Open mouth wide, insert foot, keep it there, wiggle toes…

The rich really aren’t like the rest of us. Everything about them is larger than life, including the feet they stick in their mouths. Witness, for example, the actions of one obscenely rich man and his wife (dare we say she’s “estranged”?):

When the flamboyant former Italian prime minister Silvio Berlusconi made flirtatious comments to two lovely young things at an awards ceremony last week, his overtures were overheard and splashed across the media.

His long-suffering second wife of 20 years, Veronica Lario, demanded an apology. None was forthcoming, so she wrote an open letter to a national newspaper headlined “My husband owes me a public apology.”

She explained that it was with difficulty that she had broken her habitual reserve. “During the course of my relationship with my husband I have not given space to conjugal conflict, even when his behaviour has been such as to merit it.”

But now that her children are grown, it’s important to set an example as a woman “able to protect her own dignity in relationships with men”.

Actually, Signora Berlusconi, you might have thought of that a lot sooner. Children aren’t stupid; they learn about adult relationships by watching and emulating what their parents do. And since human beings aren’t born with their eyes closed like kittens, that means your bambini have been watching you from a very early age indeed. What do you suppose they’ve been seeing for the past 20 years?

A more bashful husband might have slunk home contrite.

But not Mr Berlusconi, who has penned his own letter to the media. “Dear Veronica, here is my apology. I was recalcitrant in private because I am playful and also proud.” He adds that when in the company of beautiful women, “the temptation to respond is strong and I did not resist”.

Feh. You call that an apology, Signor Berlusconi? I call it excuse-making. Very lame excuse-making, at that…but then, how can one be anything other than lame when one has a Ferragamo permanently wedged between his dentures?

Mr Berlusconi has long cultivated an image of a virile Latin charmer. He famously vowed to give up sex in the run-up to last year’s Italian election (only to lose), and claims his “playboy” charms persuaded Finland’s female president to give up attempts to house the EU food agency in Helsinki.

And he is fond of recounting how he fell for the second Mrs Berlusconi after seeing her perform topless in a play; he showered her with gifts until she became his mistress.

Ah yes, there’s dignity for you! The rich simply exude that…

For some time now, the Berlusconis have taken separate holidays and maintain separate residences.

…especially when they’re spatting, snitting and just not getting along.

The Beeb has invited readers to comment on this very public marital contretemps. Here’s what a couple of them have to say:

Good for Berlusconi for apologizing. But, shame on the author for using the words, “lovely young things” to describe the women who happened to capture Berlusconi’s affection. “Things?” Is this protecting women’s dignity?

Sara, Michigan

An excellent point. Of course, the author may have picked that word for a reason–“things” certainly seems to be an apt term for how the Berluscoglioni sees the ladies. I’m sure the concept of women-as-people has never really occurred to him. I get the distinct impression that to him, attractive females are just brushes for buffing his already glossy ego.

I found it wonderfully romantic that he admitted he was wrong and apologised in public. Of course, he’s an idiot for behaving that way in the first place, but at least he had the guts to openly sorry ‘I’m sorry, I’m a idiot, and I love you’. What British man, let alone politician could do the same? (and with such flair!)

Michelle, London

I might have found it romantic too, once upon a time. But I get the feeling he’s just going to revert straight back to pattern at the next opportunity. Why? Because she knew what he was when she first consented to be his mistress.

And speaking of romantic:

When a woman loves a man, that man can do ANYTHING… it will always be forgiven. Now, when a woman does not care for you, you can try ANYTHING as nice as you can, you are wasting your time.

Oliver, Paris

But Oliver, what happens when a man loves a woman? Surely not things like this. Or have I just been listening to too many Percy Sledge songs for my own good?

Ah, but maybe it’s different with the rich. After all, they’re not like the rest of us. When they open mouth wide and insert foot, they don’t have to pull it out and issue a real apology; they can well afford to keep that handsomely shod foot there and pay someone else to cart them around while they wiggle their toes for the world’s amusement.

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