Tuesday, January 20, 2015

Christmas with the Ecclestones

My Christmas piece from Horsley's Over The Wall magazine

Despite the fact that, generally speaking, we are 'not at home to Mr Murdoch', there appears to be little I can do to prevent Santa from including a copy of Hello Magazine in Mrs Wormwood's Christmas stocking.
I pretend to be disapproving but, if I’m honest, I have to admit there's something strangely comforting about snuggling down after a good Christmas dinner to leaf through the pages of Hello and its parade of wastrels, poseurs, musk-cats and prick-me-dainties all set off against a backdrop of grotesque interior decoration.
And besides - it is good to be reminded that the people in Hello magazine have real human feelings and emotions just like the rest of us. So, for example, it’s lovely to know that Tamara Ecclestone and her partner, having decided to trade the British cold for the warmer temperatures in Dubai, chose to delay their Christmas Day flight till the late afternoon, simply in order to have the whole Christmas morning ‘chilling in their specially bought Christmas jumpers’.
It’s not like life at the top is all a bed of roses either. Articles in Hello magazine regularly include obscure references as to how so-and-so is ‘battling with demons’ - which doesn’t sound very nice. Mrs Wormwood tells me that this is not to be taken literally – as some sort of titanic struggle with the forces of Beelzebub – but is a figure of speech discretely hinting at a form of addiction or compulsive behaviour such as an over-fondness for Maltesers, excessive shopping or killing wild animals - all of which, nevertheless, must be very trying.
Whatever else we might think of it, Hello magazine serves a valuable and admirable purpose in helping raise our eyes above the tawdry and inconsequential trivialities of our own boring lives and encouraging us to aspire to better things. It is comforting to think that with just a little bit more effort and entrepreneurialism we too might enjoy a palatial home set in 900 acres of parkland along with a trophy ‘love of our life’ and an adorable baby. The people who already have these things come all too often from humble beginnings and if they can heave and claw themselves out of the common slime then surely we can too.
This year I found the touching story of Princess Gloria von Thurn and Taxis especially moving. After the sudden and unexpected death of her ancient husband, Gloria found herself threatened with the loss of her 500-room home. Employing what she describes as her ‘simple, motherly, household accounting brain’ and cutting down on the parties, shopping trips, African safaris etc., she set about ‘living within her means’ with exemplary and uncomplaining stoicism. Despite these admirable efforts, she was eventually forced to endure the indignity of auctioning off her jewels at Sotheby’s along with 75,000 bottles of vintage wine, just in in order to make ends meet. She now lives a life of austerity and selfless piety - starting each day with a personal Mass in her private chapel.
I confess, I found the whole piece immensely touching and a welcome reminder that, whatever our own difficulties, there are those who soldier on with a quiet, uncomplaining dignity - an example and inspiration to us all. 

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