Friday, May 29, 2015

Friends'comments on Ms. Wednesday Martin’s op-ed in the New York Times of May 16, 2015. “Poor Little Rich Women”. Yes, wives bonuses are paid on Park Avenue!

Blog on The Marquises de Pompadour of Park Avenue is next.

(1) Beatrice, Quant à l'article du NYT auquel se réfère le Figaro -"Poor little rich women"- il est marrant mais facile et je déteste la façondont l'auteur qui se prend pour une anthropologue name drops les femmes autochtones Agta des Philippines, Kung del'Afrique australe ou Dogon du Mali. La comparaison qui tue: "As in the Kalahari desert and rain forest resources are the bottom line in the Upper East Side". A mon avis, elle (qui s'est tout de même rapprochée de Central Park pour être près de ses in-laws et mettre ses fils dans des nurseries) fait partie de la tribu des pestes. Rien de nouveau, on s'en doute de tout ce qu'elle raconte sur les femmes des financiers. Après les trophy apartments les trophy wives...Fabienne.

(2) I am not flabbergasted and it does not seem like Stepford Wives to me at all. If these woman want to act this way, let them. I may not want to do what they are doing, but it is their right to behave however they want, as long as they do not hurt anyone. And the ones engaged in charitable things are helping.Do your other friends agree or disagree with me?  Caryl.

(3) Sad, but I may raise the "bonus" concept with Richard
In some ways this sounds like the lives of many of the ex-pat oil wives and is definitely my sister-in-law. She is a Stanford Univ graduate and, while her children are now grown, she IMs them multiple times every day. They went to the best schools, are skilled musicians and she is pretty much a professional mom.  I have never understood it as I would be screamingly bored out of my mind.  What a waste of talent. Kathleen

(4) All I am saying is each person makes their own decision and though you might not agree with it is their choice and unless they are hurting someone you should not judge them. Yes, I am in agreement with working parents but I feel that everyone should make their own decision. There is nothing wrong with nonworking mothers volunteering at their children's schools. Someone has to do it. And you are wrong if you think that children of working parents, whether they have a nanny or are in child care, do not have many activities planned for them.
One tends to meet people like themselves, so most of my friends were working mothers. But if I had not been working I would have met more parents who did not do so. Of course, there are also cases where the father is the stay at home parent. There is nothing wrong with that although I do not like that a big deal is made when that happens. 

(5) Hi Caryl, don't get me wrong, people are free to do whatever they want as long that it doesn't hurt the others as you said. But in our organized society, i.e. in Europe, many people decide not to work and take advantage of the social safety net, this choice hurts those who work!!! Income taxes can only be to be raised on working people.

Kids'activites, this is exactly my point: they have too many activities as reported by the son of a friend of mine who studies at the exclusive French lycee in Manhattan.  According to him, many of his friends would like to get their mums off their back!  Beatrice.

(6) Children have thought this way throughout the ages, no matter what kind of mother (or father) they have.  Caryl.

(7) I think this anthropologist was desperately looking for a subject.  I have never came across what she calls <Glam SAHMs> - there may be women who opt for not working for a few years to dedicate time to their families when their children are young - and I see nothing wrong with that if you can afford it and are willing to take the risk to miss the train when you want to go back to work.   While in New York I haven t seen any expensive and exquisite outfits worn by <Glam SAHMs> - true, I was there only for one week, but there were no exquisite outfits in the streets, neither on Upper East Side nor anywhere else.  It was so cold, and all of N.Y. wears black when it is cold. I think sex segregation is not specific to a group but did observe that there is sometimes a tendency that after dinner two separate groups form:  men and women.  Why I don t know, perhaps this is something American?  About what the author calls the year-end wife bonus:  nonsense, this is a Christmas gift from husbands who don t know what else to give.  Marianne.

