What sort of icon does Cheryl want to be? Her fame has, after all, reached the point at which her first name will suffice. Her mentor, Simon Cowell, has apparently offered her £1.5m – a 100 per cent pay rise – to return to the next series of The X Factor; she is supposedly the subject of a recent shoot for Vogue, and now the artist Lee Jones has immortalised her in his painting "Angel".
The artwork, which depicts a characteristically weepy Cheryl towering above the landscape outside Newcastle in a reimagining of Antony Gormley's sculpture "Angel of the North", will doubtless be forgotten in the coming weeks, drowned beneath waves of media speculation about the future of Cowell and his "chav princess", or about a WAG's suitability for the cover of fashion's most famous magazine.
But for her debut as an artist's muse, Cheryl effortlessly transcends both these titles. She has long outgrown the tedious "chav" label, long ago reinventing herself as a sophisticated style icon; leave being a chav to Kerry, Jordan and Jade. She has repudiated her WAG past, saying footballers' wives "are just as bad as benefit scroungers"; leave that to Abi, Alex and Coleen. Despite standing by her men – Ashley, the cheating husband, and Simon, the overbearing boss – she has demonstrated her independence from both.
One almost needs to be reminded that she has a day job as one-fifth of a rather successful pop group. Whatever her vocal talents, Cheryl nowadays contributes somewhat more than her 20 per cent share to Girls Aloud's fame.
She now has the opportunity to become an icon of a higher order. Like David Beckham, who slept on camera for Sam Taylor-Wood, or Kate Moss, who modelled nude for Lucian Freud and was cast in gold by Marc Quinn, she is now sufficiently revered to merit a latter-day Pop artist's attention and a space on the wall at Mayfair's Arts Club, where the canvas will hang in February.
"I feel the overwhelming warmth of the northern people towards Cheryl Cole," says Liverpool-born Jones, whose work already graces the homes of such superstar collectors as Madonna and Radiohead. "I see her as a new icon of popular culture for the 21st century, a beacon of light in these bleak times."
Jones' work is hand-painted, but its bold colour-scheme sometimes bears a resemblance to Warhol's screen-printed portraits of Marilyn Monroe, that most vulnerable and beloved of 20th-century icons. Like Marilyn, Cheryl comes from a troubled background and is all the more adored for it. Like Marilyn, she is admired by both men and women. Unlike Posh, or Jordan, or Kerry, or Coleen, or Jade, or Kerry, she is almost universally liked.
It's a decade since Antony Gormley's sculpture was erected in that disused colliery close to Cheryl's home town. Its emergence, like hers, was dogged with controversy (the Angel's construction in 1998 was loudly opposed by some locals; in 2003, soon after Girls Aloud won their own Cowell-conceived talent contest, Popstars: the Rivals, Cheryl was found guilty of an assault in a Guildford nightclub). But both have since become symbolic of their region, and cultural icons for the whole country. Cheryl Cole as the Angel? Now that is pop art. Tim Walker
Oh, dot-com all ye faithful!
It was billed as "mega Monday", the day when Christmas shopping was set to reach its peak online. Credit card companies claimed over the weekend that more than two million transactions would take place between midday and two pm yesterday, with traffic set to reach its peak at 1.31pm – it was predicted that websites' cash registers would take £16,000 every second. On Amazon, which was advertising a selection of "Festive Steals", such as jewellery and shoes, Hit & Run experienced no lengthy queues on the way to the till. We cyber-shoppers laugh in the face of those braving high street crushes. Rob Sharp
All the President's (good-looking) men
Barack Obama, as John McCain's daughter Meghan memorably observed, isn't bad-looking (for a president). Neither is his cabinet. In fact, the US President-Elect has put together an administration of impeccable physical credentials. Three of Hit & Run's favourites are:
Rahm Emanuel, 49, Chief of Staff
The White House's answer to George Clooney, Emanuel is the administration's obvious heart throb. Nicknamed "Rahm-bo", he's a notorious Washington tough-guy and the inspiration behind Josh Lyman, the arrogant-but-endearing Deputy Chief of Staff in The West Wing. His tantrums have become the stuff of Capitol legend: one incident saw him send rotten fish to a colleague once relations had soured. Married, so only be admired from a distance.
Timothy Geithner, 47, Treasury Secretary
What he lacks in smouldering masculinity, Geithner makes up for in baby-faced charm. A workaholic who eschews the limelight in favour of the corridors of the Federal Reserve. Given the state of the economy, he'll be working long days. And again, married. Sorry, ladies.
Jon Favreau, 27, top speechwriter
So young he makes the others look like underachievers. He once complained that girls assume he's lying when he tells them what he does. "If I wanted to hit on you," he told the New York Times. "Don't you think I'd make up something more outlandish?' Currently single. Alice-Azania Jarvis
There's trouble down pit, ladies
Lurking on chemists shelves are products that are just wrong: scented loo roll, balsam tissues, the female condom ... and now "hair minimising" deodorant. Sure and Dove will each unveil the products next month, and Unilever (their manufacturer) is predicting up to a third of its customers will switch to the formula intended to make underarm hair finer and slower to grow (take note Beyoncé, right). I know I will be comparing the exact thickness of my underarm hair before and after using the products, as well as monitoring its growth speed on a special wallchart. Carola LongReuse content