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The truth about 'I wish you well'
This week in my Moodring roundup: Gwyneficent wins a dollar; the royals are ridiculous; and Waitrose, retired dentists' utopia.
I WISH YOU WELL
I’m always glad to see Gwyneth Paltrow in the news. She’s a strange contradiction, a wholesome yet malevolent figure who does mundane things in a ridiculous way. Eating bone broth for almost every meal. The fact she smokes precisely one cigarette a week. Divorcing Chris Martin but making it sound like the demutualisation of a building society. That she has always, since the moment of her birth been rich, and yet cannot breathe or think without monetising it. The set dressing that is the vadge candles and the jade eggs. She’s Lex Luthor with beach waves, Mother Theresa in Rosa Klebb brogues. And I love it.
Her turn as the defendant in a trial over a skiing accident is possibly her greatest role yet. From her serial killer specs – disclaimer: I have a similar-ish pair which I hugely regret and hardly ever wear because they make me look like I should be on a register – and her chunky knits and ‘Wednesday Addams discovers Sun-In’ silicon valley goth couture, to her eye-rolling, pinched-mouth quips and, of course, the devastating parting shot I am here to discuss, Gwyneth is always a marvel. I quite like her in films, but she’s at her best when playing herself.
If you were lucky enough to have been crushed by your sleep paralysis demons when this charade was happening, Gwyneth has successfully defended her honour against some other WASPy privilege hoover who claimed La Paltrow was to blame for a skiing accident that had left him unable to taste wine or something. Gwyneth was countersuing this grifter for a symbolic $1, and the moment could only have been camper if she’d exited the courtroom waving her dollar bill aloft like a Pride flag, or had perhaps set fire to it and lit her weekly Superkings with the flame. Instead, once it was over, Gwyneth slunk her way out, pausing only to mutter in the ear of her aggressor, ‘I wish you well’.
‘Oh that’s nice,’ idiots might say. Gwyneth may be many things, but she isn’t stupid, and she’s not subtle either. ‘I wish you well’ might seem like the kind of anodyne plaudit rich people chuck around at each other, a message faxed from one assistant to another. But it actually means: f•ck you. It does. It’s often used by people who think they’re being really clever, in a world where everything you say is airbrushed and PRed to within a scraping of its bone. ‘I wish you well’, or him, or her, or them, is a smile pulled tight like the skin of a tambourine, over a bottomless well of resentment and fury. ‘I wish you well’ is a four-word stand-in for ‘I just want you know that I think you’re a complete c•nt and my life and my time is infinitely more valuable and enjoyable than yours will ever be, please do us all a favour and fall down a ravine and let buzzards wear your eyeballs for earrings’. Or words to that effect.
Michael Gove had a go at being queen b•tch himself, back in 2020, deploying an ‘IWYW’ variant in response to the Bishop of Leeds slagging off Dominic Cummings. It was typically inelegant – perhaps he should’ve tried wearing a pair of Ace & Tate aviators and a bulky pullover from Boden while saying it.
‘I wish you well’ is a threat that circumvents litigation, a polite way of saying ‘see you never’ that still leaves dignity intact and bridges unburned. After all, this is Hollywood; you never know when you might need someone again.
Anyway, if someone wishes you well, run. Or see them in court. As for Gwyneth, what comes next? Multimillion-dollar jewel heist, surely? Or a run for President. Whatever she does, I’ll be watching.
MOOD: Wishing you well
I remain unblemished and unbothered by the imminent coronation. After two decades of living in the capital city, I have been conditioned by my miserable peers to consider anything described as ‘once in a lifetime’ to be hugely inconvenient to me personally. I’m the same with most ‘big’ events, just not interested. Perhaps one day, as I tread water during my dotage, sucking on Cadbury’s Eclairs through a gummy smile, I’ll regret not joining the throngs and lining the streets and queueing up to pee in a chemical toilet in the middle of Green Park. But I doubt it. I know I’m not alone in my refusenik tendencies. Like quite a few people, I suspect, I cared not one jot about the 2012 Olympics until about two days before they started. It’s often eulogised now, but at the time, it all seemed so crap and half-arsed, typically British. The ticketing was a nightmare, the investment in infrastructure was minimal and beset by endless scandals, people who could afford to left London in droves for fear of overcrowding and there was, generally, a very negative attitude. And then something weird happened. On the day of the opening ceremony, I was walking along the south bank with a friend and we were suddenly struck by the hugeness of everything: the Olympic rings on Tower Bridge, the regalia dangling from lampposts, the general buzz of being around people who’d come to London specially and were excited. We parted and I found myself rushing to my boyfriend’s house to watch the ceremony, scouring the shelves of countless branches of M&S and Tesco Express for London’s last bottle of cava – prosecco was yet to achieve full chokehold in 2012. I was shocked to see others caught up in similar hysteria. Similarly for Kate and William’s wedding, hauling my champagne flutes over to my friends’ house and enjoying a proper working men’s club wedding buffet and getting drunk and occasionally even watching the wedding.
