I'D like to start a solidarity campaign for Marco Pierre White's estranged wife, Mati, who has been in court this week accused of vandalising the chef's car with a child's scooter.
There's far too little support for women driven to the edge in the course of an acrimonious marital breakdown. And when they lose it completely, public support all but deserts them. But Mati looks like she could do with a cheer-leading squad. For one thing, it couldn't have been easy being married for 23 years to the culinary word's Mr Nasty, who still struts around like an enfant terrible despite his graying side-burns and middle-aged spread.
Mati's alleged weapon of choice in the incident is particularly poignant. It suggests a woman rising up against a million petty domestic injustices -- one who has picked up one too many pairs of socks, while her husband stayed out late in the Ivy. Who has tramped endless miles of west London sidewalks alone with her daughter in tow while Pierre White cruises around town with a new blonde in the passenger seat of his sports utility vehicle.
In this scenario, Mati is clearly the scooter-clutching David pitted against the gourmand Goliath in his Range Rover. Goliath's bloated sense of entitlement is written over his road hog of a car. Which explains why he's still holding court in the family home in exclusive Holland Park, while Mati and the couple's daughter Mirabelle are living in a flat above a pizza shop in Chiswick. Facing down a man who throws his weight around as much as Pierre White, it's not hard to see how his ex was reduced to such drastic measures. Of course, no one looking in from the outside of a marriage has any authority at all to apportion blame. But Mati's losing the PR battle on this one drastically and it seems a little unfair.
It's become a contemporary orthodoxy especially in these northern climes, that when a relationship breaks down the female party must always maintain stony dignity at all times for fear of being tarred with the crazy brush. The crazy brush is the easiest, laziest sexist dismissal going but it's still sadly still in common usage.
It's the accusation levelled against any female who betrays the slightest show of anger or emotion.
Whether it's in a row over the washing up, or a boardroom showdown over a corporate takeover.
There are two different and distinct strands to the crazy woman trope, both of them toxic. The first aims to undermine, the second to ridicule.
Because of the pervasiveness of the first, Pierre White's divorce lawyers will be rubbing their hands together with glee right about now. They know that if Mati is actually convicted in this case, the mental-woman tag will stick like mud.
When we're not busy construing female expressions of despair as mental illness, we get our kicks laughing at the genuinely mentally ill. Case in point, the widespread hilarity that greeted the case of Alison Whelan, of Torquay, who you might remember from last week's top Twitter subjects. She got drunk and lost the run of herself completely following a two-day bender of boozing and eating nightshade (for the Shakespearean touch, presumably), which ended when she tried to hijack a ferry while shouting: "I'm Jack Sparrow."
Her mugshot was then circulated with great amusement across social networking sites.
Certainly, it might have been bloody hilarious had it not been for the fact that Whelan is a chronic alcoholic who is on a waiting list for a liver transplant.
What a lark, to watch someone lurch headlong into total self-destruction. Especially when their straggled hair and smudged make-up make them a dead ringer for Jack Sparrow
But, proper breakdowns aside, when dealing with the ordinary day-to-day dramas that face most of us at some time or another, perhaps there's a kind of strength in embracing the irrational.
Dignified silence is fine if you are happy to stay invisible. It might not be fun for Mati if she's slapped with a penalty, but with a husband who is so adept at muscling his way into prominence, she can be forgiven for taking desperate measures to make sure she's not overlooked.
For the sake of one's sanity, if nothing else, sometimes there's nothing for it but to wreck the bugger's car.