I VOWED to myself I wouldn’t watch it. I knew it would probably send me into a spin.
Apart from anything else, in the most genuinely self-deprecating way, I find it very hard to watch myself on screen, whatever you might think.
5If Channel 5’s documentary has proven anything, it’s that misogyny is alive and kicking in the world of footballCredit: Steve Wood5Even though I’ve never spoken to Lizzie Cundy, rent-a-gobs like her are just spreading pathetic sexismCredit: GettyBut there I was. The England game against Wales was nicely tied up then my fingers accidentally slipped on the remote and I found myself on Channel 5 — a place I rarely visit — watching, “Scandal: When Sven Scored with Ulrika” (Good to know I was still being reduced to being a player in a game of footie).
Except, in this particular slice of World Cup history, I hadn’t been the player. That was Sven.
When, 20 years ago, he decided to pursue me, he was still in a relationship with Nancy Dell’Olio. Although he told me he was desperately trying to extricate himself from it.
So, I was asked earlier this year, by a production company other than the ones who made this dross, to author a documentary about this “seismic” event in footballing history which so rocked the world, revisiting the story from an angle of greater equality and explore the treatment of women by society and challenges perceptions at the time.
I concluded, however, after many weeks of contemplation — weigh ing up money and personal and professional considerations — that I had no need to revisit that time.
Well, from the terrible indigestion that documentary gave me on Tuesday night, my gut instinct was definitely right.
I use the term “documentary” very loosely, as it can’t be considered one without the up-to-date testimony of any of the main characters.
Instead, we were fed a diet of rent-a-gobs like Lizzie Cundy talking about the romance of it all and telling the world about the nicknames I had for Sven.
Which is kind of odd, because as I’ve never spoken to the woman. I guess whatever keeps you current, Lizzie.
And Vanessa Feltz, always at the ready with “inside knowledge” and spewing out “facts” as she knew them. Utter tosh.
Possibly worst of all was the narrator, whose shocking pronunciation of my name had me laughing until it nearly turned me inside out.
Aside from all the factual mistakes — like the on-going trope that Sven left his specially adapted shoes outside my bedroom (not true — everyone knows you take your shoes off in the hallway in my house. Even Sven. It’s a Swedish thing), it was the pursuit of a story between two women.
Or rather two women pitted against each other, which was so disappointing.
That on-going narrative that the sexist world loves a forlorn man caught in the middle of two brawling women. So, it turns out, nothing much has changed. At all.
Misogyny is still very much alive and kicking in the world of football.
Women continue to be viewed as piecemeal pawns in a game of utmost importance, ruled over by men who show little but disdain for the opposite sex.
I’ve never in my life fought over a man. I know Nancy was clinging to Sven like a limpet, but she really needn’t have worried, because my role in this particular “scandal” helped launch her career.
She threw insults at me because she simply refused to believe the brief affair was true. Surely her beef should have been with the short, little balding fella, not me?
As the 2002 World Cup began, I remember having to listen to the TV pundits (you know who you are), slate me for writing in my autobiography — which was about to be published — about Sven.
They claimed I would ruin England’s chances, and unsettle the team.
Once again, denigrating a woman — all in the name of football. But I guess I should have been flattered that they believed I had that power.
The programme accused me of “feeding the story” by turning up at a football game in the midst of it all.
And yet, to hear a female contributor say I should have stayed at home rather than fan the flames . . .
Really? Is that where us women belong? Sitting at home or just going away quietly so the men can get on with their work. Seems like an outdated, misogynistic approach in these modern times.
But we don’t live in modern times, do we? At least football doesn’t. It’s still as tribal as ever.
I see the Wags out in Qatar loyally supporting their partners, with lanyards around their necks with pics of their blokes on them. Like a branded herd of cows (nothing personal).
Am I being a Cynical Sally here, or does that feel like a stamp of ownership?
No, we know not much has changed in the world of football. Racism is a long way from being stamped out.
We know it is still resistant to accepting homosexuality among its own.
And one thing is for sure, we know it still struggles to respect women as equals and people in their own right.
OLIVIA NEEDS A CUDDLE
I’M not keen on people who cry on social media. There is something phony about it.
Olivia Attwood did it this week but with a full explanation of her distress at an altercation with another dog walker.
5Olivia Attwood was at least genuine crying on social media, after she was on the receiving end of someone’s hang-ups and prejudicesCredit: InstagramShe was clearly distraught after the stranger suddenly lashed out at her about her dogs but, more crucially, shouting abuse at her for being “that f***ing crazy bitch from the telly”.
