If Carrie Symonds wants to master the grand gesture, she should listen to Meat Loaf

This opinion feels about as unfashionable as matching your overly patterned wallpaper to your sofa, but I have some sympathy with Carrie Symonds. As I write, it looks increasingly like Boris Johnson’s reputation might actually be damaged by some rolls of wallpaper, which, on the one hand, is quite amusing when you think of all the terrible things that man has done in his life – and now he’s getting felled by questionable interior decor choices? And yet on the other hand, it does validate my belief in the power of wallpaper, which regular readers will know I have very strong feelings about.

Given that Johnson generally looks like an old bin bag, it seems a safe assumption that his girlfriend is the one in that relationship who cares about home decor. If so, Symonds and I are both strong believers in the importance of making one’s home one’s own, and both of us feel that the most satisfying way to do that is with some punchy wallpaper. I went for zebras, she allegedly went for gold, but I think the two of us understand one another.

So, given my expertise in this story, the first point I want to make is: if I’d known that the PM gets £30k every year to decorate his home, I’d have gone into politics instead of journalism. Second, if we’re talking about gold wallpaper, or ceiling-to-sofa flock fabric, it’s clear that Symonds is fond of the grand gesture.

And so am I, because a grand gesture is how you carpe diem: it’s about releasing your individuality and committing yourself to a full-blooded, colourful life, not living among the timid and the greige. But to make a successful grand gesture, you need two things: you need confidence and you need to be honest about who you are.

An example of someone falling down at the former was Princess Beatrice and the notorious alien-esque hat that she wore to William and Kate’s wedding, which she might almost have carried off if she had really committed to it, instead of opting for it to be beige and then matching it to her dress, which smacked of a failure of nerve. An example of a lack of self-knowledge was when a pregnant Kim Kardashian allowed Kanye West to clothe her, from gloved fingertip to toe, in a clingy Givenchy floral dress, looking, as Robin Williams rightly tweeted at the time, like Mrs Doubtfire.

As for Symonds, spending money you don’t actually have, without finagling a questionable loan, is a classic sign of someone not being honest about who they are; you’re trying to be someone else, who has a life you don’t have. It’s at that point that your grand gesture is no longer admirable – it’s just bad taste.

If Symonds really wants to learn how to pull off big gestures, I would advise her to spend less time looking at the Instagram feeds of Sloaney designers such as Lulu Lytle and her wholesale lifestyle look, which allegedly inspired her, and more time listening to Meat Loaf.

I’ve been a Meat Loaf fan for a long time, and being a Meat Loaf fan means being a Jim Steinman fan, because Steinman wrote all of the Loaf’s operatic, joyful triumphs. Steinman very sadly died last month, meaning the world has lost one of the greatest masters of the grand gesture. As well as writing Bat Out Of Hell, You Took The Words Right Out Of My Mouth, Two Out Of Three Ain’t Bad and I’d Do Anything For Love (But I Won’t Do That), he also wrote Bonnie Tyler’s Total Eclipse Of The Heart and Holding Out For A Hero (co-written with Dean Pitchford), and It’s All Coming Back To Me Now, sung by both Meat Loaf and Céline Dion.

These are all amazing songs precisely because they’re so unique, so bold and so true to Steinman. Maybe you never knew that the man who wrote Tyler’s songs wrote the Loaf’s songs, but now that you do, it makes sense, doesn’t it? Whatever anyone wants to say about the famously eccentric Steinman, he was always entirely himself. And that’s deeply appealing. Even when Bat Out Of Hell was rejected by pretty much every record company in the world, and music mogul Clive Davis told him he couldn’t write, Steinman kept his nerve and finally released it. It’s still one of the biggest selling albums of all time.

I find Steinman inspiring because he wasn’t telling us to copy his grand gesture. He was not an influencer, suggesting his way is the best way. He was telling us to embrace our own individual weirdnesses, and maybe a 10-minute rock opera will come out, maybe it will be (ahem) a hot pink sofa – but either way, you’re being honest about who you are. And that is the best look of all.

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