DENNIS Waterman claims that he punched his ex-wife Rula Lenska twice, but insists "She certainly wasn’t a beaten wife, she was hit and that’s different." Ah, that's all right then. The man who most of us remember as ex-boxer Terry McCann in "Minder" goes on to dig himself a little deeper: "It's not difficult for a woman to make a man hit her".
I don't know which statement makes me more furious – taken together, they paint the portrait of a thug and a woman-hater. Waterman, who spewed this odious stuff to Piers Morgan on his TV chat show (to be aired next month on ITV), did say he was "ashamed" of his disgusting behaviour. But he went on to whine, in what sounded an awful lot like an attempt to justify his actions, “The problem with strong, intelligent women is that they can argue well. And if there is a time where you can’t get a word in… and I… I lashed out."
So you see, women ask for it: the "it" here is a punch rather than rape, but I wouldn't want to guess what the actor says about women in miniskirts.
Instead of keeping mum when the husband (drunk, by his own account) starts rowing, the strong and intelligent woman dares answer back.
She argues – and what's worse, she argues well. How very dare she? When a clever woman talks she makes a stupid man feel inferior, and he can't have that: so if he can't beat her in an argument, he'll just beat her.
Waterman hopes that his confession will win him sympathy: poor bloke, he thinks we'll all be saying, he was chained to a big mouth, what else could he do?
I hope no one, male or female, falls for this line of defence. Anyone who remembers Rula Lenska in Coronation Street knows she wasn't a big mouth, she was a big star.
I suspect that because she shone so brightly, her actor husband resented her greater success. His professional envy and intellectual insecurity pushed him over the edge. Rula Lenska could have kept silent as a Trappist monk when she was home, but she would still be guilty of the unforgivable sin: she was better than him.
The days when a woman with brains is abused by a man with brawn are not over; but let's make sure the Watermans of this world know that it is always unacceptable, no matter how brainy she was or how stupid he is.