Vilification of 'rat' king Cole has gone too far
YouÃ¢ÂÂd think weÃ¢ÂÂd be sated by all the revelations about Ashley Cole by now, but I still have one unanswered question: at what point in this whole affair did the Chelsea and England defender change his name by deed poll to Rat Cole?
Everytime I picked up a tabloid last week Ã¢ÂÂRatÃ¢ÂÂ Cole was committing another grievous offence against his soon to be ex-wife Cheryl, the most iconic female martyr Britain has produced since Princess Diana went all panda-eyed on Panorama.
One tabloid front page Ã¢ÂÂ apologies for not remembering which but after a while they all become one blur of bold typography, exclamation marks and words like sink, revenge, low or suffer Ã¢ÂÂ screamed: Ã¢ÂÂRat Cole sinks to new low!Ã¢ÂÂ This certainly grabbed my attention.
What depths of depravity had the greatest left-back in the game today sunk to now? Had he seduced the Pope? Destroyed a small Spanish holiday resort on a drunken rampage? Or, worst of all, signed up for the new series of Celebrity Love Island?
Ashley consoles himself with a trip to market...
In case you didnÃ¢ÂÂt see the story, I wonÃ¢ÂÂt keep you in expense. The lowdown dirty Ã¢ÂÂRatÃ¢ÂÂ Cole had had the unmitigated gall to say that the marriage began to go wrong when his mother-in-law moved in.
I felt a bit cheated at this point. If youÃ¢ÂÂve had as many extra-marital affairs as Ã¢ÂÂRatÃ¢ÂÂ Cole allegedly has, to truly sink to a historic new low requires more effort than merely complaining about his mother-in-law in a manner that Les Dawson, were he alive today, would thoroughly approve of.
With each revelation, each additional layer of lurid detail, each Ã¢ÂÂfriendÃ¢ÂÂ interpreting the participantsÃ¢ÂÂ true emotions Ã¢ÂÂ the real, complex story of a famous marriage gone horribly wrong is reduced to an entertaining, long-running yet utterly predictable cartoon in which the leading characters are a saint and a rat.
Watching this cartoon, the great British public Ã¢ÂÂ many of whom struggle to understand the complexities of their own marriages Ã¢ÂÂ have passed swift, satisfying and, in many cases, hypocritical judgement.
The public vilification of Ã¢ÂÂRatÃ¢ÂÂ Cole has become so extreme that even his complaint about his mother-in-lawÃ¢ÂÂs presence in Hurtmore House, the aptly named Surrey mansion where the Coles lived, merely succeeded in giving mothers-in-law, one of the great pantomime villains of British society, a good name.
Although his lament did seem a tad ingenuous as she only moved in after allegations of the RatÃ¢ÂÂs first extra-marital affair.
Dawson - not a fan of mother in laws
Stupid, serially unfaithful, selfish, pathetic and deceitful; the Chelsea and England left-back has been all of these. His famous remark that he swerved off the road in anger after Ã¢ÂÂonlyÃ¢ÂÂ being offered ÃÂ£55,000 a week by Arsenal had stereotyped him as an ungrateful mercenary even before he betrayed the most popular woman in Britain.
That business of getting a Chelsea official to cover for him was shabby too although, as Tony Cascarino pointed out, similar shenanigans have been going on in football since time immemorial Ã¢ÂÂ especially on pre-season tours where even clean cut, happily married footballers have often behaved as if the old TV industry acronym OLDC (On Location DoesnÃ¢ÂÂt Count) applied to them.
And yet, if weÃ¢ÂÂre honest, who among us thinks that having a live-in mother-in-law is a recipe for a happy marriage? And did the most powerful man in Britain today Ã¢ÂÂ Simon Cowell of course, not Gordon Brown Ã¢ÂÂ really have to be consulted before the split was announced?
This kind of public scandal is like nuclear war, there are no winners, just survivors.
Right now, Rat ColeÃ¢ÂÂs stock is so low heÃ¢ÂÂd lose a by-election if he was running against a civilian kidnapping Somali pirate, while Cheryl is flying off to America to build a new career (ItÃ¢ÂÂs a measure of BritainÃ¢ÂÂs colonial arrogance, or tabloid stupidity, that we assume that all she has to do to Ã¢ÂÂconquerÃ¢ÂÂ America is land at JFK airport).
"I promise I'll never leave your side, darling..."
The scandal may have given Cheryl the intriguing aura of a troubled, martyred icon but sheÃ¢ÂÂd probably still rather have her marriage.
If this has been the worst week in the ColesÃ¢ÂÂ lives, itÃ¢ÂÂs hardly been a vintage one for Fabio Capello. The England manager must be appallingly impressed by English footballÃ¢ÂÂs ability to self-destruct.
His first choice left-back, who should be focusing on recovering for the World Cup, has been condemned in absentia by the British media. His first choice centre-backs, Rio Ferdinand and John Terry, struggle with fitness and form, and if RioÃ¢ÂÂs back doesnÃ¢ÂÂt recover, Capello may have to appoint a third captain in less than five months.
His first choice right-back Glen Johnson is still out with a knee injury. It looks increasingly unlikely that Owen Hargreaves will anchor EnglandÃ¢ÂÂs midfield in South Africa.
Just when Capello thought things couldnÃ¢ÂÂt get any worse, Gordon Brown has likened his predicament to the England managerÃ¢ÂÂs.
Does that mean England have about as much chance of winning the World Cup as Labour has of winning the next election?