One too many for Material Girl

IT stinks how money can talk. But thus it ever was.Desperate childless couples jumping through authorities' hoops for a chance to be adoptive parents must feel sick to the pits of their stomachs as Madonna swans into the Third World to take her pick.

IT stinks how money can talk. But thus it ever was.

Desperate childless couples jumping through authorities' hoops for a chance to be adoptive parents must feel sick to the pits of their stomachs as Madonna swans into the Third World to take her pick.

Like a pampered princess in a sweet shop, she selects her child - 'I'll have that one' - expecting a judge to rubber stamp the adoption of four-year-old Mercy James so she can whisk her back to her rainbow family, simply because she is Madonna.

But because she is Madonna is exactly the reason why she should be stopped from taking children home whenever she fancies.

Standing in the tatters of a collapsed marriage, with two children by two fathers and another adopted Malawian son, she was, until a nano-second ago, catching up on lost time with a 22-year-old model called Jesus.

A New York penthouse amid the hurly-burly of the world's media and a broken marriage is hardly the ideal family bosom into which to place a bemused four-year-old from one of the world's poorest countries.

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Her ex-husband Guy Ritchie regularly takes their son, Rocco, the Malawian boy, David, they adopted together to Britain. Madonna's daughter, Lourdes, from her relationship with her personal trainer prefers to stay with Mum.

How little Mercy will work out where she fits into this throng is anyone's guess. Two go with Dad, two stay at home. Then Lourdes goes off with her dad. Where does that leave Mercy?

With nanny, of course, as Mummy is off doing what Mummy does when she's not adopting children.

Like every Malawian child, Mercy deserves a better life, of course. But what constitutes 'better'? More than wealth and every opportunity money can buy. More than multiple homes, celebrity godparents - or whatever the equivalent is in Kabbalah - a succession of nannies and flashing cameras of the hounding paparazzi.

Madonna may well be a fabulous mother but she gives the impression it's her right to circumvent established rules and dazzle judges with her star status to authorise her adoptions.

Apparently the adoption is being fast-tracked? Because of who she is?

It makes a mockery of the whole adoption procedure and mocks those so desperate to offer a home to a child.

And what's with her obsession of extending her brood?

If she really wants to give Malawian children a chance, why not use her wealth to help other worthy potential parents fulfil their dream?

Or fund the education of older children?

She might be doing much with her own charity to help vulnerable children there but it doesn't entitle her to take one home as a trophy.

There's something grossly uncomfortable about watching and her children among the Malawian people as if they've arrived to choose a puppy.

Childless couples for whom fertility treatment has failed, and who have spent their savings and racked up debt on treatment, can't afford to go down the international adoption road. Why can't she help them achieve their dream?

Wrenching a child from its homeland and culture is one thing, thrusting that child into the melee of life in the public eye, a broken family and foisting her on nannies while 'Mummy' swans around the world for her career is car crash parenting.

'All you need is love' feels like a very empty phrase. All you obviously need is money and clout.

Today is judgement day for the Material Girl. We can only hope that the judge is the person to stand up finally to Madonna and say enough is enough.

But somehow I doubt it.

WHO wouldn't have wanted to be a fly on the wall in the Smith-Timney household when the do-do hit the fan about the Home Secretary's husband's nocturnal activities at our expense?

The man must either be a total plonker to think he'd get away with it or crying out for attention from his wife far too busy keeping law and order to notice what he's up to once the children are in bed and she's rifling through her red boxes.

But, the porn-on-the-taxpayer shame aside, Richard Timney probably isn't living the life he imagined when he married Jacqui Smith

Once she was elected to Parliament in 1997, he gave up his job as a civil engineer to look after the family and play the househusband.

In the past 12 years, he has cared for their two young sons and now works for his wife as her �40,000 a year personal assistant.

He's living the life of an old-style Tory wife, only with role reversal.

Only Tory wives spent their evenings with the WI or other Tory wives not the Playboy channel, the Adult Channel and television X.' Additional Services', as the bill stated, indeed.

