John Walsh: btw

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We may resent The Rough Guide to England's description of us as "overweight, binge-drinking, reality TV addicts," but we are shocking martyrs to alcohol-related incapacitation. According to a survey of 1,000 employees by Norwich Union Healthcare, one in three workers admits going to work with a sore head and a pack of painkillers, while more than one in 10 say they've been drunk at their desks. Not surprisingly, most al desko drunkards said it affected their performance. IT departments are, it seems, the most abstemious, businessmen and building industry folk score twice the average for workplace bleariness but top of the scale are media and creative people, 41 per cent of whom said they've tried to work while sloshed. I suppose that may explain the current state of ITV ...

* La sobrina rebelde del cardinal!" yells the cover of Interviu, a leading Spanish glossy, over a photo of a black-haired, red-lipsticked young woman in a red suspender belt, with her bosom on display. She is Magdalena Rouco Hernandez, and her undraped appearance in the soft-porn magazine is an act of revenge on her uncle, Cardinal Antonio Maria Rouco Varela, head of the Catholic church in Spain, an arch-conservative pal of Pope Benedict. He infuriated Magdalena, it seems, by preaching family values while ignoring her family. He didn't come to her father's funeral, send flowers or express sympathy. And he wouldn't help her when her husband lost his job. Hence the topless pictures. "I wanted to lay bare the hypocrisy of my uncle," she told Interviu, saucily using the words "lay" and "bare." Families, eh?

* Suicide attempts come in many forms, but the long-distance planning of Paul Saffron, a lawyer, takes some beating. Mr Saffron, 43, has been found guilty of "conduct unbecoming of a solicitor" and thrown out of the profession. He suffered from depression, a tribunal was told, and wanted to kill himself, "but because he is so moral a man, he had to do it in a way that made his children hate him." So he gradually extracted £223,000 from his firm's client account and "spent the money quickly so that he would have no option but to kill himself when he was discovered". And he spent it on – a flat? A Ferrari? No, he spent it in London strip clubs, where he became friends with the lap dancers. An extraordinary case of a man attempting to die of shame – and failing.

* Gordon Brown could learn something from the new King of Tonga about insouciance during a crisis. When King George ascended the throne two years ago, pro-democracy riots broke all over the capital, Nuku'alofa; carnage descended, much of the city was razed and eight people were killed. Since Tonga is one of the world's poorest nations, fancy celebrations were declared unwelcome. What's the King done now? He's arranged a colossal £2m coronation party for July, featuring three balls, a military parade, a rugby match and an open-air concert. A truly Nero-like feat of fiddling while the flames are licking the gates.

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