Why every woman hates Carla Bruni

CarlaBefore I start my rant, for those of you who noticed I was missing, I am sorry. The server had to changed for reasons I am not clever enough to understand. For those of you who didn’t, where the hell were you?

Anyway it’s not just servers that are driving me mad at the moment. Everywhere I go in the house all I hear are the husky ‘I want to steal your husband’ tones of a certain Miss Carla Bruni.

My husband has got the Bruni-bug bad. Ever since the French president started stepping out with her he has spent most of his time reading about her exploits, listening to her dreary music or watching clips of her on YouTube.

He lost his trainers the other day. “Maybe Carla Bruni has taken them,” he said, “in a desperate attempt to get me to come and claim them back from her.” Yeah, right.

Deranged he may be, but I fear he is not alone. For Miss Bruni is every man’s dream and every woman’s nightmare. This is a girl who believes in free love and has the looks and guile to get it wherever she wants.

If I were the Queen I would refuse to have her anywhere near me on the upcoming state visit, married or not. Married, as we know, means nothing to the capricious Carla. Unless the Queen wants to risk losing her husband and possibly her son and/or grandson she should keep her well away from the palace.

Copyright: Helena Frith Powell 2008

What makes women happy

Stefania Prestigiacomo, minister for Equal opportunities in the Italian government, has come up with ten commandments for female happiness:

* Consider motherhood a value – it is the greatest experience for women
* Follow your childhood dream
* Keep falling in love
* Buy something useless every once in a while
* Take pride in your own beauty
* Do not be upset by your man if he doesn’t notice when you’ve been to the hairdresser – it is his loss
* Do not be envious of important people; they, too, often spend evenings just watching television
* Travel to broaden your mind
* Defend other women
* Smile

Gina LollobrigidaI don’t agree with all of them. Number seven for example. Since when did I ever envy anyone who has to go out every night? My idea of a good evening is the apero a grande vitesse, followed by dinner with my husband and children and bed with a good book by 9.30pm. Or watching Grey’s Anatomy.

Number nine is slightly dodgy too – defending other women is just not in our genetic make-up. As a friend of mine said yesterday when we were discussing what makes us happy “nothing makes me more miserable than seeing other women happy.” In France, at least, sisterhood is dead and buried.

And what about men? Their list is a lot shorter, as I saw at lunch yesterday with Leo and his friend Louis, both aged four.

“Mine’s bigger than yours,” said Leo, holding up a piece of emmental to compare with his friend’s bit of emmental.

“No,” protested Louis. “Mine’s much bigger.”

It starts early…….

Copyright: Helena Frith Powell 2007

Grabbing Brad

Young bradAt the Venice film festival a couple of days ago a young woman did what most of us have been yearning to do for years; pounce on Brad Pitt. As he walked down the red carpet she threw her arms around him and hugged him. Brad was not impressed; she says she has no regrets.

The Daily Mail of course called her a “crazed female fan”. Seems saner than most to me. Crazy would be to let him walk past without lunging.

Ever since I first saw him in those Levi 501s in Thelma & Louise (possibly the greatest film ever made and not just because Brad is in it) I have been in love with Brad Pitt. When my husband asked me to marry him I promised to be faithful. “Unless Brad Pitt seduces me,” I added. My husband saw this as an unlikely enough event to agree to my proviso.

I remember going to see A River Runs Through It at the Fulham cinema years ago with three other girlfriends. We sat in the front row and sighed every time he graced the screen. He was so beautiful it was almost painful to watch him.

Old BradNow of course he’s gone off a bit. The floppy blond hair has gone mousey and short. And he does seem to have a penchant for facial hair in strange places.

But to a whole generation of women like me he will always be one of the sexiest men ever. “There he goes,” says Thelma as he walks off in his 501s. “I love to watch him go.” Amazing that he was in that film for a total of 14 minutes but none of us ever forgot him.

So well done you crazy Italian, next time give him a kiss from me.

Copyright: Helena Frith Powell 2007

Flirting allowed

FlirtAn article in the Daily Mail today tells us that men are now too scared to flatter women or to flirt with them. Apparently in our PC times a compliment is all too easily seen as an insult. So a ‘you look nice today’ can be miscontrued as either ‘I want to sleep with you’ or ‘you looked terrible yesterday’ or ‘I want to borrow your stapler/pen/hairbrush’.

