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JOAN BURNIE: THE WEEK IN HER OWN WORDS; Charlotte deserves a childhood Don't put your daughter on the stage Mrs Church.

Byline: Joan Burnie

I DO hope Jonathan Shalit, Charlotte Church's former manager, enjoys his pounds 2 million pay-off.

Not a bad return on his investment even if some - me included - might call living off the earnings of a child immoral.

But when Shalit alleged the girl's mother, Maria, was "Callous, pushy and greedy," he was right on the button.

Not only, of course, when it comes to the ambitious Mrs Church, but to all those who have been leeching off this child's talent since she was 11.

Personally, I should have slung them all - including Mr Shalit - into court and charged them with hijacking and robbery.

Because what this crapulous crew have conspired to do is to rob 14-year-old Charlotte of something which is not only priceless, but irreplaceable - her childhood.

Maybe they should have thought of that one tiny fact before they set about turning her into Opera Spice - and their very own money-making machine.

And there was me thinking there were laws against this sort of exploitation. I mean, if European law now says that the authorities should throw milk boys off their floats, I'd have thought they had even more cause to pull the plugs on Charlotte's microphone. So maybe milk boys don't earn millions, but neither do they get burnt out before they are 20, or worse become a Lena Zavaroni. Perhaps Mrs Church is too busy counting the cash to remember Lena. If she had, she might be a little less eager to encourage Charlotte.

For her own protection, Charlotte should have been told that, although fame doesn't last for ever, it does wait. If her voice is that fantastic, it would have still been there when she was older.

So, yes, she should have been allowed to sing - in amateur productions, but not for her and her family's expensive suppers.

And the one person who should have made sure she didn't was Maria Church, who is now her little girl's manager.

What Charlotte needs more, Mrs Church, is a mother. She's your child - not your client, far less milch calf.

Do the Wright thing, Oscar

I FIND myself in some sympathy with HM over that wretched pheasant. I have to. Oscar, my Jack Russell, killed a pigeon in front of me this week taking his kill count up to three mice, two rabbits and one bird.

If only he'd sink his teeth into real vermin, such as Clarissa Dickson Wright.

Cashing in on marriage

THE Catherine Zeta Jones and Michael Douglas wedding was revolting, from the surgically-enhanced groom to those dollar signs shining in his bride's eyes.

Quite why so many are fawning over them and their greed beats me. I trust the suckers who buy OK!, which paid pounds 1million for the pictures, know they are contributing to the spoils.

I wonder, though, if the pair are aware that the magazine is owned by the same man who publishes Naked Readers Wives? Still, for another couple of million, no doubt Mrs Douglas would be only too happy to oblige.

Say what you like about Posh and Becks' ceremony last year, at least it was two kids of the same age and fortune, in love and getting spliced - and not this self-confessed sex addict buying himself a slice of a much younger bride. I give it three years.

I DON'T know anything at all about this European Rapid Reaction Force, apart from hearing that M'Lady Thatcher is against it - so it HAS to be a good idea, hasn't it?

Meanwhile, congrats to T. Blair for finally denouncing her. Better late than never, I suppose.

But good news from France. They are threatening to drag the mad old cow into court over BSE. Shame they don't still use the guillotine.

THE missing link between men and apes has allegedly been found in Glasgow. No doubt at the last Rangers-Celtic game.

Incidentally, did you know that more vibrators were sold in the UK last year than washing machines and tumble dryers?

This could be a hint, chaps, on lack of customer satisfaction. Or maybe after-sales service ...

GORDON BROWN chewing his fingernails is one thing - it means he's worrying about the country - but dying his hair is quite another.

The new wife should have a word in his shell, unless, oh dear, it was the former Ms McCauley, who advised the Chancellor to dab the dubbin on his greying locks.

What next - a face lift? Honestly Gordie, Tony doesn't look that much younger than you.
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Title Annotation:Joan Burnie Page
Publication:Daily Record (Glasgow, Scotland)
Date:Nov 24, 2000
Words:748
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