This week, I have mostly been seethingly, bone-tremblingly, confoundingly and inarticulately angry about Nigella Lawson.
We all remember the photo from June this year, outside a restaurant in London. You know, the one where her husband had her by the throat? The one where he also pinched at her nose, and she left in tears. The one that led to his being cautioned for assault? Oh yeah, that one. The one that Charles Saatchi, the grabber, has recently said was him trying to talk some sense into her about her cocaine habit. Lawson says that she incurred this attack simply because she remarked that she was looking forward to becoming a grandmother. In court this week she spoke of how Saatchi had grabbed her by the neck and told her, I am the only person you should be concerned with. I am the only person who should be giving you pleasure.
Just recently, two of the (now ex) couple’s former assistants have been on trial for allegedly spending thousands on “expenses” on treats for themselves. But instead of being the trial for fraud of two sisters, it has instead become a witch hunt, a hate campaign by Saatchi via the British media, against Lawson, who didn’t speak out to clear his name after those photographs were published in June.
From the day the allegations about Lawson’s drug use emerged, some of us have looked at the situation and gone, “hmm, to me that looks a lot like Saatchi trying to get his own back at Lawson.” To those of us who have been in abusive relationships, it looked a lot like the sort of thing your controlling, manipulative and abusive ex does when you leave him: he does his very best to make everyone hate you. To vilify you, to turn everyone against you, to ruin you. For me, this means a proportion of the city I live in hates me, and believes I am a vindictive bitch, hell-bent on keeping a loving father from his beloved daughter.
For Nigella Lawson, it means every newspaper, every magazine, every news channel and website, chasing her for a quote, for a story, for an admission.
This week in court, Nigella Lawson stood up and told the truth. I felt immensely touched by her poise and dignity as she held her head high walking purposefully past those cameras into court. I was pleased to see someone with such a high profile standing up against everything being thrown at her.
I was incensed to find that every story began with “TV cook admits cocaine use.” Every news program I have seen, every newspaper, every website. To me, the story was that a nasty, vindictive man who hadn’t got his own way in the summer, was intent on destroying that which he could no longer control.
I really don’t care whether Lawson took drugs, or takes drugs. I don’t care if she’s a regular at Berlusconi’s bunga bunga parties, whether she snorts her lines off a midget’s head, whether she jacks up heroin between shots of Nigella’s Kitchen. None of that would change the fact that Saatchi was caught on camera, with his hand around her throat. You can argue the potential reasons for it, but he still did it. And it was still wrong. In my book, there is never a valid reason for grabbing someone by the throat. In my book, even if Nigella is single handedly bankrolling the Colombian drug lords, she still doesn’t deserve any of this. And I am sickened and disgusted by the British media that they are not bright enough to see through Saatchi’s lies.
Because what does that say to other women in Lawson’s situation?
All over the world right now, women are trying to leave abusive relationships. And they’re being told, promised, threatened, “if you leave me, I will finish you.”
These women are looking at the international media right now, and seeing that even a TV cook, even one of the most famous women in the UK, even the seemingly strong, successful Nigella Lawson, cannot escape an abusive relationship unscathed. What hope does that leave for the rest of us?