Wednesday 13 December 2017

People are talking: Charlene O'Monaco joins the club

Princess Charlene. Pic: Julien Behal/PA Wire
Princess Charlene. Pic: Julien Behal/PA Wire
The Beckhams
SACRE BLEU: ‘I turn my back on those other men, give me an Irishman any day’

What is it about Ireland's obsessive need to claim international figures as one of their own? Latest to join the Hibernian club is Charlene, wife of Prince Albert 11 of Monaco. The pregnant princess (twins, according to rumours) was presented with a certificate of Irish Heritage at the Prince's Palace in Monte Carlo by His Excellency Rory Montgomery, Irish Ambassador to France, on Tuesday.

Appara, Mrs Grimaldi has Gaelic links. The South African Olympic swimmer, to use Who Do You Think You Are-speak, descends on her paternal line from that famous family, the Fagans of Feltrim. Her Serene Highness's great, great, great, great grandfather, Christopher Sullivan Fagan, was born in Cork in 1781. The former Ms Wittenstock has had some journey - from Feltrim to the Cote D'Azur by way of Zimbabwe.

There must have been sighs of relief all round in the Monegasaque Royal household that they're going up in the world. After all, Charlene's mother-in-law, the legendary Grace Kelly came from much humbler roots: her grandfather was a blocklayer from Mayo. According to genealogists, the Fagans were a wealthy and prominent merchant family who were involved in seminal Irish events, including the establishment of Trinity College, and her (insert the word great here nine times) grandad sold the manor of Phoenix to the Duke of Ormond - result: today's Phoenix Park.

So Charlene joins a stellar crew - among them JFK, Barack Obama and Tom O'Cruise. Who'll be next?

Madeleine Keane

50 Shades of ginger spice

Exciting news in the publishing industry, in more ways than one. Lindsay Lohan is rumoured to be reinventing herself as a sex memoirist. In a plot twist that could have been lifted directly from the brain of Jackie Collins, the troubled Hollywood wild-child is set to turn her bad behaviour into big bucks. She's said to have bagged a deal of $1m to write a racy autobiography.

Being more of an expert in field research than actual writing however, Lohan has apparently determined to find herself an ace collaborator to help her launch her new career. Reports have started to emerge that she's considering a collaboration with Fifty Shades of Grey writer E.L. James, known as an, erm, old hand, in the area of literary lady porn. But whether these reports can be verified or are simply the sweaty fantasies of gossip writers, a collective wet dream so powerful it's made its way into international news, is yet to be confirmed.

A few beans have already been spilled with regard to Lohan's nocturnal life. Her first attempt as a diarist came in the form of the infamous "sex list" - a quick tally of all 36 celebs she claims to have boned which made its way onto the internet earlier this year. It was woefully lacking in detail, but perhaps that was the point - it's a brilliant teaser for a full-length version.

Julia Molony

No keeping up with the Beckhams

And to think that some people thought the Beckhams would go quietly into that good night once David hung up his boots last year. No chance.

Not when there are top, top prizes to be played for such as the world's most stylish family, an award in which, you've guessed it, they romped to victory last week, leaving the second-placed Kardashians looking like Beverly Hillbillies. It was as if Ellie May had shot to fame on the back of a sex tape and then married a showy rapper who may or may not believe he has divine powers.

No, the Beckhams are still at the top of their game and this game involves looking your best whether you're four or 40.

Generally, awards of the ilk of 'most stylish', 'best dressed' or 'mum/dad of the year' are divvied out on the basis of who is available, who has just agreed to do an interview with the organisation which happens to be giving out the award, or what better clients the agent of the award winner has and might they be available to said organisation if they throw a bone to this other clown.

But that's certainly not the case with the most stylish award, which can claim to be the Champions League of family-based sartorial assessment. The top 10 basically reads like a who's who of every other celebrity list out there. But there was only one winner, and David, Victoria, Brooklyn, Romeo, Cruz and Harper gained twice as many votes as the third-placed Beyonce-Jay Z and sprog, while William, Kate and everyone's favourite potentate-in-waiting, George, came in a distant fourth, proving that blue blood can get you so far, but a pot full of cash and a store card for Baby Gap goes even further.

Evan Fanning

Let Sophie play rugby

Will the women's rugby team's exploits lead to half the country taking up the sport? You can bet your snobby Irish ass it will. We expected a surge in female boxers after Katie Taylor's heroics at the Olympics. It never happened. Why? It's a bit delicate, but let's just say boxing isn't exactly the sport of solicitors and doctors. That would be rugby.

It has obvious appeal for your average social-climbing, middle-class parents (as if there is any other kind.) They loved Katie Taylor. But did they really want their little Sophies sparring with some poor girl who has never been to Tuscany? That was never going to happen. Women's rugby ticks other boxes beyond pure snob value. It's more appropriate than hockey. That's far too polite for the modern Irish mind-set. Rugby is just the thing if you're feeling a bit angry. And if there's one thing Irish people are feeling these days, it's a bit angry. The men's game already has massive bandwagon appeal - just look at all the people who suddenly realised they had been Ulster, Munster and Leinster fans all their lives.

