It’s five years since I started as a columnist in the Belfast Telegraph but I’ll never forget my first celebrity article. This was a commentary on “the society wedding of the year 2007” — Liz Hurley and Arun Nayar.
And what a way to start that was! It was every columnist’s dream story; a display of wealth and extravagance so extreme that it was almost went beyond belief or compare unless of course you count certain famous historical ostentations such as Marie Antoinette’s slumber parties or Cleopatra’s arrival in Rome.
If you have forgotten, let me remind you of some of the details that went into producing that media circus called love.
The formal “for richer and for richer” ceremony began with a “dazzling fairytale wedding” at an ancient castle. Sir Elton John arrived in a purple helicopter to walk the bride down the aisle before a congregation of such celebrity and wealth that it looked like a patchwork of Hello! Magazine front covers.
Guests were then entertained in a lavish marquee and served a sumptuous 10-course banquet inspired by the wedding menu of King Henry VIII and Catherine Parr (another celebrity couple who were very much in love) by liveried footmen dressed in green velvet. Instead of toasts and speeches, the merry throng were then treated to a full-length Bollywood movie starring the happy couple in a musical interpretation of their own love story. (Supressed yawns like a Mexican wave spreading round the room in the meantime)
But, of course, this wasn’t nearly enough of a fuss for Liz. In keeping with her stature as a leading actress — from one Austin Powers movie where she played a “fembot” with breasts that fired bullets — the festivities had only begun. From there, the entire party flew out to India in private jets for a week of “traditional Hindu” wedding celebrations in assorted lavish venues including an ancient palace, a string of luxury hotels, a historic ruined fortress and a private temple to name but a few. A herd of (house-trained) elephants were even involved.
After five days and nights of opulence and hedonistic feasting, the caravan of love saw its grand finale — a spectacular son-et-lumière firework display in the desert of Rajasthan to which the bride was borne aloft on a red and gold velvet throne, dressed like the Queen of Sheba in a scarlet silk gown encrusted with diamonds and emeralds, whilst gold leaf confetti rained down on her from the sky. Oh Liz, where did it all go wrong? Actually — and I hate to say I told you so, so I won’t — but it did all go wrong. Well, who’d have thunk it?
Within months they were “living separate lives” and then the union that had everything except its own national holiday and commemorative stamps came to a very quiet and unceremonious conclusion.
So what brought all this to mind? Well, it was announced this week that Liz is to marry again, this time around to a world-famous Australian cricketer with a Tango tan, neon teeth, a reputation as a bit of a playboy and a small fortune under his belt.
As soon as the “news” was announced that they’d got engaged, I started to imagine the wedding. I mean, how could she possibly top the last one?
Private jets for everyone to Australia? A fleet of kangaroos on standby to take them to the ceremony in Sydney Opera House where Rolf Harris awaits as Best Man, Kath and Kim are the bridesmaids and Dame Edna presides as Matron of Honour? Followed by a week-long walkabout in the outback?
I can’t see it working somehow. I reckon Liz should leave it to her hubby to organise. When in Oz do as the Aussies do and all that? Throw some shrimp on the barbie and crack open a few tinnies of the amber nectar. Fair dinkum!