Good line for bodice ripper

On the rocks? ... Fiona Handbury and William Legge on their wedding day in 2009.
On the rocks? ... Fiona Handbury and William Legge on their wedding day in 2009.

It's a dramatic love story which reads like a chapter from one of her late grandmother-in-law Dame Barbara Cartland's racy pot boilers, but former Sydney socialite turned British aristocrat, Lady Fiona Dartmouth, insists the latest episode has all been a terrible misunderstanding. The former wife of Sydney magazine mogul Matt Handbury, who co-launched the Australian edition of Marie Claire magazine, is known these days as Lady Dartmouth, wife of William Legge, the Earl of Dartmouth. In Britain last weekend it was revealed the earl was arrested on suspicion of assault following a domestic dispute. Not only is the earl the grandson of ostrich-feather fancier the late Dame Barbara Cartland, his mother Raine Spencer was the stepmother of the late Diana, Princess of Wales. The Daily Mail reports the Earl of Dartmouth, 63, was taken into custody on suspicion of assault following the late-night incident in November, during which officers were called to the couple's flat in the fashionable Bayswater district of London. He was not charged, and has since described the event as the ''worst day of my life''. Lady Fiona, a former model, insisted she had called the police after becoming ''disorientated'', adding that ''nothing had happened''. The earl, a hereditary peer and member of the European Parliament for the UK Independence Party, spoke out after details of the incident began to emerge. A friend claimed the couple had a row on the evening of November 15 over an apparently innocuous decision about where the television should go in their Devon home. Lady Dartmouth went to bed and fell into a ''deep sleep''. But the earl later wanted to pursue the matter and ''shook her awake''. ''After my wife went to bed I decided to wake her and clarify my point of view. Looking back it was an unwise thing to do as Fiona was deeply asleep and became disoriented. Her alarm resulted in a call to the police,'' the earl said via a statement. Lady Dartmouth said: ''When William woke me from a deep sleep I was rather disorientated and rang the police. When they arrived I emphasised I was never going to press any charges because absolutely nothing had happened.'' A year after their 2009 marriage Lady Dartmouth hosed down rumours her new marriage was on the rocks. In response to PS's inquiries, she emailed from her bedside BlackBerry: ''Am off quietly to bed, so as not to wake William … who is in it!''


The Sydney Festival, brought to you by … Melbourne! Well at least the transportation side of it. A Herald colleague snapped a Sydney Festival car in Pyrmont . The Japanese manufacturer is a major sponsor, as anybody who has sampled the Honda Festival Garden in Hyde Park will attest. But the Honda carried Victorian registration plates with the words ''this is our city in motion'' on the back bumper.


Political liaisons have long been a part of Australian life. Older voters may recall the deep friendship between the late Dame Margaret Guilfoyle and the late Jim Killen. More recently, Gareth Evans and Cheryl Kernot lit up each other's lives, as did Pauline Hanson and David Oldfield and Western Australia's chair-sniffing treasurer Troy Buswell and Greens MP Adele Carles. But none, as far as we know, went as far as to record their relationship on film. Angela White and Zahra Stardust, of the Australian Sex Party, have changed all that. They spent the holiday period performing an explicit sex scene in the ACT. Stardust stood against Clover Moore in the Sydney mayoral election last year, while White was a candidate in the federal election for the NSW seat of Richmond. Their opus was to spotlight the disconnect at being able to film explicit material in Canberra, but nowhere else.



Gowns light up Golden Globes

KATE WATERHOUSE says Aussies shone in the fashion stakes at this year's Golden Globe awards with Nicole Kidman, Naomi Watts and Miranda Kerr getting their red carpet looks spot on. Kidman, who wore a black Alexander McQueen dress with gold embellishment, said her husband Keith Urban influenced her style and he had given her outfit the ''two thumbs up''. Watts was elegant in a maroon, long sleeve Zac Posen outfit with a cut-out back, and stunning drop earrings. Kerr also chose maroon in a gown with a plunging neckline, but her best accessory was her hubby, Orlando Bloom. The biggest standout of the night was Emily Blunt in a stunning gold embellished Michael Kors dress. Those were on the upside. Gowns that were shockers included one worn by Sienna Miller, who was in an Erdem floral midriff top and long skirt. She said her outfit was ''definitely out there''. Another mistake was made by Zooey Deschanel, who wore a red Oscar de la Renta gown. The dress swamped her small frame and combined with a pearl choker, the look was more suited to a high school formal dance. Debra Messing's black Donna Karan gown was another miss; all its ruching could have been used for a curtain. In one of the most emotional moments, Garry Maddox reports Jodie Foster made a personal speech touching on her sexuality and her ailing mother. Accepting the Cecil B.DeMille Award for her outstanding contribution to the entertainment world, the actor-director said: ''I already did my coming out about a thousand years ago - back in the Stone Age - in those very quaint days when a fragile young girl would open up to trusted friends and family and co-workers and then gradually, proudly, to everyone who knew her, everyone she actually met. Now, apparently, I'm told that every celebrity is expected to honour the details of their private life with a press conference, a fragrance and a prime-time reality show.'' She thanked her former long-time partner, Cydney Bernard, with whom she raises sons Charles and Christopher.


TOM CRUISE'S mission in life is to expel the aliens that live inside humans. Why? Because they want to destroy the planet. We know this because Lawrence Wright's expose, Going Clear: Scientology, Hollywood and the Prison of Belief makes the Hollywood superstar look like a goose. But in reality, Cruise is only following the Word according to Scientology founder, L.Ron Hubbard, a writer who claimed to be kidnapped by aliens. The book also claimed Cruise auditioned Hollywood beauties including Scarlett Johansson, Jessica Alba and Lindsay Lohan to be his wife before settling on Katie Holmes. Wright claims church leaders were instrumental in Cruise's divorce from Nicole Kidman after she started to weaken his religious zeal. Then, allegedly disappointed by his split from Penelope Cruz in 2004 after she to failed to embrace Scientology, Cruise, 50, allowed senior members of the church to summon the unwitting stars to read for a non-existent part in the Mission: Impossible series. The book claims that Lohan, who was aged 18 in 2004, Alba, who is now married with two children, and Johansson, were not chosen and in 2005 Cruise instead met Katie Holmes, before he infamously jumped on Oprah Winfrey's couch. Holmes, who is now 34, split from Cruise last year and took primary custody of their daughter, Suri.

The Church of Scientology denies that it involves itself in the romantic or matrimonial affairs of its parishioners.

This story Good line for bodice ripper first appeared on The Sydney Morning Herald.