I decided to exclusively uncover an early draft of the article.
One was relaxed, every inch a stateswoman while her opposite number was tense and uncomfortable: we don’t know how headlines work
By Mrs Michael Gove
Legend – or rather Hollywood – has it that the Scottish knight William Wallace daubed himself head-to-toe in blue woad paint to defeat the English army at the Battle of Stirling Bridge in 1297. Centuries later, Nicola Sturgeon has gone one step further. Yes, further! Whereas Wallace took the time to paint his entire body, Sturgeon wore a blue dress, the silly mare.
While Sturgeon has worn a dress that is dark blue with white trim, May worse a blue jacket. The difference is obvious.
Intentional or otherwise, the First Minister’s nutty blue suit with white piping and matching light-coloured stilettos were unmistakably reminiscent of the Scottish flag, a subliminal if not entirely subtle indication of her feelings towards Westminster.
The Prime Minister’s gorgeous blue jacket was more reminiscent of the blue parts of the Union Jack. Her union-jacket, if you will.
I’ve written a piece for BornOffside about Roy Hodgson, who has this week been appointed as the new manager of the England football team.
If you’ve not been following the England national team in recent months, you’ve probably been driven less close to the edge of sanity than me. Here’s a brief rundown of events.
In February, Fabio Capello, England’s experienced Italian manager, hugely successful in club football but with a mixed record in charge of England, resigned.
The national sporting press immediately responded by assuming Harry Redknapp, the manager of Tottenham where he has done a more than decent job, would be the next manager. The FA said nothing, nothing at all, to confirm this, but the newspaper speculation talked as if it were a formality, only mentioning other possibilities in passing.
Harry Redknapp is considered popular with the press – being social and helpful when it comes to sharing his thoughts ahead of matches, potential player transfers, and so on, allowing the press to appear insightful. Unlike Redknapp, Roy Hodgson has managed in various different leagues, and managed three national teams, two of them very successfully – Redknapp has managed only in England.
The press have been reporting Redknapp as ‘the people’s choice’ as England manager, despite a number of people preferring Hodgson, Alan Pardew, or Guus Hiddink, among other foreign options.
On Sunday, the FA announced that Roy Hodgson had been approached to take the role, wth no other candidates being interviewed.
The British sporting press reported this, essentially, as ‘Harry Redknapp Not Offered England Job’, and frankly haven’t been very dignified about it.
During Hodgson’s formal presentation to the media as manager on Tuesday, around half the questions he was asked were about Harry Redknapp.
An article written by Samantha Brick in the Daily Mail has been trending widely on Twitter over the last few days. In it she makes the perfectly reasonable assertion that all women, everywhere, are jealous of women more attractive than themselves. The Guardian, a leftwing, holier-than-thou hate rag, has claimed that the Daily Mail stitched her up, making her look deluded in order to attract outrage and hits. However, this is not the case, as shown by the first draft submitted to the editor, which here at noonebutabloghead, we’ve been able to exclusively gain access to.
On a recent flight to New York, I was delighted when a stewardess came over and gave me a glass of champagne.
‘You get a complimentary glass here in first class,’ she claimed, but I knew she was fibbing. I knew the truth was that the captain had somehow seen me, and paid to get me drunk from his own, limited pilot’s salary.
Even so, you’re probably thinking ‘what a lovely surprise’. But while it was lovely, it wasn’t a surprise. At least, not for me.
Throughout my adult life, I’ve regularly had bottles of bubbly or wine sent to my restaurant table by men I don’t know, while I sat there giggling loudly and pushing my bosom out.
Once, a well-dressed chap bought my train ticket when I was standing behind him in the queue. I didn’t even want to go to Leeds, but felt obligated by his ‘kindness’.
There was another occasion when a charming gentleman paid my fare as I stepped out of a cab in Paris. Sure, this was my husband, but would he have even been there were I not so overwhelmingly gorgeous?
Another time, as I was walking through London’s Portobello Road market, I was tapped on the shoulder and presented with a beautiful bunch of flowers. Even bar tenders frequently shoo my credit card away when, drunkenly, I try to settle my bill for the fourth time in a row.
