AILIN QUINLAN’S weekly take on life
IT WAS just an experiment. No biggie. I started reading the glossies. Celebrity gossip, photographs, fashion, beauty tips and, er, sex. Lots and lots and lots of sex. I’ve never really bought into the girlie rags but after noticing a bundle of the things in my daughter’s bedroom — she has lately abandoned even the sparkly teen literature for the lure of the glossies — I decided to flick through a few of them to see what she was reading.
I also secretly thought their obliviousness to real life might cheer me up and provide an escape from that big, dark cloud of gloom that’s hovering over us all again — shares in free-fall, the Netherlands up in arms about the kind of austerity we would no longer even blink at, threats about what will happen to us if we don’t give the thumbs-up to the fiscal compact, warnings about what will happen if we do. God knows, we’re painfully aware that we’re on the road to perdition, but do they have to keep ramming it down our throats? So, then, on to the glossies and their insouciant champagne- and-caviar world view.
The glossies in question were a bit out of date because the daughter’s been low on funds recently, but I still got some insight into the eye- watering lives of the super-rich. Jen, Naomi, Posh, Beyoncé, Simon, Britney, SJP and Angelina provide an unrelenting flow of gossip and tit-bits for those of us down here in Ordinary-ville. Take the Ecclestone sisters — Petra had a 14million wedding outside Rome and splashed out on a 58million mansion in LA, the former residence of Aaron Spelling. Phew.
Meanwhile her sister Tamara, who apparently installed a 1.2million crystal bathtub in her 53million Chelsea home and posed, naked and writhing, on a bed of £50 notes, is no slouch at the spending either. When interviewed by one journalist in Beverly Hills, she causally let drop that she had a private jet on standby at a nearby airport. I waded on through endless empty chit-chat about A-list shenanigans, A-list bling, and wonderful A-list lives. Every second page I turned screamed rich, skinny women — and the occasional man — loaded to the gills and enjoying fabulous lives that I could only dream of.
These ladies dress to kill in designer clothes and cross the globe to fashion shows, restaurant openings and film premieres while the rest of us trudge to and from work. Love and the endless love-rats they come across seem to be their sole problem — they never seem to worry about their job – if they have one — or losing the house, or making enough money to feed their kids and a towering mortgage. Or if they are, it doesn’t make it into the magazines.
They summer in Monaco (you’re only rich when summer is a verb), winter in Gstaad, spend 80,000 on wedding dresses and pay eye- watering amounts of money to other celebrities to entertain them. Rihanna was said to have been paid 250,000 to perform at Petra Ecclestone’s engagement party last year. I got a bit tired of the celebrity gossip soon enough — it’s all the same anyway. I turned to the beauty hints, but not for long. Surely they really can’t mean to make you feel quite so ugly? You couldn’t avoid the unsettling emphasis on relationships and how It’s Always The Woman’s Fault — “Are You Making Your Man Cheat?” one headline bellowed accusingly. OOer, I thought, casting a worried eye at the shed where my old man had installed himself since tea-time. And, dear Lord, the sex advice! Graphic doesn’t describe it. This is a family newspaper so I won’t go there apart from simply saying it all sounded quite exhausting. In the end, the experiment failed. The delightful lifestyles of the globe- trotting rich and famous — people for whom the recession simply doesn’t exist — didn’t provide an escape from the realities of life. In fact, it made me more cross by the minute. Strangely, I failed to revel in the happiness of the Ecclestone girls’ good fortune or Beyoncé’s fabulous success. Learning the glorious details of their privileged lives did not, I discovered, do a single thing to cheer me up.
Posh’s money, Paris Hilton’s lifestyle or Beyoncé’s ability to jet off to exotic stunningly expensive vacations didn’t lighten the old mood at all at all. I became grumpy. I felt resentful. I experienced more than a twinge of avarice. I wanted a yacht in St Tropez and a luxury villa in St Barts. I wanted a private plane on standby in Van Nuys airport. I wanted a size six figure and a billionaire husband, or failing that, a billionaire Daddy who’ll just hand over the loot, no questions asked. Someone like Bernie Ecclestone would do. I wouldn’t feel at all mean-spirited about elbowing Petra or Tamara out, they’ve had far too much fun already if you ask me.
At a pinch, I mused, I’d accept someone like Aaron Spelling or, failing him, a business mogul , an incredibly successful stockbroker, plastic surgeon or a hedge-fund manager. And, now that I come to think of it, why did I have to be born in damp, insignificant little Ireland at all? How come the stork didn’t just drop me off in a big recession-free, sun- blessed mansion in LA? I cast a dissatisfied glance around my home — a nice home, admittedly, out in the countryside, a home my husband and I have worked hard for.
Now though, it appeared poky and deeply unimpressive compared to, say, Petra Ecclestone’s 123-room, 27-bathroom mansion, complete with five-star spa. Or Britney Spear’s palatial spread. Or the absolute paradise that Celine Dion calls home. And as for Elton John — his actually looks more like a small city than one person’s home. Humph! And what exactly had Petra, for instance, done to earn hers? What exactly had any of them done to earn any of it, apart from, in some cases, write and perform a few old songs? I didn’t know. How would I? Humph!
No wonder the whole world is obsessed with getting the 15 minutes of TV fame that could lead to a Prada, jet-set lifestyle with a big wedding-cake house spread over 10,000 acres. I grouchily shoved the magazines into a pile and stamped back up the stairs to my daughter’s bedroom. By the time I dumped them on her bed, I felt awful.
Even the controversial decision by Enda Kenny’s officials to spend 90,000 euro of taxpayers’ money on 30 armchairs looked like small change compared to this lot. And another thing. Would someone tell me why we allow our teenagers to read stuff that makes them feel poor, inadequate, fat and unsuccessful? No wonder so many are celebrity-obsessed, struggle with eating disorders, lack a real work ethic and are discontented with their lives. I’m taking myself — and hopefully, when this latest phase wanes, my daughter with me — back to the bookshelf. Because, these days, guys, that’s where the real escape is.
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