Cristina Odone is deputy editor of the New Statesman, the readable but earnest leftist mag with a distinct air of Islington socialism about it. However, since most people don't have a limitless appetite for articles about the future of the Third Way, you're more likely to have encountered Odone via her column in the Observer.
Oddly, Odone works on a serious political magazine yet writes her column in the style of a gushing schoolgirl who makes Anne of Green Gables look as full of romantic nonsense as Joe Stalin. This week Odone relates a story about the meeja-friendly historian Niall Ferguson, currently doing well in America. She tells us:
'Given that Niall is brilliant and gorgeous, he has no shortage of female admirers. Anyone who knows Niall's other half, though, is not worried about his marriage.'
Well, that's a relief. Odone continues:
'Sue Douglas [Ferguson's wife]... is also bright and beautiful and knows what she wants. She told me how she and Niall got together: he had been asking her out for some time but she was seeing someone else. When Sue decided she wanted to have children, her then partner hummed and hawed... she asked [Ferguson] what he felt about children. 'Love them,' he replied enthusiastically. She proposed on the spot.'
Gosh, it's a fairy tale for the chattering classes. There's a lovely bit of quasi-feminism at work here too - if your partner is unsure about parenthood, it's your responsibility as a Modern Woman to ditch them so you can self-actualise by having kids. It's also faintly reminiscent of the dominant philosophy of the film Goodfellas: if anyone tries to stop you doing whatever the fuck you want, whack the muthafucker.
Odone goes on to describe meeting Frank Gardner, the BBC security correspondent shot in Saudi last week.
'I first met Frank... at Marlborough College, when I was visiting a friend... Frank, then a gawky teenager, had a soft spot for my friend, a beautiful German girl called Emanuela...'
Double gosh! Aren't Cristina's friends all so beautiful and super! Odone reveals that Frank was keen on sport, likeable and full of energy. He planned to get a job in a Middle Eastern bank but ended up at the BBC instead. Frank is, she intones, 'the real thing', not one of the 'public school correspondents in linen suits [with] posh voices'.
Hoorah. That's one less thing for us to worry about.
The rest of Odone's column was about the recent compensation claims brought by female employees of City banks who've been sexually discriminated against. Odone has a rare insight into this breed of go-getting, highly-paid, sexually confident women.
She relates a tale from 'an Italian investment banker I know' who was at the upmarket restaurant Nam Long when he was sent a drink and a business card by a 'by a pretty blonde a few feet away.' (Ugly people don't seem to feature heavily in Odone's universe.)
What had happened, you see, was that a woman had REVERSED THE USUAL ROLES by approaching the man instead of vice versa.
Odone's column really is a distinct genre of journalism: stuff about successful people the writer knows. Hunter S Thompson invented Gonzo journalism, Cristina has given us Shiny Happy People journalism. It's such a fascinating idea we've decided to have a crack at it ourselves:
My Sparkly Life, by TFT
Many years ago, I was visiting a friend at St Michael's College, Oxford. Her name was Olivia 'Ollie' Tirpitz-Holstein-Jpeg, and she was very beautiful with a cutesy wutesy wittle nose like a bunny wabbit, and all the boys thought she was a top-notch bit of humpty.
But Ollie was really rather keen on her fellow student Quentin D'Arcy-Bismark-Trumpton, who was not only really really really really really really really really dishy, but had just discovered a cure for cancer in his spare time. Unfortunately, he was engaged to a rather plain, if not ugly, in fact troll-like, girl,
whose name I forget.
Ollie went on to become a surgeon, saving countless lives and owning a big house. A surgeon friend of mine, who I bumped into at the West London fusion restaurant Pingu Peng Win, told me that surgery is a highly skilled profession that often involves working long hours, but does pay well, apparently.
Anyway, a few years later Ollie bumped into Quentin during the American launch of his best-selling book 'The Answer to Everything'. 'Ditch the bitch,' said Ollie, and they got married and lived happily ever after in a fairy tale townhouse in Belgravia, with their four children: Caspianella, Pusillanimous, Beauvoir and Ozzymandias.
PS. Richard Branson bought me a drink once.