Belfast Telegraph

Why media circus around Rocco leaves Madonna looking like a clown

By Lindy McDowell

What sort of a clown is Madonna making of herself these days? Caught up in a custody battle with her ex, Guy Ritchie, over their 15-year-old son, Rocco, she has appeared on tour in Australia togged out as a clown, riding on stage on a very small trike, her thighs bulging like a prop forward's over stripey stockings.

Funny when it's Coco. Not such a laugh when it's a woman in her late 50s trying to point-score in a tug-of-love contest over her child. "Tears of a clown," she posted self-pityingly on Instagram, where she does most of her soul-baring these days.

And speaking of baring ...

Apart from playing the tragic clown and keeping waiting, for hours on end, fans who'd paid a small fortune for tickets to see her, she's also faced a deluge of criticism for an onstage incident where she wheeked down a 17-year-old girl's top exposing her breast.

There is about Madonna and her stage show these days the whiff of desperation. Sure, she's still raking it in. But for how long will even her fondest fans keep the faith?

They pay for a ticket to a music concert. Not for a ringside seat to a venomous marital row.

And just whose cause is being helped by the use of family pictures of the boy as a stage backdrop? Certainly not poor Rocco's, who is surely mortified by the whole headline-grabbing spectacle.

All that said, I do really, truly feel sorry for the woman. Her son has left her and made clear, very publicly, very hurtfully, that he wants to live with his father on the other side of the world.

That would be galling, cutting enough for any mother. But for someone who is allegedly as controlling as Madonna, it is surely even more devastating.

The simplistic way of looking at the situation is that Rocco has chosen his father over his mother. But, actually, he's done nothing of the sort. He's 15. There will be a myriad of reasons why he prefers to live in London. Having some insight into the thinking of teenage boys (I reared two), I can confirm that, at that age, parents come way, way down their list of priorities. Well, after friends anyway.

Sadly, as the London judge previously involved in the case has so rightly pointed out, despite the fame and wealth of this particular mother and father, the same sort of bickering over the child, or the children, is something that all too many "ordinary" families face.

Looking in on the mess, the obvious solution, as the judge has suggested, is to put the boy first, reach some sort of working agreement and let him enjoy what little is left of his fading childhood. With all their money and resources that should not be beyond Madonna and Guy.

But in this saga there is also a third adult involved, who, interestingly, we don't hear a lot about. Equally energetic on the Instagram front is the current Mrs Guy Ritchie, Jacqui Ainsley.

At the height of the tug-of-love tension she posted a wedding pic that included Rocco with the caption "with love from the Ritchies".

Maybe it wasn't intended to be insensitive. But you can see how it must have stung Madonna. That and the more recent pictures of lovey-doveyness posted to mark Jacqui and Guy's wedding anniversary.

Jacqui, as a mother herself, must surely have some sense of how bereft Madonna must be feeling.

She's the boys stepmother. As such, she could be a calming influence encouraging Rocco's parents to try reach an amicable solution for his sake. But there's little sign of that.

Still. Who knows what's happening behind the scenes? Sadly, it's what happens in the public gaze that commands attention.

And, for now, on stage and on social media, none of the adults involved is looking all that good in this sour, ongoing circus.

Debbie’s tribute to Paul is just magic

The lovely Debbie McGee is how the late Paul Daniels used to refer to his wife. And she does come across as such.

Brave and stoic despite her grief, Debbie has been determined to pay tribute to her man.

I particularly liked the story she told about the straight-talking Daniels’ sacking by the Beeb. He wasn’t told directly, but found out by accident.

Debbie says: “Alan Yentob (the controller), who axed the show, said Paul hated him for it. Paul always said he hated him before.”

Churches miss out on Bunny money

Jamie Oliver may think he’s won the war over excess sugar consumption. But the onward march of the Easter Bunny suggests otherwise.

The Bunny is almost as big these days as Santa Claus. What’s more, some shops are now stocking ‘Easter decorations’ — wreaths and bunting and light-up eggs and chicks.

Are the Churches missing a trick here? Time to copyright major Christian festivals?

Think of the money — the extra money — they could rake in.

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