Note­book

The Mail on Sunday - - NEWS - Alexan­dra Shul­man’s

Chil­dren are bet­ter off with both par­ents, An­gelina...

AN­GELINA JOLIE and Brad Pitt’s epic di­vorce is fi­nally reach­ing the courts next month, with An­gelina de­mand­ing sole cus­tody of their six chil­dren – and Brad in­sist­ing it should be joint.

No doubt An­gelina is de­voted to her brood, but I can’t un­der­stand why any­body would think they are mak­ing their chil­dren bet­ter off by de­priv­ing their fa­ther of an equal part in their up­bring­ing.

Di­vorce is hor­ri­ble for all con­cerned and, usu­ally by the time one gets to that point, re­la­tions be­tween the par­ents are arc­tic.

Both par­ties will take an ex­tremely hos­tile view of al­most ev­ery­thing about each other and be ready to cite a zil­lion ex­am­ples of their ex’s ap­palling be­hav­iour.

But chil­dren don’t feel the same. They have tremen­dous loy­alty to both par­ents and learn early on to nav­i­gate be­tween the two camps.

They hate to hear their par­ents slag­ging off each other and gen­er­ally de­cide that to­tal dis­cre­tion is the wis­est modus vivendi – rarely telling one par­ent any­thing about their time with the other.

I re­mem­ber freak­ing out when I learnt, through a third party, that my son Sam, then six years old, had slept in his fa­ther’s Ma­jor­can bar dur­ing his stay with him. But Sam never men­tioned it to me, nor seemed par­tic­u­larly put out when I raised the topic.

Chil­dren are very ac­cept­ing of each par­ent’s char­ac­ter and, as they grow up, in­stinc­tively un­der­stand their re­spec­tive strengths and weak­nesses.

There have been countless times when, an­noyed as I may have been with my ex, I have known that he would have a bet­ter take than me on one of our child’s wor­ries. At mo­ments like this, shared re­spon­si­bil­ity is a re­lief.

Di­vorced par­ent­ing is never easy but the best thing you can do for your kids is to try to en­sure they have an equally strong re­la­tion­ship with both par­ents. This is far more likely to be achieved if their cus­tody isn’t en­trusted to only one – and they aren’t fought over like a prop­erty port­fo­lio.

Christ­mas cook­ies make me crum­ble

THE Christ­mas Lake­land cat­a­logue ar­rived this week, trig­ger­ing my first bout of sea­sonal l ow self-es­teem. The pages are filled with prod­ucts for the kind of fes­tive home that I have never achieved. Are there re­ally peo­ple who whip up gin­ger­bread Christ­mas trees and Nutcracker sol­dier cook­ies? If that’s you – se­ri­ous re­spect.

A Royal Yacht could keep Bri­tain af loat

TWENTY-ONE years af­ter Bri­tan­nia was re­tired, it’s time to com­mis­sion a new Royal Yacht. As a coun­try we need to be think­ing big and flaunt­ing ev­ery as­set we have. Pomp and pageantry is one of our star turns, and no­body ever turns down an in­vi­ta­tion to Buck­ing­ham Palace, nor I bet, would they to Bri­tan­nia 2. In­dus­tri­al­ists love a yacht, and a float- ing Royal con­fer­ence room ad­ver­tis­ing the at­trac­tions of do­ing busi­ness with Bri­tain would eas­ily re­pay the £60 mil­lion a new ves­sel would ap­par­ently cost. Es­pe­cially if it were Wil­liam, Harry and their at­trac­tive fam­i­lies on deck – rather than Air Miles Andy.

Oh brother, that was a £200m mis­take

IT’S of­ten said that you only need one good idea to make your for­tune. The trick is to recog­nise it.

Many years back my younger brother was work­ing as art di­rec­tor on what was then Harpers & Queen mag­a­zine when the ju­nior beauty ed­i­tor ap­proached him to ask for his ad­vice.

She said she felt stuck in her job and was think­ing of leav­ing to start up a mail-or­der com­pany sell­ing white sheets and pil­low cases.

His re­ply? ‘That’s the nut­ti­est idea I’ve ever heard. What­ever you do, don’t do that. Hang on in here. I’m sure you’ll get a pro­mo­tion soon.’

The young woman was called Chrissie Rucker. And her idea? The White Com­pany, which last year sold £200 mil­lion of the stuff.

Vic­to­ria’s too Posh to push the Spice Girls

THE Spice Girls are re­unit­ing for a tour that is go­ing to net them a cou­ple of mil­lion each. But they are hav­ing to do it with­out Posh Spice, who has re­fused to join in. And no won­der. For Vic­to­ria Beck­ham those tak­ings are chicken feed, and why would she want to re­visit the past? There comes a point where a Wannabe be­comes a Has­been.

When I in­ter­viewed Vic­to­ria in 2008 for her first Vogue cover story, she was per­form­ing in the last Spice Girls tour.

She in­vited me and my fam­ily to come to the show and wel­comed us into her dress­ing room where, as David fix­ated on his phone, she was done up in full Posh re­galia – squeezed i nto a shiny bronze cat­suit, caked in fake tan with a stiff hel­met of hair gel and tot­ter­ing around in plat­form shoes that make her nor­mal stilet­tos look like comfy slip­pers. Ten years later her world has moved on and she is now a so­phis­ti­cated fash­ion de­signer whose ev­ery pub­lic ap­pear­ance is an ad­vert for her busi­ness.

Any hint of a la­tex cat­suit could kill that hard- won brand im­age stone dead.

Is this re­ally what a fem­i­nist looks like?

THE an­nual Vic­to­ria’s Se­cret show took place in New York last week fea­tur­ing mod­els of the mo­ment Gigi Ha­did and Ken­dall Jen­ner.

The per­for­mance is part pin-up cal­en­dar, part rock con­cert, with the highly paid girls strut­ting their stuff on the cat­walk in mi­nus­cule strips of lin­gerie ac­ces­sorised in ex­otic bondage style.

Quite where this sits with the pro­claimed #MeToo val­ues of these hugely suc­cess­ful mod­els is hard to work out. Per­son­ally, I’m all for women be­ing able to wear as lit­tle or as much as they are com­fort­able in and have no prob­lem mix­ing a se­quined thong with fem­i­nism.

But where I do get con­fused is how the girls ex­pect men to re­act to them in these overtly sex­ual cos­tumes. Mod­ern-day fem­i­nism is all about es­cap­ing from the tyranny and sub­ju­ga­tion of the ‘male gaze’, so this seems a funny way to go about it.

MIXED MES­SAGE?: Gigi, left, and Ken­dall on the cat­walk last week

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