But it's not his wife I feel sorry for, it's their two boys who have to go to school and face the taunts from their mates about their dad's penchant for things saucy.

Perhaps it's them he should have been thinking about when he pressed the remote control after dark.

A FRIEND of mine has taken to taking buses with her small child and baby to save on petrol and parking charges.

She lugs her pram on board, paying full fare and often has to stand because the bus is packed, mostly with the over 60s with their bus passes.

'I wouldn't mind,' she said 'but I know a lot of them, they're fit, play golf three times a week, can walk for miles and have brand new cars sitting in their garage at home but still they use the bus because it's free.

'I've been left standing a bus stops because buses are full of pensioners leaving us standing there in the rain with our babies.'

The free bus pass for everyone of pension age has been a bubble waiting to burst with the ageing population.

But now the freebies enjoyed by 11 million are being scaled back and not accepted on some buses because, surprise surprise, it's costing too much.

I know a woman who has recently turned 60 enjoys five foreign holidays a year, drives a brand new hatchback, money is no object, but is thrilled to use her bus pass often because it's free.

I hate the idea of means testing but it doesn't seem fair that those living in the lap of luxury with hefty private pensions are getting free travel while young families struggling to make ends meet have to cough up full fare and not even get a seat.

ENGLAND captain John Terry's mother Sue said that accepting a caution for allegedly stealing more than �1000 worth of clothes from Marks and Spencer and Tesco with her son's wife's mother was an 'innocent misunderstanding.'

What exactly did they misunderstand when they trundled trolleys full of stuff out of the stores? That her son was only captain of England not King? This country might deify its footballers and think they can walk on water but his family still have to queue and pay like the rest of us.

THE fashion industry must be greedily awaiting a new fortune.

The Rooneys are with child. A new branch of the Rooney moneymaking machine is in its fledgling stages.

An offshoot of Mr and Mrs Materialism, the couple the credit crunch forgot, will bring pound signs to the eyes of every fashion designer in the Western world.

With mothers with more money than sense buying baby mini stilettos and butter soft leather cowboy boots complete with soft spurs before they can even crawl, one can only imagine horrors to be inflicted on baby Rooney in the name of fashion.

All babies need are babygros and somewhere to sleep.

But today's babies have full designer wardrobes, ludicrous ensembles that must be anything but comfortable for the little mites and end up becoming accessories themselves.

IF the bumbling bigheads trying to out-bumptious each other to become Sir Alan's apprentice are really the cream of the crop of bright young business minds no wonder the country is in the sorry state it's in.

HARDLY a surprise that the best way to wind down, relax and sooth frazzled nerves is a spot of reading.

Psychologists have proved reading calms, distracts and eases tension like nothing else.

So an obvious answer then why are children are so hyped up and find it so hard to go to sleep after evenings at their computers and games consoles and are so exhausted at school.

Few parents encourage their children to read to wind down at the end of the day. Now there is proof it works there's no excuse.

LOOKING after small children is hard work, physically and mentally exhausting.

So many grandparents spend their precious retirement in a haze of nappies, nursery rhymes and primary-coloured plastic caring for their grandchildren while their parents work.

They're an unpaid army keeping this country working, encouraging their daughters and sons to work to give their grandchildren the chances and advantages they perhaps couldn't give a generation ago.

They see it as 'doing their bit' in the name of family.

Grandparents who care deserve rewarding, even thought they do it for love.

A CONFERENCE of psychologists gave women of a certain age the excuse they need to take to their bank manager to explain their overspending.

It's our hormones.

Men insist we're governed by them to explain what they affectionately call our 'mood swings' and unpredictability.

But psychologists have concluded that our hormones govern more than our moods - our spending habits.

Impulse buys, extravagant shopping and over spending are common at a certain time in our menstrual cycle. The later women are in their cycle, the more they spend.

Male bank managers everywhere must be ducking for cover as every seriously overdrawn woman marches in with their perfect excuse and intimate details of their menstrual cycles.