The women's exploits could well be the tipping point for rugby in Ireland. Unless of course the soccer team starts winning and we'll be back on that bandwagon. Say what you will about Irish sports fans - but we're definitely not fixed in our ways.

Pat Fitzpatrick

Brent and Nerd Nation

Sascha Baron Cohen memorably brought Borat and Bruno to the big screen. He also did the same with Ali G, although the less said about that the better. What was so great about Borat and Bruno is that they revealed as much about what people are like than what Borat and Bruno were like, like that religious extremists don't take kindly to gay Austrian men in hot pants.

Now it's David Brent and Ricky Gervais's turn to do the same, sort of. The former Wernham Hogg manager and writer of such classic songs as 'Spaceman Come Down' and 'Freelove Freeway', will make his big screen debut next year in Life on the Road, which is sure to be more cringe worthy than a duet rendition of Wonderwall by Angela Merkel and Enda Kenny.

But what makes Brent so great is not that he reveals so much about what people in general are like, but rather what the great English people are like in specific. When we think of the English we often think of them as having bad teeth and eating terrible English food (even when they're on holiday). We forget that they're a nation of David Brents.

The English spot trains, watch birds, re-enact medieval battles, dress in their grandparents' clothes and get overly excited about a baby named George, and never once do they turn red about it, never once do they betray a hint of embarrassment. They even think that warm swill they call beer is good (it's not, it's rank). They're a nation of nerds, dorks, odd-balls, weirdos and goobers, and yet they don't even know it. It's why I love them, and David Brent too.

Christopher Jackson

The force be with Skelligs

It's been a long week so let's begin with a not very difficult question: Which would we rather - to be in Unesco's good books or to be in Star Wars? This is the "dilemma" being faced in Kerry where George Lucas's team are in the process of filming the next instalment of the sci-fi franchise on Skellig Michael. It's reckoned by many observers that the combination of lasers, spaceships and cool old things will cause a stampede of American tourists to the Kingdom. Which in turn might cause a problem for the area because of its World Heritage Site status. Some art and archaeology experts are concerned about it.

They're right of course. The LAST thing we want after allowing a snail to threaten to impede Donald Trump's progress in Clare and a group of irate residents (some fictitious, some real) to call a halt to five Garth Brooks shows is more Yanks trying to spend their money here. They may think they're doing us a favour by bringing some razzmatazz to our windswept backwater but we could surprise them by deciding that a seagull might be offended by their presence. You never tell with us, although it would seem from the general enthusiasm in Kerry for the film that they may have more sense than the rest of the country.

Donal Lynch

All hail our holiday heroes

Irish men do not translate well to the beach. This has been a simple fact forever - like Frenchmen smoking Gauloises and shouting 'sacre bleu!', or Germans putting towels over the sun loungers.

I remember once watching an Italian man hide behind a beach bag, shoulders shaking with mirth, as a group of middle-aged Irish men - in all their pallid, fleshy glory, stomachs held aloft like trays of suet pudding - made their way down to the water, sandals buckled firmly onto feet that had never seen daylight except through a pair of navy woollen socks. Beside him, his lithe, mahogany girlfriend looked simply bemused, as if thinking a version of Miranda's line in The Tempest 'O strange new world that has such people in't.'

That was us for ages, Our Thing, just as much as great writing, great wit, and knowing all decades of the rosary, even the 'Hail Holy Queen' bit. But not anymore. Now, our men are 'the hottest nationality on holidays.' A survey by HostelBookers says so.

A whopping 78% of women picked Irish men ahead of Australians, British, French, Italians. This is massive, like being told that actually, we have a natural sense of rhythm, and makes me wonder whether the surveyors were using photos of Gerard Depardieu in Welcome To New York as the European standard.

That, or could it have something to do with the fact that 'holiday' no longer means a week or two of lying on a beach reading blockbusters, followed by dinner in a restaurant with checked tablecloths and candles in bottles, but instead a fortnight-long binge featuring alcopops, shots, sexual degradation and vomiting on street corners while wearing a string bikini? If that's your game, you definitely want the Irish.

Emily Hourican

Putting the Rabbitte's foot in

Pat Rabbitte has started carrying on like a Scooby Doo baddy, giving out about those pesky kids.The former Minister has been unceremoniously dumped from Government by Joan Burton, but he's not going gently into that good night!

Rabbitte may have been our Communications Minister until recently, but his recent tantrums are considerably more memorable than anything he communicated as a Cabinet member.

The first target for our resident grumpy aul fella is to rail against the crop of newbies who've been given plush ministerial gigs by Joan. Pat has 'great difficulty' with people who were elected for the first time in 2011 getting into Government.

Alex White, Alan Kelly and Ged Nash are among those who are making our most vociferous socialist see red. Of course most of these guys are middle-aged at best so you've some idea of Pat's disconnect with reality.

Perhaps the lack of a chauffeur-driven car and the trappings of ministerial office are contributing to Pat's gears being grinded right now.

We're going to continue discovering that hell hath no fury like a Rabbitte scorned!

Will Hanafin

Sunday Independent

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