Published in the Daily Express May 16th 1995
Once upon a time, I actually played cricket against Imran Khan. He was possibly the
wisest bowler ever to demolish my middle stump. I swear he could make balls swing
in three separate directions at the same time. But not even Imran Khan can defy the
laws of matrimonial gravity.
I fear his proposal to marry Jemima Goldsmith is the silliest since Prince Charles
wooed Diana. It can’t work; it won’t work and if his best friend hasn’t told him, I will.
Strictly speaking, the comparison with Charles and Diana is not accurate because at
least the Wales’s came from the same broad background. Their insurmountable
differences did NOT include race, first language, country and creed.
But the same cancer agents that dashed the Charles and Diana marriage are ready
to undermine prospects for the Khans. I’m sorry to say it but research shows that
people like Jemima and Diana who settle down young are unlikely to stay happily
married for much more than five years.
Moreover, just as with our royals, the difference in age and outlook can prove utterly
fatal once the honeymoon enthusiasm is over.
ALL research into love and attraction, literally hundreds of studies, is agreed on one
point. The myth that “opposites attract” and give a lasting platform to a relationship is total
bunk! If you want a recipe for enduring happiness summed up in a single word it is –
Over 99 per cent of successfully married couples are of the same race and mostly of
the same religion, same education, sociological class, intelligence, and even physical
characteristics like body shape. Even couples who date regularly are found to share
the same political values, views on sex and sexual roles.
Couples who are the most similar at the outset of their relationship are in fact the
most likely to stay together in the long run. Married couples who experience the least
marital conflict are also those who have similar personalities and enjoy doing the
same things and watching the same tv programmes.
I defy anyone to suggest that the future Mr and Mrs K have the natural ingredients for
this sort of companionable, compatible relationship.
If I’m stating things brutally this is because I’d rather cause offence now than see two
lives condemned to misery, not to mention the difficulties facing any future children.
It’s not of course remotely surprising that Jemima has fallen for her Prince of the
Cricket Pitch, this swan among ducks. My own partner has languished over him for years.
But studies in America suggest Jemima’s probably suffering from what’s called the “Distorting
Tests show that when we first fall in love – that crazy state of half-mad obsession, we
cannot appreciate any of the faults of the object of our passion. I believe Ms
Goldsmith is suffering from a bad case of “rose-coloured spectacles”.
Hand-in-hand with this inability to use our judgement goes something called “best
What the future Mrs Haiqa Khan is seeing from her Imran now is the most loving and
kindly treatment she can ever reasonably expect to get.
I’m not suggesting that the former Captain of Pakistan is some sort of Ferdinand
Lopez figure who in the novel by Anthony Trollope marries for cash, using honeyed
words and fond glances before the ceremony only to present his wife with a bunch of
invoices soon afterwards.
But I AM saying that a Moslem male of 42 whose driving ambitions are fund-raising
and politics is not going to spend much time seeking his young wife’s opinion on the
disposal of the family fortune, nor sit around wasting precious hours pondering the
meaning of her life.
He already knows! Middle-aged men, especially bachelors, are also set in their
ways. Increasingly, they come to resemble their fathers. Without noticing it, they
tend to revert to the orthodoxies of childhood.
What Jemima Goldsmith is proposing to marry, I believe, is the Imran Khan who
thinks men should make decisions while women broadly make cakes and babies.
What’s in this proposed transaction for him? He gets a nubile and beautiful young
woman, the prospect of children and perhaps access to considerable wealth.
And for her? She “pulls” the media’s Number One bachelor, gets world-wide fuss
and attention and perhaps lets her parents know she really can move and shake on
the big stage.
Who knows how difficult it’s been growing up in the shadow of Sir James Goldsmith
himself? Has a younger daughter ever found it easy to get his attention and respect?
Would it make short-term sense for her to seek qualities in a future mate identical to
those of her famous father?
Ominously, both Sir James and the Pathan Prince have a reputation as international
playboys with an awesome appetite for competition fed by individual arrogance.
I’d be so much happier if Jemima simply did what people in love should always do –
have a corking good affair but take absolutely no major life decisions on the basis of
such temporary feelings.
Research even indicates she’d probably be better off plumping for an ARRANGED
marriage bBut only with someone from her own background!
For these reasons I hope and pray the parties will think again.