Mark Andrews on Saturday: Loos headlines and a sensitive statesman

By Mark Andrews | Opinions | Published:

Read the latest musings from Mark Andrews.

Xavier Bettel

TERRIBLE news about the unique work of modern art stolen from Blenheim Palace last weekend.

Sculptor Maurizio Cattelan's 18-carat gold toilet was reportedly worth £4.8 million. And let’s face it, who hasn't dreamed of winning the lottery and blowing the lot on a solid gold loo?

Blenheim's Dominic Hare likened the theft to a 'heist movie' and was puzzled how they beat the ‘sophisticated security system’. He has a point: how do you disconnect a £4.8 million lavatory from the water and sewage networks, and then smuggle it out up your jumper, without somebody noticing? Sounds a bit kami-khazi to me.

Golden toilet – stolen

Still, two men have been arrested, which is encouraging. Because I didn’t think they had much to go on.

Time will tell who was responsible for the raid, but I would be surprised if anarchists were not involved. I’m sure I overheard one saying 'smash the cistern'.

XAVIER Bettel, the prime minister of Luxembourg who ‘empty-chaired’ Boris Johnson this week, thinks Brexit is a bit of a ‘nightmare’, and we should have a second referendum.

To be honest, I had forgotten all about Mr Bettel. But a quick trawl through the archives reveals Theresa May had left him feeling 'upset' earlier this year. And we all know how menacing she could be.


You would think a statesman of Mr Bettel’s stature would be made of sterner stuff. After all, he leads a country with a population of 600,000, making him significantly more powerful than the Mayor of Sandwell, and almost on a par with the leader of Staffordshire County Council. You don’t reach those heights without a steely core.

I hope these spats are only a short-term blip in UK-Luxembourg relations, as our two countries have a history of mutual support spanning several decades. During the Second World War, Britain helped liberate Luxembourg from one of the most evil tyrannies known to man. And Radio Luxembourg gave us Noel Edmonds, Mike Read, and David ‘Kid’ Jensen.

WHERE would we be without the Great British layabout? Matt Allen, a yoga instructor from Brighton (where else?) says he only works 'a few hours a week' because getting a full-time job like the rest of us is 'not in his psyche'.

Listen, pal, it's not in my psyche to pay taxes so you can sit on your backside all day spouting hippy drivel, but I just have to get on with it, don’t I?


Anyhow, he and his family have just been given a new council house after they rubbed their previous neighbours up the wrong way with their unconventional lifestyle. You see Matt and his missus don't believe in setting their children rules or boundaries, they are just allowed to do their own thing. Which is why one of them thought it okay to do a jimmy on the studio floor during a television interview.

Naturally the taxpayer is footing the bill for their new accommodation, but Matt says he saves us money by not sending his kids to school. Which of course means they will probably grow up with no qualifications and, of course, their dad's work ethic, something we can all look forward to.

The benefits system should be a safety net for people who fall on hard times, not to encourage self-indulgent idlers who feel work is something for other people.

We keep being asked who will do the menial jobs like fruit picking when we leave the EU. Well, we could start by making people like Matt Allen earn their keep.

Mark Andrews

By Mark Andrews

Senior news writer for the Shropshire Star specialising in in-depth features and commentary, investigative reporting and political matters.


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