And whenever I’ve asked what I’ve done to deserve such treatment, the donors of these gifts have always said the same thing: my pleasing appearance and pretty smile made their day.
While I’m no Elle Macpherson, I’m tall, slim, blonde and, so I’m often told, a good-looking woman. I know how lucky I am. But there are downsides to being pretty — the main one being that other women hate me for no other reason than my lovely looks and my insistence on talking about them.
If you’re a woman reading this, I’d hazard that you’ve already formed your own opinion about me — and it won’t be very flattering. Flirt. Egomaniac. Wind-up Merchant. Little better than a prostitute in taking so many gifts, while still having the gall to complain about it all.
For while many doors have been opened (metaphorically) as a result of my looks, just as many have been literally slammed in my face — leaving me unable to smile naturally.
I’m not smug and I’m no flirt, yet over the years I’ve been dropped by countless friends who felt threatened if I merely rubbed my long, manicured fingers against the arms of their other halves. If their partners dared to actually talk to me, a sudden chill would descend on the room as soon as I politely giggled and tossed my hair in response to their bad jokes.
And it is not just jealous wives who have frozen me out of their lives. Insecure female bosses have also barred me from promotions at work.
And most poignantly of all, not one girlfriend has ever asked me to be her bridesmaid.
You’d think we women would applaud each other for taking pride in our appearances.
I work at mine — I don’t drink or smoke, I work out, even when I don’t feel like it, and very rarely succumb to chocolate. I often turn up to work late, having taken the time to do things properly in the morning, and regularly stop working during the day to reapply my makeup and lipstick.
Unfortunately women find nothing more annoying than someone else being the most attractive girl in a room.
Take last week, out walking the dogs a neighbour passed by in her car. I waved — she blatantly blanked me, deciding to prioritise swerving out of the way of a drunken cyclist. Yet this is someone whose sons have stayed at my house, and who has been welcomed into my home on countless occasions.
I approached a mutual friend and discreetly enquired if I’d made a faux pas. It seems the only crime I’ve committed is not leaving the house with a bag over my head. (When she tried to suffocate me, I’d taken it as a joke.) She doesn’t like me, I discovered, because she views me as a threat. The friend pointed out she is shorter, heavier and older than me. I wouldn’t comment on such a thing, but my friend pointed out that she is also badly dressed, haggard, and has blotched skin.
And, according to our mutual friend, she is adamant that something could happen between her handsome husband and me, ‘were the right circumstances in place’. She added that I ‘never stop going on about how great I look’ and that I ‘always go over the top to look good, instead of just putting on a sweater and old jeans to walk the dog, like a normal person’.
Yet I’m happily married, and have been for the past four years.
This isn’t the first time such paranoia has gripped the women around me. In my early 20s, when I first started in television as a researcher, one female boss in her late 30s would regularly invite me over for dinner after a long day in the office.
I always accepted her invitation, as during office hours we got along famously. But one evening her partner was at home. We were all a couple of glasses of wine into the evening. Then he and I said we both liked the song we were listening to.
She laid into her bewildered partner for ‘fancying’ me, then turned on me, calling me unrepeatable names before ridiculing me for dying my hair and wearing lipstick. Rather than putting this down to her being tipsy and laying into her husband during a rough point in her marriage, I decided this was all about me, me, me, and declined any further invitations.
Therapist Marisa Peer, author of self-help guide Ultimate Confidence, says that women have always measured themselves against each other by their looks rather than achievements — and it can make the lives of the good-looking very difficult.
‘Many of my clients are models, yet people are always astounded when I explain they don’t have it easy,’ she says. ‘If you are attractive other women think you lead a perfect life — which simply isn’t true. Obviously modelling – as a hyper-competitive industry where success is primarily based on looks, parallels directly with a normal working environment, which I assume must be exactly the same,’ Marisa added. It was a comfort being in the company of a woman not so deeply intimidated by my looks.
