THERE are some events to which press photographers should not be invited. Included in this list is the marriage of elderly men to younger women. This vital taboo was broken twice in the past fortnight: before Christmas, Ronnie Wood got hitched to a woman 30 years his junior, and the midwife was just slapping January on its bottom when we saw pictures of Hugh Hefner marrying a woman 60 years younger than him. The sum of the differences was even greater than Hefner's Methuselahn age.
Now, as no spring chicken myself, I'm entitled to have an opinion on these matters: and it runs as follows. Consenting adults should be allowed to do whatever they like, in private. That's the key word here – private. And I've had it up to here with wedding pictures of gruesome old men, their dyed hair stark-dark against the vampire-hue of their pale withered faces, their teeth stanchioned into their jawbones with barbed wire, their rheumy old eyes outlined with deathbed kohl, their faces nipped, tucked and tautened and stitched up like baseballs, all leering unseeingly into the photographers' cameras. Morticians should be obliged by law to confine their art to the denizens of coffins; they should absolutely be forbidden from shaping facsimiles of life into the soft grey putty of the faces of these palsied ancients, while beside the grooming-chair, rock-star secretaries go through the wedding-night checklist: Viagra, incontinence pads, wet-wipes, blood-pressure monitor and defibrillator, all to be administered by a topless nurse called Kimberley, who – we may be sure – will one day turn out to be Celeb's Wife Number Umpteen.
Of course, what these couples share in private is their own business. But let it stay that way, 100pc. I do not have the right to know, and more to the point, the interest in, a single thing about these withered he-celebrities; though at least it can be said of Ronnie Wood that he provides a stark reminder of what Mother Teresa might have looked like if she had really let her face go.
There but for the grace of Helena Rubinstein. . .
Rather curiously, Wood sold the wedding pictures to 'Hello'. What does the word "sold" actually mean here? Is it to the usual meaning what "election" is in North Korea? That is to say, was the transaction actually the opposite of what it usually is? Either way, the photographs appeared in our newspapers: and there was Paul McCartney, hair a sculpted monotone mop of singular chestnut-paste, his eyebrows neatly shaved into thin twin-crescents. Beside him was the blushing groom, who apparently told the guests: "I can't think of another girl who is more suited to me." That's quite a declaration to make on your wedding day: not that there ISN'T a more suitable girl, but that he couldn't "think" of one. Well, that's age for you, Ronnie. You might have been saying much the same of Kimberly a couple of hours later, as you lay post-coitally croaking on the bedroom floor.
And next in the pic was Rod Stewart, the self-styled Scot with two accents: one London, for talking, the other, phoney American, for rasping alongside a musical accompaniment. I recently had the misfortune of hearing him sing 'Auld Lang Syne' in an American accent: which is rather like hearing Pavarotti singing 'Nessun Dorma' in Australian. That said, the last of the Stuarts doesn't look bad, considering he's Bonnie Prince Charlie's younger brother. Mick Jagger, on the other hand, resembles Tutankhamun's granddad, the one who got done for camel-shagging, and ended up with his head on a stake. A few years grinning into the Sinai sun can do things to a chap's complexion, you know. Eventually, the Ancient Egyptians grew tired of that weathered old skull grimacing across the dunes, so they sold it on Ebay to the Rolling Stones' front-man: the rest is history.
Now, I must confess to a certain prejudice here (which I have so far hidden rather well, I think); I seriously dislike the travelling mortuary known as the Rolling Stones. Quite simply, I find their music embarrassing and absurd. It's no coincidence that their cringe-making copy of rhythm and blues has absolutely no African-American followers. It's their music, after all. Hearing these decrepit limeys perform a grotesque caricature of an art-form that is so intrinsically rooted in the Deep South must be utterly insufferable: the equivalent for us, say, of seeing 'Riverdance', as performed by a bunch of tone-deaf Sumo wrestlers attired in scuba-gear.
But that's a purely personal aside. The key point to this column – and I really cannot emphasise this enough – is that there should be a point in the nuptial career of a millionaire serial-groom that he either bans wedding photographers, or makes the burka obligatory for the groom and his male guests. Sorry, correction: not "either". Both.