Saturday, July 13, 2013

I Wish I Hadn't Looked

I Wish I Hadn’t Looked

Like most women around the world, I recoiled when I saw the now infamous photographs of Nigella Lawson with her husband, Charles Saatchi’s, hands around her throat at a London restaurant.  The look in her eyes made my blood run cold and caused me to mutter under my breath that I would kick the man to the curb without pause.  Who could look at those pictures and not form an opinion of similar intensity?
The media, vociferously outraged on Ms. Lawson’s behalf, proceeded to plaster the pictures over every outlet available to them all the while declaring her to be “a very private person”, an admission that perhaps served to highlight the disingenuousness of their concern.  They trailed the culprit as he sauntered into Charing Cross police station to accept his official caution and one could almost visualize the salivation of editors as they reprinted his far less than contrite explanation of the event.  Later in the week, photographers aimed their lenses at each item removed from the house when Nigella packed up and left, paying almost comical attention to her collection of cookware.  As a perhaps fitting coda to this hideous episode, Saatchi, ever the gentleman, chose to announce his decision to start divorce proceedings from his wife in The Daily Mail.  

I certainly have no great sympathy for Charles Saatchi in this cringe-worthy affair.   Domestic violence is a scourge and it is difficult to see those repugnant photographs and not label them as such.  But in their laughable pretense of concern for Nigella’s well-being, haven’t those who chose to cover the aftermath of this story in such invasive ways grasped this private woman around the throat as well?  And am I not culpable for reading and looking? 

If one happens to glance at what passes for news these days, one cannot help but witness the dark warnings of celebrity, even as one is encouraged to believe in its allure.  A starlet, obviously suffering serious mental health disorders or addiction is followed by cameras night and day in the hopes of catching her stumbling in the shadows, her blue wig askew.  Mug shots are featured, calls to emergency centers are played back ad infinitum.  All the while tut-tutting and shaking their heads, the media wallows in every weakness, every sin, every tragedy. And everyone is diminished.

My heart goes out to Nigella Lawson.  I cannot imagine how dreadful her days are at present.  Perhaps there are those women who found the courage to flee abusive relationships as a result of her pain.  One can certainly hope for such a outcome.  But for the woman herself, I cannot help but think her humiliation in the face of this 
unasked-for and invasive notoriety must be acute.  I remember seeing Diana, Princess of Wales, with her hand up to her face in an ultimately futile effort to protect herself from the ceaseless, unblinking pursuit.  Fame is a monster which, once beckoned, cannot be tamed.
And once again, I wish I hadn’t looked.


  1. I know ... if none of us looked, the photographers would no longer hound people to death for a photo ... or if no one ever bought a tabloid .. or if no one ever paid a photographer for one of those intrusive photos ... or ... if we lived in a different world .

  2. It's how they sell the news.

    A single motivation, $$$.


  3. I feel for all battered and abused women who go through both physical, verbal and psychological abuse.

    She need not be fearful of leaving him, yet I am sure she is.

    Even smart talented women can end up in a situation like this. If he does this in public God knows what he does to her and the children at home!

    Artists Series 2013

  4. I agree with every word of this Pamela - the look in her eyes was so painful to see. I love her cookery programmes and get great pleasure from her books.
    Yet - I read the articles, I looked at the pictures, I continue to take the newspaper - even the Times shows some 'scandal'.

    Sadly, it is as Tara says above - a sign of the times.

  5. As usual, your thoughts in this very sad subject are sensitive, articulate and kind. I totally agree with you.

  6. So aptly phrased: And everyone is diminished.

  7. I don't agree, think of those 3 young children(now young women) stolen off the street in Ohio. To not look is to stop seeing, to allow actions to go unanswered. No matter how ugly these pictures are they make us think, beg us to act. What if you were there and saw him choke her,would you act or turn away? I was in an abusive relationship and it was in the light of public scrutiny that strangers helped by seeing the violence and stepping up to help. I don't think Nigella was shocked by his action because it doesn't seem to have been the first time, this time was her chance to get out.jd

  8. I pay very little attention to celebrities, and nowadays I don't know who most of them are! Today it seems many are 'stars' of reality TV shows I never watch. I may give a passing glance to the cover of a tabloid at the grocery store check-out and most of the time I don't know who those people are. Most seem to be famous for being famous. It's beyond me why their lives are supposedly so fascinating. I don't watch cooking shows either (or read cookbooks), so didn't know who Nigella Lawson was though I did see the awful photo you mentioned on a news site. I suppose it's human nature to revel in the foibles of those who are glamorous, rich and famous in an attempt to put them on equal footing with the rest of us mortals. Still, I find it all tawdry, judgmental, and, to a large extent, ridiculous. But the celebrity culture just seems to get more entrenched, as even once former staid news sources now pander to it as well. It's a distorted mirror they're holding up to society, and I wish that we all wouldn't feel compelled to look.

  9. Sometimes curiosity turns to obession. It depends on what we do after we look. We all have different make-ups and sensibilities therefore, it's unlikely that we will all react similarly to the same situation. How we process and use what we're looking at will either makes it good or bad. I assume as beautiful as Nigella is, she's also a strong woman. With her friends and family by her side, I'm sure she'll triumph over this set back in her life. And as for Mr. Saatchi, it seems he hasn't learned to control his temper or the tendency to strangle people even at the great age 70. How sad is that.

    Thank you Pamela for your courage to post this rather sad and controversial subject.


  10. I do wish everyone would leave them alone; but wish Nigella the best...sad it all has to play out in public.

  11. But we don't know the truth about the situation. Even though we assume we do. Assumptions are dangerous.

  12. Although I applaud your sensitivity to the situation I cannot help but think of the audacity of a man who would act towards his wife like this in public. He seemingly didn't care how it affected his image. As for Nigella, I believe that the vast majority seeing these images would feel only empathy for her situation.

  13. No one was looking at Nicole Brown Simpson until it was too late.

  14. Dear JD,

    I’m so sorry for your past experiences and apologize if perhaps I wasn’t clear. I am not saying the media should not report on unpleasant incidents or crimes. I am merely saying they should not hound the victims after the fact. To my knowledge, this has not happened to the three young women in Ohio. Their every move following their heinous experience has not been dissected for public consumption, nor should it be. But for those with even a modicum of fame, this is not the case, hence the photographers camped outside Ms. Lawson’s house day and night hoping to catch her looking miserable. I think that’s wrong and find it rather despicable. Those are the photos I wish I hadn't seen.


  15. Thankfully, Nigella has enough brains and money to turn up her nose at Mr. Saatchi and never look back. The lack of money to support themselves is one of the main reasons that prevent women from getting out sooner.

    Nigella's newest cookbook, "Nigellissima," is beautiful, and has some fabulously easy to fix Italian dishes. Instructions are given in her voice, as if she were talking to you personally, which is a lot to like about Nigella.

  16. I had a similar reaction. It was an invasion of privacy but those photos might be the proof she needs to press charges.

  17. I echo every word you have said here Pamela. Our media circus has turned us Into a world of voyeurs, not really wanting to witness, but not able to help ourselves. It's human nature, not a particularly attractive side of human nature but present nevertheless. Where will it all end?

  18. How often you write my own thoughts. The whole thing makes me cringe.

  19. That was such a powerful blog post. Well said!

  20. As I read this my thoughts turned to Princess Diana and then at the end I saw that you had mentioned her. Although she was not killed by the press (I have my own suspicions on what killed her)her life was ruined by their intrusion.

  21. Also, why should Nigella leave the house? - I would have kicked Saatchi out....


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