Popular literature has it that in times of strife, some women invoke Madonna rather like an oracle. Of course, the question "What would Madonna do?" has only one answer, which is very likely "Flash her gristly flange."
I don't think I've ever asked myself at moments of great moment what Madonna would do. However, I have referred to a small icon of Joan Collins pinned up in my head, on occasion. Joan Collins has a past that started before I was born. She is just shy of 79 years old, and still espouses a glamour at which I can only raise a tired eyebrow. When asked how she has coped with life so successfully she said something like "I never look back". I used to think this was the mark of someone shallow. An unexamined life, and all that. But as my past starts to get bigger than my future, I can see it's more of a survival mechanism.
Does it really benefit anyone to pick the scab of unhappy childhood, repeatedly? Does it help to amass all the things you've done, and not done, and things you've fucked up, like some temporal car boot sale and think this is the sum of who I am? It may be better just to put on some lipstick and brush everything under the carpet.
My school's motto was Respice, Circumspice, Prospice. Look back, look around, look forward. (I think. I never did Latin). All very laudable advice. However, I drove without a rear view mirror once for six months, and I don't think I missed much.
You have to admire someone who has optimistically launched herself into marriage five times. The last time Joan married, she was nearly 70, and her husband 32 years younger. ('If he dies, he dies', she remarked...) It shows a wonderful reluctance to learn from experience, and an insane belief that this time it will work. Ten years on they are still together.
I don't agree with Joanie's politics, or many of her views, but I love that she chats to her daughter on Twitter and posts photos and retweets. She is one of the last Rank starlets, yet there is nothing old-fashioned about her. She's a sort of sequinned heat-seeking missile. Steely, camp, and ridiculously preserved. When I grow up I'd like to be Joan Collins, but I hope there won't be a vacancy for a while. In the meantime I will practise not looking back.