ALEXANDRA SHULMAN'S NOTEBOOK: Meghan is good at giving poor advice
30th October 2022

ALEXANDRA SHULMAN’S NOTEBOOK: Meghan is staggeringly good at giving poor advice

Many things make me wonder whether Meghan Markle is bad for my mental health. One of them is the fact that having set herself up as a leader of women, an oracle of feminine power and a guide through the maze of prejudice that we – and, of course, she, too – find corralled against us, she then so staggeringly misses the point.

Her misreading of the world is so delusionary that it makes one gaslight oneself.

In her latest Archetype podcast, she addresses the issue of whether women can be allowed to be ‘clear’ and ‘direct’ and ‘set boundaries’ without being called difficult.

As a woman who was a boss (although I hate that word) for several decades, if there was one description of my time as Head Girl at Vogue that I heard repeatedly, it was that I was direct and decisive.

I don’t think anyone has ever thought me a bully, as Harry and Meghan were claimed to be by some Royal staff they previously worked with. Claims they deny

People occasionally left my office in tears if I had to fire them or make them redundant – and, incidentally, I’d invariably had a sleepless night beforehand. Or, if I didn’t like something my staff had produced, they would always be allowed to defend it, even if in the end they would rant afterwards at my bad judgment.

And there are others, even now that I have no office to lead, who find my inability to sugar-coat and people-please rather tiresome, or at times, abrasive. But I don’t think anyone has ever thought me a bully, as Harry and Meghan were claimed to be by some Royal staff they previously worked with. Claims they deny.

Yes, sometimes people are thrown by a straight-talking woman in a way they aren’t with men. But Meghan naturally fails to address the far more relevant issue of how you behave regardless of your gender. Of course, it’s important to be clear with work colleagues so as to get your message across. And occasionally you have to criticise.

Yet that doesn’t mean undermining and intimidating. It doesn’t mean making others feel weakened as you demonstrate your strength. It doesn’t mean that you shouldn’t treat others exactly how you’d want to be treated yourself.

Meghan seems obsessed with what she sees as the twin disadvantages of being a woman and being mixed-race.

Her podcasts deliver a relentless California-style rant – soft-voiced whining – that is intended to bolster women’s self-image. But all they do is give the impression that her reading of the world is utterly narcissistic as she doles out the poor advice and observations of a marshmallow.

In her latest Archetype podcast, Meghan addresses the issue of whether women can be allowed to be ‘clear’ and ‘direct’ and ‘set boundaries’ without being called difficult

Serve up visas to end hospitality hell

Fast-food entrepreneur Julian Metcalfe spoke last week of the critical shortages of staff in the hospitality business. His comments should be heeded by Home Secretary Suella Braverman.

Metcalfe, founder of Pret A Manger and Itsu, described how in the 1980s there were thousands of young, hard-working people from mainland Europe who came to experience life in the UK for a short time and then returned home. They didn’t want to live here forever. And, really, why would they? Think of the weather. He suggested that instead of Ms Braverman’s ludicrous clampdown on immigration, if two-year working visas were offered, young foreigners could come to live and work here for a short period.

Fast-food entrepreneur Julian Metcalfe spoke last week of the critical shortages of staff in the hospitality business

This would help solve the catastrophic staffing crisis affecting all pubs, restaurant and hotels.

Halloween’s latest baddie? Suella de Vil

Incidentally, walking through London’s Soho on Thursday, I noted huge queues of people outside fancy-dress shops who seemed to fit Suella Braverman’s description of ‘Guardian-reading, tofu-eating wokerati’ whom she blames for the recent spate of public protests. What’s the betting that at this year’s Halloween’s parties, the traditional villain Cruella de Vil will have a new rival in Suella de Vil?

What’s the betting that at this year’s Halloween’s parties, the traditional villain Cruella de Vil will have a new rival in Suella de Vil?

Incidentally, walking through London’s Soho on Thursday, I noted huge queues of people outside fancy-dress shops who seemed to fit Suella Braverman’s description of ‘Guardian-reading, tofu-eating wokerati’

Who cares if Rishi is stonkingly rich?

We must face facts. We have a stonkingly wealthy Prime Minister. The Sunaks’ family money is self-made. It’s wrong for us to encourage them to play-act that they’re financially in the same boat as the rest of us, shunning pricey clothes or disguising the fact their daughters are privately educated.

We expected that of some previous rich PMs but it’s time to accept that it’s OK to look rich so long as you get the job done.

Since Rishi Sunak became PM, his wife has kept out of the spotlight. But when she is seen in public, she shouldn’t feel she should appear head-to-toe in M&S or Zara – in the way wealthy Saudi women fling off their burka in the privacy of their home and put on Chanel and Valentino.

The Sunaks are multi-billionaire rich. Let’s get over it.

We must face facts. We have a stonkingly wealthy Prime Minister. The Sunaks’ family money is self-made

Two-strikes rule for the party poopers

Now that social life has returned post-Covid, so, too, has the infuriating habit of people cancelling at the last minute. It doesn’t matter whether it’s a black-tie dinner or pizza night at home, it’s simply not all right to pull out of agreed engagements, other than for a really good reason – like death.

Not everyone agrees, though, especially privileged types who seem to believe in some half-baked, entitled fashion, that sticking to plans is for the little people or that it’s boringly bourgeois to honour social commitments.

My question is this: how often should one accept someone flaking on you before you stop inviting them? Just for the record – in my house, it’s two strikes and you’re out.

I’ve high hoops for my exercise regime

I hate having to exercise. My parents’ generation rarely did any regular exercise and they all seemed healthy. It was the 1980s that started us on this wretched course – flogging round parks, lifting weights, lunging this way and that.

Perhaps the whole exercise thing is simply a cunning device to make us buy all kind of kit and expensive gym memberships.

I speak as one who’s just forked out on a weighted hula-hoop gizmo that is meant to take inches off my waist size in next to no time.

I’ll keep you posted.

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