For­give me if I feel zip for the Clooneys

Ge­orge looks ex­hausted along­side ra­di­ant Amal as they take a mini­break at Lake Como from their twins

Pretoria News Weekend - - OPINION - GRACE DENT

The re­lent­less me­dia clus­ter which hu­man rights lawyer Amal Clooney found her­self thrust into when she mar­ried Ge­orge Clooney revved up this week­end dur­ing their trip to Lake Como. Or Lake Coma as we might re­name it, due to gor­geous Ge­orge, 56, a re­cent fa­ther of twins, be­ing snapped by the world’s pa­parazzi wear­ing the drawn, wind-bat­tered look of a man tak­ing his first ten­ta­tive steps after an in­ten­sive care se­da­tion.

The starry cou­ple mini-breaked with­out their new twins – pos­si­bly with the sole aim of in­fu­ri­at­ing Mum­snet fo­rums and also pos­si­bly to re­lax and recharge their bat­ter­ies. Amal, it has been noted by global show­biz writ­ers, looked “ra­di­ant” and, cru­cially, eight weeks after child­birth, “slimline”. Ge­orge, on the other hand, looked patently in need of some of those fancy caf­feine pods we see him flog­ging in ad breaks.

Ge­orge Clooney, it should be noted, has be­come a dad for the first time in his late fifties. This is, to my mind, ex­actly as late as many hot, sol­vent, pro­fes­sion­ally stim­u­lated bach­e­lors would leave off hav­ing chil­dren, if per­mit­ted, ac­qui­esc­ing only when all their bat­tles are won and they find a smok­ing hot, 20-years-younger wife.

This has al­ways been a win/win sit­u­a­tion for men. By 50-plus, men have had time to do their play­ing and grow­ing and mis­take-mak­ing, fi­nance ac­cru­ing and prop­erty-buy­ing. Then they can find a thir­tysome­thing who, from her side, needs to fire out some kids sharpish, and – vi­tally for him – is still perky enough to look after them.

So, in 2017, there’s bit­ter-sweet irony that Ge­orge Clooney has now found him­self the one scru­ti­nised for not “bounc­ing back” straight after the birth. Eye-bags, Ge­orge? Re­ally? Isn’t there a cream for that? Does your ho­tel not do oxy­gen facials? Can’t you jog with the Bu­ga­boo, Ge­orge, and im­prove your cir­cu­la­tion? Oh, gosh, I know it’s tempt­ing, Ge­orge, to sleep when the ba­bies sleep, but this is op­ti­mum time to be do­ing squats, curls and burpees.

Male and fe­male equal­ity, I muse of­ten, has led not to women gain­ing free­doms, but to men tak­ing on many of our te­dious bur­dens: bod­ily per­fec­tion, de­pila­tion, an aver­sion to age­ing, the ten­dency to pro­cre­ate and look like the walk­ing wounded for at least 14 months af­ter­wards. Or in many cases never re­cov­er­ing.

So, although many men will quite right­fully not give a fly­ing fig about the Clooneys’ Ital­ian hol­i­day, it should be noted that many other fa­thers-to-be will eye these Ge­orge Clooney pic­tures and be men­tally plan­ning out post-baby pro­tein shakes, shred­ding ses­sions and “boys’ time” golf­ing mini­breaks to re­gain that pre-fa­ther­hood sense of chutz­pah.

Of course, there is a side ar­gu­ment here that Amal Clooney be­ing praised for look­ing “ra­di­ant” and “slim” eight weeks after giv­ing birth to twins is just as im­por­tant and per­ni­cious to mod­ern dis­cus­sions about gen­der. How­ever, for­give me – in fact, pop me on the naughty step – for not feel­ing too much fem­i­nist sym­pa­thy for Amal.

Of all the Millie Tant hills that I’m will­ing to die on, it will not be try­ing to save the rep­u­ta­tion of a woman lucky enough to have be­come an in­ter­na­tion­ally recog­nised hu­man rights star while at the same time turn­ing the head of one of the most el­i­gi­ble bach­e­lors in his­tory. Of all the glob­ally known, most-likely-to-causea-me­dia-melt­down-wher­ever-he-treads slices of Hol­ly­wood roy­alty that Amal Ala­mud­din could have fallen in love with, Ge­orge Clooney was pos­si­bly the most el­i­gi­ble – so the me­dia cir­cus sur­round­ing their re­la­tion­ship can hardly have come as sur­prise.

And yes, the heart wants what it wants, yadda yadda, but the heart also knows what the heart ab­so­lutely doesn’t bloody want, and the hy­per-in­tel­li­gent Amal must have known from the mil­lisec­ond she be­gan dat­ing Ge­orge Clooney that his world was a carousel of end­less at­ten­tion and pho­tog­ra­phers hid­ing in bushes, and came with no “off ” switch.

The ma­jor­ity of Ox­ford-ed­u­cated, ul­tra-high-achiev­ing in­ter­na­tional law spe­cial­ists would have en­dured 11 days of never again be­ing able to wear a frumpy Hobbs skirt, sport a pre-men­strual pim­ple break­out or take her case files down to Pizza Ex­press with­out in­ter­na­tional scru­tiny be­fore scream­ing: “Enough!”

Amal Ala­mud­din did not. She ac­cepted this sit­u­a­tion and ran with it, know­ing all the risks. If Amal Clooney’s gor­geous ap­pear­ance and her post-baby “ra­di­ance” isn’t be­ing taken as se­ri­ously as her le­gal work, then per­haps we should all be more hon­est about how much work from her glam squad of stylists, beau­ti­cians, hair and make-up artists no doubt goes into her A-list look.

The fit­tings, the wax­ings, the di­et­ing, the sweat­ing in the gym, the never wear­ing any Gucci Spring/Sum­mer ’17 item twice, the cease­less paint­ing-theForth-Road-Bridge style regime – at least some of this must ex­ist in the back­ground, as it does for most in the same po­si­tion as her. If Amal Clooney wants the world to fo­cus solely and with­out a mo­ment’s de­vi­a­tion on her ster­ling and re­mark­able work with the Yazidi women, she’ll have to start show­ing up in court look­ing like Pep­per­mint Patty from Peanuts.

Of course ev­ery­one is go­ing to line up to tell Amal Clooney that she looks ra­di­ant and thin this week­end. In my opin­ion, if she wanted to avoid that, she shouldn’t have taken her first post­baby mini­break in peak sea­son Lake Como, and she cer­tainly shouldn’t have packed her suit­case with what looked to be a hun­dred or so £10 000-a-throw (R170 000) frocks which would make any fash­ion jour­nal­ist drool.

I’m not crit­i­cis­ing the play­ers, but I’ve plenty to say on the game. And – whether un­will­ingly or not – the pho­to­genic Clooneys are caught up in that game. Lit­tle sym­pa­thy from me.

Anal and Ge­orge Clooney re­cently wel­comed twins.

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