Mick, Jerry, Christina and Ted


THERE IS a lot of nonsense being talked about the alleged rift between Mick Jagger and his wife Jerry Hall.

Outrage has been expressed by Ms Hall's various self appointed publicity agents, spin doctors, advisers and media analysts: most of it centres not on the fact that Mr Jagger currently has 1,879 girlfriends (give or take), but that many of them are "only half his age, or less."

Let us (stand back and take a long hard) look at the facts. It is surely time some mathematical precision was applied.

Mr Jagger is 53. Ms Hall is 40. Why is it perfectly acceptable for Mr Jagger to be 32.5 per cent older than his wife, but unacceptable for him to be 100 per cent older than his girlfriends? Who decides on percentage propriety in this matter?

Five years ago, when Ms Hall was 35, and Mr Jagger 48, their age gap in percentage terms was obviously wider 37.1 per cent. Ten years ago, the gap was wider still 43.3 per cent.

I have it on good authority that Ms Hall first took up with her current husband when she was only 20. Mr Jagger was then 33. He was therefore 65 per cent older than her. Why no objection from the Hall camp at that time?

Of course the percentage age difference will diminish as both parties grow older. Five years from now, it will be a mere 29 per cent, in 10 years' time it will be down to 26 per cent. If Mr Jagger reaches his century, and his wife survives to 87, the gap will be less than 15 per cent. No doubt there will still be tedious ageist objections when he is dating 50 year old women.

Incidentally, one of Mr Jagger's recent girlfriends (I have to keep up with all areas of popular culture) is Ms Jana Rajlich. She is 28, and therefore not "only half Jagger's age" as has been alleged. She is 52.83 per cent of his age. Let us try to get these things straight.

Now to more serious matters. I read that upset has been caused in France by the publication of a book called Don't You Love Life?, an account by a Swedish journalist of her 14 year "loving friendship" with the late Francois Mitterrand.

The upset has been caused to two different parties for quite different reasons. The international gossip community is disappointed because the book's author, the Swedish journalist Christina Forsne, delicately avoids confirming the long standing rumours that she was the late French president's mistress or that he fathered her eight year old son.

Meanwhile keepers of the Mitterrand flame are outraged that the book should have been published at all.

I too am upset. Having long admired France's cultural/intellectual life, I am saddened to find that the country now publicly distinguishes between an official mistress and an unofficial mistress. Ms Forsne apparently fulfilled the latter role, and Ms Anne Pingeot (mother of Mitterrand's daughter Mazarine) the former.

Furthermore, Ms Forsne has complicated the originally transparent role of mistress by emphasising her political power in the relationship rather than any romantic influence. She claims for example to have completely changed Mitterrand's formerly negative attitude to the PLO and the Palestinians.

I realise there are historical precedents here, but it is very disappointing, and boring, to think that an unofficial mistress's chief role should be in the political arena. One expects more from France. As a romantic gesture Ms Forsne does claim to have bought a ball for Mitterrand's every time she left him. I have no idea how this could be perceived as romantic. Perhaps it has some strange Swedish implications. I have to conclude that I no longer understand France, and have never understood Sweden.

Finally, I was interested in the news that Father Ted has made the front page of the Washington Post. But it is not true, as the reporter says, that Father Jack sits in a chair all day, bottle at his side, shouting "Drink, girls, arse, and feck."

He does get out occasionally. And he shouts the words "Drink! Girls! Arse! Feck!", either singly or in turn, but rarely all together. The exclamation marks are never absent. Attentive viewers also know that while there is usually an empty bottle at Father Jack's side, full whiskey bottles are used to lure the priest from his chair for his daily wheelchair trip, when he travels either manually (with one of his colleagues doing the pushing) or in automatic mode, when the bottle is hung on a gantry attached to the chair, donkey and carrot style, and he propels himself thirstily forwards.

I also read in the E&L Staffroom column that the contributing teacher's eight year olds, all Father Ted fans, "now have three new words to sling together in a crazy, frenetic game." But we are not informed which word of the four they leave out, or why.

It is little wonder I sleep fitfully these nights.