I don't know what Moulton parish council meetings are like normally, but I bet they didn't flow quite as smoothly when Jane Felix-Browne was sitting as a councillor. She likes to get her own way, does Jane, or Zainah Mohamed al-Sabah as she now prefers to call herself, and I imagine proceedings might get a bit strained if she felt she wasn't getting her way on the paving around the new cricket pavilion or repairs to the village hall. Then again, you'd want to check that she ever sat on the parish council at all, since she seems to have a pretty shrewd idea of what goes down well when pitching a story to a tabloid reporter. They like "grandmother", and they nearly always mention face-lifts and the five previous husbands, but the thing that really gets them excited, and that contrasts so deliciously with "parish councillor" in the opening paragraph of the story, is her recent marriage to Omar, the son of Osama bin Laden.
There are women who would shy away from the publicity such a match invariably brings in its train, not to mention the awkward moments at passport control. There are also women who would fear the bright light this union would bring to bear on their personal history and current circumstances. But not Jane, who bore the fuss and media attention with a stoical fortitude that looked very much like rapture. Far from opting to travel incognito on her original passport, she actually went to the trouble of getting her particulars changed so that the whole world and its immigration authorities would be able to identify her as Mrs Bin Laden. She says this is love of Omar, but it looked an awful lot like love of attention to me, a suspicion not diminished by her decision to invite Lynn Alleway to make a documentary, Mr&Mrs Bin Laden, about the ongoing tribulations of her marriage.
There's no word on what her new father-in-law thinks about his son's choice of life partner (he's not a man you'd really want to annoy) but other members of the vast Bin Laden clan don't appear to approve. If Jane is to be believed (and that remains an open question), Omar had been coming under pressure to divorce her. There was talk of threats, there were giggly remarks about police surveillance. At one point, Omar actually did divorce her, a process that seems to be rather more summary in Jeddah than it is Cheshire, but Jane later announced that it was just a bluff. They were destined to be together.
Jane and Lynn flew off to Sharm el Sheikh to meet Omar, a depressed- looking young man who appeared to be getting steadily gloomier as the days passed. And Jane had a whale of a time, bossing her documentarist around something rotten and whisking back and forwards through the desert setting up ridiculous photo-opportunities, such as a night-time camel ride through the Cairo suburbs. To be honest, you would have thought that Omar had quite enough on his plate without having Jane added to it, but then he may not be in it for the long haul. Asked whether he hoped to have children some day and whether marriage to a 51-year-old might make that problematic, he announced "when the time comes I will marry again... the younger woman... for to make baby". Jane blinked and said she was fine with that. Was she really? By this stage, I didn't have a clue what was real and what was made up and didn't much care either.
The confessional sex blogs that were the subject of this week's Sex in the Noughties traded on the fact that everything described in them was real, although the main selling point about them was that they'd been written by women. Craig Collinson's film presented this development as if it was feminism by other means, the early bloggers carving out a space for themselves in traditionally male territory, and being punished for their pioneering enterprise by censorious comment. But I couldn't think of many examples of men who write obsessively about every detail of their sex lives, and I imagine if they existed, they would be described in similar terms to Belle de Jour and Girl with a One-Track Mind. That is, as sexual exhibitionists with an eye to the spice of the true confession.
Since literary pornography doesn't really damage anyone (beyond the threat of RSI from all that typing), there wasn't anything to get very outraged about here, but the claim to sexual revolution seemed a tiny bit excessive to me, and nobody was on hand to say how boring most of these blogs were once the novelty had worn off. Zoe Margolis, eventually outed as the author of Girl with a One-Track Mind, revealed that it was a little bit harder to get laid now that her prospective partners knew that they might end up reduced to a dismissive paragraph on her blog. Who'd have thought it.