New product to promote? Meet women who launch
Dame Helen Mirren, Nicola Adams and Ellie Goulding aren't just any old fiesty, females, you know. Oh no, they are M&S fiesty females.
Women to drool over. Women to be coveted. Britain's Leading Ladies may not be as beautiful as tolerant Twiggy or amiable Myleene but they seem more ballsy.
Who cares if the latest collection of famous names advertising womenswear are a little more spikey than smiley and don't really admit to wearing anything other than M&S pants and jim jams?
Women of substance is the zeitgeist, we are told. They have been asked to appear in those expensive adverts by top portrait photographer Annie Leibovitz because of what they have done, not what they look like.
But is Grace Coddington, the creative director of Vogue, pushy or professional? And Tracey Emin? Is she successful avante-garde artist or foul-mouthed, drunken, slutty harridan? None of the women fronting the latest M&S campaign could be described as shrinking violets. Nobody can forget the way Dame Helen rushed out into the street done up as the Queen to tell a load of drummers to f–off because they were interrupting her work.
"They stopped the minute they knew I wasn't just a batty old woman haranguing them on the streets of Soho," she explained later.
Right. She may have acted like a 67-year-old granny, "shrieked" like a 67-year-old granny and dressed like a 67-year-old granny, but she wasn't, was she? She was Dame Helen Mirren, national treasure.
We all know what would have happened if her grey hair and frumpy M&S-style skirt and cardi had been real and worn by a pensioner driven to distraction by the noise. She'd have been a stroppy old cow, make no mistake. A batty old bird to be ignored.
What if she had been a middle-aged lady defending a friend who has been publicly humiliated by the owner of an historic country house after asking to use the toilet and accidentally closing the front door of the property behind her not knowing he had stupidly left the only key inside?
Well then she'd be a snapping, barking, haughty, confrontational, self-righteous Mrs Knotty Hair with the air of somebody who had done her fair share of student protests in the past and would still take to the barricades to prevent a bypass.
This is how William Cash, yes son of that MP Bill, described a woman who challenged him about the way he had spoken to her friend after she had accidentally locked out a tour party.
His witty explanation about why he had thrown out and then banned the ladies of the WI and Townswomen's Guild from Upton Cressett, his Elizabethan home in leafy Shropshire, has found favour with men and women up and down the land.
Who could fail to recognise his portrait of the strident, bossy, middle-aged, middle-class ladies who are forever telling everybody who crosses their path what to do and how to do it? The kind of women who wear M&S briefs, bras and blouses to do battle with the world. Maybe even a bit of cashmere for Christmas clashes.
Yes there's a gap between what we think of the real M&S lady and the successful sisters in the adverts. Would anybody expect the famous M&S ladies to silently cross their legs all day because Mr Cash had lost the keys to the outside public loos? Can't see it, can you?
Would Mr Cash , who wrote in his blog: "I don't expect to be treated like a public lavatory attendant," have got so uppity if it was Dame Helen who thought he was the guy who refilled the Andrex instead of recognising him as Lord of the Manor?
Mr Cash sounds like the kind of man who only wants to come into contact with those who share his view of the world and his very elevated place in it. He reeks of eau de entitlement and expectation. He runs a retreat for writers who find marriage and a pram in the hall barriers to creativity.
But he is applauded rather than vilified because bossy middle-aged ladies are fair game. In his attack on the ladies of the WI and Townswomens' Guild, Mr Cash calls them Worcester Woman because that is where they came from. Does he not know Worcester woman is the same description political parties use for Mrs Average, equivalent of the American soccer mum, when they want her vote at election time?