AS I SEE IT
Question: if two men appeared in a high- profile court case would there be coverage abut how much they had spent on their outfits or comparing their hairstyles? No, of course not. But that is exactly what happened in the libel trial of Rebekah Vardy versus Coleen Rooney, because women get trivialised in the media in a way that men don’t.
(In case you wondered, Rooney spent something like £14,000 and Vardy £15,000 on their fashion statements during the trial which ended last week in London.)
Men have battles, women have catfights, especially if they are WAGs, famous only through marriage to-football stars. The trouble with this kind of insubstantial fame is that, when exposed to legal scrutiny, it can easily turn to infamy, causing loss of face and a great deal of money. In this instance, more €3 million where Vardy took the libel case against Rooney who accused Vardy of being behind kiss-and- sell and leaked stories about her.
It’s the kind of story which has the merit of offering a bit of light relief in crisis-ridden times. But it can also provoke an exasperated reaction where you ask yourself why the pair of them can’t get sense, go for a latte together and agree do something worthwhile like giving all that money to help Ukrainian refugees instead.
But, despite the above I find myself coming to the defence of Coleen Rooney. Suppose you had a false friend, who rang you when you were in trouble, pretending sympathy but actually fishing for information. A rival who used an agent to get embarrassing pictures of the car you crashed and ran a tabloid newspaper column gaslighting you.
It would be upsetting to put it mildly and hard to know how to put a stop to it. But Coleen Rooney set the Wagatha Christy sting to expose the way Vardy was leaking information from Rooney’s private Instagram to undermine her. I think Rooney is owed a vote of thanks for outing that kind of treacherous use of the Press and social media and hopefully deterring others from similar behaviour.
The trail has had elements of farce: the way Vardy’s agent Caroline Watt’s phone was dropped overboard from a boat on the North Sea ( really?); the way Watt’s computer was mysteriously unavailable as evidence; and reminders about Vardy’s fondness of bitchy kiss- and-tell revelations like the time she described Peter Andre’s penis as being the size of a chipolata. This, incidentally, caused Andre to attempt to set the record or rather the size of his manhood straight on Instagram, (it’s the size of a Sky remote apparently.)
But, ultimately, the trial has laid bare a sorry tale of jealousy and of dirty tricks by an individual desperate to score in the publicity game. There’s a passage written by one of the main characters in Sally Rooney’s Beautiful World Where Are You, which sums up Vardy’s toxic addiction to celebrity perfectly.
“People who intentionally become famous — I mean people who after a little taste of fame want more and more of it are, and I honestly believe it, deeply psychologically ill. The fact that we are exposed to these people everywhere in our culture, as if they are not only normal but attractive and enviable, indicates the extent of our disfiguring social disease.”
Now few would envy Rebekah Vardy following unfavourable exposure during the case she so ill- advisedly took.
Marriage to a football star may have all the trappings of a modern fairy tale, where a beautiful girl wins the heart of a valiant prince and is carried off to a multi- million pound mansion and a life of unimaginable luxury.
Some lucky princesses may count their blessings and become role models. But endings aren’t always the happy ever after kind, some princesses can be bewitched and fall under the evil spell of envy.