Nigella Lawson: A Public Viewpoint

When a celebrity life is messily brushed up on the billboards in the world of Red Tops and red TV news tickers, we all decide we have something to say.

In one of the most viciously played-out court cases which found its nadir in the somehow innocent Elisabetta and Fransesca Grillo giving interviews on monolith UK magazine show ‘This Morning’; the two agreed that the public would still love her.

Nigella-Lawson-promoting--002[1]

“I think maybe we won the case but definitely she had the most support from the public,” Francesca said. “She is well loved and she will always be loved. I’m sure she will be fine. She’s great at what she’s doing and I wish her all the best.”

As much as they wished her all the best, the sentiment during the entire interview was clear: they were not sorry for what they’d essentially caused, or for getting off the charges. Mind you, it probably means they’ll never be PAs ever again. But what about Nigella herself?

“My only desire really was to protect my children as much as possible, which I couldn’t do, but that’s what I wanted to do,” said Nigella on Good Morning America after Christmas.

“I have to be honest, to have not only your private life but distortions of your private life put on display is mortifying. “But there are people going through an awful lot worse and to dwell on any of it would be self-pity and I don’t like to do that.”

“Since then I’ve eaten a lot of chocolate.”

So is this true? Do people still love Nigella? How did our own views play out over the fourth wall? Have they changed at all since December?

“I love her more now than I ever did,” says Claire, a huge food fan and food-book junkie – she has over 150 of them at home – as well as a subscription to Good Food.

“She’s changed in my eyes, yes, but for the better. The posh minx has a dark side! And turns out to be a human being. Whereas Saatchi – he still turns out to be an old Tory with too much money; he didn’t care about losing it, so nothing’s changed there.”

December is supposed to be the month we take stock. Not the one where you have to recoil in a court room battling with a couple of Italian contemptuous whackjobs (oh, is that critical, or what EVERYONE WAS THINKING?!) who thought it was OK to take people’s money like that* – and then for the trial to turn on yourself and the way you bring up your kids, which was beyond the entire point of the original case.

*on the other hand, you’d probably be more of a whackjob not to take Charles Saatchi’s money when he has such a blatant disregard for it.

For Nigella, the end of last year burned her house down. And for a woman from an amazing journalistic background, the headlines were relentless, unsparing.

It was incredibly sad and difficult to watch as the Persephone-esque tale played out. A woman of high stock and great intelligence, talent and of course, beauty; she had everything, and was someone to aspire to. Then out of what felt like nowhere (because here we are, the public of the outer life) ; her now ex-husband Charles Saatchi took to her throat, pinched it, and publicly shamed her by physically mauling her face on the verandah of a well-known London restaurant. Saatchi received a police caution for domestic violence – just incase you glossed that phrase that’s A POLICE CAUTION FOR DOMESTIC VIOLENCE, and then somehow, used the situation to air laundry around his perception of her drug use; saying he wasn’t assaulting her but rather, was looking for coke up her nose – when his original excuse was ‘wiping her snotty nose’ and that he’s ‘utterly heartbroken’ about it. Ah, charming.

clearly strangling

As charming as a hognosed pitviper.

“Nope. Don’t buy it. Bet he’s done a few lines in his time. I’d gladly have a look at his septal cartilage to verify that,” said a medical worker from a large UK city’s NHS trust.

Saatchi’s mid-divorce email read as follows:

“Nigella, I was sent these by a newspaper, and I could only laugh at your sorry depravity. Of course, now the Grillos will get off on the basis that you and Mimi were so off your heads on drugs you allowed the sisters to spend whatever they liked. And yes, I believe every word the Grillos have said, who after all only stole money.

‘You Higella, on the other hand, poisoned your child with drugs and trashed her life.

‘But I am sure it was all good fun and now everything is perfect. Bravo, you have become a celebrity hostess on a global TV gameshow. And you got the pass you desired free to heartily enjoy all the drugs you want forever. Classy!”

“What a f*cking c*nt,” said Dave, a 33-year-old security guard, while leafing through a copy of the Mirror in early December 2013. “Who the f*ck writes that nasty sh*t to their ex – well – not even ex! They’re still in court! It’s his third marriage and he still can’t treat a woman or a courtroom with any dignity. Saatchi’s the biggest hypocrite there is.”

Inevitably, from reading the tabloids or just watching telly news in the UK, people of Lawsons’ or Saatchi’s stature would naturally enter the public consciousness with such passion.