Fracas with dog-walkers aren’t common – most are decent, responsible human beings (they have dogs after all) but it does happen and I know when my own dogs have been attacked by other people’s, it can be frightening and deeply upsetting.
But for Olivia herself to be attacked – verbally abused – by someone she has never met for her celebrity is completely out of order.
This is kind of a step up from the keyboard warriors who use their anonymity to troll and abuse those in the public eye.
Fact is, of course, she has chosen this line of work and it has put her in the spotlight but that should never give anyone the right to go up and verbally abuse and insult her. We’re all human – whether of the ’sleb or the real kind.
I feel for Olivia and hope she gets some good cuddles from her dogs.
Other people’s hang-ups and prejudices aren’t something she should have to be on the receiving end of. If she was an unknown, I doubt either of the people would have had the courage to approach, offend, upset and insult her.
FORGIVE MY XMAS GRINCHHOW is it already December? I know I’ve been busy doing lots of cooking and freezing ahead of Christmas but I’m now having a small coronary contemplating presents and guests as the big day approaches.
Sigh of relief for Fergie then, bless her cashmere socks, as she is finally being welcomed back into the royal fold, reportedly spending Christmas at Sandringham with the rest of The Firm, after shivering and knocking on their door for some 30 years.
And it begs the question of whether that’s what we should all be offering over the festive period: Forgiveness.
I’m torn. I have people I don’t particularly want around me over Christmas, family with whom relationships have been volatile, unreliable or painful.
I don’t feel I should have subject myself to someone else’s company – even on my own turf.
The other part of me thinks it is a time for giving, patience and understanding, a time for turning the other cheek, creating some kind of amnesty and showing clemency and compassion.
And that’s just my kids I’m talking about . . .
There’s a good side to being 55
IN a landmark post on her social media this week Lottie Tomlinson (no, I’m still not entirely sure what she does or who she is), revealed to her followers that she was going to embrace “the natural look” by having her aesthetic fillers dissolved.
First, these things dissolve themselves over time anyway. Dissolving them just speeds up the process a tad. They’re not there for ever.
5This girl is 24 – if she can’t embrace ‘the natural look’, there is no hope for anyone over 30Credit: MEGA5I wish these naive twentysomethings would stop bleating about how amazing they are for leaving their faces aloneCredit: InstagramSecond – but first really – the girl is 24! If she can’t embrace “the natural look” at her age there’s no hope for anyone over 30 and even less hope for our teenagers.
I know these twentysomethings think they’re immortal and that however they look now will remain their trademark image. But that just ain’t so. As I, at the age of 55, only know too well.
I wish these naive and suggestible 12-year-olds (OK, 24) would stop bleating about how amazing they are for leaving their faces alone.
The chances are they probably won’t anyway. Once you start on the slippery slope of invasive treatments of Botox, fillers and plumped- up lips it’s very hard to get off.
And third, let’s stop with the make-up and all the filters then, too, shall we? Because, surely to God, at 24 you’re quite capable of showing your face naked and untouched. If you can’t, you’re going to be in serious trouble in 30 years’ time.
I know it’s a big ask and, for that reason I’d absolutely hate being 20 now. Much better to be 55.
Get up in the morning and see Mrs Potato Head looking back in the mirror, safe in the knowledge my brilliant mind and captivating personality more than makes up for it.
IF HE’S A MAN-CHILD, DON’T BOTHER
SCIENTISTS now confirm that there is such a thing as a “man-child”.Those of you living with one will know what it is.
But for the rest, it defines a man who is largely dependent on his partner; who helplessly watches his other half do all the housework and runs around after and for him – treating him like a bit of a baby.
There is more to it than that, like how women feel it’s too much hassle teaching their partners to do the chores so they end up doing it themselves.
So, not only do these types of men actually now scientifically exist, but research shows they get less sex than other males because fundamentally, if you see your boyfriend or husband as a child, it’s unlikely you are going to feel any sexual desire for them.
It all seems so stereotypical, which is really sad and backwards in times when you’d think we would challenge these kinds of roles.
But at the end of the day it comes down to what you’re prepared to put up with. And as a woman, I just wouldn’t stand for it.
It doesn’t appeal and, much as I like looking after others, it would feel like a lead weight around my neck.
I’d much rather be unhappy on my own than be unhappy with another adult-child to run around after.
Story Credit: thesun.co.uk