The wife factor: why Sam and Sarah should keep silent

Ann Widdecombe agrees with me. 

At an event she spoke at tonight, I asked the veteran female MP what she thought of the Prime Minister and his opponents trotting out their respective wives on the campaign trail. Was it not demeaning, I asked, for Sam and Sarah, perhaps even Miriam, to be banded around like sparkling trophies testifying to their partners’ political prowess?            

 Widdecombe echoed my disgust, expressing her regret for the emergence of the ‘first lady’ of British politics.            

 Yet it seems unlikely her protestations, or my own, at the ‘wife factor’ will get anywhere. Over the last few weeks we’ve seen Sarah and Sam affirm to television audiences just how good their other halves are. Campaign strategists are beside themselves with glee about these so called secret weapons.            

 I’m not, and I suspect most female voters won’t be swayed by such a patronising play.            

 True, there is something intiguing about the woman behind the man in charge. We are fascinated by Jackie Kennedy and her latest incarnation in Michelle Obama. We want to know less about what Hillary’s aims were when she sought healthcare reform in the early 90s, and more about how she put up with that scoundrel Bill. Even Cherie had a perverse grip on the nation.            

 But just because I’m interested to hear the secrets behind Michelle’s wardrobe (J Crew all the way, apparently), doesn’t mean I take that as any reflection on her husbands political fortunes.            

Sarah Brown: campaign tool? (photo: Chris Greenberg)




We live in the age of celebrity. It’s the nature of our tabloid taste that we care whether Gordon is a bully, or whether Sarah is not. That’s fine; some may lament the personal and private becoming so political, but that ship has long since sailed.            

But an interest in the trivial doesn’t automatically discount one in the topical.    

Educated, intelligent and engaged women can read OK magazine and marvel over Carla’s fading beauty, but that doesn’t mean they’re not smart enough to appreciate the details of Nicholas’ economic policy.             

 Give us some credit. Politics might be tedious at times, but that’s true whether you have an x or y chromosome.    

If men can understand the difference between tax and spend, private or public sector, big or small government, so can women. These interviews with the wives, the campaign appearances, tell us little but insult a great deal.            

 We don’t need to know what Miriam Clegg says about Nick’s saucy past to figure these things out. And if women aren’t going to vote based on the issues, do handbags or hairstyles really make them more likely to have their say?            

 For the record, I met Sarah Brown once at a charity event and she was as pleasant as she appears; eloquent, well-presented and down to earth.            

 But she could have been a total horror, and could have made the whole lunch of middle-aged ladies splurt out their expensive soup.            

It wouldn’t make the slightest bit to difference to whether I vote for her husband though.        

Gossip Girl recap: The Hurt Locket

This week’s episode – the first after a long hiatus – opened with a scene which will surely have every literary luminary rolling in his grave, as Gossip Girl quoted Dickens. But it turned out there was every reason to, as Chuck lived out his own Dickensian drama.

 So here’s where we left off. Blair was unhappy because she wasn’t ruling the world and Chuck was visited by the ghost of mother past complete with lockets taken straight out the plot of Oliver Twist.

 Dull Dan loves Vile Vanessa (why) but she doesn’t return the sentiment, and Serena and Nate were spiralling in a drawn-out ‘will they, won’t they’ storyline, complicated by her affair with his politician cus’ and some unfortunate blackmailing around what happened between Lily and daddy VdW.

 Oh, and Jenny was morphing into a dictatorial loon with a predilection for Belgian drug dealers.

 Let’s start with Jenny, who has a visitor in the form of creepy [Damian] Belgian boy. Lily giving her advice was comedy gold. “Your father and I haven’t really discussed having boys in the room,” she worries when Belgian boy shows up with expensive gift and meaningful eyes.

“Lily, if we wanted to have sex we’d just go to a hotel,” scoffs Jenny. At which point Lily doesn’t, as most responsible adults would, clutch her chest and engage in shrieky panic. Nope, just time for girl talk; such an adorable, responsible relationship.

 Not that she’s got to worry (although Jenny wishes she did) as he just wants little J to do some not-so-little drug deals. Turns out she’s an impressive little drug mule, creating a jacket with the pills sewn on. Unfortunately, Belgian boy has eyes for Serena, who it turns out is an old school friend (because, at 19, you have ‘old’ school friends)…

 …Serena is busy supposedly taking things slow with Nate, but obviously in practice doing the opposite, cue analysis of the situation by respective exes Blair and Dan (I’ve said it before, but this show is becoming stupidly incestuous) and a great line where Blair compares Serena to bulimia.

But Nate takes Dan’s advice to slow down, which demanding-little S can’t cope with and so has to turn to druggie Damian for a date to the ambassadors dinner. Obviously, Nate shows up escorted by Jenny. Cue lots of sulking then kiss and make up, with the preposterous drug deal going swimmingly.

