ALEXANDRA SHULMAN'S NOTEBOOK: The big issue in Qatar: Just what is in the WAGs' bags?

Due to a general lack of interest in football, I still have no idea what is happening on the pitch in the World Cup. No matter. The fact that I generally have to enquire which end we are meant to be attacking and which team is wearing which colour benchmarks my ignorance. But, like the majority of the country, I have contracted World Cup fever.

This has very little to do with the sport and skill or otherwise displayed but the splendid general entertainment value.

At a time when there is relentless downbeat news coming from every corner, the football – despite being controversially hosted in Qatar – has come along as a mightily welcome distraction.

Kicking off with the trolleys of luggage the English Wags displayed flying into Qatar, (indicating, incidentally, they don’t yet know that truly chic travellers send it all on ahead by courier), rather than the team’s first game against Iran, there has been endless riveting stuff to follow.

Kicking off with the trolleys of luggage the English Wags displayed flying into Qatar, rather than the team’s first game against Iran, there has been endless riveting stuff to follow (pictured: Jack Grealish's girlfriend Sasha Attwood at Manchester Airport

Kicking off with the trolleys of luggage the English Wags displayed flying into Qatar, rather than the team’s first game against Iran, there has been endless riveting stuff to follow (pictured: Jack Grealish’s girlfriend Sasha Attwood at Manchester Airport

How different does Gareth Southgate appear without his trademark waistcoat? Is his spurning of that extra layer in Doha’s heat going to bring bad luck? Why is it that so many team managers are extraordinarily good-looking? Do footballers pay such attention to their hairdos because they see inevitable baldness beckoning in the shape of Alan Shearer and Vincent Kompany? So many questions…

ALEXANDRA SHULMAN: Due to a general lack of interest in football, I still have no idea what is happening on the pitch in the World Cup. No matter

ALEXANDRA SHULMAN: Due to a general lack of interest in football, I still have no idea what is happening on the pitch in the World Cup. No matter

Not wishing to be at all flippant, the controversy over appointing Qatar as hosts only adds to the richness of the story, while the mixture of celebrity status and well-intentioned activism is providing as many stories as the goal score. Could Harry Kane have fought against the rainbow armband removal? Can David Beckham really justify his multi-million- pound remuneration for cheerfully popping up in every corner of the country in an attempt to make the place’s civil rights records appear more palatable?

And that’s before the Wags, who can usually be relied upon to add to the general gaiety of the thing, have had an opportunity to strut their stuff.

We have yet to see what’s inside all those expensive Rimowa aluminium wheelies. So far the gang have conformed to the stadium rules of no shorts or skimpy tops to watch the match, but can we hope for some fabulous Wag fashion moments when they’re allowed to meet their lads after the group games? Or will they cover up in deference to the host country? How does the modern-day Wag dress modestly?

I would like the World Cup to carry on for ever. Naturally, I want our lads to win, or at least stay in the game to the most likely bitter end, but really that’s because if we go out of the tournament, it’s back to a bleak diet of strikes and the grinding cost-of-living crisis.

 

Equality lesson for Meghan

I hope the Duchess of Sussex is paying attention to what’s going on with Justice Secretary Dominic Raab. If she is, she will discover that bullying allegations are not solely flung at mixed-race, opinionated females. They’re an equal opportunity. They happen to middle-aged white men, too.

 

David Croc-ney’s a study in style

Beauty might be in the eye of the beholder, but style is definitely on the body of the wearer.

Take artist David Hockney, who appeared at a lunch for Order of Merit members in daffodil-yellow Crocs, well known to be the ugliest shoe ever designed.

But somehow Hockney, who has always had tremendous taste, made these rubber monstrosities – teamed with his splendid checked suit and tie – look really rather wonderful as he posed in the line-up of dark-suited, dark shoe-d fellow grandees.

 

My bad driving is worth the penalty

Last week I scooped up three driving fines – two for parking where I shouldn’t have and one for a wrong turn. If I hadn’t adopted the habit of looking at this on a cost-per-drive basis, I might have been furious.

Instead, I am able to take a cool look at the facts. Since, for the past nine months I haven’t received a single penalty, the sum I’ve run up in the past few days comes out at about £4 a week.

It’s not nothing but it’s not a fortune either for taking the risk of parking more or less where I want and not getting in a total furious lather on the occasions when they do catch up with me.

 

At last, news to give us all a warm glow

It’s wonderful news that the gaslights of Westminster are no longer being removed. Their glow is so glorious and the old-fashioned lamps so elegant.

While I can accept that gaslights are clearly impractical, why is it that our modern street lighting is so hideous?

Surely somebody could design an effective urban light that doesn’t make the city look as if it’s a Soviet interrogation chamber.

 

Sir Dreary’s Lady adds some pizzazz

Sir Keir Starmer appeared at an awards ceremony last week with his wife Victoria, who looked spectacular. I know that as a well-regarded lawyer she will no doubt detest the idea of being thought of as arm-candy, so I hope that by complimenting her on her fabulous pale pink gown, little white faux fur shrug and incredible up-do she doesn’t think that’s what’s meant. Far from it.

An intelligent, stylish wife is one of the best assets a politician can have when they’re operating on the world stage. If Sir Keir reaches Downing Street, it will be excellent for the whole country to have Lady Starmer there to inject a little pizzazz into his dreary image.

Sir Keir Starmer appeared at an awards ceremony last week with his wife Victoria, who looked spectacular

Sir Keir Starmer appeared at an awards ceremony last week with his wife Victoria, who looked spectacular

 

Now it’s the rise of the chubby chickens

Today I went to buy a bird to roast for three of us for dinner. Something small was required, but all the birds on offer were huge – practically the size of cockerels. Avian flu has restricted their roaming so they’re putting on vast amounts of weight. Are chubby chickens the new obesity epidemic?

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