‘Normal women – ‘ Marisa also uses the technical term *uggers* ‘don’t realise you are just as vulnerable as they are. It’s hard when everyone resents you for being the kind of person who submits articles to a national newspaper about your own stunning looks. Men think “what’s the point, she’ just keep whinging about how tough she has it” and don’t ask you out. And women don’t want to hang out with someone more attractive than they are.’
I certainly found that out the hard way, particularly in the office.
One contract I accepted was blighted by a jealous female boss. It was the height of summer and I’d opted to wear knee length, cap-sleeved dresses. They were modest, yet pretty; more Kate Middleton than Katie Price.
But my boss pulled me into her office and informed me my dress style was distracting her male employees. I didn’t dare point out that there were other women in the office wearing similar attire.
Rather than argue, I worked out the rest of my contract wearing baggy, sombre-coloured trouser suits. It was clear that when you have a female boss, it’s best to let them shine, but when you have a male boss, it’s a different game: I have written in the Mail on how I have flirted to get ahead at work, something I’m sure many women do. (You may have noticed that I said that ‘I’m no flirt’ just a few hundred words higher, but here at The Daily Mail we prefer to treat our readers like idiots. It’s our policy to report ‘news’ about how everything either causes or cures cancer; bitchily criticise celebrity culture while wallowing in it; and in general push brazen hypocrisy as far as it can go.)
Women, however, are far more problematic. With one phenomenally tricky boss, I eventually managed to carve out a positive working relationship. But a year in, her attitude towards me changed; the deterioration began when she started to put on weight, and, if anything, picked up speed when I gently teased her about it.
We were both employed by a big broadcasting company. One of our male UK chiefs recommended I take the company’s global leadership course, which meant doors would have opened for me around the world.
All I needed were two personal recommendations to be eligible. As everyone in the office agreed I was good at my job, I didn’t think this would be a problem.
The male executive signed the paperwork without hesitation, while I sat on the edge of his desk, playfully swinging my legs girlishly. However, my immediate boss refused to sign. When I asked her right-hand woman why, she pulled me to one side and explained that my boss was jealous of me.
Things between us rapidly deteriorated. Whenever I wore something new she’d sneer at me in front of other colleagues that she was the star, not me.
Six months later I handed in my notice. Privately she begged me to stay, blaming the nasty comments on her hormones. She was in her early 40s and confided she was having marital problems. But by then I’d decided to treat this woman – clearly a slightly vain woman going through the worst period in her personal life – as typical of all women, at all points in their lives, in all circumstances.
I find that older women are the most hostile to beautiful women — perhaps because they feel their own bloom fading. How dare they focus their thoughts on their own lives, rather than how it affects me?
Because my husband is ten years older than me, his social circle is that bit older too. As a Frenchman, he is pleasantly superficial, and takes great pride in hearing other men declare that I’m a beautiful woman and always tells me to laugh off bitchy comments from other women.
Yet I dread the inevitable sarky comments. ‘Here she comes. We’re in the village hall yet Sam’s dressed for the Albert Hall,’ was one I recently overheard. Rather than treat these as playful teasing, or make some self-depreciating comment to ease my friend’s insecurities, I slapped her. Slapped that bitch hard.
But even these ploys don’t always work. Take last summer and a birthday party I attended with my husband. At one point the host, who was celebrating his 50th, decided he wanted a photo with all the women guests. Positioning us, the photographer suggested I stand immediately to his right for the shot.
Another woman I barely knew pushed me out of the way, shouting it wasn’t fair on all the other women if I was dominating the snap. I was devastated and burst into tears. How dare someone else steal MY limelight? Does being the host’s wife automatically entitle her to stand near him?
On my own in the loos one woman privately consoled me — well out of ear-shot of her girlfriends.
So now I’m 41 and probably one of very few women entering her fifth decade welcoming the decline of my looks. I can’t wait for the wrinkles and the grey hair that will help me blend into the background. I dye my hair blonde, make sure my nail varnish is always perfectly applied, wear stylish clothing every minute of the waking day. But rather than easing off on one or more of these things, I wait for the day nature will slowly erode my innate superiority.
Perhaps then the sisterhood will finally stop judging me so harshly on what I look like, and instead hate me for the self-centred egomaniac I am.