 Meanwhile, over with the adults Blair was sulking over some elitist society she’s not part of (yawn) and getting her literary references muddled by dressing up as a trashy version of Anna Karenina.

 Chuck is trying to find the woman behind the locket. In true Dickensian style, he consults a white haired old sage about it, and by a process of sleuthery discovers what we’d already assumed, that “the whore is my mother.”

Blair, ever the supportive girlfriend, doesn’t believe him – but then she does and confronts they mystery brunette. Odds are next week Chuck will find out chapter two of that particular story.

 Back in Brooklyn, Dan is moping and Rufus is avoiding Lily and keeping company (!) with the prowling divorcee we met last year. Lily says she only kissed her ex, but it sounds like there’s more to it than that.

 Good resumption of the season overall, but one complaint. Blair is no Miss Haversham, so give her her own juicy storyline.

 And for your amusement…


Reasons why I want to punch Serena.

  1. She ‘gave up’ politics. Sure, if sleeping with a congressman in any way resembled a political career.
  2. School ‘wasn’t a very good time’ for her looks-wise. Pass the sick bag, compliment-fisher.
  3. She wears Jenny’s ugly drug jacket – no questions asked.

 Reasons why Chuck Bass is back and better than ever

  1. Said sneeringly of his father “one of his concubines had his name tattooed on her ass”. With a straight face. Thank you, ye GG deities.
  2. He’s not above using sympathy over his deceased father to get what he wants from the locket-maker.
  3. He told Blair “some things are more important than your social climbing agenda,” – ooh, low blow, Bass.



How I met your mid life crisis

 Among the various shows anointed as successor to Friends, only one has come close.

 That show is How I Met Your Mother, the sitcom which takes an irreverent look at – you guessed it – a group of attractive chums living in plush Manhattan apartments, complete with plenty of dating, drinking and dumb jokes.

 For five series now, viewers have been following the life and loves of the fivesome, hopeless romantic (and hubbie of the ‘mother’ in question) Ted, comedy cute pairing Marshall and Lily, cynical Canadian Robin and strangely endearing womanizer Barney.

 We’ve followed them through bad relationships and good, marriages and mysteries, trips to bars (well, just the one) and trips to Minnesota. We’ve watched Marshall stab his fiancée during a sword fight, Robin reveal her embarrassing teenaged pop career, Barney try every bad chat-up line on the planet (and get away with them), and seen several aspects of a fantastic concept called the Slap Bet.

What we haven’t seen is the Mother. Which was OK for the first few series, but has now gone well past the point of gripping and reached the territory of ‘I want to throw something at the TV every time you give us a spoiler involving an umbrella’.

 This season has been worse than ever, with constant references to her (including a very sneaky episode when we met her roommate in the form of a Rachel Bilson cameo), but there’s been no juice.

We know it’s not Stella, Robin, Britney Spears or any other of Ted’s increasing list of loves, but that’s all we know.

 And the thing is, it’s getting old. How I Met Your Mother still delivers (this week’s episode on ‘hooks’, or people who you keep around ‘just in case’ was pure genius) but not always. The jokes are getting rehashed, the teasers frustrating.

 In short, it’s having a mid life crisis.

That’s OK though. So did Lost, in Season 3, when the writers put Sawyer and Kate into cages for what of a better plotline. But then they set an end date for the series, and suddenly we were back on for gripping action and suspense being built up into Something.

 So, Carter Bays and Craig Thomas. You’ve done well, creating a comedy that actually brings laughs and scripting a group of actors who can act. It’s been fun.

 But for crying out loud, work out where you’re going with it.

 Because if we get to season 8, and suddenly Ted reveals ‘so, kids, in the summer of 2012 I gave up the hunt and adopted you’, there are going to be a lot of broken television sets out there.

Watch a very funny scene from the latest episode below:

Gossip Girl is back…

… next week!

To get you ready for all the fun of part two of season three (and Getting Lippy’s weekly recaps) here is a trailer for Monday’s episode.

By the looks of things the next part of the season is going to be a stonker. From the preview it seems Barbie and Ken (aka Serena and Nate) will finally be getting up close and personal, while the Lily-had-an-affair-with-her-random-ex-husband story looks set to resolve itself. And Chuck will be facing his ghosts, rather literally if that scene at his mother’s grave was anything to go by.

According to producer Stephanie Savage “We’re turning up the heat on all of your couples in the second half of the season.” Well Well.

She also says, in the interview with E Online that they have “genuine options” about where to take the show.

So that could be, Jenny gives up the eyeliner and becomes an advocate of natural beauty, Blair starts to become a student lefty and live in a squat, Nate joins Mensa, or Georgina finds Jesus (oh wait…).

With ten episodes until the end of Season three, will any of those come true? Probably not, but good thing another series has already been confirmed.