(8) Hey Beatrice

Thanks very much for sending this.  Very interesting to see it (finally) openly acknowledged and documented. Sorry to say I am not surprised, EXCEPT about the bonuses -- I had not heard of that before and am disgusted by it.  I’ve long resented that so many women go after the very best degrees, including law degrees, only to barely or never use them, taking up space that others would die for.  It’s the lost opportunity for other people that rankles me.  I am delighted to see it out in the open, a good start for an expose.  Donna.

(9) Hi Beatrice,

I know that you said that this is “the end” but you made some comments that I think are so “wrong” that I feel I must write again. Frist of all, are most of your friends mothers? If one is not a mother, one cannot understand the choices that they have. Stay at home mothers get upset at working mothers (such as I was) who think they (the stay at home mothers) are making a mistake. On the other hand, working mothers are not happy when stay at home mothers say that they are not “good” mothers because they work. So I guess this means that each group feels that they are right.  But the following statement that you wrote is just not correct: “These ‘bonuses’ wives remind me that if stay-at-home motherhood is a job, then that means your husband is your employer. He can fire you any time for poor performance (a subjective decision unless performance parameters are set!). It is not a very egalitarian relationship.”  Why is the working husband the employer? In a relationship where the spouses are equal, both staying at home or working should be considered equal.  You write, “Some friends on mine argue that women have choices, and to stay home is one choice.” Yes, this is true if one can afford it. We are lucky enough to be able to make that choice. But the majority of woman cannot afford to do that and have to work at low-level jobs and make arrangements for their children to be taken care of, unless they are married and can split working times with their spouse.

 One of your friends thinks that the “bonus” is nothing more than a large holiday gift. Maybe. I have never heard of such a bonus before and I wonder if it is just figuring out what the expenses for running the house will be for the coming year.  I would be interested in seeing what you (and your friends, if you want to pass this on) think of these additional thoughts. Caryl.

 (10) No time until now to comment on the Little Rich Women op-ed which I read of course.  I see these women at dinner in Upper East Side restaurants all the time.  Just by looking at them you can tell they are part of this phenomenon because they are roughly the same age as the husband, chicly dressed, not a hair out of place, etc. usually out with one or two other couples whose wives look the same.  The other class of women who look like them are trophy wives, but they are the much younger wives of older successful men (saw Tony Bennett with his at the theatre a couple of weeks ago) and frankly there’s not much difference in the way they lead their lives, though I would suspect that they have less choice because they are probably far less educated.  Working women look stressed, not as well groomed, etc,  understandable, they don’t have the time.  We’re back to the old story of women not being able “to have it all”.  Don’t we all personally know many cases among the daughters of friends who went to law school or got MBA s and now stay home tending their children.   Wonder what Sheryl Sandberg says about all of this with her lean-in theories.  She was able to lean in because no one ever knew how many nannies and household help she had and now she is dealing with another problem, being a single parent.  Anyway, all of this is endlessly fascinating, but whenever I see a married women with children and a successful career, I wonder which part of her equation had to “give” to enable her to “have it all”.  No one can have it all.  Linda S.

(11) Hi, Yes I read about the women who get bonuses from their husbands – and get it written in a pre nup. I just think how sad they are and how little they value themselves as people. Barbara.

 (12) I did want to chime in, Beatrice, but have been busy with family (still in Portland).  I read the NYT article when it first came out, and, at first, was appalled.  Bonuses?  allowances pegged to performance?  it all does seem to be a little extreme.  What would really be interesting would be to see the details of those pre- or post-nuptials.  My guess is that it is all more nuanced.  Aside from that, though, it did call to mind the earlier years of the Feminist movement when there was a demand for women's work in the home to be given a monetary value, ideally with actual pay (including benefits such as social security). The arrangement described in the article comes close to this.  It does at least acknowledge that what these women do has a monetary value.  Of course, there are also significant flaws. The most glaring one, I think, is that -- as you said and I agree -- it does put the husband in the position of an employer, and this completely upsets the notion of their being equal partners or of having equal power. Another is the notion of tying pay to performance, if, in fact, it is really the children's performance that may be measured.  But again, the whole system may be far more nuanced and equal than it appears. I would not try to compare these women to anyone else of a different class (and maybe not even a different geography!).  We know that the rich, esp the Wall Street nouveau riche, live differently from the rest of us. Mary Pat.

