Affairs at work? Not worth it!

After Paul Hollywood confessed to an affair, his wife, while maintaining a dignified silence, filed for divorce

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Is having an affair with a colleague at work always a disaster? Our favourite Bake Off baker, Paul Hollywood, thinks so. He finally confessed to having a relationship with the co-star of his American series, Marcela Valladolid in a radio interview last week, admitting it was the "biggest mistake" of his life.

When the affair became public, viewers took to social media to deride him, while his wife maintained a dignified silence and filed for divorce. Hollywood moved out of the family home and his US show was cancelled after one series. The six-year affair between Andy Coulson and Rebekah Brooks (while they were both married to other people) was laid bare in court last week, when extracts from a letter she had written him telling him she loved him when he tried to end it were read out. I've been unfaithful quite a few times, but never with anyone at work.

As someone who has often been a boss, if I'd conducted a relationship with someone else on the pay roll, other workers would not have taken me seriously. You have to be impartial. And how can you concentrate on work if the person who you see climax is walking into your line of vision without warning every day? Or is sex just like wiping your makeup off, a basic bit of hygiene? That's why I despise John Prescott for his affair with Tracey Temple, and Paul Hollywood is right to feel ashamed.

I'm a serial monogamist, but sometimes women have affairs because they are bored, their partners have lost interest in sex, and their self-esteem needs a boost. If their partners don't find out, what's the problem? Men, on the other hand, generally sleep around because they can easily pick up someone 15 years younger than their wives – which is what Mr Hollywood did – and if they do it once they will do it again. Women aren't so predatory. I know that seems inconsistent and unfair, but that's the way I feel. If Mr Hollywood wants to stand any chance of winning his wife back, he'll stop discussing his marital status with anyone, least of all a presenter on a live radio show.

Handbags at dawn

Only a few more days to catch Handbagged at the Tricycle Theatre in London, but surely this highly entertaining confection will transfer to the West End. Author Moira Buffini has re-imagined the weekly encounters that took place over 11 years from 1979 between two of the world's most famous women, Mrs Thatcher and the Queen.

Handbagged was originally staged in a shorter version in 2010, before Peter Morgan's The Audience opened to great acclaim, mostly because of Helen Mirren's extraordinary performance as the Monarch. But the structure of his play seemed clunky, with the portraits of successive prime ministers degenerating into two-dimensional caricatures.

Buffini's work is far more original, constructed with two versions of the PM and Queen, young and old – huge events seen through both contemporary and elderly eyes. It's rare to go to the theatre and find four superb actresses holding the fort for two hours. History is about forging relationships. These two women start off with nothing in common, and their attempts to find common ground are riveting.

No way to run a railway

When trains are late, Network Rail is automatically fined and the costs end up being covered by the Treasury. In future, the Government wants train operators who persistently fail to meet punctuality targets to compensate passengers by issuing cheap tickets and investing in improvements to stations.

Last week, in the aftermath of the storm, my journey back to London from the North was extremely demanding. Online, little information was forthcoming. At Thirsk, the ticket clerk knew nothing. At York, my train manager told passengers if they wanted to go to London to "get off and travel tomorrow. There will be no trains today and no road link to London".

I ignored him and at Peterborough at 4.30pm, hundreds of elderly passengers who had been travelling all day from Scotland, struggled on to a wet and windy platform, then crowded up and down the stairs with heavy luggage, only to discover that a train was running to London 45 minutes later. Peterborough station is being totally rebuilt, and in this kind of crisis, it was horrible.

Last week, HS2 got the go-ahead – for the time being. Personally, I just want travelling on existing lines to work better. Sadly that's not macho enough for the fans of HS2, who claim the North and Midlands would decline if people couldn't travel to Manchester and Birmingham a few minutes faster.

Poptastic corruption

Another engrossing blend of fact and fiction concluded on Radio 4 last Friday. The Krays, Paul Raymond, John Bloom and Peter Rachman all turned up in Clive Brill's 10-part adaptation of GF Newman's The Corrupted, complete with poptastic interludes from Adam Faith and Roy Orbison – a welcome change from the usual afternoon radio drama, which often seems to be set in the Middle Ages, or deepest Africa.

Newman's saga of the nasty Oldman family and their attempts to carve out a place within the London criminal fraternity was terrific listening. Narrated by Ross Kemp, this saga of corrupt coppers, abortion, robberies and "right good hidings" was top listening. Why didn't it get more publicity? Based on Newman's novel Crime and Punishment, there are plans for further series bringing the family fortunes up to the present. I can't wait.

Why taxes won't help fatties

We're too fat, so why not tax sugary drinks? Scientists and doctors reckon people aged between 16 and 30 consume five times more of the stuff than adults over 50, increasing the risk of heart disease and diabetes.

An article in the BMJ reckons a 20 per cent tax would increase the price of a bottle of Coca-Cola (210 calories) by 23p to around £1.38. Critics point out that anyone desperate for a sugar fix can add the stuff to tea or coffee.

Devising new taxes gets headlines, but rarely works. The mansion tax got dropped, but now the Government is considering a new tax on overseas buyers purchasing property in London as an investment. Why isn't Mr Osborne closing the tax loopholes exploited by multinationals who legally minimise billions of tax a year instead?

In France, President Hollande wants to impose a 75 per cent tax on footballers who earn more than ¤1m a year. In retaliation, the clubs have cancelled four days of matches. All the tax will do is drive out the sportsmen fans want to watch. A pathetic attempt by an unpopular president to curry favour.

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