. You can't lock people up for being daft. And if you did its not a bad life inside. Not for much longer, mind you. Around 3,000 prisoners in private run prisons have access to Skye TV and Chris Grayling the Justice Minister is not happy!
If you break the law you must pay for it. Providing it IS a law you break. A Ms Moira Johnson has paraded round Manhattan trying to gain awareness that it is NOT against the law to appear topless in public in New York; for neither men nor women. Good for her I reckon, but, dear readers, why shouldn't females walk about so in the 21st century if they so wish. To deny them that right is surely sexual discrimination. It truly is a funny old world.