(13) Although I live just across the park from this particular tribe, I must say I do not know any of them, let alone their mores. Even our wealthier friends fall into the two-income category and have generally chosen to live on the more down-to-earth Upper West Side. (Any neighborhood where it's hard to get a cab is a no-go for me!) The idea of a "bonus" for being a "successful" wife seems especially odd. I have heard of non-working women of that class express concern over being left by their husbands, but this world is as foreign to me as it must be to you. That said, I thought anthropologists were supposed to be objective; this one seems to have an axe to grind. After all, what she dismisses as "free work" for charitable and educational causes is an essential part of life in all our cities. What would Central Park be like without the Central Park Conservancy? Perhaps she should have stayed in the West Village, which, like the UWS, has too much diversity for comfort for the Upper East Side animals she now associates with. (Donna’s friend).

(14) This is a question to which there is no correct answer - I agree with your friend's discussion (Caryl) of the never ending disagreements between working mothers and non-working mothers. That argument seems to bring out a defensiveness on both sides of the table and will probably never be resolved.  The bonus issue however is - to me - very troubling and demeaning. Household costs should clearly be paid by the income earning spouse and can be accomplished by a household budget, not a "bonus". I worked my entire adult life until Richard and I came into this gypsy lifestyle with the State Dept. I found it demeaning to have to ask Richard for money to buy groceries, pay the maid and so on. So we decided instead to set up a system whereby he wrote a monthly check for household costs as determined by me. I might have had to remind him about timing but that was it. It ceased to be my allowance, bonus or whatever and was instead characterized for what it was.  Maybe these other ladies, who have never worked, don't find the bonus offensive but I certainly would. nuf said!  Kathleen 

24 May, 

(15) Dear Linda, I love your belated comments which I will pass around as L.C. They make lots of good sense. My blog is hard to write because the subject is so emotional and women have strong views on the subject.  Our personal experience shapes our opinion. What bothers me is that too many women still “think inside the box”, the patriarchal box. Women have more options now, some can stay home if they wish (although often a short term-option) because other women (feminists mostly) spoke loud and clear and pushed the economic & social boundaries for all.  Women crave for more equality, they all have to fight for it either from the home or from the office. Of course, from the home is more difficult and it looks less credible.  Can one imagine Ann Romney going to Washington D.C. to request paid maternal leave? Beatrice.

(16) Dear Beatrice, I was so interested to read all the comments about the article.  I went back and read it again--I hadn't really focused on the bonus issue.  It's appalling!  I certainly don't know anyone in NY who does that.  It's treating your wife like an employee--shows a complete lack of trust on both sides.  Tom and I both put our money into our joint account--or as Tom calls it "the black hole,"  and then take out what we need, no questions asked.  It's interesting--everyone handles money differently, and no-one really talks about it--it's as taboo as sex.  As for working/not working, as you know I chose to stay home with my children, and I'm very ambivalent about it.  On the one hand, I absolutely loved having that much time with them, and was never bored--although I know that's not true with many women; on the other hand I did give up autonomy and leverage in the marriage (although ideally one would not need leverage--but life is not ideal). When I quit, Tom was on Wall St. and making lots of money, so my small salary from my publishing job didn't seem important, but when he left Wall St. and started his own business we certainly could have used the money from a second income.   I'll tell you one thing--I've told Biss never to give up her job!  I really don't see it as a viable option going forward.  Someone (I think it was L. S.) said that one always gives up something, and that's certainly true.  So those are my final thoughts on the issue! Linda C.

