CROYDON COMMENTARY: The borough does little to engage or encourage some of its greatest assets, its people. By STEVEN DOWNES
Happy birthday, Kate Moss.
In the 28 years since she was identified as modelling gold dust and plucked from the relative obscurity of suburban Addiscombe, Moss has been painted by Lucian Freud, had a statue of her cast in gold, and adorned the cover of every self-respecting fashion and lifestyle magazine on the planet. Along the way, she has accumulated a reputed wealth of £55 million. Most, it has to be said, achieved when Moss has been away from Croydon.
As John Walsh in The Independent (for it is he) says: “She’s mostly done so by the cunning stratagem of looking coolly, unsmilingly beautiful for the camera and keeping her mouth shut.”
And never looking back, he might have added. Moss won’t be one of those shedding crocodile tears over the demise of Tiger Tiger, for example. An apparent disregard for Moss’s home town is not unusual among south London celebrities.
Tonight, Moss’s birthday party will be themed to celebrate the life and work of her friend, David Bowie, who died this week. The son of Brixton and sometime Beckenham resident was eagerly linked to Croydon by some click-bait operators because Bowie once attended a course at Croydon College. Notably, these reports usually avoided quoting Bowie’s most famous remarks about Croydon.
“It was my nemesis, I hated Croydon with a real vengeance,” Bowie said. “It represented everything I didn’t want in my life, everything I wanted to get away from. I think it’s the most derogatory thing I can say about somebody or something: ‘God, it’s so fucking Croydon!’”
Is that how Moss feels about Croydon? Her absence must say something.
It is not as if the borough celebrates Moss and her success. When the transport charity Sustrans and the council were putting together a “portrait bench” of famous Croydon characters, Moss was omitted. In favour of Ronnie Corbett. Seriously.
To quote another famous product of a Croydon education, Adele, rumour has it that no one at the Town Hall wanted to risk being charged an image rights fee by the supermodel for her inclusion in the typically Croydon (qv Bowie) project.
The lack of leadership in Croydon, among our MPs and civic leaders of all political shades, is such that there’s been no successful effort to reach out to Moss and attempt to get her to involve herself with her home town and help with some of its pressing causes.
Successful models, once they reach their 40s or older, tend to turn to philanthropy and acts of charity. Look at Jerry Hall, for instance.
Just a small fraction of Moss’s fortune, shrewdly invested, could generate the sort of endowment which would benefit thousands of young Londoners work towards achieving their dreams, or help with the myriad of social projects which Croydon’s current crop of speculative property investors are offering little to resolve. The fund might be called the “Kate Moss Foundation”, but that could confuse with a make-up brand. Now there’s an idea…
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