I can’t see it happening this time, however. All the royal stuff, which I struggled with at the best of times, seems absolutely ludicrous now the Queen is dead. Like, I guess we accepted most of the overblown showiness and gold-plated everything because she’d always been there, and it’s just what happened. But the same pomp and reverence applied to King Prince Charles and Queen Camilla Parker-Bowles seems ridiculous. They’re just two pensioners who can afford bespoke tailoring, but still look devastatingly BHS. The gig is up, darlings. We’ve read the transcripts of the supposedly saucy and romantic phone calls. We’ve seen Diana’s mangled Mercedes being loaded onto the back of a pickup truck in Paris. We’ve watched Harry lay bare their pedestrian and unpleasant family squabbles – albeit happening in castles and private jets rather than terraced houses and Nissan Micras. The royals hold no mystique, no power. They’re as mysterious as the cast of EastEnders, just a bunch of messed-up rich people short only of a camera crew to document their disputes for Hulu.
My one concession: Heck’s special edition coronation chicken sausages are fabulous. (This is not an ad, by the way.) The rest of the coronation I’ll absorb through memes.
MOOD: Bitter queen
Ah, Waitrose. The retail equivalent of the polite-to-your-face neighbour who’s on the phone to the council night and day about your overhanging prunus spinosa. For financial and mental health reasons, I’ve never been a regular shopper there, but a few months ago, I discovered a full-sized Waitrose not too far from where I live. It’s near the American Embassy, in the middle of loads of ugly, soulless apartment buildings. You know the sort. One has a ‘sky pool’, everyone who lives in them has a personal trainer and a conviction for speeding, an alarm goes off if you dare to bring a carb through the lobby. Anyway, where there’s affluence, there’s a Waitrose, and I love popping in occasionally for a fairly sedate shopping experience. It’s never that busy – save for a few powdery-faced grannies in Missoni scarves and Patrick Bateman-esque financiers with Action Man scowls – so I like to glide round it, self-scan gun in hand, hunting for offers. I grew up shopping in tiny Co-Ops and a huge ASDA, sometimes the mega Morrisons, but have had ideas above my station for as long as I can remember and always yearned to shop somewhere more aspirational. Waitrose has always been another planet to me. I know I don’t belong there, and I certainly can’t afford to do anything other than grab-and-go shopping there, but rather than restrict or embarrass me, this sense of being an outcast among the £7 jars of tahini liberates me.
Sweeping up and down its aisles, I imagine this must be how it feels to be a retired dentist, one whose children have gone on to do quite well for themselves, except for the queer one who ruins every Christmas and calls roast chestnut stuffing ‘Tory’. I soak up their privileged bliss, cooing at strange products that come in tiny packets but cost more than the moon landings. The annoying truth about money and being around people who have it is they are generally calmer, in less of a hurry, have fewer troubles occupying them. Not that it makes them any more pleasant to be around; should the moneyed shoppers actually notice you, they will take rudeness to a new level. I have only told someone to f•ck off in a supermarket once, and it was in a branch of Waitrose. I suppose the rudest people alive have to shop somewhere.
While it’s nice to visit, and imagine I am the kind of man who would buy orecchiette ‘just to have in’, I usually only skitter about briefly before vamoosing up to the gigantic, reassuringly anaemic Sainsbury’s at Nine Elms where everybody is just trying to get through their day, and as many 3 for 2 deals through the checkout as possible.
MOOD: Wishing my self-scan gun was loaded
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