May 25,

(17) Hi Beatrice, Did you read the letters to the editor about this in today’s Times. Most of them seem to agree with me, not you. I think the author is not believed because no one knows anything about the bonuses and think she made it up from something she heard incorrectly.  Caryl

(18) I am pretty sure that no one wants to admit receiving a bonus to his wife, it is too shocking!  I have read a pre-nup on line and won't be surprised that bonuses in fact exist. Anyway my blog is nearly finished and won't change what I wrote as it is the way I think.  People's views reflect their own experience, which should be respected. In case Martin made up the whole thing it is a scientific fraud. Beatrice.

May 26,

(19) Beatrice, Tom sent me the same article!  She (W.M.) exaggerates for effect, but a lot of it rings true.  The private school admissions game is particularly frightful.  Can't wait to read the book.  Also can't wait to read Tom's comments on all this!  Dear Marianne,  I was very interested to read your response.  The bottom line is all mothers feel guilty one way or another.  I certainly feel guilty about not working...though I do enjoy it!  A thought:  you are obviously very close to your daughter, and you worked, and I am very close to my children, and I didn't--I think they sense the quality and constancy of your love either way, and that's what makes the difference. Linda C.

May 27,

Well, in this article you tapped into the secrets of the Upper East Side! We have a mafia pledge of Omerta to never discuss these things, except in cigar filled rooms with like-minded male plutocrats. These secret meetings are in obscure rooms of exclusive members only clubs, protected by secret handshakes. I understand that Boko Haram (definitely not to be confused with the 60s rock band Poco Harem) has similar clubs.
All of this is entrapment by aspirational social climbing.  It seems that this is the inverse of progress. Kind of like longing for the forgotten world of a 1950s awful meal. Sometimes you smell something in the air that takes you to a forgotten paradise of lousy food. Deja vu.
With progress comes un-progress. The problem is that women today have it easy because of the hard fights your generation had. So you have alpha women who stay at home dreaming up metrics for their lives: more kids, better schools, Harvard, etc. Ask Linda she’s been there, seen that in Ct and NYC.
Hope that contributes! Tom.


Thursday, May 28, 2015

The Marquises of Pompadour of Park Avenue

The Marquise de Pompadour was the pampered, glamorous, intelligent and cultured mistress of 18th century French king Louis XV.  She entertained him, took charge of his schedule, managed his household, groomed his children, organized his sexual activities and acted as the de facto minister of culture.  For her excellent performance, the king rewarded her with titles and money, like bonuses in today’s parlance.

The Marquise de Pompadour’s lifestyle is alive and well on Park Avenue and on the Upper East Side of Manhattan, New York City’s posh enclave of the well-heeled.  According to anthropologist and social researcher Wednesday Martin, these Pompadour-reincarnations are not actually mistresses but married women who unburdened by ordinary wife responsibilities (they don’t bake cake) indulge in all the mistress and kept-woman-type trappings and excesses. 

On May 16, 2015 the word got out that many of the Upper East Side wives received bonuses for “being a good spouse”.  The news went viral on line.  These gilded-cage creatures are married to young masters-of-the-universe husbands who allegedly reward them with generous bonuses to do tasks conventional and self-sacrificing wives do for free, whether working or stay-at-home.  On this important day for the advancement of urban anthropology, Ms. Martin published a titillating op-ed[1] to promote her forthcoming book Primates of Park Avenue.  In her op-ed she drew far-reaching analogies with other hierarchical societies in faraway lands. 

                                                           Jezebel Blog

The Park Avenue primates are Glam SAHMs (glamorous stay-at-home-moms) an acronym coined by Martin.  On the Upper East Side, there are twice as many reproductive age females than males.  So competition to catch unattached men is ruthless, very much like in the Disney nature film Monkey Kingdom where a female toque macaque outwits other females to mate above her rank.  In financial parlance it is a buyer’s market.  So pressure to shine and perform is enormous on these Glam SAHMs for whom managing the wealthy household is a full-time job.  While their high earning executive husbands run hedge or private equity funds, the equally talented wives with advanced degrees from top universities are the CEOs of the domestic firm strengthening the dynastic wealth.  However, their “intensive mothering” practice, i.e. “exhaustively enriching their children’s lives by virtually every measure” does not include menial work.  They concentrate on upscale activities like indoor cycling (“rich women don’t get fat”), shopping, hanging out with their girlfriends, organizing galas and charitable functions, newsletter editing, and compulsive grooming to deserve the glam part of their acronym.  “Intensive mothering” looks very much like remote control parenting.  Moreover, Glam SAHMs seem to enjoy their highly gender-segregated life (or is it by default?), interaction with their husband’s own world appears limited at best.

