[Trigger warning for partner violence]
As a person currently on the internet, you have almost certainly already heard about what many are insisting on calling “the Nigella incident”.
Charles Saatchi was photographed holding his upset partner by the throat, several times, in a public place, while many observers did sweet fuck all about it.
I’m not going to dwell on the event itself, because many others already have:
- Alecia Simmonds on Why didn’t anyone help Nigella Lawson?
- Anna Maxted in The Telegraph on Nigella Lawson: yes, it can happen to her
- Kate Harding with related reading on why choking is a big flashing warning sign
Now, it is fair to say that we do not know every detail of what happened. And it is fair to say that sometimes even photographs can be misleading. So a lot of people right now may have a small point when they say we mustn’t be quick to judge – on the face of the initial reporting.
Thankfully, Charles Saatchi has taken a lot of the guesswork out of the equation for us.
Saatchi has gone on the record with the London Evening Standard about what happened, and to call it “enlightening” is a serious understatement.
Charles Saatchi admitted the couple had a row as they sat outside Scott’s in Mayfair but said they had “made up” by the time they got home.
“About a week ago, we were sitting outside a restaurant having an intense debate about the children, and I held Nigella’s neck repeatedly while attempting to emphasise my point.
“There was no grip, it was a playful tiff. The pictures are horrific but give a far more drastic and violent impression of what took place. Nigella’s tears were because we both hate arguing, not because she had been hurt.
“We had made up by the time we were home. The paparazzi were congregated outside our house after the story broke yesterday morning, so I told Nigella to take the kids off till the dust settled.”
Let’s play pretend for a moment. Let’s believe everything Saatchi says: completely harmless, just a tiff, nothing serious, all forgiven, blown out of proportion. (And that it all depends on what your definition of “grip” is).
Even in that unlikely, bizarro universe, Charles Saatchi is still a man who:
- holds people by the neck to emphasise points (seriously, who does this?)
- can’t acknowledge that Lawson has her own feelings – “Nigella’s tears were because we both hate arguing”, not “because she was upset about the argument“
- wants us to simultaneously believe it was an upsetting argument and a “playful tiff”
- cannot grant his partner any agency. Check out that little tell at the end. “I told Nigella to take the kids off.” Not, “We decided it would be best if …” or “Nigella wanted to get the kids out of the limelight.”
“I told Nigella.”
Even with the most charitable of views, in which this is all a hilarious misunderstand and won’t we look back on it and laugh one day, Charles Saatchi’s statements are a little scary.
His decision to make these statements on his own, while Lawson and her agents aren’t making any statements, only adds to the picture of someone who is supremely self-centred.
He has now been cautioned for the assault on Lawson.