Local heroes

The BBC spent £2 million on fares to allow London-based staff to commute to its new studios in Manchester. There are some well-known people who live in Salford:
— Harold Riley, artist
— Mike Sweeney, DJ
— Andy Whyment, actor
And some Salford-born people who moved away:
— Alistair Cooke, broadcaster
— Ben Kingsley, actor
— Albert Finney, actor
— Robert Powell, actor
— Sir Peter Maxwell Davies, composer

Old boy network

Robert Mugabe is reported to be on the point of death aged 88. Africa has produced long-lived leaders and ex-leaders in spite of low general life expectancy. Here is how some notable leaders compare with the rest of their countries’ male population:
Leader’s age     Life expectancy for men
93 Nelson Mandela, South Africa 54
89  Jomo Kenyatta, Kenya (d.1978) 59
88  Robert Mugabe, Zimbabwe 53
85  Abdullah Wade, Senegal 61
83  Haile Selassie, Ethiopia (d.1975) 62
79  Paul Biya, Cameroon 54
Source: UN

Having issues

12 issues for £12

The chairman of the association of British Philatelic Societies said that the Royal Mail had ‘ruined’ the market for commemorative stamps by issuing too many.

CommemorativeTotal letters stamp issues posted in Britain
2 1951 8.5bn
3 1961 10.6bn
5 1971 10.5bn
8 1981 9.6bn
10 1991 15.9bn
11 2001 19.8bn
18 2011 16.6bn

Maths lesson

Teaching unions threatened to strike over local pay bargaining, among other things. Should teachers be paid the same across the country regardless of living costs?
Cost of living in London compared with…
Edinburgh Manchester
+6%  Food +10%
+4%  Alcoholic drink +4%
+41% Housing +91%
-13% Fuel, light, power -8%
+9% Clothing/footwear +11%
+18% Motoring -4%
+27% Public transport -16%
+11% Leisure services +7%
+17% Overall +7%

Source: Greater London Authority

This article first appeared in the print edition of The Spectator magazine, dated