Female employment (age group 25-55) in the United States has gradually declined over the year from 75% in 2000 to 69% today, steadily leaving the US in a gender “dustbin”.  By contrast the majority of rich countries are going in the other direction.  The female employment rate is notoriously low in affluent areas like the Upper East Side of Manhattan where about half the women do not work outside the home.  Wealthy suburbs of Salt Lake City in Utah show similar figures.  Ms. Martin should be encouraged to check if wealthy Mormon husbands also pay wife (or wives) bonuses.  This blogger has some doubt because the deeply male-dominated Mormon culture is frugal by Park Avenue standards.  

In the posh Zona Sul suburbs of Rio de Janeiro, where this blogger lives, the Carioca[2] Glam SAHMs are easily spotted and their life style mimics the Upper East Side type.  They busy their days with vigorous work outs, Pilates and “appointments with dermatologists to get various beauty treatments.  On a more positive side, some of them volunteer time for charitable work”[3].  

So let’s go back to the bonus issue which has created the buzz in the media and went viral among my female friends.  According to Martin, these bonuses are set up in a pre-nup or a post-nup (I still cannot fathom the difference between the two, since most couples do not wait for the wedding night to assess one another’s bed performance).  The bonus amount is based on the wife’s performance in managing the household and bringing up her brood.  Key Performance Indicators (KPI for the insiders) must be agreed upon, e.g. zero defect product, customer satisfaction (i.e. the husband), progress towards specific goals, etc.? This indicator business is fairly opaque.  Do repeated failures to meet targets lead to divorce? Or does the wife go back to work as a less stressful option?  Alternatively, is the wife able to compensate for her performance shortcomings?  According to Martin, “there were jokes about possible sexual performance metrics”.  Madame de Pompadour must twitch in her grave.  She lived during a time when sexual performance was the bread and butter of mistresses.  “The wives of the master of the universe, I learned, are a lot like mistresses-dependent and comparatively disempowered” Martin writes.

This blogger fully agrees with this comment.  Bonuses are performance-based financial rewards subsequent to an evaluation by supervisors.  Therefore the stay-at-home motherhood job is appraised by the husband cum employer.  This arrangement does not strike her as very egalitarian.  In the altruistic spouse partnership common to middle-class families, the stay-at-home mom enjoys a certain freedom by working free-of-charge, a compensation to her economic dependency.  Does it not defeat the purpose to be paid to be a mom?

Now let’s quote John McDermott, a Financial Times columnist who probably cannot afford to pay his wife a bonus: “I was thinking about how a wife bonus demeans the economic gains made by women across the world in the past 100 years and corrodes the romantic bonds between partners…so rich men can keep their wives in dependency….Is this dependency worth the bonus?.”[4]
Further along in his op-ed, Mc Dermott reminds us that “bonuses” paid to households are not new.  In fact, European governments give generous allowances to encourage families to have children, the KPIs being the number of children born, not mothers to stay home.  It is not a totally pro-women policy, as European countries face huge pension liability and need young workers to pay for retirees as the pay-as-you-go pension system is overstretched.  In fact, complemented with paid maternity leave, the allowance helps many mothers to stay in the work force.

Through its social welfare program Bolsa Familia, the Brazilian government allocates stipends to poor mothers to encourage them to keep their kids healthy and in school.  It has another non-official purpose, that of bribing families to vote for the government candidates. 

