I hate myself for it, but as with new leads on cold cases or anything involving the House of Grimaldi, I simply can’t look away. Brooklyn Beckham, whose achievements in photography are rivalled only by those of Rocco Ritchie’s in portraiture, married Nicola Peltz in Palm Beach, Florida, on Saturday, and on Monday the rest of us got to share in their joy. I took away three things from my glancing exposure to the 479 pages of coverage: Brooklyn’s extraordinary gaucheness, the ongoing question of what Romeo’s deal is, and the strange ubiquity of Eva Longoria.
Wealth erodes difference, and celebrity trumps wealth, but still, one wonders what the Peltz family make of the Beckhams – Peltz’s father, Nelson, in particular. Brooklyn Beckham’s new father-in-law is a 79-year-old businessman and fund manager, who made his billion-dollar fortune acquiring and running companies. (He used to own Snapple.) It is hard to imagine where, exactly, small talk with the father of the groom might have landed, particularly in light of Beckham Sr’s limitations. Perhaps they talked about Victoria Beckham’s fashion brand, approaching its 10th year of annual losses, or maybe Beckham explained to Peltz Sr, once again, that he really is a big deal (outside America).
The guest list included a certain stripe of British celebrity encapsulated entirely by the words “Gordon Ramsay”. And there I should have cut myself off. But it was a slow Monday, and from the wedding photos in Vogue it was a swift downward spiral to Brooklyn’s Instagram, where – there’s no excuse for this – I watched several videos, one of which featured him teaching a friend how to make a pecan pie, in his new guise as a chef. He was quite sweet, I think? It was hard to tell. Brooklyn squinted at the camera, looked mildly confused, and said things like: “That’s the thing about being a chef – always messy.” As an entertainer, he seemed disinclined to go much further than the standing and squinting, and one looks forward with anticipation to the career after this.
After launching last Wednesday, Netflix’s two-part documentary on Jimmy Savile gained traction this week and proved to be another great advertisement for public ownership of Channel 4, a much better maker of documentaries than the streaming giant. This one was very long, not very original and, per the subtitle – A British Horror Story – clearly intended for American audiences, many of whom went on Twitter to voice their astonishment.
For Brits it was an interesting moment of seeing ourselves through others’ eyes. Harder to explain to Americans than how Savile got away with his crimes for so long was the nature of his appeal in the first place. Here the documentary, light on victim testimony, heavy on bio, was somewhat useful, airing clip after clip of the man in his prime: that kiss-me-quick, end-of-the-pier burlesque that draws down into all sorts of British figures, from George Formby to Jimmy Krankie. Tactically, it was brilliant, a style thought incommensurate with adult sexuality, let alone predation. Whenever Savile said something jokey – “my case comes up next Thursday” – the camera lingered on his face to catch what appeared, in hindsight, to be a reptilian movement of the eyes. But that’s a point to make in three minutes, not three hours.
For the last five years, I have watched the construction of Steinway Tower through my window, inching up floor by floor to its final height of almost 1,500ft – a quarter of a mile into the air – and, with a height-to-width ratio of 24:1, officially the world’s skinniest skyscraper.
This week new residents were invited to move in and start experiencing Steinway’s special “sway” for themselves. As with other ultra-tall buildings in the city, you can apparently feel the place move in high winds, which pretty much guarantees I wouldn’t pay five bucks to live there, let alone $66m for the triplex.
Downtown, residents of another Manhattan skyscraper were having bigger problems. Residents of 20 Exchange Place have, since Christmas, been hit with regular elevator outages to the upper part of the building, all the way to the 59th floor. Once a week I force myself to take the stairs to the 13th floor and am rendered non-functional for about 20 minutes. I can only imagine how the nurse quoted in the New York Times, faced with a 48-floor hike after a 12-hour shift, managed to haul herself home.
The building management blames the problem on Con Ed, the energy provider, for failing to fix “surges” that it says keep knocking out the elevator banks, and Con Ed blames the building. All of which sounds terrible enough, but it gets worse. The Times reported that on occasion when residents are finally able to board an elevator, they have logged bumpy rides and “faster-than-usual descents”. My next home will be a bungalow.
David Mamet, the once great playwright, continues his commitment to going the full David Icke with a comment made to Fox News this week that “teachers are inclined – particularly men, because men are predators – to paedophilia.” It came up in a discussion around Florida’s so-called “don’t say gay” law, but doesn’t stand out among Mamet’s recent public pronouncements, including his assessment of Donald Trump. In a recent essay collection, Mamet described him as someone who “speaks American, and those of us who also love the language are awed and delighted to hear it from an elected official.”
Praising Trump for his language skills sounds like a trick question on a cognitive test for early signs of dementia, of a kind the former president loves to boast about passing. Anyway, Mamet still has a friend in the Wall Street Journal, a stablemate of Fox News, which after his most recent burblings stated admiringly that the Pulitzer prize winner “won’t play along with woke signalling”. It’s hard to let “coffee is for closers” go, but I guess now would be a good time to stop quoting him.
It’s Good Friday and I’m doing what God intended for the Easter weekend, which is forcing my children to watch back-to-back golden age musicals until they climb the walls and howl for mercy. This is payback for them complaining about musical theatre at their after-school club last week – learning Edelweiss apparently finished them off – and begging me to switch them to yoga. Anyway, I may have let them drop out of class, but they’re not off the hook. We’re starting with Oliver!, moving on to Gigi, and working our way up to Easter Parade, which is under two hours long but will feel to them more like five. As they love to say to each other when fighting, and in the spirit of Good Friday: that’s what you get.