Saturday 18 November 2017

Sarah Caden: The online fight for Cheryl's love just embarrasses us all

With 'cryptic' tweets and jibes, the alleged demise of the 'X Factor' judge's marriage is undignified, writes Sarah Caden

Cheryl Fernandez-Versini has been posting cryptic messages on Instagram. Photo: Getty
Cheryl Fernandez-Versini has been posting cryptic messages on Instagram. Photo: Getty

Sarah Caden

Last week, a "close family member" of Jean-Bernard Fernandez-Versini stated that the French husband of Cheryl of the same surname, has no desire to divorce the singer and X Factor judge. But who needs "sources close to" and "family members" any more, when a cryptic tweet or an emoji can say so much more?

To date, Jean-Bernard and Cheryl have played out their relationship in snapshots posted online and messages of 140 characters or less, so why stop now? Apparently, it was also reported last week, Jean-Bernard wants a baby with the former Girls Aloud singer. We have nothing to back this up yet, however, as he hasn't made any statement to that effect. Or maybe he's still hunting for the swaddled-babe emoji.

Last Thursday, following reports in the UK weekend papers that he's "pulling out all the stops" to repair the relationship with Cheryl, Jean-Bernard posted a picture on Instagram that hinted at romantic reconciliation. The photo was a shot of one of those hut-like villas at the end of a jetty, that are hyper expensive and hover over the turquoise sea of somewhere like Bora Bora or the Maldives. The sort of place people imagine that dream honeymoons happen, with rose petals scattered around and tropical fish swimming around under the bed.

Then, just to emphasise his point, J-B, as he's known - because once you're tweeting about your marriage, you're on intimate terms with everyone - he stuck on some emojis. Aw, they were awful cute. Two little faces, one wearing sunglasses and one with hearts for eyes. They mean "cool" and "in love", in case you're a dinosaur.

And if you're a dinosaur - as in, over 40 - you're probably wondering why a grown man is sending out such messages about the state of his marriage. Who is he speaking to? What is he trying to prove? And when did this kind of oversharing ever do wonders for a relationship?

Of course, aside from the oversharing aspect of this alleged attempt at a rapprochement, J-B's post is a little odd. As in, we don't even know if he, never mind his wife, are even at this destination. It could just be a picture cut and pasted from the web.

It could be somewhere he'd like to go and where he'd feel cool and in love, right? And Cheryl could be looking at that post, from somewhere in chilly London, also wondering just what exactly he's getting at. And wondering what exactly she started when she first posted the picture of herself online, just married to Fernandez-Versini, after a mere three-month romance.

That was how they announced their union and that, really, set the tone for the narrative of the relationship. Unfortunately for her, though, there have been fewer loved-up postings and more online posts of the "cryptic" rent-a-literary-quote variety hinting at disillusionment and divorce.

Even the Luddite dinosaurs among us understand, to some extent, that the desire to share online is the modus operandi of the younger generation, but that doesn't alter the fact that this whole affair has been undignified. Cheryl has talked about how painful her first husband Ashley Cole's betrayal of her was, and humiliating was their divorce. But the online tit-for-tat she is going through with J-B F-V is just silly.

If one has made such a fuss of the good times so publicly, then maybe it follows that you chart it as it fails, but neither are such a great idea. Possibly because she found the end of her first marriage so bruising, Cheryl made a big online deal of finding love again with J-B. When things were good, she posted pictures of him spoiling her on her June birthday in 2014 and in 2015, the latter being just before things started to slip.

Cheryl's dramatic weight loss was taken as sign that all was not well, but you didn't speculate once the couple started trading what are now commonly known as "cryptic" messages online. Frequently, these tend to be of the sticks-and-stones variety.

For example, over the last few months, after their last public outing together at Ant and Dec's joint 40th birthday party, J-B wrote, "Mean people don't bother me a bit. Mean people who disguise themselves as nice people bother me a whole lot." So, Cheryl's secretly a bit of a bitch, eh? But then, we're all a bit of a bitch in a bad relationship, but so what, get on with it, or get out of it. But do we all need to know it?

J-B has also felt the need to repeatedly tweet about how people know nothing and need to back off. It would seem he doesn't like the common impression that Cheryl, who reportedly did not insist on a prenuptial agreement - is the injured party in this.

And Cheryl has done nothing to dispel this idea. As far back as June last year, she seemed to kick off the romantic-downturn tweeting with a long message about people trying to drag her down. On X Factor, she was moved to tears by a rendition of 'Love is a Losing Game', saying that it really struck a chord with her and not because she was in mourning for Amy Winehouse.

At the start of this year, Cheryl said a loaded farewell to 2015, posting online: "You've been real!!!!! You have taught me a lot but I am happy to see the back of you." Yes, there were emojis: stars and waving-goodbye hands and love hearts, as well as the accompanying picture of her kissing her middle finger an un-fond farewell.

Earlier this month, Cheryl was bridesmaid to her former Girls Aloud bandmate, Kimberley Walsh, who got married in Barbados. Cheryl was smiling through the heartache, apparently, and posted, on Instagram, some happy pictures and a message about the value of enduring friendship.

Later, she commented on how the wedding was like nothing she'd "ever experienced before". That's from someone with two weddings under her belt. Nothing cryptic there, surely.

Last week, while J-B was posting pics of holiday idylls, Cheryl took no moves to deny reports she's already filed for a quickie divorce. But maybe that's only because there was no wifi in their beachfront retreat. Or because she's looking for an emoji to express "in your dreams".

Ironically, given how they just can't shut up online, a major issue between the couple was the language barrier. Apparently, they couldn't communicate. Meanwhile, they have no problem communicating with the rest of us. More's the pity.

Sunday Independent

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