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Monday, 24 May 2010

Fergie's Fall From Grace

It certainly makes for depressing viewing, a middle aged woman, once the nation's sweetheart, feted at home and abroad, now reduced to a tawdry and pathetic figure, cynically screwing as much money as possible from her association with an institution well past it's sell by date.

But enough of the word of mouth on Sex and the City 2: clearly the big winner in this week's spectacular fall from grace awards is Sarah, Duchess of York, exposed by the News of the World for offering access to Prince Andrew for £500k.

It appears that after the years spent bumping along the bottom of the tank in which "Hello!" keeps its minor royals, Fergie is back on the media A list for all the wrong reasons. Except that in a strange, through the looking glass way, she's gets it so wrong she's almost right.

The joyous wonder of Fergie's association with the Royals is her total inability to cultivate or maintain anything approaching "mystique". She is a walking, talking, human anti-mystique virus. Fergie, just by being Fergie in all her "Fergieness", has let more light in on the magic of monarchy than a bonkers red setter with a penchant for chewing the curtains.

Silly Royal "It's A Knockout"? Poor Fergie didn't get the memo that you're not supposed to look as if you're enjoying yourself - bouncing around in her wimpole like a Spamalot extra. Extra marital affair? No coy glances over the polo cup for her. No, no! Rather grainy pap pictures of her instep being nuzzled by a semi naked YANK!

If the famous fairy tale of regal hubris and collective delusion featured Fergie, there would be no need for a little boy to point the finger. Fergie would be up there on the podium shouting "LOOK AT US! WE'RE NOT WEARING ANY CLOTHES!"

And of course hovering in the background of all her indiscretions was the cardinal sin for a woman in the public eye of allowing herself to get fat and unphotogenic. Diana's press was far from positive at times, but she always had the fall back of the drop dead, knock em' down photoshoot that silenced the critics - not least because their tongues were hanging out.

Of course, until this latest and possibly greatest cock-up Fergie had long been on the road to public rehabilitation, hauling herself out of debt, acquiring a new self-help, no self pity persona - oh and of course shifting some weight.

This is where I need to say that those of you who were expecting a republican rallying cry should look away now. I know her behaviour is appalling, sad and lacking in any kind of integrity, I know it wasn't some sort of conspiracy that forced her to seek to fund an expensive lifestyle that she could no longer afford. But, she also is a woman who still bears the scars not just of an unhappy childhood, but of the pressures of sudden global fame for which she was clearly ill-equipped.

Several months ago she appeared on Pamela Connolly's 'Shrink Rap' discussion programme. From Fergie's point of view it was no no doubt an opportunity to share how she triumphed over adversity. But instead it showed a woman with her face oddly frozen and a disconcerting habit of talking about herself in the third person, still not at ease despite all the NLP mumbo jumbo.

And it will take some going to bounce back from this latest 'indiscretion', caught on camera slurring like Oliver Reed in the green room, miming 'give me the money' and incoherently wittering about wire transfers like a Nigerian fraudster.

There will be many who see no reason to pity a woman from a privileged background who, despite her claims of "not having a pot to piss in", still lives in a luxury most ordinary folk can only dream of. Fair enough.

But there is also something slightly disturbing in the sense one has of vultures circling overhead, now that she is once again in the wilderness; of smug satisfaction that those long ago cries of "vulgar, vulgar, vulgar" have been proven true. And sometimes it's healthy to feel a degree of compassion even for these we don't particularly admire.

In the final event one thing's for certain, as a cautionary tale for any young woman who thinks that marrying her prince is a guaranteed happy ever after, they don't come much better this.


  1. Quite right. It was pretty tawdry and foolish,but what she really got wrong was to get caught .It isn't that others don't do what she did -it's just that Others have PEOPLE to do it for them .

  2. Beautifully put. Although it is like watching the cliched slo-mo car crash, a large part of me does have sympathy for Sarah Ferguson. She doesn't always help herself (even though that may sound like a contradiction in terms at this point) but that doesn't mean that she has to be the root of all evil and revulsion. Most of us, when we act very stupidly, only do it in front of a limited audience of hopefully forgiving folks.

    I may not admire her but I don't think she needs to be villified at this point.


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