Bernard Matthews' grasping brood should get stuffed
00:24 GMT, 7 September 2012
When Bernard Matthews died, he thought he had all his affairs in order. The turkey magnate had long provided for his estranged wife and three adopted children.
Each had been given at least one property and their lifestyles were funded by him and the company.
There was no shortage of cash and good living. Nobody wanted for nuttin’. Mrs Matthews had helped build the family business and still had a 32 per cent share of Bernard Matthews Holdings when her husband died, at the age of 80, in 2010.
A share which, it seems safe to presume, the three adopted children will benefit from now and in years to come. Meanwhile, Mr Matthews left the bulk of his personal fortune to his only biological child, Frederick; the son he had from a long relationship with a Dutch aristocrat.
Norfolk businessman Bernard Matthews (left) and lover Odile Marteyn (right). He had one last wish, which was that his mistress should be allowed to keep the 12m villa they had shared in the South of France
‘It’s complicated,’ he once said of his private life. He’s right. And while it might seem strange to adopt children and then treat them differently from your blood offspring, what I really feel is that it was his money, he worked damn hard for it all his life, and in death, he should have been free to leave it to whomsoever he chose.
However, living and dying are rarely that simple.
Bernard had one last wish, which was that his mistress of many years, Odile Marteyn, should be allowed to keep the 12million villa they had shared in the South of France.
He knew that under French property law his four children were entitled to a share of the house, regardless of any will he might make.
So towards the end of his life he wrote to them, reminding them that he had always provided for them and pleading with them to let Odile have the house — not least because she had looked after him through a long illness, allowing him to carry on running the business which funded and benefited them.
Then he died and what happened Frederick agreed to his father’s dying wishes. The other three ignored every word.
Marriage breakdown: Bernard Matthews is pictured with his former wife Joyce Matthews, who is the mother of his three adopted children (including Kathleen, right)
Having been left ‘nothing’ by their father, Kathleen, Jason and Victoria have argued that they had ‘no choice’ but to exercise their rights to a 56 per cent share in the villa, leaving Odile with 44 per cent.
No choice Well. That’s not really true, is it They had many choices at their disposal.
They could have gone out in the world and made something of themselves, just like their father did.
They could have bought French villas of their own. They could have made the most of the education and privilege bestowed upon them by him. They could be grateful for his patronage for all these years; they could be sad to see him go; they could have mourned for him rather than for themselves.
Most important, though, they could have respected the last wishes of an elderly father to whom they owed so much. And really, they could have let Odile have the house. Would it have killed them to do so Surely they are going to get turkey millions one day, after all
Despite all this, they just could not find it in their hearts to do the right thing.
Inheritance brings out the worst in a great number of people and in the turkey tycoon’s family, this ugly fight over who gets the breast and who gets left with the wishbone is most unedifying. Bootiful it is not. Indeed, you can almost feel the family panic as the turkey gravy train hits the buffers.
The row only emerged when the High Court rejected the Matthews children’s bid to have the 2million inheritance tax on their share of the French villa paid for by his English estate.
Talk about having your gateau and eating it, even if it now leaves them with a big tax bill and a share of a house they might not be able to get their greedy mitts on until Odile moves out — which might be sometime never.
My sympathies lie with her, but this sad and bitter tale shows that mistresses can cast a toxic shadow on a family for decades. For whatever the rights and wrongs of the situation, the children will always be on the side of the mother, just waiting for the moment to exact their revenge on their father.
Look at Bernie Ecclestone’s daughters, Tamara and Petra, who refused — despite his pleadings — to attend his wedding to his third wife, Fabiana Flosi last month. For them, the hurt was just too raw.
Yet the Matthewses' circumstances are very different. Bernard, while clearly no saint, had remained married to his wife despite the fact that they had lived apart for 35 years. A lifetime of separate lives!
This fault line cleaving through the heart of the Matthews households must have made for, to say the least, a difficult family dynamic. Yet the self-made millionaire, the son of a mechanic and a housekeeper, a man who was born into the economic gloom of the Thirties and who vowed to do better for himself, always did things his own way.
Bernard Matthews begged his children not to make a landgrab for the house, but they went ahead and did it anyway. Revenge or greed Or perhaps it is just that hard-boiled sense of entitlement peculiar to the offspring of the affluent.
And, of course, making the mistress suffer is always a good way to punish Daddy for any slights, imagined or otherwise, down the years.
Yes, the old boy did invent the Turkey Twizzler, but don’t you think he deserves a little more respect from the kids than that
Now Nancy's gone doo-lally-o
Oh, my eyes. Make it stop.
Shield us from the frocky horror shows at the GQ Men Of The Year awards.
