Wednesday, 21 July 2010

Saffy Syndrome

Poor old Stella McCartney.  Not contented with living a gilded and privileged life, revered and worshipped by fashionistas around the globe, she is tortured with guilt because she sends her children to private schools.  Oh dear!  She is quoted as saying that the minute they come home “talking posh” rather than being “their awful selves” she will have to “knock it on the head.”  That’s quite an interesting statement there – let us dissect it, knowing a little about Ms McCartney as we do.

First of all, define posh.  At one time it meant being of high birth.  Nowadays it just means wealthy and consequently able to buy a veneer of poshness.  Your children probably will end up talking “posh” if you send them to private schools.  At least they will be able to do so when it matters.  For example in job interviews or when trying to relate to other posh people.  Day to day, they will drop their h’s, make full use of the glottal stop and that irritating interrogative lilt at the end of every sentence imported from Australia?  They will also say ‘like’ like a lot.  I actually overheard two girls recently discussing why one of them wasn’t having school dinners any more.  The reason was “because I, like, don’t like, like them...” 

You could try sending them to St Asbo’s Comprehensive; plenty of kids come out of Comps speaking perfectly normally.  However your children, Stella, have several handicaps imposed upon them before they start.  Number one – they have a famous mum and (somewhat less famous) dad.  Number two they live in a large and expensive house in a posh, sorry, trendy part of town, not at the top of a high-rise.  Number three; they all have idiotic names which firmly mark them out as progeny of a Notting HillBilly.  I’m sorry, but if you insist on adopting the ludicrous American habit of using surnames as forenames and calling your children Miller, Bailey and Beckett, you are stuffed from the off.  You should have thought this through properly and gone for Leroy, Jamil and Lee-anne.

It entertains me that she declares she will “knock it on the head” or should that be “knock it on the ‘ead” because surely you would have to drop the leading ‘h’ in order to sound cool?  True Ms McCartney and her siblings went through the state system but I seem to recall that she has said in the past that she hated every minute of it.  But did her famous surname open any doors?  You betcha!  How many teenage girls would like to intern on Savile Row and at Christian Lacroix?  And how many do?  And it's not every fashion student who can call on Kate Moss and Naomi Campbell to model her graduation collection...

Now let us consider why Ms McCartney would prefer her children to be “their awful selves”.  There seems to be a feeling amongst the creative community that their children should be portrayed as free spirits who are quite untameable.  Viz Jade Jagger’s declaration that she doesn't really parent her two daughters, they bring themselves up and she just kind of oversees it all from a distance.  Call me old fashioned but I don't really rate the sight of a thirteen year old girl posing in a plunging neckline and a provocative manner.  There’s something about the “I’m mad, me and my kids are out of control” declarations of the rich and famous that strikes me as quite sad.  Don’t they think their children need or want any guidance at all?  I have come across plenty of kids of rich families in my working life who have been brought up by the help and allowed to do pretty much as they pleased with every whim indulged by largely absent parents.  I wouldn’t say one of them was happy.

However, for every free spirit, there is the one that breaks the mould.  And here is where you get Saffy Syndrome, named after the long suffering daughter of Edina in Absolutely Fabulous.  Every so often, a child of famous parents decides to keep their head down and live a relatively quiet life – for example Fifi Geldof.  Anyone any idea what Bob and Paula’s eldest looks like?  Me neither.  Or Aimee Osbourne, eldest daughter of Sharon and Ozzy, sometimes referred to as the “missing Osbourne child”.

Wouldn’t it be kind of poetic justice if Miller, Bailey or Beckett decided to become a civil servant and live in a semi in Pinner...?  Stella - you're havin' a larf.

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