Wasting our life on pop culture blogs and gossip sites, so you don't have to.
Poor old February is famous for being the most depressing month of the year. I always back an underdog, so this simply makes me warm to this chilly series of weeks. With such low expectations of a month, it invariably overdelivers on the pleasure and satisfaction front. Plus, February is hands-down the best month of the year for daydreaming about a nicer life. If you were planning on fantasising about chucking in your job to become a dive instructor in Indonesia, or run a cookery school in Tuscany, Fantasy February is the month to do it.
To get your hopes and delusions off to a rip-roaring start, I'm pleased to bring you some Grade A real estate porn. First up, 3am.com has all the goss on Adele's 10-bedroom, grade II-listed Home Counties mansion, complete with two swimming pools and 25 acres of greenery. And it's got all mod cons: tennis courts, helicopter landing pad, helicopter hangar and 'media centre'. Valued at £7 million, with a monthly rent of £15,000, it's nonetheless a rustic cottage compared to Petra Ecclestone's LA mansion. Formerly home to the Spelling dynasty, the 23-year-old daughter of Formula One mogul Bernie drafted in 500 workers over three weeks to do a snazzy refurbishment job. We like what she's done, we really do.
Most fun of all, of course, are the newly-released pics of Christina Aguilera's insanely chintzy Beverley Hills pad. If you mix the Disney Store with the Brighton Pavilion and throw in a load of furniture discarded by the Malmaison Newcastle for being too garish, you've got a pretty decent vision of the Xtina-box.
Paul McCartney Pulls His Socks Up
In an interview with Rolling Stone magazine, Paul McCartney has pledged to give up smoking "wacky baccy" for the sake of his eight-year-old daughter Beatrice. "I smoked my share. When you're bringing up a youngster, your sense of responsibility does kick in, if you're lucky, at some point," says the former Beatle. "Enough's enough - you just don't seem to think it's necessary." During divorce proceedings, Heather Mills, Beatrice's mum claimed the former Beatle smoked cannabis as regularly as most people drink tea. We'll totally get behind anyone's efforts to better themselves, but Sir Paul's been doing okay, in our book. He hasn't shagged and toured his way into old age. He hasn't turned into a bit of a racist. And he hasn't been shot.
The Good, The Bad And The Ugly Houston Coverage
This week, after hearing about my busy day trying to find a suitable journalist to write about Whitney Houston for a certain women's glossy mag, a relative asked "Isn't there a case for leaving well alone? She's dead, after all." It's a sensible question, but the answer is "no".
Houston is a major pop culture figure for my generation, and a bona fide legend in soul circles. Whether or not you liked her music, Whitney Houston mattered to a lot of people, and it would be wrong not to mark her death because of the circumstances of it.
That said, there's plenty of reading material around right now which will leave a nasty taste in your mouth, lurking just a few clicks away from the more palatable coverage. We've got heartfelt praise and gratitude from longstanding friends in the music industry. We've got sycophantic tributes from people who never met her. We've got the grim, unnecessary photos of the bathroom she died in, with absurd labels pointing out the "gravy boat" and "tragic star's hair ties," flimsily and dishonestly presented as some sort of anti-drugs campaign. We've also got some original and valuable accounts of addiction. I've only included links to the stuff that I found worthwhile. It's all out there on the net, of course, but remember that you've got a choice what you read about Whitney Houston this week.