Meg Mathews: 'Why do they all hate me?'

Meg Mathews doesn't get it. Her hell-raising days with Noel Gallagher are over; she's a homely single mum now. Yet the media still portray her as a self-indulgent, grasping party animal. It's all lies, she tells Deborah Ross. Well, OK, the boob job is true
Click to follow
The Independent Online

What can I tell you about Meg Mathews, formerly Mrs Noel Gallagher, aside from what you might have already gathered from Heat and Now and Closer, and which always seems to involve being pictured with vast Gucci shopping bags or staggering out of some party, often much the worse for wear? Well, for a start, I do get to feel her breasts. And they're nice. I'm not quite sure how this happened. I think I remark, on noting the chute-like appearance of her cleavage, and assuming that silicone has had something of a say, that I'd always wondered what enhanced breasts actually feel like. Do they feel like those squidgy Ice-Brix you get when you order smart, chilled groceries?

She says: "Here, have a feel," and whips her top up. It seems impolite to decline, so I do. They feel heavy-ish but not particularly scary, like big, warm marshmallows constrained by a massive extra dose of surface tension. I quite enjoy it. I might be a lesbian. I might even move in. Smashing house.

Meg lives in Camden, north London. She is keen to stress that it is Camden "and not Primrose Hill". I guess Primrose Hill has become the cliché for celebrity wives, current and former. Meg's mates, the Sadies and Patsys and Kates and Stellas and Jades, all sort of appear to come from Primrose Hill, even though some of them don't. Meg used to live there herself, with Noel, in that spectacular house, The Laurels. OK, then, Supernova Heights, which was actually in the Belsize Park end of Primrose Hill.

Meg's present house, which is in Camden, rather than Primrose Hill, is also beautiful. It is a big, seriously elegant Georgian terraced job distinguished by its fuchsia door. Inside, it is something of a hymn to Farrow & Ball, all dark mauves and dark greens, and old Japanesey things combined with the terribly modern, like the pink neon "Bollocks" running up the stairs. I think it might have to go.

It is also full of lots of framed photos and little knick-knacks. Later, I asked which inanimate object she would save if the house was on fire. "My cat, Blue," she says. I believe cats are quite animate generally, I say. Not always, and not when they're dead, or stuffed, but generally. "OK, my Charlie, then." Oh, I like a bit of Charlie, I say. I never say no to Charlie. Alas, Charlie turns out to be the ashes of her old dog, which she keeps in a small wooden box. Charlie, a rescued mutt, died at 16 not so long ago. "He was like my baby, and Noel's. He slept between us for the whole of our relationship. When I went to give birth to Anais [her daughter by Noel] I said to him [Charlie, that is, not Noel], 'You will always be my No 1.'" I'm glad, now, that I didn't sniff him up. I think our relationship would have been over before it had ever really begun.

When I arrive, Meg is down in the basement kitchen being beautified by hair and make-up people. She is warm and hospitable. Tea? Coffee? Wine? A feel of my breasts? Actually, that's not fair, as I did kind of ask and she was kind enough to satisfy my curiosity. I've always wondered, though, if you can breastfeed with implants. Can you? "Yeah. Course." And did you? "Yeah." Good for you. "For three days." Oh. "It was painful. I was told about cabbage leaves and all that, but it killed me. And I just thought, well, I don't feel natural anyway. Do you want a nose about?"

You bet. Anais accompanies me. Anais is four and has white-blonde curls and manages to be absolutely gorgeous even though she looks much like her father, minus the monobrow, which perhaps explains how she pulls it off. She shows me mummy's dressing room (spilling with Blahniks) and her own room (built-in fairy castle, mini Juicy Couture in the closet) and mummy's bedroom, which is light and gauzy and has one of those free-standing baths that I've always yearned for and think I could look lovely in, in a lesbian kind of way, and perhaps while reading something from Virago.

Meg is, at last, ready for the photographer. Meg, in fact, looks much like a Fiona Millar - Alastair Campbell's partner - gone all razzle-dazzley and orange. Her forehead is also eerily smooth. Oh, Meg, you haven't. At 39? She has, she says. "I had really bad frown lines. And Botox doesn't hurt, as long as you get the right person to do it."

The photographer wants to take shots of Meg ironing. Meg is obliging. "Why Meg ironing?" asks the perplexed Filipina housekeeper. "Meg never iron. I never seen Meg with iron." I can go with that. The housekeeper will have to stay. Meg wears a divine lime Dior dress for the pictures, and then an embroidered peasant-style top with a less peasant-style gash down the front. It's a chute-showing show-stopper.

She then changes into jeans and sweatshirt. She wears jeans and sweatshirts mainly now, she says. She adds that she hasn't been down Sloane Street for ages. "I haven't gone shopping for years. I think it's so naff and horrible. I'm just not like that any more. I'd rather say I shop in Topshop. I love Topshop." The last thing she spent a lot of money on, she says, was Blue, a Siamese. "He was £500 from Harrods, but is just the most special thing."

