Review: The World According To Joan by Joan Collins
Few aspects of modern-day life escape a tongue lashing, says Donal Lynch as the actress puts the world to rights
It's been nigh on a year since England was rocked by riots and in that time a nation has searched its soul for answers as to where it has gone wrong.
Well, cancel those official inquiries, it must search no more because Joan Collins has now issued her verdict: The World According To Joan. In it she articulates the concerns of the "silent majority" who, like Joan realise that rudeness by fat people ("orca-sized oafs from the Planet Girth") and yobs invading one's first-class carriage are the thin end of a wedge that lead to looting in Brixton.
It's Paradise Lost meets Charm School with snatches of self-serving autobiography and overtones of vintage Thatcher -- just the tonic Blighty's been waiting for!
In fairness, say what you will about Joanie, but while most post-riot commentators have confined their analysis to the problem with Other People's Children, the star of The Stud and The Bitch believes that criticism of yob culture begins at home.
Time does not age her -- more of that later -- but the shrieking of her grandchildren at her summer retreat in St Tropez sounds like it might. The children's parents -- Joan's elder daughter Tara Newley, her son Sacha Newley and his wife Angela -- seem to Joan to traipse around after their progeny "in helpless supplication".
"As a youngster I would never have dreamed of questioning my parents' authority, but today's children seem to take their parents' orders as an opener to debate," Joan sighs. "Pleas and appeals turn into manoeuvring and cajoling worthy of a United Nations summit, until out-and-out crying or faces of utter misery convince their buckling parents to give in to desperate demands for new toys or outings. As I watch my own son, daughter and daughter-in-law crumble in the face of this childish opposition, I wonder how so much could have changed in so little time."
Take that modern parents! But as much as Joan would like to position herself as a paragon of old-style values, in their day her five marriages would surely have provoked some tutting from the Daily Mail (which serialised the book). But that was different, she says, she got married all those times not because she wanted to appear like the mentally subnormal fame junkies on Jeremy Kyle's "squawk show", but because she's a "romantic".
Her next leap of logic seems even hazier: "I foolishly married my first husband, Maxwell Reed, when I was 18 -- what a mistake! He was 14 years my senior and 10 inches taller than me. My idiotic reasons for marrying him were not only that he had been my favourite film star when I was at school but also that he'd taken my virginity. 'Taken' being the operative word -- Maxwell raped me on our first date and I felt so guilty that I agreed to marry him some months later."
Reed also wore mascara and dyed his hair. Poor Joan "was actually commanded to lean over the sink and apply the black goop to his hair and eyebrows".
Not that she doesn't have time for slap -- she never leaves the house without it and advises you to do the same -- unless "you want to go the grave looking like Dracula's grandma" (erm ... with red lips, pale skin and dark eyes, perhaps Joan?) She goes on: "It really distresses me to see so many Botoxed and artificially filled faces. Many of these women, quite a few of them actresses, look so strange with their pillow lips, puffed-up cheeks and fake cheekbones, which make their eyes look like tiny pits in a marshmallow cloud."
The real secret to looking young is to get laid a lot, the 78-year-old adds, and thanks heavens once more for her current husband, Percy, who is three decades younger than her.
She seethes about people on mobile phones when they're in company and says she's had it with young women assuming that kissing on the cheek is an acceptable greeting in England (she cites Lily Allen, whom she swerved to avoid, as an example). She says London is not safe. "My daughters can't even walk down the street without the possibility of something unpleasant happening". (One of her daughter's £7,000 Cartier watch was snatched in Notting Hill in 2001.)
The positive aspects of modern Britain are few and far between, but one caught her eye. "It was gratifying a few years ago to see the respect that Britain gave to the Queen Mother at her funeral. We need leaders who, like the Queen Mother, advocate consistent benevolence and we need to give them a platform."
Leaders such as Joan Collins perhaps? Boy George says she should have been prime minister but on that subject she is, for once, uncharacteristically coy.
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