Editor-At-Large: Naomi's been crass, but what did we expect?

Related Topics

In the case of Naomi Campbell, does an undisputed commitment to charitable causes balance glaring personality defects? A few years ago, when Kate Moss was crucified in the tabloids over cocaine use, I pointed out she was a supermodel, not a role model. The job of supermodels is to persuade us to buy a bit of whatever glamorous myth they are well rewarded for promoting.

So what should we make of Naomi's crass behaviour? Does it matter that a woman who cites Nelson Mandela as an "honorary grandfather" and who lends her name regularly to charitable events in Africa, has never heard of Liberia and the track record of its former leader, now standing trial for genocide? Was ex-president Charles Taylor just another Naomi fan at the dinner table, back in 1997? When she boasts she regularly receives valuable gifts brought by hotel concierges in the middle of the night, is she thick, naive, socially inept or telling the truth? Having met Ms Campbell, I'd say it's a bit of all four. She once told me Mike Tyson was "really nice".

Don't expect Naomi to be a role model for young black women. Beyoncé , Rihanna and Jennifer Lopez are rich stars who fill that slot. Naomi has moaned about the fashion business being racist, but is it any worse than the music industry? Ironically, she has appeared in dozens of music videos since she was seven, helping artists like George Michael, Madonna and Michael Jackson seem that little bit more exotic.

This is a girl who grew up without a dad, whose mother was often away touring as a dancer. Naomi might have attended stage school, but from the age of 15 she travelled the world being photographed. It's performing, but is it creatively rewarding? She made an album, but it was a flop in the UK, although it reached No 1 in Japan. She's launched fragrances, and produced a novel, but it was written by someone else – she claimed she "didn't have the time". As usual, in her public utterances, Naomi comes across as somewhat charmless. On the credit side, she's helped to raise millions for the victims in New Orleans and Haiti by staging fashion shows and next October, at a gala event, Unesco will be giving her an award for her charity work.

An award for social commitment? The woman who has bashed assistants, been convicted for assault, who's banned by BA, and who was recently accused of whacking her driver in New York, although he declined to press charges. When she attended a dinner with Nelson Mandela and Charles Taylor in 1997 was the socially concerned Ms Campbell not aware of the bloody civil war in Sierra Leone, and the huge number of innocent citizens whose limbs were hacked off by soldiers financed by the former Liberian dictator?

His trial for war crimes started in 2007 and was largely unreported until Ms Campbell's appearance. Suddenly, the world's media had a five-star photo opportunity. Campbell insisted that her arrival and departure from the courtroom was in secret. Naomi looks to me like a paranoid narcissist who has to be the centre of attention: she probably imagined that those telephoto lenses were disguises for high-velocity rifles. She seemed unaware that the court proceedings were televised globally.

In Naomi's mind, she is the most important person on the agenda at any one time: that's why she had to tell us how "inconvenient" it was to attend the proceedings at all. My goodness, she could probably have earned £10,000 in half the time she spent in the witness box, flogging beach bags or nail varnish.

The BBC seemed not to have learnt a single lesson from all the criticism of their blanket Raoul Moat coverage, and led news bulletins on television and radio with Campbell when there was an enormous humanitarian disaster unfolding in Pakistan. A gorgeous supermodel in a snug Azzedine Alaia outfit is much more eye-catching than muddy villagers watching their worldly possessions floating away in the rain.

I can't hate Naomi Campbell for being crass: at least she has (through no desire on her part) projected the tragic story of Sierra Leone and Charles Taylor's role in this modern atrocity back into the media spotlight, even if the whole episode was a diary drudge for the queen of glamour.

I wonder if the BBC will accord Mia Farrow the same air time when she gives evidence about the dirty diamonds and that infamous dinner party, later this week?

Marbella Michelle: Take a holiday in the real Spain, Mrs Obama

Why did the normally savvy Michelle Obama choose to take a summer break in Marbella with her daughter? The resort is tacky and characterless, and the coast and surrounding hills have been desecrated by developers.

Her brash luxury hotel is in the middle of an ugly golf course (not very environmentally friendly), and she's surrounded by dozens of security men keeping hordes of paparazzi at bay. The Spanish gossip magazines are passing on every detail of the trip online – from the dishes on the menu at her tapas supper to her gift purchases (two white cotton frocks).

Marbella is nothing to do with the real Spain. Travel into the mountains behind the resort and you can at least enjoy peaceful walking in a rugged landscape, not lurid over-watered putting greens. As for the beach, luckily Marbella hasn't yet been plagued by the jellyfish invasion that's closed beaches on the Costa del Luz and further north on the Costa Brava, but it will be packed with over-jewelled sun-worshippers wearing gold sandals with matching bags.

A couple of years ago I drove from Santander through the Extremadura to Seville. That's the real Spain – historic villages, fabulous food, few tourists.

Let them eat real bread

Environment Secretary Caroline Spelman was derided recently when a memo she wrote to her staff, asking them to keep her up to speed on food prices, was leaked to the press. But shouldn't the woman in charge of farming know how much we have to pay for basics like bread?

