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Sunday, June 20, 2021

Just enjoy your success, Kate Winslet. Your husband can take care of himself | Barbara Ellen

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My Website: https://livetvable.com/

Why do highly successful women feel they must overpraise spouses who merely do what women do all the time? Kate Winslet is having a “moment” with the television series Mare of Easttown and deservedly so. Still, why did she feel the need to uber-gush about her husband, Edward Abel Smith (Richard Branson’s nephew, formerly self-christened Ned Rocknroll) in a recent New York Times interview? According to Winslet, Abel Smith is a “super-hot, superhuman stay-at-home dad” and an “absolutely extraordinary life partner”. He looks after her and the children. Although dyslexic, he helps Winslet with her lines. He maintains his zen with veganism, yoga, breath work and cold swims. His long hair makes him resemble “an ocean warrior”.

Note to Kate: there are acceptable levels of spousal gushing and then there’s “umbrella for the journalist, please!”. Winslet adds: “He didn’t particularly plan on meeting and marrying a woman who is in the public eye and therefore having been so judged.” And there perhaps you have it: while Winslet stops short of technically de-alpha-ing herself, she could be endeavouring to ensure that her husband doesn’t feel quite so beta.

Is Abel Smith a stay-at-home dad or is he still head of marketing, promotion and astronaut experience for Uncle Richard’s firm? It seems odd that a man should be eulogised for supporting his wife. Women do this all the time – does it qualify them as “superhuman”? Is Abel Smith’s ego so fragile that Winslet must lavish praise on him or he might have a panic attack about being an A-list house husband with a sideline in astronaut experiences?

Or is this beyond Winslet and Abel Smith and more about the great unspoken curse of successful women generally? The idea, even now, that men are conditioned to resent female success. That female power emasculates a man and it’s up to the woman to make that right, to make the neutered male’s contribution bigger by making herself smaller. That all too often such women are paranoid about unmanning their spouses and feel they must lay the praise on super-thick to the point where it borders on relationship damage control.

This kind of thinking is the knotweed of gender dynamics – it never quite goes away. Last year, in equality-minded Sweden, there was a study about how women who become CEOs divorce faster than men who become CEOs. Still, there are always couples bucking such trends and Winslet and Abel Smith could be among them: Abel Smith, growing up around fame and therefore not cowed by it; Winslet, a thespian supernova, but one who wants real love in a real life.

Still, for all the accomplished women out there, it bears noting that it must be a rare successful man who’d worry for a solitary second about losing his woman because of it. In 2021, it’s a tragedy if women feel they’ll be punished and abandoned for what they’ve earned.

Laurence Fox, less a man of the people, more a man of one millionaire

Laurence Fox
Laurence Fox: bankrolled, but to no avail. Photograph: Victoria Jones/PA

It would take a saint not to laugh on learning from the Electoral Commission that Laurence Fox (actor turned anti-woke-Flashman) received almost as much money in donations (£1,153,300) as the Liberal Democrats for the London mayoral race and yet his Reclaim party still only managed to come sixth, garnering 1.9% of the vote share. Then again, Fox managed to beat Count Binface and you can’t take that away from him.

Other news from the Electoral Commission includes the large Tory donation from Peter Cruddas, the businessman Boris Johnson made a peer last December against House of Lords advice. What a mysterious coincidence.

Back to Fox. His mayoral war chest, like all of his funding, came from Jeremy Hosking, the wealthy, Brexit-supporting fund manager. Now what? Will Fox finally admit (to himself, if no one else) that he may have taken a wrong turn? He trashed his career and his reputation to spend more than a million quid of someone else’s money to stand as a “man of the people” and ended up only just beating the equivalent of Screaming Lord Sutch.

Still, every cloud and all that… At least the one person who seems to like Fox happens to be a multimillionaire.

Welcome to Britain, unless you’re a young European

The London Eye
The London Eye, off-limits for many European students.
Photograph: Aaron Chown/PA

Does Britain really need to strengthen its borders against European youngsters on school trips? Forthcoming post-Brexit requirements are likely to cut the number of European young people visiting the UK by half. Continental tour operators dealing in school excursions say that the UK used to account for 90% of trips, but now inquiries are about Ireland, or previously less travelled territories such as Malta and the Netherlands.

This is as depressing as it is unnecessary. Despite appeals, the UK government has refused to exempt young Europeans from the new passport and visa measures on the grounds that it is “committed to strengthening the security of our border”. Against what: the existential threat of European schoolkids wanting to see the London Eye?

Among those particularly affected will be non-EU European pupils (generally immigrant children), as the UK will no longer allow them to visit under the “list of travellers” visa scheme, meaning considerable extra expense and administrative aggravation. Who could blame European schools for thinking that the UK is just not worth the bother?

This isn’t just about London – the changes will affect towns and cities across the UK, notably all the businesses that offer European pupils educational, residential, hospitality or tourist facilities, which rely upon a steady flow of young overseas visitors.

It’s also another door slamming shut on our relationship with Europe, all the more heartbreaking because it involves young Europeans, aka the future. Most of us remember overseas school trips as a blast. Far from elitist, for some people, myself included, they were the only chance to go abroad as a minor, with the added bonus of doing so without your parents. Young people benefit from these short cultural-cum-educational trips, and UK businesses need the custom, so why is an exemption out of the question? Let’s face it, Britain feels increasingly shut.

Barbara Ellen is an Observer columnist

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