I ask why she is doing this interview. It's not as if she has anything to plug, or even as if she does much at all, as far as I can make out. She says she's just so utterly pissed off with the press she usually gets. There's this hate thing going on, which she just doesn't get. "I never knew where it came from. What did I ever do? I don't know. I married Noel Gallagher and there it was, this hate thing. Quite weird."

She wants me to see, she adds, "how sort of homely I am, with Anais and Blue and my love of cats, and I also do loads of stuff for charity. The party person thing, that's all everyone has got of me." And you're not a party person? Most nights, she says, she stays in and watches Emmerdale and then EastEnders and then Coronation Street and then The Bill. (If I am to move in, I think I must stipulate that I am in charge of the remote control.) "I don't even go out any more. Or if I do, I go to the local pub and have a drink and then come home, and they still make out... I'm never going to win against this. I have sat here crying but now I'm not going to feel sorry for myself..."

So much of what's been written, she says, is rubbish. She was not too posh to push. That's a lie. "I did not have a Caesarean." She never planned a £50,000 birthday party for Anais. That's a lie. "Do you think I'd spend that much? Do you think I'm that ignorant? I do a church hall with a few balloons and a pass-the-parcel I made myself." And she never began a Sunday Times column with: "I've dyed my hair platinum blonde again. I just feel more co-ordinated when my hair matches my credit card." Actually, that's true.

So, who is this Meg Mathews, still best known for the man she's no longer married to and the things she doesn't do any more? She was born in Guernsey, to Stan, a builder, and Christine, a secretary. She emigrated with her family to South Africa when she was eight, and then returned to Norfolk when she was 12. She was educated at a boarding school in Oxford, at her insistence, and I'm guessing Meg can be pretty insistent when she puts her mind to it. "I'd read all the Mallory Towers books and really wanted to go to boarding school. My mum and dad were like, 'Oh.' They couldn't really afford it. We're only working class. My mum didn't buy a new piece of clothing or anything while I was there. But they wanted me to have a good education." And did she get a good education? "No. Did I hell. I got expelled." What for? "Basically, the old headmaster left and the new headmaster wanted to get rid of the people he thought were rebels. I was always anti-learning." She says she wanted to be a window-dresser "but I didn't study hard enough".

At 17, she hitched, on her own, to London. That must have given her mother the heebie-jeebies, I say. She says her mum understood. "She was like, 'Go there. I don't want you to stay in Norfolk and marry a pony-club person or a young farmer.'" She did a variety of jobs in London: selling wigs; an assistant in Joseph; PA to Betty Boo, a pop star; and then at a music management company, which is where she first met Noel. They were mates before they were lovers. He wrote "Wonderwall" for her, or so she always thought. "But all of a sudden when I was getting divorced he said it wasn't about me, so I don't really understand."

They married, moved from Supernova Heights to Buckinghamshire, and then split. Did she love him? "Course I loved him. Totally loved him. Yeah." As the papers had it, they split because, while Noel wanted to settle down and lay off the drugs, Meg wanted to party as hard as ever. True? "The thing about drugs and drink and alcohol... I'm not going to really talk about that. Oasis was Oasis and that was it. I'm not going to talk about it because it's not fair if you have kids." This is frustrating, of course, but only right and proper, so I lay off, or would have done, if I hadn't tried again. Does she still love him? "I'm not answering that!"

She does hope to remarry, she says, but it's hard. It isn't easy to meet men. "You don't know, do you? Everyone sells their story. And imagine if I met a man in the pub who was good-looking: I couldn't bring him back here, could I, because it's Anais's home." She did have a boyfriend recently, but he ended up in prison. Something to do with conspiring to steal a car. Anyway, she'd fallen out of love with him by then.

Although she does PR work, and appears to have helped make a film about mules in India, she's looking, I sense, for something more occupying. What's her dream job? Interior design would be nice, she says. "I'm good at dressing rooms, if you look around." Later, though, she changes her mind. "Basically, I'd love to help animals. When I was little, I had Billy, the goat, and Penny and Rosie, the donkeys, and a load of chickens and two geese that were blind. I've always had animals, I think I really have a rapport with animals." Is she financially secure? "Yeah." How about going back to school? A vet, say, or vet's nurse? "Well, that would be my dream, totally, but I'm not intelligent enough. "You might surprise yourself," I say. She wouldn't, she insists. "My concentration has never been that good." She is a little manic. I can see that.

Anais is off now, to her dad's for the weekend. "Noel is a wonderful father," says Meg. We hug Anais goodbye. Meg understands that Anais must spend time with Noel, but she misses her painfully. "The house is just so lonely without her." There are tears in Meg's eyes, and I don't think they are fake.

We part affectionately. She has always been defined, publicly at least, in relation to someone else and it will be hard to work her way out of it. Still, she does top-notch breasts and a smashing house, which is more than most of us. I expect to get the call asking me to move in any moment now.