It wasn’t exactly Charles and Diana, which is good considering how that ended, but a lot is being said about another wedding.
You know, the one between that elderly couple with ten children between them. Otherwise known as the billionaire press magnate Rupert Murdoch and the model and former wife of Mick Jagger, Miss Jerry Hall.
The couple did nothing to discourage publicity, so here is what I did and didn’t like about their day. I liked:
I’m not talking about who they were, I mean the very fact of them. I have already unkindly alluded to the geriatric-ness of Rupert and Jerry, but let’s do it again. They are old to be getting married. He is 84 and therefore ancient and she’s is 59 and therefore knocking on. Yet they didn’t marry apologetically. And as evidence of this, they had a clutch of bridesmaids. I like this. I like that an older couple can proudly and ostentatiously marry. I mean, I know they are rich enough to qualify as aliens and that means they can do whatever they like, but in a world where we are living longer I think it was a healthy signal that excitement and fun go on.
By which I mean, it wasn’t on some foreign beach. Barefoot. Under a bower of blooms. I don’t like that kind of wedding.The sort of wedding where the couple fly out for a two-week holiday and guests who probably can’t afford it have to fly out with them, to watch the couple exchange vows under the glare of a searing sun in an arid spot that means nothing to any of them.
I don’t see the point of any of that. A wedding, if it is to mean anything, should be a declaration in familiar surroundings in front of all the people you care about. So, although the money thing was irrelevant for them, I liked that Rupert and Jerry married in London, in the urban world they know.
I met her once, when she was promoting her brand of stockings, and she was natural and friendly. I also like her for once saying, in her younger days: “If I wasn’t so beautiful, maybe I would have more character.” I don’t see this as boastful, I see it as someone who is actually thinking about themselves in an objective way. I don’t think Jerry has ever had that rock-solid sense of entitlement gifted to those born into privilege. Her father was an abusive alcoholic and she fled her Texan home, and her country, aged 16 to travel to France. I think that shows a bit of character, despite her fears about not having any.
Here’s what I didn’t like
He’s too rich, and he and his children have too much influence. He presided over an era of cruel, bigoted tabloid journalism that was particularly ugly in its treatment of women. He made democratically elected leaders fawn at his unelected feet. I think that’s enough.
Jerry is allowing herself to age much as nature intended. She could have a new face and body, but she has chosen not to. She is almost 60 and she looks it, in a lovely, well-cared for way. That is a powerful and inspiring message for other women, but that dress was a mistake. It did nothing for her because it was just...nothing. It was a mess of ruching and gathering and folding. It looked like a pair of 1980s net curtains tacked on to her. It was £8,000 not well spent.
That engagement ring
It is rumoured to have cost almost two and a half million pounds, and yes it is big. Big, but not pretty. And just the thought of it makes me feel a bit queasy. I couldn’t wear such a symbol of useless wealth, I doubt many women could. The contrast between that and the scenes of grief and poverty, longing and loss we see every day, often via Rupert Murdoch’s news outlets, is too great. The ring is too much of an in-your-face symbol of inequality. The ring ruined the whole wedding for me.
PLEASE CALL THE MIDWIFE AGAIN
That’s another series over then and, so far, Call The Midwife, has not gone downhill.
They all do eventually but let’s hope this show comes to a final end before that tipping point is reached - but not just yet.
The reason Call The Midwife is so fabulous is nothing to do with babies, it is because it is full of strong, witty, wise, female characters.
All the best shows are. Coronation Street, the most successful television show ever, is built on generations of strong women. The day Ena Sharples walked into the Rovers Return a whole world of rich drama opened up.
Currently in Call the Midwife there is nurse Phyllis. Unmarried, middle-aged, childless but no sad stereotype. She is fun, clever, curious, and up for an adventure.
Sister Evangelina, the sharp, bossy, motherly nun died in her sleep at the end of a series and she is a great loss but with nurse Phyllis around there will still be wit and wisdom.
It’s always the older women who really light up the screen in drama and comedy. There are the young and beautiful ones of both sexes, but the characters who endure are the women. From Nora Batty and in Last of the Summer Wine to Violet Crawley in Downton Abbey, who had us all hooked with her dry one-liners.
It’s the best of television traditions and I I hope it continues, along with nurse Phyllis.
THE NEW SLOW ROUTE TO FITNESS
First there was slow cooking - though my own slow cooker went in the bin - and now there is slow exercise.
The latest fitness trend, because there is always a latest fitness trend, is for moving really slowly.
There are exercise classes where the participants work out in their day clothes because what they are doing doesn’t even raise a sweat.
You find your own level of comfort. It can’t be sitting on the sofa, but it definitely shouldn’t be a stroke-inducing exercise frenzy either.
I like the idea that exercise doesn’t have to be all or nothing, that a bit of light activity can be useful.
It’s a good message, and it’s called Balanced Interval Training, not to be confused with High Intensity Interval Training. That one was last year’s message and involved working out like a crazed thing for a short time.
This one sounds easier - enjoy it while it is having a moment.