Thursday 20 October 2016

Sarah Caden: Murdoch's mad to be the marrying kind

Sarah Caden

Published 17/01/2016 | 02:30

Rupert Murdoch and Jerry Hall, who have announced their engagement. Photo: Gareth Fuller/PA Wire
Rupert Murdoch and Jerry Hall, who have announced their engagement. Photo: Gareth Fuller/PA Wire

A little love is good at any age, writes Sarah Caden, but Rupert Murdoch's marriage plans make no sense.

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In this age of oversharing, the formal, newspaper engagement announcement has become the domain of debutantes and dusty aristocracy. We all know everything about everyone almost before it even happens, so there's not much point in going to all the long-winded trouble of putting it in the paper. Unless you or your offspring have made a match worth shouting about. Which you could say is the case with Rupert Murdoch and Jerry Hall - neither of them either a deb or a toff - who last week took to the London Times to announce their betrothal.

It was a short and succinct announcement, with each listing off their own progeny. His six from his previous three marriages, and her three from her relationship with Mick Jagger.

It was heart-warming to see the kids mentioned in the glad tidings, until you were reminded that Prudence, Murdoch's eldest, is 58. To Jerry Hall's 59.

The age thing. There's no denying it's an issue in this particular love match.

Rupert Murdoch is 84. I can't think of one good reason why any person of 84 would want to get married. Other than to prove something. But to whom?

Murdoch has more money than he'll ever know what to do with, so it's not for financial security. He has plenty of kids and Jerry will not be giving him any more. He's been around the block three times in the marriage game and it hasn't worked out with any of them.

And it's hardly for the sex. We all accept that sexual activity lasts longer than anyone under 30 cares to contemplate - until they get older and the goalposts move - but 84?

So, that leaves love and companionship and fun and a sense of belonging. But you don't need marriage to secure any of those for you.

As Jerry Hall herself said, only last August and pre-Murdoch: "Getting married again is a nice idea. Actually, I don't think you'd need to get married: it's the company that would be nice."

It must have been just before she met Murdoch that Hall said this in an interview - or maybe it was early days, before she realised this was for legal keeps. The couple are reported to have been introduced by Murdoch's sister and niece in Australia late last summer.

They were then photographed "enjoying each other's company" at the Rugby World Cup final in London in October. That day at Twickenham, Hall wore the unflattering yellow and green Australia colours as proudly as if they were couture and Murdoch wore a grin like the cat who got the cream.

Because Hall is a catch, even for a master of the universe. She's gorgeous and elegant and exciting, and the Jagger history gives her a bit of rock 'n' roll raciness that Murdoch has never had, even when he wasn't in his mid-80s.

And, let's face it, Murdoch needs an ego boost. Sure he has money and status, but the whispers have hung around him since the end of his marriage to Wendi Deng in 2013.

In case you have, quite forgivably, erased it from your memory, the Murdoch-Deng marriage came to an end as apparently spurious rumours began of a relationship between her and Tony Blair.

The Murdochs were friends with Blair and his wife Cherie, and went on holiday together, which may well have given Deng opportunity to assess the former UK PM's body, and in particular his nice "butt", which she wrote about in her diary and which, strangely, went public.

After their divorce, Murdoch talked about reading his wife's diary and his horror at discovering her feelings for Blair, which she compared to a "crush".

He also expressed regret that their split has been so public.

It must have hurt Murdoch, who is undeniably a man of some ego. Blair his friend and is also godfather to one of Murdoch's daughters with Deng.

Blair is also considerably younger than Murdoch, and Deng's diary entries must have spoken to him of regard for Blair's relative virility compared with her husband.

For Murdoch was in his 80s by that stage, which is a very different stage of life to when he met Deng in his late 60s.

Following on that fiasco, confirmation of his eligibility via a relationship with Hall is just what the ego-doctor ordered.

A man still wants to feel wanted at 84; that's understandable. But to get married again, what's that proving to anyone?

Unlike Murdoch, however, Jerry Hall has rather more to prove in the marrying stakes.

In her youth, Jerry went for the rock 'n' roll brand of bad boys, with Jagger both her dream lover and her downfall. She loved him dearly and he is father to her four kids, but he let her down in the end by denying the validity of their Bali beach wedding in the name of screwing her out of her share of his fortune.

If Murdoch's marriage plans speak of the need for a desirability ego boost, then Jerry's a woman for whom a valid marriage, even with a pre-nup, will prove a welcome poultice on her pride. And if marriage makes them both feel more wanted, then it's churlish to deny them that. At any age.

It could also be the case that they are both, at heart, old-fashioned types who believe that the only way to seal a case of true love is to make it legal. Neither come across as being as starry-eyed as that, though.

Still, there's no denying that this has been a whirlwind romance. Begun late last summer, we are only into the new year and they're very publicly announcing that this is for keeps. That's either mad love, or canny strategy.

Whirlwind romances, in general, don't have a great record for leading to steady, enduring marriages.

Whirlwinds are dangerous things, though, and you wouldn't send anybody out in one at 84.

Sunday Independent

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