LA life

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When the 11-year-old my friend Hannah nannies for threw a tantrum, her daddy took Jack Nicholson to the baseball game instead.

The week before, they'd had a birthday party for their three-year-old. Not only did the Schwarzeneggers, the Beattys and the De Vitos come with their kids, so did $5,000 worth of catering, a circus-load of clowns, three magicians, a real-life "Woody" and a bumpy castle.

It's always fascinating to know how the other half live, and Hannah offers tremendous insight. Her boss is a big movie producer. You would probably know his name, so I dare not mention it for fear of getting Hannah the sack. Anyway, he's married to a blonde socialite who shops all day, and they have three children who they never see because it's easier to leave them to Hannah and their two secretaries, two maids and a housekeeper. They also find it easier to dose them with Ridolin, the tranquillising drug that's supposed to help attention deficit disorder.

With their two beach houses in Malibu and an eight-bedroom mansion in Brentwood, they're up there in the starriest stratosphere of LA society. The family leads a lifestyle that most of us thought existed only in the movies.

As one of those humbler few, it's easy to bitch about them, but the more I've heard about this family, the more I've come to pity them.

Every night their middle son asks for Hannah to kiss him goodnight, not his workaholic daddy, nor his fashionable mummy, whose idea of a treat is to drag him to the shops. Every week their daughter throws a tantrum in a desperate attempt to get some parental attention; every day the three- year-old launches himself through his mother's study door, to be immediately returned to Hannah's charge.

When Hannah tries to take them to the movies, there's nothing they haven't seen; when she takes them to the toyshop, there's nothing they don't already have. When she tells them they'll be flying off somewhere, they ask which jet they'll be going in. And when she takes them to the park, or spends time with them in the pool, their joy at having anyone take an interest in them is heartbreaking.

"All they want is some attention," I've heard Hannah say so often, I'm tempted to call them up myself. "If their mum took them to the zoo just once, she'd get to see so much more than tantrums."

They say that when the antics of Joan Crawford, Mommie Dearest herself, were made into a movie, the lot of Hollywood kids improved. I wonder whether the film deserves a re-release.