When I was in London last week we had dinner with some friends at the Groucho Club in London (like you do). Towards the end of dinner I went to the loo. Walking in through the door of the restaurant bit as I walked out was a young man.

“I don’t mean to flirt or anything,” he said. “But you’re really very pretty.”

This comment didn’t make me want to call my lawyer, or my husband, or glare at the man with feminist rancour. No, it made me want to throw my arms around him. But as I concluded he was possibly myopic or deranged or drunk or in fact a combination of all three I resisted. But I floated back to our table and have to say I have only just stopped floating several days later. “I’m really very pretty,” I tell myself at least 100 times a day.

Why do women bother to wear make-up, curl their hair, buy lip gloss and go on diets if it’s not in part to make themselves attractive to men? (Obviously it’s mainly to irritate other women) And what exactly is so wrong with them noticing? If there are any men reading this; go forth and flirt immediately.

Copyright: Helena Frith Powell 2007

Upper Class benefits

On the way to paradise, otherwise known as Goldeneye, we were upgraded to Virgin Upper Class. I have never been upgraded before and was very excited. Rightly so it turns out.

Coffee, Tea or Me?Flying first class is a different world. You have a dedicated slave to see that you’re happy at all times, every time you go to the loo someone has miraculously folded the end of the loo-paper into a neat arrow (maybe I could train the children to do this at home) and they even hand out goodies like lip-gloss before you take off. But the most exciting thing about flying Upper Class was the Colin Firth look-alike. Obviously I spotted him the moment we got on, but it took until the passport queue to strike up a conversation.

“Shameless,” my husband called me. “Selfless” is how I define it.

Of course I am happily married with three children (and two step-children) so what possible interest could a Colin Firth look-alike hold for me? No, I was thinking of my wrinkle-free, single friend Iona in India of course. Turns out Colin, as we may as well call him, travels a lot to India, so I am going to put them in touch.

Last night I had the best massage I have ever had. Orah appeared with hot oil, warm stones and magic hands to relax me beyond my expectations. She set up her table in the sunken garden. I listened to the rhythm of the waves and drifted in and out of consciousness as she manipulated my body. We discussed ageing and what ages people, like stress, which is what ages me. Orah told me she had watched Oprah the other night and there was a programme about women who defy age.

“Funny thing was,” she said. “They had one thing in common. They were all single.”

Hmmm. Maybe I’d better keep Colin away from Iona if she wants to stay wrinkle-free.

Copyright: Helena Frith Powell 2007

Why women hate men

I have finally worked out what it is that women don’t like about men. This revelation can be indirectly attributed to Leonardo who was found by a German at 11pm in the lobby of the hotel.

“Please take better care of your children at this time,” read a note the German left me the following morning.

How I’m supposed to take care of my children while fast asleep is beyond me. I asked Leo what he was doing in the lobby. “Talking to peoples,” he replied. Anyway, it was clear that either Rupert or I would have to share a room with him to avoid him running into any more Germans. Talking of running into Germans, I literally did, I failed to stop at the bottom of a piste where the snow had been turned into slush, which I thought would slow me down. Sadly it didn’t.

“First you must learn to stop ze skis,” bellowed the German.

“And you must learn to stop invading Poland,” was on the tip of my tongue but I thought better of it.

When we got back from dinner last night Olivia was still awake.

“Do you want to share a room with me?” Rupert asked her.

“No,” she replied. “You snore and you’ve got a willy.”

The MatterhornOther highlights from Zermatt include seeing Leo on skis for the first time (how cute was he?); my first ski with the girls who have very different techniques. Bea just points her skis down the mountain and shrieks, Olivia is more into the careful turns. I miss waking up to a view of the Matterhorn and of course the lovely Ed whom Olivia talks about constantly. She misses her new best friend that she made in the Yeti Ski Club too, conveniently also called Olivia. Apart from skiing with the children my two favourite moments were afternoon tea on my terrace in the sun and an evening walk on the hills around Zermatt.

Zermatt is lovely and I am determined to make it back there soon. We are on our way to Geneva now where we stop for the night before heading home. Geneva is a great place; but I feel rather like Heidi when she is carted away from the Alps to Frankfurt. As I watch the mountains vanish in the distance I am already yearning for them.