Why do rich highly educated women with skills to match, business connections, and household help decide not to take up an interesting job?  There are individual as well as tribal reasons for these decisions.  May-be it is because the glass ceiling is so hard to break.  The masters of the universe do not make the work environment women-friendly and until women’s participation reaches a critical mass, nothing will improve on this front.  Unfortunately, since professional women are increasingly opting out in the United States, the remaining working women will have to fight harder to stay afloat, and as a result the goal of equal pay for equal work will remain a concept.  You have gone a long way baby, but it is still a man’s world! So stay put, and direct your intelligence into pleasing a wealthy husband.  Is this the message behind Ms. Martin’s survey?

Ms. Martin may have sexed-up her survey, the bonus thing may be an exaggeration.  However, having read some pre-nups on line, I believe that there is some truth in her story.  The Park Avenue tribe is a minute population, part of the 1%, the richest Americans, who often marry each other, and work in finance.  However, its social model is a return to the old patriarchal system, with the commodification of love as a new element.  Only money and privilege make is bearable for the Glam SAHMs; they may enjoy their gender-segregated world, but the real divide is between those who can afford not to work and those who have no choice but work. 

Balancing work and motherhood for American middle-class women is nearly mission impossible.  Opting-out is regarded as New Feminism which holds that women should be valued in their biological role of child bearers, as individual equal to men in the economic, social and legal senses.  Notably, the concept promoted by the Catholic Church doesn’t reject women’s participation in the economic and social sphere.  From reading the comments on Ms. Martin op-ed in the NYT (May, 24) it seems that this fact is lost on many women.  The multifaceted New Feminism is the mantra of the post-feminist generation.  In this new parlance, this blogger is a dinosaur, an old fashioned feminist, object of scorn.  However, she may be right to regard New Feminism is an old gender based prejudice in new clothing.

If every American woman decides to opt-out, men will be more than happy to take back the modicum of equality the women fought for over the years.  If many women have choices now, it is because the 20th century feminists fought their battles.  Between Ann Romney and Sheryl Sandberg, this blogger chooses the second.  She worked all her life, enjoyed the stimulation, challenge and the friends she made.  However, she respects those women who took another track, should they remember the battles feminists won for them.  In Europe, women will continue to progress thanks to paid maternity leave (mother & father), crèches, better job opportunities, equal pay and a more audible voice in politics to keep the momentum. The marquises de Pompadour of Park Avenue could prove their usefulness by going to Washington DC and request the implementation of women-friendly policies for those less fortunate than them.

A study from the Pew Research Center (March 14, 2013) found “that 41 percent of American adults claim that the increase in number of working moms is bad for society”.  On the other end, a still more recent study by the Harvard Business School (2015) indicated that the daughters of working mothers were doing better at school and making more money than those of non-working moms.  Their sons were also better fathers.  The Economist of London seems to agree, it published several articles on hands-on fatherhood and children benefits pointing to society gains as a whole (May 16, 2015).

Blog dedicated to Linda C., Linda S., Marianne, Caryl, Donna, Kathleen, Inez, Fabienne and Tom.

[1] Poor Little Rich Women, New York Times op-ed, May 16, 2015.
[2] Inhabitants of Rio de Janeiro.
[3] Information provided by I.M.S.
[4] FT, May 22, 2015.

Wednesday, May 13, 2015

Elizabeth and Angela: Europe Icons and Powerhouses


Elizabeth is charming people into believing that an increasingly irrelevant country is still relevant and Angela aims at making an increasingly assertive country look less so.

Both ladies are plucky, resilient and highly respected in their own respective spheres. Elizabeth II, Queen of the United Kingdom happens to be the official head of state of several larges countries, all members of the British Commonwealth. As such, she counts an estimated 2 billion subjects. As the Euro Queen, Angela Merkel heads a more modest and virtual kingdom of 334 million people. Luckily, she is also the German chancellor, a much less stressful job which carries few irritations; currently her main concern is to shorten the leash of German spies who prefer to take their instructions from the CIA rather than from her.

