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Madonna Interview : Times

There is an awful lot more of this, and I don’t intend to impose it on the reader… although when I ask Madonna whether she’s finished after a particularly long burst, she says, “No.” You don’t feel you’ve finished? I ask anxiously. “No, I’ve never finished talking about the Kabbalah.” Well, that could be her sense of humor, on the other hand it could be what she really means.
We start talking about 9/11 and she says that her business manager was killed in the attack. And then she says that since she believes in personal and global karma, “It’s only a matter of time, when people are negative, and the majority of people are, for us to open things up to an entity, for people like Osama bin Laden or Hitler. So the fact that they can do the evil deeds that they do, eventually that’s our responsibility. We created it. We created an opening with our desire to ‘receive for only ourselves’ mentality. That doesn’t mean that I don’t have compassion – because I was personally affected by it – but it’s not about being a victim. It’s not about saying, ‘Oh, God, that’s so horrible, we were hurt, we were attacked, those horrible people.'”
What hooked Ritchie, a committed Darwinist, was the Kabbalah’s scientific thrust. “It’s challenging. It’s like a physics lesson, the bridge between science and spirituality. (I’m intrigued to read that the list of figures the Kabbalah is said to have influenced include Pythagoras, Plato, Newton, Shakespeare and Jung.) And, sure, Guy was cynical about it at the beginning,” she says. “When I first met him he was taking the wind out of the sails of Christianity, and saying it was a load of bulwarks.”
Bulwarks? “Sorry, it rubs off on me,” Bulwarks? “I don’t say it with the right accent?” No, you say ‘bulwarks’ when it should be ‘bullocks’, sorry, anyway… “That’s OK.” Anyway… “Bar-lax? Bullocks?… BOLL-OCKS!” Yes, yes, that’s it!
“So I was studying and I’d say. ‘Come to a class with me,” and people do those things for people they love. And to make a long story short, my husband took a very long time before he would actually start saying, ‘I study Kabbalah’ because I think he would actually start saying. ‘I study Kabbalah’ because I think he was kind of embarrassed and he doesn’t want to subscribe to anything that’s perceived as being religious, which it’s not, and he wanted to be his own person, and a lot of his Jewish friends were saying, ‘What are you studying that for? It’s like a kind of private sect of Judaism’ – and whatever. But the bottom line is that it’s very scientific and that’s what appeals to Guy.”
I ask her whether she considers that she’s bossy. “Oh yes, definitely. Sometimes. Not always, My husband’s bossy, too. We take turns bossing each other around.” Do you have a lot of rows? “Yeah, but we don’t fight as much as we used to.” So is it the kabbalah that’s made you all lovely and calm and serene? “I would hardly define us as calm and serene. But I would say that’s a lot of it. ‘Cos a lot of what we used to fight about is really stuff based on out ego and taking things personally; and when you really take it down to the root of what’s really bothering you, you realize it’s pretty ridiculous. So it’s easier for us to take wind out of each other’s sails… ‘What are you doing that for?’ ‘You know, you’re just reacting – that’s not you,'” she slips back into her sing-song voice, “‘that’s your eee-go.'”
It’s not about who takes the rubbish out, I suppose? “No. But I have accepted that my husband’s a snob and I’m the one who tidies up.” Are you anally retentively tidy? “Yes, I am. Guilty as charged. And I do stand like a headmistress when my husband comes into the bathroom and dumps his clothes on the floor and I stand there (she points to the floor) and go, ‘Ahem!'”
Does he call you Madonna? “No, he doesn’t. Ever.” He must call you something, I imagine. “He calls me ‘wife’ – ‘Wife, where are you?’ Or ‘wiff’. And he calls me Missus. And if he ever does call me Madonna, I say, ‘Did you call me Madonna?’ (with amazement) It’s usually when we’re having a discussion and he forgets that I’m his wiff, and he actually says my name, and I go, ‘What-a-a-t? Say that again, it’s nice.’ So does he say, ?Hey, wiff, have you seen my socks?” “Yes. He calls me Mum sometimes, too.” Oh God! How awful, I say, shocked, you’ve got to stop him doing that immediately – and she giggles, very engagingly, as though realizing that she’s admitted something quite dreadful.
She’s romantic, she says, very sentimental, very affectionate and, yes, “I enjoy sex”. She didn’t do any of the pre-maternal body-prep work for the birth of Rocco that I underwent, and looks a bit appalled when I bring it up – but then Americans, even when they’re Madonna can be awfully prudish. “I left my husband out of all that stuff,” she says. Oooh, I say, intrigued, are you one of those French-ey women who believe in mystique or marriage and never letting your husband catch sight of you shaving your legs? “Yes.” Are you, really? “Uh-huh.” Well, good for you. She laughs quite nicely.
I say that it’s interesting how different her two husbands have been from her lovers; the latter tending to be dark and Latino, with Valentino good looks – “Well, they were chosen for the wrong reason. Clearly,” she says, ome eyebrow shooting up – and the latter who are more, well, less fine-featured and very – “Macho”, Madonna helps. And of course, Penn and Ritchie both had successful careers of their own, so were financially independent, unlike most of the boyfriends. I say that she probably wouldn’t have been able to beat marrying someone she didn’t consider her equal. “I guess that’s true and I guess the other relationships – I don’t want to diminish them,” she says, mindful perhaps of Lola’s father. Carlos Leon, her former trainer, “but I probably wasn’t really interested in having a terribly serious relationship or a relationship where I was going to be challenged, so I made decisions based on how they looked more than – What do we have in common? Will he intellectually stimulate me?”
As we are talking, Rocco, three, his flaxen hair gleaming on the brightness outside, is being pushed by a tricycle along the drive by his nanny. I think I glimpse his father, Guy Ritchie – back view in a T-shirt – and Madonna mentions that he has probably just come back from fishing, his new passion. (Along with the shooting, presumably, on their Wiltshire estate of Ashcombe House which was once rented by Cecil Beaton.) Becoming a parent has definitely brought out some traditional values in Madonna. Both television and swearing are banned: “If anyone swears (which includes saying ‘shut up’, ‘stupid’ and ‘the hate word’) they have to put money into a pot, and I have had to put a few quarters into that pot,” she says, mock-ruefully. “My kids are like the swearing police.”
Has motherhood put a distance between her and her old partying friends? “Not really,” she says. “If anything has put a difference between me and my friends it’s that I’m on a spiritual passage and they’re not. Because now I look at life differently, and I can’t stand being around people who whinge and act like victims.”
Where things really go wrong is when I make the mistake of mentioning the Andrew Morton biography. She is talking about visiting children in a terminal cancer ward: “And you just think, ‘How can I ever complain about anything again? I’m so lucky; I’m so blessed,’ and you spend the next couple of weeks feeling really luck, and then it goes away.” Oh I say, I didn’t know that you made those visits until I read the Morton book. Now, I’m no particular fan of the writer, but – as I pointed out – unlike some of her other trashy biographies, there was at least an attempt made by him to extricate the myths from the reality.
She now turns to me and asks in a very nasty tone of voice indeed: “Don’t you want to ask me any more questions aboute the book? Which is why I’m doing the interview.” And I suppose I must have given her a look, because then she says, ?Or did I say enough about the book? “The children’s book.” Is there anything else you feel you wanted to say about it? “I guess not.”