Given the sensitive nature of the Nigella/Saatchi incident, it was quite obvious I needed to approach the topic with great delicacy and tact.
After the Guardian rejected my first and second versions I ended up with this. I’m glad now they were rejected as this is definitely the most successful. It’s a strange thing – what seems gentler can actually be more cutting. In an earlier version I had Saatchi saying the line “This tastes like shit!” Saying this he comes across as obnoxious and rude, but we soon realise that he’s offering an honest assessment – he is eating shit. The replacement line “This is the best thing you’ve ever cooked” is far less confrontational but is actually much ruder –it implies that everything else she makes tastes worse than shit. I also love the idea that Nigella would be using canned sauce in her bolognaise.
Actually I did give a lot of thought to tactfulness of the matter. Considering the circumstances I definitely didn’t want to pick on Nigella, but a revenge fantasy on her behalf left me cold. It would impugn her with nasty intentions, which I wanted to avoid. Also, I didn’t want it to be all one sided – though Nigella had to get the upper hand somehow. In the end she does, completely unwittingly, and is thus untainted by nastiness. Other things: Saatchi says “I’m back” twice. The first time is from the police station where he was being questioned. The second time is from the hospital, after having his stomach pumped. I was very tempted to make these trips to the hospital to get his stomach pumped seem like a regular occurrence but the tact thing scuppered it. Tact really pisses me off sometimes.
For those who don’t know (it’s better never to assume), Nigella Lawson is a cookery writer and TV personality. She is actually very good. Her book “How To Eat” gets opened quite a bit in my household. Charles Saatchi, formerly of Saatchi and Saatchi advertising agency fame, is a renowned art collector. I have found, as an Australian living in London, that the presence of a very rich guy who goes to smaller galleries, often buying up whole shows of the work of unknown artists, with the power to make them famous, is very invigorating to the artscene. There’s a Midas out there. Whatever you think of his taste in art, and I have no doubt that he honestly loves the stuff, his presence stimulates things.
I can’t tell you how sad I was when I heard that the Nigella/Saatchi marriage was unravelling. I had been planning to do a series of cartoons on them for quite a while and a had a bunch of funny story-lines coming together. So, so sad. Carpe Diem, my friends.