Monday, October 11, 2004

Rock Star Extolls Value of Marriage

Bob Geldof - from the angry young man to grumpy old moralist
(Filed: 03/10/2004)
As his 50th birthday approaches, the former rebel speaks up for domesticity. Chris Hastings and Emma Levy report

Once he was the angry young man of rock who boasted that he went into music only to "get laid". Now Bob Geldof, who will be 50 on Tuesday, says what turns him on is a woman waiting at home with a meal on the table.
The singer, renowned for making his former wife, the late Paula Yates, get out of bed and get a job, is now convinced that a woman's place is in the home.
The star's extraordinary metamorphosis from loud-mouth rocker to grumpy old man is revealed in a new Channel 4 documentary to be screened later this month.
During the course of the hour-long film, Geldof comes across as a latter-day Victor Meldrew. The former punk star, who lives with girlfriend, Jeanne Marine expounds the joys of domestic bliss and launches a tirade against the evils of the 1960s and the country's spiralling divorce rates.
It was, however, his view of what makes a happy marriage that was last night proving to be the most controversial.
"You know, when you come in, and its been a s**t day, and you just go in the door and sigh, and she's done something nice like make a meal and, I don't know if it's just me, but it's so feminine and it's so sexy."
The divorce rate in England and Wales rose for a third successive year in 2003. There were 153,490 divorces - the highest figure since 1996.
A tenth of divorces were between couples who had been married before. More than two thirds were granted to the wife. The average length of a marriage that ended in divorce was about 11 years.
Geldof seizes on the statistics that show that women initiate 70 per cent of marriage break-ups. This, he suggests, means not that men are failing to understand women, as most females would think, but the opposite.
Instead of seeking to persuade men to change, he continues, women should simply accept them as they are. "If girls don't like masculine characteristics, then it's pretty much too bad because 50 per cent of the planet are men," he says.
"Men don't feel the need or the compulsion to talk in general; to articulate what it is that they are. I feel no need to talk. Men and women are very different and we always have been very different. That is precisely why we find each other so attractive.
"Why is it suddenly that the very differences that once attracted us are now driving us apart? Men have never felt the need to talk, so why is it now that 'he doesn't talk to me anymore' is enough to end a relationship?
In the documentary, Geldof and Marriage, Geldof blames the inability of couples to stay together on modern culture, which, he says, has given people unrealistic expectations.
He added: "We have, I think, devalued the idea of marriage as a legal contract. When we think of marriage now, perhaps we think too much of the day, the dress and the drunk uncle."
Excessive selfishness was also to blame, he said.
"The soap-opera culture is so corrosive . . . If our expectation of married life were more realistic, then the everyday reality would not be thought of as difficult, limiting or mundane, but rather as comforting and supportive. We seem to have lost the ability to compromise. We've bought into the myth and we're sold a childlike and naive view of marriage. When it turns out that it's not quite like the soap operas, we feel cheated."
He added: "Have we devalued domestic life and its culture of companionship, warmth and nurture and safety and calm to the point of it almost being irrelevant?
"Have we completely lost the idea of the home being important, almost an emotional nerve centre? Home, after all, is where the head is."
Amanda Platell, the broadcaster and columnist, said that Geldof had turned into the ultimate "grumpy old man" and was "living in a past era".
"I have the highest respect for what Bob has achieved with things like Live Aid, but if he is such a devotee of marriage why hasn't he married his totally devoted and gorgeous girlfriend," she said.
"The fact is, most women initiate divorces because their men are sleeping around. What are they expected to do? Sit around and tolerate the situation because cheating on your partner is supposedly what being masculine is all about."
Geldof, who lost his virginity at 13, was the lead singer of the Boomtown Rats and lived the ultimate rock 'n' roll way of life during the band's heyday in the 1970s and early 1980s.
He once described the band as anti-establishment and anti the anti-establishment. He also made the much-publicised statement that he had gone into music "to get famous, to get rich and to get laid".
Paula Yates revealed how she used to perform sex acts on him in the back of limousines. She was 17 at the time and Geldof was 21.
In her biography, published in 1986, Yates revealed that it was a young Geldof who made her get out of the house and make a career for herself.
He told her: "I can't stand people who don't do something."
Geldof's present relationship with Jeanne Marine has inspired many of his most recent songs. One on his last album, Sex Age and Death, called 10:15, which he released in 2002, includes the lines: "Jeanne saved my soul. Again last night. She bathed me in love. She told me I was beautiful . . . She made me special perfumed tea. Went on bought patisserie. Put on music . . . Bob Marley. Lay me back. And fed me."
Geldof concludes by suggesting that the Government should make it harder for couples to divorce, or at least make them pause for thought.
He said: "It is a profoundly upsetting statistic that 70 per cent of all divorces are apparently initiated by women and that goes hand-in-hand with the sad statistic that eight out of 10 women are unhappy with their lives.
"Breaking the marriage contract should not be consequence-free. There should perhaps be free mandatory mediation before any couple can even enter the divorce courts.
"Not only does the Government show no interest in strengthening one's own chosen chains of marriage, it seems to be sending the opposite message."
Jennie Bond, the BBC's former royal correspondent, agreed with Geldof. "I do think he is right. People do give up too easily on marriage these days," she said.
"There are some fundamental differences between women and men. It is up to older women and perhaps men to explain these differences to young women.
"The problem is men do tend to make a lot of noise when they are wooing you. Once they have won you, they then proceed to shut up for the next 30 years.
"Young women need to be taught that its not their fault when that happens."