STORIES this week about two unimaginably rich women were striking because of their parallels – and their differences.
Both women’s wealth came from their husbands. Both have more money than they know what to do with.
But what they did with it could be the stuff of a morality tale.
Zamira Hajiyeva is the wife of a jailed Azerbaijani banker, and a mum of three, who spent £16million at Harrods.
That included £5.75million on jewellery and £30,000 on Godiva chocolates — in one day.
She also spent £790,000 in one single transaction in the toy department on a Bibbidi-Bobbidi-Boo Disney makeover experi-ence for her children.
Clearly she felt she had money to burn… until the chickens came home to roost.
Her extravagant spending was investigated by the National Crime Agency (NCA) following the conviction of her husband on corruption charges.
Mrs Hajiyeva’s husband was head of the state-controlled International Bank of Azerbaijan from 2001 until his resignation in 2015.
He was subsequently sentenced to 15 years in jail by the courts there for embezzlement.
The NCA wanted to establish how the couple could afford to buy an £11.5million Knightsbridge house a short walk from Harrods, and a £10.5million golf club in Ascot.
You can see why there was some explaining to do.
All the jewellery and Godiva chocolates in the world doesn’t necessarily make you happy
I bet Zamira’s husband left her in London expecting her to keep a low profile, instead of drawing attention to herself by doing a supermarket sweep in one of the city’s pricier shops.
This story is a good reminder of three things. Firstly, when money falls into some people’s laps it’s a case of “easy come, easy go”. Zamira hadn’t earned it, so she felt free to chuck it away.
Secondly, it’s a reminder that all the jewellery and Godiva chocolates in the world doesn’t necessarily make you happy.
CRIME DOESN'T PAY
And the third thing is, crime really doesn’t pay. She is under investigation, her husband is in prison. It’s just not worth it.
I’m sure their kids would trade all the Bibbidi-Bobbidi-Boo experiences in the world to have both parents at home with them.
This week also gave us another example of a woman in possession of great wealth. MacKenzie Bezos has come into an estimated £29billion fortune after divorcing Amazon founder Jeff Bezos, the world’s richest man.
Her response to coming into so much money is to promise to give at least half of it to charity.
MacKenzie has taken seriously the idea that with great power comes great responsibility
Strictly speaking, she didn’t earn that money, it was her hubby who built Amazon. But she sacrificed her career to support his and bring up their four children.
Then Jeff ran off with another woman. The ultimate humiliation.
Yet MacKenzie has maintained her dignity. And her response to her hefty divorce settlement — rather than hitting the shops — has been to sign the Giving Pledge, which encourages the world’s richest people to dedicate a majority of their wealth to charitable causes.
She has taken seriously the idea that with great power comes great responsibility.
'NOTHING SHORT OF ADMIRABLE'
She is nothing short of admirable. Instead of frittering her fortune away on diamonds and chocolates, MacKenzie has chosen to invest it in the world. What a great gesture.
It’s not just her generosity that I admire, it’s her nature. She knows what is important, what is real and that true wealth is not measured in terms of money alone.
She has acted with dignity and class given the embarrassing situation her ex-husband put his family in with his public infidelity.
She is beautiful on the inside and outside. Jeff Bezos must be a fool to let a woman like this go.
Love your neighbour… or else
ANYONE who has ever had an annoying neighbour will have read with interest about the warring pair embroiled in a four-year battle over who should cut the laurel hedge that separates their homes.
Tensions reached boiling point and police were called after Julie Wayte, 61, was caught on security camera emptying clippings on 37-year-old Lara Acutt’s drive in Newark, Notts, blocking her access.
Oh dear. No doubt there are two sides to this story, as there are to any neighbourly dispute.
But reading about it, I can’t help but hope we all try to rise above petty annoyances and avoid becoming the type of person who dumps hedge clippings on next door’s lawn.
Our family dodged the Love Island bullet
HANDS up who is looking forward to getting stuck into the new series of Love Island.
I know lots of people will be binge-watching it as an antidote to Brexit – and it’s certainly a bit of light relief.
All I can think, though, when I see the line-up of the bodies beautiful getting ready to be on the show, is that our family just dodged a bullet.
My daughter Sophia was asked (again) to do it. She thought it would be fun.
Let’s just say I thought otherwise.
Actor is showing strength
THERE has been a buzz this week about the fact that Game Of Thrones actor Kit Harington has checked himself into rehab, with some people talking about it almost as if that is a weakness.
But his decision should be treated as admirable, rather than a source of gossip.
Imagine the pressure he has been under playing the lead role in the world’s most talked-about TV series. No wonder he has had a bit of a wobble.
Taking responsibility for our mental health is just as important as looking after our physical health – and I’m nothing but impressed that he’s had the strength to do so.
Donovan didn't stop to think
I’VE always thought that Jason Donovan seems like a nice guy, which is backed up by the photos of him helping a woman who’d collapsed in the street when he was out for a jog.
He didn’t think twice about stopping to help.
After all, everybody needs good neighbours (sorry!).
The plane danger of boozers
I CRINGED to read about the drunken British Airways passenger who stormed the galley, smashing crockery and allegedly punching members of the cabin crew – all because they refused to serve her yet another drink.
Emma Langford, 47, was then forcibly restrained in her seat for the rest of the flight from London to Cape Town.
I was on a plane years ago when my kids were small and the guy sitting behind us was very drunk, swearing at people and pulling on the back of my seat.
He was also shouting, and it was getting worse and worse as staff refused to serve him any more alcohol.
In the end the stewards locked him in the toilet. He was arrested when we landed, and looked very sorry for himself.
But it’s a small, fragile space 35,000ft up, and out-of-control passengers are a danger on an aeroplane. There needs to be a zero tolerance approach to this problem.
No doubt Emma Langford will never live down the shame of this, but clearly we can’t rely on regret and remorse to create good behaviour.
I’ve got a very simple solution to this issue. Anyone found drunk on a plane should be banned from flying for life.
We should all doo it like Stacey
I’VE always liked Stacey Dooley, and I’m full of admiration about how she deals with the endless speculation about her relationship with Strictly dancer Kevin Clifton.
In an interview this week, she said: “I don’t let what outsiders think worry me that much.”
Which, whether you are in a high-profile relationship on the TV, or just going about your daily life, is EXACTLY the right attitude.
We should all take a leaf out of Stacey’s book.
If you like yourself, who cares what others think – especially as you don’t even know them.
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