Signs of the Times: Scrap the nip-tuck; hold the Lamborghini

REUTERS - The global recession manifests itself in big and small ways, most gloomy, some quirky and often reflecting the inventive human spirit. Here is a look at some signs of the times.

Lamborghini Murcielago LP 670-4 Superveloce car displayed during the second media day of the 79th Geneva Car Show at the Palexpo in Geneva in this March 4, 2009 file photo. REUTERS/Arnd Wiegmann

* As hard times bite in Britain, fewer people are considering cosmetic surgery. In a poll of 120 surgeons by the British Association of Plastic, Reconstructive and Aesthetic Surgeons almost half reported a considerable reduction in cosmetic operations and outpatient consultations.

* A local bakery and cafe in Jackson Heights in the New York borough of Queens that catered to freelance writers and others with laptops has covered up and padlocked its electrical outlets to discourage customers from overstaying their welcome. Laptop users can now stay only as long as their battery lasts.

* Attempts to clamp down on spending in Osaka, Japan set off a row about the cost of feeding the city zoo’s six koalas. Each of the fluffy creatures at Tennoji Zoo munches its way through 40,000 yen’s-worth ($400) of specially cultivated eucalyptus leaves every day, a fact criticized in an external review of the city’s accounts, the daily Asahi newspaper said.

* Officials in Boston, quick to embrace any celebration of the city’s 378-year-heritage, may pull the plug on a summer event that brings scores of masted sailing ships to its port and draws millions of tourists. Mayor Thomas Menino says the city, deep in negotiations with its unions over pay freezes and facing possible layoffs, cannot spend millions of dollars to provide security for the influx of visitors that greet the century-old tall ships.

* U.S. food banks have been hard up for donated packaged goods, including breakfast cereals. So the San Francisco Food Bank was delighted with a massive windfall -- almost two tons of Kellogg’s Corn Flakes and Frosted Flakes in boxes bearing the smiling face of Olympic swimming hero Michael Phelps. Kellogg dropped Phelps as a corporate pitchman after his image was sullied by pictures showing him smoking marijuana.

* The waiting period to buy a Lamborghini sports car has fallen to six months from the usual year, Lamborghini Chief Executive Stephan Winkelmann said at the Geneva auto show. Some customers have canceled their orders because they lost their shirts or their jobs in the downturn. Others just think this is a bad time to drive such an ostentatious car.

* The number of American millionaires fell by more than a quarter last year as the financial crisis decimated their investments. The number of U.S. households with a net worth of $1 million or more, not including first homes, fell by 2.5 million to 6.7 million in 2008, according to the Spectrem Group report. It was the lowest number since 2003.

* Eddie Doyle was the guy who really did know everybody’s name. But after tending bar for 35 years at the Bull and Finch tavern in Boston that inspired the television show “Cheers”, Doyle has been laid off. The bar’s owner said the economy was to blame. The 66-year-old Doyle told the Boston Globe newspaper he was not bitter and may write a book.

* More Britons are taking showers rather than baths to help reduce their household bills during the recession. London’s Daily Telegraph said researchers from Unilever also found that shoppers were buying more shower gels than bubble baths.

* British financier Brian Myerson asked an appeals court to scrap his 11 million pound ($15.4 million) divorce deal with his ex-wife Ingrid on the grounds that his company’s shares had plunged by more than 90 per cent since the agreement was struck. “That’s a rum do,” said Lord Justice Thorpe, one of Britain’s most senior family judges. Lawyers specializing in big-money cases said Mr Myerson would face an uphill struggle to unpick a settlement to which he had already consented.