She's got my sympathy: I have no idea how much a basic loaf costs because I just won't buy it. Supermarkets sell sliced white stuff in packets for £1.20, but it will never pass my lips. I'm happy to pay £3 for a delicious hand-baked wholemeal loaf in my local farmers' market.

If the Russians ban wheat exports after their recent drought, then the price of all bread will soar. Isn't it about time we started treating it as a luxury not characterless filling stodge? Might be better for our waistlines, too.

I live in an Ambridge of my own

My favourite radio series, The Archers, is attracting its highest audiences ever, averaging around five million listeners a week. Last week's storyline was fantastic – posh Alice and her farrier boyfriend Chris returned from their trip to the US, and announced they had secretly got married in Las Vegas (just as I did!) Alice's snobby mum Jennifer is in meltdown, appalled at her new relationship by marriage to ambitious mother-of-the-groom Susan, while granny, recalling her East End roots, has given the couple her blessing and a big cheque. My goodness, The Archers is packed with irritating characters: vulgar Matt, dotty Lilian, misery moaner Kathy and annoyingly upbeat Ruth with her irritating accent. But isn't that just like any village? God knows what my Yorkshire neighbours say about me behind my back. Judging by The Archers it could be pretty savage.

React Now

  • Get to the point
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Recruitment Genius: Electronics Test Engineer

£25000 - £27000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: An SME based in East Cheshire, ...

SThree: Graduate Recruitment Resourcer

£20000 - £22500 per annum + OTE £30K: SThree: SThree Group have been well esta...

Recruitment Genius: Business Development Manager - OTE £40,000

£28000 - £40000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: A fantastic opportunity has ari...

Recruitment Genius: Contracts / Sales Administrator

£19500 - £25000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: Knowledge of and ability to use...

Day In a Page

Read Next

Election catch-up: Just what the election needs – another superficially popular but foolish policy

John Rentoul
A Gold Ferrari sits outside Chanel on Sloane Street  

Sunday Times Rich List: We are no longer in thrall to the super rich

Terence Blacker
Not even the 'putrid throat' could stop the Ross Poldark swoon-fest'

Not even the 'putrid throat' could stop the Ross Poldark swoon-fest'

How a costume drama became a Sunday night staple
Miliband promises no stamp duty for first-time buyers as he pushes Tories on housing

Miliband promises no stamp duty for first-time buyers

Labour leader pushes Tories on housing
Aviation history is littered with grand failures - from the the Bristol Brabazon to Concorde - but what went wrong with the SuperJumbo?

Aviation history is littered with grand failures

But what went wrong with the SuperJumbo?
Fear of Putin, Islamists and immigration is giving rise to a new generation of Soviet-style 'iron curtains' right across Europe

Fortress Europe?

Fear of Putin, Islamists and immigration is giving rise to a new generation of 'iron curtains'
Never mind what you're wearing, it's what you're reclining on

Never mind what you're wearing

It's what you're reclining on that matters
General Election 2015: Chuka Umunna on the benefits of immigration, humility – and his leader Ed Miliband

Chuka Umunna: A virus of racism runs through Ukip

The shadow business secretary on the benefits of immigration, humility – and his leader Ed Miliband
Yemen crisis: This exotic war will soon become Europe's problem

Yemen's exotic war will soon affect Europe

Terrorism and boatloads of desperate migrants will be the outcome of the Saudi air campaign, says Patrick Cockburn
Marginal Streets project aims to document voters in the run-up to the General Election

Marginal Streets project documents voters

Independent photographers Joseph Fox and Orlando Gili are uploading two portraits of constituents to their website for each day of the campaign
Game of Thrones: Visit the real-life kingdom of Westeros to see where violent history ends and telly tourism begins

The real-life kingdom of Westeros

Is there something a little uncomfortable about Game of Thrones shooting in Northern Ireland?
How to survive a social-media mauling, by the tough women of Twitter

How to survive a Twitter mauling

Mary Beard, Caroline Criado-Perez, Louise Mensch, Bunny La Roche and Courtney Barrasford reveal how to trounce the trolls
Gallipoli centenary: At dawn, the young remember the young who perished in one of the First World War's bloodiest battles

At dawn, the young remember the young

A century ago, soldiers of the Empire – many no more than boys – spilt on to Gallipoli’s beaches. On this 100th Anzac Day, there are personal, poetic tributes to their sacrifice
Dissent is slowly building against the billions spent on presidential campaigns – even among politicians themselves

Follow the money as never before

Dissent is slowly building against the billions spent on presidential campaigns – even among politicians themselves, reports Rupert Cornwell
Samuel West interview: The actor and director on austerity, unionisation, and not mentioning his famous parents

Samuel West interview

The actor and director on austerity, unionisation, and not mentioning his famous parents
General Election 2015: Imagine if the leading political parties were fashion labels

Imagine if the leading political parties were fashion labels

Fashion editor, Alexander Fury, on what the leaders' appearances tell us about them
Phumzile Mlambo-Ngcuka: Home can be the unsafest place for women

Phumzile Mlambo-Ngcuka: Home can be the unsafest place for women

The architect of the HeForShe movement and head of UN Women on the world's failure to combat domestic violence