Madonna fans keen to secure a seat at the singer's increasingly rare live performances can expect to book months in advance and part with a sizeable chunk of cash for the privilege of an hour or two in the same room (well, stadium) as the Queen of Pop.
Naturally, Ms Ciccone's nearest and dearest – her four children – don't have to pay but, according to reports last week, they too have to book ahead if they want to enjoy their mother's company. And they only get 15 minutes at a time.
Rather fittingly for the woman who redefined notions of fame, we're told that mother-of-four Madonna ruthlessly divides her days into 15-minute segments, each accounted for in her diary by her personal assistant. So, supposedly jotted alongside her business commitments and all those Kabbalah meetings and gruelling workouts are homework sessions, bedtime stories and cuddles.
On one hand, the story offers rich pickings for unreconstructed males – and indeed females – who'd prefer modern families to resemble the images of 1950s advertising. Cue much predictable spluttering over the selfishness of a woman, a 52-year-old single mother no less, shamelessly prioritising fame and fortune over her children.
On the other, it also seems like a terribly old-fashioned, unsentimental approach to parenting. We all know Madonna enthusiastically embraced a number of English cultural traditions during her marriage to public schoolboy turned Cockney geezer film-director Guy Ritchie, but surely Victorian parenting wasn't on her citizenship curriculum alongside riding horses and accessorising every outfit with a flat cap? Are unscheduled hugs really a no-no?
If there is a kernel of truth in this story – which is, admittedly, deliciously credible evidence of the Material Girl's joyless, control-freak reputation – I expect it's that Madonna is a very busy woman who organises her time more efficiently than the rest of us can, or indeed would want to.
Her current projects include directing her first feature film (the Wallis Simpson biopic, entitled W.E.), launching her own clothing line and fronting the autumn campaign for the Italian fashion label Dolce & Gabbana. Ironically enough, in these ads, Madge plays a house wife in a variety of domestic, if improbably glamorous, tableaux.
It sounds as if Madonna, like many of the busy people and especially mothers with whom I'm acquainted, may well have resorted to the deeply unsexy practices of the uber-organised. Of course, none of them has the luxury of a personal assistant to seamlessly co-ordinate their daily routine with that of their kids, but they certainly use similar military-seeming techniques to keep family life from spiralling into chaos.
Online calendars, which update the entire family about where they should be and what they should be doing on a given day via email, meal planners, text message reminders that dinner will be at 8pm – all of these things can seem like disturbing reminders of how complicated modern life has become. But they can also be viewed as a pragmatic way of dealing with the demands of our situation.
Of course, most of us have those demands thrust upon us to a certain extent; unlike multi-multi-millionaire Madonna, we don't have the option of staying at home and just going with the flow a bit more. And it does make one wonder why a woman who has never really paused to draw breath felt the need to add to her family once more by adopting – and not without difficulty – her youngest child, Malawi-born Mercy, last year. Perhaps Madonna ought to have worked a little more on managing her expectations, as well as her time.