Saturday 17 March 2018

Alone again: Why Cheryl's still fighting to find real love

At just 32, Cheryl Fernandez-Versini has already got two failed marriages behind her. Andrea Smith on the troubled relationships of the girl who should have everything

Fight for this love: Cheryl Cole is divorcing husband of 18 months Jean-Bernard Versini.
Fight for this love: Cheryl Cole is divorcing husband of 18 months Jean-Bernard Versini.
Cheryl with Jean-Bernard in 2015.
Cheryl with first husband Ashley Cole.
Andrea Smith

Andrea Smith

In her biggest solo hit, Cheryl Fernandez-Versini famously sang that "quitting's out of the question," and when things get tough, you have to "fight for this love." With the news that she has reportedly separated from her French husband, Jean-Bernard, 35, after 18 months of marriage, it seems that the 32-year-old singer has been unable to apply her own advice to her short-lived second marriage.

She the UK's Geordie sweetheart and everybody loves her, but when it comes to matters of the heart, poor Chezza doesn't seem to have any luck. Since finding fame on reality show, Popstars - The Rivals, in 2002, Cheryl has evolved from being a doe-eyed, 19-year-old pop star from Newcastle to a frail reality show judge with two failed marriages in 10 years.

There has been plenty of drama in between, including a hugely public sacking, a car accident, malaria, and the infamous altercation with a nightclub toilet attendant.

The X Factor judge married French restaurant owner, Jean-Bernard, on a beach in Mustique in July 2014 after dating for just three months. There were only four guests present, including her PA Lily and mum Joan Callaghan, who you'd think would have warned her daughter of the dangers of marrying in haste.

Maybe she did, of course - Cheryl wouldn't be the first girl not to take her mum's advice - but she seemed to put a lot of faith in her mama's opinion.

"I've come to the conclusion that I don't trust anybody in life except my mother and my dogs. I love having her there," she said, of Joan's ubiquitous presence.

While she kept this latest marriage pretty much under wraps, it has been reported that it ended five months ago and Cheryl kept it quiet to avoid the details being revealed during the intense glare of the X Factor spotlight. A new report suggests that she argued with Jean-Bernard because he allegedly didn't lift a finger during the marriage and was lazy, which pushed her to "breaking point".

Since the split, Jean-Bernard posted a selfie in what appears to be a bar, suggesting that he's not at home crying into his Horlicks. Cheryl appears to have gone into hiding at her plush north London home, and recently shared a photo of herself relaxing in bed with her dogs.

Cheryl is no stranger to short-lived marriages, having tied the knot with England and Chelsea footballer, Ashley Cole, in London in July 2006. It was a glamorous wedding, even by celebrity standards, but the marriage itself was dogged by tawdry allegations of Ashley's persistent infidelity.

At one point, Cheryl took him back, which generated criticism from all quarters, but it didn't work out. She later admitted that she "coped in public and crumbled in private."

In the aftermath of the break up with Ashley, Cheryl admitted to being "horribly numb" and sought medical assistance to help her cope with the split.

"I was borderline. I was walking crazyville," she said. "I had no fire in my belly. I didn't feel passionate any more, just a bit dead. Getting out of bed was difficult.

"I couldn't sleep, I couldn't eat properly. Trying to go to sleep, and suddenly when you're sleeping, the world gets loud."

Somewhat of a 'love machine' herself, Cheryl dated American dancer Derek Hough before she embarked on her whirlwind relationship with Jean-Bernard. One has to wonder what she will call herself now, having changed her name from Tweedy to Cole after her first marriage? She stated that she would continue to use Cole after the split, as changing back would make her seem "ashamed" of her marriage.

One would think Cheryl might have learned from that experience, but the minute she married Jean-Bernard, she had also taken his surname. It smacked of touching optimism, or else stupid naivety, and really, in the case of Cheryl, the latter is to be suspected.

In Cheryl's case the drama was magnified by the public nature of the breakdown of her first marriage. One would imagine that in her 30s, she would take a lot more time to get to know the man she was committing to and whose surname she was taking. Hell, you'd even hope she'd take the time to get to know herself and what she wants first.

Even more naively, it was reported that Cheryl didn't want to sign a prenuptial agreement to protect her estimated £20 million (€26,314,607) fortune, which increased during their short-lived marriage thanks to her L'Oreal sponsorship deal and her return to X Factor.

Jean-Bernard, who speaks great English thanks to going to university in New York, is behind the Cosy Box pop-up restaurants in France, and Cheryl had been helping him to find some London locations to open in. Whether that help includes financial backing isn't known.

One of the obvious signs that Cheryl is struggling is when her weight plummets, and her recent gaunt appearance left fans worried for the state of her marriage. She also responded angrily to a fan who called her a "bag of bones" on Instagram.

"I am so sick and tired of it being ok to call somebody too thin or a 'bag of bones,' she railed. "I would never dream of calling somebody too fat and that they should maybe cut down on their food intake? What is the difference?

"You have no idea what I have been through. Just losing my father-in-law very recently and everything that comes with that. Not that I am or should justify myself to anyone."

Chery's troubles have been well documented in the past, and she has suffered some very public humiliations, some of her own making, and others not.

She had only just bounced onto the public scene in 2003 when she was found guilty of assault occasioning actual bodily harm to nightclub toilet attendant Sophie Amogbokpa, and was sentenced to 120 hours of community service and ordered to pay compensation and prosecution costs.

Another humiliation is that her older brother, Andrew, has a long criminal rap sheet, having been sent to a young offenders' institution for stabbing two students in a pub when Cheryl was 11.

He has spent years in prison, and was sentenced to six years in 2011 for his role in an armed post office robbery.

Truly beautiful, with dimples that made everyone fall in love with her, Cheryl was a huge star in Girls Aloud. Then she became the 'nation's sweetheart' as a judge on X Factor back in 2009, with her fabulous style, big heart and glossy hair. She was a curious mixture of a sex symbol and the girl next door, and while there were a few fashion faux pas - and who can forget the backcombed hair/purple flares debacle during her inaugural X Factor USA appearance - she was considered a huge style icon.

Actually, that whole US experience was another humiliation, because Simon Cowell signed her up as a judge on the American arm of the reality show juggernaut in 2011, amid a huge blaze of publicity.

It was believed that this move would make Cheryl an international superstar, but she was sensationally dropped in the early stages, causing her to fall out with the music mogul.

Producers claimed that the American audience had failed to understand her Newcastle accent and hadn't warmed to her, and Cheryl ultimately sued the production company in a case that was settled out of court and for an undisclosed sum.

After licking her wounds for a couple of years, Cheryl rejoined the UK X Factor, but she has never really quite regained her mojo and her star quality has dimmed.

It's a real shame as Cheryl is beautiful, talented and popular, so let's hope she recovers her groove, gets her career back in gear, and finds love again.

Irish Independent

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