Wednesday 28 September 2016

Sarah Caden: Vern learns that he texts it best . . . when he texts nothing at all

No amount of big talk can shake off a 'sexts' scandal, writes Sarah Caden, as TV personality Vernon Kay found out to his cost

Sarah Caden

Published 03/04/2016 | 02:30

TROUBLE: The TV presenter Vernon Kay has denied acting inappropriately by contacting glamour model Rhian Sugden, pictured, who he ‘sexted’ six years ago
TROUBLE: The TV presenter Vernon Kay has denied acting inappropriately by contacting glamour model Rhian Sugden, pictured, who he ‘sexted’ six years ago
TROUBLE: Tess Daly and Vernon Kay — the TV presenter has denied acting inappropriately by contacting glamour model Rhian Sugden, who he ‘sexted’ six years ago. Photo: PA

'Regarding today's story: I was contacted by Rhian out of the blue back in December regarding the story in 2010 claiming she had information she wanted to pass on. I recognise how it may look when messages are pulled out of context but there was never any inappropriate intent to our communication, I was merely trying to find answers to questions that I've had since 2010. Tess is aware of everything that has been discussed with Rhian.'

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This is a post on Twitter last week from TV and radio personality Vernon Kay. It's formal and dignified and has an air of being concerned with serious stuff. But then, that is the style of the celebrity statement, no matter what it concerns. Big words, serious language, quasi legal-speak picked up from The Good Wife or whatever. It's rolled out online for marriage-split statements, of which Gwyneth Paltrow's "conscious uncoupling" is the classic, which stress respect, enduring friendship, civility and maturity regardless of the realities.

In fact, this accepted online puffed-up language goes into overdrive when there's a sniff of bad behaviour, as in the case of Kay. Kay's very mature Twitter statement came after revelations last week that he had been texting Page 3 model, Rhian Sugden. And not for the first time. This renewed contact comes six years after Kay was involved in what was called a "sexting scandal" with the model. Actually, Sugden was one of five women, it was reported, that Kay was sexting in 2010.

In case you hadn't guessed, Kay is married. He has been married to Strictly Come Dancing host Tess Daly for 13 years, and they have two daughters together, aged 11 and six. Kay is 41, Daly is 46; Sugden, at 29, is the pure-cliche younger ringer for Daly.

Now, Kay would never have struck anyone as the smartest guy in the world, but not only is his folly in this instance the stereotypical dumb-bloke stuff, it's worse for its repetition.

His statement says, "I'm an important guy with serious stuff going on in my life," but everything else we've learned about Kay this week says that he's been a fool.

Particularly yesterday, when one English newspaper clearly had access to his texts and reported that, contrary to Kay's mature-sounding statement, he had not only arranged to meet Rhian, but had a great laugh suggesting she wear a wig as a disguise and joking about the six-year anniversary of their 2010 "breaking news scandal". In what context is that going to work for Tess Daly?

The original story, at the start of last week, was that Kay was back in touch with Sugden, that they started texting and that eventually they arranged to meet in a hotel room. The story went that this meeting never took place, however, because he had family commitments. Specific ones that clashed with the alleged date, it seems, not the general, I-am-committed-to-my-family variety.

Now, no one is saying that Sugden - who is engaged to a soap actor and can be seen all over the internet with her chest front and centre and that duck-face pout that seems to pass for selfie-sexy - revealed the renewed contact with Kay.

That said, you can be pretty sure that Kay wasn't the one to go public with it.

At home, of course, he had to explain it, but the modern celebrity protocol is to make some sort of public explanation, too.

Kay's Twitter statement was designed to minimise and make serious his immature madness. It was like he was Columbo, coming back to the cold case with one last question, keen to finally clear it up.

As far as Kay's statement suggested, he was in touch with Rhian - at her instigation - because she had information about what had happened in 2010.

In other words, she knew who had exposed their carry-on or suchlike. Which, of course, in case you missed it, casts Kay as some sort of victim of the piece, not a married man involved in mobile-phone smutty talk with several women who weren't his wife.

So, Kay was a victim in 2010, when Tess forgave him, and this time around, he was only involved with Rhian to put the whole thing to bed. So to speak. What a stand-up bloke.

Unnamed "sources" then added detail. One real beauty suggested that Kay had wanted to bring Rhian out for dinner, but only to give her "closure" on what had happened.

So, kind of, "Sorry my wife found out about all the dirty talk, here's a slap-up meal by way of an apology." If this was true, I'd say Tess would rather he gave her closure, by keeping the whole thing closed and over.

But then, as Kay's statement made clear, Tess knew everything. When she knew everything he doesn't say, but just saying she knows makes him sound decent.

The problem is that once the public attention is brought back to the content of Kay's texts, it's impossible to think of him as the victim or even as anything but a thoughtless fool texting like a teenager.

Last week, Kay pulled out of presenting The One Show on BBC, apparently to spend time with his family. And Sugden went on Twitter with a picture of Pinocchio, and the caption: "A liar should have a good memory. [hashtag symbol] twosides." The posting was later taken down.

In private, it's likely Kay has some explaining to do. He has not only behaved in a way that might have damaged his marriage, but also his career and that of his wife's, who is considerably more successful. Despite the fact she hosts Strictly, with its ridiculous "curse" that sees contestants fall for their dance partners at the cost of their pre-existing relationships, Tess does not need to be besmirched.

Nor does she need to seem a fool, and we all know the adage about fool me twice. Further, she doesn't want anything to arise that refutes Kay's side of the story or the solemn assurances of his official statement.

Tess's more stellar career arose as the revelations rolled last week.

Kay has been feeling a bit envious, a bit undermined, apparently, and he's been reacting to it by flexing his mid-life-crisis muscle. American football, clubbing a lot, and, well, it seems he's been doing a bit of texting, albeit innocently, with 29-year-olds.

In a case of bad timing, Woman magazine published an interview with Kay last week.

"I'm 41 but I feel like I'm 19 still," he said. "It's good to stay fit and keep up with the 20-year-olds. Having a young mind means you have a young body. I love going clubbing ... But what's wrong with that?"

Nothing. But in that quote, there is probably more honesty and more of the real Vernon Kay than in his Twitter statement of last week.

He's feeling old and stale and he doesn't like it; he's fighting it.

Risky thrills only work fleetingly, though, while for the 41-year-old, real-life repercussions last longer. No matter how you dress it up.

Sunday Independent

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