I mean, there is a fine line between sexy older vamp and someone who has just escaped from a high-security facility wearing Giant Haystacks’ favourite glitter mesh thong — and this week, Nancy Dell’Olio crossed that line.
What is she wearing
It looks like she has coated herself in glue, then run naked through the giftwrap department of a sex shop.
Frock shocker: Nancy Dell'Olio in that dress. Meanwhile, Katherine Jenkins attended the same event – the GQ Men Of The Year Awards – in a 'Saskia', as did Victoria Pendleton and Heather Kerzner
Nancy. A word. You know I love you, but remember the rule: cleavage or legs. Not both, with a yard of side boobage and a saucy wink thrown in for free.
Meanwhile, at the same event three women wore different versions of the Stella McCartney optical illusion dress — and appeared to do so without being held at gunpoint screaming ‘get me out of this thing’.
Olympic cycling gold medallist Victoria Pendleton, Heather Kerzner, a woman who married a rich guy, and opera star Katherine Jenkins all climbed into the ‘Saskia’ which has proved to be a big hit with fashionistas.
It’s almost as ghastly as Stella’s spotty mesh dress of last year, but what do I know
Who wore it best Maybe Katherine, although her treacle-tint skin tone was distracting.
Later, she released a statement on Twitter saying: ‘I want u 2 know I absolutely deny I’ve had an affair with a spray tan booth.’
This time, no one believed her.
Prawn crackers, please. Followed by chicken satay, fried prawns with sweet and sour sauce, duck pancakes, Kung Pao chilli prawns with chips and then chow mein.
Name the glutton who scoffed this lot at an all- you-can-eat Chinese buffet recently
John Prescott, Nigella, Boris Johnson, the Incredible Hulk No.
According to The Times food pages this week, it was sylphlike, pigtailed cyclist Laura Trott.
‘I can’t eat like that when I’m training,’ she said. I’ll bet.
Brief encounter: Russell Brand and Geri Halliwell
What did Geri expect from a tussle with Russell
Russell Brand and Geri Halliwell.
It had to happen. Like patches of mould growing at opposite ends of a giant cheese, it was only a matter of time before they met and merged — into one great pulsing mass of yoga-tastic celebrity bacteria.
Imagine what they talked about over dinner.
Me. Me. Me. No, let’s get back to me. No, my turn. What do you think about me
How sad that their relationship is over almost before it began.
On the morning Geri was coyly admitting a whirlwind romance, Russell had already breezed onto a new woman — a drama student called Aimee.
He’s such a gent! At one of his gigs this week, he told his heckling audience there would be no Geri jokes. Not yet, at any rate.
‘Give me a year and I’ll turn it into good material for you,’ he snickered.
Who says chivalry is dead
Easyjet plans to end the boarding scrum free-for-all, but not any time soon; Ryanair executive Michael O’Leary says that customers who don’t print their boarding passes can ‘b**ger off’. Honestly. It’s easier staying at home.
Reshuffle week and three Ministers broke down in tears in front of David Cameron while he was sacking them. One man, two women, three soggy hankies.
Oh, pull yourselves together, you lily-livered, blubbering milksops. Terrible things happen in life, but you being booted onto the backbenches isn’t one of them. Trust me on this.
The cry-babies — ex-Welsh secretary Cheryl Gillan, ex-Environment boss Caroline Spelman and an ex-unnamed man — all wept in the PM’s Commons office when they were given the axe.
Cameron was shocked at their emotional reaction and was quoted as saying he thinks his party has gone mad.
He’s right — but it is worse than that. Crying Crying Ministers are public servants. They are supposed to be doing their jobs on our behalf. Surely they should be feeling bad because they have failed in their duties — not boo-hooing because they feel sorry for themselves.
Yes, waving bye-bye to the chauffeur-driven car and the perks must hurt, but get a grip. It’s for the common good, after all.
Hmm, hmm. The jury is still out on Carol Vorderman’s blonde, curly new ‘do’.
Actually. it’s not just out, it’s running down the street screaming: ‘What has she done’ And: ‘Is it a wig, m’lud’
It is hard to work out the thought process that took 51-year-old Carol from elegant bob to Lenny the Lion, but to be fair, she still looks terrific.
Mop top: Carol Vorderman (left) and Jesy from Little Mix
Apart from the crazy look in her eyes.
Maybe it’s never right for anyone over the age of eight to take Jesy from Little Mix as her style inspiration.
But rules were made to be broken — and in her hellzapoppin’ body-con dresses and diving boot wedges, Carol looks ready to break anything that comes her way.
Crunch, crunch, wiggle. Watch out, world.