Copyright: Helena Frith Powell

Heathcliff married a lesbian

It was one of those calls I’ll never forget. We were just finishing off lunch when my mobile phone rang. It was a UK mobile number. I wonder who this could be, I thought. But actually deep down I already knew.

“Hi Helena, its Heathcliff.”

We chatted for a while about where he lives, what he’s doing, how old his children are and then he mentioned that he sometimes thought about divorcing his wife. I didn’t like to ask more. The signal was bad so we said goodbye. I told him I will let him know next time I come to England so we can meet up.

'Rohypnol Rosemary'But of course I had to know more so I asked our mutual friend. Apparently Heathcliff’s wife is a lesbian. Well, I suppose she wasn’t one when they got married, and they have several children so she’s had a few lapses, but she now makes a habit of spiking his drinks so that she can go out and meet girls. He has woken up several times in the middle of the night fully clothed in the garden. And when he’s stumbled into the house, she is nowhere to be seen.

Did he turn her into a lesbian I wonder? I asked my husband what he would do if he had married a lesbian. “All men marry lesbians,” was his rather enigmatic response, but then it was four o’clock in the morning.

Poor Heathcliff. The hero of my youth stuck with someone who would rather get into bed with his sister, or in fact anyone else’s.

Can I deny that a tiny part of me is rejoicing? That there’s just a minuscule little bit of me that’s saying ‘ha, you should have married me when you had the chance, I got over that lesbianism thing in my teens’. No I can’t.

But what should he do? I guess drink only bottled water from reliable sources, refuse the early morning cuppa or the evening aperitif. Maybe he should try the approach my son tried on me this morning as I refused to give him a piece of chocolate cake to go to school with and smear all over his classmates.

“You’re grounded,” he said shooting me an evil stare. Yes, that might just rein her in.

Copyright: Helena Frith Powell 2007

Too thin for comfort

According to yesterday’s Daily Mail Jemima Khan and Hugh Grant are back together. I’d like to give Ms Khan just one piece of advice. Never trust a man who has shoulders smaller than you do.

BeforeWhen I was in LA recently I had the misfortune of seeing Hugh Grant’s latest film; Music & Lyrics. I went with my screenwriting friend Jennifer (who lost the will to live after the first scene) and Constance, a legal secretary who moonlights as a pilates teacher, actress and stand-up comedienne (only in LA). Anyway, just as we thought things couldn’t get any worse, there was Hugh, naked from the waist up.

“Ugh,” said Constance, burying her head in her popcorn. “He’s soooo British.”

Jennifer nodded. “He has the body of a fourteen-year-old.”

Next day I was wandering down Venice Beach. Apart from the clinically obese men (and there were a few) everyone else seemed to have a decent body. OK, so some of them were young, like the surfer who walked towards me unzipping his wet suit revealing a rather well-formed chest and a six-pack.

AfterThat six-pack really got me thinking. And I realised it was the first time I had ever seen one in REAL LIFE. How deprived is that? Growing up in England, you just don’t come across them. Six-packs are not on general view, unless they’re made of hops and malt.

So why is this? Are they much more intellectual? Or just too busy to get to the gym? Do English women not care? Jemima clearly doesn’t.

Copyright:Helena Frith Powell 2007

An unimpressive Prince

Kiss meApart from the pasta, the most exciting thing to happen to me in Monaco was almost being run over by Prince Albert. I was wandering up a little road towards the palace when a policeman shot round the corner on a motorbike and motioned to me to get out of the way. I just managed to squeeze myself up against a wall before a vast black Mercedes whizzed by carrying the prince himself.

I immediately called my husband to tell him. “It’s not so surprising that you should see him there, he does live there after all,” was his response. “It would be more surprising if I were to see him in Pezenas market, where I’m headed now.”

When I got home I decided to try my prince story out on a less cynical, and captive, audience. Bea and her best friend Manon were in the back of the car as we drove home after an excellent (and smoke-free) dinner at IKEA.

“Girls, guess what?” I said. “When I was in Monaco, I saw a REAL LIVE PRINCE.” They could hardly fail to be impressed by this news, I waited for the hsyterical reaction and questions such as was he wearing a crown, did he kiss you, was he on a horse etc etc.

“Yeah, whatever,” said Bea, not even bothering to look up from the game they were playing. “We prefer princesses.”

Copyright: Helena Frith Powell 2007