Does the NHS chief executive, Sir Simon Stevens, think British people take Gwyneth Paltrow and Goop seriously? Does even Paltrow take herself seriously?
In a speech, Stevens referenced Goop as he criticised “quacks, charlatans and cranks” in the wellness industry. While making serious points about the dangers of the anti-vaccination movement, he railed against “dubious wellness products and dodgy procedures”, going on to mention “jade eggs and unusually scented candles… and a new TV series in which [Paltrow] and her team test vampire facials”. Quite. Goop is infamous for its ludicrous, expensive quackery. But since when did it masquerade as a viable alternative to the NHS?
I doubt I’m in Goop’s target market – I’m too old and cynical. When I had a quick peek at The Goop Lab with Gwyneth Paltrow on Netflix, it was just as I’d expected – a bunch of earnest yoga-hippies in overpriced stretchy clobber with too much Me!-time on their hands, to whom you could probably sell Tower Bridge if you dabbed enough patchouli oil on it. This kind of thing adheres rather too closely to the “eat, pray, embrace your narcissism” belief system, but if people are absolutely determined to shove jade eggs where the sun doesn’t shine, then how are we to stop them?
For all that some of us recoil at the excesses of Goop (I will doubtless thrash about on my deathbed, hallucinating and screaming: “No, Gwynnie, please don’t steam my vagina!”), is anyone actively being misled? Goop is clear that it covers “emerging topics that may be unsupported by science”. That it sells fantasy, entertainment, indulgence, diversion – as opposed to, say, a fully functioning A&E department. Arguably the saving grace of the Zen hard sell of Goop is its modicum of self-awareness; it knows it has naff all to do with health. It’s just a wellness brand – expecting it to hold to scientific/medical criteria is like expecting a lip gloss to do a handstand.
Stevens was right to blast Goop products and philosophies, but did he think the rest of us hadn’t noticed? Add those prohibitive prices into the mix and it becomes yet clearer that Goop is far too expensive and elitist to have too much impact on the real world. This is what makes Stevens’s attack seem a little overheated, though perhaps I should cut him some slack. It must be simpler and easier for a chief executive to rail against Goop than to give a speech about all the huge, real and complex problems (not least under-funding and dismantling) facing the NHS.
As for Paltrow, it’s doubtful she’d be alarmed by the criticism. Her recent marketing wheeze, the instantly notorious “smells like my vagina” candle, confirmed my long-held suspicion that, never mind the acting background, or even the multizillion-dollar wellness brand, Gwyneth Paltrow, a woman clearly not without humour, should be congratulated on yet another successful career as a world-class provocatrice.
And Donald Trump’s wall came tumbling down
Oh no, part of President Trump’s wall has blown over in the wind. One of his key electoral promises was to build a wall between Mexico and America. “I would build a great wall,” he said Trump.. “And nobody builds walls better than me.” Psst, Donald, when you said “nobody” there, did you mean pre-schoolers armed only with Play-Doh and lollipop sticks?
The affected section of wall was about 130ft long, and fell on to trees on the Mexican side. I say “wall”, but Trump’s plans have been repeatedly scaled back. It appears to have been downgraded to iron panels slapped on to gaps in the existing border – a bit like when you put a bin against a hole in the fence to stop the dog getting out. Elsewhere, the “wall” turned into 14 miles of wooden slatted fencing, which suggests there must have been one hell of a sale going on at whatever passes for Homebase now in America.
So far, on the Build a Wall scoreboard, I make that Mexicans 1, Trump 0. Trump hasn’t built a wall, he’s just patched up the old barrier. While the cost has been criticised (Trump just tried to divert a further $7.2bn from the Pentagon’s budget), the result has been mocked, not least by an eight-year-old girl who was videoed breezily climbing an 18ft replica of Trump’s “virtually impenetrable” wall, built in a rock-climbing park in Kentucky. Another man climbed the replica wall while juggling with one hand.
It’s reported that the wall fell because the cement holding it failed to stiffen. So the plot thickened but the cement didn’t? As Trump is enduring all kinds of nightmarish structural collapses at the moment, it would be unseemly to mock. Where the collapse of Trump’s wall is concerned, let’s just sit back, relax, and enjoy the metaphor.
Turns out it was flu, not Brexit: I wasn’t remoaning, just moaning
It’s a turning point all right – no more allowing Brexit to screw with my health (mental or physical). I’ve just had flu, and I didn’t even realise it. I thought I had a cold, on top of feeling drained and down about Brexit day. I only realised it was flu when others caught it from me. All the things I’d put down to Brexit (low mood, exhaustion, heavy limbs, headaches, disturbed sleep, breathlessness, spaciness) were illness. I hadn’t come down with Brexit after all.
In some ways, it’s funny – once, I might have overdone the partying, now it’s remoaning too hard. Still, it’s yet another side-effect of leaving – even as people report Brexit-related stress and depression, others like me ignore genuine flu symptoms, thinking: “It’s just Brexit.”
Well, enough of that. I’m sick (literally, it appears) of feeling “owned” by someone else’s Brexit. People like myself (Remainers, rejoiners, delusional, call us what you will) have to learn to pace ourselves, which in no way means giving up. We need to keep an eye on The Situation but, from now on, let the Tories, and all other Leavers, take responsibility for the worry and stress of it all.
If this was your Brexit, then you’re more than welcome to it, sickness and all.
• Barbara Ellen is an Observer columnist