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Love and Marriage: Neil Diamond, Ken Russell, David Starkey, Peaches Geldof, Jessica Lawlor, Pippa Fulton and Wag! The Musical

By Colin Grant |

April 22, 2012 | 6 min read

Some years ago a distant cousin of mine, whose first wife died as a young woman, decided to remarry at the age of 67.

His bride was his 18-year-old housekeeper and they were going to spend their honeymoon drifting round Loch Lomond for a week on his small cabin cruiser.

As the ecstatic newlyweds were preparing to leave the reception, the best man approached the groom and whispered in his ear as diplomatically as possible: “You’re going on honeymoon for a week, you’ve got a bit of a heart condition and there is a massive age gap between you. Please be careful.”

With a twinkle in his eye my cousin responded: “She dies, she dies.”

Alas, their marriage didn’t last, but I was reminded of that story when I read about Neil Diamond in The Mail on Sunday. The 71-year-old Jazz Singer is apparently ecstatic about marrying his 41-year-old manager Katie McNeil.

Caroline Graham writes: “Sweet Caroline singer Neil Diamond was yesterday due to wed for the third time, to a woman three decades his junior. “

I’m sure nobody will be suggesting to Neil Diamond that he should be careful while on honeymoon. However, The Mail on Sunday highlights another potential pitfall for him.

After his second marriage ended in 1995, he had to pay ex-wife Marcia Murphey almost $100 million dollars.

A close friend told the paper: “Neil got burned financially in the last divorce but he’s an old romantic at heart and can’t wait to get married again.”

Film director Ken Russell was also an old romantic at heart, he was married four times.

And so keen was the man who gave us the Oscar-winning “Women in Love” to find a woman to love, he trawled the internet for one.

Like Neil Diamond he found happiness with a considerably younger wife.

The Sunday Telegraph informs us that he left his entire estate to the final Mrs Russell, with not a penny going to his eight children from his three previous marriages.

According to Patrick Sawer:”The couple married in 2001 after Russell posted a lonely hearts advertisement on the internet. Miss (Elize) Tribble (58) told him that his films had changed her life and made her first visit to England to meet him. She immediately moved in to his 16th century cottage in the New Forest.”

Unfortunately for Miss Tribble there is to be no multi-million pound Neil Diamond style pay-out. Ken Russell’s estate amounted to a more modest, but very worthwhile, £850,000.

TV historian David Starkey, often called the rudest man in Britain, is the third member of the old incurable romantics club. But that is the only characteristic he has in common with the other two.

He tells Rachel Cooke in the Observer Magazine that he’s been with same partner for the past 18 years. Starkey shares his houses in London and Kent with James Brown, a publisher.

Here’s his secret for a long and happy relationship: “You could tell it was high romance because we didn’t f—k each other on the first night.”

Perhaps that’s where Diamond and Russell went wrong.

Women are also known to have the odd romantic streak. Take Peaches Geldof.

Lara Gould in The Mail on Sunday reveals she has just given birth to a boy.

Peaches and the baby’s father Thomas Cohen are due to marry this year. This will be her second wedding. The first in 2008 to Max Drummey lasted just six months. Perhaps she too might have benefited from Mr Starkey’s marriage guidance advice.

Some Premiership footballers are noted for their romantic moves as a new musical confirms.

James Gillespie in The Sunday Times reveals the inside track behind the making of “Wag! The Musical”, which he describes as a tribute to that great social phenomenon, the ‘wives and girlfriends’ so beloved of the England football team and tabloid press.”

And it features real-life Wags on stage notably Jessica Lawlor (girlfriend of Aston Villa Midfielder Stephen Ireland) and Pippa Fulton, whose boyfriend is Brentford striker Clayton Donaldson.

The storyline pretty much reflects normal behaviour in large chunks of the population.

Two single mums work in the cosmetics department of a department store.

One of the customers is Vicky (played by Lawlor), the wife of a star footballer, who is having an affair with her gardener. Jenny, one of the girls on the counter (played by Fulton), is having an affair with Vicky’s footballer husband.

The play kicks off at Ye Olde Rose and Crown, Walthamstow, East London on June 4.

I wonder if it will last as long as Peaches’ first marriage.

COLIN GRANT is a former journalist who now runs Spectrum PR, a Glasgow-based public relations and media consultancy.

Mail on Sunday London Aston Villa

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