There never was a truer proverb than “ignorance is bliss”; certainly, the daily trawl through the news sites can take years off a life. It’s a topic I turn to constantly in late-night discussions – is knowledge an essential weapon, or a poisoned chalice? Are we better people for knowing the dank corners of a life gone awry, or is curiosity really the Achilles heel to an otherwise purring pussycat? Yes. Note that when I say “late-night”, I obviously mean so late the cows are heading out again, and when I say “discussion”, I’m really referring to drunken flame wars with similarly battle-scarred snobs. Such is the pomposity of my posse.
Anyway, the point is that each day is made up of weighty and depressing events, so even the most analytical can be forgiven for turning to the gossip columns, the ents pages, the frothy stuff from time to time, just to take a load off. I do like to cast a narrowed eye over cavorting celebrities, now and then, even though I know it’s an empty pursuit, even though my time would be better spent giving myself an eyeball scraping or beading the guest bedroom curtains. Sometimes I enjoy an indulgent slither into stupidity. Sue me.
Which is why I know that this week there were much, much more depressing, crucial stories than Wayne Rooney’s cheating on wife Coleen with a blabbermouth call-girl. And yet this silly piece of celebrity goss really got to me. It dug its glossy little claws in and refused to let go. In truth, I care very little about what goes on in other people’s marriages; each couple has their own way of looking at their relationship and their place in the wider world, and all of the hand-wringing your claws can spin through won’t change that. What bothered me about this sorry tale was the details of the naughty succubus, a young woman called Jennifer Thompson, who went to the tabloids with the particulars of her business relationship with Rooney and, presumably, was paid well to spill the beans.
There’s no point rehashing the story again. The Daily Mail and The News Of The World and The Sun will tell you all you need to know. In summation, though, we have a spoilt young man with more money than he could possibly know what to do with, and a healthy, educated young woman with a supportive family, making absolute twats of themselves on a very public stage.
And I can see no advantage for either party here. In the past, girls n’ fellas who resorted to the kiss n’ tell got themselves a substantial cheque and a saucy two-page spread in the paper, which was as happy a boon as the fame-hungry but talentless could expect from temporarily relegating themselves to a mindless sex object in a fetching pair of kecks. In this instance, though, Jennifer Thompson has told the world that she’s not only a wannabe-WAG, but a prostitute, a revelation the majority of your peers will judge you for, whether or not they liked Billie Piper’s turn in Belle Du Jour. It’s like telling your neighbours you sell heroin, or get off on crushing porn (that’s “crushing” porn, not using your steely determination to bring down Hugh Hefner and all he stands for); people aren’t going to see it as one of your good points. And sure enough, the tabloids have now plundered Thompson’s Facebook page for her holiday snaps, photos of her and her mum, details of her friends, their photographs. She’s been painted as a desperate party-girl, happy to sell her body to fund her hedonistic lifestyle because she’s far too self-centred and lazy to get a real job. Thompson’s father has even made a public statement apologising to Coleen Rooney! Surely this could not have been what Thompson was after when she sold the story of her relationship with the famous footballer? Surely she didn’t expect and accept that she would be called a “£1,200-a-night vice girl”, that her beloved father would be headlined all over the country as “Hooker’s Dad, Hamish”. But if not … Jesus, what did she think would happen? The mind doesn’t just boggle, it separates, scrambles and serves itself up on toast.
It’s difficult to feel sorry for the girl; I’m not as altruistic as all that. I just cannot figure out how anyone would choose to put themselves through the gleeful condemnation of her country, and beyond, just for the price of a new car.
As for Rooney, it’s not so difficult to understand how he could have wedged himself into such a torrid little corner. He’s not going to be called a dirty slapper for engaging in threesomes with pretty prostitutes, and his fans care only for his prowess on the pitch. Having said that, he must be feeling the deep embarrassment he’s brought on his young wife, the mother of his baby son. So why, then, compromise his home life for the wannabe WAG, the party girl christened “Premier League Jenny” because of her taste in partners? What do these daft footballers think is going to happen when they cheat with fame-hungry hangers-on? I know they pay extra for it, but do they really expect discretion?
I’m no old crone, myself; I’m in my twenties too, so it’s not as if Thompson and Rooney’s generation is something wildly alien to me. Still, it depresses the stuffing out of me that we’ve become so celebrity-obsessed, so into the pursuit of fame, that we’ll trade it all for a night with a recommended call girl or a bone thrown from a tabloid newspaper.
Then, I am reading all of this crap from gossip websites, am I not? Oh, tis a vicious circle and no mistake, and not a clever one to loop into, after all.