Sunday, June 26, 2005


A lot of young people want to be rich and famous. What they have in mind is not dedication to a career or profession or entrepreneurial endeavour where their achievements will earn them vast wealth and distinction.

Their goal is instant fame and blazing front page headlines which will get them pots of money and a bling bling lifestyle rubbing shoulders with celebrities.

This kind of fame is usually exploitive – to boost the number of television viewers or newspaper readers. With luck, its victims, if they have any sense, can take the money and gratefully disappear back into obscurity with no long term harm done.

But it can also be dangerously addictive and result in serious withdrawal symptoms and delusions of grandeur.

Haunted by the fear or no longer being famous, sufferers from instant fame addiction will go to almost any length to get it back and stay in the headlines.

People who could probably never act or sing in the first place stage phoney love affairs, breakups and makeups to keep themselves famous. Whether or not the stories are true, they give interviews about their unhappy childhoods, diet problems and depression to maintain their fame and stave off their sell by date.

Former Spice girl Victoria Beckham hurt her marriage with her attempts to stay famous in her own right and not just be Mrs Beckham, the wife of a famous man.

Faria Alam, an ambitious secretary who in an email admitted she wanted to be ‘very, very rich and successful,’ got her fifteen minutes and made a reputed £300,000 selling the story of how she briefly shared her bed with England football manager, Sven Goran Eriksson, and Football Association Chief Executive, Mark Palios, in the short time she was PA to the FA Executive Director, David Davies.

Unlike another footballer’s former fancy, Rebecca Loos, who maintained her fame with TV appearances since she sold the story of her fling with David Beckham, Ms Alam, who has been modelling cheap clothes for a catalogue, has hardly been heard of since – until last week.

Now the woman who sent her resignation letter from the office of the publicist Max Clifford, who brokered her story deal, is at a tribunal claiming £30,000 for sexual discrimination, constructive dismissal, breach of contract and unequal pay.

If she has looked after the money she got from her sad and sordid story, she hardly needs another £30,000.

So why is putting herself through an ordeal in which she has been branded a liar and a fantasist?

Is she really that desperate to be in the spotlight again? Is it revenge and the hope that Sven, with whom she admitted she fell in love and who the FA have declined to call as a witness, will be forced to appear before the tribunal? As she claims she is ‘still fond of him,’ does she hope he will see her on television and call her again? Or is her motive a genuine sense of injustice that she no longer has a job at the FA but her ex-lovers do?

When she posed for photographers in a white jacket over a black dress as she arrived on the opening day of the tribunal, she tried to assume the air of an A-list star arriving at premiere.

Though she broke down in tears and was led from the room dabbing her eyes and biting her lip after she requested a brief adjournment on Day Two, she maintained the mask in public — until Day Four when her former boss, whom she alleges sexually harassed her, described her as a ‘fantasist’ and she left the tribunal looking distinctly depressed.

Real fame is the by-product of genuine success. People who achieve it are aware that privacy, which after health is our most precious possession, needs to be guarded vigilantly.

The really rich and famous pay top public relations men and women high salaries to keep their names out of the media. The only headlines they want to make are in relation to their work – like J K Rowling, whose sole public appearance in connection with the new Harry Potter tome will be at midnight at Edinburgh castle on the day the book is published next month.

I suspect that Ms Alam is in such great psychological pain after her brief encounter with the really rich and famous and above all powerful, she is suffering the worst fate of the instant temporarily famous – the inability to move on afterwards. Copyright © Rebecca Hamilton 2005 All Rights Reserved