x Abu Dhabi, UAEWednesday 26 July 2017

Rewrite the rules

Celebrity antics, road safety and modern women...what else could a girl ask for?

The chef Gordon Ramsay recently faced a backlash for comparing an Australian television presenter to an animal.
The chef Gordon Ramsay recently faced a backlash for comparing an Australian television presenter to an animal.


Gordon Ramsay's comeuppance at the hands of an attractive Australian television presenter hasn't come a moment too soon. It's about time the boorish, foul-mouthed chef was slapped down and it's just a pity he's been allowed to get away with his nasty, bullying behaviour for so long.

Why so many otherwise sensible, pleasant and well-mannered people have subjected themselves to his horrid rantings in the name of entertainment never ceases to amaze me. If I had been born in Roman times, I may have attended a gladiatorial spectacle once but never twice. In the same way, I've tuned into Hell's Kitchen once and seen the way Ramsay humiliates people publicly. I have no desire ever to witness it again.

His particular style is neither witty nor elegant. It's unrefined yob culture masquerading as sophisticated entertainment but it's not amusing, and nor is he. People who consistently use the kind of language that he uses seem to think they are bucking convention and being terribly daring. Like saying a rude word to shock or impress your childhood pals, it's something that the majority of people grow out of as they approach adulthood.

Ramsay has made it his unique selling proposition, and up until now people have bought it. Tracy Grimshaw, a grown-up professional, didn't see the joke when Ramsay juvenilely compared her to a pig. And who could blame her? What amuses me most is that it was an Australian who kicked up a dignified stink that even involved the country's prime minister, who demanded an apology. Australians aren't famed for their sensitivity but this Sheila took no prisoners, so good on her, sport.

Unfortunately, Neanderthal man isn't a thing of the past. There are all too many men who love Ramsay's brand of blokish humour. They are the same people who adore Jonathan Ross and Russell Brand because they dare to talk about taboo subjects like bottoms and make lavatory jokes on air. That highly paid pair of hooligans got away with broadcasting murder for years before they made one poor taste joke too many with their pathetic, so-called practical joke of telephoning the actor Andrew Sachs and leaving a disgusting message about his granddaughter on his answering machine.

Thankfully, there are enough people around who aren't laughing any more. The uproar over the antics of Ross and Brand proved that plenty of people are fed up with celebrity bullies and turning off in droves, something that will hopefully hit them where it really hurts - in their pockets. The best bit of the whole unsavoury Ramsay episode was hearing that an event starring the television chef had to be cancelled through lack of interest. What a pity they don't still have convict ships. We could pack offenders up and send them off to Oz to take their chances against the likes of Grimshaw.


It's official. Our roads are among the deadliest in the world. In the UAE, we're seven times more likely to be killed on the roads than in the UK, either as drivers or pedestrians. It's a terrifying record, and although our police are cracking down on speeding and drivers who talk on mobiles, the numbers of deaths on the roads here every year is worse than in Sudan, Tanzania and Chad.

Anyone who uses the motorway between Abu Dhabi and Dubai knows the truth of the Global Status Report on Road Safety issued by the World Health Organisation this week. The most careful drivers are constantly challenged by the most reckless. Tail-gating is almost an art form, and young men in particular don't seem to have made the connection between high speed and death. As is often the case, it's the most vulnerable people in society who are in the greatest danger. People who walk everywhere put their lives at risk because they can't get safely across the road. They have the choice of walking or cycling for miles to the nearest bridge or dodging the merciless traffic, and who can blame them for choosing the latter option? Some people seem to think speed limits are for others. People also need to be educated about seat belts and how they can save lives. It's nonsensical that in the UAE rear seat passengers don't have to buckle up.


The idea that a woman should make a conscious decision not to have children and be perfectly comfortable with that has been given a boost by the actress Cameron Diaz. She says the reason she hasn't had children is that she simply hasn't found the right man.

Diaz is 36 and gorgeous. She's had plenty of boyfriends and has clearly given it a great deal of thought. It's a commendable if unfashionable notion that she should feel she needs a settled family life before starting a family. She could so easily just go ahead and have a baby on her own. Not for her the adoption of a cute child from a Third World country or the IVF route favoured by many high-profile and successful women. With her sunny nature and thoughtful, reasoned attitude, Diaz would make a marvellous mother. It's interesting to read that over the years she has experienced the same sort of social pressures of any other single and childless woman over the age of 30.

People can be unintentionally thoughtless and cruel towards single women. In the bad old days they were called spinsters, something that suggests lonely old ladies sitting at home with their cats because nobody wanted to marry them. Society can't seem to get its collective head around the fact that some women prefer to be single rather than marrying someone they don't really love just for the sake of being married.

Diaz has been brave to state this publicly. Single women are so often branded as selfish or unnatural for not wanting children, pitied for their childless state or scorned for putting their careers first. But in these uncertain times and with soaring divorce rates and increases in pregnancies among young unmarried girls, I think it's anything but selfish. Like any other woman, Diaz will have friends who have been through bitter divorces and witnessed the effects divorce can have on children. She will also have friends who have had trouble in conceiving and know the heartache and indignities of the IVF route, where success is never guaranteed and which can have a devastating effect on a couple's relationship. There is no "right" of a woman to give birth. Children are a wonderful gift but they also require 20 or so years of sacrifices by parents, especially women. No matter how liberated women are, that's just a biological fact of life.

It's hard not to wonder how many hospitals, schools, museums or sport stadiums could be built for £80 million (Dh482m), the price that Real Madrid is paying for Cristiano Ronaldo. Can a footballer be that talented, exciting and pound-for-pound value for money? Apparently, yes.

Although I've never been particularly interested in football, I often watch the Premier League and European matches on Showtime. Even without a lifetime of devotion to and knowledge of the game, I find top level football thrilling. I doubt that I will ever get to the stage of supporting a particular team, but I know which side I would make the effort of turning on the television to see from now on: Real Madrid. Squillions of people around the world will be buying packages for their televisions just to see the flamboyant Portuguese wonder boy. So maybe the boss of Real Madrid isn't as daft as people think he is.


Mark my words: one day we'll be registering our children on Facebook as soon as they are born in order to stop people from buying their names on the social networking website in case they ever become famous.

A new feature on Facebook has turned into a cyberspace free-for-all with chancers and speculators hijacking the names of celebrities and high-profile companies in the hope that their real owners will buy them back. I'm a conscientious objector who refuses to join the Facebook and Twitter bandwagons in the belief that sooner or later somebody would pick up enough clues about me to steal my identity, hack into my computer, or burgle my home.


Prince Harry has reportedly ended his relationship with a television presenter called Caroline Flack "because he's pining for his ex-girlfriend Chelsy Davy". I venture to suggest that the real reason is that Flack was slapped all over the News of the World on Sunday as having had relationships with half a dozen dubious characters including Russell Brand and Jack Osbourne, and revealed as a rampant partygoer and girl about town that Harry very definitely couldn't bring home to meet Granny.