Comment: Forgive me if I don't feel sorry for Amal Clooney and her knackered husband George
The relentless media cluster which human rights lawyer Amal Clooney found herself thrust into when she married George Clooney revved up this weekend during their trip to Lake Como.
Or Lake Coma as we might rename it, due to gorgeous George, 56, a recent father of twins, being snapped by the world’s paparazzi wearing the drawn, wind-battered look of a man making his first tentative steps after an intensive care sedation.
The starry couple mini-breaked without their new twins – possibly with the sole aim of infuriating Mumsnet forums and also possibly to relax and recharge their batteries. Amal, it has been noted by global showbiz writers, looked “radiant” and, crucially, eight weeks after childbirth, “slimline”. George, on the other hand, looked patently in need of some of those fancy caffeine pods we see him flogging in ad breaks.
George Clooney, it should be noted, has become a dad for the first time in his late fifties. This is, to my mind, exactly as late as many hot, solvent, professionally stimulated bachelors would leave off having children, if permitted, acquiescing only when all their battles are won and they find a smoking hot, 20-years-younger wife.
This has always been a win/win situation for men. By 50-plus, men have had time to do their playing and growing and mistake-making, finance accruing and property-buying. Then they can find a thirtysomething who, from her side, needs to fire out some kids sharpish, and – vitally for him – is still perky enough to look after them.
So, in 2017, there’s bittersweet irony that George Clooney has now found himself the one scrutinised for not “bouncing back” straight after the birth. Eye-bags, George? Really? Isn’t there a cream for that? Does your hotel not do oxygen facials? Can’t you jog with the Bugaboo, George, and improve your circulation? Oh, gosh, I know it’s tempting, George, to sleep when the babies sleeps, but this is optimum time to be doing squats, curls and burpees.
Male and female equality, I muse often, has led not to women gaining freedoms, but to men taking on many of our tedious burdens: bodily perfection, depilation, an aversion to ageing, the tendency to procreate and look like the walking wounded for at least 14 months afterwards. Or in many cases never recovering.
So, although many men will quite rightfully not give a flying fig about the Clooneys’ Italian holiday, it should be noted that many other fathers-to-be will eye these George Clooney pictures and be mentally planning out post-baby protein shakes, shredding sessions and “boys’ time” golfing mini-breaks to regain that pre-fatherhood sense of chutzpah.
Of course, there is a side argument here that Amal Clooney being praised for looking “radiant” and “slim” eight weeks after giving birth to twins is just as important and pernicious to modern discussions about gender. However, forgive me – in fact, pop me on the naughty step – for not feeling too much feminist sympathy for Amal.
Of all the Millie Tant hills that I’m willing to die on, it will not be trying to save the reputation of a woman lucky enough to have become an internationally recognised human rights star while at the same time turning the head of one of the most eligible bachelors in history. Of all the globally known, most-likely-to-cause-a-media-meltdown-wherever-he-treads slices of Hollywood royalty that Amal Alamuddin could have fallen in love with, George Clooney was possibly the most eligible – so the media circus surrounding their relationship can hardly have come as surprise.
And yes, the heart wants what it wants, yadda yadda, but the heart also knows what the heart absolutely doesn’t bloody want, and the hyper-intelligent Amal must have known from the millisecond she began dating George Clooney that his world was a carousel of endless attention and photographers hiding in bushes, and came with no “off” switch.
The majority of Oxford-educated, ultra-high-achieving international law specialists would have endured 11 days of never again being able to wear a frumpy Hobbs skirt, sport a pre-menstrual pimple breakout or take her case files down Pizza Express without international scrutiny before screaming: “Enough!”
Amal Alamuddin did not. She accepted this situation and ran with it, knowing all the risks. If Amal Clooney’s gorgeous appearance and her post-baby “radiance” isn’t being taken as seriously as her legal work, then perhaps we should all be more honest about how much work from her glam squad of stylists, beauticians, hair and make-up artists no doubt goes into her A-list look.
The fittings, the waxings, the dieting, the sweating in the gym, the never wearing any Gucci Spring/Summer ’17 item twice, the ceaseless painting-the-Forth-Road-Bridge style regime –at least some of this must exist in the background, as it does for most in the same position as her. If Amal Clooney wants the world to focus solely and without a moment’s deviation on her sterling and remarkable work with the Yazidi women, she’ll have to start showing up in court looking like Peppermint Patty from Peanuts.
Of course everyone is going to line up to tell Amal Clooney that she looks radiant and thin this weekend. In my opinion, if she wanted to avoid that, she shouldn’t have taken her first post-baby minibreak in peak season Lake Como, and she certainly shouldn’t have packed her suitcase with what looked to be a hundred or so £10,000-a -throw frocks which would make any fashion journalist slather.
I’m not criticising the players, but I’ve plenty to say on the game. And – whether unwillingly or not – the photogenic Clooneys are caught up in that game. Little sympathy from me.
Independent News Service