In spite of their age difference, Elizabeth could be Angela’s mother, they look rather alike. Both are petite, just over 1.60 m, on the plump and frumpy side and have a similar taste for wardrobe formalism and colors. Blue seems to be Elizabeth’s favorite, but she can purposely select another color according to the event she is attending. Angela is very much a color maverick, the jacket of her signature pantsuit comes in many different and sometimes unusual colors. Her low-key, no-nonsense look is part of her strategy to project a reassuring plainness to the stressed Europeans.


                              The coat is green, must be St Patrick!

For decades, Elizabeth was a globe-trotting diplomat, visiting 116 countries without a passport but with her handbag glued to her arm. At 89, she has slowed down and leaves the royal representational business to her children and glamorous grandchildren. Since the beginning of the year, Angela certainly logged more miles than any other head of government, but she doesn’t carry a handbag. Her familiar accessory is François Hollande, the French president, a useful sidekick to reinforce that Ubermacht (dominance) is no longer a German obsession.

Elizabeth and Angela share many attributes, but they belong to different worlds.

Angela’s euro family is far more boisterous and troublesome than Elizabeth’s respectful subjects. Angela is more a fire fighter than a diplomat, she is called on to put out the fires set by her neighbor’s troublesome leaders, principally the alpha male and self-appointed tsar, Vladimir Putin, and the Greek gang. In January, and in full denial mode, Greece elected a bunch of lefties with big egos, no government experience and a knack to raise freeloading to an art form. Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras and publicity-obsessed finance minister Yanis Varoufakis keep acting recklessly and Angela’s patience is wearing thin.

         angela david

                                                Angela and David

Elizabeth has survived many anni horribiles in the 1980s and 90s. Her troubles were mostly close to home and even by modern family standards, her family qualified as highly dysfunctional. The Windsors can pride themselves for having raised the UK divorce rate to stratospheric levels. Fortunately for Elizabeth, things have now quieted down. Her grandchild Prince William and his wife Catherine have restored the family’s good standing.

When learning that David Cameron was back in 10 Downing Street, Angela must have felt angst-ridden: new clouds were obscuring the not-so-blue European Union (EU) sky. Cameron’s splendid, although unexpected victory, will embolden him to ask for additional favors from the EU; if rebuffed, he may take Britain out of the EU by means of a referendum. Angela could have done without another spoiled brat. Actually, Cameron’s demands are not frivolous, tougher immigration rules and less generous social hand-outs, the other EU members should be advised to adopt them as they will go a long way towards propping up their feeble economies. Between the pesky Greeks and Grexit, Vladimir the Terrible and a possible Brexit, she has her plate full. To placate these high-octane guys, Angela needs to recharge her batteries. She may feel more relaxed in the company of the rotund François Hollande whose nickname is Flanby, a custard-type pudding.



                                            He is now inside

Waking up on May 8, Elizabeth must have felt relieved: she will not have to add another prime minister (PM) to her collection of 12. During her long reign, each prime minister was granted a weekly audience. Her first PM was Winston Churchill, a father figure who had time to groom her between passionate discussions about horses. The queen’s peace of mind may be short lived because of David’s hasty campaign promises. The EU referendum is a gamble; if Britain pulls out of the EU, a domino effect can be expected with Scotland leaving the UK ship, and the survival of the British Commonwealth coming into question.

Not a cheerful prospect for the Queen, not only does she lose her kingdom but her husband, Philip Duke of Edinburgh loses his title and may have to revert to his former one of prince of Greece and Denmark. To add insult to injury, by European Gotha standards, the prince is more royal than the queen his wife! At their next weekly audience, Elizabeth may advise David on how to draft his dammed referendum to make sure that she keeps her kingdom in one piece.

Ironically, David’s victory may bring Elizabeth’s and Angela’s worlds closer as both ladies will have to show savvy to keep their kingdom whole. They have their work cut out.