The incident involving Nigella Lawson and her husband, the art mogul Charles Saatchi, has justly attracted much attention in the press, pushing the G8 conference off the front pages.
Apparently, the couple were having dinner in the street terrace of Scott’s, the Mayfair fish restaurant. The meal was intimate: just Charles, Nigella and the several hundred passers-by who pretended not to stare, eavesdrop or take pictures.
Yet stare, eavesdrop and take pictures they did, thereby preserving for posterity the images of Charles trying to desecrate the Goddess by choking her.
Charles later explained that this was just a ‘playful tiff’, and he only accepted a police caution not to have this thing ‘hanging over us for months’. Nigella wept and, according to some accounts, has subsequently left home.
For those of you who have been living on Mars for the last few years, Nigella’s claim to divinity is based on her TV cookery show in which she tries, with variable success, to blend two of life’s greatest pleasures: food and sex.
I recall one programme in which Nigella explained why she was cutting that particular piece of meat into large chunks.
‘Some people,’ she pouted at the camera lasciviously, ‘say their mouths can’t accommodate large pieces.’ Lips pursed, eyelashes flapping, eyes doing their best to suggest sexual adventure beyond anything Kama Sutra authors could see in their wettest dreams.
‘Well, my mouth,’ Nigella half-whispered, winking lewdly, ‘can accommodate anything.’
The accent on ‘anything’, along with the gurning and the throaty gasps accompanying it, should have ensured that the show could only be aired after the 9 pm watershed, but didn’t.
One can see how this sort of thing could have upset Charles. Few men would like their wives to make such thinly veiled references to the intimatemost details of their nocturnal life, especially those hinting at a practice still outlawed in some American states.
I assume that this was indeed what provoked Charles into grabbing Nigella by the throat in a public place. Or rather I had assumed that until a sound recording of the incident found its way into my possession. I shall now let you read the transcript (expletives deleted), on condition that this stays between us.
Art Mogul (AM): Are you out of your ******* mind?!? You’re going to publish what?!?
Domestic Goddess (DG): You heard me, you **** of Baghdad.
AM: Yes, I ******* well did, and I can’t believe my ******* ears! What did you say that title’s going to be?
DG: ‘My frolics with Charlie: Nigella’s recipes for tasty, spicy, strong-flavoured sex.’
AM: Why in ****’s name would you want to do a thing like that?
DG: I have my reasons. Actually two million of them. That’s how many US dollars I’ll get in advance.
AM: In advance of ******* what?!? Making me the laughingstock of London? What did you say the chapter titles are going to be?
DG: Well, they’ll all refer to, well, stuff like positions, techniques – all in the best of possible taste, as it were…
AM: Let me see – you have them written down, haven’t you… Right… Section title, ‘That’s the way ah-ah-ah-ah Charles likes it…’ It doesn’t even scan!
DG: Well, I wasn’t in advertising.
AM: Too ******* right you weren’t! Now let’s see… Chapter 1. ‘Double Nelson’. Chapter Two: ‘Two-handed squeeze’. Chapter Three: ‘Head hold’. Chapter Four: ‘Sitting duck’. Chapter Five: ‘White swallow’. Chapter Six: ‘More power to Charlie’s elbow’… Are you ******* nuts?!?
DG: That’s what the punters want. Mick the PR man says it’ll go down well, as it were.
AM: Oh yeah?
AM: Says who?
DG: Says I.
AM: So go **** yourself!
DG: Same to you, Charlie, with bells on. I’m an autonomous person. You can’t tell me what to do and what not to do. Mick says it’s time to spice up my melons, as it were. You understand brand building, don’t you Charlie?
AM: So what are you going to do next? Cook barearsed naked on camera?
DG: If that’s what I and Mick decide to do, then I’ll do it. You can’t stop me, you male chauvinist pig…
AM: Oh yes I can, you ******* ****!!!
DG: Oh yeah? So what’re you going to do about it?
AM: I’ll ******* show you…
Here the recording of the playful tiff ends, and you must agree it throws some new light on the incident.
As a lifelong feminist, I sympathise with Nigella unreservedly. Her success, past, present and especially – given her publishing plans – future shows how a woman can stand tall with pride, upholding her dignity in a male-dominated world.
Nigella’s upcoming book will strike an important blow (as she’ll no doubt put it) for women’s equality and honour.
As to Mr Saatchi, he should realise the public has a right to know, well, just about everything. Miss Lawson is a celebrity and her duty to her panting viewers is to stay that way – even if it means bending over backwards.
As it were.