I first heard about Nigella Lawson from my mom, I think, who was a big fan of her cooking show Nigella Bites. Her completely unapologetic love of food, both the cooking and eating of it, was infectious and I too became a fan. I didn't find myself drawn to try any of her recipes, exactly, but instead sat back and enjoyed her enjoyment. As a former art student it hadn't escaped me that she was married to one of the art world's biggest honchos — collector Charles Saatchi. Sort of an oddball pairing, maybe, but to each his own. Her first marriage, to journalist John Diamond, who documented his fight and ultimate death from throat cancer, was a far more compelling story.
When paparazzi photos of Saatchi allegedly choking Lawson while they were seated outside at a restaurant were splashed all over the Internet and tabloids recently I took note, but was frankly too involved with my own family drama to write about it. The photos themselves were a little ambiguous. One of them could almost have been Nigella asking him to check if her tonsils were red. But what set off the firestorm of comment was the visible distress exhibited by Nigella as she left the restaurant — far too much to be written off as simple embarrassment or a family argument. It hinted at a previous pattern, and her fairly rapid moving out of their home a few days later seemed to confirm that the trouble was real and a line had been crossed.
Yesterday Saatchi announced that they would divorce, and he managed to both apologize and insult her in the same quote:
"I feel that I have clearly been a disappointment to Nigella during the last year or so, and I am disappointed that she was advised to make no public comment to explain that I abhor violence of any kind against women, and have never abused her physically in any way."
Nigella is most likely well-rid of him, but this must still be a very difficult time for her. Children (although not biologically shared) are involved. A household has been disrupted. And Nigella is expected somehow to become a celebrity poster child for spousal abuse — something I'm sure she'd rather not be.
Nigella's persona radiates home and health and happiness, and this episode has been the exact opposite of all those things. I can only wish her the best. She can hopefully distract herself with her hosting gig on the U.S. cooking/reality competition show The Taste. I hope she never finds herself in such a nasty one-on-one again, with Saatchi or anyone.
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