In terms of ‘hypocrite’, perhaps what Dave is referring to is the manner in which the whole situation had initially been handled by Charles Saatchi. In a bid to win the PR war and smear the Nigella brand (he’s an advertising man, it’s what they do); he first denied his behaviour, then said he was sorry – but in between, had sent the email -which was leaked after his business-like, cold apology; timing which only served to make that email look even more like nasty sh*t and the apology, just sh*t.

“Nigella was a journalist so she would understand that I like to see both sides of the story. But – there is no other side to see apart from some old k****ead fumbling, lashing out and trying not to lose the best woman that’s ever happened to him. Inevitably, that last part is very dark so I find it funny,” said the clearly, very darkly-entertained Alexandra, a freelance writer.

nigella

Laura, a regular music festival volunteer currently living in London, was defiantly Team Nigella: “Ohhh bless herrrr! It’s so unfair. So everyone’s done a bit – without even knowing it, some people. Why’s she getting dragged through the mud? It’s those PAs burning holes in credit cards that’s on trial here…but with his arrogance, you would buy flights and shoes and bags. What a fool.”

Jen, a businesswoman from Cheshire -like many of us- took to Facebook when everything emerged.

“Out of the two events: Nigella doing coke on a few occasions with her terminally ill first husband, or her ex-husband at the time holding her by the throat and abusing her in their relationship – which is worse?”

She makes a really good point.

“It says a lot about society when even someone as high profile as Nigella Lawson is demonised because she dared to speak frankly about an abusive relationship.”

“It’s not like the woman is an addict or advocating drug use.”

Then came the headlines of drug abuse.

The ‘envelopes’ of cocaine unveiled by the Grillo sisters were apparently littered around the previously Lawson-Saatchi home. This courtroom finding (with no evidence sought to back it up) was heavily reported. And it was amazing to see the reaction of people on social media and in general conversation – at least, for me working on a team of 15 people in a workplace of 2000 people in Greater Manchester. As much as people wanted to play devil’s advocate with the whole shebang – no-one actually could.

Jen continued: “She, as an adult, made a decision to take drugs. What people don’t like is that she’s breaking that stereotyping of ‘if you take drugs, you are inherently bad’ or, deemed to be a lower class of person. I actually made a point of buying one of her books last night! She’s clearly not the awful woman Saatchi is making her out to be. People just like to feel morally superior to someone who’s more successful than they are.”

nigella muffins

Astonishingly, when faced with the allegations, Nigella owned up – head held high as she paced into court.

She confessed again after Envelopegate – as a recreational user. Even, arguably, as a practical user, based on the evidence given in court: Grillo said it helped her finish her books to strict publishing deadlines which, if we admit it, some of the greatest authors of the 20th Century did too. Not that it in any way advocates drug use, but it does advocate personal responsibility and as Jen mentioned, ‘an adult decision’. Not once did she say she had a problem, was a victim, didn’t like herself – her only regret was that it affected her children.

Perhaps this is why the majority of the newspaper-waggling nation still have a soft spot with the same amount of squish as the centre of her infamous chocolate brownie recipe (with chocolate sauce).

And surely, the most disturbing development was how the talking point became Drug Use By A Woman, rather than a shameless Public Display of Domestic Abuse by a Man who happens to be in a large position of cultural and political power. In terms of the McCombs and Shaw theory, most would have thought this was the real issue at hand – and in particular, the most newsworthy. Did Saatchi win the smaller fight?

Not really. There were over a million viewers for the first episode of The Taste last night and; even though this is ‘low’ by reality show standards, it’s high by cookery debuts.

Then, there’s the rest of us, who don’t really want to know about it all anyway and would rather read the middle and the back of the paper than the front.

Gwyn, from North Wales, a spectator to the whole press spectacle like the majority of us, said: “I’m just sick and tired of the media always commenting on a celebs doing drugs and divorce court – who cares!  It’s their private life.”

“People use drugs everyday and the problem will never go away, and there are people hooked on the stuff. One celeb dabbles in it and it’s front page news. Dealing the stuff is far worse because those are the scum who are feeding the habits of those hooked. It amazes me how this country is hooked on celebrity lives!”

Maybe Gwyn’s trying to say that we’re all hooked, rather druggily in fact, with showbiz news.

Maybe that’s why I wrote this whole feature.

Maybe that’s why it’s really, really annoying to see Charles Saatchi move onto the next one as it were, with that Trinny tramp from the Trinny and Susannah show about people they think dress like tramps.

But – in other news – does Charles Saatchi think that his vicious endeavours would also stop fans watching that global gameshow this week, featuring Nigella Lawson as one of judging gastronomers?

He better not.

Because it damn well won’t stop this one.

nigella the taste

P.S. (And I have like, 9 other people down on the record from this most general of public like myself who are gonna watch it with me this year. Woop!)

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