x Abu Dhabi, UAESaturday 20 January 2018

Cheap shots: Samantha Cameron has nothing to fear from Carla Bruni's words

Why the crticis should lay off Obama's slick hobby, Shrek may be the man of your dreams and Sam Cam should take a bow.

The US president Barack Obama has come under criticism for the time he spends on the golf course.
The US president Barack Obama has come under criticism for the time he spends on the golf course.

They're calling her Catty Carla in certain sections of the international press for what has been described as a back-handed compliment about Samantha Cameron's "maverick" style. But I think that the Dior-clad wife of France's President Sarkozy has it spot on with her remarks about Sam Cam's dress sense and style. Bruni was writing on her official website after her meeting with the new British prime minister's wife earlier this month in London.

The official translation of what she actually wrote was this: "The companion of the new UK head of government is a kind of fashion icon. Aristocratic but bohemian, practitioner of yoga and close to the ecological cause, this mother of three has retained from her youth a dolphin tattoo." Some women might object to being called a fashion maverick, especially by a former supermodel who never puts a dainty sartorial foot wrong. And the slightly patronising "kind of fashion icon" might ruffle a few feathers although the down-to-earth Sam Cam will probably just laugh it off.

As a mother of three children with another one on the way (she and husband David lost a child aged six last year) she might be less thrilled with the description "companion" as opposed to "wife" but something may have been lost in translation here. Bruni's tone is curious and interested rather than catty, as if she is studying some new species of flora and fauna. She acknowledges Sam Cam's aristocratic background with a "kind of" favourable nod. Cameron is the eldest daughter of Sir Reginald Adrian Berkeley Sheffield, the eighth baronet, a landowner and a descendant of King Charles ll of Britain.

The 42-year-old Italian born Bruni may have the advantage in the fashion stakes but Mrs Cameron, 39, has managed to become a "kind of fashion icon" all the same and she certainly has a distinctive smart but casual style of dressing that goes with her role as a part-time consulatant (and, prior to the election, the creative director) for the luxury paper company Smythson. When she was photographed with Bruni she was wearing a black and white dress by Emilia Wickstead and still looked good in the sixth month of her pregnancy, by which time many other pregnant women have given up the unequal struggle and plunged into comfortable kaftans.

The problem of what to say about the dolphin tattoo, however, must have taken some of Bruni's time and you feel that she was trying to say something positive about it, even though she wouldn't dream of having one herself. I can't help wondering if Sam Cam doesn't sometimes regret the studenty tattoo on her right ankle, a youthful impulse that would require painful laser surgery to remove. Tattoos may look cool on a teenager, but the rose and ivy garland one that I saw on a wrinkly 70-year-old back in the swimming pool at Jebel Ali Resort last weekend looked as if it had been left out in the sun for far too long.

Perhaps it would be a kindness if tattoo artists adopted the warnings that tobacco companies put on packets of cigarettes: WARNING: This tattoo will most certainly be painful and in another 40 years it's going to look truly ridiculous on your wrinkly old body. Ignore the criticism, Mr Obama, non-players will always be angry at golf Poor old President Obama. Every day a new problem is making him look more and more haggard so it's no wonder he likes to escape to the golf course and I can't fault him for that. Now he is being criticised for spending too much time on the fairways while oil is still gushing into the Gulf of Mexico. They say he's played 39 rounds since taking office, which to my mind is hardly a criminal record even for a president. It only amounts to just over one game a fortnight, not even enough to get his handicap down.

That's the problem about the very nature of golf and its image. It takes at least four hours and it's expensive and seen as elitist. If he'd taken time out to watch a baseball game or been photographed jogging around the parks of Washington nobody would have said a thing. Golf, on the other hand, always seems to enrage people who don't play it. I hope he's not bullied into putting away his clubs.

