None but the unwise.

There was a time when women who worked in the arts or media kept a lid on their private lives. Not any more, it seems. Of late, people who might once have been expected to know better are rushing into print to reveal who they’ve slept with, for how long,  and why these affairs turned sour in the end.

A few days ago, while I’d got unedifying spectacle of Julie Kavanagh’s revelations about her love affair with the novelist Martin Amis in mind, along comes Emma Soames who, not to be outdone by Kavanagh, revealed that she too had an unsatisfactory relationship with Mr. Amis.

As if that were not more than a sensitive soul could take, over the weekend the in a revelation to the Melbourne newspaper, the  opera singer Ann Howells topped everybody by revealing that she had  –for a while – been mistress of a famous Australian TV personality called Clyde, a pseudonym that did little to disguise the fact that the objects of her affections was  Clive James.

One can only wish that all three women had more sense than, with no discernable purpose in mind other than to reveal their pasts top full public scrutiny, to reveal themselves the way they did.

I have no doubt that all three women would probably resent being lectured by a mere man about what they should, or should not do. For that reason, and for that reason alone, I recommend that they all three read Liz Hoggard’s  opinion piece for today’s Independent, in which she tells them,  exactly what a sensible person –man or woman – might have told them before they started blabbing to the press, or committing  themselves to print.

Every day I open the newspapers to another female writer revisiting her romantic pain. Last week Martin Amis’s ex-girlfriend, Julie Kavanagh wrote in great, agonised detail about her love affair with the novelist, 35 years ago.

Not only was he serially unfaithful, he left her for her best friend Emma Soames. At the weekend, Soames gave her version of the love triangle with the “scribbling dwarf” (as her brother, Tory MP, Nicholas Soames, dubbed Amis). And now we’re agog to hear that opera diva Anne Howells has written about her affair with a famous, chunky Australian critic for The Oldie (widely assumed to be Clive James).

What makes a clever, sane woman bare all? Revenge? A desire to pre-empt the male version (Amis is of course bringing out a book he calls “blindingly autobiographical” next year). Or to kickstart a failing career?

Kavanagh and Soames are great veteran journalists. So I can’t help feeling protective. We all love a bit of confessional. But my problem with these stories is that the woman emerges fatally diminished. Either they’re just come across as an acolyte to a Very Significant Man (he’s smouldering, Byronic; she washes his socks). Or else they steal the headlines but it colours everything else they ever write again. “Never become the story” is a pompous mantra. But it holds true.


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