I cannot say I’ve ever been Jeff Bezos’s number-one fan. My favourite fact so far about the 54-year-old billionaire Amazon CEO is the email he composed in 2015 stating that the company would begin grading its workers on “empathy” and begin “culling” the least empathetic 10 per cent. Probably the least empathetic email ever sent by a CEO.
Now we have learned, courtesy of the rush of press around his impending divorce from MacKenzie Bezos, his wife of 25 years (who will forever be defined by the size of her multi-billion-pound divorce settlement), how this global titan went about choosing his romantic partner for life. And I can’t help thinking he’s on to something.
“The number one criterion was that I wanted a woman who could get me out of a Third World prison,” said the soon-to-be richest man in the world. “Life’s too short to hang out with people who aren’t resourceful,” he added. Friends were asked to set him up with “resourceful” women. He took ballroom dancing lessons to increase his “woman flow”.
Laying to one side his desire for extra “woman flow” (his mission to apply analytics to love, apparently), I can’t help but admire him for wanting a woman for CIA/James Bond/Mission Impossible-style prison-busting skills. It sure beats the usual wealthy man secretly seeking a homekeeper/acquiescent cutie, with built-in “planned obsolescence” so that they can buy a newer, younger version quickly.
Having conducted extensive research — a long browse through web-based advice panels entitled “What to ask your prospective partner before you marry them” — I can safely note that “How resourceful are you?” doesn’t crop up. Even Bear Grylls, writing in GQ, advises enrolling on a marriage course rather than testing wall-scaling techniques.
Yet what an eminently sensible metric to consider. Divorce rates may be dropping, but the statistics of separation when matched with those that also co-habit are still not pretty. Surely the “ability to find quick and clever ways to overcome difficulties” is probably the most useful characteristic to possess in one half of a partnership? Ingenuity in the face of adversity can certainly ease the rough and tumble that is life. Too often we judge on random emotional triggers, rarely looking hard at the facts of our compatibility.
Then again, Bezos is probably assuming he made the choice — because MacKenzie was “resourceful, smart, brainy and hot” — when his wife said it was she who made the first move. She liked his laugh. “My office door was next to his, and all day I listened to that fabulous laugh,” she said in 2013. “How could I not fall in love with that laugh?”
My leap to marriage was also based on illogical reasons — my future husband was handsome, a great cook, looked hot in tennis shorts, and when we briefly split in our twenties I missed him horribly. He jokes that I chose him because he’s useful at carrying multiple heavy cases when we go on holiday. But after 25 years we are still here. So perhaps it does come down to love and quite a bit of luck.
As for Jeff, he’s reportedly dating a woman who flies helicopters, Lauren Sanchez. Perfect for busting him out of Third World prisons.
James Bulger film treads a very thin line
The 1993 murder of toddler James Bulger by two 10-year-old boys was a crime so incomprehensible that 26 years later the brutal details of Bulger’s death remain disturbing.
A short film, Detainment, by Irish director Vincent Lambe, based on 20 hours of police interview transcripts of Robert Thompson and Jon Venables, has been shortlisted for an Oscar. It makes for unbearable watching; I only managed three clips.
There is no denying the direction of the film is brilliant but Lambe made the mistake of not contacting family members to discuss the movie, for which he has apologised. The parents of James have called for it to be withdrawn from the Oscars for casting the boys in a sympathetic light. It’s a hard case to answer. Permission should have been sought. And, yes, the film humanises the boys, though I can’t endorse that as a reason to pull it from the Oscars.
Art does tackle horrific events. The boys were human even if their actions were inhumane. That they were tried in an adult court was debated time and again. I saw little sympathy for either boy. Thompson appears as a cold, remorseless child; Venables appears probably exactly as he was at that moment — a boy engulfed by trauma, terror, horror, denial, guilt and grief.
*Although I want Olivia Colman to snap up every best actress award going for her performance in The Favourite — scenes of which still haunt me — it is a pity that Bafta has left out the novice performance by Yalitza Aparicio in Alfonso Cuarón’s film, Roma.
She was a trainee teacher in Mexico before being plucked to big-screen stardom by the director. And she deserves many accolades for holding our attention so adeptly in this slow but engrossing take on female solidarity and tenacity.
If you haven’t seen it, I urge you to do so…