Looking for Mr Right? Well, stop waiting for Prince Charming and give Shrek a chance The hunt for Mr Right has taken a disturbing new turn, according to reports emanating from fertility clinics. Instead of taking a risk and settling down with Mr Second Best, women are increasingly going to these clinics and having their eggs frozen for possible use in the future. They worry that as they progress into their 30s and 40s the quality of their eggs deteriorate, so if they haven't found the perfect specimen of manhood as father material they want to make sure they'll have the chance to produce the perfect baby if he ever does turn up.

Even in this high-tech world where miracles happen every day for childless couples thanks to IVF treatment, I can't help feeling sad about those rows of little test-tubes stored in laboratory freezers waiting to put a smile on some young mother's face. Career-hungry women have been castigated for years for putting off motherhood for the sake of ambition, but the boffins are now saying that the latest trend is caused by women who have quite simply been unlucky in love. Freezing your eggs for future use is understandable in the case of cancer sufferers who still hope to conceive, or women who suffer from premature menopause but the hunt for the perfect man is another thing altogether.

With respect to my many and wonderful male friends, the phenomenon of the perfect man just doesn't exist. And before they start shouting at me, neither is there such a thing as a perfect woman. That's actually what makes relationships interesting, but when you're young you sometimes don't see it that way. My husband always gets cross with me when I tell younger girlfriends that they're just too fussy, but I think they are, and it certainly doesn't mean I settled for second best. I just never expected someone else to be responsible for my happiness and fulfilment.

Expectations of marriage are too high if the divorce rate is anything to go by. Young people often don't understand that once the crazy loved-up passion becomes less crazy, marriage is often about shared interests and ambitions, caring for children and rubbing along together without getting too aerated about dirty socks left on your dressing table or the TV constantly tuned to the Discovery Channel. George Clooney's former girlfriend, the model and radio presenter Lisa Snowdon, moaned recently that at 39 she is a typical example of what she describes as SAS woman. Single, attractive and successful except for the fact that she doesn't have a partner.

Some people might think Clooney was a fairly good candidate for Mr Right but what do we know? Snowdon does, however, represent the educated and financially secure 30 to 40-year-old who is concerned about being on her own with the prospect of motherhood rapidly fading. Too many young girls still believe in the Cinderella story and hang about waiting for Prince Charming when actually Shrek is a lot more fun.

Agony of couple who 'found' kidnapped son should be a warning to people using unscrupulous agencies What unimaginable and ongoing agony it must be for the Indian couple Nagarani and Kathirvel, featured in Tuesday's edition of The National, knowing that a child being brought up in the Netherlands by adoptive parents is probably their long lost son. The expression on Nagarani's beautiful face is unbearable to witness as she carries on with her life in the slums of Chennai knowing that she will never hug her little boy again and if they met face to face now he wouldn't recognise her. The child, called Sathish, was snatched from her bed as a baby by kidnappers 11 years ago and sold to an adoption agency.

Sathish is now a happy little Dutch boy, living with his ethnic Indian adoptive parents in much better circumstances than his poverty-stricken natural parents. Understandably, the Dutch couple who adopted him legally are reluctant to submit him or themselves to a DNA test for fear of losing him, and a court this week delivered the agonising ruling for Nagarani and Kathrirvel that they don't have to.

It would be infinitely more cruel at this stage in the boy's young life to uproot him from his comfortable home and send him back to his real parents in another country The only comfort that Nagarani can possibly have is that her Sathish, now called Rohit, is loved and cared for and that he will probably have a better chance in life than she could have given him. She is not alone in her torment. The statistics are staggering. More than 45,000 children in India go missing every year, many of them ending up in prostitution, working as virtual slaves or living rough on the streets. There are currently 11 million abandoned children in India who need loving homes, so it is even more heartbreaking for people like Nagarani and Kathirvel that their much-loved child was stolen.

The recommended price that should be paid to an adoption agency in India for a child is $3,500 (Dh12,856). The Dutch couple apparently paid $35,000, nearly 10 times what they should have done. Foreign couples who wish to adopt should remember that. If unscrupulous agencies are charging that much it's probably at the expense of some other poor couple's happiness.