AMANDA PLATELL: Jennifer Aniston is defying age with beauty – but it cannot mask her secret sorrow

Jennifer Aniston appears on a magazine cover wearing tiny Yves Saint Laurent leather hotpants a supermodel might struggle to get away with — and we gape in awe.

How could a 51-year-old woman look so hot? How could the Rachel we fell in love with a quarter of a century ago on Friends — still one of the most watched TV shows — so flagrantly have it all?

Unblemished by two disastrous marriages — first to Brad Pitt who dumped her for Angelina Jolie, and then to a loser called Justin Theroux — Jen is the Petra Pan of Hollywood. 

As Shakespeare wrote of Cleopatra: ‘Age cannot wither her, nor custom stale her infinite variety.’

Jennifer Aniston appears on a magazine cover wearing tiny Yves Saint Laurent leather hotpants a supermodel might struggle to get away with — and we gape in awe. How could a 51-year-old woman look so hot?

And yet, tucked away in her article in Interview magazine, it emerged that the woman who has defied age and earned millions has one haunting regret: she never had the chance to be a mum.

In her 50s and way past the age where a woman can conceive naturally, she still heartbreakingly imagines being a mother.

‘It’s not so much what I see myself doing, it’s more like a little screenshot in my brain, where I hear the ocean, I hear the laughter, I see the kids running,’ she says.

For all her fame and fortune, Jennifer spoke to all women everywhere who have longed for the one thing they thought they could take for granted, but failed to get — the inalienable right to become a mum.

I suppose that’s part of her appeal — Jen speaks with disarming honesty about a silent sorrow shared by so many. 

Forget the hotpants and the fabulous hair, we childless women — or most of us — would trade all that in a heartbeat for the chance of holding our own child in our arms.

Around one in four women over 40 never have kids, sometimes of their own choosing but mostly because of the sad happenchance of biology.

Many of us dream of the laughter of children who look up at us with our own eyes, and of youngsters running into our arms for comfort and joy.

I’m lucky. Despite being infertile, I have my wonderful stepson Max.

He’s a foot taller than me, clearly not an inherited trait, but has a kindness in his heart that I hope I have contributed to.

So my message to Jennifer is one of hope — you don’t have to give birth to be a mum. And if you get back with Brad Pitt, you could always become stepmum to his six kids.

Harry does a quick change

How joyous it was when Harry first presented his new love Meghan Markle to the world at the Invictus Games in Toronto.

Less than three years later, he has left his home, his country, his family, his friends and forsaken the military titles he was so proud of.

As the Mail revealed, he has also sacked all of his 15 loyal staff at Buckingham Palace. 

Harry seems to have embraced his new-found freedoms with astonishing speed — speaking to bankers for a £750,000 fee. 

I wonder if he’s ever taken note of that age old adage: act in haste, repent at leisure.  

Ulrika Jonsson, 52, breaks the cardinal rule of online dating. 

First she runs down her love life with her former husband — then she blabs about her first great sex in a decade with some stranger she’d met a couple of times. 

Spare a thought, please Ulrika, in you post-menopausal angst, for your four children.

Was this too much for Rio’s kids?

Rio Ferdinand and his new wife Kate Wright’s brave documentary on the travails of her being stepmum in the family was painful viewing.

Who did not wince when every picture of his first wife Rebecca, who died of cancer four years ago, was consigned to the ‘remembrance room’ — because Kate found them upsetting? Or when Kate talked of planning a baby to ‘complete’ their family?

Yet I wonder how Rio’s three children, aged between eight and 13, will reflect in years to come on being exposed on TV at such tender years. 

At one point in a bereavement therapy meeting, they were crying inconsolably. Their faces may have been pixelated, but their grief was raw.

Rio Ferdinand and his new wife Kate Wright's brave documentary on the travails of her being stepmum in the family was painful viewing

Rio Ferdinand and his new wife Kate Wright’s brave documentary on the travails of her being stepmum in the family was painful viewing

Collecting her Oscar for Best Actress in an off-the-shoulder dress as stiff as her face — no Botox here, just good genes — Renee Zellweger caused a media storm. 

