English is my first language. If it’s yours too you will be familiar with, well, with English. You’ll speak English fluently and even if you don’t know all the fine grammatical detail of the language and don’t have the very last word in vocabulary, you’ll be a pretty fluent English speaker.
Odd then to listen to Sarah Ferguson, the ‘Duchess of York’, recently. I write ‘Duchess of York’ because, to most of us Brits, the idea of Her Fergie-ness being remotely aristocratic induces involuntary snorting and hoots of laughter. Her “Highness” she ain’t. And in fact every time it seems La Fergs can’t dip much lower in British popular esteem she pulls off some absurd stunt and we find ourselves shaking our heads all over again.
Now. We may all have seen the ex-wife of Prince Andrew greedily snatching up her howmanythousand dollars and swaggeringly demanding another 500,000 (pounds sterling). (Wired to an allaboveboard account.) And we may all have seen her brushing herself lightly with an apologetic whip on Oprah.
But what’s bizarre about Sarah – apart, obviously, from easily earning millions of dollars in the US, blowing them wilfully and then venturing into business corruption as a getrichquick scheme – is that she doesn’t seem to speak English. Or at least, it doesn’t seem to be her first language. Odd, really, for someone who claimed, when speaking to the phoney-Sheik, to be a terrifically tiptop having-a-fabulous-time-of-it British aristocrat. The current royal family in England may hail originally from Germany, and it’s true that Prince Philip was born in Greece (and is popularly referred to as Phil The Greek) but they do generally speak English.
Fergs however came out with a stream of incomprehensible sentences, half-sentences and non-sentences when speaking to the News of the World and Oprah. We all saw it. And heard it:
Then you, like – open the doors – whichever – and what – and then – and Andrew, and me, and money – and lashings of dosh – and oodles of cash – and just like, you know, whatever-you-want. Wire me 500,000. No questions. Not him. Whiter than white Never say cash. Hush hush. I listen. You get tenfold times ten. Just pay me.
We get the gist (“sell influence”, “want money”) but, really, she couldn’t string a single sentence together. She sounded like a monkey ordering bananas. This is a woman who’d struggle to pass an English exam set for a six year old.
And she didn’t improve when talking to Oprah. Did you hear her? She referred to herself as ‘she’, which is frankly weird. She said she wasn’t “in my right place” which is, frankly, also weird. She then said she hadn’t “faced the devil in the face” which is simply not an English construction. After some inane comment about being like a peeled onion she said she’d been building up to a crescendo of spiralling to keep on the treadmill of life.
And yet all of this is vintage Sarah Ferguson. She has made millions trading on her connections to the British royals. The money came easily to her, from speaking engagements, the Weightwatcher work and writing books for children that would never have been published had she not once been in ‘The Firm’. And she blew it all, million after million, just as carelessly. Sarah adores the high life and has a retinue of staff including a butler. She insists on travelling first class and even when professing to be broke crosses the Atlantic to party with supermodel Naomi Campbell on the French Riviera.
She has less insight into her character and behaviour than the average flatworm and even told Oprah breathlessly with big wide eyes that she thinks she’s been an excellent mom because she’s made so many stupid ‘mistakes’ that her daughters Eugenie and Beatrice can learn from her. (With the genetic inheritance Sarah passed on to them, she shouldn’t bet on it!)
Ferguson summed herself up really when she said there weren’t words for her own stupidity.
She’s a woman who never learns from her mistakes, who carries on regardless – greedy and unreflective – and she is still, in true Fergie form, casting around to get rich quick. Whether she attempts to re-negotiate her divorce settlement (which has nothing to do with her “poverty” given the millions which have passed through her hands) or asks Oprah for a handout or blunders back into cash-for-access-to-Andrew, Fergie will carry on believing the world owes her a living.
She already has an income from Andrew, money from the young princesses, book royalties, free royal accommodation and property in south America – but it’s just not enough for her. Shunning the idea of making an honest living, she tried to get 500,000 pounds from her phoney ‘business contact’ when she was already being offered legitimate fees of tens of thousands of dollars for one-off appearances and short speeches. In Sarah’s view, why go to several functions and earn 90,000 if you can introduce some bloke to Andrew for 500,000?
Dream on, Sarah. And please take English lessons!