Shakespeare’s Lady Macbeth has become a byword for female manipulation, with all the negative connotations that entails.
And although it’s been almost 400 years since The Bard dreamt up her character, the notion of a woman’s transforming influence is very real and very current.
Lady Macbeth Syndrome is in full swing. There she is, egging her somewhat flaky and indecisive man on to achieve great things at any cost.
Last week, my fellow Mail group columnist Sarah Vine wrote a powerful defence of her husband Michael Gove in the wake of his cocaine admission.
She used her column to position her man as a speaker of truth, at the same time acknowledging that, should he make it to No 10, she will no doubt be painted as a pernicious schemer, ‘a Lady Macbeth figure’.
Fashion guru: Boris Johnson’s new look is expected to be attributed to Carrie Symonds
The next day we saw that master of obfuscation, Boris Johnson, scrubbed up like a newly minted coin. Gone from the stage at the launch of his leadership bid was the brilliantly bumbling, haystack-haired Bozo of past days and instead there was a lean, mean, killing machine – well, up to a point – a transformation attributed to his new girlfriend, Carrie Symonds.
Similarly, Prince Harry is seen as having undergone a revamp by Meghan, exchanging his laddish carousing and old party crowd for sober good works. Cherchez la femme has never been more pertinent.
Of course, such is our society’s inbuilt misogyny that this kind of female influence is often regarded as a dark force; infantilising and malevolent, the soft power of pillow talk leaching way beyond superficial things like haircuts into key appointments and big decisions as old allegiances are tossed heartlessly on to the scrapheap. ‘It’s just like John and Yoko’ has become a catchphrase for losing your chum to the thrall of his controlling lover.
But the truth is that many men, and often strong and successful men, seem to like being taken in hand and urged on with steely determination that allows no turning back. In some cases maybe they can’t believe their luck at nabbing a total babe in the first place. Surely some part of Jeremy Clarkson’s keenness to head off on a healthy, weight-losing sabbatical was to do with wanting to hang on to the gorgeous, clean-living Lisa Hogan.
Change in lifestyle: Jeremy Clarkson made radical changes in a bid to keep Lisa Hogan
And even some of power-hungry Boris’s willingness to be made over can probably be attributed to his wanting to fulfil the ambitions and wishes of his new love, taking the pragmatic view: happy wife, happy life. Though the Macbeths let us not forget, came to a very sticky end.
Our jet lacked just one thing – a crew!
Delayed flights are not news, so when easyJet stranded us for seven-and-a-half hours in Palma last week, we just thought it frustratingly par for the course. But given that this kind of thing happens all the time, why do airlines find it necessary to adopt the Soviet Politburo approach: tell the proles nothing; information is dangerous.
When we eventually boarded the aircraft at 3am, the pilot came into the cabin to apologise. He blithely revealed the astonishing reason for the delay was that there was no crew to fly the plane. No, he didn’t know why this was the case. No, he didn’t know why we were told nothing at all as we waited.
Maybe crews will soon become another chargeable extra on ‘budget’ flights, like hold luggage and speedy boarding.
An office where dogs have security passes
Office advice: The Amazon boss Jeff Bezos is getting advice on improving working conditions for staff
Amazon’s Jeff Bezos has been getting tips on office management from fashion entrepreneur Brunello Cucinelli, who encourages long lunches, rooms with a view and short working hours at his headquarters in Perugia.
This must be great news for the oompah-loompas who man the jail-like Amazon warehouses. How office life is changing.
Mary Portas now allows her retail consultancy team to take as much holiday and maternity leave as they wish, while huge breakout areas to loll around on a sofa with a coffee are s tandard kit in any new office.
The other day I visited a massive advertising agency in Central London and, for the first time, envied young people starting out on their office life.
Not only was the open-plan floor bright and spacious, with a rooftop canteen offering subsidised food, but all the staff were allowed to bring their dogs in every day, each pooch equipped with their own security pass collar, so they can whisk in and out of the entry gates as casually as their owners.
The grubby truth about ‘woke washing’
Forget money-laundering – the new cleansing phrase is ‘woke washing’. This great term is a brilliant call-out for businesses that think they can just smear a smidgeon of politically correct behaviour on the surface so they look all virtuous and modern, while all the dirty stuff simply carries on beneath the surface just as it always did.
A ‘Leonardo’ that floats all our boats
Whether or not the Salvator Mundi is currently residing on the wall of Crown Prince Mohammed Bin Salman’s super-yacht as has been reported, the painting’s claim to fame is now assured. Not only is it the world’s most expensive work of art, but such has been the furore over its authenticity (is it really a Leonardo?) and whereabouts since it was bought at auction last year, that Mona Lisa-sized crowds are guaranteed should it ever go on public display.
Eve isn’t killing me second time around
SO… I’m liking Killing Eve this time around. But not loving it. Although there is already talk of a third series, I wonder whether its appeal is sustainable long-term.
Now that we understand the girl-crush obsession between the two leads and know what to expect from Villanelle and Eve, it’s lost the element of surprise that made it outstanding – unlike such multi-season blockbusters as Mad Men and The Crown, where familiarity with the characters serves to only makes us want to know more.
The man I’ll always avoid on Father’s Day
Father’s Day rolls around and, not for the first time, looking at the suggested gifts on offer, I wondered whose father the stores have in mind? A domino-playing, sockless, whisky-drinking guy with a taste for books of bad jokes, and Panama hats.
Never met him, and rather hope I never will.