Not on account of her performance as Judy Garland but for her perfect biceps. She was clearly making a statement: in Hollywood today, arms are the new legs. 

Married Strictly champion Kelvin Fletcher insists pictures of him and his married ballroom partner, sex-on-very-long-legs Oti Mabuse, entering posh hotels on consecutive evenings for drinks into the early hours are but the stuff of nothing.

His wife is yet to be convinced. In his defence, Kev brandishes his cab receipts to prove he went home alone, sans Oti.

But even the most trusting wife would ponder what happened before he slipped into the Uber.

An unholy race row 

We churchgoers despair when the Most Reverend Justin Welby, worldwide leader of the Church of England, wrings his hands and apologises for his flock being ‘deeply institutionally racist’.

My local church would not survive without its ‘people of colour’ — the two altar boys, the woman who offers us sacramental wine, the one who runs the Sunday School and many, many more in the congregation.

Memo to the 105th Archbishop of Canterbury, holed up in his posh palace in Lambeth: You should get out more.

Great news for women that in the new adaptation of Jane Austen’s Emma, the only nudity is provided by her rakish lover George Knightley, played by Johnny Flynn.

Emma actress Anya Taylor-Joy and director Autumn de Wilde say film-making feminists are finally turning the tide on male prurience and want to ‘utilise the female gaze’ by having lots of hot, naked male totty. Excuse me ladies, how sexist is that?

Great news for women that in the new adaptation of Jane Austen's Emma, the only nudity is provided by her rakish lover George Knightley, played by Johnny Flynn (pictured)

Great news for women that in the new adaptation of Jane Austen’s Emma, the only nudity is provided by her rakish lover George Knightley, played by Johnny Flynn (pictured)

When Summer Monteys-Fullam, 24, fell head over stilettoes for Paul Hollywood, 53, her mum Sabina warned her that ‘it would explode’. We should listen more to the wisdom of our mums. Mine told me on the eve of my wedding: ‘It’s not too late to call it off, Mandy.’

She and Dad had never had a bad word to say about my intended, yet Mum instinctively knew, as only a loving mother does, that it would never last. And it didn’t.

A true Valentine 

In the red-rose rush of Valentine’s Day, my favourite message came from Alan Titchmarsh revealing the secret to his long and happy marriage.

‘Romance is about being thoughtful.’ 

He has made his wife of 45 years Alison a cuppa every day. He says his missus isn’t into flashy jewellery, so last year he looked up the 44th anniversary gesture and it was groceries. 

‘So I took her to Marks & Spencer and she was happy as Larry. I’m a lucky man.’

Bloomin’ marvellous.

Marlene Dietrich, Louis Armstrong, Tennessee Williams, Magaret Thatcher — all of them appeared on Desert Island Discs.

Now the BBC is reduced to Zoe Ball as the castaway, promoting her appearance on the day we learn that during her time on Radio 2’s Breakfast Show she has shed half-a-million listeners.

From her desert island, shouty Zoe ruminates on her £370,000 job and says, without a hint of irony: ‘I hope I wasn’t employed just because I’m a woman.’ 

Westminster wars

  • In his Cabinet reshuffle, the PM ousted anyone who has ever raised an eyebrow against him. Loyalty is a fine quality, Boris, just a pity you never showed it to your wife of 25 years, Marina. 
  • Now he faces an investigation by Parliament’s ‘sleaze’ watchdog over his ‘£15,000, ten-day stay’ with Carrie Symonds on Mustique at Christmas. I’m confused. Friends of mine who stayed in Mustique over the same period paid £15,000 each to share a shabby shoebox-sized apartment — dwarfed by Boris’s humongous private villa with ocean views.
  • All credit to Sajid Javid for resigning as Chancellor rather than have all his staff sacked. It is a true mark of integrity that he placed respect for what Boris and his cronies would call ‘the little people’ before power and, yes, ambition.

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