Wednesday, 7 November 2007
Oxford on $1,000 a Day
Oh, what a time to be an American in Europe! The dollar is worth about as much as an old chewing gum wrapper--with a soggy piece of masticated gum wadded up inside. It's the reality we live with every day, trying to ignore the headlines that read "Dollar Reaches New All-Time Low." Financial editors can keep that on a save string so they don't have to retype it every day.
Hoping to save a little money, last weekend we went to a collection of outlet stores outside Oxford called Bicester Village. We went to the wrong place. This was Burberry and Aquascutum territory, Jimmy Choo shoes and Ermenegildo Zegna silk suits. Oh, sure, there were some great deals. I saw a handsome men's overcoat--the perfect thing to wear while out shooting with His Lordship--that was marked down 50 percent. Originally 1,500 pounds it was on sale at 795. So instead of being $3,000 it was only about $1,600. I couldn't even afford to take it off the hangar. I just stroked one sleeve for a while then slunk away when a shopgirl saw me.
Economists keep saying it's a good thing that the dollar is so weak. It simply reflects reality: The U.S. owes too much money, both as a nation and as a collection of citizens whose MasterCards are maxed out. And Americans guzzled down subprime mortgages as if they were free shots of Jagermeister. Not me, of course, but I still have to live with the hangover.
How pathetic is the dollar? Yesterday's Independent had a story about how supermodel Gisele Bundchen no longer wants to be paid in dollars, stipulating in her contract that she be paid in euros instead.
Pocketing the Difference: The Shirt Hits the Fan
I've been noticing it for the last few years. Now it's official: According to the Daily Telegraph, fewer men's shirts have breast pockets on them. That flap of fabric supposedly ruins the line of the shirt, but I suspect it's a way to save money: Multiply that 3-by-4-inch square by millions of shirts and you're talking real money. This is a problem for me, since as a writer I must have a place to stick my pen. I hope I don't have to resort to hanging one on a lanyard around my neck.
The Golden Bowls
The Daily Mail is already Britain's favorite newspaper. It's quickly becoming mine. Why? Because of ground-breaking stories like today's article headlined "How a Bowl of Warm Water Can Help You Buy a Bra That Fits Better." Two British "style gurus" say that weighing each breast by seeing how much water it displaces is the most accurate way to determine cup size. Writes the Mail: "With just a bowl of lukewarm water, a baking tray and kitchen scales, housewives across the nation could soon all be using simple physics to work out the precise size of their bosoms." It thoughtfully provides a little chart called "How to Weigh Your Breasts." (One liter of water weighs one kilogram; "to convert to weight of breast, multiply by 0.9.")
They say that high school kids aren't interested in science and math these days. I can imagine a project that might address that.