It’s an odd day that involves you coming to feel sorry for Samantha Cameron. (I understand, of course, that there is an argument that says one should always feel sorry for Sam Cam, but I find it disingenuous. She chose him. Unless we find out that there is a secret tradition of forcible marriage of baronets’ daughters to ham-faced Central Office employees, our sympathies can legitimately be limited.) But there she was, as I opened my newspaper after casting back the duvet and stumbling downstairs on my daily voyage of discovery to find out whether I have remembered to buy anything edible for breakfast in the last week or so, pictured with her ham-husband in the Ryanair departure lounge at Stansted airport as they began their mini-break in a ‘mid-market’ hotel in Spain to celebrate her 40th birthday.
The sense of a battalion of spin doctors ranged just out of shot was even stronger than that which hung round the photo of Dave using an ATM machine once he’d arrived (“It’s cash, sir!” you could practically hear them hissing. “You use it to by milk and things!”) and you could practically see the thought bubble forming above her head. How she must long to say to him, “For Christ’s sake, D-boy, we are multi-millionaire married to multi-millionaire. The public knows this. Surrounding ourselves with blue nylon chairs instead of hopping on a puppyskin-lined private jet as instinct and fiscal ability suggest FOOLS NO-ONE. Oh, and in case you are incapable of reading between the monumentally dissatisfied lines, let me assure you that there will be NO SEX AT ALL until we are on a non-focus-grouped, non-market-tested holiday on a private island made of gold and lined with ruby beaches. Y’get me?”
“As the grim, grey jaws of cuts close around us we need celebrities to help us lead a vicariously glamorous life”
And she’d be right. Because the PR men are getting this all wrong. As the new tax year and age of austerity has officially begun, the assumption is that everyone in the public eye must be seen to be pulling in their horns and supping at the same ditchful of dismality as the rest of us.
Au very much contraire, rich and famous peeps. You are there to swim in various ways against the tide and show us what the power of Money and Stuff can do, and keep us all paddling furiously after whatever quotidian version of the lifestyle we can muster. So it is now, as the grim, grey jaws of cuts and rising tax burdens close around us that we need you to help lead a vicariously glamorous life.
I was surprised at first by the extremity of the mourning of Elizabeth Taylor when she died a few weeks ago – and I speak as one who has at least a dozen heavily thumbed biographies of this endlessly fabulous, decadent woman on my shelves – but now I think it was a symptom of our collective understanding that it marked our entry into the new world of drabness.
We have now lost the last link to the vanishing world of stars who realised that their job was to live the life we never could, to function as escape valves for our growing frustrations and keep the dream of unlimited luxury alive. God may be dead, but money has never been more alive to us, piles of it sweetly glowing, gently throbbing just out of our reach.
What do we have instead? We have Hugh Laurie citing as the zenith of his superstar status the fact that Burger King have issued him with a goldcard entitling him to free meat patties for life. We have Elizabeth Hurley insisting that six raisins constitute a viable snack and conducting hopelessly unstylish flirtations with a peroxided inamorata via Twitter and a pet parrot. We want someone swathed in furs up to her violet eyes (do you know they were double-lashed? Even Taylor’s eyes came genetically blinged up to the max! That’s what I’m talkin’ about!), doused in perfume and gaily crunching on the diamonds she has accidentally added to her Martini instead of ice.
And no, David Cameron, we don’t want to see you playing at being a Normal. It’s an insult to our intelligence and to many other things besides. It’s worse than Tony Blair fake glottalstopping all over the place as if he were permanently choking on a grape pip. Take Sam to Ruby Island. ’Twill be more thrill than horror to us. And anyway, I assure you, we couldn’t hate you more. Buenas vacaciones!
Contact Lucy Mangan at firstname.lastname@example.org and on twitter.com/lucymangan. Share your thoughts on Lucy's column in the comments section below.
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