A strange marriage even if the price is right

It could be a wedding tailor-made for the tabloids, but have James Major and Emma Noble got a lot to learn about love?

NO ONE in their right minds gets engaged after only knowing each other for only three months. So is the engagement between John Major's son, James, and former topless model, Emma Noble, the act of obsessive sexual madness? It could be true love, of course, or is it, as seems more likely, a publicity stunt with about much substance to it as the recently bruited idea that Chris Evans is Anthea Turner's new love?

It may sound cynical, but you can't get away from the fact that James is hoping to set up his own nightclub and, as we all know, many entrepreneurs will stop at nothing to get publicity for their ventures. Emma, on the other hand, was at the time of their meeting a hostess of Bruce Forsyth's The Price is Right TV game show, and makes no bones about her ambition to be a TV presenter. When she first met him she was reported as saying: "This looks like a great photo-opportunity."

And you only have to look at photographs of them together to suspect that things just don't look right. Most people engaged to be married prefer dignified pictures of themselves looking as though they are embarking on a lifetime adventure. They don't get themselves snapped snogging on a sofa, she (who says she is 24 but is, in fact, nearly 27) in a bright pink dress, all strings, cleavage (enhanced last year), and little else except leopard-skin high heels, he in trendy white T-shirt and cool jeans. To me, they don't look like a couple in love; they look like a couple on the make.

Miss Noble has told how she and James are hurt by the stories that have cropped up about their relationship. She said: "We know the truth, our friends and our family know the truth." James has attacked the liars who have spread the gossip saying: "There's a lot of lies that have been printed but we all know the truth and just ignore it." And what of the parents? They are "delighted" of course. But what else could they say? I bet underneath it all Norma is chewing her nails and rather wishing her son could find someone more serious to settle down with. Emma's father said it was "fantastic news". But I bet he wants his daughter's happiness at heart and must wonder if this is really the way to get it.

Recently, Anthea Turner - another C-list celebrity - went off with Grant Bovey, a businessman with three children. His wife, Della, didn't take it lying down. The whole affair generated huge publicity for all three protagonists, and now, after enormous coverage, including 14 pages in OK! after the couple's reconciliation, Ms Turner's profile is even higher, and Mrs Bovey is, wait for it ... to host her own TV show. Was that just a publicity stunt? Who knows, but it certainly made the Boveys financially better-off. Similarly, her association with James has done Emma no harm at the bank.What are we to make of all this? Using affairs, marriage and divorce as mere publicity stunts is fine, as long as no one else gets hurt. But someone always does.

Often there are children, parents and grandparents to consider. As members of an older or a younger generation they may believe in marriage and not imagine that anyone could use it cynically. And using marriage and engagement as some kind of public relations tool doesn't do society any good either. It demeans the very ceremonies that are its mainstay. Marriage is about love, relationships, children, and commitment. It shouldn't be used to further people's careers and get them more publicity and dosh.

True, the pair may be genuinely in love, but if not there is something truly repulsive about using the build-up to a service and commitment that many people feel is blessed by God, for your own commercial ends. I give their engagement a couple of months. And if I'm wrong, I give their marriage no more than a year. One can only hope they don't have children or, if they do, they won't use them in more self-serving photo-opportunities - as the Bovey's did in OK!. If the pair had any dignity, they would ban all pictures and interviews from now on. Fat chance.

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