Laura Craik on Londoners’ obsession with power, the unfairness of isolating school children and the bottom bravery of Lil Nas X
If God hadn’t created Gina Colangelo and Oliver Tress, Sharon Horgan would have had to invent them. Every school playground has a Gina and an Oliver; she immaculate in a blowdry and a dress from the ‘What’s New’ menu on Net A Porter, he slightly dishevelled in a linen jacket and jeans.
Attractive, successful and unfailingly polite, theirs is the house with the hot tub and the live-in, on the street to which the other parents aspire. Everyone wants to be Gina and Ollie. They have it all.
Which is why the implosion of their marriage has a certain London milieu obsessed. Why would a seemingly happy, successful career woman ditch her lovely, wealthy husband for a far less lovely and less wealthy man? Wasn’t her life fabulous enough? What more did she want? Power. Too many Londoners are obsessed with it: it’s why they moved here, to climb up the greasy pole.
They thought wealth alone would be enough, but now that they’ve bought the houses, bankrolled the staff, paid the fees and purchased the exotic holidays, they’re restless and bored. So they start lusting after access: to closed worlds, inner circles, decision-makers, policy-shapers.
two families for a new love that
will turn into an old love soon enough”
For some women, the Gina/Matt affair has been a dog whistle, prompting them to examine their own life and find it lacking, hurtling them into reveries of how wonderful it might be if only they had the balls to make their move. For others, it has been a lightning rod.
They’ve clutched their messy, irritating husbands tighter, grateful that they had the sense to ignore Charles’s advances at Henny’s BBQ, flattered as they were, for imagine destroying two families for a new love that will turn into an old love soon enough.
Life is never perfect. There is always more to acquire. But unless your partner is an abuser, a relationship is a relationship is a relationship, and swapping a dull one for a shiny new one can be a naive mistake. You know what they say: snog someone on CCTV in haste, repent at leisure.
As I write, 385,000 pupils are isolating at home after being exposed to someone who has Covid-19. These new, uncontrollable 10-day stretches could not have come at a worse time for young people, many of whom are writing exams or savouring their final weeks with friends before leaving school forever.
Children are suffering mental health crises in record numbers and no one seems to care. Meanwhile, adults are gallivanting round Wembley and Wimbledon in their thousands, booze in hand, socialising, because they’re privileged enough to remain free of the constraints so unfairly placed on young people. This has to change — now.
The winner of the 2021 Best Instagram Post award goes to… Lil Nas X, who, when asked whether he was ‘top or bottom’ responded magnificently by adapting Adichie’s famous quote: ‘We teach our bottoms to shrink themselves, to make themselves smaller. We say to bottoms, you can have ambition, but not too much.’
With Nas kissing a male dancer on stage at the BET Awards, this has been a good week for black gay energy. Madonna’s Insta Story claiming ‘I did it first’ (when she kissed Britney at the 2003 VMAs) was a mis-step from an artist who’s always backed queer culture. These same-sex kisses are really not the same: one is far, far braver than the other.
A new Soulwax remix of his 1978 disco classic ‘You Make Me Feel (Mighty Real)’ should be blowing up dance floors, if dance floors were open.
‘Cheers to cheers,’ said Love Island’s Toby, in what should be the catchphrase of the summer, if there’s any justice in the world.