Cat fight! Angelina Jolie has gone head to head with Gwyneth Paltrow; which
would be pretty much every man’s brunette-on-blonde fantasy, were it not for
the fact that one is so skeletal and the other so skinny that there’s a
genuine risk their A-list bones might splinter into a million tiny shards on
Jolie has pointedly observed that über‑wealthy women making movies ought not
to complain about their work-life balance; in marked contrast to Princessy
Paltrow, who has been bleating on about her lot.
The 41-year-old mother of Apple, aged nine, and seven-year-old Moses says she
is caught between a (very La La Land) rock and a hard place.
The rock, in this case, is appearing in Hollywood blockbusters (although not
so many these days, eh Gwynnie?) and sleeping in a luxury Winnebago for,
like, days at a time. The hard place is staying at home with the kids and
tending the macrobiotic veg patch.
“I think it’s different when you have an office job, because it’s routine and,
you know, you can do all the stuff in the morning and then you come home in
the evening,” Paltrow observed.
“When you’re shooting a movie, they’re like, ‘We need you to go to Wisconsin
for two weeks,’ and then you work 14 hours a day and that part of it is
difficult. I think to have a regular job and be a mom is not as… of course,
there are challenges, but it’s not like being on set.”
It sure isn’t, lady. I wonder if all those working mothers employed as
cleaners and cooks on set and juggling their child care for an infinitesimal
fraction of her fee would agree that Paltrow suffers unduly for her art?
Certainly, her pity party cuts no ice with Jolie, 38, who has six children, a
UN Special Envoyship, a hot fiancé, a new movie to promote, and political
“I feel that women in my position, when we have all at our disposal to help
us, shouldn’t complain,” she said. “I’m not a single mom with two jobs
trying to get by every day. I have much more support than most people, most
women in this world. And I have the financial means to have a home and
health care and food.
“Consider all the people who struggle and don’t have the financial means,
don’t have the support, and many people are single, raising children. That’s
Here, I have another hunch, namely that by “single people” she didn’t mean
Paltrow, who not so long ago “consciously uncoupled” from Chris Martin, her
Coldplay husband. Maybe she’s finding it hard to cope and has gone slightly
more bonkers than usual and, if so, I have every sympathy.
The end of any marriage is a sad event, and where there are children involved,
a tragedy. But her ill-advised utterances, which are presumably an attempt
to portray herself as an Everywoman who understands the pressures on her
peers, are infuriating.
Do we think: “Hey, Gwyneth, we feel your pain?” No, we mutter: “Jeez, Gwyneth,
you are a pain.”
All working mothers, in fact all mothers, feel guilt. It comes with the
territory. Nobody is immune, not even the sainted, sensible Kirsty Wark,
whose daughter has disclosed that the Newsnight presenter felt so bad about
missing family events in Scotland that she once took a sleeper train to
Edinburgh in order to deliver a homemade birthday cake.
I feel guilty because at the end of a working day I’d rather be drinking wine
than painting faces on wooden spoons (when I do both simultaneously, the
results aren’t great).
Guilt is an unhappy yet potent side‑effect of the boundless love we feel for
our children. Sometimes it is entirely justified; usually it’s not.
Most of us know perfectly well which variety we are feeling, and are only
flagging it up because we need affirmation that there’s no real need to feel
bad. Celebrities might not have much to complain about, comparatively
speaking, but all mothers need to vent or there’s a danger we might implode.
So Gwyneth, next time you’re feeling hard done by, don’t tell the world, just
pick up the phone and tell another high-net-worth megastar. Although,
on reflection, maybe not Angelina.
Pity the poor barrister. . .
Here’s an old one, although not necessarily a good one: how many lawyers does
it take to stop a moving bus? Never enough.
Lawyers tend to enter our lives at times of stress: divorce, death, crime.
Maybe that’s why there’s such a lack of support for their objections to a 30
per cent cut in Legal Aid fees.
But barristers aren’t all jammy sods, pocketing £100,000 a throw. A barrister
friend of mine is tearing her hair out at the surreal Legal Aid fee
structure in county courts: regardless of experience, whether 20 years or
six months, a barrister used to be paid £135 an hour.
Now she is expected to meekly accept £63 (a 50.3 per cent cut) before chamber
fees, so that’s about £44 an hour before tax.
Weirder still is the random valuation of expert witnesses, which reads like
something Douglas Adams might have dreamt up in The Hitchhiker’s Guide to
Thus an A&E consultant gets paid £100.80 an hour to appear, as does a
meteorologist, but a partner in an accountancy firm receives £7.20 more, at
£108. A dentist is deemed worthy of £93.60, whereas a midwife gets only get
£72, less even than a housing surveyor, whose time is valued at £85 an hour.
A voice-recognition expert rings up £93.60 an hour, which must surely warm the
cockles of the GP, who gets £79.20.
Some days, my friend tells me, she herself earns £200 for a day in court,
which, ironically, is less than a bus driver.
I’ll have what she’s having and the truth be damned
Elle Macpherson: high priestess at the altar of faintly preposterous
Now, ladies, you are a perspicacious, sophisticated, free-thinking bunch.
Course you are, or you wouldn’t be reading this Delphic column as you sit in
your local salon waiting to have your nails vajazzled. And speaking of
beauty products, here’s the £98 question: would you, no‑nonsense Telegraph
Woman, spend almost 100 quid on a potion of herbs, vitamins and liquified
plant material just because it came in a designer pot and was being flogged
by Elle Macpherson as the Super Elixir?
Yes, me too! Absolutely. Even though it sounds a bit icky? And we might be
better off just eating fewer biscuits and getting more sleep?
Hang on a moment while I quickly reassess my feminist credentials, self-esteem
issues and entire Weltanschauung. And yup, it’s still a big fat “Yes” from
We don’t need po‑faced dietitians suggesting we’d be better off spending the
cash on vegetables. Or husbands to sneer at what might appear to be lunatic
gullibility. If we choose to drink a powder comprising maitake mushrooms and
Chinese herbs instead of chips (or even poured over them) it’s a win-win
The thing is, we love the pseudo-nutraceutical packaging. We adore Elle Macp.
We worship, knowingly, at the altar of faintly preposterous luxury.
And it’s a Well Known Clinical Fact that for women with a surprisingly wide
range of conditions, a little bit of luxury really does pep us up.
The short road to perdition
They paved paradise, put up a parking lot. Don’t it always seem to go, that
you don’t know what you’ve got ’til it’s gone…
While even ardent admirers would baulk at describing Luton as “paradise”, it
is here that three invisible lodestones of British life are apparently being
corroded: freedom, equality and, above all, tolerance.
On visiting Olive Tree Primary, a private Muslim school, Ofsted inspectors,
who are normally given to such euphemisms as “challenging behaviour”
(foul-mouthed tykes) and “satisfactory” (not sure anyone cares enough
to do any better), concluded that children were being inculcated with
beliefs “abhorrent to British society”.
A snap inspection – the quickest way to get a genuine picture of any
organisation – revealed, inter alia, library books on strict Sharia law,
including segregation in public places, compulsory wearing of the niqab and
the stoning of women.
Mind you, parts of the Old Testament are grislier than a cage fight and copies
of Lolita are to be found in most secondary school libraries, so judging by
books alone is a bit suspect.
But if, as inspectors claim, the 60-pupil school is “inadequate” (aka a
potential hotbed of fundamentalism) and its children not being prepared for
life in multi-faith, modern Britain, then it should be taken into local
authority control. Immediately.
Tolerance should never be extended to embrace intolerance, or it paves the way
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