Saturday, February 16, 2008

Never said goodbye

This morning's Times a wide-ranging interview with Cerys Matthews this morning, which is not only the first proper one she's done since I'm A Celebrity. Interviews which require posing like you're in an Ethel Austin catalogue don't count; anything where Marc Bannerman is present is acting, and before she did IACGMOH, there was much being left unsaid.

Not now, though. Now, she's happy to talk about what happened to her in Nashville:

“So you see, Nashville was an accident, a whim and an instinct, like everything else I do. It could just as easily have been Memphis or Atlanta or any place else.”

She's able to discuss the marriage she could barely acknowledge was over when she first arrived in Wales:
“Nobody settles down with someone thinking it’s going to end. We’re all of us in love with the idea of being in love and I don’t ever want to lose that optimism or, if you’d rather, naivety, that belief in the dream. You pay for impulsiveness, though. And the thing that was paramount in my mind was that it got to the point where it was no longer a functional relationship or a decent place for the children."

Reading Alan Jackson's interview puts a fresh perspective on the last year - one of the few writers who's been in a position to place the ITV gameshow in an arc that covers her from Catatonia to Hello. Eating kangaroo bollocks and play-dating a gurning halfwit looks to be less an act of desperation, more a search for personal redemption.

Redemption turns up in strange places, recommended by:
David Samuel, a past adviser to such acts as Blazin’ Squad, So Solid Crew and the permatanned Peter Andre.

"The important thing was that I knew I wouldn’t have to think about anything for as long as I was there – not even about clothes, as all you have is two identical outfits. So no phone, computer or guitar, no pen or paper, no responsibility or control. You’re like characters in a novel, moved around at will. It was exactly what I needed at the time.”

The novel metaphor is one she reaches for again, when trying to explain her appearances as besotted lover in Hello! with the less glittering reality:
“They have their own vocabulary,” she says of the title. “It’s like a modern Mills & Boon, so as long as the people who buy it, myself included, don’t believe they’re reading the gospel truth… It’s not really that important, is it?”

And if some magazines will pay - Jackson suggests Cerys has made up to three quarters of a million quid - for a story nobody believes in, why would you not take it?

It's curious that people - and here, I'm people - who wish Cerys well feel more upset that she was in the tabloids for mucking about on ITV and popping up in Hello talking about kissing an EastEnder than we were when her appearances in the red tops were down to self-destructive addiction. Certainly, taking the Michael Grade shilling (and the shillings which flowed) appears to have given her something approaching stability, mentally and financially. Perhaps the real tragedy in the story is not that she had to IACGMOH, but that there doesn't seem to have been any more fitting outlet for her talents available at the time.