I was reading with a sour kind of interest the now grimy old news that billionaire media mogul Rupert Murdoch and tall Texan person Jerry Hall are set to divorce after six years of wedded blip. (Sorry, I mean wedded bliss.)
As many will doubtless recall, at the time theirs was a much-commented-upon union. The big question on the crusted old lips of the world was what on earth the former supermodel, 25 years his junior, saw in Murdoch.
It’s a tough one all right. What could possibly have drawn Hall, a woman with a clear penchant for rich old conservatives (even ones posing as subversive rock’n’roll rebels), to the immensely powerful right-wing shaper of opinion who, moreover, has his very own sheep farm and is reportedly worth more than $17 billion?
Weddings are often fraught affairs, especially second (or, in Murdoch’s case, fourth) weddings
According to my extensive reading on the subject (you have to do something while you’re cleaning out the cat lit), Hall grew up dirt-poor in Texas with a violent and unpredictable father before getting her teenage self to Paris, where she was “discovered” in the 1970s. Murdoch, meanwhile, has apparently spent his life — when not smashing the print unions or taking over the mass media of the English-speaking world — looking for a strong woman to love. (Mrs Thatcher was presumably unavailable, while accepting his political backing with glee.)
Hall, no pushover herself, rang his rusty bell. Her stellar career has seen her photographed in bondage gear by Helmut Newton, cast in Batman, befriended by Salvador Dalí and painted by Andy Warhol and Lucian Freud (though the latter, annoyed at her non-appearance for portrait sittings, repainted her face as a man’s). But despite all of this, she has described herself as basically a stay-at-home kind of gal.
She did, in fact, make a long-term home when cohabiting with knight of the realm Sir Mick Jagger, to whom she thought she was married for a couple of decades. Unfortunately, old Micky blue-eyes, father of their four children, didn’t share her understanding of the status of their marriage, and their private wedding ceremony in a peasant hut on a Bali beach in 1990 (which went on for eight hours and involved the ritual slaughtering of a chicken) didn’t cut it in the courts either.
When it came to calling time, Jagger’s lawyers secured an annulment, which saved him many millions of bucks that would otherwise have been spent on a divorce settlement.
After their parting, Hall told the world’s media that while younger men had stamina, older men made better lovers. Cue the attentions of the decidedly old and powerful Murdoch and their subsequent marriage.
Friends of the couple, gallantly attempting to describe the pair’s apparently loving relationship, commented that she liked to rest her feet in his lap and that, charmingly, like many other couples, they both finished each other’s sentences.
“Could you get your toes out of my testes, sweetie, while I go and get ...”
“No, the prenup.”
It is no concern to any of us, of course, who marries whom, or what scalding psychological baths celebrity couples bathe in. Indeed, if it hadn’t been for the press photographs taken outside the Fleet Street church where Hall and Murdoch married in 2016, I would have sauntered away from the story swinging my indifference by the tail.
Weddings are often fraught affairs, especially second (or, in Murdoch’s case, fourth) weddings, and there are few of us traipsing around without emotional baggage and complicated family commitments. To put it bluntly, we aren’t always mad about the people our friends tie the knot with.
That said, it was somewhat disillusioning to see among the celebrity guests the odd campaigning playwright or human rights activist gathered on the damp street, waiting for the happy couple to arrive. But maybe it’s naive of me to think that some figure I happen to admire would hesitate to celebrate the nuptials of a man whose tabloid put the “Gotcha” into butchery.
Maybe the likes of Tom Stoppard or Bob Geldof found themselves swallowing down their rising bile along with their Rice Krispies on that wet morning, before making their way to the do.
Anyway, scratch determinedly enough around the media embers of the Hall/Murdoch split and rumours of a possible fifth wedding for Murdoch can already be turned up. The scriptwriters of Succession (who reportedly based elements of the series on the story of the Murdoch empire) must feel as if their Christmas has arrived early — the entire circus has the distinctive ring of a season finale about it.