Belfast Telegraph

Pregnant or about to split from a partner? You're right on trend

By Jane Graham

There is nothing the tabloid Press loves more than behavioural celebrity trends. Fashion trends are fine, allowing for lucrative link-ups with retailers who do £10 versions of A-list emerald-splattered evening gowns (you simply can't tell the difference, unless you stand up, sit down, walk, or attempt to wear the item more than once).

But, beyond that, there isn't much to say about a few famous folk wearing kaftans. Even The Sun's philosophy page struggles to find a connection between a bumbag and latent bisexuality.

Much meatier is the phenomenon of what look like (if you really tilt your brain) patterns of extreme behaviour among famous folk. It only takes three cases (two is a coincidence, three is a trend) over a few months to declare a contagion of life-changing activity in showbiz circles.

An outbreak of pregnancies is a Heat editor's dream, exciting "proof" that celebrities move and think in packs; so unlike us, the ordinary people who consider a new baby quite a big undertaking.

There aren't so many pending babies at the moment, but there are signs of the next best thing: serial celebrity splits. Divorce and separation are massive right now.

Ben Affleck and Jennifer Garner, Gwen Stefani and Gavin Rossdale, Kermit and Miss Piggy, Homer and Marge Simpson. And, just this week, ex-One Directioner Zayn Malik and his pop star fiancee Perrie Edwards.

The tabloids are electrified by each new announcement (the fictional aspect of some of the perpetrators is glossed over, implying Miss Piggy and Kermit, being very famous, are simply vulnerable to the same creeping brain disease as any other star).

After some debate about who started the craze (it was Ben and Jen), we get some psychological tit-bits about why it's happening right now. This is when it gets confusing.

Having presented the roll-call of splits as evidence of freakish celebrity groupthink, the Press moves on to more serious features about why it's common sense for couples to break up in ... um, what season is it now? Yeah, summer.

(I have a weird feeling I read about why lots of couple break up at Christmas about seven months ago, but I've probably mis-remembered that.)

This seems contradictory to me - either there are logical factors which bring down even the most normal relationships in the summer, or Ben and Jen triggered a celebrity fad which revealed the weird and sheep-like nature of the collective superstar mind.

Whichever it is, newspapers and radio programmes are now awash with comments from experts on why this season is especially perilous.

"Summer, as a time of rebirth, may signal to vulnerable couples that their relationships are in a perpetual frost," opines "psychiatrist and Fox News contributor" Dr Keith Ablow.

After the analysis comes the advice. It seems Zayn and Perrie made many classic mistakes.

India Kang, "dating and relationship coach for women", advises girls "never to cohabite unless there's a ring on your finger and a wedding date set".

Kang cites the poetic truism, "Why buy the cow when you can get the milk for free?" I've always thought the whole point of living together was to find out if you want to consider the huge step of getting engaged, but clearly I had it the wrong way round.

Kang is strict: "The absolute maximum amount of time for an engagement is one year."

What would she say about me, I wonder; a woman who lived with a number of men before I got engaged and became a mother before I was married?

I expect my marriage is liable to crumble like a battered digestive any day now. Oh well, at least I'll be totally on trend.

Still bogged down in real art world

Much has been made this week of the (30-year-old) "revelation" that master of surrealism Marcel Duchamp stole his most famous piece, the 1917 signed urinal - Le Pissoir - from a lesser-known female artist.

Actually, Duchamp never claimed it was his. For him, the crucial thing was his statement that because he, an artist, said it was art, it became art. For me, what's more interesting is this story as one in a long list of examples of the art world celebrating a man's achievement when they would certainly have rejected, or ignored, the same offering from a woman.

Has the art world completely turned its attitude round since? Hmmm.

A-bomb coverage just not cricket

BBC5 Live's coverage of the bombing of Hiroshima began with compelling, evocative witness testimonies, powerfully reflecting the hopes for peace and absence of bitterness in the city today.

But it all went wrong when England started taking wickets at the cricket in quick succession and these sombre, moving interviews were continually interrupted by buoyant updates from laughing commentators at "a historic moment" in The Ashes.

It was badly misjudged; every five minutes, a tonal shift which felt obnoxious and graceless. Would it have been impossible to wait just a few minutes to update England cricket scores, while a genuinely historic moment was remembered elsewhere?

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